Comment

The Greatest Gifts - Family

James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

 

God is the creator and sustainer of this thing called family. 

 

The gift of family - we are not talking just about the nuclear family today. 

Luke 1:39 - 45

39In those days Mary arose and went with haste into xthe hill country, to a town in Judah, 40and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

 

vs 39 - Mary went to Elizabeth’s house - 

There were a couple reasons why Mary might have gone to Elizabeth’s house that day.

  1. to avoid the reproach of her pregnancy - she was unmarried, it would have been a shameful thing
  2. to find out the truth of the angel’s words in verse 36 - "36"And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37"For nothing will be impossible with God."
    • if anybody would believe what Mary was going through it would be the barren woman who was now with child

Family is meant to be a place of refuge and acceptance - 

  1. God created family to be a
  2.  safe place.
  • God created the human being to exist in a context - that context is called family
  • It is a mirror of the Godhead - Father - Son - Holy Spirit
  • God has put people around us that are there to witness our lives
    • to be the people who know us best - and YET still love us in spite of ourselves
    • to be the people who don’t believe the bad report that’s been put on us

 

vs 41 - Mary was not disappointed - 

Family is a group of people who will stand in agreement and celebration with the dreams and destiny God has for you

 

  1. God created family to believe in what God has dreamed about you.
  • family recognizes and honors the call and the anointing of God on your life.

Elizabeth was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy over Mary.

 

vs 46 - Out of the context of Family we are released to be all God has called us to be

Mary and the Magnificat - Mary was given the permission to praise God for who He called her to be, and what he was going to do because of the gift of family

  • God created family to help us be all we are meant to be.

Closing - 

  1. God fixes broken families - 
  2. God puts the lonely in a family - Psalm 68:6
  3. Jesus died to welcome you home to family

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Love In Deed: Love Beyond Words

The question we are thinking about today is this - What does love look like?

  • the world has been asking this question for decades!
    • Romeo recites fitful poetry about it in his opening scene of Shakespeare’s play:
      • "why then oh brawling love oh loving hate, oh anything of nothing first create.  O heavy lightness! serious vanity! Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!"
    • Cinderella and her prince charming sing it to one another as they dance in the disney film - “so this is love"
    • The incomparable Tina Turner asks - “what’s love got to do with it - what’s love but a second hand emotion?"
    • the immortal dance anthem by the artist Haddaway asks the question straight out “what is love?"
  • If anyone should know the answer to this question it is the church - That is the question we are going to pursue these next few weeks.  What does it look like when we love each other?
  • 1 John 3:16-19

 

16We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

  • Love is sacrificial - expensive for the giver
    • The Cross is the greatest example - demonstration of Love the world has ever seen
      • Christ’ example is that of self sacrifice
    • John 15:13 - no greater love has no one that this, that someone lay down his life for his friends
    • Love is sacrificial - expensive - at the cost of the giver
      • sex is like gasoline
      • 2 Cor 8:9  9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
  • Love is not earned or deserved - free to the receiver
    • Romans 5:8 - while we were yet sinners Christ died for us
    • it is given without expectation of reward or reciprocation - does not expect anything in return
      • Matt 6:3 - do not let you left had know what your right hand is doing

17But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of Godabide in him?

  • Love is moved by need, compassionate and refuses to be desensitized to the needs of others - vs 17
      • Prov 28:27 NLT - Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.

18Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.

  • Love is practical - requires more than words -
    • the cross is physical - Jesus BODY was torn, beaten, killed
    • the greek word here means “work that displays an inward desire"
    • John 13 - Jesus washes the disciples feet
    • James 2:14-16 - 14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what goodb is that?
  • Love is sincere - “in truth” means that God calls us to be whole sincere about our love for each other - that it be a living reality in our hearts - it is not enough to love with just hands but also with hearts.

19We will knowby this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him

  • Love that looks like this is how we know God is at work in our hearts
    • The presence of Love like this is the only measuring rod to the activity of Christ in our hearts
    • 1 John 3:14 - we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other.  Anyone who does not love remains in death
  • it is how the world will know that we are His disciples
    • John 13:35 - By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another

 

Response:

  • Do you love like this?
  • you cannot do it without the cross - it’s too costly - but when we know that the one who had more than we will ever imagine has already given all he is and all he has to us then we can turn and do the same for others without fear.
    • 1 John 4:19 - We love because he first loved us
  • Come to the Cross and receive love so we can turn and give it.

 

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God's Plan is Victorious - Joshua 5-6

Our sermon title today is "Gods plan is victorious". 

That statement is unalterably true.  Gods plan is victorious!  

There is no better passage to teach us this truth than Joshua 6 Gods people come straggling out of wondering in the desert for 40 years. They have fought battles and seen miracles, they have watched the Jordon at flood stage part before them and now they have arrived in the promised land.

The first city in the check list is not just a blip on the radar they were comin our swinging. 

Jehrico - two walls one within the other the first 12-16ft high and the second on top of its retaining wall stood 20-26ft.  There were four defensive towers and a mote dug out of the actual bedrock.  

It wasn't a huge town but very well fortified and very old.  Some say that it is the oldest known human habitation on earth.

But God has given them a plan..... And what a plan...

Walk around the walls - 

  1. Day one would have been really intimidating 
  2. Day 3 is my guess as to when the mocking started..
  3. Day 5 is my guess as to when the army was ready to quit. Tired and bored and feeling really useless and stupid
    1. Not one more time. I can't walk around this same wall again and see no change!  
    2. Nothing is happening why do I keep believing?  
  4. So when Joshua says to them on day 7.... We're walking around 7 times today boys!
    1. Then we're gonna have a hallelujah hoedown a shout of triumph!
    2. Shout for God has given us the city!

Where was this battle really won?  God "has given us" that's past tense... When did he give it to them?

A whole chapter ago - 

Jos 5:13-15

  • Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua xfell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15And the commander of the LORD's army said to Joshua, x“Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so

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Comment

God's Plan is Trustworthy - Joshua 3 and 4

The Children of Israel are at a change of season, a change of mission, and a change of generation:

  1. They are no longer wanderers in the desert or people HOPING for a land - they are coming into their inheritance - no longer refugees but an army
  2. They are no longer travelers or sojourners in a land to which they do not belong they are now taking ownership of their dreams and their destinies that were promised to them
      1. No longer fighting for just survival but fighting for destiny
  3. There is a new generation being set in place to lead and being asked to make a new commitment to the dreams God has spoken over them

There are rules:

  • Consecrate yourselves - 3:5
    • The next season is going to require more of you than the last season required.
    • 13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
      14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,
      15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
      16 since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." - 1 Peter 1:13-16
      • it requires PERSONAL by-in and investment
      • you don’t get to ride on you parents dreams and investment any more.
      • to accomplish what you are dreaming you will have to rise to a standard that has not been required of you before
  • Stay back because you don’t know the way - you have never gone this way before 3:4
    • Do not assume that what you have gone through before this has given you the knowledge you need to succeed now
      • what got you here will not take you where you are wanting to go
      • Be patient, thoughtful, considerate
      • Seek wisdom!!!
    • Don’t quit when it gets hard!!!
      • Stand STILL in the Jordan - just when you think you are about to be swept away that is the moment God will break in!
  • Only move when God has gone before you - stay with the presence 3:3
    • God has engineered this moment to show you two things
      • your strength is not enough
      • His strength is MORE than enough 
    • Watch the presence
      • He wants to do this with you - 3:7 I am with you just as I was with Moses
      • He wants to do this FOR YOU

There are rewards:

  • When you do these things you will see victory 3:5 - tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you!
  • This victory will teach you to trust will be the milestone you look back upon to give you faith for the next victory 3:10
  • This victory will be the story that teaches future generations to trust him. 4:3

The pattern is this -

Faith + Obedience = victory

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Comment

The Fatherhood of God

Luke 15

11And He said, "A man had two sons. 12"The younger of them said to his father,'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealthbetween them.

  • The father will allow us to make our mistakes - he is not a controlling Father.  He loves us and wants the best for us but He will allow us to screw up if we cannot be dissuaded
  • This kid grew up in the home of a good Father - he knew that what he was doing was unacceptable
  • The Father did not argue with him - he did not threaten - he just divided the wealth and let the kid make his stupid decision
  • The son didn’t ASK for advice

13"And not many days later, the younger son gathered everythingtogether and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.

  • The Father knew what the kid was going to do - he wasn’t an idiot
  • Some lessons the Lord lets us learn the hard way
  • Notice the Father never says to him “don’t ever come back” or “if you walk out that door!"

14"Now when he had spent everything, a severe famineoccurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.

  • “when He had spent everything - interesting isn’t it that the famine came at exactly the moment when the kid could least afford it

15"So he went and hiredhimself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

  • He hired himself out - he left to find freedom - he becomes a slave
  • He went to feed the swine - He lost his identity - he went off to find himself and he loses himself in the process

 

16"And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving [anything] to him.

  • he left to pursue the pleasures he felt he deserved - he was not even given garbage to eat

17"But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enoughbread, but I am dying here with hunger!

  • I was a son - a person of privilege in my Father’s house and I walked away
  • The lowest of servants in my father’s house had more than enough to eat

18I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."'

  • Here we see finally why he ran from his Father’s house in the first place
    1. He thought he had been worthy to be called the son of the Father - “I am NO LONGER worthy” - it was never about HIS worth
    2. He thought His father wanted a worker not a son
      • the Father has plenty of workers - he only had two sons and one of them ran away from him
    3. He never understood His Father’s heart
      • the Father was never in this for what He was getting out of the deal
      • the Father loved his Son and wanted his son - because he wanted His son!

20"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father sawhim and felt compassion [for him], and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

  • He came to his Father - this is what repentance looks like
  • A LONG WAY OFF - Jeremiah 29:13 - "you will seek me and you will find me"
  • felt compassion for him - "to be moved in the inner being"
    • do we understand that we MOVE Abba?
    • we MOVE the heart of the unchangeable God
  • He ran -
    • Older Jewish Gentlemen of wealth did not run
    • there was no hesitation in the Father’s heart
    • there was nothing of “let him prove himself and I’ll let him come back in"
    • there was NO desire in the Father’s heart to ask the son to earn his right to come home

21"And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

  • The Father does not even dignify this with a response

22"But the father said to his slaves,'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;

  • QUICKLY! - the Father wouldn’t even wait a moment to hear the spiel the son wanted to lay out!
  • Bring the best robe - the robe of the son - the robe of the celebrated one and put it on him
  • put a ring on his hand - restoration of authority and status as a son of the Father - a person of wealth and status

23and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;24for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.

  • the fattened calf - the party food - the best food
  • let us eat and celebrate
  • this SON of mine was dead and has come back to life - he was lost and has been found

25"Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.

  • He hears the celebration - he has been out working hard - doing his Father’s will

26"And he summoned one of the servants and [began] inquiring what these things could be.

  • He doesn’t go directly to the Father to find out what is going on

27"And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calfbecause he has received him back safe and sound.'

  • I hear astonishment in the servant’s voice - you know the prodigal has been a source of gossip in the house
  • Now the Father is celebrating
  • They have taken on the joy of the Father - there is nothing so attractive as forgiveness and the joy and freedom of grace

28"But he became angryand was not willing to go in; and his father came out and [began] pleading with him.

  • He became angry
    • no relief that his brother was ok
    • no gladness even for his Father who had been grieving a lost son
  • Now look at the Father’s heart for his older son
    • he was pleading for his older son to understand his heart
    • he was pleading for his older son to ENTER IN to the JOY of his father and celebrate!!

29"But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and [yet] you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealthwith prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.'

  • We see again the inability of the son to understand his father
  • I work my butt off for you and you’ve never given me anything
    • that was a lie - every thing the Son had was a gift from His father
    • We see again that the son is basing his understanding of his relationship with his Father on something outside the Father
      • His brother’s salvation was his morality - when he stopped being moral he was “no longer worthy”
      • His salvation was his hard work - "I SERVE YOU and have never neglected a command"
    • We are sons and daughters because HE MADE US sons and daughters!!!
      • 1 John 3:1 "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

 

31"And he said to him, 'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.

  • Son you have always been with me
    • the Father recognizes our work and our faithfulness
    • that is not why he calls us his kids
  • All that is mine is yours
    • His fatherhood means that all that he has is ours -
      • “you never gave me a goat” - YOU NEVER ASKED!

32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and [has begun] to live, and [was] lost and has been found.'"

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Vitality in the Spiritual Life

Intro to series - 

Vitality - Life to the Fullest Measure

  • the state of being strong and active; energy.
  • the power giving continuance of life, present in all living things.

 

Three ways vitality is established in the life of a believer: We ALL need ALL 3 of these

  1. Wisdom - Obedience -
    1. Teaching or instruction -
    2. natural law
  2. Community - Relationships -
    1. learn from another’s mistakes -
    2. get help to make you better
    3. “iron sharpening iron"
  3. Grace - Miraculous -
    1. Fixes what we cannot fix -
    2. gives us divine power to repent of our ways and follow good advice

 

Our 2 key scriptures for the series:

  • John 10:10

 

Our scripture for today

John 15:1-11

1 “I am the xtrue vine, and my Father is xthe vinedresser. 2 xEvery branch of mine that does not bear fruit xhe takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, xthat it may bear more fruit. 3 Already xyou are clean xbecause of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 xAbide xin me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; xyou are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that xbears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me xhe is thrown away like a branch and withers; xand the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If xyou abide in me, and my words abide in you, xask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 xBy this my Father is glorified, that you xbear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 xAs the Father has loved me, xso have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 xIf you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as xI have kept xmy Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, xthat my joy may be in you, and that xyour joy may be full. 

 

Start with the end in mind: vs 11 - I say these things that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be made full -

Spiritual Vitality is the fountain of all other forms of vitality.  

  1. bearing fruit - OUTWARD SIGNS OF Vitality
  2. Biblical belief will ALWAYS have evidence
      • The character of Christ
      • The power of Christ
      • The Wisdom of Christ
      • The activity of Christ
  3. I am the vine - Spiritual vitality is the direct result of a vibrant connection with Jesus the vine
    • If you are connected you will bear fruit - if you are not connected you will not
  4. The Father is the vine dresser - Spiritual vitality is the direct result of submission to the Father the gardener vine-dresser
    • He lifts up - he picks the branches out of the dirt and cleans them and puts them in the sunlight.
    • He prunes - he cuts away parts that are stealing life from the main thing.
  5. Response
    • WisdomHOW do we connect and enlarge our connection with Jesus
      • Abide in me …. ask whatever you wish - abide means DO LIFE - in me - pray without ceasing.
        • Jesus makes a promise in verse 4 - "remain in me I WILL remain in you"
      • My Words abide in you - do the words of Jesus LIVE in you?
      • Abide in my love - keep my commandments
    • Community - talk to friends etc about how their connection to Jesus has worked and ask them to keep you accountable!
    • Grace - come today ask and believe the Lord will give the gift of life
      • this begins in repentance we come to the Father the vine dresser 
      • we ask him to do what we cannot do
      • we ask him for grace to help us do what we can do

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Vitality in the Emotions

Revive Update

Church of Fort Waye

Second Sunday of every month - prayer and worship 6PM

 

Quarterly Meeting 

Oct 17th 

Broadway - 7AM

 

Here at First Assembly:

At least monthly

Personally $5 Bible and Band

 

Life in our emotions - 

  1. Emotions are scary especially for men
    • God gave them to us for a reason
    • God himself is an emotional being
  2. The Bible is full of instruction about emotion - both encouraging deeper levels of emotion and discouraging a life ruled by emotion
    • "Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice!" Philipp 4:4
    • Martha Martha you are worried and troubled about so many things but only one thing is needful Luke 10:41
    • Prob 4:23 
    • Above all else Guard your heart - put a watch over it!  Keep it safe!
    • For from it flows all the issues of life - because it's function is absolutely vital
    • Numbness
      • emotions are 
        • too dangerous
        • Too painful
        • Out of control
      • So shut them down stuff them down ignore them medicate them away
        • Heart of stone
    • Hypersensitivity
      • Living life directly out of emotion with no pause no thought
      • No watch or Guard over your heart at all
      •  
    • Both of these are roads to total destruction 
    1.  
      1. Let your emotions be informed by a correct perspective
        • Emotions do not reveal facts 
          • Not about you (directly)
          • Not the world around you
          • Not God
          • Not other people
        • Emotions respond to perceived fact
          • What you believe is true shapes how you feel about a thing
          • You may not even be aware of your perspective on a thing
        • Emotions CAN reveal truth about your perspective on the world 
          • They reveal what you believe to be true
          • They reveal how important you think that truth is
            • Luke 12:34 where your treasure is
        • So here is the guard here is the perspective the grid that should inform ALL of our emotions 
      2. Matt 22:37
        1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength 
          1. When God is your highest Joy your most important value you will take on his perspective of the World
            • Teach me to love what you love
            • Luke 12:34 where your treasure is
          2. You will believe what he says about everything
        2. Love your neighbor as yourself
          1. This will change the way you look at the world 
          2. Revive 
    2. Response
      1. Wisdom 
        • Put a guard on your heart - pay attention to your emotions, ask the questions 
          • Psalm 42:11 why are you downcast my soul?
        • Filter everything with God and Others as priorities 1 and 2
      2. Community
        • Spend time with people who think and feel different than you do 
        • Have people in your life that you are completely transparent with emotionally 
      3. Ask God to help you with your emotions
        • Bring heavenly perspective - reveal and replace wrong perspectives
        • Bring calm to the storm
        • Give you his heart
        • 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
        • 1 Peter 1:8 Joy unspeakable and full of glory

    Comment

    Comment

    The Fatherhood of God

    11And He said, "A man had two sons. 12"The younger of them said to his father,'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealthbetween them.

    • The father will allow us to make our mistakes - he is not a controlling Father.  He loves us and wants the best for us but He will allow us to screw up if we cannot be dissuaded
    • This kid grew up in the home of a good Father - he knew that what he was doing was unacceptable
    • The Father did not argue with him - he did not threaten - he just divided the wealth and let the kid make his stupid decision
    • The son didn’t ASK for advice

    13"And not many days later, the younger son gathered everythingtogether and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.

    • The Father knew what the kid was going to do - he wasn’t an idiot
    • Some lessons the Lord lets us learn the hard way
    • Notice the Father never says to him “don’t ever come back” or “if you walk out that door!"

    14"Now when he had spent everything, a severe famineoccurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.

    • “when He had spent everything - interesting isn’t it that the famine came at exactly the moment when the kid could least afford it

    15"So he went and hiredhimself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

    • He hired himself out - he left to find freedom - he becomes a slave
    • He went to feed the swine - He lost his identity - he went off to find himself and he loses himself in the process

     

    16"And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving [anything] to him.

    • he left to pursue the pleasures he felt he deserved - he was not even given garbage to eat

    17"But when he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have more than enoughbread, but I am dying here with hunger!

    • I was a son - a person of privilege in my Father’s house and I walked away
    • The lowest of servants in my father’s house had more than enough to eat

    18I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."'

    • Here we see finally why he ran from his Father’s house in the first place
      1. He thought he had been worthy to be called the son of the Father - “I am NO LONGER worthy” - it was never about HIS worth
      2. He thought His father wanted a worker not a son
        • the Father has plenty of workers - he only had two sons and one of them ran away from him
      3. He never understood His Father’s heart
        • the Father was never in this for what He was getting out of the deal
        • the Father loved his Son and wanted his son - because he wanted His son!

    20"So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father sawhim and felt compassion [for him], and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

    • He came to his Father - this is what repentance looks like
    • A LONG WAY OFF - Jeremiah 29:13 - "you will seek me and you will find me"
    • felt compassion for him - "to be moved in the inner being"
      • do we understand that we MOVE Abba?
      • we MOVE the heart of the unchangeable God
    • He ran -
      • Older Jewish Gentlemen of wealth did not run
      • there was no hesitation in the Father’s heart
      • there was nothing of “let him prove himself and I’ll let him come back in"
      • there was NO desire in the Father’s heart to ask the son to earn his right to come home

    21"And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'

    • The Father does not even dignify this with a response

    22"But the father said to his slaves,'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;

    • QUICKLY! - the Father wouldn’t even wait a moment to hear the spiel the son wanted to lay out!
    • Bring the best robe - the robe of the son - the robe of the celebrated one and put it on him
    • put a ring on his hand - restoration of authority and status as a son of the Father - a person of wealth and status

    23and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;24for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.

    • the fattened calf - the party food - the best food
    • let us eat and celebrate
    • this SON of mine was dead and has come back to life - he was lost and has been found

    25"Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.

    • He hears the celebration - he has been out working hard - doing his Father’s will

    26"And he summoned one of the servants and [began] inquiring what these things could be.

    • He doesn’t go directly to the Father to find out what is going on

    27"And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calfbecause he has received him back safe and sound.'

    • I hear astonishment in the servant’s voice - you know the prodigal has been a source of gossip in the house
    • Now the Father is celebrating
    • They have taken on the joy of the Father - there is nothing so attractive as forgiveness and the joy and freedom of grace

    28"But he became angryand was not willing to go in; and his father came out and [began] pleading with him.

    • He became angry
      • no relief that his brother was ok
      • no gladness even for his Father who had been grieving a lost son
    • Now look at the Father’s heart for his older son
      • he was pleading for his older son to understand his heart
      • he was pleading for his older son to ENTER IN to the JOY of his father and celebrate!!

    29"But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and [yet] you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; 30but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealthwith prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.'

    • We see again the inability of the son to understand his father
    • I work my butt off for you and you’ve never given me anything
      • that was a lie - every thing the Son had was a gift from His father
      • We see again that the son is basing his understanding of his relationship with his Father on something outside the Father
        • His brother’s salvation was his morality - when he stopped being moral he was “no longer worthy”
        • His salvation was his hard work - "I SERVE YOU and have never neglected a command"
      • We are sons and daughters because HE MADE US sons and daughters!!!
        • 1 John 3:1 "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!"

     

    31"And he said to him, 'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.

    • Son you have always been with me
      • the Father recognizes our work and our faithfulness
      • that is not why he calls us his kids
    • All that is mine is yours
      • His fatherhood means that all that he has is ours -
        • “you never gave me a goat” - YOU NEVER ASKED!

    32But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and [has begun] to live, and [was] lost and has been found.'"

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    Lift@Home - Take Ownership

    I am always trying to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to us as a church family.  What is he up to?  As I look over the last 9 months of our life as a church body I see a couple of things. 

    1. I see Pastor Ron need to take some time down.  
    2. I see the Lord directing us as a staff to plan for and implement the LIFT@home initiative which (some of you know this and some of you don’t) but has been in the works now for about 6 months and will continue to be a major initiative in our midst for the foreseeable future. 
    3. I see Pat Schatzline come and give a prophetic word to our church about the unqualified
    4. Finally and most unexpectedly I see Revive IN come blazing through with all that God did during that intense season and all He is continuing to do.

     

    These things may not feel connected but I believe they are.  I do not believe that anything happens on accident.  I believe that the good, wise, and omnipotent hand of God is at work at all times making all things work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.  I believe that in ALL of this God is saying something significant to us a people.  This word from the Lord is not new.  It is however a word for this moment and a word that is preparing us for the next season of His plan for us individually and for this church as a body.

     

    Before we jump off into what I am hearing the Spirit say - I want to make something very clear - if you do not belong to this church or if you do not even have a relationship with Christ that does not mean that what I am about to say is not for your ears - you are not here on accident.  You are HERE because the same God that gave you breathe and life wants to speak to you.  He wants you to hear him today - he desires for ALL of us to hear him and to respond to what he has to say.

     

    So I am going to pray - 

     

    Eph 4:11

    11And He gavesome [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,

    • The Five-Fold ministry gifts - these are what we look for when we ordain.  It is this level of calling that we would put on our church staff because they have a special assignment.
    • I’m not going to spend time on what each of these things are because that’s not the point of this talk.

    12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

    • for the equipping of the saints
      • the Greek here is weird
      • I dont find anything akin to the word equipping like we would use it - like giving someone what they need to do the job
      • It is more along the lines of - ordering, assigning, organizing, and also this word is used for the setting of a bone or the mending of a net
      • in that it makes sense because we dont give them the gifts we just do all we can to enable and empower the saints to use them.
        • fix broken self images and gifts that have gone out of use for whatever reason
        • help people discover their gifts
        • train people to use their gifts in a way that edifies the body and wins the lost
        • direct the “big picture” of gift implementation to accomplish the purpose of the Holy Spirit
    • for the work of service
      • the work of ministry is the job of ALL of the church
        • the division of labor is what is talked about here
        • these five-fold ministers dont do all the ministry themselves
        • they train, organize and empower the rest of the saints to do most of it.
        • Kyle is a perfect example of an EPH 4:12 evangelist
    • to the building up of the body of Christ
      • It is as people discover the grace gift God has given them and they employ it that the body of Christ becomes
        • alive - active - effective
        • unified - working as one to live up to our high potential

     

    In light of what the Bible has to say about the division of labor in the body of Christ AND in light of what God seems to be saying to us as a church - 

    The staff here at First Assembly will do all we can to do what God says the 5-fold ministers are supposed to do:

         We will help you to see your gifts and your callings

         We will train you to be the church

         We will enlist, encourage, and empower you to be the church

        

    We cannot be the church FOR you! - YOU ARE THE CHURCH

     

    You are NOT a consumer you are a participant!

     

    You are Gods plan A for changing your world! There is no plan B!

         

     

    Here is what I believe God is saying - Take OWNERSHIP

         of your own relationship with Christ

         of your responsibility as THE CHURCH in the world

              of your grace gifts

              of the lives that you are in touch with

         of your homes

     

    Here’s how we take ownership: BE INTENTIONAL

    Make a plan

    1. goals - what are we going to do?
    2. dates - when are we going to do it?
    3. followup - how did we do?

     

    personal relationship - altar call

     

    gifts - spiritualgiftstest.com

     

    family - lift@home - parents take time this week to help you kids make their plans and make a plan as a family.

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    Think Differently - The Us Vs Them Lie

    John 17:14

    14I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.a 16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify themb in the truth; your word is truth. 18As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

     

    Eph 6:12 - we do not wrestle against flesh and blood

     

    Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday ladies and Gentlemen!

    I have noticed a trend - around this time of year a whole bunch of people who are not fans of any specific team start rooting for a team they never cared about before.

    I have to make a confession…. I am not a sports fan…. at all…. I had to ask my wife who was playing in the Super Bowl this weekend - I simply don’t have room in my head along side all those Star Wars facts for stuff like this!

     

    But I have noticed a trend!  The culture begins to align themselves on one side or another. 

    People who have never before cared about a team all of a sudden take up a side.

     

    Think Differently about sides. Not sports teams but ideas themselves 

     

    The Culture all around us has taken a side and that side is against the church.

    judgemental - holier than thou - irrelevant - close minded - self righteous - small - old fashioned - DANGEROUS

     

    The Church has taken a side and it is against the world...

    we rant and gossip about the evil of those who do not know or love Jesus - WHAT DO WE EXPECT?

    we fume at politicians who do not agree with us or who pass unjust laws - we should hate the laws but weep for those who passed them

     

     

    So. what do we do? When the World takes its side against us? - John 17:14-18

    1. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world (he says it twice in 3 verses)
      • realize that we have been called to think differently! - we cannot respond to the world the way the world responds
      • Christ is our example
        • in the face of anger, accusation, and persecution - joy, humility, and self sacrifice
        • in the face of sin - mercy and grace 
        • in the face of self-righteousness and the spirit of religion - anger and violence
        • in the face of need - compassion and rescue - there is no place in Christ that says “they made their bed now they can lie in it” is that what Jesus did for you?
    2. I do not ask that you take them out of the world
      • He said this on purpose!!! - Jesus had no desire that we be taken out of the world
      • the church has always wanted to build a wall around itself and retreat from the world we must understand that Jesus has no desire for that kind of behavior in his people - Matt 5:14-15 - a city on a hill - the lamp belongs on the lamp stand 
        • recognize fear and renounce it - 2 Tim 1:7
        • recognize self-righteousness and renounce it
          • if you EVER at ANY TIME feel like you are BETTER than another human being - you have been convinced of a lie.
          • Pastor Ron said it right last week - “Humility and repentance are the keys to change” both in ourselves and in the world.
    3. "But keep them from the evil one"
      • we do have an enemy - but the WORLD is not the enemy Eph 6:12 we do not wrestle against flesh and blood
      • there is a danger that we will be influenced by the world and not the other way around.  We need to be aware and careful of that.
      • Sanctify them in truth - YOUR WORD IS TRUTH
    4. "As you sent me into the world so I have sent them into the world" - the "iplan"
      1. Intercede, Invest, Invite, Include
      2. This week is the star of Intercede - get your cards they are in the bulletin and the ushers have them.
        1. Start praying FOR them not ABOUT THEM
          1. ask to love them
          2. ask to be given opportunities to display Jesus love to them and the courage to do it!
          3. ask that the blinders would be removed from their eyes 2 Cor 4:4 the god of the age has blinded them

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    I'm A Lifter - The Body

     

    How is it that every cell in the human body carries the same DNA but they all do different stuff?

     

    Romans 12:3-4 ESV

    3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members,e and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

     

    1. We are all members one of another - we learned about this in Pastor Frank’s “We are family” sermon
      • We are in this together - for better or worse
        • what affects you affects me!
        • vs 1 Cor 12:26 - if one suffers we all suffer, if one is honored we all rejoice!
        • Leprosy - the body takes care of itself unfeeling causes damage 
    2. We are all different from one another - 1 Cor 12:14-20 read it.
      • Each part has a specific and vital role to play - God did it this way ON PURPOSE  out of his Desire and by His design
        • It was Gods desire and design for our joy 
          • It is a joy to be used
          • It is a joy to love each other in our diversity John 15:11-13 - 

            11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

            12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

        • This is Gods desire for His glory - John 15:8 8By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, 
        • This is Gods desire for mission - Matt 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
      • No part should dishonor another
      • No part should wish they were another 
      • No part gets to leave 
    3. The Parts are all directed by the head
      • This only works when we are all submitted to the head by the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
      • "Community without mission is cancer"
      • Let's dream as a body
        • Let's have a baby and care more about it than we do about ourselves
        • If each part of the body cared only about itself we'd be in real trouble
        • If any part stopped being cared for the whole body would be in real trouble
    4. Take Away 
      • Cherish each other for who they are
      • Become awakened to what YOUR ROLE is
      • Play your role boldly but IN STEP with the Spirit in submission to the head and to each other
      • Don't be intimidated by the role that others have been created to play. Even if it is similar to yours. The Lord has a beautiful fit that only you can fill and he cannot and will not replace a part of the body that is functioning in submission and cooperation with him
      • Go and be the hands and feet of Jesus "Lifter Cards"

     

    1 Cor 12:12 - 31

    12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesd or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

    14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts,e yet one body.

    21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

    27Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

    And I will show you a still more excellent way. 

     

    Eph 4:11-16

    11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsc and teachers,d 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,e to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

     

     

     

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    Taking God At His Word - A Practical Plan for Giving

    Intro - 

    1. We are the owners of NOTHING - 
      • We’ve earned / deserve nothing….good
      • God Owns it all -
        • 1 Cor 10:26 - a quotation of Psalm 24:1
        • What you have in your hands and even the breath that you breathe is a gift from him to us that we are given to steward
      • Because God owns it all we never need to be afraid!  
        • God is our supply and he never runs out
        • God is our Father and he always gives to his kids - trust his heart!
      • Understanding God’s ownership brings a balance
        • When you don’t have a lot in your hands (your income is lower) - you can trust him because HE is the source he has it all and he can give some to you
        • When you DO have a lot in your hands (your income is higher) - you can know that it didn’t come from you and that it isn’t in your hands to serve YOUR purposes.
      • Understanding God’s ownership keeps materialism in check
        • When this isn’t YOUR money all of a sudden it really matters how you manage it - because you WILL be held accountable for how it is spent
        • Debt and overspending have been damaging to so many in our age
        • One of the things God wants us to do with our money is ENJOY IT - 1 Tim 6:17
        • When thinking about a purchase we need to ask the question - is this how God would have me spend HIS money???
          • WE NEED TO ASK HIM! - every larger purchase should be a matter for prayer
    2. It might not be ours but it IS in our hands - 
      • Right thinking leads to right behavior! - once we are thinking like a servant of God, a steward of HIS resource, we will act like a trusted manager.
      • It is our JOB to steward God’s varied Grace - 1 Peter 4:10
        • it is our job to manage the financial blessings God puts in our hands
        • He gives it to us to distribute it in such a way that the things God cares about are being taken care of appropriately
      • 2 Cor 9:10 
        • Seed to the sower bread to the eater
        • We are Funnels of blessing that the Lord Pours INTO so WE can pour OUT
        • The more we pour OUT the more he can pour IN 
        • We can be cheerful, happy, excited, that resource going out from us MEANS even MORE resource will flow in
        • God delights in using us this way - he delights to supply us liberally and to see us pour out WITHOUT FEAR or feeling of obligation
    3. Feel like a precious heir
      • Giving is about your joy - God is teaching us how to live the most rewarding life possible
        • Every time a preacher starts talking about money the eye rolls begin - the gossip starts up - here we go the church is talking about money again
        • Neither God NOR the church NEED your money! - He owns it all anyway and He will make it happen 
        • Giving is built into the human DNA as a joyful thing - there is a REASON we celebrate birthdays and Christmas with gifts - human beings LOVE to give 
        • God desires us to achieve our highest joy through a lifestyle of generosity 
    4. 1 Cor 16:1-2 is God’s practical plan for this kind of living
      • Give regularly “on there first day of every week" - chose a frequency for your giving that make sense with your life - “every week”, “every pay day”, “the first week of the month” etc.
      • Give Personally “every one of you” - that means the kids too.  make this a life long personal habit - to be a continual funnel of God’s blessing every day.
      • Give systematically “set aside” - this isn’t about how generous you do or do not feel in a specific moment - be methodical and intentional about giving in the lean times and the times of plenty
      • Give proportionally “in keeping with his income” - Let your outflow reflect your inflow 

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