June 2013

June 17, 2013

Trusting a God Who Moves

Ecclesia is doing a series titled God is Moving. This is the first one in the series and a really good one.

The big takeaway with this one is that, if we start trusting God before knowing why things happen, it's better than if God gave us all the answers before we trusted Him -- if He did that, we'd still be left without the peace of trusting Him. That's really what we long for anyway, right -- peace?

Something else that hit me is that we tend to make a god out of things we want, or at least attribute them to God being pleased with us. If I'm not healthy or getting richer, than I must be doing something to make God mad. Or flip it -- if I am super healthy or have been very blessed financially, God is pleased with me. But if those things are suddenly taken from me, I must have made God mad.

Both of those are folly of course, but at the bottom of it, that's probably how most of us view God -- the great Gift-giver. God does give good gifts of course ("Every good and perfect gift is from above..."), but He is so much bigger than that. If all God is to us is blessings and good things, then we have missed Him entirely. And when those things are gone, what does God say? I Am. I Am with you. I Am enough

Here is Trusting a God Who Moves, by Joseph Barkley, based on Exodus 3 - 4:17.

  • How can I trust God when things are unstable or unsafe?
  • God says, "I am with you."
  • God does extra-ordinary things in ordinary circumstances
    • Burning bush
  • The answer to a lot of our questions to God is I will be with you.
  • Moses asks God His name
    • Names were incredibly significant, especially attached to deities
    • It was believed that if you knew a deity's real name, you had some persuasive power of them
      • God says, "I Am who I Am."
  • People at that time attached things they wanted with deities
    • Fertility, crops, rain, sun, money, etc.
    • If you weren't getting what you wanted, you weren't pleasing the god of that thing.
    • In this context, God just says, "I Am."
  • We do the same thing: attach God to finances and health
    • We act like, if we aren't getting the things we want, God must not be happy with us
    • God says I am bigger than those things.
  • Moses essentially tells God he can't do it
    • This is derived from his past failures
    • For every one of Moses' rebuttals/ concerns, God essentially says, "I am with you."
    • Moses eventually says, "Please send someone else."
      • He became less impressed with God and more impressed with his fears
      • God gets angry and says He's going to do it anyway, and Moses is going with Him. He also offers Aaron and the staff.
  • We need to trust Who is moving before we find out why
    • Proverbs 3:5 (MSG): "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try and figure everything out on your own."
    • God will ask us to trust Him before we know all of the answers
      • We have to begin with this
    • Philippians 1:6 "...he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
  • Jesus echo's God's words..."And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

June 14, 2013

I'm Good Enough

Here is I'm Good Enough by Joseph Barkley. He has an awesome way of taking a lot of information and making it relevant to the heart. Most people would say that, as long as they're not a "bad" person (i.e.-don't kill anyone or steal something major), they will go to Heaven. I think that would be great, but that point of view doesn't line up with the bible. And since we're getting our information about Heaven from the bible, we should probably pay attention to what it says about getting there.

There are several excellent lines in the notes below, but this one is a good summary: Grace means we can get all of the love, acceptance, forgiveness we long for, not because we worked harder, but because we accepted defeat.

Pretty much every religion is centered around pleasing a god or gods in order to get into an awesome afterlife. It's all based on our works! With Jesus, we get all of the benefits, without the endless work! And I love what Joseph points out are our deepest desires: love, acceptance, forgiveness. It's not always about a good life in Heaven, but experiencing these things, which allow us to be close to God, on Earth.

Here are the notes. It is based on Romans 3:19-26:
  • We all want peace about life and the after
  • According to the Law, there is something abhorable about every human, and it is sin.
    • We all have it, which is maybe why we don't find it so bad...
    • Makes any relationship with God completely impossible
    • This feels futile!
      • Maybe that's because it is -- no one is good enough
    • A sense of our defilement before God is not bad or narcissistic, but healthy and a perception of our true condition.
  • Doctor metaphor: if a doctor tells you you have cancer and you don't believe him because you don't want to, it's foolish
    • Ignorance of too much information: the more information we have, the more we think we know, which becomes self-diagnosis
      • Like using WebMD
  • If you believe in some kind of God or hereafter in which you are allowed in because you are "good enough," you live under some sort of law or scale to be judged by.
  • In order to understand our condition, we need to understand the devastation of our sin, and the gap that it creates between us and God.
    • The space between me and the most vile person I can imagine, is closer than the space between the most moral person and an infinitely perfect God.
      • ---Bad man---me------Good man--------------------------------------- (x more) God
    • God's law lets us know how bad sin is so we can have a fighting chance at asking for an alternative
  • The Old Testament can be summed up in "Law."
    • The New Testament can be summed up in "Grace."
  • This is where Christ comes in (see scripture in Romans)
    • God hated sin enough, and He loved us enough, to send Jesus to pay for our sins
  • You are never good enough for grace
  • This should never become old hat for Christians
    • You can never out learn or out grow grace.
  • God is present in His church when grace abounds
    • Church is best when people know it's okay to not be okay; that we're all longing for a second chance, broken and dependent on God.
      • This exalts the grace of God in your life
  • Grace means we're not in control
    • Can lead to fear of "hypergrace," which equals enablement to do whatever you want
    • Romans 6:1 - "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?"
      • Titus 2:11-14
      • Grace leads to intimacy with God, which gradually makes us into the people we were made to be
  • Grace means we can get all of the love, acceptance, forgiveness we long for, but not because we worked harder, but because we accepted defeat
    • Grace pours freely into open hands
    • This happens when we believe what God says about our sin, and His solution in Christ

June 13, 2013

Is One Way the Only Way?

This is a good sermon by Greg Koukl about religious pluralism, which is very popular these days. The basic argument against this, though (which is detailed in the sermon), is that contradicting ideas cannot both be correct. This has to be one of the most relevant subjects around right now, as the belief that "you believe what you want and I'll believe what I want and everything is okay" is so rampant. It's a nice point of view and I wish it were true, but it's just not logical.

What's good about this sermon is, at the end, Greg appeals to the heart. He says that everyone has something inside them they don't like. We can attribute this to many things, but maybe, deep down, it's guilt; and if we all feel guilty, maybe we are guilty. I don't know if I can say that everyone essentially feels guilty in life, but I would say that most people, if they examine the innermost of their hearts, would recognize that something is broken. Jesus claimed to fix this, and I think He's right.

Here is the sermon (several lines down, "Is One Way the Only Way"). And here are some notes:
  • Calling someone intolerant isn't addressing the issue, but rather attacking character.
  • Every claim of truth is narrow, Christian and not...
  • Narrow-mindedness is having a prejudice towards other views; having blinders on and not considering other views.
  • Argument against pluralism:
    • The fundamentals of religions contradict -- someone has to be wrong and someone has to be right, but they can't all be right.
  • The identity of Jesus was the central issue to Jesus
    • "I came to seek and to save that which was lost, to give my life as a ransom for many."
    • Being the Messiah and the Son of God are two things...
      • Claiming to the be the Son of God meant to be equal to God back in those days
      • It's what Jesus was killed for -- his claim, not his acts
  •  Jesus claimed to be the only way to heaven over 100 times
    • His followers all said the same thing
    • He either knew he was right or wrong about this.
      • If he knew he was wrong, he was a liar. 
        • Jesus as a liar doesn't fit with his teachings.
      • If he was wrong and wasn't lying, he was crazy.
      •  If he wasn't crazy or lying, he was right.
  • The cross contained an agony we can't understand -- the complete wrath of God.
    • When they crucified people, there was a sign above them that detailed the crime for which they were hanging. When they died, it was crossed out = debt paid.
      • When Jesus had paid all of the debt, he cried out "It is finished," and gave up his spirit.
      • We trade our punishment for his atonement.
  • Religions are valuable insofar as they solve a problem.
    • Get the problem right, and the right solution.
    • People suffer from misplaced sincerity all the time.
    • Christianity solves the problem of a broken relationship with God
      • Rejoins God as our King/Father, and us as subjects/sons
  • Something true about everyone:
    • When we look deep down inside ourselves, we see something we don't like that we don't want anyone to see.
      • Being privately aware of this inner moral brokenness is guilt - everyone feels it.
      • Why do we feel guilty? Maybe we ARE guilty.
        • This is the problem. The answer is not denial, but forgiveness (exactly where Jesus comes in).

June 11, 2013

Make Room for Mission

This is the final sermon in the "Make Room" series, this one by Josh Surratt, centered around 2 Kings 4:8-36 about a woman who made room for Elisha the prophet. Somewhere in here he says that "you can be the chance encounter that changes someone's life." So true. Look for those.

I don't have a ton to say about this one, but it was a great series and I encourage listening to it. I've got some stuff from Judah Smith coming up that I'm pretty excited about sharing, so look for that.

  • John 14:12 - "“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father."
  • The Shudnammite woman isn't even given a name -- it's not about her.
  • Mission: a specific task with which a person or a group is charged 
  • Expect divine appointments (2 Kings 4:8)
    • Do we miss these because we're not looking for them?
    • Sometimes you don't know what to do and you just have to try things (i.e. - process of Elisha bringing boy back to life) 
    • Psalm 37:23 - "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way."
    • Make a reminder to look for divine appointments
      • Pray for God to show you when these are happening
      • Remember that you are on mission!
  • Sometimes you have to go through 'famine' to experience a breakthrough
    • It's no coincidence that Gehazia was telling the king about the Shudnammite woman right when she walked in
    • You will be able to testify God's goodness
  • Sometimes obedience isn't what we can do for God, but what God may want to do for us.
  • When your Dad is the God of the universe, provision can happen
    • Often times our response determines our reward
    • Luke 6:38 - "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
  • There are no regrets in investing in God's economy
    • Time, money, energy, etc.

June 6, 2013

Make Room for Generosity

God has been doing great things in my life concerning my desire for money, and I think this sermon played a part in that. I grew up in a middle class family, but I always had friends who had more than me (at no fault to my parents). I was consistently one step behind...especially when it came to video games. I'm okay with that now, but when your friends are getting Playstations and you're just getting a Sega Genesis, it's not the coolest. Anyway, I think this birthed in me a desire to have what I wanted, when I wanted it. It has put an emphasis on money that slowly made its way to a central spot in my life.

It doesn't help that so much of Western culture teaches us that the point of life is to amass lots of money and things in order to create a comfortable life; and then die, leaving it for your kids. Jesus says don't amass things on earth, but things in Heaven. So how can the Western church reconcile both ideas into one, when they are opposing ideas? We find our ways, but I doubt it's right...

I'm not saying money is bad or you shouldn't have a lot of it. I'm going through a sermon series on Heaven by Judah Smith where he speaks a lot on this, which I'll share later. However, the desire for money and things dominates my thoughts, plans and actions; and I think this is where the greatest folly is. The good news is, however, that this is the spot where God is working on me -- changing my concept of career. I'm not "there" yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.

I've been quoting this verse a lot lately, but I think it's the best teaching on the subject:
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
That's Matthew 6:31-33. If we're not worried about money or the things it buys, but rather trust that God will provide, then how does that change our careers? Our plans? Our retirement? Our lives? It only recently hit me that Jesus says, "the pagans run after all these things...." Another translation reads, "These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers...."  That means a couple things: first, I don't have to worry about money, food, clothes, etc.; second, I'm acting like an unbeliever if I do. Well, that makes most of us...

How do we change it? "...seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Seems simple, right? Of course it's not, but imagine the freedom it would provide to know and trust that it's not solely up to us to make a living, but that we can (and should) depend on a God who can provide all of those things for us. Imagine how it would change our thought-processes, our relationships, our careers...everything! I want to get there.

Here is "Make Room for Generosity," by Greg Surratt.

Here are some notes:
  • This sermon is based on 2 Kings 5:20-27
    • Gehazi gets greedy when he decides to get something from the rich guy instead of serve him.
  • Greed will suck all the joy and peace out of your life
  • Greed consumes
  • Greed causes you to do things you would never otherwise do
    • Gehazi lies
  • Greed causes you to hide things
    • We don't ask people to pray about our greed, we hide it
  • Greed separates friendships
  • Greed will ruin your life
    • It's caught, not taught
  • Luke 12:14 "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.'"
    • "Be on your guard..."
    • "Against ALL KINDS of greed."
      • Greed for stuff we want: beware of "my life would be better with ____." That's a replacement for God = an idol.
        • Idolatry is when you find your identity/ joy/ reason for being in anything other than God.
      • Greed for stuff we have: confusing ownership and stewardship
        • "I work hard for what I have..." - everything is a gift from God
        •  Sometimes this is when God asks us to give stuff away
      • Greed for stuff you're afraid to lose
        • This greed is based in fear - "we won't have enough" - Gehazi was afraid in the famine.
        • "Family first" can even be greedy if it's out of fear
  • Guarding against greed
    • Learn contentment
      • Greed is insatiable
      • "My heart leapt within me when I saw all the things that I did not need."
    •  Pursue community
      • Ecclesiastes 4:9 "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:"
      • Running your bad greedy ideas by people can help stop you from doing them.
      • You need to sit at a table with people who love you, but are not impressed with you.
    • Practice generosity
      • Isaiah 32:8 - Generous people plan to be generous
        • Plan your giving to the church
        • Plan on how you'll give to the poor
        • Generous in acts of service
      • "They stand firm in their generosity"
  • God used Elisha in a big way because greed didn't have a grip on his soul.
    • Do you want to be that guy? Or Gehazia?

June 5, 2013

Make Room for Rest

Any teaching on rest usually grabs my attention. I feel that resting is so undervalued in our culture, and this sermon by Josh Walters asks some great questions that should get us thinking about the connection between rest and our relationship with God.

While on the subject, I love this website and what they stand for: http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org. If we're not careful, it doesn't take long to get sucked into a busy life, filled with technology, advertisements and constant updates on everything you care (and don't care) to know about. Taking a day off is literally essential for our health - we're designed that way, so why fight it?

Jesus often went off to quiet places to pray. I'm sure this is where He rested, recharged and got his direction from God. Shouldn't we do the same?

  • Busyness is not equated with godliness
  • What if my ability to rest would determine the degree to which I could walk in the promises of God?
  • What if how I manage rest is more important than how I manage work?
  • What if my commitment to rhythms of rest has more impact on my long-term fruitfulness, than on how hard I work?
  • The Fruit of the Spirit lacks when we go too long without rest.
  • Culture doesn't support a restful life
  • How do I change my attitude towards rest?
    • Acknowledge God's design
    • If God made us a certain way, we need to abide by His rules to successfully live life to the fullest
      • Fish out of water
    • Refusing to rest is not just a bad idea, but a sin ("the wages of sin is death")
    • "According to His power that is at work within us" - not ours
    • We have to follow God's example
      • God created the world with rhythms of rest - nature is our measure of time
      • God rested

June 4, 2013

Make Room for a Miracle

I love when people of God challenge us to really believe that God is as big as the bible says, and can do what He says He can do. It's so easy to forget this when life gets mundane and it seems like we're on our own, or that God doesn't really act the way He used to in the bible. I think this is a trap though, because if we don't believe God acts anymore,we're obviously not living in faith. The bible says that, "without faith, it is impossible to please God,"so how can we expect God to act if we don't believe He will?

Not to say that God is powerless if we don't believe, but if we personally want to see God do things in and through our lives, we have to take Him at His word. That's the beauty of the Christian faith -- God promises things in the bible; when we take those as truth and stuff happens, it eases our doubts and confirms that God does in fact do what He says. This only increases our faith, which allows us to believe even more in His power to do awesome things! It's a cycle that leads to a life fully lived (which Jesus said He came for).

Here's "Make Room for a Miracle" by Greg Surratt:

Some notes...Miracles we can expect to see:
  • Miracle of God's creation - Grand design of the universe
    • Intricacies of the human eye
    • We experience miracles daily in the intricacies of our bodies & environment
      • We can turn these into worship experiences if we choose to pay attention
  • Miracle of God's favor
    • Results far exceed the effort that is being put in
      • Leviticus 26:8 "Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you."
    • Favor follows obedience
      • Matthew 6:31-33 "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
  • Miracle of God's direct intervention
    • 2 Kings 4:11-37
      • God wants to give birth to a miracle inside you, for His glory
      • Sometimes the dream is so buried in hurt and discouragement, that it takes someone of faith to bring it out
      • Sometimes after the miracle is born, God allows it to die
        • When it does, cry out to God
        • Don't blame Him for stuff the enemy does and drive a wedge between you and God.
      • Don't settle, but be tenacious in your approach and appeal to God
      • Just because the first attempt at a resurrection doesn't work, doesn't mean it's time to quit
        • Sometimes you need to shut the door, go in alone and cry out to God
        • God's path for a miracle in you may take you places you don't expect
        • When it's not working, don't stop, just do something different
      • If you're in a climate and atmosphere where nothing is impossible, anything can happen