Thursday, December 12, 2013

Live Inspirationally

Here's a sermon by Jason Jaggard (I wish I could link specifically to his sermon, but I don't think I can -- so you'll have to scroll down) about living inspirationally.

http://www.churchinhollywood.com/media.php?pageID=15

Philippians 2:12-18
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.
As I read that scripture, what stands out is "...it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose." Have you ever wanted to do God's will, but just can't seem to get it together? Or feel as if there is some barrier between what you do and what you want to do...who you are and who you want to be?

It's like how Paul puts it in Romans 7:15 - "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." If you read the rest of that passage, Paul goes on to explain the tumultuous conflict inside. After a series of back and forth, he gets to the end with, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Apparently we need God...a lot; just to do what we honestly desire to do. And I'm feeling that right now in life. But that takes trust. Try and get to the bottom of yourself and ask -- do you trust God to handle your life, marriage, children, career, money, business? It's tougher than it seems. But God is faithful and won't leave us.

There's the struggle; but that's part of a life that can only be explained by God (see below). And that's a life worth living.

Here are some notes from the sermon:
  • Scripture is an echo throughout history that says, "God cares."
  • Philippians is a letter to people who are doing okay
    • Sometimes we're not in a high or low spiritually, but just going along
    • This can be the hardest place to hear God's voice
  • "Work out your salvation..."
    • The word "salvation" can have negative connotations these days
    • Salvation is used in different ways
      • God saving (like saving King David from his enemies)
      • God forgiving us (more spiritual sense)
      • God protecting us ("you are my rock and my salvation")
      • In this verse, "salvation" is a process, not a specific event
        • It's a partnership and relationship
  • We are designed to inspire people
    • "Inspire" means to breathe life into
    • Jesus is the most inspirational person to ever live
    • "Working out salvation" means becoming an incredible human being
      • Having more integrity, more compassion, less bitterness, etc.
      • Matthew 5:14a - "You are the light of the world."
  • Culture says that God just wants to take all the fun stuff away from us
    • The truth is that He is the best giver
  • "...with fear and trembling."
    • There is a fear that traps us...
      • A life of fear clips off the highs and the lows into a manageable middle
        • But you miss the highs...
    • This is a different kind of fear
      • This is to go places in your life that require God to exist for you to be successful
  • Working out your salvation with fear and trembling means living a life that cannot exist without God
    • This journey requires a choice
  • God has "plans to prosper you..."
    • In your character
  • There are some things God loves doing for us, but most things He loves doing with us
  • "Grace is more than just the forgiveness of sins; grace is the opportunity to become like Jesus." - Deitrich Bonhoffer
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Defining Moment


Here is a sermon by Marcus "Goodie" Goodlow, at Ecclesia Church:

http://www.churchinhollywood.com/media.php?pageID=15

It's based on 1 Samuel 7:1-10, about the Israelites turning back towards the Lord, but then being attacked by their enemies. They beckon God to show up and save them, and He does!

In the sermon Goodie says, "Courage to sacrifice is the prelude to the phenomenal." What an awesome statement! I've been thinking about courage a lot lately (and have written about it). It's often believed that self-preservation is basic human nature, so just embrace it and get what you want in life. But are these the folks that are truly celebrated in life? No! It's the ones that sacrifice themselves, through life or in death, that receive the highest honor. It's also what Jesus did.

So the next time you're given the opportunity to inconvenience yourself for the good of someone else, take it! Then see what God does! We have been given "every spiritual blessing in Christ," (see below) which means we can expect big things from God!

Notes:
  • Samuel had never visited a place and left it destroyed
  • Samuel never wasted a word
    • 1 Samuel 3:19 - "The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel's words fall to the ground."
  • Are we willing to confront our own compromises?
  • Pride is having an inaccurate view of self
  • Our worst is never so bad that we are beyond God's grace
    • And neither is our best that we don't need God's grace
  • Ephesians 1:3 - " Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
    • We have been given "every spiritual blessing"
    • What are you compromising in when it comes to God? Where are you settling?
  • Humility means having an accurate view of yourself
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help
    • Or ask people to help - utilizing their gifts
    • We all need a spotter - life can get weighty
  • 1 Samuel 7:10 - "While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites."
    • Every once in a while, God intervenes and something out of the ordinary happens
    • We all need "that day"
    • Courage to sacrifice is the prelude to the phenomenal
      • Time, resources, talents, etc.
      • Being connected to a movement - advancing a cause that is bigger than yours
  • God is in the business of defining moments
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Words We Live By - Matthew 18:20

Here is #5 in the Words We Live by series, a sermon by Joseph Barkley. It seems like I missed the even numbered sermons in this series, so you'll have to check #4 out for yourself.

http://www.churchinhollywood.com/media.php?pageID=15

This sermon is all about church discipline and fighting against legalism. I have to be honest -- legalism seems to happen so naturally in Christianity. I've been there and said some things I shouldn't have, and still do. In the sermon, though, Joseph apologizes to non-Christians for those of us who have expected them to act like Christians. That's key, and I didn't really begin to learn that lesson until I heard this song by Emery:


Why should we expect people to adhere to Christian rules if they are not Christians? Maybe, instead of worrying about enforcing rules for living, we focus on loving people and let God change hearts and behavior, in His time? There's some good notes below.

Here's the scripture:

Matthew 18:15-20 -  “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

And some notes (sorry they're in all caps -- I was at work when I listened to this and was doing something with my caps lock on):
  • WRITTEN TO A JEWISH AUDIENCE
  • IN CONTEXT, LOOK AT VERSES BEFORE -- CHURCH DISCIPLINE
    • JESUS IS ONLY TALKING TO THE FAMILY ("BROTHERS")
    • JESUS IS ASKING US TO GO BEYOND CONVENTION, TO CALL EACH OTHER OUT
      • REAL HELP HAPPENS WHEN WE GET REAL WITH EACH OTHER
      • ONE-ON-ONE IS WHERE THIS HAPPENS MOST
      • WHEN PEOPLE AREN'T HONEST, IT CREATES GOSSIP (A TOOL OF THE ENEMY)
    • THIS ISN'T LEGALISM -- WE ARE ALL IMPERFECT ("...SPECK IN YOUR BROTHERS EYE...")
    • THE GOAL IS NOT PERFECTION, IT'S ABOUT DIRECTION
    • "2 OR 3 WITNESSES" - THIS IS AN OLD TESTAMENT THING (DEUTERONOMY 19:15)
      • NOT "FIND PEOPLE WHO AGREE WITH YOU AND GANG UP ON SOMEONE"
    • "TREAT THEM AS A PAGAN OR TAX COLLECTOR"
      • JESUS WAS ACCUSED OF SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME WITH PAGANS AND TAX COLLECTORS
      • THIS IS AN INVITATION TO TAKE THE CONVERSATION TO A DIFFERENT PLACE
        • MAYBE THIS PERSON NEEDS TO START FROM SCRATCH WITH CHRIST
        • JESUS SAYS THAT'S NOT UP TO YOU TO DECIDE ALONE -- IT'S COMMUNITY
    • THIS IS NOT A SYSTEM OF PUNISHMENT, BUT A SYSTEM OF RESTORATION
  • WHAT JESUS SAYS NEXT IS THAT CONVERSATIONS ARE IMPORTANT AND HAVE ETERNAL CONSEQUENCES
  • "WHERE 2 OF 3 GATHER..."
    • IT MEANS "TOWARDS MY NAME"
      • NAMES MEANT THE TOTALITY OF WHO SOMEONE IS
        • WHEN YOU GATHER TOGETHER, LINING YOURSELF UP WITH ALL OF WHO JESUS IS, REST ASSURED THAT GOD IS WORKING THERE
    • THIS ALSO MEANS THAT FROM THE MOMENT YOU ACCEPT HIM, JESUS CAN USE YOU
  • IT'S NOT ABOUT PERFECTION, BUT DIRECTION
    • JESUS IS ASKING US TO ALWAYS CONSIDER WHERE WE'RE HEADING
      • THIS IS HOW WE FIGHT LEGALISM
    • GOD IS NOT TRYING TO MAKE BAD CHRISTIANS INTO GOOD CHRISTIANS
      • IT'S MORE LIKE ALLOWING SUFFOCATING PEOPLE TO BREATHE AGAIN
  • JESUS CAN DO SO MUCH WITH A LIFE THAT IS MOVING TOWARDS HIM
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Words We Live By - Philippians 4:13

I missed sermon #2...so you're gonna have to go look that one up yourself.

http://churchinhollywood.com/media.php?pageID=15

Sermon #3 in this series is about contentment...which seems to be one of the most difficult things for me to get a handle on. In it, he talks about the lottery campaign "believe in something bigger." These are plastered all over Los Angeles:

http://wonderfest.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/lottery-believe-in-something-bigger-600-13893.jpg

The moment I saw this, I was disgusted. If your "something bigger" in life is winning the lottery, then what kind of hope is that? And will it ever be realized? Probably not. But as I reflect on it, is it so different than most of our "something bigger?" Most of us dream of the day we may have tons of money, and imagine what we would do with that money. It's a fun dream to indulge in, and really that's a lot of what we work for...the day we have more.

Joseph points out that this isn't actually a dream for "something bigger," but rather "something more." We all want more, which is natural. But what if we had enough, right now? How would that change us?

Philippians 4:11b - 13- "...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength."

God, give me the strength to have contentment in life. Without Him, I'm not sure it's possible...

Notes:
  • Philippians 4:13 isn't about accomplishing your goals, but about our need to be happy and content.
  • Acts 16 - Tells story of Philippians church plant
  • Two tools when analyzing scripture
    • Context (last week's message)
    • Commonality: bridges the world back then with our world now
      • What is universally true about humans then, that is common to humankind?
  • Paul says he knows the secret to being content in every situation in verse 12
    • Who wouldn't want to know that? That would mean no more fear that our dreams wouldn't be realized, or that we would be haunted by what could have been.
    • Contentment has nothing to do with circumstance.
    • Throughout everything, Paul's first attachment is to Jesus.
      • He is able to detach himself from inadequate saviors (money, health, etc.)
      • He was not even attached to his own life
  • Believe in something bigger, not just more.
  • The thing Paul loved the most could not be taken from him -- that is the secret.
    • Paul didn't want to be in prison, but he wanted Jesus more.
      • He lost his life. You cannot steal from a life that's been lost.
  • Paul doesn't say "I can think all things."
    • Jesus does not give us the strength to just think right thoughts
  • The "all this" is continuing to do God's work
    • Jesus is giving me strength to join whatever He's doing wherever I am
      • God is doing something with you right now.
  • God does not leave us alone in pain. 
    • He doesn't always explain it, but He joins us in it.
  • You are not your future self
    • You can be complete in Jesus Christ, right now.
  • If you are in prosperity, it's easy to make that the new normal.
    • Maybe God wants us to show the world that there is more.
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