Losing MY Religion

Moral compass – Without something pointing us north (like we need to be pointed toward God) our focus becomes inner, self focused. So whatever makes me happy is best, right, acceptable.

Without a moral compass we can justify anything.

My greatest concern with pastoring an independent church…

Jesus had that moral compass. John 7:16-18


This isn’t a mere call to follow Jesus better just for the sake of obedience. It’s also encouragement, mentoring, pastoring, to say if we want to have impact like Jesus then let’s stop doing it our way and try doing it His!


Three truths about Jesus and personal interactions:

  1. Jesus was only rude to a very few people.
  2. Jesus wasn’t rude to people just because they disagreed with Him.
  3. Jesus was rude to those who were supposed to be leaders but were breaking the law.

If my religion tells me to be rude, attack verbally, etc, it’s probably not Jesus’ religion.


We often must decide if we want people to hear our personal message or our Jesus message. Because they usually won’t listen to both.

Proverbs 15:1

Matthew 10:16

Look at IMPACT Jesus’ way. Not political, no personal axe to grind. Some great examples are John 7:15, 46, Matt 7:28, 13:54, 22:33, Luke 2:47, 4:22, 32, Mark 1:22, 6:2

What was so amazingly different?

Living water, the Spirit, for those thirsty, John 7:37-39

Parables of two sons, evil farmers, the great feast – a common moral that it’s not what you say but what you do! Matt 21-22

Yet Matthew 7 is the best insight into what amazed so many people:

  • Don’t judge others
  • Be careful finding fault with others while ignoring your own faults!
  • Don’t waste your efforts where you know they won’t be received!
  • Keep on asking & receive… seeking & find… knocking & doors will open
  • God wants to give good gifts
  • The Golden Rule
  • The path to eternal life takes effort, as opposed to the path to death
  • Be careful who you listen to
  • Activity is not enough, not the goal, but doing God’s will is

Jesus’ teaching, His way, is a rock to build your life upon. Our religion is shifting sand!

When we share our God-given passion with Jesus’ words and in His way, lives and hearts are changed!

Jesus has given me passion AND direction on how to share it!

Responding in Difficult Times

The first part of 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear…”

Don’t respond in fear!

The Greek word used here that we translate to fear means “cowardice or reticence”

There is paralyzing fear and there is the fear that is just over-concern. Either one, fear is not from God!

So is what follows in that verse the opposite response of fear? In a way.


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power…”


There is peace in strength, especially His strength. If I know I can handle it then there is no need to fear.

It’s not just that God gives us power but He has given us a spirit or an attitude of power!


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love…”


Same as above, not just the command to love but we have been given a spirit, an attitude of love.

Love – perfect love casts out all fear. Fear keeps us from one another, physically and emotionally.


“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”


Sound mind – peace, calm, sober, level headed, not stirred, not shaken by circumstances, not over-reactive!

We are merchants of peace, purveyors of His peace! This world needs what we’re offering!

Respond in confident power,
in a spirit of love,
in a calm, level-headed way.

An Invitation to Dream Again

Jeremiah 32:6-7

Why this is even worth noting in the Bible…

  1. Judah was not following God, not walking in blessing – verse 23
  1. Jerusalem was under siege by the Babylonian army – verse 2
  1. Jeremiah was in jail for preaching, because his sermon wasn’t popular – also verse 2

But God gives a promise through Jeremiah’s message: It was going to get worse before it gets better.

The Bible is full of the promise of restoration!

Joel 2:25, Isaiah 61;7, Job 42:10, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Genesis 28:15, 48:21, Psalm 126:1, Deuteronomy 30:3

Haggai 2:9

And to Jeremiah God says land will again be sold and purchased! verse 15


Christianity is about hope!


Context is always important…

This new building is not a traditional “church” building nor the Civic Center. So things will be different, the way we use it, what we can and will do with it.


If God has led us here, then God is leading us to something different!

The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted our nation, communities, the way we work and shop and play – and church. What things look like in the future is still unknown. But we all agree things will change. And when things change, businesses that don’t adapt (like sell online) and churches that don’t adapt become irrelevant, inaccessible and extinct.

And I believe God is leading each of you to do something that you’ve never dreamed possible!


Have you ever thought about Jesus’ Dream?

Jesus dreamed about people following God’s will! Luke 22:42, Matthew 6:10

Jesus dreamed that we would love one another! John 13:34

 And Jesus had a dream of unity! John 17:20-23

According to a recent survey of pastors, unity is the #1 concern of pastors right now! It’s easier to be rude, hurtful, critical when you aren’t face to face. And it’s harder to have great, meaningful conversations.


Recap…

We cannot fully realize our dreams without pursuing God’s dream!

The dream is bigger, and deeper, than we often imagine!

So dream! This difficult time doesn’t dictate the dream!

An Invitation To Try Again

Sometimes it’s good to give up somethings…

  • Things that don’t matter
  • Things that are destroying your life
  • Things that are keeping you from the people you love

But what about when we quit the things that really matter?
What about when we quit the things that were helping us grow?
What about when we quit doing the thing we were created to do?

Three things that cause us to quit…

1. We get distracted

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

We have to be sure the things we are going after are the things that really count.

2. We get comfortable

For too long we’ve bought the lie that if we don’t feel passionate about something, that’s a  good reason to quit. But in reality, we lose our passion because we have failed to do the simple things that keep the fire going.

Hebrews 12:11

If you’ve neglected to do the simple things, it’s time to try again.

3. We get scared

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 12:1-2

It would be so sad for us to miss this invitation to be part of what God is doing in the world because we’re distracted, or lazy or too scared to even try.

An Invitation to Forgive Again

Our emotional responses, like criticism, cynicism and unforgiveness, often backfire on us.

If you’ve given up on trusting people because too many relationships have ended badly, it’s time to wipe the slate clean, and let people in.

 

WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?

Forgiveness is a choice.

Forgiveness doesn’t take time or special circumstances. It is immediate, instantaneous. So…

  • Forgiveness is not forgetting.
  • Forgiveness is not reconciliation.
  • Forgiveness does not take away the pain, it is not healing, but can begin the healing process.
  • Forgiveness is not deserved or earned.

We forgive those who don’t deserve it because we don’t deserve it.

Forgiveness is dropping the rock. It is no longer demanding someone be punished for hurting you.

In John 8:3-11 Jesus’ immediate response was forgiveness!

Forgiveness depends solely on the forgiver.

It is an error to say “I don’t have to forgive someone until they apologize.” Jesus’ example in Luke 23:34


Here is your invitation to bless someone

Romans 4:7


Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses. Proverbs 10:12
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. Proverbs 19:11
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7

An Invitation to Believe Again

Why does our world just seem to be getting more cynical, more untrusting, more skeptical?
– As Christians, I think this isn’t a trend we can follow.

Another name we’ve been called is believers. Believing is what we’re known for.
Hebrew 11:6

Matthew 14:22-33

That’s what Jesus does is He looks into our lives —the mess ups, the doubts, the stupid mistakes—and says “Come on.”


He believes in us. And we should believe in ourselves.


He loves us and He believes in us enough to die for us.


And if that’s possible, what isn’t?

  • If the divide that sin had created, the rift between God and man, could be mended… what is too hard for God?
  • If He would die to claim us as His own, what would He not do?
  • If He can love us at our darkest, who is beyond the reach of His grace?
  • If He can defeat death, what enemy can’t He stand against?
  • Are there truly any hopeless situations once Jesus is involved?

To follow Jesus is to believe the impossible.

  • Who should be more optimistic than followers of Jesus?

 

Where have you given up in your life?

The cross is an invitation to believe again.

 

I’m not saying God’s given you a blank check, and that if you just believe hard enough God will do whatever you want.
I’m saying there are some things YOU KNOW God wants to do in your life—heal you both physically and spiritually, destroy life-stealing habits, help you make a difference in the lives of those around you, and be a positive influence in the world—but He can’t do any of that if you’ve already given up.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. – John 14:12

Here’s what I know
God does the impossible…
He has done it in my life, and He has done it in yours
And He’s not finished yet
He wants to do the impossible in the lives of others
And He wants to use us to do it.

An Invitation to Gather Again

Some have enjoyed this isolation… but it’s time to gather again.

We were not designed for life alone! We were designed for community!

Just because you CAN make it alone doesn’t mean you SHOULD!

There are perks to doing church online … but it can never really be a true replacement.


This is a reminder for all of us to see why gathering is so important and a call to embrace the full scope of what it means to BE the church not just go to a building.


The Church in not kirche, a building, but ekklesia, a gathering of people united by identity and purpose!

The New Testament never describes a building as a church.

Acts 2:42-47


Five things you miss if you don’t gather!

Worship
Ephesians 5:18-19

But I also believe there is a theological reason why your singing along with the television isn’t the same thing as your experience on Sunday morning. And I hope we remember this and carry it with us even after this thing is over. You and I are meant to “sing to one another” and you cannot do that as well with worship at home. It’s hard to live out Ephesians 5:18-19 in your living room. To only sing vertically is to forget that we were saved into a people. It isn’t just me and Jesus. My relationship with God is intimately connected to the vital companionship I share with my brothers and sisters. So we need to sing songs together. And to one another.
– Mike Leake

Encouragement
Hebrews 10:24-25

Missions
Isolation breeds selfishness – article

Spiritual development
During online church, most people handled it one of two ways:

  • They either let someone do their worship for them and got weaker in faith and further from God’s dream and planned blessings for their life, or
  • They felt online wasn’t enough and they owned their growth! They went deeper! They took advantage of opportunities. And the spiritually rich get richer.

Connection
We are a body. We’re not independent but interdependent. We are a family and someone needs you!


An Invitation to Gather Again

We Can Do More Together

There is great power in unity!

Gideon’s story in Judges 7:15-25

Joshua leading Israel around Jericho in Joshua 6:8-16

Nehemiah 4:6

Formula One pit stop

But we live in a time of individuality, we don’t need anyone else. It’s a consumer-oriented time where spectatorship is higher than ever.

We have come to believe that we are truly part of something by simply watching it.
Casey Cockerham

The Bible does not encourage us to spectate!

Ephesians 4:7-8

Ephesians 4:11-12

You are God’s gift to your communities!

Everyone has something awesome to do for Jesus!

In the last 4 months:
Food banks have probably fed more people than ever,
landlords have forgiven rent more than ever,
companies have delayed and forgiven payments more than ever,
families have shared food with other families perhaps more than ever.

But all this is normal for Jesus’ church.

The church isn’t perfect but the majority of the good in this world has been led by the church!

More Opportunity

People hearing a sermon normally fall in two general categories: the pastor is either singling you out or he’s talking to those other people.

Understanding someone does not mean you agree with or condone their actions.

Mark 14:3-9

The first step in reaching someone is hearing them – even when they aren’t talking.

Jesus fed people who had not even asked for food! John 6:1-5

Jesus hears, sees, feels what we are going through even when we aren’t expressing it. Like the silent woman in John 8.

Because ALL are broken, ALL are invited.

Romans 5:8

Reaching someone requires caring about them, not judging them.

Like Jesus did for us.

John 8:7

1 Corinthians 14:1-5 introduces this chapter about God’s dream for spiritual gifts. It’s all about encouraging and bringing people closer to Jesus!

When we don’t use our spiritual gifts, it affects us in much the same way a pandemic shutdown does: depression and fatalistic emotions, selfishness, critical and argumentative attitudes, etc.

We are no longer in pause mode. We have to figure out how to do life and ministry!

What were you dreaming before March?

Dream again and dream big!