Deny Yourself

Luke 9:23-25

It’s the first step to following Jesus… BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE

“Let us measure ourselves by our Master, and not by our fellow servants, then pride will be impossible.”

Charles Spurgeon

“God opposes the proud” (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5)
Who did Jesus oppose?


Jesus says “DENY yourself”

He used this word later at another time.

  • To affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone

Humility says…

  • God is more important, other people are more important
  • I need God and I need other other people

Matthew 20:25-28


Jesus was the embodiment of humility
And as His followers, we should be too.


Matthew 23:12

There is power in humility.

Real or Religion

If there is a God that’s out there, and He’s the kind of God who wants to be reached and wants us to reach Him, it’s not going to be by our own methods.

Jesus didn’t come to start another religion. He came to breakdown the barriers between us and God. Not to make up a new way for us to work our way to God, but make the door wide open between us and Him.
Hebrews 10:19-20

Religion has failed a lot of people. Jesus never has.

The Golden Calf – Exodus 32:1-8
(The people prepared for Moses to go up the mountain in Exodus 19)

We would never make an idol to worship instead of God?
But have we?

The problem wasn’t that they made a cow. The problem was they wanted to reshape God to fit into their box.

Instead of waiting on what was real, they settled for just religion.

Are we guilty of this too?
– Wanting a god we can carry around, but when he becomes inconvenient we can leave him behind.
– A god we can visit once a week and proclaim how awesome he is, and then walk around the rest of the week like we’re the center of the universe.
– A god we can use to intimidate opponents, but can be easily ignored after the fight is over.
– A god that can speak against other people, but can be silent whenever it’s time to talk about how we fall short
– A god we can learn about and maybe even understand, but never truly know.

In a world as fast-paced, and self-centered as our own, it’s so easy to settle for religion.

We can’t formulate our faith. We must maintain that connection to heart of our

What do you have? Something that’s real or just religion?

The default mode of the human heart is religion. What’s the solution?

“Revivals and renewals are necessary because the default mode of the human heart is works-righteousness.”

Tim Keller

Moses was the only one invited up the mountain,
But Jesus’ cross changes things.

Romans 3:21-24

We’re all invited up the mountain.
We’re all invited into the cloud of God’s presence.
We’re all invited into a relationship with God.

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 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.

Breaking the Pattern

We don’t like the times like these, because it’s a break in our PATTERN and it calls our pattern into question.


Mark 10:17-22

HE WANTED AN ENCOUNTER – To say he’d met Jesus.

HE WANTED AFFIRMATION – That his normal was good enough.

HE DIDN’T WANT CHANGE 


If we aren’t careful, we’ll end up there too—seeking our time with Jesus, just to make us feel better about ourselves, with no desire to make a real change, and no concern for the way we could be used to serve others.


How can we find a better pattern for ourselves?

Romans 12:2

3 Questions.

  1. How can you create pauses to call your pattern into question?
  2. How can you give more generously?
  3. How can you live more generously?

Matthew 11: 28-29

What You Got for Christmas, Part 3

LUKE 2:8-13

Sometimes we don’t see the true gift we’ve been given.

 



BATTLESHIP

A game played with paper and pencil up until Milton Bradley created the first board game version in 1967
– Someone is trying to sink your battleship—Someone is out to get you

This is why are the shepherds “filled with fear”?
For thousands of years before Jesus—throughout all of human history—religion was about making peace with the gods.

Jesus came to make peace for us.

Romans 5:1,6-11


 

RUBIK’S CUBE
Invented by Hungarian architect, Ernő Rubik in 1974.  On sale in the USA in 1980.
– It’s so messed up… how can it ever get better?
– Where do we even start?

‘And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not,…'” – Luke 2:10

Jesus’ birth signals the shift in the trajectory of human history.

REVELATION 21:3-5

 


 

VIEWMASTER
Introduced in 1939
– A momentary illusion of a prettier place

Anything that brings you peace in life apart from Jesus is only a temporary distraction.

When you focus on Jesus you put your problems into context.

JOHN 16:33

The peace we have been given isn’t an excuse to ignore the world, it’s an invitation to take it head on.

“The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies,” – Martin Luther

 



ROCK’EM SOCK’EM ROBOTS
First manufactured in 1964
– An endless cycle of senseless conflict

LUKE 2:16-18

Jesus models being an agent of peace – John 18:36, Matthew 5:38-47

Jesus champions the peacemakers – Matthew 5:9

The followers of Christ have been called to peace. . . . And they must not only have peace but make it.  . . . His disciples keep the peace by choosing to endure suffering themselves rather than inflict it on others. They maintain fellowship where others would break it off. They renounce hatred and wrong. In so doing they overcome evil with good, and establish the peace of God in the midst of a world of war and hate.

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment. Wanting no security… Battles are won not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Peace begins with YOU and ME.



ISAIAH 9:6
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Where’s the Impact?

Does impacting the world take only actions?  Just words?

“We don’t just have the red letters in our Bible; we also have what he did. Both his words and actions were important in ushering in the Kingdom of God. In fact, if there ever was a person who could get away with doing only one of these, it was Jesus. And yet he gave us a different example. He showed us that we are to both live and speak the gospel. And in doing so, we will carry the message of God’s redeeming love into the world.” – Krish Kandiah

SHARING THE “GOSPEL?” – Evangelion – Good news

Acts 17:1-6

Are we turning the world upside down?

If we aren’t doing something we know we’re supposed to be doing, what’s the most likely reason?


 

1) Do we really want to?

 

Mark 10:17-27

The more you focus on what you want, the more empty your dreams become.  But when you spend your life like Jesus did, focused on the needs of the lives connected to yours, you will find true, meaningful purpose that leaves a lasting impact on the world.

Matthew 16:25


2) Do we think it’s important?

Matthew 26:38
We never really know what other people are going through.


3) What’s Stopping Us?

If you already know Jesus, you are both CALLED and you are CAPABLE to share Jesus with the world. 

If Jesus is who He says He is…
and you’re following Him…
then you already have

  • The only message that is ALWAYS worth sharing.
  • The power to share that message whenever the need arises.
  • The blueprint to live in a way that raises questions.
  • The love and humility that will allow you to be heard.

Luke 22:54-62
What Peter learned that night: 1 Peter 3:14-15


“There are people in our communities, families, and friend circles who have never heard the good news of the gospel. If we say we follow Jesus, then this should bother us. The notion that so many wander through life apart from his love should motivate us to share the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.” – Ed Stetzer

Into The SpiderVerse

There’s only one Spider-Man… right?

MATTHEW 3:13-15

Jesus is inviting us all into this story.

John 10:9-10 CEV

“What I like about the costume is that anybody reading Spider-Man in any part of the world can imagine that they themselves are under the costume. And that’s a good thing.” – Stan Lee

Saul’s experience on the road to Damascus

Pharisees (like Saul) had their way of thinking challenged by Jesus.

THESE WERE INTENTIONAL RELATIONSHIPS

Jesus was all about including EVERYONE

If you draw your circle too small, you eventually end up alone

1 Timothy 2:1-4

We’ve got to take care of our “neighborhood.”

“Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” –  Charles Spurgeon

1 CORINTHIANS 10:33

I never thought I’d be able to do any of this stuf—but I can!  Anyone can wear the mask.  YOU can wear the mask.  If you didn’t know that before, I hope you do now. -MILES

JESUS BELIEVES IN US

ACTS 1: 8

We cannot do it on our own

“When I feel alone, like no one understands what I’m going through I remember my friends who get it.” – Miles

1 CORINTHIANS 11:1

God uses our relationships with each other to bring us closer to Him.
Jesus knew this.  That’s why he said, “Love one another as I have loved you.

We may fail… but we can’t lose.

Jesus and Peter walk on water

TAKE THE LEAP

Brother’s Keeper

GENESIS 4

This race isn’t against each other…
Hebrews 12:1 

Genesis 4:9
AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?

“You have never talked to a mere mortal.”
–CS Lewis   (read full quote)

Cain left no legacy because he failed as his brother’s keeper.

To leave a legacy of our own, we must be each other’s keeper and there are some things we must keep doing!


We need to keep REACHING

There is someone who doesn’t know Jesus today that will before the end of 2019—if you reach out to them. 

MATTHEW 28:19&20


We need to keep DISCIPLING 

  • Discipling is just passing on what we’ve learned.

There are people who need the Small Group you are already ready to lead.

Learn more about leading a Small Group


We need to keep SERVING

Galatians 5:13

“One of the principal rules of religion is, to lose no occasion of serving God. And, since He is invisible to our eyes, we are to serve Him in our neighbor; which He receives as if done to Himself in person, standing visibly before us.” – John Wesley

There are opportunities all around you. 

CHURCH 29:11 exists to reach the disconnected.

Are you an owner… or just a consumer?

YOU HAVE SOMETHING AWESOME TO DO FOR JESUS


Reaching—Serving—Discipling.
When you stop doing these things, coming to church becomes all about YOU.  (and quickly stops making sense!)

LET’S OWN THIS.


Abel’s sacrifice was messier, and more difficult… but that’s sacrifice!

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” – Hebrews 13:15-16

If it’s easy, it’s not a sacrifice.