Settling The Big Questions

1 Peter 3:15-16

If God is omniscient, He always knows how to do what’s best.
If God is all-loving, He always wants to do what’s best.
And if God is omnipotent, He is always able to do what’s best.

If I settle those 3 big things, the little questions don’t matter.

We struggle believing because there is evil in the world and God isn’t handling it the way we would.

If I don’t believe something simply because I don’t understand it, I am saying there can be nothing in the universe greater than what I can comprehend. And I know that is not true. It is that inherent knowledge that is the seed of faith. It’s not what you can deduce or figure out nor what you can sense with your body. That’s why God gave us a seed of faith, to help us believe beyond the limitations of our mind and body!

And God gave us His Word to help us in that pursuit, that journey of faith to believe, understand, reach what we cannot reach with our mind or body!

He is omniscienceHebrews 4:13, Isaiah 55:8-9, 40:28, Psalm 139:4, 147:5, Romans 11:33, Colossians 2:2-3, 1 John 3:20, Jeremiah 1:5, Job 37:16

He is all-lovingJohn 3:16, 15:13, Romans 5:8, Psalm 103:11, 136:26, James 1:17, Ephesians 2:4, 1 John 3:1, 4:8-9, Jeremiah 31:3– He gave His Son to die for people that reject Him, ignore Him, curse Him and deny Him. End of story.

He is omnipotent Mark 10:27, Ephesians 3:20, Jeremiah 32:17, 27, Genesis 18:14, Romans 4:21, Job 42:2, Daniel 4:35, Isaiah 55:11 – He created everything that is!

Why doesn’t He zap every evil immediately – as I probably would if I were God?

Grace is messy!


Proverbs 6:16-19

God hates when we act evil, when we plot evil, or murder the innocent, or give false testimonies or reports. God also hates lies. God hates a person who stirs up conflict! And He hates when we deem ourselves better than someone else.

Jesus teaches love, selfless sacrifice, humility, kindness, grace and mercy.


HERE IS THE DIFFERENCE — AND THE POINT:

  • Evil doesn’t begin with Jesus!
  • He doesn’t produce evil, or act it out.
  • Jesus is the enemy of evil!
  • He speaks against evil, teaches against evil, commands to shun evil, stood against evil, lived without evil, died to deliver us from evil, and upon repentance He even forgives evil!

2 Peter 3:9

Easter Message

Over 12K times a day someone searches for “Jesus Christ” on Google!
That’s about 4½M every year!

But there’s a problem with the cross
– It makes us sad
– It can make us feel guilty
– It can be confusing

THE REASON FOR THE CROSS is forgiveness!
Easter is about life that begins – after Jesus!

Today, let’s not skip the cross!

Luke 9:21-22

Skipping the cross

All the disciples ran and left Jesus behind – Mark 14:50

Judas sold Jesus out – Mark 14:10-11

Simon Peter denied Jesus – Mark 14:66-72

The crowds turned on Jesus
One Sunday they are giving Jesus a parade (Mark 11:7-10)
Five days later they are demanding He be put to death (Mark 15:9-14)!

I really hope to call us back to our first steps!

You’re in the best place when you realize there is only One who knows everything and it ain’t you!

Nothing Is Impossible

Value everyone, try anything and believe that nothing is impossible with God!

Mark 9:23, 10:27

Our world isn’t interested in Christians that know it all. Our world is desperate for believers that actually believe in the power of God!

People who are struggling, losing their marriage, home, job, kids, etc. don’t just need another friend. They do need a friend that knows all things are possible in Jesus!

We absolutely must make up our mind what we believe!

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, displayed the power to heal and work miracles, then promised to send that power back to us!

Sometimes the difference is in what is allowed. Matthew 13:58

Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith. Unbelief is the opposite of faith.

Alisa Childers

Faith isn’t having no doubts. It is often believing in spite of the doubts.

Hebrews 11:1, Mark 9:24

We believe anything is possible! Forgiveness, reconciliation, unity, peace, justice, mercy, hope, healing…

JESUS DIED FOR OUR IMPOSSIBILITIES
Of course, the biggest impossibility was forgiving our sin so we can be reconciled to Him and receive eternal life. But once that was done, it opened up possibilities into all my impossibilities.

This Is Our Church

Galatians 6:9

Luke 13:1-9

This Is the Year – one more year, as in the verses above, one more chance. But what will be different about this year?


Our purpose is not to look good, or sound good, but to produce fruit!

The most important thing a Christian can do is introduce someone new to Jesus!


What will be different this year for 29:11?

What will be different this year for you individually?

“My fruit grows on other people’s trees.”

Bob Buford

Fruit has two purposes:

1. Fruit provides nourishment, is a blessing, to others around the tree

This Is the Year to answer the question, “What are you going to do about that passion God put in your heart?”

2. Fruit creates new trees!

Before the seed can create a new plant, the fruit dies.

Galatians 6:1-10

This Is the Year we Pivot

I believe there is a greater gulf between the church and the average unchurched American than there has ever been before. Ever.

And today, nearly a year into this pandemic, I believe many churches and Christians are:
…standing in the same place they were a year ago – great, if it is the right stance!
…sharing the same message as a year ago – awesome, if it’s the right message!
…sharing it in the same way as a year ago – and that’s where the problem is.

We need to pivot! Not change our stance or message, but the direction or way we share it.

But first we must consistently check a couple things: Is our stance Jesus’ stance? Is our message Jesus’ message?

We can’t afford to major on the minors. Matthew 23:24

On some level you have to believe God is involved in leading you to a local church body, your spiritual family. Don’t just embrace the friendships, but the wisdom and instruction too!

The basis to begin with as our stance & message is John 3:16-17.
– God loves us so much,
– He chose to send His Son to die for our sin,
– Faith in Him is all it takes for salvation,
– Condemnation is not part of God’s plan,
– God wants to save the whole world!

Our stance is a balance of grace and truth.

Our message is Jesus as our salvation!

How do we pivot? What does that look like? What is going to work?
– Alternative ministries
– Lifestyle evangelism, think long-term
– Listening to people’s heart not just their anger
– Keeping the focus on Jesus, not on proving you are right
– Maintaining a balance of truth and grace.

If there is no truth then there’s no need for grace.
If there is no grace then there’s no need for truth.

This Is the Year of Purpose

Resolutions are usually about what we do, like with our hands.
Real change begins in the heart.
Those things we settle in our heart are the real deal!


Matthew 3:1-8

HOW WAS JOHN SO CERTAIN OF HIS PURPOSE, HIS CALLING?

For one, his parents knew – and they told him. Luke 1:13-17, 76-79

If you have Godly parents or grandparents, listen to them!

But John also had to know for himself.

1. He received His understanding of his life purpose from God,

2. confirmed by Godly people in his life, and

3. then, and only then, determined how to walk that out


WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO KNOW YOUR PURPOSE?

1. When you don’t know your purpose, anything and everything is a potential distraction, detour or dead end!

2. When you know your calling, nothing can stop you from fulfilling it!

3. Only people with purpose make a real difference!

KNOWING YOUR PURPOSE ISN’T ENOUGH
Do. Act. Commit. Consistently.
Lives are at stake. Families are struggling. Eternity is in the balance.
Some people use their “purpose search” as an excuse to not move on.

DID JOHN EVER DOUBT HIS PURPOSE?

Sure. And when he doubted, he went to the source of his calling! And Jesus answered his doubts! Matthew 11:2-5


HOW DO I KNOW AND BEGIN TO FULFILL MY PURPOSE?

  • Ask!
  • Expect confirmation!
  • Do what you know!

This Is the Year I Love Like Jesus

So exactly how did Jesus love so well?

Has Anyone Ever Seen Eros Without Agape?

Without agape, eros becomes merely physical. Like David with Bathsheba, in 2 Samuel 11.

We go through many chapters in our married life. Without agape, those non-eros chapters loom as the premature ending to the book – the marriage. Only agape can span the whole book!

The danger to an eros relationship without agape is when you lose your looks or your ability to have sex. Then what do you have?

Eros alone won’t cause a 20-something young lady to do what Larissa Murphy did. Read her story here.

Ever Seen Philio Without Agape?

Without agape, philio easily becomes cliquish, and often turns into favoritism or manipulation

It often devolves into liking only those who look and act like you, or only those who like doing what you like to do.

Isaac & Rebekah, even though a family, are good examples because they each chose the son most like them, and that they could get the most from. Genesis 25:19-28

That is philio without agape! Loving those like you that you can get something out of!

Read Maximilian Kolbe’s story – this is agape-based philio!

Ever Seen Storge Without Agape?

Without agape, storge devolves into all manner of family dysfunctions.

There ends up being more emphasis on appearances, often even making fake memories, rather than making a true family!

But Agape is:
Selfless, without expectation, sacrificial
Unconditional, regardless of the past
Is not earned or deserved
Driven by the belief that there is something bigger than oneself
A willful choice, an exercise of the will

And true philio, storge and eros are the fruit of agape! Great romance, and great friendships and great families are the result of a heart full of and acting out of Goldy love!

John 15:13

Romans 12:1

But the greatest love is when we give up our time, energy, labor, money to see someone come to Jesus!

This is the Year I Listen to God

As Christians we have a responsibility to listen to God

Jeremiah 33:3

Rude and Mean
God is so demanding of how we live our lives, what we do with our money, our relationships, right?

God is God, Not Just a Wise man
More and more people today just don’t get that Christianity is not a belief system, or a list of ideals that you pick and choose.


Christianity is the belief that God created everything and is sovereign, sent His Son to bring us back to Him through His own sacrifice, because He desperately wants relationship with us, He wants to be involved in our lives, He wants to help us and guide us, warn and protect us, etc.


Isaiah 30:21

Listen to God. Don’t feel your way!

“The Lord told me” is no substitute for ”The Bible says.”

Voddie Baucham

Our feelings are not the earmark of God’s direction. We confuse emotion with God’s leading. But motion can be a counterfeit, a cheap copy of how the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth and God’s will.

Remember when Jesus was 12 in Luke 2:41-52. Mary and Joseph FELT like Jesus was close by. They felt. They didn’t know. Jesus said they should have KNOWN!


How to hear God more clearly
– Increase your regular intake of His Word
– Decrease your intake of things opposed to His Word
– Increase the time you spend talking to AND listening to God
– Expect confirmation

This is the Year I Go Deeper

Luke 8:4-8

According to Jesus, the author of the parable, the seed is the Word of God – verse 11

*Note: The full explanation of this parable given by Jesus is found in verses 9-15.


Scenario 1. Those for whom the seed didn’t change their week.

The length of impact of the Word of God on their lives is so minimal because their time investment is minimal.

Scenario 2. Those for whom the seed didn’t change their life.

They still fall to the same temptations, still use the same coping mechanisms, still believe what they’ve always believed.

Scenario 3. Those for whom the seed didn’t change their heart.

Luke 12:34

Scenario 4 is the hope in Luke 8:15!

It’s the difference in liking Jesus’ words, or the ideas of His plan, and embracing the Truth.

Am I interested in hearing something I like, something that makes me think or feel deeply, or do I want to hear something that changes me?


How much Jesus do we want?

1. Till, go deeper, break your ground open.

2. Weed and feed – rid your life of temptations, back away from your coping mechanism.

Jesus didn’t die to fulfill all our desires. He died so we could be free from our desires!

And don’t forget to feed your spirit with the Words of Jesus, bible study, podcasts, sermon notes, etc.

3. Check your focus. What do you live for?