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 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 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!

More Understanding

Perspective is powerful!

Problems arise when we forget other people have a different perspective than we do and when we forget their perspective is just as real and valid as mine.

It was customary in Jesus’ time to provide for your guests’ feet to be washed. In the various recordings of the times Jesus had His feet washed, the one thing that connects them is the reaction of other people.

In Mark 14:3-9 and Matthew 26:6-13, those eating with Jesus scolded the woman washing Jesus’ feet!

And it appears from Matthew 26:14 and Mark 14:10 that Jesus’ acceptance and forgiveness of this woman was the final straw in Judas’ decision to betray Jesus!

In John 12:1-6 it was specifically Judas who was upset with the woman. Really? Judas? He didn’t just betray Jesus a few days later, he was also stealing from Jesus’ ministry funds! So his judging of her wasn’t genuine!

In Luke 7:36-48 a Pharisee scoffed at Jesus for letting a sinful woman touch His feet.

Thank God this Pharisee wasn’t in charge of the guest list the night I came to Jesus!

The Pharisee, instead of rejoicing in the tokens of the woman’s repentance, confined his thoughts to her former bad character.
Matthew Henry


Don’t be angry if I wash His feet with my tears and dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night Jesus found me
You didn’t feel what I felt when He wrapped his loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil in my alabaster box
Janice Sjostrand, Alabaster Box

But beyond other people’s sins, what about others who look or act differently than ourselves.

Instead of judging others or jumping to conclusions, let’s try on their shoes. People aren’t responding to my perspective but the one they are coming from.

First, ALL people are broken—we just express our brokenness in different ways.
Next, ALL people are welcome—the Gospel is good news for all of us.
And lastly, ALL followers of Jesus are called to repent—because we are all in the long process of being conformed to the image of Jesus.
Jonathan Morrow

Whether our struggles are community-inflicted, family-inflicted or self-inflicted, the answer for all struggles is Jesus!

This world is dying for a church that will help them see past their struggles and mistakes and the scars of the past to see Jesus as their strength, their healing and their hope!


If you’re broken, if you struggle, someone is ready to pray for you. Text your prayer needs to 205-476-2911. If you’d like someone to pray with you over the phone, just ask!

More Time

It’s not about more room
It’s not that it’s more grand
But God has given us More Time!

We are going from having a few hours each week to 24/7, to do ministry from this building!


God has given us MORE time
so we can do MORE
to reach MORE!


At the first of the year our leaders shared with us that something was going to be different. There is something different about this time that God has given us.


What if God has given us this time – more time – because we are running out of time?

The Bible gives us signs to be looking for…

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Matthew 24

Luke 21:28


Perhaps it is Harvest Time
the time of year when crops are ripe and ready to be gathered.

    1. Stop complaining
    2. Not a time to be lazy or complacent
    3. No fear! Be bold

We have to fulfill the great commission. We are called to make disciples in this time! Matthew 28:18-20

Most of us have become quite good at the church thing. And yet, disciples are the only thing that Jesus cares about and it’s the only number Jesus is counting. Not our attendance, not our budget, not our buildings. Just disciples.
Mike Breen

The example of Esther in Esther 4:14

More Than Eternity

Salvation is about more than your eternity!

What is this new DNA I’ve been talking about? We have a new Christlike nature!
John 3:3-7
2 Corinthians 5:17
1 Peter 1:23
Romans 6:4


The nature of this Christlike DNA is to act right

There was found no fault in Jesus – 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:22, 1 John 3:5

Pilate testified as well in John 19:4-6

Jesus saves us from our old nature and if we want to be like Him we can’t walk in that old nature any longer!
Check out these scripture passages: Ephesians 4:17-31, 1 John 3:2-10, Colossians 3:1-17

But how can we live like Jesus?

The Fruit of the spirit – Galatians 5:22-23

Paul also lists the fruit that springs from our human nature, which we no longer follow, in verses 19-21.

And Paul says in Galatians 5:16 to walk in the spirit as simply as if it’s a choice.

Our world, our country right now needs a Church that walks as an example of what is possible when we yield to this Christlike nature!

  • Choose Love!
  • Choose Joy!
  • Choose Peace!
  • Choose to be Longsuffering!
  • Choose Gentleness!
  • Choose Goodness!
  • Choose Faith!
  • Choose Meekness!
  • Choose Self-Control!

And this Christlike DNA produces good deeds

Jesus didn’t quota out.

After He preached, led His small group, taught the kids and led in worship, He healed the sick, fed the hungry, cared about children and rescued people from sex trafficking – wait, what?

John 8:1-11

Jesus did all this – and He cried!

So how can we impact lives so deeply like Jesus?

  • The Gifts of the Spirit – 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
  • What are gifts? Free things, good things, like benefits and blessings!

James 5:16, paraphrased

The earnest, passionate prayer life of a righteous person produces amazing results!

More Than Showing Up

I’ve heard for many years that 95% of life is just showing up? But is it really true? For exercise, getting an education, relationships, being a Christian?

For most of life it’s what you do after you show up that’s important!


Four examples of Dad prayers in the Bible:

  1. Job over his kids, even after they were grown! Job 1:1-5
  2.  Abraham interceding for his nephew Lot – Genesis 18:20-32
  3. Jacob’s final blessing over his sons – Genesis 49:1-28
  4. Fathers on the front porch with the blood – Exodus 12:21-23

If you really get this first step the other steps will fall in place!

Ephesians 5:15-20

  • Don’t live foolishly but wisely
  • Don’t act thoughtlessly but with understanding
  • Don’t be drunk but filled with the Holy Spirit

The Spirit of God is all the coping help we need!

Be an example to show your children how to rely on God’s power, wisdom and help!