Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekly Schedule 11/29/09

Tuesday December 1st-No women's group

Sunday December 6th-
Family Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship with refreshments 10:30 am
Worship 10:45 am

Area Christmas Dinner & Auction to benefit Hispanic Ministries
5:00 at Hesper Friends Church
Carpoolers will leave the church between 2:30 and 3:00

This week's sermon: Love God with all your mind

Colossians 3:1-17, Building on this new foundation of love

Last time we talked about having the right foundation for our lives- loving God with all of our souls. Today I want to move on to talk about what is standing on the top of that foundation. Today's section of the great commandment is: love the Lord your God with all of your mind. Our text this morning comes from Colossians chapter 3 verse 1 to verse17.
We must have a new mindset/way of thinking. We must put off the old. Paul says to set your mind on things above, not on earthly things. We died to these things, and have put on Christ. You can not put the old house on the new foundation without change in the structure to realign the house. It can be a messy process with cracked and broken plaster, but a sound structure must be more important than the old comfortable ways of living.

We must put on the new. This putting on of the new is due to the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit. What are the fruits of the spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control; more than half of the fruits of the Spirit are here in verse 12. The Holy Spirit working in us produces the remodeling our lives need now that they stand on this new foundation of identity in Christ.

We must have a new understanding formed by Christ. Verse 10--Being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Our minds are skewed, but they did not start out that way. Paul says our minds need to be set right, back to the way they were before the fall. Romans 12:2--Being transformed by the renewing of your minds. The remodeling of our lives begins in the heart by giving it to Christ, continues in the soul as we identify ourselves with him, and goes further in the mind by transforming us from the inside out.

Part of that transformation on our part is to let God's word become a part of our daily lives. Verse 16--Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Paul does not say to let it come and go in your life, but to dwell, abide and make a home in you. Once that word is there, it begins to make changes in your thought patterns and the way you look at the world around you. It starts to renew your mind as the Holy Spirit remodels your life.

If you are not being renewed by these things, be assured that your mind is being revamped by other sources. Yeast is the Active ingredient in bread. Better said it is the Driving Force behind the action in the dough. Without a driving force there is no action. In our lives there can be more than one kind of driving force. We need to be careful, then what kind of Yeast we are allowing in our lives.

One of the drawbacks of yeast is that, although it is a very powerful catalyst, its results are not instant. We can not just put the yeast in and bake the bread expecting it to come out all fluffy. Many times it is impossible to tell if the yeast is working until the allotted time for rising has passed. So it may appear that the bad yeast, in this case bad thoughts, we added will not hinder us in our walk with Christ. Unfortunately, another characteristic of yeast is that it penetrates every part of the dough. So we can not just say, I am only going to add this yeast to this part of my life. It is either all or nothing.

This applies to both good and bad yeast. (Mt. 16:5-12) Jesus warns his disciples not to let the yeast of the Pharisees’ false teachings into their hearts because he knew that those teachings would slowly work their way through their entire lives. (I Co. 5:6-8) The bad attitudes and other sinful thoughts that we allow into our minds affect every part of our lives, not just certain areas. (Mt.13:33 & footnote in Study Bible) The good news is that Kingdom yeast will also fill and dominate our entire lives.

When our lives are being renewed, we find that we must have a new method of decision making. Verse 17--Whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus. We start making decisions based on God's will, not ours. Romans 12:2--So that you may know God's will-good, pleasing and perfect--for your life. This decision making process is no longer being shaped by the warped foundation of the old self. Rather it is being restored to its proper alignment by the new foundation in Christ.

In Jesus Parable of Wise and Foolish Builders the only difference between the two houses was the foundation. What foundation are you building on, the warped, crumbling foundation of your human nature, or a fresh level foundation on the Solid Rock? Love God by giving him all of your mind today. Let his Holy Spirit come in and begin to remodel and rebuild the damaged insides warped by years of living off-level. Allow his word to become at home in your life and experience renewal in your thoughts, understanding, and decision making. Don't wait, this remodeling can begin at any time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekly Schedule

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Sunday November 29th-
Family Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship with refreshments 10:30 am
Worship 10:45 am
Hanging of the Greens
(Decorating the Church for the Advent/Christmas Season)
Following the service with Soup and Sandwich lunch afterwards

This week's sermon: Love God with all your soul

I Samuel 17.
We have been looking closer at what Jesus said was the greatest command, summing up the Law and the Prophets. We talked two weeks ago about loving God with all of our hearts. Well, today we are looking at the next part of the greatest commandment, love the Lord your God with all of your soul.

What do we mean when we say soul? Well, the word used in the New Testament is psyche. It means literally the life, or the being. In essence, the soul is the deepest part of who we are. It is the foundation of our identity. This is what Jesus is telling us to love God with. He is saying love the Lord your God with all of who you are, with your very identity. Today I want to talk about identity, and how it affects our lives.

Identity is such an important contributor to our every day lives. Every decision we make will be influenced by who we are, or who we have come to believe we are. There is a difference between our identity and who we think we are. You could be the greatest king, but if you think you are a poor man you will never act the part of your true identity. The story we will read this morning is full of people confused about who they really are. Their identity, the very foundation of their lives is in question.

Our main text this morning is I Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. You will find that as we look at the Greatest Commandment, we will use passages that are familiar, Sunday school stories. I find that the reason these kinds of texts are used in Sunday school lessons is that they are full of fundamental principles of faith. The situation we find ourselves in is this, the Philistines are drawn up for battle on one hill, opposite them are the Israelites with Saul as their king. The valley between them is standing by to become a battlefield drenched in the blood of both armies.

I want you to picture yourself in that Israelite camp. You see this nine-foot-tall monster of a man wearing great heavy armor come out and issue you a personal challenge to come fight him one on one. That would be enough to have all of us running in fear. But one thing I want to draw your attention to is this, Goliath says to them, “Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul?” Goliath challenges them as servants of Saul. This is the identity that the Israelites are functioning with. They had forgotten who they were—Not Saul’s servants, but the Children of God! They had forgotten that they were not fighting to defend "their land" rather God's Promised Land. They had identified themselves with an earthly king instead of an eternal God

The next verses tell us about David. He had brothers fighting and had been sent to check on them, and bring them supplies. He hears Goliath’s challenge and is outraged. Let’s read verse 26. “David asked the men standing near him, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?’" David knew that they were the children of God—who did Goliath think he was defying the armies of the Living God? David knew that as children of God, they were under his protection. David knew this because he had a relationship with God as his foundation—David had his identity stamped with God’s seal of ownership.

So, David goes out and asks around about how he can go fight this Goliath. Saul hears him and brings him into his tent for a little chat. Saul saw only an in inexperienced boy; David knew God had protected him before. Saul saw an insurmountable enemy; David knew God was bigger than any enemy. Saul saw only conventional ways of doing battle; David knew God could use him just as he was. David shrugged off the armor that did not fit who God had made him to be, and took what he was used to: rocks and a sling, and went to fight the nine-foot-tall Philistine.

God was there with David, his child. God had planned a victory for his people. God used David just as he was to gain that victory.

Our identity is so crucial to our decision making. It is like the foundation of a house. Do you remember the parable Jesus told of the wise and foolish builders? The difference between which house fell, and which stood was the foundation. Our reaction to everyday events is determined by this sense of who we are and where our foundation is. Every decision we make about life and risk taking is determined by this sense of who we are. If you need examples how about phrases like this, have you ever heard: “You can’t treat me this way, I’m an American Citizen!” “I can do what I want because my daddy is ____”

What about politicians who make all their decisions based on their identity in one party or another. Or people finding their identity in the roles they play: parents, children, employees, employers, blue-collar, white-collar, basketball star, cheerleader. It is not wrong to be any of these things, but at the end of the day all of what I have listed here is temporary. All of these identities can be lost. Ask a parent who has lost their children; a spouse who has lost their partner, people standing in the unemployment lines, or business owners forced to close up shop. Sports players age and get injured, all of it is so fragile. If we base our identities on these roles we play, we can find ourselves lost when the rug is pulled out from under our feet.

Where is your foundation today? Where does your sense of confidence and safety lie? Are you trusting in chariots, or are you trusting in the name of the Lord? When we find our identity in him first, then we can stand even if all the other hats we wear get swept away. If you don’t know where your foundation lies, ask yourself these questions. How do I react in stressful situations? Do I react with fear, or confidence? Am I devastated, or do I see hope? Where is your foundation? Ask the Lord to help you build your foundation, your identity on him.

We start by giving him our whole heart, and follow that by trusting him with our very soul, our entire self. We follow it up with reading and knowing what his word says about who we are. We are his creation. We are his children, co-heirs with Christ if we have accepted his salvation. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the body of Christ to minister to each other and those around us as long as we remain on this earth. We have to let our soul be shaped by who he says we are, or we will fall for the lies that surround us.

Those voices that tell us we are not enough, but the truth is that God is our sufficiency. The voices say we are too fat/thin/short/tall/quiet/outgoing to be loved and used by God, but the truth is that God says, “I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, child, you are mine.” The scriptures are full of God telling us over and over again the truth about who we are, and who he is. We need to step out in faith and trust that what he says is true. That is how we love him with all our soul. It is his desire for you and me, and he will give us the strength to carry it through.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekly Schedule 11/15/09

Tuesday November 17th-
9:30 am Friends Women Missionary Fellowship
6:30 pm Women's Group

Sunday November 22nd-
NEW! Family Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship Time 10:30 am
Worship 10:45 am

You are welcome to join us for any and all aspects of our worship and fellowship this Sunday!

Monday, November 9, 2009

This Week's Schedule 11/08/09

Tuesday November 10th- 9:00 am Ladies Cleaning Kitchen part II
6:30 pm Elder's Meeting

Wednesday November 11th- Worship planning meeting 5:15 pm

Sunday November 15th- Thanksgiving Meal Following Morning Worship!

NEW! Family Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship Time 10:30 am
Worship with Missions Speakers Michael and KK Linville 10:45 am
Thanksgiving Meal!

Join us for any and all aspects of our worship and fellowship this Sunday!

This Week's Sermon: Love God with ALL Your Heart

Genesis 22:1-18
We are exploring this commandment that Jesus said was the greatest, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength," and the second greatest, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus said in Mark 12 that these commands are the sum of the Law and the Prophets, in another gospel it says all the Law and Prophets hang on these two commands. That means the whole Bible, all of God's written word, is there to show us how to do these two things, or in some cases how to not go about loving God and neighbor, or even why we should bother. Today we are exploring the first part of Jesus command on how to love God: Love the lord your God with all your heart.

What does it mean to love? We talked last week about how it is not a fuzzy feeling. This love we are called to is a choice. Jesus says in John 14:15 that this love shows itself in obedience. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a whole list of the characteristics of godly love. And we know that Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that giving of ourselves is our acceptable act of worship. Loving God with all our hearts means giving him our whole heart, not holding anything back.

Our text this morning is Genesis 22:1-18. This is a familiar Bible story about God calling Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering. This story is given a bad reputation sometimes, but it is really not about Divinely sanctioned child abuse or God on a power trip. This is an account of God testing Abraham's love for God above all else. Note in the first verses of this chapter that it says that God was testing Abraham. This was just a test. Like most tests of our faith, this one was designed to speak more to Abraham than to God. God knew Abraham's heart, Abraham needed to know the content of his heart as well.

God says to Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you LOVE" and sacrifice him to me. Isaac was the fulfillment of God's promise. The promise belonged to God, not to Isaac or to Abraham. And Abraham somewhere had fallen into the danger of holding this gift closer than the giver. God calls Abraham on his dangerous condition when he emphasizes Abraham's love for his son. In essence God is asking, "Abraham, do you love me or do you love what I do for you?" It was a test of Abraham's priorities, and what held first place in his heart.

We see Abraham's obedience, and God's provision, just as Abraham had stated to Isaac, "God will provide the lamb for sacrifice." Abraham returned to God his gift, and God gave it back. Isaac had been a gift from God, now he was a double gift. And God tells Abraham that because he showed his love by not holding back the most precious thing in his life, God could bless all nations through his offspring.

So what does this have to do with us? Anyone have God tell them to sacrifice their children as a burnt offering? If so, please see me, or a psychiatrist, or walk in at your local police station. God does not ask this routinely. The story of Abraham and Isaac was a one time deal. But just because God is not asking us to sacrifice our children does not mean we don't have things in our lives that pose potential road-blocks to our total surrender to God.

There is a big temptation in our lives to dish out pieces of our heart to the people and things we love. Like a pie, if we start giving some away, thinking we'll give God the rest we won't have much to lay on the altar. We give a piece to our spouse; one to our children; one to other family. Pieces go to our friends; our job; our house or car or that boat we've been wanting. And of course it wouldn't be right to give it all away without keeping a piece for ourselves. Pretty soon we find ourselves with just a sliver of heart left to give to God. But this is not what Jesus meant when he said love the Lord your God with all of your heart. It wasn't give God what is left of your heart, but all of it.

An amazing thing happens when we decide to give God our hearts, though. It might be a scary thing, but if we will step out in faith, we find that God does not take our hearts and leave us without love for anyone else. Quite the contrary, we give God our whole heart and all our love, and he gives it back filled with his overflowing, never-running-out, eternal and infinite love. We find we have more love for our families, because we love them with God's love. We have more love for our friends, because we love them with God's love. We even find love for our enemies because we love them not with the puny love of our own natural hearts, but with the all-encompassing love of God.

So I challenge you today to give God your whole heart. It starts with a decision to surrender your heart to him, without holding anything back. It is followed through and proven in your life by obedience; doing what he calls you to do. It shows itself in your character as you live a life full of patience, kindness, humility and love in your relationships with others. Give God your whole heart and see his love pour out into your life, and through you to others.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This Week's Sermon: ThanksGIVING!

We have talked a lot in the last three years about the Christian life; about the basic things that God requires of us; about Jesus' declaration of the two principles that are the foundation of the Old Testament Law and Prophets. One place that this is recorded is Mark chapter 12.

Mark 12:28-34
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Jesus said that two things are necessary to fulfill the law: Love God, and Love Others. We like that. It is nice, it makes us feel good, and it is true. But I wonder if we have a good understanding of what it means to Love God and Love Others. We are going to begin a study of these previous verses. We are going to look closer at what it means to Love God with all we are and Love Others as ourselves.

Sometimes we think that Love is a fuzzy feeling. We should have a positive attitude towards God. This is good, but incomplete. I can have a positive attitude toward you and feel all fuzzy inside, but still not do what is best for you. We can feel good about God, but not be willing to obey him. Love in it's simplest form is one person saying to another, I will give of myself to you.

Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." Our appropriate response to who God is, our worship of him is defined by Paul as giving our lives to him to use fully and completely. As fully and completely as one would give an offering to be burnt on the altar of sacrifice. Once that offering is there on the altar, it is on fire, it is consumed and there is no take backs. Paul says our spiritual act of worship that is acceptable before God is giving him our lives so completely we see them as lost to our own agendas and plans and purposes; and completely given over to God's agenda, his purpose and plan.

So fundamentally to Love God with all we are means to give our entire self to him as a sacrificial offering. To love our neighbor also requires us to give. James 1:27 "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." The religion that God accepts, the practice of our faith that pleases God, is to look after those in need. To see that children are taken care of, and that those who are unable to care for themselves are cared for, and that those who are unable to provide for their own support are supported. To care for orphans and widows—those who in Jame's time were completely and utterly alone.

As individuals this thought of giving of ourselves to others and to God may be a familiar theme. But what does it mean for our church body to surrender not only our individual lives, but our whole church—our property, our income, our services, our programs, our fellowship time, everything—to God and to give of ourselves to others? What does that mean for us as a church?

2Corinthians 8:1-15
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.
But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." [Exodus 16:18]

Do you remember the extraordinary ways God has provided for us this year? I do. I remember the Lord providing for a new parsonage roof. I remember the Lord providing every penny of expense for my trip to Burundi. I look at our budget sheets from this year and see not a dip in giving, but an increase in spite of the economy being in a crisis. Some people get nervous when we talk about giving, but I get excited because I know that the provision is from God.

The ability to give is supplied through his riches, not mine, not yours. He supplies our needs and he gives to us abundantly so that we can share with those in need. We do that in some ways in our church. Our Friends Women Missionary Fellowship gives to the rescue mission. We give our Shiloh noisy offering. And some give to the Lyon County Restricted Emergency Fund. These are all great. I want to encourage you, but I know that even in this giving, we have not given to the point of sacrifice, which probably means we could all give more. I include myself in this. So I want to issue you a challenge. I want you to begin praying with me. Let's seek God together and ask what it is he has for us as a church to give to him or to those around us. If God leads you to do something specific on your own, do it! I want you to pray, and if God leads you to something specific for our church to do, share it with our church family so we can pray about how to put it into action.

We need to be about the business of pouring ourselves out in love to God and to those around us. In doing so we fulfill the great commandments. We fulfill the law of love.