Monday, April 12, 2010

This Week's Schedule 4/11/2010

Wednesday April 14th-- "What's So Amazing About Grace?"
Ladies Study 6:30pm in the Adult Sunday School Classroom

Next Sunday April 18h-- Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Guest Pastor Tom Miller

Coming Up!!
April 20th Coffee at Amanda's
April 25th Area Missions Rally at Tonganoxie
April 27th Friends Women Brunch

This week's message: Take Possession of the Land

Joshua 18:3 "So Joshua said to the Israelites: 'How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you?'"

We all have things in our lives that we wish would just go away. Sins and habits stubbornly hang on even after we surrender ourselves to God. For some it may be a quick temper or sharp tongue. Others may struggle with addictions to food, nicotine, alcohol, or sex. And no matter how many other sins we have experienced victory over, we find ourselves plagued by the ones that refuse to go away. This can be so discouraging! We feel like we have failed. We think we must not really be saved or surrendered. We start to doubt the promise God has given us of victory over sin. But guess what, you are not alone. You are in good company. This is not a problem just for you!

From the beginning, there has been temptation. We can trace it through the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob; the prophets and heros—Moses, David; even in the New Testament Paul laments about his thorn in the flesh. This morning, let's look at the problem and the solution together. I think we'll be surprised to see what is behind the struggles we face and God's solution for us to live in victory.

(Genesis 13:17) God promised Abram that everything he could see, all the ground he walked on, would belong to him and his descendents. This was the beginning of the promise and covenant God made with Abraham. He told him to look around and everything he saw was going to be an inheritance for his descendents, even though at the time, Abram had no children. Abraham believed God. He walked with God, not perfectly, but consistently through his life. God walked with him, even in his imperfection and remained faithful to the covenant he had made with Abraham.

(Deuteronomy 11:24) God renewed that promise to Moses, as he was leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. God told Moses that wherever the people set the sole of their feet, that land would belong to them. This was the first time they approached the Promised Land. If we remember, though, the promise was delayed because the people refused to go into the land. They were afraid of giants and did not trust God to fulfill his promise. Yet God did not abandon them or cancel the promise. He brought them back to the Promised Land again.

(Joshua 1:1-9) Then God renewed his promise to Joshua and the children of Israel as they were entering the Promised Land. God promised to drive out the people living in the land and he did so as the Israelites were obedient to go and take possession of the land. There were some people groups who were stubborn and remained in the land that the nation of Israel was promised. After fighting for several years, as Joshua was retiring from battle, he confronted the Israelites about not pressing on to take possession of all the land they were promised (Joshua 18:3).

(Judges 1:19-36) Instead of continuing to fight and take possession of the land, the people were content to live in the land they had already taken. They made some deals with the locals: You stay on your side, we'll stay on ours. They thought that they could live side by side with idolatry and not be phased. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

(Judges 2:1-5) After a generation of living in the land, God's people were intermarrying, they were taking on the idols of the people living around them, they were beginning to worship fertility gods that required evil practices like child sacrifice in order to stay in their favor. They did not change their neighbors, instead their neighbor's practices infected them like a plague.

In our lives, God has given us a promised land. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:3 that God has given us every blessing in the heavenly realms in the person of Jesus. He has given us the promised land for our every day lives. We don't have to live in a particular place, God gave us a portable promised land: freedom in Christ. In Christ, we have victory over sin and the world according to 1 John 5:4-5, which we just studied. Because of that victory we don't have to submit to the destructive power of sin in our lives.

We, like the Israelites, have the ability to take possession of these promises and apply them to our lives. We just have to keep going when things get hard. Those nations the Israelites faced were not invincible. They just looked real scary. They had iron chariots. They were determined to stay in the land. They were like that persistent weed in your garden that no matter how many times you pull it up, it just keeps coming back. But just like we can continue to fight that weed and not allow it to ruin our garden, we can continue to fight against the persistent sins and habits in our lives that work against us. In fact, we must continue that fight. The good news is that we do not fight alone.

I know it is easier when God removes all inclination to a particular sin. Some people come to the Lord and leave their alcoholism and addiction on the altar and are never bothered again. For others, it is a continual struggle. And trust me, that person who was delivered from their alcoholism may still have other persistent sins as well. We find the solution to staying power in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

Paul describes a continuing struggle in his own life. He calls it a messenger from Satan at work in his flesh. This may have been a physical problem, but many scholars believe it is a sin of the flesh. Some kind of temptation or desire that Paul was fighting against. In fact he uses the very same words that God uses to describe the people groups not driven out with their idols. Just as they were a thorn in the flesh of the Israelites, this issue plagued Paul. He prayed and prayed and prayed for God to miraculously take it away, but God did not. Instead, God gave Paul grace to continue to fight it without giving up.

The reason we must continue to fight is that just like the idolatry of the Canaanites seeped into the lives of the Israelites, sin that is not dealt with in one area of our lives leaks into other areas of our lives. We cannot cordon off sin and think that is enough. Sin like a cancer seeks to invade every area of our lives bringing death and destruction.

We often think of persistent sin as a curse, but here Paul says that God shows his strength best in our weak spots. By walking with God in spite of the temptation we face, and showing a consistent victory in spite of struggle, we show God's great grace in our everyday lives.

In our lives we may have sins like the Canaanites crouching at our door. Don't ignore them. Don't get hysterical about them. Instead choose to walk with the Lord through those temptations. Choose to keep fighting until you win the land God has promised you. Don't give up and settle with the land you have already conquered. Don't be complacent in thinking you have arrived and do not need to continue pushing out the area of God's possession in your life. Don't stop until it all belongs to Him.

We do not have to do this in our own strength, he has promised us strength and grace to make it through. The choice is up to you, though, how much victory you want in your life. Don't give up. Lean on God's Grace. Take possession of the Promised Land in your life!

Think about what it would be like if we all chose to let God conquer every corner and back closet in our lives. Think of what our families would look like, our workplace relationships, our church fellowship. Then we would no longer be divided by petty things, we wouldn't need excuses to keep other people at bay. We would see and recognize the areas in our lives that need to be changed and we would let others see them too, knowing that they aren't perfect either. In Christ we have freedom to try and fail, and try again. There is no shame, because we depend on his strength and not our own. If we could accept that truth, then we would be agents of God's grace to one another as we help each other to fight the persistent sins that we all face.

Monday, April 5, 2010


We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused by the lack of updates in the month of March.
Pastor Sandstrom

This Week's Schedule 4/4/2010

Monday April 5th-- Church Leadership Institute for Ministry
6-9pm at University Friends Church in Wichita

Wednesday April 7th-- "What's So Amazing About Grace?" Ladies Study
6:30pm in the Adult Sunday School Classroom

Next Sunday April 11h-- Sunday School 9:30am
Fellowship time 10:30am
Morning Worship 10:45am
Elder's Meeting at Noon
Nursing Home Service at Holiday Resort 3:00pm

This Week's Message- Believe!

Mark 16.
When the women went to the tomb on the first day of the week, they did not expect to find an empty tomb. they expected trouble with the guards, difficulty moving the stone, and the hard task of preparing the body of the one they loved for burial. What they found were guards on the ground, the stone rolled away, and an angel telling them that Christ had risen from the dead. They saw the empty place where he had been laid, but they did not yet believe that he had risen. mark tells us they fled in terror.
Then Jesus appeared to the women. Then they believed, and told the disciples. The disciples did not believe them. Jesus appeared to the two disciples traveling to Emmaus. They had been heartbroken, and even while he spoke to them of the scriptures, they did not believe. Then he revealed himself to them. They believed, and told the disciples. The disciples did not believe these witnesses either. Finally Jesus comes and speaks to the disciples directly. In other gospel accounts he has to eat something before they believe it is really him and not a ghost or hallucination.
The disciples did not believe the testimony of their fellow Christ-followers. Jesus had told them that he would die at the hands of sinful men and be resurrected on the third day. He warned them. He promised them, and when it happened they did not believe. In our church traditions, Thomas gets a bad rap. He did not believe until Jesus showed him his hands and feet and placed his hand on the wound in his side. For that lack of faith, we call him Doubting Thomas. But here the rest of the disciples stand not believing. We should call them the doubting disciples and give poor Thomas a break!
Maybe we should give them all a break. When the impossible happens, when we see things that just should not be, we all have a tendency to disbelieve. If you told me your dog sang the star spangled banner, I think I would disbelieve. This is even greater than that. Jesus hung on a Roman cross. They all saw him. His body was marred and disfigured. He lost pint after pint of blood.
I know that these people had seen him raise the dead before at least three times, but those were all people who died of sickness. Even that is more believable than coming back from the horrendous death Jesus died. On top of that, Jesus was the one who healed, he was the one who raised others to life. Who could have raised him up?
We know that God raised him to life again. We know that God’s power is not trapped in human flesh. Jesus’ divine power did not disappear when he died. But for those disciples, without the benefit we have of 2,000 years of scholars’ explanations, they believed it was impossible--until they saw Jesus for themselves.
Jesus rebukes them for their lack of faith, but then he commissions these same faithless ones to go and spread the good news of the Gospel. And what is the contingent for receiving salvation? Belief! The very thing Jesus rebuked them for not having just moments before.
I think this is a huge blessing for us! We have times of unbelief in our lives, when things look impossible. When we can’t see a way for it all to work out. Jesus is there to show up in our circumstances and give us the faith we need.
After they believed, they went and told others the good news of the atoning death and victorious resurrection of Jesus. But they did not have to preach in their own strength, God gave them power to do it. He gave signs to back it up. When we walk in faith and obedience, God will supply they power!
Believe! We don’t have to wait to see the impossible before we trust that God is at work. When you are doubting, take it to Jesus. Let him give you faith to go on. Walk in obedience, trusting that God will supply the power to do the work he calls you to! Believe!

The rest of 1 John--A Summary

John 2:28-5:13.
John Continues to give assurance of our place in Christ, witnessed by the Holy Spirit and confirmed by a change in the way we live our lives. Love is the number one sign of our new life in Christ. Love for fellow believers, those around us in the world, and love for the Father. Our love for others shows in our actions towards them. We have a new concern and compassion for the needs of others and are willing to sacrifice our own comfort to give them the help that they need. Our love for God is shown primarily through obedience to his commands and love for his children.
John states repeatedly that our position in Christ is not earned, but comes by faith in Jesus as the son of God. In chapter 5 he takes on a heresy that would claim Christ only coming in spirit or in a non-corporeal form. John says the water of Christ's birth and the blood he shed at his death both testify to his coming in bodily form to live on this earth and die as the atonement for our sins. The Holy Spirit testifies to these truths in the lives of believers and we can trust his testimony, since it is God's testimony about his son.
Walking in confidence of God's love for us, trusting in his testimony about the life of his son, Jesus, allows us to live in obedient love for God and compassionate love for others.