November 4th News

October 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

For the last two weeks, we have been in a series called, “Down But Not Out”. We’re looking at how we handle the pressures of this life in a Biblical God-focused way.

The foundation of this series is found in John 16:33. Jesus is talking to his disciples on the night he will be betrayed and arrested and he wants them to know some important things. This is one of the things he tells them:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.


The question is– how can we “take heart”? The Bible has a lot to say on this issue and I know that I need to be encouraged by what God says about difficult circumstances and “trouble”.

The Sunday we will continue with Part 3 of the series by looking at exhaustion.

Do you ever feel like there is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything you need to accomplish? Are you tired, worn out, and frustrated?

Many times, physical exhaustion can lead to a deeper issue… spiritual exhaustion. Those times when you feel far from God. Alone. A failure. Ineffective.

We all probably feel a bit like that in some aspect of our life. If so, come and hear about a man named Elijah who went from an incredible spiritual high (1 Kings 18) to a devastating spiritual low (1 Kings 19)– and see some valuable principles we can learn from his story.

Read those chapters and join us. And think about bringing someone who maybe is going through a tough time right now. My prayer is that we will all be encouraged.

Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

Complaint Department

October 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

I think the we all visit the complaint department on a regular basis. We complain about our jobs, our kids, our parents, the weather, our government, our spouses… But there can be a problem when complaints become a habit.

Last Sunday we talked about complaining in the second part of a new series called “Down But Not Out”. I wanted to post the notes from the message so that you could review what we looked at and see how God’s Word in Numbers 11 may be applied in your life.

 

 

Series:      Down But Not Out

Part 2:            Demands & Complaints

10/28/12

We know we shouldn’t complain

Don’t complain about your problems. 80% of the people don’t care, and the other 20% think you deserve them.

– Mark Twain

Problem with complaining…

( from Steve Pavlina—Personal Development for Smart People)

“Complaining, like all thought patterns, is not mere observation.  Complaining is a creative act.  The more you complain, the more you summon your creative energies to attract something to complain about.  Your complaints may seem fully justified, but realize that whenever you complain, you are placing your order for more of the same.  Complaining is not merely about the past.  Whenever you make a complaint, realize you are setting an intention — a goal — for the future.”

Complaining is:

  1. Contagious—it can change the whole atmosphere of a group
  2. Habit forming—always looking for the downside, problem
  3. Distorting—prevents us from thinking clearly and seeing reality

CAUTION:     There is a difference between complaining and being honest

  • A difference between taking off the fig leaves and confessing sins or shortcomings in the room of grace so that healing can take place

Set up:

God has freed the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt (they were slaves there for about 450 years). He has chosen Moses to lead them to the Promised Land. The Book of Numbers is an account of their forty-year journey.

At this point in the story, God has been caring for the Israelites for over a year in the wilderness—including the provision of manna (bread from heaven) which appeared along with the dew every morning.

Numbers 11:4-34

Quail From the Lord

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a handmill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again.[a]

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them[b] down all around the camp to about three feet[c] above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.[d] Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

We see the three primary types of complainers in this story—and we all do these in one way or another

1) The whiner:         favorite phrase—“it’s not fair”

Very popular with kids—but we continue it into adulthood

The whiner is always looking at what others have

  • Always comparing themselves with others
  • This is a sure way to have a miserable life
    • Because there will always be someone richer, more talented, and better off than you.

Manna was a perfect food to sustain the people in the wilderness

  • And it was provided everyday

But—like us—they began to see a blessing as a curse

Contagious—The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat!

Habit forming— and again the Israelites started wailing

Distorting—We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.

  • Were these items really at “no cost”?!?
  • The cost was slavery/freedom/the whip/labor/imprisonment

2) The martyr:          favorite phrase—“nobody appreciates me”

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

The martyr

  • Overworked
  • Underpaid
  • Nobody will listen
  • Nobody understands
  • Nobody appreciates me

3) The perfectionist:          favorite phrase—“Is that the best you can do?”

The perfectionist is never satisfied with anything and they continually point out shortcomings

  • Focus on the negative and miss incredible positives

Both the Israelites and Moses suffer from this too

And we suffer from all three at times

Philippians 2:14-15

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

Don’t complain

How do we do that?

  • We can force it
    • My way or the highway
    • “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”

But complaining is a heart issue

  • It is really a spiritual matter
  • We are charging God with not running the universe correctly

How can I stop complaining?

1) Admit that complaining is a problem for you

If you have been thinking about your spouse or kids or neighbor or co-worker

  • You have a blind spot
  • You complain

You may not be a person who voices their complaints out loud very much—but what about your thoughts

Complaining isn’t just a fault

  • God says it’s a sin
  • The Israelites complaining is what keep them wandering in the desert wilderness for 40 years

That is why God is angry in this passage—it’s a righteous anger

  • He’s disciplining his chosen people to cleanse them of their complaining spirits

19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

The first step to dealing with the problem of complaining is admitting that complaining is a problem for you

2) Share the issue with another

This may seem strange—“if I’m not supposed to complain, why are you telling me to complain?”

16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

We need each other… when pressures come, we feel alone, isolated, and flawed.

3) Focus on that for which you can be thankful

“I complained that I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet.”

What can we be thankful for today?

4) Replace the habit of complaining with the habit of positive words

Catch people doing something right rather than wrong and then offer praise and encouragement rather than criticism

5) Trust God to accomplish His purpose through the circumstances of your life

Imagine what God says to you:

  • What do you have to complain about
  • You will be taken care of—because I love you and you are precious to me
  • I’m for you—and I will always have your best interests at heart
  • Nothing can separate my love from you
  • I will never leave you or forsake you

If you wonder about that—think about Jesus

  • If anyone could say it’s not fair or nobody appreciates me or is that the best you can do
  • It’s Jesus

Look at his life

  • People made unreasonable demands on his time
  • People accepted his gifts without gratitude (healing, provision)
  • People lied about him—called him a drunk and questioned who he hung out with
  • He was betrayed by a disciple he had lived with for 3 years
  • Denied by another 3 times
  • Wrongly convicted, sentenced to die, and nailed to a cross

How could he do this?

HE COMPLETELY TRUSTED GOD TO ACCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSE THROUGH THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS LIFE

1 Peter 2:21-24

21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

22 “He committed no sin,
 and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

This is the key to our complaining

  • Understanding the truth about us
  • And the truth about God

We won’t stop complaining until we realize what Jesus has actually done for us.

  • And what he’s doing in and through us right now

Look at this story of Israel—God’s people…

  • God was preparing a people to go to a land
    • This was to fulfill a promise he had made hundreds of years earlier
  • He heard their cries from the bondage of slavery
  • He brought a leader to free them
    • 10 plagues designed to force the Pharoh’s hand
    • Last was the Angel of death—blood from lamb on a doorpost
  • He freed them from bondage and led them out of slavery
  • He not only guided them through the wilderness, but he went with them
    • Cloud by day
    • Pillar of fire by night
    • Tabernacle—tent of meeting
  • In that time he provided, taught, disciplined, loved, and changed them
    • manna
  • He brought them to the land and gave it to them as promised

Our story the same as Christians—God’s people

  • He has made a promise that we are not only God’s people—but members of God’s family… and he has prepared a place for us (a land—a final destination)
  • He hears our cries from the bondage of sin
  • He brought a Savior to free us
    • The lamb of God—sacrificed for us
    • Blood shed to pay for our sins
  • He frees us from our bondage to sin
  • He not only guides us through the wilderness, but he goes with us
    • Holy Spirit
    • Other believers
  • In this time he provides, teaches, disciplines, loves, and show that he has changed us
    • Feed us with spiritual food—his Word and Spirit
  • He will ultimately bring us to the land and give it to us as promised

 


Grace2F Worship Service

October 31, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Grace2F (or Grace Family Fellowship)  meets Sundays 10:00 AM at 929 First Colonial Road in Virginia Beach (Hilltop Community Church), located a block from Hilltop Shopping Center (Corner of First Colonial and 1st Colonial Court).

We meet in the Fellowship Hall (left side of the building).

Grace2F
929 First Colonial Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23454

What You Should Know If You Visit

Service Time:
We meet Sundays at 9:00am and gather for a time of catching up with each other after the service.

Dress:
Casual (really- you can get dressed up if you want, but the Pastor will probably be wearing jeans or shorts)

Kids:
Bring them! We love kids… There are welcome in our service or they can check out the childcare/classes offered by our partner Crosscurrent Church (we meet at the same time in two different locations in the building).

Bring:
A bible. If you don’t have one, we have plenty. Each week we’ll be looking at Scripture straight from the bible to see what God wants to say to us. If you need a bible to take home and keep we would be glad to give you one.

We would love to have you join us on a Sunday!

October 28th News

October 25, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This Sunday we will continue our series called “Down But Not Out.”

We’re looking at how we can best handle the challenges of life that can knock us down.

Last week we talked about handling pressures by looking at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they faced a fiery furnace in Daniel 3. This week we’re going to look at demanding and complaining– and how that can effect how we see ourselves, others and God.

The passage we’ll be talking about is found in Numbers 11:4-34. It is a fascinating account of God providing meat for the Israelites as they wander in the wilderness. Read the passage and see where it might relate to something you have experienced in the past or may be experiencing now.

I encourage you to think about someone you may know who is struggling with a difficult situation and may even have a lot they could complain about– and invite them to join us this Sunday.

Looking froward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

Dealing with Pressures of Life

October 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week we talked about dealing with Pressures in life in the first part of a new series called “Down But Not Out”. I wanted to post the notes from the message so that you could review what we looked at and see how God’s Word in Daniel 3 may be applied in your life.

 

Series:            Down But Not Out

Part 1:             Pressures

Date:              10/21/12

 

John 16:33

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Last week—putting God on trial (Exodus 17)

1)    The world is a wilderness

2)    God provides life in the wilderness

3)    This life is only available because God—himself—entered the wilderness and received our punishment

Christianity is the only faith that deals realistically and honestly with suffering

Suffering will do one of two things

  • It will make you nastier/mean, bitter/sad
  • Or a more God seeking, loving, tenderhearted, compassionate person
  • BUT IT WILL NOT LEAVE YOU WHERE YOU WERE

Put another way… When suffering comes into your life it will either

1)    Make God look big in your eyes and you become small

2)    Make you look big in your eyes and God becomes small

“The same sun that softens wax, hardens clay”

  • Everything depends on the kind of heart you’ve got
  • Is it clay of wax?
  • Is it essentially out for you?
  • Or is it essentially out for God?

From Medical News Today website

We generally use the word “stress” when we feel that everything seems to have become too much – we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you – without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless.

Ill—Microorganism in perfect conditions dies

  • Temperature
  • Environment
  • Food

Butterfly breaking out of cocoon

  • Break it out early—wings don’t develop

However, when the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad.

What causes pressure in your life?

a) work e) other relationships
b) finances f) time demands
c) marriage g) a particular decision
d) parenting h) school (tests)

We agree with Jesus— there is TROUBLE in this world

How do we “take heart”

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

 Put your nose to the grindstone

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog

Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps

 “A Christian is like a tea bag—he’s not worth much until he’s been through some hot water.”

“Faith is a muscle, it only becomes stronger when you use it.”

When real pressure hits—we need more than a sales pitch

Daniel 3:1-7

The Image of Gold and the Fiery Furnace

3 King Nebuchadnezzar made an image of gold, ninety feet high and nine feet wide, and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 He then summoned the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials to come to the dedication of the image he had set up. 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates and all the other provincial officials assembled for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up, and they stood before it.

4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “This is what you are commanded to do, O peoples, nations and men of every language: 5 As soon as you hear the sound of the hor

n, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

7 Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Observations…

1)   We all worship something/someone

What or who do people worship today?

  • Athletes
  • Governments
  • Money
  • Power
  • Education
  • Talent
  • Success
  • Religion
  • Nature
  • Ourselves
  • Family

Why do people worship what they worship?

  • Brings comfort
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Significance

2)   People tell us what/who we should worship (Neb; the herald)

Why is it so important to tell people what to worship?

  1. The more people worship what we worship the better we feel about ourselves
  1. A way to control
  • New Age—You are a god
  • Democrats—Government is god
  • Republicans—capitalism is God
  • Americans—our way of life and Ideals is God
  • Christians—Jesus is God

3)   People often don’t think about what/who they worship

Gold statue—90 ft. high and 9 ft. wide

  • It would be like us worshipping statue of liberty

But what do we worship?

  • Is it any less ridiculous?
    • Money
    • Job
    • person

Here, what is really the object of worship? (is it the statue)

  • King Nebuchadnezzar

Daniel 3:8-12

8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. 9 They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You have issued a decree, O king, that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, 11 and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. 12 But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”

4)   People will resent you for worshipping something different than what they worship

We all are trying to convince others to worship what we are worshipping

  • Yet we get mad when someone else does it to us

This was not from love—that was not the astrologers’ motive

  • the word “denounced” is a very strong word (8 At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews.)

–       it means “to slander with hostility”

–       They hated Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

  • More a result of jealousy, anger, bitterness, racism
  • Try to make it personal with the king

Here’s how the king responds…

Daniel 3:12-15

13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

Now I want you to notice something very interesting here…

–       The king thinks that he’s asking them a rhetorical question

Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

When someone asks you a rhetorical question are they looking for an answer?

–       NO—they’re trying to make a point

Parents do this a lot

–       “Do you want a spanking? Do you want a time out?”

When parents say this they aren’t looking for an answer—they’re trying to make a point

–       Quit doing what you’re doing or you will get in trouble

When Nebuchadnezzar asks, “What god will rescue you from my hand?”—he’s not looking for an answer

–       He’s trying to make a point

–       That the fate of three young men rests solely in his hands… and if they don’t comply, there’s no way out

–       He is in control

–       He has the power—of life and death

–       And, therefore, if he demands worship…

–       He deserves worship

So the king must have been pretty surprised when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered his rhetorical question!

–       He’s how they respond in verse 16…

Daniel 3:16-18

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

 

1) God is able to rescue you from the fiery furnace

17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it

When we face a “fiery furnace” in our lives—when we face something that looks really bad, feels really bad, smells really bad

–       we will invariably experience something called “FEAR”

  • fear of the future
  • fear of consequences
  • fear of loss
  • fear of pain
  • fear of change

–       And FEAR can often lead to doubt

  • Doubts about God—who he is and what he can do… or will do

Do you believe that God is able to rescue you from the fiery furnace?

I know that some of you will answer “YES” right away

Because we have a God who is able—isn’t that the God we came to worship today?

–       the God that can part the Red Sea

–       and destroy the walls of Jericho

–       and drop a giant with a single stone?

We know the stories…

–       And sometimes it’s easy to acknowledge with our minds—Yeah, God is able

But there are other times when our heart lags behind

Because if God is really able—why doesn’t he do something?

I mean, if God is able…

–       Why is my pain so deep?

–       Why is my struggle so hard?

–       Why am I missing the joy that he promised

Here’s why…

The truth is… even though God is able…

–       He may allow you to face the furnace

Daniel 3:19-23

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was furious with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and his attitude toward them changed. He ordered the furnace heated seven times hotter than usual 20 and commanded some of the strongest soldiers in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace. 22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.

2) God may allow you to enter the fiery furnace

I wonder how many times Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prayed for God to change their situation there in Babylon

–       Maybe they prayed that God would just convert King Nebuchadnezzar

–       Or they might have prayed that this crazy order to bow down to the statue would just be rescinded—the King would reconsider and come to his senses

–       Or maybe they prayed that Daniel would just have enough influence to protect God’s people even in Babylon

 

But now they’re standing before the King

–       And it seems like none of those prayers will be answered

They have even proclaimed their faith

[17] If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king.

[18] But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What happens?

  • Nebuchadnezzar flexes his muscles and turns up the heat (literally)

And they are thrown into the furnace

  • Evil triumphs
  • Power trumps faith

Daniel 3:24-26

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?”

They replied, “Certainly, O king.”

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and un

harmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”

26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”

Now who is this fourth man in the flames?

–       The text doesn’t tell us, but I believe that it’s Jesus in one of those rare Old Testament appearances before the incarnation—before he comes to our world as a baby in Bethlehem

And if that’s the case, I wonder what the conversation might have been like between Jesus and these three young Jewish men in the flames

–       I wonder if Jesus told them how proud God was of them for their courage and devotion

–       I wonder if Jesus told them that their names were going to be written in God’s book so that for generations to come people would look at that story and learn a very valuable lesson

What is the lesson?

3) If God allows you to enter a fiery furnace, he will meet you there

–       The place where full devotion takes you may look dangerous and scary, maybe painful—but that’s the place you meet Jesus.

Somehow many Christians have gotten the idea that following Jesus is supposed to make your life easy and comfortable

But consider this… How many heroes of the faith had easy lives?

–       When Jesus called people to follow him he basically promised them two things…

–       He said, “Come follow me, and here’s what you’ll have…

  • #1 a ton of trouble
  • But promised something else… He said you’ll have indescribable joy

And where do you find that joy?

–       In the fiery furnace—when you make a choice to walk with Jesus through the flames

Will the fiery furnace push you away from God or pull you closer to him?

 Because those are really the two options…

God may allow you to enter the fiery furnace… but he also promises to meet you there

And this is the big question:       DO YOU BELIEVE THAT?

  • Do you believe that Jesus loves you that much?

4) If God allows you to enter a fiery furnace, he will use it for a good purpose

Ropes were burned away

  • 21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
  • 25 “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed

Any of the pressures we face as believers can be looked at one of two ways…

  • They are refining and defining me for greater impact here on this earth
    • Freeing me of the things that bind me
    • The fears that paralyze me
  • They will take me home to be with the one who loves me like no other

How do I know?

  • Jesus went into the fire for me… alone

At the cross

  • No rescue
  • No relief

When you wonder if God understands what you are going through, remember that Jesus went into a fiery furnace for YOU.

  • He does care
  • He does know your pain
  • He died to save you and make it so that we can be with him forever

 

October 21st News

October 19, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

This week we will begin a new series called Down But Not Out.

In John 16:33, Jesus says some amazing words to his disciples just before he was betrayed by one of them:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Last week we talked about how Christianity is the only faith that deals honestly and realistically with the issue of suffering in the world. And we all know about suffering. Some more than others.

Although we have been incredibly blessed in this country, we still know about fear, doubt, anxiety, frustration, and despair. So how can we not just survive in this broken world– but thrive. That’s what Jesus says is possible.

To prepare, read Daniel 3 (yes, the whole chapter! ) You’ve heard this story before, but it is really great. We will see how we can deal with the extreme pressure we sometimes face– and honor God in the process.

Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

 

October 14th News

October 2, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Over the last several weeks, we have seen God’s incredible story of redemption (Garden Party– Genesis 1-3) and a powerful illustration of the difference between living you life trying to please God or simply trusting him.

This week, we will continue the theme of God working in the world by looking at an interesting passage in Exodus. It tells of a time when the Israelites challenged their leader Moses as they were wandering in the desert. We will see that we are very much like these grumblers (and for good reason!).

Although we will only scratch the surface in a single message, we will be pondering the reality of suffering and how we live in a world in which suffering is all around us (and maybe upon us).

I want to encourage you to read Exodus 17:1-7 and to come this Sunday. This would be a great time to invite someone who may be going through a difficult time. I won’t promise all the answers, but I will promise that God’s word deals directly with the issue of suffering– more directly than any philosophy or man-made religion can.

Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug