November 28th News

November 28, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

As we enter into the Christmas season, we will continue our series Love One Another. This would seem to make a lot of sense since God sent Jesus because he “loved the world”.

Last week, we talked about the importance of encouragement in building unity in the body and as a way to express love for each other (hopefully you have intentionally encouraged someone this week… if not– there’s still time!). This Sunday we will look at the idea of gratitude.

Are you a grateful person. If so, how come? If not, why not? I am sure that we all feel like we could express gratitude more often in our lives– or, at least, express it more effectively. We’ll look at Luke 17:11-19 to gain some perspectives on gratitude and our expression of gratefulness.

I believe it will be a great way to kick-off the Christmas season and focus our hearts and minds on Jesus in a real, practical way!

Also– if someone would purchase and bring coffee cups we would all appreciate it.

Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

November 25th News

November 21, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

I hope that everyone has a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.

One of the things that I hope you are thankful for is the church that Jesus has given as a gift to his people. We are in a series entitled Love One Another and we have been exploring what that means and how it actually looks in the context of a church.

Last week we talked about “Unity” and how Jesus prayed for his people to be one with him and each other in John 17. This week we will look at one of the “Dance Steps” of unity– encouragement.

Christians are called to encourage one another throughout the New Testament. So, what does that mean? How do we do it?

That’s what we will be thinking about as we gather this Sunday, and– hopefully– you will be encouraged!


Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

A Prayer to Love

November 14, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Last Sunday we started a series in our church called Love One Another.

In Galatians 6:2 we read these words:

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Such a simple verse… yet incredibly powerful. Paul is saying that you can fulfill the law of Christ– this could be an allusion either to the second greatest commandment (“love thy neighbor”) or the new commandment (“love one another”)– by carrying or bearing the burden’s of fellow believers.

In this world where so much seems out of our control– where believers are constantly trying to discover God’s will for their life– this provides a great deal of practical direction.

It seems to come down to this idea from Scripture:

Love One Another

Simple concept right? The idea is repeated throughout the Bible. Take a moment to read these verses from the New Testament.

1. John 13:34
“A new command I give you: Love onanother. As I have loved you, so you must love onanother.

2. John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love onanother.”

3. Romans 12:10
Be devoted to onanother in brotherly love. Honor onanother above yourselves.

4. Romans 13:8
 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love onanother, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

5. Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve onanother in love.

6. Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with onanother in love.

7. Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how we may spur onanother on toward love and good deeds.

8. 1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love onanother deeply, from the heart.

9. 1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with onanother; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

10. 1 Peter 5:14
Greet onanother with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

11. 1 John 3:11
[ Love OnAnother ] This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love onanother.

12. 1 John 3:23
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love onanother as he commanded us.

13. 1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love onanother, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

14. 1 John 4:11
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love onanother.

15. 1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; but if we love onanother, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

16. 2 John 1:5
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one

Although the concept is simple, I feel challenged by this idea.

That’s what we talked about last week. The foundation for this call to love (“Why Love?”). And I had a response from someone  in our church that I wanted to share with you.

After the sermon, a woman came up to me and said that she struggled with the outcome of the recent presidential election. She was frustrated and mad. But then she said that she had an answer to her problem and she handed me a piece of paper she had written on. Here’s what it said– I call it a “Prayer to Love”:

Father, I recognize that there is anger in my heart toward those who voted for Obama.

 I confess I do not have the power to set this anger aside.

 I give you my heart and mind willingly—and ask you to remove this anger and replace it with your love and forgiveness.

 I can’t do this so you must do it in me through the power of your Holy Spirit.

I think that is a beautiful and honest prayer– and I realize that we could all probably put something in the first line that we have unresolved anger about.

Maybe this is a first step for us to learn about how to Love One Another the way God wants us to.

November 18th News

November 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

What do River Dance, the Miami Heat, and the Church have in common? They all rely on unity to function as they were designed to be.

There is something inside each of us that desires to be a part of something bigger and more significant than ourselves. We know that we “can’t do it alone” and we were “made for relationships”. But we also know that we have a hard time actually putting these truths into practice.

Last week we started a series called Love One Another with a foundational message called “Why Love?” We looked at 1 Corinthians 13 where Paul makes a case for love in the church–the body of Christ. We talked about why love can be difficult (selfishness; individualism; fear; cost) and we dealt with the question Why do we love? (Because God loves us, Because God tells us to love, Because we were made to love, Because we show others God’s love, Because love is eternal)

This week, we will look at John 17:20-26. John 17 is the longest recorded prayer from Jesus in the Bible. And at the end he prays for us. What he says is important and we need to ponder it together. It is all about unity and how we need to value and love each other just as Jesus loves the Father and the Father loves Jesus.

Read the passage and come ready to hear about what Jesus wants for you and me– and how that relates to our understanding in how we can “love one another”.

Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

Dealing with Spiritual and Emotional Exhaustion

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Do you…

  • Ever feel tired?
  • Ever feel like there is not enough time in the day to get everything done?
  • Ever feel like giving up… in a job or relationship or situation?
  • Ever feel spiritually worn out/prayed out/stretched out?

In today’s high pressure, fast-paced world, it is difficult to have the emotional energy we need to meet the demands of life.

There’s a story in the Bible that points out how we can meet life’s demands—especially when we feel the weakest.

Elijah

  • One of the most famous and dramatic of Israel’s prophets

There’s a verse in the New Testament that says, “Elijah was a man just like us” (James 5:17)

  • He wasn’t a spiritual superhero who had a special hotline to God
  • He faced pressures and struggles just like we do
  • But God taught him a very important lesson about balancing life’s demands

1 Kings 19—Elijah is Down and Out

To understand—need to understand 1 Kings 18

  • Elijah is a prophet to Israel
  • There was a king named Ahab whose wife was Jezebel
    • Jezebel was a foreigner and got Ahab to worship Baal
    • Not only that, she killed the prophets of the Lord

Elijah has a showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel

  • Here’s the rules:
    • They get a sacrifice
    • Cut it up and prepare it on a wood pile to be offered
    • Then pray to their god
    • The god that answers by fire wins

All the people of Israel are gathered there

  • Elijah lets the prophets of Baal go first

450 Baal prophets—prepare sacrifice and start praying to Baal

  • Around lunchtime Elijah starts to taunt the Baal prophets
    • Why don’t you pray louder?
    • Maybe your god is asleep
    • Or in deep thought
    • Or on a trip
    • Or maybe in the bathroom
  • So Baal prophets pray louder—and cut themselves
  • Nothing but silence (v. 29)“But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.”

Then it’s Elijah’s turn

  • He cuts up the sacrifice
    • Puts it on the wood
    • Pours water over it…again…and again
  • Prays on time to God
  • Fire falls from heaven and incinerates the sacrifice

People go nuts—(v. 39) “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

  • And Elijah and the people slaughtered all the prophets of Baal

Big win for God and his prophet, Elijah.

But in 1 Kings 19 we see a dramatic shift

Elijah goes from a spiritual mountaintop to the lowest, deepest valley

Here are the players in this drama—we met them in 1 Kings 18

  • King Ahab:   who the Bible describes as the worst king of Israel up to this point
  • Queen Jezebel:     a wicked idol worshipper
    • They both hate Elijah
  • Elijah
  • God

1 Kings 19

Elijah Flees to Horeb

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Jezebel threatens Elijah’s life

How does Elijah—the great prophet of God, fresh off an incredible spiritual victory— respond?

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

What causes spiritual/emotional exhaustion?

  • We see some of the causes in Elijah’s story

1) Conflict (v 1-2)

The king and queen hate Elijah and want him dead

There will always be conflict in human relationships

  • who are you having issues with right now?

Do you like conflict?

  • Most of us retreat from it
  • It wears us out
  • We constantly think about it

2) Failure (v 1-2)

Elijah feels like a failure

  • A prophet is supposed to call people to obey the word of God
  • But what are Ahab and Jezebel—the king and queen of God’s people—doing?
  • They are disobeying God—in fact, they are trying to eliminate all of God’s prophets
  • Including Elijah

How does failure affect you?

  • Is there an area in your life right now where you feel like you are failing?
    • School
    • Work
    • Home
    • Spiritual life
    • Finances
    • Health

This can wear you out and cause spiritual/emotional exhaustion

3) Fear (v 3)—Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.

Elijah is afraid—and he has a good reason to be

What about you?

  • When you wake up in the morning, what is the first emotion that you feel?

Some days it is excitement

  • But sometimes we feel something else
    • Anxiety/fear
      • Won’t be able to meet the demands of the day
      • Won’t even be able to identify the priorities of the day

This can wear anyone out

4) Loneliness  (v 3-4)

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert.

Elijah is alone

No one is with him to encourage him

  • Remind him of the truth
  • Hug him
  • Support him

That’s why the word FELLOWSHIP is so important

  • That’s why church is important
  • Like-minded people supporting you as a spiritual family
  • Encouraging and truth-telling from the same truth source

This is where Elijah is at this point…

  • He’s in a conflict
  • He feels like a failure
  • He’s afraid
  • And he is lonely

That’s why he wants to die.

We can relate to the things that exhaust us like that

  • But God doesn’t want to just help us understand how it happens
  • He wants to bring us through our exhaustion and give us stability and hope again

And we see how that happens for Elijah and can happen for us as we continue with the story…

1 Kings 19:5-9a

Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” 6 He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

1) REST your body (v. 5-9a)

When Elijah is so distraught he wants to die—God doesn’t give him a pep talk or a sermon

  • Instead he gives him a snack and a nap

Sometimes the smartest thing you can do—the most SPIRITUAL THING you can do—is to go to sleep

1 Kings 19:7-10

The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

And the word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

2) REALIZE what you can and cannot control (v. 10,14)

In verse 10—what can Elijah control?

  • His zealousness for God—what he does, how he responds to God
  • Bringing God’s word to the people
  • Challenging the prophet of Baal

But what else does he take responsibility for?

  • The Israelites response to his message—their response to God

“In spite of everything I’ve done—all my valiant efforts…”

  • God’s covenant is reject
  • His altars of broken down
  • His prophets are killed

That’s why he feels like a failure!

  • In his eyes the response of the Israelites is all his fault

Can he change people’s hearts?

  • Who does that? God

We do this all the time—take responsibility for stuff we can’t control

  • Employees
  • Kids
  • Situations

Remember this:      YOU CAN’T CONTROL PEOPLE—YOU CAN ONLY INFLUENCE THEM

When we take responsibility for things we can’t control, you will get frustrated

  • What do you do with that frustration?
    • Let it out—become a controlling jerk
    • Stuff it down—become angry and bitter
    • Stuff it deeper—get depressed
      • Because ultimately you—like Elijah—blame yourself

1 Kings 19:11

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

3) REFOCUS on God (v.11-12)

In verse 10—who is Elijah focusing on? (On whom is Elijah’s focus?)

  • Himself… I’ve been zealous/ I failed/I’m alone

And God says—you have to focus on me

  • I’m gonna show up

How cool is that—a whisper

  • Elijah is hurting and God speaks to him in a whisper
  • He gently begins to move him from failure to faith

This highlights one of the most incredible truths about our God

  • He is the powerful creator
  • The Almighty One
  • The sovereign over all
  • All powerful—controlling wind, earthquakes and fire
  • TRANSCENDENT
  • But he is also a gentle and intimate God
  • Close enough to communicate to us with a whisper
  • IMMANENT

What does God say?

  • And he says it to Elijah twice

1 Kings 19:13

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE ELIJAH?

  • Question is for Elijah, not God
  • Like “Where are you?” in Gen 3

If you feel like a failure and lonely and depressed and exhausted

  • Listen for God’s whisper asking you the same question

He’s not mad

  • He wants you to know he hasn’t changed his opinion of you
  • He asks you the question to remind you of who he is
  • He doesn’t want you to choose to stay there
  • He wants to give you hope

Jesus provides the cure—he overcomes for us

1) He brings REST for our souls

Matthew 11:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

2) He CONTROLS everything

John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

3) He is GOD WITH US

John 10:30

30 I and the Father are one.”

John 14:9

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.

John 14:6

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

1 Kings 19:14

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Then the Lord gives Elijah a mission

  • He guides and directs him

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

Elijah learns that he is not alone

  • God has a plan and purpose for his life

The same is true about us.


November 11th News

November 8, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

I have a question for you…

Are you frustrated? Angry? Confused? Disappointed? Scared?

As I talked to people yesterday, those were the themes that kept coming up. We wonder about the future. We wonder about the present. We are looking for God and trying to understand how– if he is, indeed, in control of everything– everything seems out of control.

As I think about the last few months of political campaigning, I realize that we have been bombarded with negativity and anger from all sides. Have you felt that?

Frankly, I’m tired of it… and I’m sure you are too. As God’s people, we should be all about hope. We should be all about joy. We should be all about love.

I don’t think that would really describe me over the last few months. Does it describe you?

Last week, as we looked at the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19, one of the principles we discovered was this:

REALIZE what you can and cannot control

So many of our fears and concerns and frustrations are things that we cannot control. So the question is this: What can we control?

This Sunday we are beginning a new series. It is a series that I need to preach. It is a series we need to hear as we head towards things like Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a series that defines the church, yet is lacking in most churches. It is a series about something that we actually can control…

The series is called “Love One Another”.

Simple concept right? The idea is repeated throughout the Bible. Take a moment to read these verses from the New Testament.

1. John 13:34
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

2. John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

3. Romans 12:10
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

4. Romans 13:8
 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.

5. Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature ; rather, serve one another in love.

6. Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

7. Hebrews 10:24
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

8. 1 Peter 1:22
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

9. 1 Peter 3:8
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

10. 1 Peter 5:14
Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

11. 1 John 3:11
[ Love One Another ] This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

12. 1 John 3:23
And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

13. 1 John 4:7
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

14. 1 John 4:11
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

15. 1 John 4:12
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

16. 2 John 1:5
And now, dear lady, I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another.

Although the concept is simple. Actually loving one another is a different story. That’s why we are going to take a few weeks to focus on this.

This week we are asking the question “Why Love?” Why is it so important? What’s the big deal?

To prepare, read 1 Corinthians 13 (That’s right– the whole chapter!). You’ve probably read or heard these words before. They are often included in wedding ceremonies. But Paul is actually writing to a church and explaining how those in the church are to relate to each other.

I hope you can make it (that may be a good place to start!). And perhaps you may know someone who needs to hear about this– someone who may be discouraged or frustrated or even angry. Invite them to join us.

Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug

Fall Back Tonight!

November 3, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Make sure to remember to change your clocks back tonight! The good news is that you get an extra hour of sleep tonight… The bad news is it will be dark tomorrow night around 5:30pm.

Just wanted to remind you about the time change.

Looking forward to Sunday!

 

Grace and peace,

Doug