Living It Out – Dec 11

from Pastor Andrew

Advent invites us to consider four realities Christ brings to our lives. We will consider these four in sets of two this week and next.

Christ brings HOPE. Both the Prophet Isaiah and John, the Gospel writer, point out that the Messiah (the sent one of God) will be one who brings light into to darkness.  Studies have shown that extended periods of darkness impact our sense of time, our physical health, our mental fortitude and even our ethical decision making. Darkness brings about despair and loneliness that leads to hopelessness. Most of us have not experienced long periods of temporal darkness, but many have spent years in emotional and/or spiritual darkness. A ray of light brings a ray of hope. A flood of light brings a flood of hope. Jesus Christ came into the world bringing a flood of light into the darkness of our sin-filled world and with him comes a flood of hope.

Christ brings LOVE. Another of our deepest needs as humans is to know we are loved. To have an awareness that you can never do anything that will make the lover’s perception of you greater or lesser. The Prophet Jeremiah wrote a letter to the Jewish people taken into the darkness of Babylonian captivity. In that letter we find a fairly well known verse, Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” In Jeremiah’s message of hope, we also find a message of love in Chapter 31:3. God declares to the Jewish people; “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Even amid the people’s disregard and disobedience of God, He declares his love. Speaking to us today, Romans 5:8 tells us that even when we were enemies of God, He loved us. God demonstrated His love by sending Jesus Christ into our world to live, die and be raised again for us. 

Advent is filled with the message of Hope and Love found in Jesus Christ. Anticipate it, prepare for it, celebrate it.

 


Living It Out – Dec 4

from Pastor Andrew

What is Advent? 

It is a time of ANTICIPATION.

Since the 4th century, Christians have been celebrating Advent. Even before that, people of God have anticipated the coming of the promised One. In our advent devotionals this week, we read from Isaiah 9. We learned that Isaiah prophesied that God’s Messiah would come 700 years before the Messiah (Jesus) came. Yet that was not the first time God had promised to send the Messiah. In Genesis 3 God promised Adam and Eve that he would send a redeemer to bring salvation from sin. God’s people in the old testament anticipated the first advent of Christ. Now we anticipate Christ’s second coming. God’s people have always been people of anticipation and Advent is a time to be reminded of that.

It is a time of PREPARATION.

In the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas, it is easy to lose sight of what we really celebrate; the coming of Christ. In this time of year, as we think back over the year and get ready for a the New Year, it is important to center our lives afresh on the hope, joy, love, and peace that Christ provides. That, like the other details of our Christmas traditions, requires intentional preparation. While we should be mindful of this each and every day, Advent is a time set aside to prepare our hearts to celebrate and share the true meaning of the season.

It is a time of CELEBRATION.

Advent celebrates that Christ has come and will come again. Our anticipation and preparation result in a wonderful celebration of God’s Promise to us. The redeemer has come. He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Advent reminds us that we live in light of that today and that He will come again making everything new. This is worth a grand celebration.



Living It Out – Nov 27

from Pastor Andrew

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

 
These words of Jesus found in Matthew 28:19-20, are His marching orders for us. We are called to make disciples. Yet, there are many thoughts and questions that rush into our minds when we hear this charge. Questions about evangelism vs. discipleship, about the how, when, where, why and who, about gifting or ability, and about if this applies to me or not.

For starters, this charge applies to everyone who has expressed faith in Jesus Christ. By faith in Jesus we enter into the incarnational ministry of Jesus by making disciples. It is a honor and privilege, not to mention it is pretty amazing to see a life transformed by Jesus before your eyes.

So what program should you use. What resource works best. How do you “DO” discipleship. While there are a number of great tools that help in the process, the Bible itself lays out a simple foundation for discipleship; minutes, moments and milestones.

How are you using your minutes, moments, and milestones to deepen your love for Jesus Christ?How are you using your MM&Ms to pass on your knowledge, love and passion for Jesus Christ to your children? How are you using your MM&Ms, especially this season, to share Christ with your friends and neighbors?

Joining the fellowship in our advent study is a great place to start on our journey to multiply disciples. Pick up your resources today!



Living It Out – Nov 20

from Pastor Andrew

Thanksgiving; it’s just a few days away. As part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition, we spend time, before or after the our meal, giving thanks together. Do you have a similar tradition? 

As Paul brings his instruction on generosity in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 to a close, he repeats his main theme, Grace stimulates Generosity, and Generosity leads to Gratitude and Thanksgiving. Reflecting on this biblical pattern helps us prepare for Thanksgiving. Living this truth brings about a life full of generosity and joy.

In 2 Corinthians 9:9, Paul quotes Psalm 112:9. Paul is using this quote to get us thinking again about God’s grace toward us in Christ. In Christ, God declares that He is able to meet our deepest needs; and He does that even when we don’t deserve it or even know we need it.

 
Calling to mind the context of Psalm 112, also points us to a pattern of living that results in generosity and gratitude; trust God and obey his commands. Our thanksgiving is ultimately tied to our relationship and walk with God.
 
Leading up to Thanksgiving read and reflect on Psalm 112. Read it twice, the first time read it as if it is describing Jesus Christ (because it is). Reflect on what Christ has done for us and what we have in Him. The second time through, read it as an instruction for you (because it is). Reflect on what practical step of generosity you can take this week, in light of God’s grace, leading you to generosity and thanksgiving.


Living It Out – Nov 13

from Pastor Andrew

Thanksgiving; it’s just over a week away. As part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition, we spend time, before or after the our meal, giving thanks together. Do you have a similar tradition?

As Paul brings his instruction on generosity in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 to a close, he repeats his main theme, Grace stimulates Generosity, and Generosity leads to Gratitude and Thanksgiving. Reflecting on this biblical pattern helps us prepare for Thanksgiving. Living this truth brings about a life full of generosity and joy.

In 2 Corinthians 9:9, Paul quotes Psalm 112:9. Paul is using this quote to get us thinking again about God’s grace toward us in Christ. In Christ, God declares that He is able to meet our deepest needs; and He does that even when we don’t deserve it or even know we need it.

Calling to mind the context of Psalm 112, also points us to a pattern of living that results in generosity and gratitude; trust God and obey his commands. Our thanksgiving is ultimately tied to our relationship and walk with God.

Leading up to Thanksgiving read and reflect on Psalm 112. Read it twice, the first time read it as if it is describing Jesus Christ (because it is). Reflect on what Christ has done for us and what we have in Him. The second time through, read it as an instruction for you (because it is). Reflect on what practical step of generosity you can take this week, in light of God’s grace, leading you to generosity and thanksgiving.



Living It Out – Nov 6

from Pastor Andrew

If what you have is not what you need, it’s not your harvest, it’s your seed.”  While the author of this little poem is unknown, the truth of this poem is a universal law that has practical and spiritual implications.

God established the law of sowing and reaping at the very beginning of time. In Genesis 1:12 God creates plants that bear seed and gave them to man for food. Ever since mankind has understood the law of sowing and reaping.

God created a cause and effect world. Every action has an opposite and equal reaction. You sow and then you reap. Life just works that way. We are always sowing, good or bad, there is no neutral. If you don’t like what you’re reaping in your life then start paying attention to what you’re sowing.

The law of sowing and reaping says we will reap in kind, and in time. If you plant crabgrass you can’t expect a rose bush. And whatever you plant will take time to grow. A choice, whether good or bad, may seem to have no immediate impact on you. But it does. The harvest will come.

We also reap proportionately to what we sow. If we sow little seed we will reap a small harvest. If we sow a lot of seed we will reap a larger harvest. While reaping is proportional, reaping is also always more. Plant an apple seed and get a harvest of apples that all have multiple seeds.

Sowing and reaping is how God made things to work. In the physical and the spiritual world.

This week think about…

  • What are you reaping in life, physically and spiritual?
  • What seeds can you plant today that will produce good fruit in the future?
  • How has your harvest impacted others (those who work with or for you, friends close to you, your family)?

God is the giver of all things. Ask Him for good seed today and look for it in His word.



Living It Out – Oct 30

from Pastor Andrew

As humans we are hard wired for relationship and worship. They are an “itch” within every human soul and we desperately seek relief. We will try many things to “scratch” the “itch” we feel. 

There have been times in history of greater openness among people to seek out the God of the Bible to satisfy this “itch”. We often call these times “revivals” or great moments of kingdom multiplication. Could it be, that we are on the verge of another wave of revival? Here’s four of my
reasons for believing we are.
  • A growing desire to be actually known. Facebook has given us “friends” but there is movement to return to real life interaction that is building steam.
  • The Church’s (broadly speaking) growing desire to be local. From mega churches to church planting organizations, the focus is shifting away from being big and cutting edge to being local and connected.
  • A growing prayer movement in our country. This has always ebbed and flowed like waves, but there is a growing wave of prayer throughout the country.
  • A noticed increase in talk about faith in Jesus Christ. Watch the news and listen to people, there is more chatter about Jesus.

We have opportunity and there are challenges to face in order to meet that opportunity, in order to Catch the Wave. In the midst of opportunity and challenge is where God can move in powerful ways. Are we ready and willing to respond in faith? Are we ready and willing to join God in His movement of kingdom multiplication?

 


Living It Out – Oct 16

from Pastor Andrew

The Bible has a lot to say about money.

One in seven verses in the New Testament deal with the topic of money. There are more verses (over 2000) that deal about money than about prayer and faith combined. Money is a big deal.

The Bible makes it clear that God understands money, it’s importance in our world, and that He desires his people to use money for His glory. In 2 Corinthians, Paul is encouraging the believers to glorify God in every area of their lives because of their genuine experience of God’s grace and love. In Chapter 8, he points out that their use of money is a primary indicator of the genuineness of that experience. This is a bold assertion that we often don’t like. The Bible is clear though, that our use of money reveals our hearts. 

Our passage this Sunday challenges our perspective on money with three ideas about money….

  • Wealth is a tool to be used for God’s glory not our own.
  • Giving, like many things in our Christian walk, begins as a discipline but grows into Godly desire and delight.
  • Giving, when followed through on, not only glorifies God but it brings us together in partnership, love, and joy.

Take a few minutes this week to write down your response to these three ideas. Then write out a prayer expressing your heart and desires about money.



Living It Out – Oct 9

from Pastor Andrew

We don’t like talking about money. But it’s an important aspect of our spiritual lives. Jesus said that how we think about and use our money reveals a lot about our hearts. Jesus is after our hearts.

The Macedonians of 2 Corinthians 8 had been changed by God’s Grace. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 they had been made new in Christ. Their whole lives had been changed by grace. They had faith that led to thanksgiving, courage, a right view of God, being on mission with God and living in the promises of God. As grace flooded their lives they became generous people. As they lived generously they experienced joy. As they lived with Joy they made a huge impact.

Take some time this week and read 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 8:1. Take note of the changes that God works in our lives by His grace. Then ask these two questions.

  1. Is the grace of God leading me to live generously with my time, talent, and treasure?
  2. Am I experiencing the joy of generosity in my life right now?


Living It Out – Oct 2

from Andrew Bee

The prophet Habakkuk declared “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14) As we learned from Exodus 33 the means of the spread of God’s Glory will be through His people living in light of His goodness and presence. God’s goodness and presence are enacted and secured in our lives through the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit we can live lives that will be “distinct” compared to the world which will “spread the
fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere”
(2 Cor. 2:14)

Through faith in Christ we are becoming like Jesus Christ. God is working in your life so that His glory can be seen everywhere. 

This week… 

… reflect on your journey to faith in Jesus Christ. 

What was significant about it? What changed in your life
because of it? (If you have not come to faith in Jesus Christ, reflect on what keeps you from believing in Jesus).

… recount the goodness of God. 

Make a list of how God has been good to you and the ways you know He is present with you. Find at least 3 scriptures that speak of God’s work & presence in your life. Try to memorize them.

… recommit to spreading the light of the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ. 

Make a list of areas in your life where God’s work and presence can be displayed to others. Make a list of 5 people you could verbally share the message of the Gospel with this month.