LETTING GOD’S WORD SPEAK INTO YOUR LIFE AND EXPERIENCES

I know this what I’m about to say isn’t a new concept. I am sure there have been no less than 10 million sermons, blog posts, and books about it already, but I just want to say this because it has been on my heart through conversations I have recently had and things I have seen over my years in ministry.

The Bible is God’s word to us.  It is God-breathed and inspired.  God always speaks to us through His word. He speaks at life, love, and any other topic, motive, or struggle you can think of.  If you’ve thought it, the Bible references it and that means that God has something to speak into your life through His word.

It still amazes me when people will say something contrary to the consistent messages in the Bible and than saw its what God is telling them. Here are a few examples…

Last night I had a conversation and my friend was telling me that someone had recently told him “I’ve prayed about it and I just feel like God is telling me to leave my wife and go start something new and be happy with this other girl”.  I am not one to put God in a box, but let me just tell you right now that God is not telling you anything like that. I don’t even need to get into all the ins and outs of the “is divorce ok?” discussion. I will just simply say that you will not find any passage in the Bible that says to take your covenant lightly that you made before God, your friends and family and your wife, and to already have a new girlfriend lined up when you leave your wife. That is not consistent with his word.

Another favorite of mine is the family excuse. I had someone tell me “We’ve been so busy with soccer games and practices that we just need to stay home from church some nights so we can be together as a family”.  Again, not to put God in a box, but all through His word he tells us that the local church is His bride. If you love someone you also love what they love. If you love God you will love and value His church.   I don’t doubt that your family needs to slow down, or that you need down time, but its probably soccer you need to cut so you can attend church together as a family.

The last example of this I heard the other day was in reference to someone being challenged to share their faith by a spiritual leader.  This person said that they wouldn’t share their faith because it was expected but they only did this when the Holy Spirit prompted them. I understand that you could read that think its ok because this person wasn’t to live Spirit lead, but they that wasn’t the state of their heart. I wanted to ask them what they thought of the multiple times in scripture where we are told to share our faith or take light to the world.

God does speak to people, every Christ follower has been given the Holy Spirit to indwell them and illuminate things to them as they live a Christ-filled life. I am not saying that we are not lead by the Holy Spirit, I am only saying that often people title the desires of their heart and the things they want to do as the work of God even when it is contradictory to His inspired consistent word He has given us.

Is God asking you to do something through His word that He has given us and you are ignoring it?

Advertisements

ACTS 2-4…COULD IT HAPPEN TODAY?

My pastor recently did a staff devotion in prep for teaching on Acts 2-4 and the early church. I was challenged to say the least and thought I would just echo some of the things he said and bullet point them.  I am stealing, but giving him credit because Jesus will be back before Rick Nuzum has a blog.

It all starts in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit comes moves and Peter stands up and explains it and shares the gospel.

Acts 2:41 – Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

The next verses are the famous ones that people always use to talk about small groups and what the church should look like day to day…

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Other great things were happening too.

Peter and John were boldly proclaiming the gospel and people were astonished with the way they talked. They could tell they were talking about something bigger than themselves and their own strength, they could tell they had been with Jesus.

Verse  31 – After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The believers being the church wasn’t just a one time occurrence in the previous mentioned verses, it gets says again..

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Here are the questions that Rick asked that started to mess with me and have had my mind swirling about “church”.

  • Was this an anomaly? Was it a one-time occurrence that God made happen to jump start the spread of the gospel?
  • Could God do this sort of thing today?
  • Do I believe, act, and lead as if I believe God could do this sort of thing today?
  • It is plain to see the Spirit was moving through people, in people, and in their town. Is it possible that the Spirit was moving because people acted boldly in faith with an expectation that God would surround their very literal obedience?
  • Is it possible that the Spirit moves in relation to the level of sacrifice, commitment, and faith that a church shows?

Two weeks later and I am still chewing on this. Some simple questions and I am sure the application doesn’t take much reading between the lines for any believer in their context. Happy thinking…

PHRASES I AM WRESTLING WITH

We all have a person, conversation, book, or quote that we have come across that has rocked us.  Might be the stage of life we are in, might be the events it is tied to, or it might be the way God is using it in His timing that really shakes us up.

I am no different and have been thinking about a few one-liners recently so I thought I would throw them up here for you.

 

1) What if you lived today without any fear? Try it. Most common command in bible = fear not. Perfect love casts out fear.

-Obviously based on 1 John 4:18, but also a tweet from my distinguished colleague Kary Oberbrunner

 

2) “Without Faith it is impossible to please God.”

Hebrews 11:6 highlighted in Sun Stand Still by Steven Furtick

 

3) “What would you be willing to attempt for God if you knew you could not fail?”

-The question that Perry Noble likes to ask all the time and the one that lead to him planting his church as he tells in this post

Philippians 2-Humility

No extra commentary from me is needed….

Philippians 2

Imitating Christ’s Humility

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

COMPELLED?

Last night I spoke from II Corinthians 5:13-21

2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (New International Version)

13If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Christ’s love is so great and should be compelling me. By definition it should drive me to a course of action.

Questions I am asking today….

Am I compelled as a Christ follower?

Am I compelled as a husband?

Am I compelled as a dad?

Am I compelled to lead HSM?

Am I compelled in my worship leading?

Am I compelled in the Grace group I lead?

The point last night was that if you are not compelled, it isn’t because God’s love isn’t compelling. You just need to remind yourself of the depth of God’s love and spend some time meditating on it. When viewed in proper perspective it will compel, drive, and change you. The lesson was for me as much as anyone else.

Last night I spoke from II Corinthians 5:13-21

2 Corinthians 5:13-15 (New International Version)

13If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Christ’s love is so great and should be compelling me. By definition it should drive me to a course of action.

Questions I am asking today….

Am I compelled as a Christ follower?

Am I compelled as a husband?

Am I compelled as a dad?

Am I compelled to lead HSM?

Am I compelled in my worship leading?

Am I compelled in the Grace group I lead?

The point last night that if you are not compelled you just need to remind yourself of the depth of God’s love and spend some time meditating on it because it is compelling. The lesson was for me as much as anyone else.

LUKEWARM PEOPLE-FRANCIS CHAN

Unless you live under a rock you have probably heard of Francis Chan. He is lead pastor at Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California and one of the premiere pastors in America.

Last year he wrote a book Crazy Love.  I read it when it came out, but right now our HSM grace groups as well as my adult grace group I lead are going through the matching DVD curriculum. To say that Francis, his book, and the DVD are awesome is an understatement.  This week I have been focused a ton on this list of what the lives of lukewarm people look like. Read this and tell me you are moved to action.

1.  Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians do, so they go. (Isaiah 29:13)

2.  Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church…as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? (1 Chronicles 21:24; Luke 21:1-4)

3. Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives (Luke 6:26; Rev. 3:1; Matthew 23:5-7).

4.  Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one (John 10:10; Romans 6:1-2).

5.  Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers (James 1:22; James 4:17; Matthew 21:28-31).

6.  Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion (Matthew 10:32-33).

7.  Lukewarm people gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street (Luke 18:11-12).

8.  Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives (Luke 9:57-62).

9.  Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for pastors and missionaries and radicals (Matthew 22:37-38).

10.  Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached (Matthew 5:43-47; Luke 14:12-14).

11.  Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money and energy they are willing to give (Luke 18:21-25).

12.  Lukewarm people think about life on earth much more often than eternity in heaven. Daily life is mostly focused on today’s to-do list, this week’s schedule, and next month’s vacation. Rarely, if ever, do they intently consider the life to come. Regarding this, C.S. Lewis wrote, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this” (Philippians 3:18-20; Colossians 3:2).

13.  Lukewarm people are thankful for their luxuries and comforts, and rarely consider trying to give as much as possible to the poor. They are quick to point out, “Jesus never said money is the root of all evil, only that the love of money is.” Untold numbers of lukewarm people feel “Called” to minister to the rich; very few feel “called” to minister to the poor (Matthew 25:34, 40; Isaiah 58:6-7).

14.  Lukewarm people do whatever is necessary to keep themselves from feeling too guilty. They want to do the bare minimum, to be “good enough” without it requiring too much of them. They ask, “How far can I go before it’s considered a sin?” instead of “How can I keep myself pure as a temple of the Holy Spirit?” They ask, “How much do I have to give?” instead of “How much can I give?” They ask, “How much time should I spend praying and reading my Bible? Instead of “I wish I didn’t have to go to work, so I could sit here and read longer!” (1 Chronicles 29:14; Matthew 13:44-46).

15.  Lukewarm people are continually concerned with playing it safe; they are slaves to the god of control. This focus on safe living keeps them from sacrificing and risking for God (1 Timothy 6:17-18; Matthew 10:28).

16.  Lukewarm people feel secure because they attend church, made a profession of faith at age twelve, were baptized, come from a Christian family, vote Republican, or live in America. Just as the prophets in the Old Testament warned Israel that they were not safe just because they lived in the land of Israel, so we are not safe just because we wear the label Christian or because some people persist in calling us a “Christian nation” (Matthew 7:21; Amos 6:1)

17.  Lukewarm people do not live by faith; their lives are structured so they never have to. They don’t have to trust God if something unexpected happens-they have their savings account. They don’t need God to help them – they have their retirement plan in place. They don’t genuinely seek out what life God would have them live – they have life figured and mapped out. They don’t depend on God on a daily basis – their refrigerators are full and, for the most part, they are in good health. The truth is, their lives wouldn’t look much different if they suddenly stopped believing in God (Luke 12:16-21; Hebrews 11).

18.  Lukewarm people probably drink and swear less than average, but besides that, they really aren’t very different from your typical unbeliever. They equate their partially sanitized lives with holiness, but they couldn’t be more wrong (Matthew 23:25-28).

Thought

Today Jeff Martin shared at our staff meeting. He shared this verse…

Philippians 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

Can you imagine being so Godly that you can confidently tell people to follow your example. And yet as a pastor I inadvertently say that everyday.

Anyway, Jeff asked who had been an example in our life and what example we are trying to leave to people. I have answers for both but I think I will post those later and just let that verse keep you thinking for now.