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Living Water Church

a St. Nazianz WI (Manitowoc County) un-denominational Christian church

Read Romans 15:13 and watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIncWMbiVK0

We often hear the words “joy” and “peace” and “hope” as part of the Christmas season, but many people do not know how to have those words. Joy and peace and hope began with Christmas.

We just saw a video of an incredible story of joy. Mary Jones remembered the joy she felt as a child when listening to stories from the Bible. When she heard that there were Bibles printed in her own language, Welsh, and she saved money for six years to buy a Bible. When she finally had enough money, she had to walk a marathon to get that Bible. Only something that provided true joy could have motivated her to do these extraordinary things, and through these acts God used her story of joy to inspire much more.

We just sang “Silent Night” which was originally a poem, but it would never have been paired with a melody unless the church organ had broken that Christmas Eve morning during rehearsal. The pastor of that church asked his friend, a local musician, if he could quickly write a melody in the next few hours, writing a melody to a poem that he wrote a few years ago. The melody to “Silent Night” was originally written within in hours on the same Christmas Eve that it would be played later that day during Christmas Eve service…on a guitar. That pastor, without his usual instrument of an organ to lead worship on Christmas Eve, inspired by hope, gave us one of our most beloved Christmas carols. God used his story of hope to inspire much more.

“O Holy Night” was also a poem before it was paired with a melody. The pastor of the church in town asked a local poet to write about the night of Christ’s birth. The poet reluctantly agreed and wrote one of the most moving and peaceful of all the Christmas carols we have. I mentioned that the poet wrote reluctantly. He wrote reluctantly because he didn’t like the pastor and he really didn’t even like the church either because he didn’t like religion at all. But to write the words of “O Holy Night” – what peace he must have had even for a little while…even though he was…an atheist.

God chose to send His Promised Son to bring joy to Mary Jones so she would save for six years and walk a marathon to purchase a Bible in her own language. God chose to allow an atheist to have His peace so the words could be written to one of the most stirring Christmas carols of all time. And God chose to bring hope to a congregation who had no organ to play for their usual Christmas songs on Christmas Eve. More importantly, God chose to package His one and only Son to us in the form of a baby wrapped in poor clothing born in a poor place.

A baby is perhaps the one thing in this world that can bring everyone joy, peace, and hope to us. Joy in his or her arrival, peace on his or her face as he or she sleeps, and hope in a next generation of a family.

This baby Jesus was the promised hope of thousands of years for God’s people: back then the Jews and now to us Christians.

Many people, including people we know, struggle around the holidays because they are missing something. Perhaps they miss a loved one that has passed away, or they have regrets dealing with current relationships or lack thereof. That missing something, that hole in their heart, while painful, was created by God to be there so that we fill it with the Hope that only He can give. That is why in this congregation of his Church at Living Water Church we talk about not religion but having a relationship with God. The result of that relationship is the joy, peace, and hope that only He can give. We can choose to fill that hole in our hearts with other things, but it is nothing like when we choose to fill it with Him, and there is nothing like that joy, peace, and hope that only He can give when fear is gone and our purpose on earth is much more clear.

To remind us of what only He can give us, when Jesus was grown up from that baby to a man ministering to people, He gave his followers a way to remember Him after He left the earth. He said we should eat and drink together. He used flat bread to represent His body and the fruit of the vine to represent His blood to demonstrate that we understand that He is the true Joy to the world, the Prince of Peace for our souls, and the only Hope that lasts forever.

If you are a believer that Jesus is the only personal Savior from your sins and that you cannot earn His Joy or Peace or Hope by doing something or anything to earn it, because you can’t do something or anything to earn salvation, you are invited to take this bread and drink on your own as we continue to worship the Lord together through song. If you have not made this decision, today is your special day. Think of it as your second birthday on the day we celebrate Jesus birth. You are that child who seeks the Joy of the Lord, like Mary Jones. You are that atheist who wrote about Peace but does not yet have it spiritually. You are in that congregation who though they had no songs to sing on Christmas Eve but were given hope. I want you to bow your head, close your eyes, and repeat this prayer. If this is the first time you have said this prayer today and you are a child, after this prayer I want you to tell your parents that you prayed it. If you are an adult, I want you to talk to Jack after we conclude our service so that we can equip you as a new follower of Jesus. Please repeat these words.

“Dear Jesus. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. And I acknowledge that I need a Savior. I need a Savior because I cannot earn Your Joy. I cannot earn Your Peace. And I cannot earn your Hope. By the things that I do. Only You can give these things. I confess this right now. That You alone are my Savior. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”

Merry Christmas.

As we sing the next four songs, please take and eat and take and drink to remember why Jesus was born today in a lowly estate so that we could have a relationship with God again.

 

Last week we talked about the faith of a mustard seed. Today: the faith of a mother. Please turn to Exodus chapter 2 starting at verse 1.
Moses’ mother Jochebed is not named here but is named in Numbers 26:59. She already was a mother, giving birth to Moses’ brother Aaron and sister Miriam. Both Aaron and Miriam later on were also leaders of God’s chosen people Israel. Recall that the Israelites are captive slaves in the best land in Egypt, the land of Goshen, and God blessed them with a baby boom. Pharaoh observed that Israel was growing in numbers therefore power over the Egyptians, and he couldn’t figure out why the Israelites had this baby boom and Egypt was not. As we read in Exodus chapter one, God was blessing Israel. So, Pharaoh tried population control tactics: he ordered that any new baby Israelite boy was to be drowned in the Nile River. Imagine the fear in all the pregnant moms and the moms who wanted to have children if their child was a boy. Pharaoh let the girls live, but not the boys. Also note that the first recorded methods of induced abortion were in 1500 BC. In Egypt. About one hundred years before Moses was born. Jochebed and the other pregnant Israeli women could have chosen to use these Egyptian abortion methods? Imagine the fear and worry when the traditional signs were present of carrying a boy baby knowing the high probability that if their baby was a boy that they would deliver their son only to have him be drowned by their captors.

Jochebed became pregnant after Pharaoh’s murderous decree. Imagine how many times fear and worry and anxiety could have consumed her over the nine months. Whatever she was thinking about and praying about, it actually didn’t matter. Once Moses was born, verse 2 says that Jochebed looked at him and noticed something special about him. It was so significant that the first Christian martyr Stephen noted it in his speech before he died, recorded in Acts 7:20. There was something special about his appearance that either made Jochebed realize that he had a special purpose for God or it confirmed to her that whatever her plan was: she needed to save her son.

By faith she kept him hidden for three months. Imagine hiding an infant for one day and hiding all the evidence that an infant lives in your house for one day. Imagine the fear and worry and anxiety knowing that at some point she would not be able to hide him any longer.

By faith she made a bed of papyrus and waterproofed it and aimed it toward the parts of the Nile that were gated off from crocodiles so royalty could ceremoniously bathe there. Exact river currents aren’t 100% reliable. I think I mentioned crocodiles. And how did she know that even if the baby basket made it to its destination that the princess would keep him versus let him drowned as her father the Pharaoh commanded?

By faith she had her daughter watch the events unfold. She probably couldn’t watch herself.

By faith her daughter, a slave, addressed royalty to ask for a Hebrew mother to nurse the baby. By faith Jochebed nourished and trained her son in the ways of Jehovah as long as she could, hoping that her son could become the rescuer of her people, sent by God. Yet, growing up as one of Pharaoh’s family probably didn’t seem like a plan that made any sense at all. One who was adopted into Pharaoh’s family would be the rescuer of her people? Sounds like only a plan that could take faith to believe.

Today is mothers day, and we celebrate our moms and the faith of our moms. We are to honor our mothers. Jesus cared for his mother as he was dying. Ruth was blessed to be in the ancestral line of Jesus because she cared for her mother-in-law. There are many examples of faithful moms in the Bible: Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Mary, Elizabeth. Today we honor our moms.

(other readings on The Faith of a Mother: Psalm 127 & 128, 2 Timothy 1:1-5)

 

Please read the following:

Malachi 3 v 8-12, Nehemiah 10 v 35-37, Proverbs 3 v 9-10, and Matthew 6 v 1-4.

 

With your family’s tithes (your first ten percent) and offerings (above and beyond your tithe):

1. Are you all on the same page?

2. How much will you give?

3. Where will you make sacrifices?

4. When will you tithe and give offerings?

 

What we get from giving:

1. Reaffirmation (“I am with you always.” – Jesus in Matt 28:20)

  • it’s all God’s
  • “your” talents to earn a living…given to you by God
  • you are not in control (and you can thank God for that)

2. Purpose

  • your part in The Great Commission (Matt 28:19, Mark 16:15) goes beyond your own salvation

3. Blessings

  • Read 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9
  • This is about cheerfully giving beyond your tithe and offerings
  • We learn about God’s economy’s principles of sowing and reaping

 

Romans 9:31-32 (NLT) 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by works instead of by trusting in Him.

After this morning, I hope you are convinced to stop trying.

There are over 100 passages in the Bible that tell us that we cannot earn anything from God, but it only took Martin Luther one to realize that he needed to stop trying and trust in God instead. Trust that the words were true that he read in Ephesians 2:8-9 that said “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” and he realized that he did not have to pay money any more nor say a particular prayer dozens of times to earn his salvation from God or to have the wrong things he had done forgiven by God. So you too in 2016 as your new year’s resolution can stop trying.

Here are a few more passages on how we need to stop trying:

Isaiah 1:17-18 “17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows. 18 ‘Come now, let’s settle this,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.’”

Isaiah 12:2, 43:11, 45:22, 53:4-6

Job 25:4

Ezekiel 33:13

Ecclesiastes 7:20

Jeremiah 17:15

In Philippians 3:9, Paul writes to the Christians in Philippi to stop trying: “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through the faithfulness of Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith.”

Paul writes to Titus to tell him to stop trying. Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.”

Titus 3:7, 2:11

Acts 4:12 “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Acts 10:1-43, 13:39, 15:10-11, 16:30-31, 26:18

1 John 2:2, 4:14, 5:13

The writer of Hebrews tells us to stop trying right at the start of the book in chapter 1 verse 3: “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

Hebrews 2:3, 2:9-10, 2:14-15, 2:17, 4:9-10, 5:9, 6:1, 7:25, 9:12-14, 9:22, 9:28, 10:10-12, 10:14, 10:17-18

Paul writes to the Christians in Galatia to stop trying. Galatians 2:16 “Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

Galatians 1:4, 2:21, 3:10, 3:21, 3:24, 5:1-4

2 Corinthians 1:9-10, 5:21

Ephesians 1:7, 1:12-13, 2:4-5, 4:32

1 Timothy 1:15, 2:5-6, 4:10

Colossians 2:14

2 Timothy 1:9-10

1 Peter 1:3-5, 3:18

Revelation 1:5

James tells us to stop trying too. James 2:10 “For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”

So, here’s how you can stop trying and trust in God.

If you were to die today, are you 100% sure you would go to Heaven?

For those who are not sure, this is why we try. We try to do things. We try to be things. We need to stop trying. We must realize that what keeps us from going to Heaven are our sins, because Isaiah 59:2 says “…your sins have separated you from God.” Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have to stop trying. There is nothing we can do or be to save ourselves and earn Heaven. In Jesus’ own words “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” in John 14:6.

He also repeated Himself a few times in John 1:12-13, 5:24, 6:28-29, 8:24, 10:1, 19:30, and in Matthew 5:20, 7:21-23, 11:28-30, 18:11, 19:25-26 and in Luke 7:49-50, 18:9-14.

That’s what the end of Luke chapter 11 said to us last Sunday and why we celebrated an empty Christmas on Christmas Eve on Thursday. Romans 5:8 says “…while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 1:16, 3:10, 3:12, 3:20, 3:22-25, 3:27-28, 4:2-7, 4:22-25, 5:1, 5:9-10, 5:17-18, 8:3-4, 8:7-8, 10:3, 10:10-13, 11:6

The decision to trust in God is ours because He gave us freewill when He created us. He also gave us the ability to feel emptiness that is to be filled by Him. We have to stop trying by ourselves and stop trusting in ourselves and decide to trust in God. That takes a mind change to admit that we have to stop trying on our own and believing and saying that Jesus is all we can trust (Romans 10:9). That’s why now and in 2016, we have to stop trying on our own and by ourselves.

If you need more personal evidence that Jesus is worthy of your trust, nearly a year ago some of us wrote a Bible passage on a 3×5 card and taped it to the right vertical frame of our white board in church. We may have forgotten what we wrote. But God didn’t. Pull that card out. Read it. Reflect on what He did for you as a result of that prayer. Today is the 4th Sunday of the month so we take communion together. Communion is about remembering what Jesus did for us, from His birth we celebrate in this season to His death for us so we would not have to be separated from a Holy God any longer. Because we could not do it ourselves. As you reflect, take the communion elements on your own. Those elements are His broken body and shed blood for you. Then, thank Him that we can stop trying and put our trust in Him.

Romans 9:31-32 (NLT) 31 But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded. 32 Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by works instead of by trusting in Him.

 

Read Psalm 139 then Romans 9:6-11 then watch the videos below for the rest of our August 9th worship service:

From pages 24-26 in Randy Alcorn’s booklet Heaven: Biblical Answers to Common Questions, we read

     “The thought of seeing God is shocking and almost blasphemous to anyone who understands the Old Testament teaching on the transcendence and inapproachability of God (Exodus 33:18-23). To see God’s face, as the sinners we are, is unthinkable. Yet, Revelation 22:4 says of God’s resurrected people on the New Earth, “They will see His face.” This means that something radical must have happened to us by then. It is only because we will be fully righteous in Christ, standing in our resurrected bodies, untainted by sin, that we will be able to see God and live. To see God will be our greatest joy. Not only will we see His face and live – we will likely wonder if we ever lived before we saw His face! Ancient theologians spoke of the beatific vision, which meant ‘a happy-making sight.’ The sight the spoke of was God Himself. The God who lives in unapproachable light became approachable in the person of Jesus (John 1:14). People could look at Jesus and see God. But Revelation 22:4 appears to speak of our actually seeing the face of God the Father. To see God’s face, we must be fully righteous in Christ, untainted by sin, in the glory of our resurrected bodies. ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God’ (Matthew 5:8). To look into God’s eyes will be to see what we’ve always longed to see: the person who made us and for whom we were made. And we will see Him in the place He made for us, and for which we were made. Seeing God will be like seeing everything else for the first time. We will discover that seeing God is our greatest joy, and life itself. Every other joy of heaven will be derivative, flowing from the fountain of our relationship with God. Beholding and knowing God, we will see ourselves, and all other people and events, through God’s eyes. We will spend eternity worshipping, exploring, and serving our great God. We will see his breath-taking beauty in everything and everyone around us.”

…as we were created to do, as Adam and Eve did before they sinned.

Every fourth Sunday of the month we celebrate The Lord’s Supper, or COmmunion. It reminds us that it was necessary for Jesus’ body to be broken and His blood to shed to renew that holy, sinless relationship with God. God, being holy and sinless, cannot be in relationship with sin or anything sinful. So, Communion reminds us that we now have the opportunity to see His face if we confess that Jesus is our Lord. If we do, we will eat supper with Him and be with Him in heaven after we die. Death, His blessing to us that we do not have to live in eternity in a sinful state.

If you have questions about heaven, where you will go when you die, God, and a relationship with God, we invite you to contact us at Living Water Church.

 

All Things New

Read Revelation 21:1-5.

I doubt you hate New Year’s resolutions as much as I do. But it is a new year, 2015. Do you have a New Year’s resolution? Most people do, and just over half of those who do, actually do keep them.

So, in keeping with conversations you may be having this week with co-workers, friends, and strangers who you ask “How are you?” and they actually tell you (hey, you asked!), let’s discuss some New Year’s resolutions. According to Time magazine’s article “Top Ten Most Commonly Broken New Year’s Resolutions,” people resolved to

  1. Lose Weight and Get Fit
  2. Quit Smoking
  3. Learn Something New
  4. Eat Healthier
  5. Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  6. Spend More Time with Family
  7. Travel to New Places
  8. Be Less Stressed
  9. Volunteer
  10. Drink Less

What does God offer in the Bible to help our resolve? In Revelation 21:1-5, God tells us He is the one who makes all things new, and John was told to write it down. So, if you have a New Year’s resolution, write it down right now. Your 2015 resolution could be one on the top ten list. It could be something you have been struggling with lately. You could have no idea because you haven’t thought of it at all. Take a minute right now to write something down. We’ll go back to that in a little bit.

Let’s look at the top ten resolutions most commonly broken and see what God says about them.

 

1. Losing weight, getting fit, quitting smoking, eating healthier, drinking less…four resolutions that have to do with health, right? Try reading verses like these to center yourself on our Healer:

Proverbs 4:20-22

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.

Psalm 107:19-21

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.

Psalm 30:2

O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.

Jeremiah 17:14

Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.

James 5:16

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

 

2. Learning something new. (I suggest you learn something new about Him.)

Proverbs 1:5

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,

Proverbs 1:7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

2 Timothy 3:16

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

Psalm 25:4-5

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.

 

3. Get out of debt and save money.

Proverbs 22:7

The borrower is the slave of the lender.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Proverbs 13:11

Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.

Hebrews 13:5

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Matthew 6:19-20

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

2 Corinthians 9:7

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Malachi 3:10

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

 

4. Spend more time with family

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Psalm 127:3-5

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

 

5. Travel to new places

Matthew 28:19-20

“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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

6. Be less stressed

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Psalm 16:8

I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 56:3-4

When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose Word I praise. In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.

John 16:33

“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.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Psalm 32:7-8

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 34:17

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.

Romans 6:8

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

 

7. Volunteer

1 Peter 4:10

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Acts 20:35

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Isaiah 58:10

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

Matthew 25:40

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Galatians 5:13-14

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 6:3

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

Proverbs 27:2

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 31:9

Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Psalm 82:3

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

 

As Christians, when we resolve to do something, we want it to be directed by God or fall within His Will, not our will. He does give us the will to accomplish anything that is within His Will.

So, you’ve heard many Biblical answers to the top new years’ resolutions. Does one of those verses fit with your new year’s resolution, or are you looking for another verse that will help you in 2015 to resolve to do something different.

Take a few 3×5 cards. Write your 2015 the Bible verse on them. This verse will guide you in 2015 with your new years’ resolution. If you cannot think of it now, you have homework this week.

Keep one at home where you will see it every day: on your bedroom mirror, bathroom mirror, in your car, the bookmark in your Bible. Sounds a little like Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18, doesn’t it? This week in 2015, plan to spend time with Him in His Word and in prayer, asking Him if this is what He wants you to do. Let’s not think of this as just your new year’s resolution, but what do you and God resolve to do together in 2015, guided by that verse.

Consider praying this: Lord, we come to you in our need and even when we do not anticipate that we have a need. You know what we need. This week as we contemplate what you want us to do in 2015, make it clear to us. Give us your guidance, as we work within your Will. You, and You alone, make all things new. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 you say that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” Amen.

Happy New Year!

Start your new year with inspiration. Consider watching “All I Can See Is You” – YouTube video below.

Link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4bX-fPO5JM

 

Video from Play David’s Harp. Considering subscribing to the Play David’s Harp blog here: http://www.playdavidsharp.com/?page_id=15

 

We just finished the book of Philippians. We will be studying Exodus is next.

At times it may be more valuable to read the Bible a verse or even a phrase at a time and let it sink in. Monday is Memorial Day, and Philippians 1:21 is appropriate. Please turn there now. Philippians 1:21. Paul simply says “For to me, to live is Christ…and to die is gain.” (Punctuation mine.) Christians are the only people in the entire world who die and gain something as a result. In Philippians 1:7, Paul calls all of us the confirmation of the Gospel. Does that leave any doubt that every life is worth a great amount? Every life was worthy of Jesus dying for it. Every single one.

In Philippians 1:12, Paul says “what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.” All of the junk that happens to us, happens to us to advance the Gospel. The Gospel is how our family of believers, all Christians, pay it forward. And all of our junk is the same conflict (Philippians 1:30) that Jesus suffered. We suffer with him. He suffers with us (Philippians 1:27) striving side by side for the sake of the Gospel. As we move with Him we also make movements toward Him to be more like Him. Philippians chapter 2 is one of those areas in the Bible that you might want to read phrase by phrase. In Philippians 2:13, Paul says that God works in us so that we have the will, His will, to do His good work. That could work of paying it forward with the Gospel is highlighted in Philippians 2:15 where we are to shine as lights in the world. We reflect His light; He is our Lighthouse.

And those themes barely scratch the surface of the first half of the book of Philippians.

For most of the rest of this Memorial worship service today (Sun, May 25), we’ll have two very different worship ministers, ministering to us, up on the screen. The first one is a group of young Christians from Northern Ireland, which means they have great accents. They call themselves Rend Collective Experiment. They were a bunch of teens gathering together at a youth ministry called Rend. Their four songs will be introduced by one of the band members, Ali, and it will end with a song that won’t have the lyrics up on the screen. Two of the songs we have sung already and two are new. Then we will be ministered to by Matt Maher. During his first song, we will take communion. I’ll pass around our memorial of the body and blood of Jesus and then you can take them at your leisure during that song. Then, there will be a “behind the song” video of Matt, another of his songs – one we have sung before, two more commentaries by Matt, and the last song of his we are familiar with. The last video will be about a Gold Star kid, Miles, who paid it forward in his own way. Please remember Memorial Day. And when you do, thank a vet, because they are the foundation of the freedom we have in America to worship as we please. And please remember to pray for Gold Star families. They do not have a Happy Memorial Day unless their loved one understood Philippians 1:21. Pay it forward to them with prayers for them that they would be comforted in the memorial of the loss of their loved one and that they would come to understand the hope of the Gospel, in that, to live is for Christ. And to die is gain. Remember the Memorial of Jesus and what He did for us and them.

Watch these videos:

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ohio-8-year-old-turns-20-into-priceless-gift/

 

shine the Light

Posted by Living Water Church on April 6, 2014
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“a city set on a hill cannot be hidden” – Jesus

We are to shine as lights in the world for a number of reasons. We are to shine as lights in the world in order to anticipate Christ’s return, in order to hold fast to the Word, in order to be blameless, and we are to do it without complaining and without arguing with each other.

Read Philippians 2:14-16.

Bible scholars believe that Paul was referencing the Old Testament in some parts of this verse. First, the “children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” phrase references Moses words in Deuteronomy 32. Paul didn’t want the Philippians to argue and dispute and question each other negatively and constantly, or they would turn into the complaining generation of Israel who had to wander the desert. A whole generation of God’s chosen were corrupted and unworthy of the Promised Land because of this constant complaining to God and internal disputing.

Second, the “shine as lights” phrase references the last chapter in the book of Daniel.

Read Daniel 12:2-3.

Here we see the wise who awake to everlasting life shining bright like the sky above and those who turn many to righteousness shining bright like the stars. That sky is bright from the Light of the World (John 8:12). As Peter said, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic Word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19).

As we shine the Light, that Light doesn’t come from us. As we read last week, “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Think of us simply as the moon, reflecting the light of the sun: the Light – capital “L” – of the Son – capital S-o-n.

And that Son, says this of us in Matthew 5:14-16. Read this.

It is all about the Son, Jesus, and He, the Light, that we shine, as He works in us “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” And we, as part of His Church, are to shine that Light, Him, before others, putting it on a stand, not hiding it under a bushel basket. And collectively, we are a city of people up on a hill, not hidden in a valley.

Please read this blog entry, from People on a Hill:

http://www.peopleonahill.com/?deeplink_referrer=socialB_facebook%2F#!You-His-Godly-Ones/c1ppo/82713A1F-AF2C-4554-BA2A-219F29DA0C1E

It is also quoted below and based on Psalm 30:4 – “Sing praises to the LORD, you His godly ones.”

you.

You are a never-before-seen expression of God’s image. There has never been a “you” before you; and there will never be a “you” after you. For you to be missing from this world would be for this world to be missing a view of God’s beauty that cannot be recaptured. It is my personal conviction that if you do not carry out your calling, shine your light, walk in the works prepared for you, no one else will. Ever. I believe God will leave those things undone; preferring an aching absence over a convenient replacement… of you. No one can sing your song. No one can give your thanks. No one can cry your tears. No one can live your story. No one, except you. And we, well, we all need you to.

His.

You are His. You belong to Him. He made you; not on an assembly line, one of countless clones. Not as an act of industry or obligation; but one of intention and passion. Carefully crafted for beauty, for pleasure, you belong to Him in as much as you come from Him, a stone cut from a mountain; not as one held against your will, captive to a possessive master. He purchased you to set you free. You can come. You can go. You will always belong with Him. That cannot change. Did you know that “Holy” means “His”? To be holy is to be set apart for a special purpose. It’s the good dinnerware. It’s the vintage wine being saved for that perfect time. It’s the raggedy blanket that could not be replaced by the finest silks or golden threads simply because it is “mine.” You are “holy” not because of your behavior, but because you belong. Someone has set you apart, special, saved. You are His.

godly.

It means faithful. It means kind. You may not feel it, but you are called it. You can learn a lot from the way folks talk about you behind your back. When Jesus talked to His Father about His friends, an arguably clueless, selfish, immature bunch, He said things like, “They have kept Your word… They have come to know… they received and truly understood… and they believed…” John 17:6-8. Jesus talks about you behind your back and He calls you, “faithful”. He says you are Holy, you are His. Blameless, beautiful, and kind. Kindness is more of an indication of godliness than anything else. Yes, more than Bible reading and church attendance and apparent wisdom, knowledge, good deeds, power… Kindness is a living giveaway for a godly one. Often one who does not think they are, or at least should be, and yet, so they are called, and so they are… godly.

ones.

We are ones. A whole bunch of “yous” brought together, made to belong to one another. As much as we would like to, we do not live as unto ourselves but unto each other. To live and let live is to live alone. No. Our lives must be entwined. I’m quite uncomfortable saying so, but, our light is brighter, our song is sweeter, our story more full with breath and fire when we are ones and not just some isolated yous. Jesus asked His Father for this too; that we would be one. It’s not just what He wants, but what we were made for; what we really want somewhere buried inside. We are ones being made one. And how sweet is the song when we offer it up as one.”

 

True to God

“To thine own self be true.” – Polonius, from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3

For one of my summer college jobs, I had a manager who was a high school English teacher. On my final day working there after a few summers, he handed me a note before I left. When I opened it, it simply had the quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet “To thine own self be true.”

At the time, I thought that was a decent quote and didn’t think much more about it. Until now.

I do recall the play that the quote was from. I think Shakespeare was easier for me to understand because I was used to reading a King James Bible. Now the character who said the line “To thine own self be true.” was who Hamlet hoped would be his father-in-law someday. He wanted to marry Ophelia, Polonius’ daughter. I won’t go into the bad vibes between Hamlet and Ophelia’s brother, Polonius’ son, but Polonius himself was a conniving helicopter parent to the extreme. At the end of the play, Polonius is dead, Ophelia’s mental state is severely and permanently affected by her father’s death, and Hamlet does have it out with Ophelia’s brother. Now, the character of busy-body Polonius is also attributed with saying famous lines such as “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” and paraphrases of his lines are famous such as “The clothes make the man.” and “There is method to his madness.” and “Old friends make the best friends.” Again, most of those lines sound like good advice or in the least are thought provoking. Some have paraphrased “To thine own self be true.” to mean, “Be true to yourself.” or just simply “Be yourself.”

This reminds me of a joke: “If you go to the grocery store and stand in front of the lunch meat section too long, you start to get ticked off at turkeys. You see turkey ham, turkey pastrami, turkey bologna. Somebody needs to tell the turkeys, ‘Man, just be yourself.’”

But, do we really need to “be ourselves,” and is being true to ourselves really the ultimate goal?

Right before I sat down to type this, I was set to talk about the beginning of David’s ministry in 1 Samuel, looking at David’s relationship with God. He seemed to be so Spirit-led most of his life. What I mean by that is this: when David had an issue such as a trash-talking Philistine giant (What in the world is anyone trying to prove trash-talking God anyway?) or the current anointed king of the most powerful kingdom on earth trying to hunt him down and kill him, etc. He would tell God about it, give it to God, God would give him the victory – sometimes an impossible victory, and David would credit God with the glory for the result. Unlike the king before David, the Spirit of God certainly did not leave him.

Instead, I was indoors walking by my front door toward my laptop as they came up the front porch stairs. I wondered if I could ignore their knock, but my open front door with just the screen door remaining in place, the open garage door…. It kind of looked like someone was home. I walked toward the front door to crack it open. Before I did that, there were two thoughts. One, “Do not take anything from them.” The other, “Listen.” I remembered the lady. Out of the corner of my eye, another lady I had seen before still in the car. There was a man in front of me this time as well. She remembered my first name. After saying she talked to me last spring and that I haven’t been home since, she asked me, “Do you think man or God will end all the suffering in the world? I simply said “God.” after pausing to make room for something witty right away. But, I should listen. Nothing came except the simple response of “God.” I should have said “Jesus.” She turned to a Scripture in Psalms explaining that God will restore and comfort the poor and the suffering. I asked her for her Bible and went to Revelation 19. She went to Revelation 5. I went to Revelation 22. The porch top impromptu Bible study ended after I turned down some literature and an appointment but described Living Water Church and our Wed evening Bible study on Genesis.

Read Revelation 22.

Our God is jealous for us (Exodus 20). That’s what the first few commandments are about. He doesn’t want us to put man-made things or ideas ahead of Him. First of all, everything is His. I easily forget that. When we look through the lens of His jealousy for us being a righteous jealousy because everything, including our hearts and actions, are His, we begin to understand holiness. He wants us to be set apart for Him from everything that isn’t Him. Therefore, worship and our priorities are His. Anything that we give priority to prior to God is an idol. Idols are sometimes easily thought of as figurines of Buddha or portraits of Mary that are meditated in front of. Idols become more difficult to categorize as idols when it’s the love of money and materialism or our family or whoever we want to be our significant other, as most poetry and songs have been written about. Spiritual leaders such as overseers, pastors, husbands, and mothers need to be wary of the idols of waging control over the people within their congregation and those within their families by using doctrine that is apart from salvation and holiness. Doctrine can become an idol if we put ceremony, tradition, and man-made extensions of God’s Word ahead of God and His work of evangelism and discipleship. That’s why we need to ask ourselves regularly if we are the Pharisees of our day.

Read Deuteronomy 4: 1-25.

Now Deuteronomy 12 starting at verse 29.

Now Proverbs 30: 5-6.

Finally, Psalm 119: 160.

How are we true to God? Priority: Him. No one else before Him. We are not to add or take away from His words and commands. This all assuming that we have made the decision to follow Him.

Let’s pray: LORD Jesus, we constantly fail to put you first. But with the help of your Holy Spirit, we can do anything. Remind us this week of how we can put you first in a much more meaningful way. Amen.