Thursday, September 25, 2008

Marriage study begins this Sunday!

This Sunday, September 28 at 11:00 we will begin our 8 week marriage study, From Surviving to Thriving.

Here is the video we played last Sunday. Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2008

How glorious is Jesus to you?

What does it mean to be truly satisfied in Jesus?

Where does your treasure lie?  Where do you find your greatest happiness?

**Special thanks to Leslie for sending me this video.....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What ONE is all about - in pictures

Every wonder what ONE is all about? I could go into great detail explaining to you what we are about but the experts say a picture is worth a thousand words.

I found this website that takes the text of a website and generates word-art with the most used words as the most prominent.

So what does ONE look like? What are we all about?

Here you go.

Monday, September 8, 2008

09.07.08 God is Love

Today's text comes from 1 John 4:7-21 [link]

Reading John is a little different than reading the other Bible authors. For example, Paul's style is to go from point to point, A-Z, beginning to end. Paul utilizes an introduction works his way through topics, themes, and ends with a nice conclusion, much like you would expect when reading a letter. John on the other hand tends to jump around from topic to topic revisiting themes, commands, and subjects throughout 1 John.

"Beloved, let us love one another," John reminds us again in 1 John 4:1. We have already seen this command, this encouragement, this reminder in 2:10, 3:11, 3:14, 3:16, and 3:23. It is almost as if John is saying, "What we got here is a failure to communicate, some men you just can't reach..." or "ARE WE CLEAR! ARE WE CLEAR!" or using his best Jackie Chan voice, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?"

Chapters 1-3 have been mostly focused on us, our behavior, the spiritual "tests" to clearly help us understand if we are saved or not, to give us assurance of our salvation (1 John 5:13). Here are just a few..."if we walk in the light....if we say we have no may not sin....if we keep His commands...whoever loves...whoever not love the world...abide in Him...let no on deceive you..." and this is precisely the main purpose of the letter to give everyone who reads it full assurance of their salvation and to point those who aren't saved directly to Jesus as the only means for salvation from our sins.

If chapters 1-5 are the "body" of John's letter I would have to say that chapter 4:7-21 is the heartbeat of the letter as it is not so much about you and I as it is about the nature, character, and glory of God. In these short 14 verses John uses "love" at least 25 times and God/Jesus/Son 25 times.

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God," James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God and God's love is both good and perfect. 1 Corinthians 13:4 gives us but a glimpse of the perfection of God's love

" 4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."

Love comes from God and love and God are inseparable because "God is love" (4:8, 4:16). You and I are incapable of love apart from God. All love comes from God for the believer and the unbeliever. Because we are each created in the image and likeness of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit we each have inherent value, dignity, and worth, and we each have the need to be loved and are given in His likeness the capacity to love. The love that believers and unbelievers have for their friends and families, husbands and wives, as well as children come from God. It is through God's grace and mercy that we know and have love and even in unbelief and rebellion God is merciful and gracious when He does not need to be. Apart from God there is no love and without Jesus you and I are incapable of love.

Juxtapose the perfect love of God (1 Corinthians 13:4) with our own love. Without Jesus we are impatient, unkind, we get jealous, we are braggarts, we are arrogant, rude, and every day and every one is Burger King as we seek to have it our way, we are irritable, resentful thinking about how things could have been, we take joy in the defeat of others, we are indifferent, we want proof of everything, we tolerate little and our love is conditional and temporary with the attitude of Janet Jackson, "What have you done for me lately?"

"Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God." A major component, indicator of the new birth is our capacity to love others. "anyone who does not love does not know God." How and why does John say this? Can't I love God and know God without having to love everybody? Do I really have to love all those guys in my Sunday School class? Isn't it natural for us to gravitate toward people just like us? To people who we like and who like us? Why in the world would John say "anyone who does not love does not know God" ? Because God is love.

You can't know God in a personal, intimate way, have a relationship with Him, have Jesus totally change your live, be crucified with Him, give you a new heart, make you a new creature, see His magnificent love generously poured out at the cross as the blood flowed from His head, hands, feet, and side, as Jesus hung between two thieves dying for our sins, as His precious blood paid for all our sins out of love and still look at others without love. You just can't do it as the two are incompatible.

"God is love" and God made His love appear right before our eyes. vs9 "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him." This was a one time historical, factual event this was God's mission not a mistake to come into the world, to live without sin, to completely identify with every temptation and struggle you and I could ever face, and to be the one time, perfect atoning sacrifice for all sin. And God showed His unconditional, perfect love toward us as revealed in the giving of Jesus, His only Son vs10"In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loves us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." God is real, love is real, love is from God, God is love, God appeared before us in Jesus and Jesus reflects God's perfect love for us. The reality is that God knew that you and I would not love each other as we should and that we would not love Him as we should and those are sins that Jesus died in our place for.

vs11"Beloved, if God so loves us we also ought to love one another." Why is this so important? Why does John keep hammering on this one point? Beating on this drum? vs12"No one has ever seen God" Just as Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) reflecting God's perfect love, imaging God's greatness to us, so are you and I to reflect the love of Jesus to those around us. Because we cannot see God it is the fruit of our lives and the love that pours forth from our hearts that will bear the witness to who God is. We will either give a true accurate testimony to the love of God or we will bear false witness against God driving others away from God. Gandhi once said, "I would have become a Christian if I had never met one." And Mark Twain once commented, "If Jesus were to return today there is one thing he would not be, a Christian." People will be driven away from God if we do not love and they will be drawn to God "if we love on another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us." because they will see God in us and this is only made possible through the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, who Jesus called our helper. vs13"By this we know we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us His spirit."

vs14"And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the savior of the world." John remind us of his own encounter with Jesus (1 John 1:1-4) that he has heard, seen and touched Jesus in the flesh. vs15"Whoever confesses that Jesus is the son of God abides in Him and He in God. 15 So we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. 16God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God and God abides in Him."

vs17"By this is love perfected with us," By Jesus coming the flesh, dying for our sins, God raising Jesus from the dead, this is God's love in action. You and I confessing Jesus as the Son of God, God giving us His Holy Spirit to live within us changing us, conforming us to the image and likeness of Jesus giving us the capacity to love each other, this is the complete, total, perfect, picture of God's love and it is the love that will draw lost people to Jesus and save a dying world.

Paul said his only confidence was in the cross of Christ and so you and I should have a humble yet wonderfully confidence in our salvation through God's love as He forgives us of our sins through the blood of Jesus. vs17"By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment because as He is so also are we in this world. vs18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." We don't put our confidence in our works, what we have done or not done. We don't find peace in how good we have been, what positions we hold, no, our confidence comes from Jesus, knowing that only He is "the way, the truth, the life" and that if we have fear of judgment, fear of punishment then there are areas of our lives that we have not fully turned over to Jesus to save us from because His love perfected in us means we will have no fear of His judgment.

vs19"We love because He first love us." It never begins or end with us. It is all about Jesus. Apart from Jesus we are incapable of love. It is Jesus who creates, Jesus who gives us life, Jesus who holds everything together, Jesus who died for our sins, Jesus who pursues us when we run from Him, Jesus who loved us first and for that we should sink to our knees praising Him, worshiping Him, following Him, adoring Him loving Him, and following Him.

vs20"If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. and this commandment we have from Him; whoever loves God must also love his brother."

Love comes from God, God's love is good and perfect, God is love and God and love are inseparable. To know God is to know what true love is and to love others. We see the love of God when we look at the cross. We know firsthand the love of God through Jesus as He saves us from our sins, and we experience the life changing love of God through God's Holy Spirit dwelling within us, changing us to conform to the image and likeness of Jesus as we gain the capacity to love others in a self sacrificing way. You and I love God not because we searched after God but because God pursued us, God loved us first. To know God means we know love and we come to follow the 2 greatest commands to 1. Love God and 2. love people and we keep them both because they are eternally linked together. We can be righteous, walk in the light and we can possess sound doctrine but without love no one will see God in our lives because without love God does not live within us!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

08.31.08 Light done right

Question? What one event that has happened in your life can you now look back on and say with complete confidence that it was a "God thing?" I am asking about the one time that something came through, a prayer was answered, a need met, an illness healed in your life that you know without a shadow of a doubt that it was the hand of God on your life?

What about those times when you were defeated? Hurt? Ashamed? Condemned? How do you explain those?

Why doesn’t life come easy to us? Why does everything have to be so hard? Why do bad things happen to good people and why do good things happen to bad people?

Jesus said in John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

How many of you are really living an abundant life today? Really? How many feel defeated? Can’t get any momentum going? It’s always one step forward two steps back?

If you read all of John 10:10 it looks like this, “10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

The reality is that you and I are caught in the middle of an epic war taking place. Yet unlike the visible wars of history fought on the battlefields across the globe this war takes place in the invisible.

In his book Waking the Dead, John Eldredge states it this way,

“There is something set against us. We are at war. How I’ve missed this for so long is a mystery to me. Maybe I’ve overlooked it; maybe I’ve chosen not to see. We are at war. I don’t like that fact any more than you do, but the sooner we come to terms with it, the better hope we have of making it through to the life we do want. This is no Eden. You probably figured that out. This is not Mayberry; this is not Seinfeld’s world; this is not Survivor. The world in which we live is a combat zone, a violent clash of kingdoms a bitter struggle unto the death. I’m sorry if I’m the one to brake this news to you; you were born into a world at war, and you will live all your days in the midst of a great battle involving all the forces of heaven and hell and played out here on earth.”

In the movie The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey plays Verbal Kent, a two bit con artist brought into jail for questioning about a drug bust that went south. A majority of the action takes place in the scenes between Verbal Kent and the detective. The plot of the movie unfolds as the detective interrogates Verbal trying to uncover exactly what happened that night on the wharf. At one point the detective gets disgusted with Verbal’s answers and throws his hands up in disbelief at which Verbal replies….”The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing people he doesn’t exist.”

I think too often we forget this aspect of our spiritual lives. We too easily dismiss decisions as our own, listen to lies as just the way things are, and are condemned too easily in our hearts mistaking it for conscience or conviction.

The war that wages against us and around us is invisible as Paul states in Ephesians 6:12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The war is Satan against God, angels against demons, good vs. evil and the battles are over the crowing jewels of God’s creative powers, you and I created in the image of the eternal Trinitarian God and loved dearly by Father God our creator.

We are attacked in our minds: flooded with false information, conflicting information, and information saturation.

We are attacked in our hearts: desires, dreams, wants, wishes, conflicting feelings, chasing after who and what we love and an ever increasing constant incessant distractions

We are attacked in our souls: The ultimate goal is to keep us away from God, away from the Gospel, away from Jesus, salvation, freedom and to continue a life of bondage and captivity in sin

We are attacked in our strength: As the battle is a continual wearing down of our reserves, our will power, as the onslaught continues day in and day out wearing us down and wearing us out with the only promise being that it will continue until we die or until Jesus returns.

#1 – The first line of defense is to realize that we are in a world at war.

John’s letter to us has show us the dualities in life, light and darkness, this world and God’s kingdom, love and hate, and now in Chapter 4:1-6 he teaches us how to discern truth from error.

“1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

#2 Second line of defense: Don’t believe every thing you hear.

What is the one urban legend you really believed? How many of you really believed that Bill Gates would send you one million dollars?

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. “

We are continually bombarded with preaching day in a day out, mini sermons if you will from billboards, newspaper and magazine ads, radio and TV commercials, half-truths wrapped in shiny packages all intended to distract us, to get us off track, and away from Jesus. Not only that be we are continually being preached false sermons in our own minds that condemn us – you’re not good enough, not holy enough, don’t know enough, can’t do that, who do you think you are? You’re no better than…..Is it true? Is it conviction? Is it conscience? Where do you think these come from?

Romans 8:1 says…. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus said He didn’t come to “judge the world but to save it.”

This is the good news of the gospel. When we take Jesus at His word, when we put our lives into His hands, when we give Him all of ourselves, every dark nook and cranny of our hearts He saves us. Save us from our sins, our past, our upbringing, and our hang-ups. Jesus saves us from our old selves and we walk in newness of life.

#3 Third line of defense: “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”

Not only are we to not believe every thing we hear, see, and read but we are commanded to test everything to see if they are truth or error. How do we know which is which?

"2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”

Everything that points to Jesus, testifies to Jesus, confesses that Jesus did indeed come in the flesh is from God. Everything else is Antichrist. Instead of pointing to Jesus it points us to ourselves to others or to other things.

Question? What would you no, what would you try, what would you undertake if you knew you could not fail?

#4 Fourth line of defense: Know that the war has already been won through Jesus.

“4Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

Our enemy will condemn us every step every day of our lives and if we are not careful to understand that we are in a war, if we do not filter and test everything we hear and take in we are prone to defeat at the work of our own hands and our own minds as we begin to believe the lies poured into our hearts.

The truth is that the battle of good vs. evil has already been won one at Golgotha, the place of the skulls, where Jesus hung between two thieves as He died in our place for our sins and the war was eternally won at the empty tomb as God the Father resurrected Jesus from the grave. You don’t have to be hostage to your mind any more, you don’t have to live in fear any more, and you don’t have to be held captive to your past any more.

If you have asked Jesus into your life, if you daily die to yourself and live for Him, if you are washed in the blood of the lamb with a new heart as a new creature then you never need fear of anything “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7”

“5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

The spirit of truth confesses that Jesus has come in the flesh, as the God/Man, both fully God and fully human and anyone or anything that denies this is the spirit of error, is wrong, and is not of God.