Never Alone

Never Alone

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Hebrews 13:5

Recommended Reading – Matthew 28:19-20

We often hear or read of a person expressing comfort this way: “I know she is with me.” Or, “I could sense him guiding me.” They are referring, of course, to a sense of the presence of a departed loved one. While the memory of a loved one can be a comfort in life—the memory of love, wisdom, and experiences shared—we have no biblical warrant for anticipating the presence of a departed loved one as we complete our journey through life.

But we have good news! We absolutely have biblical warranty for expecting the presence of Jesus Christ with us. The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian to make the words of Galatians 2:20 a reality: “Christ lives in me.” Christ promised His apostles He would be with them, and Mark noted how Christ worked with them as they spread the Gospel (Mark 16:20). The writer to the Hebrews affirms the same promise to all believers—we are never left alone in this life (Hebrews 13:5).

A mark of maturity in the Christian life is moving from believing that promise to living as if we truly believe Christ is with us. Consider today: What would that belief look like in your life?

God has never promised to solve our problems. He has not promised to answer our questions… He has promised to go with us.
Elisabeth Elliot

Advertisements

Working Wholeheartedly

Working Wholeheartedly

“In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.” – 2 Chronicles 31:21

Hezekiah was a godly king. He was also a very talented businessman and builder. He was responsible for many noteworthy projects that are described in detail in the Old Testament. We discover from the passage above that King Hezekiah had two major attributes that contributed to his success and prosperity: He sought God, and he worked wholeheartedly upholding God’s laws.

Godly success involves a partnership between you and God. Success in God’s economy means achieving the purpose for which God made you. That purpose can never be discovered without seeking Him with a whole heart. You may achieve great things without seeking God, but you will never achieve the things God set out for you to achieve without seeking Him. Unless you seek Him, you may find yourself one day climbing to the top of the ladder only to find it leaning against the wrong wall.

What does it mean to seek God? It means creating time to sit before His throne in quiet places. It means reading His Word in order to know Him more intimately. It means developing an ear to hear His voice so that we know when to turn to the right or to the left. God desires to know you.

Are you willing to take the time to know Him? If so, you can be sure He will guide you into those things that will bring success to every aspect of your life.

A Preface to Anchor’s Mission and Vision: Where We Headed? (Topical)

Vision and Mission #2

Preached @ Anchor Community Church on December 28th, 2014

The most pathetic person in the world is some one who has sight but no vision.” Helen Keller

Intro

Helen Keller once said, “The most pathetic person in the world is some one who has sight but no vision.” She was right! This sermon is very topical, and isn’t making a lot of attempts to exegete the verses this week. It is an attempt to lay some groundwork for our two weeks of vision sermons (“Anchor’s Mission and Vision: Where We Headed?”) starting next week.

These points I would like to discuss today are sort of the pegs that we are hanging the vision and subsequent mission on. It’s a framework of starting thoughts.

Big Picture: We are a family on God’s mission together!

Here are the Four Pegs we are hanging our Mission on:

From the Head…

We Are One Body, Not Separate Parts (1 Corinthians 12:12-26)

Thus: We have to get rid of the notion that the “Pastor does that!”

We are altogether in this mission, and though there are definitely people called to certain roles, there are no celebrity super-stars that are indispensable. Jesus is that; He is the head of the church, we are His “ministers” (Servants).

Every member of God’s household are ministers of the gospel, called to die to self, and live for Him. Every one of us are called to be counselors, share our faith, bear one another’s burdens. The church is not a place, but a people; God’s people for His own glory and His own purposes.

We All Have One Goal (Matthew 28:19-20)

Thus: We are either participating or consuming (Philippians 1:5)?

We are all called to Make Disciples! It’s simply not about you, or me; it’s about Jesus! Thus our Sunday Gatherings is a time for all of us to serve one another, not be served. We should all be looking out for the other, especially visitors, and not worry about how our needs (Musical styles, etc.) are being met.

Where does Missional Communities fit in? They are important to reach out and love our neighbors. DNA Groups are committed to discipling one another, and Overseas work is committed to seeing church planting going out to the nations! We all need to be committed to making disciples in order to see it happen.

We All Have One Mind (Jeremiah 29:4-7)

Thus: We are “Other” centered (See too Micah 6:8)

As followers of Jesus, we cannot take a blind eye approach to the injustices that occur in our city and the world. Prayer, volunteer work, and missions are inevitable for a church that is committed to seeking the peace of the city. Our cities are broken, and we are not merely responsible for our own family, or even church family, but we are called to be a tangible witness to the kingdom of God, by “Seeking the peace (Shalom) of the city.”

We All Are Motivated By the Same Factor (Matthew 22:37-39)

Thus: We are looking for ways to love and serve others

What does it mean to love our neighbor? As we are motivated first by God’s love, and our love for Him, our love would and should turn outward naturally to the people that God has surrounded us with.

…to the Heart

What does that mean for each one of us? Loving others, and seeking the peace of the city means Sunday’s aren’t about you, and they aren’t the only thing that the Church (The People) do!

How do you know you’re on mission? Here are a few things that may define you:

  • You come to Sunday Gathering to serve and be reminded of the mission we are all on
  • You come to Sunday Gatherings to bless others
  • You come to Sunday Gathering thinking about the visitors and not yourself
  • You are consumed by thoughts of God’s love and His mission to others
  • You consistently look for ways to give a tangible witness of God’s Kingdom to those around you
  • You are building relationships with others because you love Jesus and people

 

Questions to Think About

  1. What is the mission of the church?
  2. Why is it the mission of the church?
  3. How do we go about that mission?
  4. What does it mean to “Seek the peace of the city?”
  5. How can you/we do that?

 

Addicted to Stress

Addicted to Stress

For God is not the author of confusion but of peace.
1 Corinthians 14:33

Recommended Reading – Romans 8:1-6

According to a report this year by NPR and the Harvard School of Public Health, more than 63 percent of Americans are battling stress, and a significant number describe their stress as “great.” The report suggested that some of us have become addicted to stress. We’ve become so conditioned to stress we don’t know what to do with ourselves if we’re not insanely busy. The study suggested our busyness may be a way of distracting ourselves from how unsatisfied we inwardly feel with life.

That’s not how God wants us to live. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). Paul talked about “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Romans 8:6 says, “To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

Peace with God is obtainable only through faith in Jesusand He wants to give you peace like a river (Isaiah 66:12). Don’t wait until the New Year to give your life to Jesus. Do so today. Claim His peace and let Him bestow the inward satisfaction you seek. He isn’t the author of confusion, but of peace.

God is more anxious to bestow His blessings on us than we are to receive them.
Augustine

The True Spirit of Christmas

The True Spirit of Christmas

For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. Luke 1:48

Recommended Reading – Luke 1:46-56

The three most prominent women in the Gospels were all named Mary. The first was Mary of Nazareth. God chose her to raise Jesus because of her servant’s heart. “He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant,” she said.

The second was Mary of Bethany. She was His student. Whenever she appeared in the Gospels, she was at the feet of Jesus. In Luke 10:42, the Lord said of her habit of sitting at His feet hearing His words: “One thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part.”

The third was Mary of Magdala. Though successful in business, she had deep spiritual needs in her life. Jesus freed her from demons, saved her, and she became His zealous supporter. She supported His ministry from her own resources, according to Luke 8:1-3.

Three Marys—a servant, a student, a supporter.

That’s the true spirit of Christmas. Jesus came to earth to die for us and rise again. He meets our deepest needs. Today, let’s rededicate ourselves to being His faithful servants, students, and supporters. That’s the way to have a Mary Christmas!

The High Places

The High Places

“Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places.” – Deuteronomy 33:29

One of the most successful movies of our time has been Star Wars, a futuristic movie where the forces of good battle the forces of evil in a far-off galactic solar system. In order for the forces of good to win their battle, they must enter the airspace of their enemies and find the central power source inside the enemy space station. Their fighter jets must locate this central nervous system and fire a laser missile into its heart in order to destroy the power source. The final scene shows the hero sending a last-minute laser missile into the power source and blowing up the space station and all the evil characters who live on it.

Throughout history, cultures have recognized idols on the high places, on the tops of hills or mountains, as their power sources. God said these high places are an abomination to Him. When God brought the people of Israel into the Promised Land, He instructed them to destroy all the high places. Many times through history, God had to judge Israel for their failure to destroy the high places.

Today, every major cult or evil spirit has its own high place that must be destroyed first before a righteous foundation can be laid. It may not mean you can physically destroy this high place, but you can tear it down through spiritual warfare and intercessory prayer.

High places are anything that is elevated above God and is worshiped. Are there any high places that take the place of God in your life? Are there any high places where you live that must be dealt with through spiritual warfare to allow the Kingdom of God to reign? You must destroy the high places in order for God to reign completely. Ask God to show you the high places so that you can elevate the one true God.

Always Be Ready

Always Be Ready

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you.
1 Peter 3:15

Recommended Reading – 1 Peter 3:13-17

When Martin Luther helped launch the German Reformation, he emphasized the wonder of the Incarnation; and from that heritage came many Old World celebrations that still yield an evocative Christmas. Many of our modern traditions hail from Germany. But when the Nazis took over in the 1930s, they tried to change that. In his book, Hitler’s Cross, Erwin Lutzer wrote, “Since Germans had for centuries celebrated Christmas and Easter, Hitler had to reinterpret their meaning. Christmas was turned into a totally pagan festival …. Carols and Nativity plays were banned from the schools in 1938, and even the name Christmas was changed to Yuletide.1

Lutzer points out that the same changes are happening today. In every age the devil wants to minimize the wonder of Christ, who came into the world to be our Redeemer and Savior.

We can’t control a secular society, but in our own hearts we can sanctify Jesus as Lord. We can always be ready to give a reason to everyone who asks us about our Christmas hope and heritage.

1Erwin Lutzer, Hitler’s Cross (Chicago: Moody Publishers).