Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter 2015 "Unbelievably Believable"

"Unbelievably Believable"
Andy Stanley
North Point Community Church
Easter April 5, 2015
Full message:

We do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead because the Bible tells us so. We believe the Easter narrative because of what Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Paul and hundreds of people said they saw, a resurrected Savior. But, the end of the story comes as a complete surprise to everyone.

The Easter Story:
John the Baptist came first and told everyone to get ready. He told people to get ready for what God is going to do. He told them he was not a Messiah but was paving the way for the One to come.  Then when Jesus came he healed hundreds of people, fed thousands, taught and made disciples. He continued to raise the standards so everyone knew they were sinners and needed a Savior. Then Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and the "crowds went wild."

"If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.” (John 11:48 NIV). Which was bad for them because then their religion and politics came together to undermine the biggest event in history. They would lose their authority. "So from that day on they plotted to take his life." (John 11:53 NIV)

If it was made up Matthew, Mark, Luke and John would have written themselves into the story as heroes. If they made up the stories they would have Spin: courageous, faithful led, sweet skills. Instead they were  Real: real scared, real insecure, real concerned... for themselves.

If you were making it up you would have written them as standing by Jesus when He was persecuted, if he goes I'll go. But it is unbelievably believable. They all denied him and ran off. They were cowards. After he was crucified, none of them stick around even for his funeral. Jesus loses, Rome wins. A fearful believer and a Pharisee buried him and none of his friends were even there!

Jesus' enemies had more confidence in the Jesus movement than Jesus' followers. Then the chief priest and temple leaders went to Pilate. Pilate let them take Jesus' body and they buried it, instead of the custom of letting crucified bodies rot on the cross. So the religious leaders asked Pilate to give them the authority and soldiers to guard the body.

"So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” (Matthew 27:64-65 NIV)

There was no way the Jesus followers would have stolen the body.  Stealing the body was dangerous and pointless. Since they weren't willing to die for him when he was alive, there is no way they would risk their lives when he is dead. Why die for a dead man whose death disproved everything he asked you to believe while he was alive? If Jesus could not save himself, how could they save themselves? If he didn't want to save himself why should they? Jesus' message was all about himself. His death undermined everything he had taught. They last thing they were thinking about was stealing his body.

Now you have: nervous religious leaders, terrified Apostles, despondent women, and confused Roman soldiers. You don't have anyone anticipating a resurrection. You have exactly what you would expect if this really happened.

We're not here because: someone stole a body, someone died on a cross, someone gave a series of lectures. We're here because despondent women to came to re-embalm the body of their precious Savior. They got there and the tomb was empty and Jesus was raised from the dead. Then he lived on the Earth again and hundreds of people saw him as he was resurrected and apostles wrote it all down 30-40 years later.

"Nobody was expecting no body."

In this same the city, where the cowards and women who were not expecting no body now had a very different message. They went into the streets yelling: You killed him. God raised him from the dead. We've seen Him. Now say you're sorry!

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." (1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NIV)

It was not 100 years later like a fable or fairy tale. Believers during that time, could meet with men and women who saw them. Paul was least of them because he had persecuted Christians, had them arrested, tortured, and killed. How humble he felt now after he believed.

Your faith is not in vain. Your faithfulness is not in vain. When you volunteer and support your local church or in your market place, your faithfulness is not in vain. Your curiosity is not in vain. Your consideration not in vain. Your belief is not in vain.

From a distance it seems unbelievable but when you look at what happened next and through thousands of years it is unbelievably believable. Not because of the Bible. It is because they saw a resurrected Savior. Your your confidence is not in vain.

A prayer: I believe when Jesus died he died for me. I believe he died on a cross and was buried. Jesus rose from the dead and was seen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Part Four: On Purpose and for a Purpose

The Good Life Series
Gavin Adams
Watermarke Church
Watermarke Curch- "The Good Life Series"

Links to previous FunLovingJen posts:
"The Good Life Series"- Part 1: Taking a Walk
"The Good Life Series"- Part 2: Maintaining Your Pace
"The Good Life Series"- Part 3: Whatever You Do

We believe there is a good God with a good plan. Believing is one thing but discovering it is different because it is deeply personal to you. So he is a good God with a good, unique plan. God's plan is unique to us, because each of us is unique.

There are seven billion sets of fingerprints on this planet and each one is unique. But our individuality runs deeper than fingerprints. Each of us has a unique set of experiences, talents, and temperaments.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV)

You are created on purpose. Things that are uniquely you: Personality, Passions, Skills, Abilities, Strengths, & Spiritual gifts. Who you are is really important to find out!

"There are two great days in a person's life - the day we are born and the day we discover why." William Barclay

Who you are= person
Where you are= placement
Why you are= purpose

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV)

We are the light of the world?  Yes, who you are is a light. No one is just like you, or placed in your unique position. Your unique placement is at your work place, on your team, in your neighborhood, at home, to just name a few. Who you are and where you are = your purpose.

Person + placement = purpose

We are a light created to illuminate a path to a better way.  Most of us are at church because someone invited you. They illuminated a path. Now we experience a loving Heavenly Father. You are a light when you serve. When you serve with kids, you are a light to the next generation. When you are serving, people notice. Show them your generosity.

But the #1 way to be a light is to show GRACE. Grace is a beautiful thing. Usually you get what you deserve, which makes grace hard to understand. Grace is when someone messes up or sins against you, you love and forgive them anyway. This is what Jesus did. Jesus took on all of our sins, forgave us, and died for us, so we could have a relationship with God. Heaven is here on Earth when we show grace. When people experience our grace, we are showing them what God is like.

Who are you? Where you are? Finding this out makes you a light. Put them together, and you have your purpose. The world is dark. But even a little bit of light can pierce the darkness.

“You are the light of the world..." (Matthew 5:14 NIV)

Whatever you do, shine your light to honor God when you do it. Own our purpose, to shine unique light on our Heavenly Father because we understand what it means to be forgiven. Shine the light of God on the darkness of this world. Light is the only thing that can penetrate darkness.

Be the light of life!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Part Three: Whatever You Do

The Good Life Series
Gavin Adams
Watermarke Church

Links to previous FunLovingJen posts:
"The Good Life Series" Part 1: Taking a Walk
"The Good Life Series"- Part 2: Maintaining Your Pace

Link to next FunLovingJen post
"The Good Life Series"- Part 4: On Purpose for a Purpose

The first week, we talked about how there is a Good God, with a Good Plan, with a plan that is uniquely personal to each one of us. Believing in God's will is one thing, but discovering God's plan is something different. God's personal direction requires a personal connection.

The second week, we talked about walking with God & growing with our personal relationship with Jesus.  If we stop walking with Jesus, his plan for our life stagnates. When we live God's way we discover our way. An obstacle that causes us to stumble, is part of God's way. The list of things that cause us to stumble was very convicting and may have been hard to think about in relation to our struggles and obstacles that can keep us away from God's plan for our life.

If you believe in God or not, we all would love to have a plan for our life!

Gavin told a story about delivering shoe box care packages to children in the Republic of Panama for Operation Christmas from the Be Rich campaign. During his visit he was able to see so many children and their joy of receiving a shoe box of items and toys. One of the stops was at a church where he met Pastor William Wilbur. In 1976 pastor Wilbur had a calling from God to relocate to Panama to start his church. He was there when Panama was under the dictatorship, then the US invasion, when it was very dangerous. He also runs a prison ministry.

Gavin started asking himself questions like:
Have I found a calling for my life?
Have I found a purpose for my life?
Did I have it and now I lost it?

Gavin thought about times like marrying his wife, quitting his job in consulting to go into ministry, and moving to Woodstock to be a pastor at Watermarke. After Gavin's trip he wondered if he knew his plan. What is next for him?

Knowing the plan requires us to know how we define it: Understanding God's personal plan changes our direction. To to go from personally to what is next we have to understand how God's personal plan changes our direction.

Many times Christians pray then wait. Pray then wait. Pray then wait. There is no place more frustrating than God's waiting room. But, when we wait for God's plans to be revealed we become so frustrated we might walk away from God, walk by ourselves, or define our own plan for our lives. This is where the "Good Life" comes in for us. Not knowing God's plan we settle for a good plan, our own plan. What if our struggle was one of definition, not direction. Jesus has a plan, he knows what is next for you, he even has a course correction, which is a huge part of God's personal plan.

In one of Paul's letters, he writes about wives submitting to husbands, and husbands loving your wives as Christ loves us and Christ died for us.... Then he talks about children obeying your parents but also, parents don't make it difficult for them to obey you. Parents be for your kids.

Slaves (indentured, to pay off a debt), obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. (Colossians 3:22 NIV)

We know people work hard when your boss or coach is watching. But God also says, work hard when no one is watching out of reverence for the Lord. For example if you love your wife like crazy, she will love you.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, (Colossians 3:23 NIV)

Your list of whatever you do might be:
Work, marriage, parenting, friendships, recreation, housework, ESPN, whatever you do. Especially when no one is watching!!! Work for the Lord!

since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:24 NIV)

Don't miss what is now because of what is next. It's easier to think of God's future plan for you instead of right now. God gives a calling while you wait on a calling. Whether it is your wife, your children, live like Jesus is in charge. Until God tells you what to do, do what you can and do it to your best of your ability. Then you can have a deep personal relationship now. God has always given you something while you wait.

God is your boss!

Part Two: Maintaining Your Pace

The Good Life Series
Gavin Adams
Watermarke Church
Watermarke Church: "The Good Life Series"

Links to previous FunLovingJen post
"The Good Life Series"- Part 1: Taking a Walk

Links to next FunLovingJen posts:
"The Good Life Series"- Part 3: Whatever You Do"
"The Good Life Series"- Part 4: On Purpose and for a Purpose

How many times do people say to themselves, "If I had what they had, I would be happy." The grass can seem greener when it isn't on your lawn! But, of course every relationship is tricky!!

There is always a journey in any relationship:
The journey starts
You take steps together
The new relationship is exciting
Trust forms over time
Then trust is tested

But in any relationship, if we stop we stagnate. You have to trust each other. If you trust each other you will travel together. All of our relationship problems with Jesus are on our end.

There are three types of relationships with Jesus:
1. Providential
2. Moral
3. Personal

Think about how the apostle Paul planted churches and his books in the Bible he was writing letters to the different churches.  During this time the Romans were immoral.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship." (Romans 12:1 NIV)

Even how unloveable you are, because of God's mercy, God loves you anyway. We need to put God's will over yours, though. The way to honor God is by trusting him always.

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2 NIV)

Don't do what the world believes. The world believes this is as good as it gets, but is it? Take a journey with Jesus and allow him to transform the way you think. Renewal in you, through you by Jesus. See yourself how God sees you. You are worth sending Jesus to die for you so, you could have a direct relationship with God. God's providential will asks us to follow. But God's moral will asks us to trust him if we want to discover his plan for your life.

Where do you struggle to trust God?
Loving people that aren't like you?
Praying for your enemies?
Trusting God with your finances?
Coveting people other than your spouse?
Do you need to stop Gossiping?!?!

Our Lord & Savior pauses with you when you pause on your walk with Him. God says "I know why you are pausing, but my grace is enough to not let you fall but you have to trust me." The great news is God's good plan is better than our Good Life.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)

Life would be easy if you trust God with your whole heart. The straight path doesn't equal an easy path but it makes the best path. The struggles in our lives certainly don't go away, but we are so close to Jesus we have peace and perseverance.

In conclusion, step into struggles with the moral will of God!