Thrive: Love Unstoppable

This week’s sermon focused on our Sermon Series “Thrive” and our Love Unstoppable based off the song Thrive from Casting Crowns (YouTube video of Song linked below). If you missed the message, or simply would like to listen to it again, please click play below. Also, the Scripture Reading is below:

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part;  but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

 

Luke 6:27-36

 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Thrive: Faith Unsinkable

This week’s sermon focused on our Sermon Series “Thrive” and our Faith Unsinkable based off the song Thrive from Casting Crowns (YouTube video of Song linked below). If you missed the message, or simply would like to listen to it again, please click play below. Also, the Scripture Reading is below:

Hebrews 11:1-16, 32-34

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.”  And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

 All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

 

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.  And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Thrive: Joy Unspeakable

This week’s sermon focused on our new Sermon Series and our Joy Unspeakable based off the song Thrive from Casting Crowns (YouTube video of Song linked below). If you missed the message, or simply would like to listen to it again, please click play below. Also, the Scripture Reading is below:

1 Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials,  so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 16:20-24

             Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

The Church is Not the Steeple

If you know me personally or even as a pastor, you probably know one of my biggest pet peeves is calling the church building the church. (So much so, my 2 year old now passes by the church building and says, “By church building” as my wife gives me the eye. This would mean that I often am pointing to the people when I speak of the church. And not just the people in my local congregation, but the people around the world. Today in my reading, I came across another blog that I could not help but share. Read to the end and simply must I say, “WOW!” that is church. Thank you Jason Micheli for sharing these musings.

The Church is Not the Steeple.

Devotional: Luke 5:16

“But Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer.” (CEB)

Yesterday I wish I had taken a page out of Jesus’ life from the Gospel of Luke. I only share this because I feel that if I have had a day like this, then certainly there are others who have too. Yesterday morning I woke up to a phone call from my wife saying that her tire had gone flat on the way to work. Quickly, without even changing out of my bed clothes, I got Parker off to day care and rushed to the aid of my wife. Sure enough, as I come to her aid, her tire is flat. She takes my truck to work while I think about my options with a broken down van. I knew there was no jack because I had bent it the last time I fixed a flat for her. So I grabbed the jack from my truck before she left. However, I had not realized her tools (Lug-wrench, tool to get the spare out from underneath the van) were missing too. In God’s good graces, we recently purchased AAA. However, I had run out of the house this morning so quickly, I had forgot my allergy medicine and was suffering for it. But 45 minutes later AAA comes to my rescue. Upon doing an inspection of the tire to see what my wife had hit, I came up empty handed as the tire had worn out completely on the inside of the tire. And then came the reasoning, “If this tire looks like this, I should check the other front tire too.” And to my dismay, the other tire was just about to wear out as well. Once again, in God’s good graces, I was able to drive the car home without anymore complications.

I wish I could say that this story ended here.

But it does not. I suppose I felt like adding fuel to a fire. But anytime an unexpected incident comes up, the first thing I check is our finances and ask the question, “How are we going to afford this?” This question leads to other questions as I continue pouring energy into our finances. Mind you, it is not yet even 9:00 AM. As I am working on these finances, another dilemma comes to mind. Just the day before I had told some friends whom we haven’t seen in over a year that they could come and stay with us the last weekend of June. Which, that in and of itself is no dilemma. Except that I also had invited another family to stay with us that same weekend. It has already become too much!

overload

Too many irons in the fire.

It is at any point in this morning I should have listened to teachings of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. But instead of withdrawing for prayer, I leaped right into the workday. With all of this wearing on my mind and spirit, I continued in. And in doing so, the day was a wash. Very little fruits were borne simply by not taking time for prayer and righting my spirits.

I wish I could say that it had no affect on me or others that day, but this was not so. Again I only bring this to light because I believe others too have been in this place. Later that night I had a worship team meeting. As this meeting began, all seemed well, but all was not. With the day’s events and because I never took care of my spiritual needs, I was on edge at this meeting. I was quick to anger, sharing snide remarks, and altogether unpleasant. Within me was not a spirit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) 

And so, I left a day that God created, a day that could’ve been full of ministry and opportunity, exhausted, empty, and void of fruit. And now, the day after I question, what if at the beginning, when I was feeling overwhelmed, had I taken a page from the Gospel of Luke and, like Jesus, had retreated to a deserted place for prayer? How different would that worship team meeting have gone? How different would my spirits and emotional state have been as I laid my head on the pillow?  

Do not fall victim by pride or any other foolish reason to not withdraw to a deserted place for prayer.

Witness and Hope

This week’s sermon focused on Pentecost and the need for Hope! If you missed the message, or simply would like to listen to it again, please click play below. Also, the Scripture Reading is below:

Acts 2:1-21

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning.No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

 

Romans 8:22-27 (NRSV)

We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.