John 10: 10 - “ The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” - NLT
We made quick and busy work of July and now we find ourselves in August. Many are attempting to grab hold of what is left of summer, and others are beginning to think about school starting soon.
We left July with a distinct message. A message of God’s promise of wisdom, attention, power, and trust. We will continue to focus in on what God wants from us now that we have this inheritance, and we will begin our year-round stewardship campaign in August; Enough- Time to Rise. Don’t worry, this is not all going to be about money, but it will be about our spiritual lives.
Your leadership was encouraged to begin the study of Adam Hamilton’s book; Enough - Finding Joy through Simplicity and Generosity. Adam knew that giving was down in his church and when he began to find out why, he saw that his church members were struggling to make ends meet in life. Our personal financial freedom can be found in many things and one of those is within our spiritual health.
This month we will engage in a sermon series that goes along with the study (do not worry if you miss it, you will have an opportunity to do it again). This study will take us through watching our dreams become nightmares due to our financial situation, how we can find wisdom in the Bible on our finances, how we can cultivate a life filled with contentment, and how we can find blessing in our lives to begin giving generously.
The devil has been attempting to kill, steal, and destroy since the creation of mankind. He is the great deceiver. He is also the source of our worldliness getting the best of us, so that when we purchase things or look for material joy we often find our lives feeling empty… still.
Jesus is the great giver of life. He is the one in which we find our lives filled with abundance. Jesus also teaches us that if we want to gain our lives we must lose our lives. What are we willing to lose, in order to make our lives more fruitful so that we can live out of abundance and not scarcity? I am looking forward to a powerful month of studies, sermons, and lives being changed!
2 Kings 6: 8-17
Remember, Do Not Be Afraid, There is Enough, You Are Enough!
Two weeks ago we talked about the inheritance of wisdom and how God appeared to Solomon. Today I want to give you the evidence that Jesus has provided for us an Inheritance of Attention. God, because of what Jesus has done, wants our attention and seeks our attention. We have his full attention all the time.
Last week we talked about our inheritance of Attention and how God appeared to Elijah. In Elijah’s moment of need God was there. God is paying attention to us, are we willing to pay attention to Him in return?
In today’s text we see God speaking to Elisha!
There was a time in which the Arameans were at war with the people of Israel. A great prophet of God Elisha was helping the king of Israel at the time to understand where and when the Arameans were going to attack. God would come to Elisha and speak to him and tell him when and where the Arameans were going to be, and so the people of Israel could not be where they were going to attack.
This infuriated the Aramean king and the soldiers found out about Elisha and how he always seemed to know where they were going to be.
V 11-12. The king of Aram became very upset over this. He called his officers together and demanded, “Which of you is the traitor? Who has been informing the king of Israel of my plans?” “It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”
So they found out where Elisha was going to be and they surrounded him and were going to attack him. Now look at what happens.
V 15-17. When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes and let him see!” The Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire
Elisha was never afraid, but his friend who was with him was very afraid!! He prayed, “Lord open his eyes” and what he sees is that God has surrounded them with horses and chariots of fire!!
God’s power is with you today friends! You might think that the enemy is all over you. You might think that the end is near. You might think that you have lost the battle. I pray for you this morning that the Holy Spirit is opening your eyes and that you can see YOUR horses and chariots of fire surrounding you in help!
When Christ died on the cross for your sins, you were forgiven of any sin that you have committed, and this includes any sin to come, but God does not want you to STAY in your sin. He wants you to feel his mighty power with you. He wants you to know that you are saved. He wants you to know that He is by your side, through thick and thin. He wants you to know that he has done everything within his POWER to make your paths straight and light; even though it does not seem like it.
I have been working with the Old Testament and showing you the inheritance that you have. We have to go back and view WHO God and is WHAT he is doing for his people.
Now enter Jesus. Jesus is the one who makes all of us God’s people and welcomes all of us into this family!
Jesus is approached at night by a Pharisee named Nicodemus. He wants to believe in this Jesus but comes to him at night so as not to be seen by his friends and colleagues. He has serious questions for Jesus about salvation. This section is in John 3 and where we find the most frequently quoted Scripture passage of all time.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again to enter into the kingdom of heaven. He has a hard time wrapping his head around having to go back into his mother’s womb. Jesus then lays out the story of Moses in the wilderness.
John 3: 10-15. Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
Jesus then goes on to give the rest of the message, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
Even Jesus goes back to the Old Testament to describe how great the power of God! There were venomous snakes all around, and they were biting the people of God and killing them. Moses cried out to God for help and God told him to take a snake and put it on a pole. Anyone who looks upon this snake that has been bitten will be healed and saved.
Jesus is our snake on a pole. He was lifted up for us so that we would be healed of our certain death at the hands of the venomous snake!
We all have this power, we all have this grace, we all have this forgiveness, but we seem to accept it and tap into it so rarely? Why is that? We have a method of assuring us of our eternity, we have the Son of God who came to earth and died for us, and yet we are still so wrapped up in ourselves and our wants and needs that we forget about WHO is really in charge! We forget that he loves us with an absolute love, and that he would send chariots of fire to our aid should we need him!! WHY HAVE WE STOPPED BELIEVING IN GOD???
The same Holy Spirit that empowered the disciples to begin the church, to give them power to heal the sick, to give them the power to raise people from the dead; that same Holy Spirit is still here today!!
Let me give you some Epistle teaching from Paul in closing.
Ephesians 1: 19-20. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
My prayer for us today is that we begin to see God working and moving. I pray that God opens our eyes and we see those horses and chariots of fire surrounding us; protecting us and giving us great power!
God wants you to win! He would not have sent his Son to die for you if he did not want you to win. He loves you more than you could possibly know, and he simply wants you to cry out to him. He wants you to see that you have access to this power that he is here for you.
He wants you to cry out like Moses in the wilderness. He wants you to cry out like Elisha in the sight of the Aramean army. He wants you to see his Son hanging on a tree, and HE WANTS YOU TO LIVE THE LIFE THAT HE HAS FOR YOU!!
Stop storing up treasures here on this earth. Stop letting this world get the best of you!
YOU have a great power at your disposal, and it is time to believe in it, and receive it! This won’t make all your troubles disappear, but they will seem pretty small in the hand of a God that holds all of creation in his palm.
Are you ready for this kind of power?
Galatians 5: 13-18
How was your week? I pray that you are staying faithful to the creator, the redeemer, and the helper. I pray that you are finding time to wrestle with Scripture, and to pray. I pray that you are finding yourself strengthened and moved to be more than you ever have been, and I pray that you are DOING something with your faith.
Remember, Do Not Be Afraid, There is Enough, You Are Enough!
What is freedom? The dictionary tells us that freedom is: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
I believe that we can use our freedom in ways that are helpful and yet also in ways that are very hurtful. Some instances we do not have a clear understanding of which is which. We believe that we are exercising our freedom to be or do what we choose but in reality we are hurting someone else, possibly even someone that we care about.
This week we will find ourselves celebrating the freedom of a group of people. The independence of those of us who were born and raised in the United States of America. The freedom that we enjoy comes at a very strong price. Men and women died and gave their lives so that we might have the opportunity to act, speak, and think as one without restraint.
The freedom that Paul wrote to the Galatians is a similar freedom.
V13. For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
You have freedom in Christ. There is a freedom from the wages of our sinful lives, but we are not to continue to live there and indulging within that sinful nature. We are called to use our freedom to love and serve. Isn’t this what Jesus demonstrated to his disciples? Even on the night of his final meal with them, he washed their feet. He chose to die for us and to take our place. Why do we find it so hard to do the same for those around us?
V 14-15. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.
Paul is calling the people of Galatia to love one another, or you might end up devouring and destroying one another.
It would not take us long to watch the news, to scroll through our social media feed and realize that we are living in a society that is completely okay with forcing their beliefs on you, criticizing your every move, using hate to let you know they disagree with you, and making you feel horrible about the choices that you are making. “Beware of destroying one another”.
The church should be better than this. We should be loving and caring. We should be helping people within our community and not worried at all about what we are going to receive in return. That is how Jesus did it and that is our model of how we should be living. Will we disagree with someone? Sure we will, but we do not have to react and lash out the way the world does. We should be responding with love, the way Jesus did.
V 16-18. So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.
I can always tell when I am slipping away from the Spirit. I begin to get very selfish, and very “matter of fact” about things. This is usually when I am tired and stretched too far also.
When we dig in and we commit to this relationship with Jesus, it should change us. We should be living in the presence of the Holy Spirit and we should not be giving in to our sinful desires. This is something that is constantly at odds and we are right in the middle of it. Your good intentions are getting lost in the struggle and we are finding ourselves hurting and lost.
We need God every minute of every hour. We need his presence and strength during our weakest times, and even more in our strongest times. We need him to be present so that we can find ourselves becoming all that he needs us to be. God is not going to have you in this relationship with him so that you can enjoy your inheritance here on earth. He is preparing you for a life that is free from pain and suffering, by showing you what that suffering looks like.
I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics from Maybe It’s Ok by We Are Messengers.
If I didn't know what it hurt like to be broken
Then how would I know what it feels like to be whole
If I didn't know what it cost like to be rejected
Then I wouldn't know that Your love coming home
If I didn't know what it looks like to be dirty
Then I wouldn't know what it feels like to be clean
And if all of my shame hadn't drove me to hide in the shadows
Then I wouldn't know the beauty of being free
How do we know that we are free if there is nothing to compare it to?
How can we begin to use our freedom as a strength rather than a weakness?
Can you find yourself this week doing things that are bringing you closer to God? Are you willing to invest time and energy into the one relationship that could possibly unlock the greatest freedom that you will ever know? If you are willing to get there, make sure that you thank Jesus on the way. He is the one who makes all of this possible.