Pastor’s Prompt

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I hope you are having a great start to the new year.  Our family life has been changing a lot in the last five years.   Our son, Jacob, graduates from college, our youngest, Jenna, not only starts college but goes off and studies abroad, and our oldest, Kayla, blessed us with our first Grandchild.

Kristie was able to be with them for the birth of Frederick Barnabas and stay for several weeks to help.  What a blessing. Jenna traveled at Christmas for more support and now it is my turn.  Yes, it is awesome being a Grandpop! I am amazed at the best grandson ever and how wonderful my daughter is as a mom…ok I’ll stop bragging. :)

What I also notice is the many changes in baby items from car seats to toys.  But the coolest thing ever is this poster called "The Secret Language of Babies".  It helps moms and dads understand the different cries of their baby and what each one means.  It really helps us to respond more quickly to their need.

I have been thinking with all the changes in the world, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a poster like this to help us translate what people are thinking when we talk about church, Christ, and faith?  Well there is, and we are excited to help you navigate the mission field we live in, America. 

Join us this Saturday, from 9 to 1 for an interactive workshop that will help us understand the change in our culture and how to respond.  Sign up today through email or phone, 850-520-0900, so we can reserve your spot and be sure to have enough food for lunch for everyone.   Lunch included!!

I look forward to seeing you there.

Jason Scheler, Grandpop


New Beginnings, lasting friendships, making a difference together…Hope

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Advent is a season of preparation for the Hope that is coming. Matthew recounts the life of John the Baptist. John was sent to the wilderness to prepare the way. He preached, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.“ (Matthew 3:2) When we think about repentance, we generally think of Lent, not Advent. Yet, repentance is at the heart and soul of Advent.

So what is repentance?

When we think of repentance we may think of confession. It is another season for us to say we are sorry for our sins before God, and that would be partly true.   In confession we acknowledge and admit the sins we have done specifically to God and others.   We are moved to confession because of God’s promise in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Confession is good and even better when we confess to one another. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful.” There is something so powerful and freeing when we confess to another trusted brother or sister in the Lord. It is healing, yet that is not repentance. Confession is a part of repentance. Repentance is a call to a radical change of behavior. Repentance means we turn away from our sinful life and turn to God.

John chastises the religious leaders calling them a “brood of vipers.” Why was John so hard on them?   Repentance means I take Christ grace and mercy seriously and with God’s help I change my behavior. Repentance is not to be taken casually or out of religious obligation but with a heart set on living differently. Repentance is hard! Perhaps this is why heaven gets so excited over repentance, “Jesus says, I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not.” (Luke 15:7)

Reflection Questions:

  1. What is the specific sin that I need to confess to God?
  2. Who is a trusted Christian I can confess to?
  3. How will I with the help of God’s grace and mercy repent of this sin?
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The superintendent of a large Christian school was concerned about the disarray he found in so many of the classrooms he visited. Papers were often strewn on the floor, and the students’ desks were surrounded by clutter. Feeling strongly that learning could not take place in such an untidy environment, he decided to take action. He chose one classroom for an experiment, introduced himself to the students and with a smile made this proposition: "Your teacher, principal and I provide a well-equipped classroom for you to enjoy but we need your help in keeping your desks and the classroom orderly. Many of you have crumpled papers inside your desks with books left open and the pages bent. Often there are pencils on the floor under your desks along with other debris. "I would like each of you to clean out your desk today and begin this school year resolving to keep it clean. One day I will return and inspect your desks and the person with the neatest desk will be given this $100 bill. I won’t tell you which day it will be. It will be a surprise. Not even your teacher or the principal will know the day." The children squealed with excitement and began immediately pulling things from their desks, filling the trash baskets with crumpled papers, stacking their books neatly inside their desks, and neatly lining up their pencils and pens. Every morning for the first week, every student checked his or her desk to make sure it was in perfect condition, confident that today would be the day the superintendent returned. The next week, a few boys grew weary of the exercise and returned to their former habits…By the third week, several students remarked, "I doubt if he’ll come back at all. He just said that to make us keep our desks clean."…..After two months, no one in the classrooms bothered to inspect their desks and in fact, forgot the superintendent’s promise. Except for one girl. Dutifully, she inspected her desk every morning and several times a day, making sure things were in proper order. For months, she was teased by the other students. "He’s not coming back! Why do you keep looking for him? You look stupid believing that promise, anyway." Still, she remained quiet, kept her desk in perfect condition and waited. Near the end of the school year, there was a knock on the door and the superintendent entered. Quickly, the students flung open their desks and began frantically to clean them. But the superintendent held up his hand for them to stop. All the students were asked to stand beside their desk at attention while the superintendent inspected each desk. One after another, he rejected them for being unkempt. One boy tried giving excuses but to no avail. Another blamed the teacher for not reminding them. Still another blamed the superintendent for making them wait so long. Finally, the superintendent arrived at the desk of the little girl who confidently displayed her well-kept desk while beaming at the superintendent. After inspecting her desk, he took her by the hand to the front of the classroom and awarded her the $100 bill. "Boys and girls," he said kindly, "this girl never stopped believing I would return so she kept her desk in perfect order. She didn’t need to worry about what day or even what time of day I would arrive because she was always ready.  Always.

HOW DO WE MANAGE THE UN-EXPECTED? BE READY

Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:44)

We have entered a new church year again as we are in the first Sunday in Advent. Advent is a time to look ahead to the coming of Jesus as a babe in the manger. It is also a time for looking ahead for the second coming of Christ.

We are ready for his second coming by being like that little girl in our story, daily preparation. We are to daily clean out our desks or in other words we are to repent daily of our sins.

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matt. 3:2)

Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. (Acts 3:19)

Do you want a great holiday celebration? Do you enjoy receiving gifts on Christmas? Then repent, and experience the greatest gift of Christ and God's gift of grace will last forever. Guaranteed!!

I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 44:22)

For more on this topic, go to www.hopeonthebeach.org/resources.

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Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (1Thess. 5:16 MSG)

Do you have a reason to give thanks? For some it is hard to give thanks with the stress of the holidays on top of all the stress of life. We are constantly bombarded with images and stories of the latest tragedies and disasters along with ads tempting us to want the latest and greatest. It can be difficult to give thanks. So it is important that we slow down, gather with family and friends, and take account the blessings of God.

I'm thankful for

....taxes I pay because it means I have a job.

....the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have more than enough to eat

....a lawn that needs mowing and weeds pulled because it means I have a home.

....my huge electrical bill because it means I am comfortable.

...loads of laundry because it means I have clothes. Yes… we have so much to be thankful for. So then doesn’t it make sense that we should have a life of thanksgiving and gratitude?

Isn’t God working the whole year (24/7/52/365)...isn’t God worthy of our thanks and continuous praise? And the answer is "YES" a million times Yes! If you said yes, then are you giving thanks in all circumstances no matter what? Giving thanks for the good and the bad?

A girl who was in a German prison camp complained to her mom because she had lice. Her mother said, “Stop complaining and thank God for your lice.” She did and after many years she was released on an oversight. She later became a speaker and told her story. One day there a German solider that guarded her cell was in the audience. He came up to her afterwards and asked her, “Do you know why the guards didn’t come into your cell as often as the other ones to beat and harass”. She said, “no.” He responded, “We didn’t go in because everyone in there had lice.”

GOD IS AT WORK EVEN WHEN WE CAN’T SEE IT.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

God is at work even when we can’t see it or feel it. He promises to carry out His work and He works all things for good. Satan likes to stir up doubt, bitterness, and anger in us against God. He likes to discourage and distract you from seeking God in praise and thanksgiving. So the next time Satan comes along and says God is not working for you. Tell Satan that God is at work. God is doing something greater then I can imagine and He is preparing for it.

When we can’t see His Hand, we trust His heart. We trust His words of truth and promises that he has been faithful. Therefore as His children who belong to Christ Jesus, who have been given everything we need for eternity, the greatest Spiritual blessing, Jesus, we trust God. All other ground is sinking sand.

7Blessed is the man who trusts in theLORD, whose trust is theLORD. 8He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Praise puts our faith back in Jesus. We tend to praise our money, the material stuff, economy, nation, home etc. This is why we worry so much. Notice Jeremiah is painting a different picture. One where faith informs our hearts and minds so no matter what chaos is going on around us and in us we still flourish and produce fruit.

THANK GOD, NO MATTER WHAT BECAUSE YOU CAN’T OUT PRAISE THE LORD!

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We are beginning a study on the book of Ephesians. In the first chapter we run across a topic that confuses people. It is called the doctrine of election. Most people read about the doctrine of election and become very confused or bothered by the idea. The problem is we view God’s election as how we go about “choosing”. We select based on criteria and God’s elected are based on His love and grace with no standards. We, Christians, are elected, not selected. May this condense blog help us get our hearts and mind around a doctrine that is for our assurance of the faith that we have called and saved by.

GOD CHOSE US BY HIS GRACE

When did God choose us?

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:3-4 NIV)

Before the creation of the world, God chose us. That’s important. God chose us before there could be any reason for his choosing. There could be no merit involved in his election. It was not a selection process, where God chose the best and the brightest to be his people. It was an election. God simply chose us, as Paul says,

…..in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace,….7in accordance with the riches of God's grace (Ephesians 1:5-7 NIV)

Can you imagine if God had used this "selection-by-merit" process that people use? What if he lined us all up against the wall and compared us against each other, trying to decide which one of us should get the nod to be children of his kingdom? Which of us would ever imagine that we could be fit for the kingdom of God? Who could be confident that God had indeed chosen him or her, when we can always find someone who has lived the Christian life just a little better than we have? God would be viewed as an angry judgmental God. Who could at any moment change his mind. God chose you before the world was created, not by merit, but by grace.

GOD ACCEPTED US IN CHRIST

Why should God choose someone like us, sinners, to spend eternity with him in heaven? Because "in Christ" we are acceptable to God. Listen to Paul’s words again.

MEMORY VERSE

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4a)

4bIn love5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ……7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. (Ephesians 1:4a-8 NIV)

The guy at the beach was wrong. God can’t accept us the way we are. God accepts us only in Christ. We are acceptable to him because Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins. We are acceptable because we have Jesus’ blood and righteousness, which makes us holy and blameless in his sight.

Perhaps that explains why people sometimes have a problem with the doctrine of election. In our minds, we can easily separate the doctrine of election from the doctrine of salvation. But God didn’t choose us because of who we are or what we would be. He chose us in view of what Christ did for us. So if you want to be sure of your election, if we want to know how God could have chosen you, go back to the cross. Because if you understand how God could accept you in Christ, then God’s choosing you from eternity isn’t going to be hard to believe.

HE CALLED US BY THE GOSPEL

Perhaps it’s best to look at the doctrine of election as part of God’s comprehensive - and I mean COMPREHENSIVE - plan to save us. Because the better we understand that our salvation depends on God’s planning and his ability to carry out his plan, the more sure we will be of getting to heaven.

God CHOSE me from eternity and PREDESTINED me to be one of his children. In order to fulfill His plan to bring everything in heaven and earth together under one head Jesus Christ. (UNITY-ONENESS)

God had to make salvation possible. So from the very beginning, in the most detailed and carefully worked out plan that has ever been devised, which led to God sending His Son into the world to become our Savior, to suffer and to die for our sins. But in order to save ME, God’s plan had to include a personalized plan of salvation that would bring me to faith in Jesus. That’s what Paul is talking about in our text to the Ephesians (and to us!) in vv 11-13: "11 In him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:11-13a NIV)

And how can you be sure that God has also called you? Paul writes, "…When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13b-14 NIV)

There is a beautiful picture here. If you believe Jesus died for your sins, you’ve been marked with a seal because the Holy Spirit is in your hearts. In ancient times, people would use a special ring or cylinder which contained their official stamp or seal to mark something as their possession. If I put my seal on something, that was like saying "hands off!" and telling people to leave my property alone. Friends, God called you by the gospel. Just by hearing the Gospel, not listening, by hearing the bible says the Holy Spirit has entered your hearts and minds and gives new life. And God has marked you with his seal with the Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism. You’ve been stamped as being one of God’s people.

God has put his Spirit into our hearts and put his seal on us, too. That seal marks us as God’s possession. It says, "Hands off!" to the devil, who would love to claim us for his kingdom. It says "Hands off!" to the world which is ever trying to destroy our faith. We can be sure of heaven someday because we know that God will also carry out his plan for you and me in order to save us for heaven.

May you have great comfort and faith in your election is sure in Christ!

For the full sermon and outline go to www.hopeonthebeach.org/resources/sermons.  You can also join us on Wednesday at 10 and 6:15 for Bible study.

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It has been awhile since my last Pastor’s Prompt.   I hope to ‘back on track’ now.   We have just concluded a three week series on Passion on the Passion to the next generation.   We spent this time strengthening this core value so that we might have a higher focus on it as we carry out our ministry together at Hope.

We studied the lives of King David and Solomon and focused in (1 Chronicles 28:1-3,6-10) 9“And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. 10Be careful now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong and do it.

This text teaches us three principles that we can apply to our lives in order to pass on the passion to the next generation.

1. Know the God of your father.

This might sound strange but God chose Solomon and wants him to have a close relationship just as David had with God. A relationship with a contrite heart, that professes His faith before men. (John 3:3, Hosea 6:3, 1 John 1:8-10, Psalm 86:5, Romans 10:8-9, Matt. 10:32)

2. Serve with a whole heart and willing mind.

There is a difference between serving to be seen, out of duty, or to serve the Lord with your whole heart. David served with a whole heart that enabled him to face giants and enemies bigger than himself. (1 Sam. 16:7, 1 Kings 8:60-61, Phil. 2:5-9) He also said willing mind. A willing mind means to serve with joy or to be happy to please. Jesus not only served with his whole heart, being obedient unto death, but also with joy for the cross set before him. (Hebrews 12:2)

3. Seek Him.

This one comes with promises and warnings. David is realizing that with leadership comes attacks. Some attackers are head on and others are side show distractions that pull you away from the Lord. Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes, he says he has searched everything but it is all meaningless. Only in the Lord is their meaning. Matt 6:33 tells the blessing of seeking God first while Numbers 32:11 and Romans 2:8 tells us the judgment of a life that doesn’t seek Him.

If we are to pass on the passion of faith to our families, friends, and community; then we have to have that passion to pass it like David did. How well do you know the Lord, How is your heart and mind in service to Him? Are you seeking Him?

David charges his son to be strong and do it. I charge you, Hope Family, to be strong in the Lord and do it.

Love,

Jason

PS The weather is hot after the cold front.  It feels so good with a little breeze!  This week we start Ephesians.  What an awesome book of God's Word about out loving God.  You will not wan't to miss this series.   We will be on th beach at 8 and and our building at 10:15.

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We are living in a time when it appears the world is increasing in destruction and corruption. We see an increase in: severe weather i.e. flooding, earthquakes, droughts, tornadoes; the persecution of Christians i.e. the constant attacks on the word of God, removal of prayer, the beheading of Christians; terror as we watch ISIS take more territory.

As Christians we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus warned us about this in (Matthew 24:3-13). After all Jesus never said it was going to be easy to follow Him. Jesus said pick up your cross. (Matthew 16:24)Now a cross wasn’t a decoration or a symbol of faith but a symbol of execution. Even in Jesus’ priestly prayer He prayed, 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:14-15)

We shouldn’t be surprised because of history of the world. The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)

And yet, there was a man named Noah who was righteous and protected His family spiritually in an evil culture. By looking at Noah we can learn five ways God enables us to Spiritual protect our family.

· RIGHTEOUS

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.(Gen. 6:9-10)

If there was one word to describe your life, what would it be? What is amazing is God is the author of scripture and He told Moses Noah was a righteous man. He had a reputation in a wicked world as righteous, even in the market place. He was also righteous with God. He had an intimate close relationship with God that protected his heart and mind. And he raised three righteous sons at the age of 500 which was his greatest accomplishment. Parents, while a godly home is no guarantee of godly kids, it can be done.

This is my new prayer- Lord help me live the righteous life you gave me through Jesus that I may be righteous to you, my family, and community. Amen

· READINESS (Genesis 6:13-7:5)

5And Noah did all that the LORD had commanded him.

Noah was called to build an ark for a flood. Two problems: One what is an ark? Secondly      what was an ark? The world up to now has never experienced rain. Noah was ready to obey even when he didn’t understand and he was ready to obey even the smallest detail. There are numerous instructions in the reading and he did them all. Not just the ones he liked, understand, thought were important.

24“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does (OBEY) them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25)

There are going to be storms in this life like is going on about marriage, life, creation, etc. Are you building a life and family on God’s word? Are you living in a state of readiness to be protected from the attacks? (Matt. 24:36)

· REVERENCE (Gen. 8:18-21)

The first thing Moses did was build an altar. His life, his worship was God centered. He put God first in his actions. How much is our prayer time is telling God what to do or what we are going to do.

“To fail to pray is not to merely break some religious rule—it is a failure to treat God as God.”    –Tim Keller

Noah’s worship was also sacrificial. He sacrificed animals for a burnt offering. Now this is crazy. They just got off the ark and let all the animals go. If he sacrifices animals what food will he have or His family. Noah didn’t have a scarcity mindset but an abundant. Most of us feel we don’t ever have enough. We need more for our family and in turn we don’t give and certainly don’t tithe. Noah fully trusted God to provide for his needs because God had provided and protected him and family through the greatest life storms. How is you attitude towards your possessions and God. Noah’s worship was pleasing to God in His heart.

And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart,…(Gen. 8:21)

That raised the question, “What pleases God’s heart?”

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. (John 4:23)

God loves when we worship in Spirit and Truth. He want the whole truth of His word taught because the Word is living and changes us.  The Father seeks this woship because it brings repentance.

MEMORY VERSE

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)

Repentance is to have your heart in sync with God’s heart. Repentance is a heart-felt sorrow for our sins we committed against God our heavenly Father. A Godly sorrow that turns to God for His grace and mercy.

6The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:6-7)

God is love and His love compelled him to give. God loves a giver because He is a giver who gave his one and only son for you. In our giving God protect us spiritually from our hearts drifting.

Christ who knew no sin became sin for us. He took our punishment so you and I would be righteous. May God’s gracious gift of righteousness enable you to spiritually protect your family.

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We're in the middle of teaching series called, "Don't Believe in Dumb Things that Smart People Believe." We're looking at a myth, at a belief, that really has some dangerous implications when it's played out. The belief that faith can fix anything. I think all of us, or most of us if not all of us, have bought into this myth at some point or another. It just sounds right, doesn't it? In fact, saying that faith doesn't fix everything almost sounds sacrilegious. It's sounds like I shouldn't be saying those things, but we've all thought, "Well, maybe if I just prayed a little more." or "Maybe if I just tried a little harder," or "Maybe if I just gave it my best shot," that it would fix it. Sadly, we often treat faith like a fix anything, we just think that if we have faith that it will fix all of our problems.

That belief is a myth and has some dangerous implications when it's played out. If you buy into this idea that faith can fix anything, essentially, what you're doing is you're reducing God to a genie who comes at your every wish. It can fix any situation you're in. You're saying, "God, the creator, you're just a genie to fix this situation that I'm in." And when played out, it has some very dangerous implications for our lives.

THE DANGERS OF THIS BELIEF:

  1. I choose an improper object of faith. We put our faith in faith and not in God.

  2. I'm hesitant to take action. We say it is all up to God so we do nothing. Infact, doing something shows a lack of faith.

  3. I judge others for lack of faith. We look at others and say if you just had more faith this would have turn out right. Should have prayed more etc. If we don’t say it to others, we say it to ourselves. If I only would have more faith maybe God would answer my prayer.

  4. I blame God when things go wrong. When a crisis hits Christians we say, “How could God allow that to happen?” “Why did God do this to them?” So we blame God for not keeping his part of the bargain. We had faith so God you should have done protected us.

DON’T BELIEVE FAITH CAN FIX ANYTHING

The bible defines faith differently. "Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Faith is ultimately believing in someone you don't see, Jesus Christ, and trusting that he has your best interest in mind. Faith is not a promise to fix everything. Faith is not a guarantee that everything's going to be all better, but instead, it's a promise that God can guide you through everything. So then what is faith for? What is faith supposed to do?

DO BELIEVE IT: MY FAITH SUSTAINS ME THROUGH ANYTHING

HOW TO HAVE FAITH WHEN MY FAITH DOESN’T FIX ANYTHING

 

1.  BELIEVING WHEN I DON’T SEE IT.

It's hard to believe in something when we don't see it. The truth is every dream that God gives us begins with faith. Whenever God gives us a dream, whenever God speaks into our lives and tells us, "Hey, this is what I want to do in your life. This is how I want to work in your life. This is the impact that I want to have and the impact in the world that I want to make through your life." It begins with faith. God speaks that dream and throughout the Bible we see examples to this. God gave Noah a dream to build an ark. God gave David a dream to build the temple. God gave Peter a dream to build the church. The question is, how do I know if this is a dream for God or just something I'm thinking up on my own? This feeling that I have inside, how do I know if that's God speaking to me or the takeout that I had last night? How can I tell the difference? The simple answer is that a dream from God will always require faith. It will be beyond what you're capable of doing. It will be so big that you can't do it by yourself. It will be beyond the resources that you have at your disposal. It require faith, because without faith, you won't be able to fulfill the mission that God has called you to.

“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely, seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

The world says, "Seeing is believing," but God says, "Believing is seeing."

2. OBEY WHEN I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT.

It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8)

Abraham left everything he knew for 75 years to follow God to an unknown place to do something he didn’t know. Would you leave everything not knowing where you are going or what you are going to do? Probably not, right? We use it as an excuse not to be obedient. Faith is not a skill we master. It's not a promise that life is going to be pretty. Faith is a map we follow, and as we follow this map, God honors us and God blesses us when we're obedient, even when we don't understand it

3.  GIVES WHEN I DON’T HAVE IT.

Why in the world would I give something I don't have? Why in the world is giving ‑‑ what is giving have to do with faith? Why would I do that? That doesn't even make sense…Here's why, because giving and faith always go together. Giving and faith always go hand in hand. I'm not just talking about like giving of your time, I'm talking about giving up your resources, financially, and what God has entrusted to you. You see, the very nature of giving requires that you have faith, because you are letting go of something that you hold onto closely and dearly and entrusting that to someone else. Giving always requires faith.

There is an incredible story in Luke when Jesus is watching people bring their offering and tithes to the store house. The rich were bringing large gifts but none of them caught Jesus’ attention accept this widow who gave two cents.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Luke 21:3-4)

The point is she was willing to give everything when she had nothing. This should challenge our faith to start giving. Remember it is not the amount but the willing to start and make a step of faith. For some of you have already giving on a regular and consistent bases. The step of faith is to start tithing regularly. To trust God to provide for your needs. For others of you, tithing is not a problem. You have been tithing for years but it is really out of surplus, not a faith step. Then I challenge you to take a step of faith to give beyond and above the tithe.

4. PERSIST EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT.

Persistence is one of those values that's rare to come by in our culture. So much of what we value in our culture is based on our feelings. "Hey, if you feel like it, then do it. If you don't feel like it, then don't do it." We make these decisions based on our feelings, but ultimately, that doesn't lead to long term growth, that doesn't lead to sustainable growth when we simply make decisions based off how we feel. Think about it this way, if you were to ask Lebron James, "Hey, do you always feel like practicing?" He'd probably look at you like you're kind of dumb and be like, "No, of course not." But he practices and he's persistent in it, because he wants to be the best that he can be even when he doesn’t feel like it. The same is also true for us in our faith. We persist in faith even when we don't feel like having faith.

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.(James 1:3-4)

5. I BELIEVE WHEN I DON’T SEE IT.

I think we have over time misappropriated faith to some of the heroes of the bible. For Hebrews tells us the other side of the story. It says they haven’t received all that God promised, but at the same time it says received something better.

All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. (Hebrews 11:39-40)

Key Idea:

It’s not about my faith, its all about God’s faithfulness.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6)

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We concluded our Questions Jesus Asked series on Easter with “Why Do You Doubt?” with over 2100 people at our beach services. For some people doubt is not an issue. The Bible says it and that is good for you. However, for others they need more. For many want to believe, but they need more to believe. They don’t want a faith that is their parent’s faith, their church’s faith, but their faith.

 

Doubts come in all different shapes and sizes. Many in the church think if you have doubts that you are really not a Christian. I would take just the opposite position and say doubts are the beginning of a real, sincere, grounded faith in Jesus Christ. Infact, I would argue that if you haven’t had honest doubts you may never experience the depth of the faith that you could have.

When Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to the disciples, there was one disciples who missed out. It was Thomas. Thomas missed church and he missed a lot when He missed church. He missed Jesus. He missed His guidance, love, and the peace to be still in a life of chaos. He missed getting what he needed most!!! Good news! Jesus comes back again and appears to Thomas. Notice Jesus goes directly to Thomas to minister to him. Look and see what happens after his encounter with Jesus. It changes everything.

24Now Thomas (also known as Didymusa ), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”(John 20:24-29)

Thomas was unfairly branded as a doubter. Thomas was a person of great faith. Thomas shows us that doubt is not the end of real faith.  For many people, it’s only the beginning. And once Thomas got what he needed, he traveled farther than any other disciple, going all the way to India to preach the Gospel, because he so believed they needed a relationship with the Christ that had transformed him. And when they met him, early in a cave one morning, and said, “Renounce your faith” – the enemies of Christ – he said, “I would never renounce my Lord and my God.” And they drove a spear through his body. The Jesus that Thomas doubted was the Jesus that Thomas was willing to die for. Thomas then believed in Jesus enough to die for Him.

I would ask you this, do you believe enough to live for Him? Do you believe enough to live for Him? Because this builds my faith. This helps me through my doubts.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

You see, my faith is not always perfect. I have doubts, just like other people. But when I am with Jesus, He reveals Himself to me, in a way that moves me through my doubts, to faith that believes the tomb is empty, and He is risen. And with billions of other people, on every continent on Planet Earth, we gather together today to say we believe He is the Son of God. We believe the tomb is empty. We believe He is risen. He has risen indeed. Alleluia!

Some of you walked in with some doubts, and I’m going to tell you, that’s a good place to start. Because it’s worthy of asking the real questions. Doubt is not the end of real faith. For many people, it is the beginning. And I believe that, at this moment, there are those of you who, because of the presence of God is here and reaching out to you, will stop doubting, and will believe.

Join us this Sunday as we start our new series called, Don’t Believe it! This will be a very practical series that gets at things we say that are not true.  This Sunday we talk about Don't Beleive God has a blueprint of your life.  You won’t want to miss this series and our Newcomers Lunch this Sunday, 11:30, at the main campus.

Love

Pastor Jason

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Life is hard. It has been said that you are either in a difficult time, just through one, or headed into one.   The Apostle Paul knew how hard life could be. He was shipwrecked, beaten, 5 times received forty less one, stoned, etc. He also had a thorn in the flesh that he asked God to remove three times. God’s response was, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

St. Augustine said. “Pray as though everything depends on God and act life everything depends on you.” – St. Augustine.

This leaves me constantly trying to pull myself up by my boot straps and work my way through the difficulties by myself. It is no wonder we are so worn out from the day to day struggles of life. And that we are so easily tempted to give up. God has a different response.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor. 10:13)”

Did you hear that, “THE” way, not “A” way…the way of escape is not around it, below it, above it, but through it. God desires for us to endure and keep going. In fact, the life of a Christian is not a crown of glory or easy street. No, but a call of suffering. Jesus said, follow me, you must pick up your cross. Follow in the footsteps of your master who lived a life of suffering and endured it all….the torture, shame, beating, crucifixion, and even hell and death. Dear followers of Christ, Don’t give up. Endure! Don’t fall into your limited understanding of what God wants to accomplish through these difficult times. For it is in the season of winter comes spring and new life. The Christian paradox is through death comes life. Don’t give up. Endure with the grace of God.

Here is some keys to help you release the grace of God in your life.

OUR PERSONAL WEAKNESS IS NO EXCUSE FOR GIVING UP. (2 Cor. 11:23b-33)

Many read Paul’s story and say, “You should have died in Damascus”. Life would have been less painful. Our culture has the expectation of Jesus saves us then life is free from stress and be full of prosperity. So when life hits we get mad at God and quiet. People join churches because it feels good and meets their needs. Then they get challenged to give of themselves in serving, sacrificial giving Paul points us to his suffering to remind us someone always has it worse then you. So stop your whining and sinning against God’s will for your life. Bad things happen to get our attention off of ourselves and on to God. So God can finally use you. When you are weak is when God can use you.

ENDURING OUR PERSONAL PAIN LEADS US TO DEPEND UPON GOD’S GRACE. (2 Cor. 12:5-7)

Paul endured his pain and sought God enough to learn God’s wisdom: That without this pain and suffering in his life, he would think it is all about him. How wonderful he is. He sought God enough to discover His presence and love in hardship. That a good and loving God allowed hardship, pain, and suffering for His will and glory.

ACCEPTING OUR PERSONAL WEAKNESS LEADS US TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S STRENGTH (2 Corinthians 12:8-10

This hits me the most. With the growth of the church people have been giving many compliments and how great a pastor I am. As much as I like it to be true, the truth is I fumbled my way here. I made many mistakes. I wish I could do many things over. As a mentor said, a new level brings a new devil. I have more questions than ever before. I pray, Lord You got us here, please don’t stop. I don’t want Your job.

SOMETIMES WITH GOD, THE WAY OF ESCAPE IS THE ABILITY TO ENDURE IT. (1 Cor. 10:13)

Paul is encouraging us to remember God will remain faithful to you. He will never give up on you…nothing can separate us from the love of God not even death.  We die, we still win. We win over death. Death doesn’t have the final sting. So we endure knowing our victory is near here on earth or in heaven. This battle is one. Every day we endure is proof that God’s grace is present and sustaining us.

The best example of enduring is Christ. From birth to the cross he endured suffering. Jesus suffering was going to be so intense that he bled blood through his sweat glands in the garden just praying about it. Then God poured His grace and power into Jesus. Jesus set His face like flint to the cross and considered it pure joy to suffer for us. Physical torture, death, and all the punishment of sin. He endured and brought glory to His father and that same grace and power to us.

Never giving up means we don’t give into the lies and excuses we have believed in the past. God believes in us. If we will accept our weakness- sinful condition, and surrender ourselves to God and trust His power and grace, He will use our weakness to glorify Himself. It doesn’t matter how broken or busted we are. It doesn’t matter the condition or tribulations we have faced. Whether we brought it on ourselves, were born with it, inherited it, or God allowed it: God is present with us through it. And He has a purpose for it to glorify His name in you.

Many people ask what kind of church I am trying to build at Hope. Is my goal for a large church with best musicians and programs and the latest and greatest? My answer is no. You can buy: buildings, the latest and greatest, inspirational talks but what you can’t buy is ordinary people who display God’s glory with His power and grace in their lives. My hope is for us to be a faith family of genuine followers of Jesus who live as God’s grace is sufficient.

For the whole sermon contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or go to our www.hopeonthebeach.org/resources to listen or download.  Outlines are also available.

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The Christmas vibe is different this year. Perhaps, it is because I am not a child and have experienced the brokenness in this world. I know despite the hype/celebrations that the brokenness will still be there afterwards. The names and the places may change but the brokenness won’t. I try to make a difference in this world in my life and I pray for our world but it seems to be getting worse. The world tells us to email/call congress but you can’t legislate a heart change. It becomes discouraging and it can even give a sense of hopelessness.

In the midst of all the hate and pain of Furgenson is a little boy out with protesters with a sign offering free hugs. A police officer talks with him and asks if those hugs are for him. The officer’s care and love closed the gap between strangers of different race. A simple hug said it all and gave a moment of hope.

Before Jesus came the world, it was also broken and filled with hopelessness. John writes, “He stepped down into darkness….” Out of love and care Jesus entered into our despair and hopelessness and when he did, He closed the gap between heaven and earth, between death and life. Jesus not only entered but took on our brokenness Jesus. He hugged the marginalized, the sick, broken, average, and He freely hugged the world of sinners when He died on the cross.

We are in the season of Advent which means “come”. Jesus come. We remember that Jesus came, we long for His second coming, and we ask for Him to come work in us through His supernatural love of the Holy Spirit while we wait for that triumphant and final return.

In the book of Acts we see how the very young small church with little resources, no training, but under the Holy Spirit transformed the world and changed future generations. So how can we live under the Holy Spirit that makes a difference?

We live together in unity.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:22-23)

  • MYSTICAL UNITY (one in Spirit)

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul,….(Acts 4:32a)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1John 1:7)

“….and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. (Acts 4:32b)

If we want what the early church had, then we must value community over isolation.

  • MINISTERIAL UNITY (One in purpose)

And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33)

If we want what the early church had, then we must value ministry over selfishness.

 

  • MATERIAL UNITY

34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:34-37)

If we want what the early church had, then we must value people over possessions.

 

If the church is going to be led by the Spirit in unity, we must submit to the Spirit.  Stop church shopping or living in a consumer utilitarian exchange and belong to a church family where you can love and care for each other.  Do life together!

Love,

Pastor Jason

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Happy Thanksgiving!  The holidays are to be a special day but they can easily turn into something that isn't so special.  I pray this word of God can position your heart on what is important so can enjoy the presence of God, family and friends this holiday.  We continue our series of Fasten Seatbelts: Seek

Uncertainty is like physical pain, it has the potential to drive us toward self-centeredness. It can be compared to a child that gets so consumed with his booboo that nothing else matters. In times of uncertainty we to are over concerned with our wants. The problem is that we get so focused on ourselves that we lose sight of the big picture. We forget what life is really all about.

As Jesus walked around and He was surrounded by people whose felt needs were so pronounced that they couldn’t get pass them. They were being taxed unfairly, had hypocritical religious leaders, their land was taken from them and there was no sight of the Messiah.

In Matthew 6:25, we see Jesus has the audacity to say to this very needy group and to us. “…DON’T BE ANXIOUS ABOUT YOUR NEEDS…” Then He immediately discusses our two kinds of needs: critical and non-critical and then leads into a very critical question. “Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Jesus is asking us to step back and ask the question, “What is important?” What is life all about? Is life simply surviving and looking good in the process?

Jesus gives us two illustrations to help us get the right perspective on life.

  1. The birds of the air (critical needs- survival)

    Have you ever seen a stressed bird? A bird doesn’t worry about its next meal. God has provided by establishing a food cycle, habitats, etc.   Aren’t you more important? He is your heavenly Father, not just a creator. “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (v27) In fact doesn’t being anxious usually make it worse? YES!

  2. The lilies of the field (non-critical needs - appearance)

    Jesus commands us to observe the lilies of the field. To see their beautiful creative design. If God gave this much detail on plant that is going to die in a few days, then what do you have to be anxious about?

THE PROBLEM: We do not trust God.

“Oh, you of little faith.”

In v32 Jesus tells us not to seek those things. Jesus equates worry with seeking. In other words what you are anxious about is what you are seeking. What you are seeking is what you are devoted to or is your idol. In uncertainity, the church ought to shine because we seek Jesus and not the world. After all we know our heavenly Father knows our needs and can meet them.

ANSWER TO OUR PROBLEM

How do we live with those who trust God? We are to concern ourselves with the furtherance of the kingdom of God and the righteous standard of God.

PROMISE

Jesus says if we seek His kingdom and righteousness all these things will be added unto you.

GOD IS ASKING

Is there anybody down there concerned about my kingdom and my righteousness?

Remember you can always listen to the full message on www.hopeonthebeach.org/resources

Love,

Pastor Jason

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We are certainly living in uncertain times. Whether it is school shootings, 9/11, health care, or the economy our world has become increasingly uncertain. Not to mention personal uncertainty like health or relationships.

The Good News is Scripture was written in an environment of uncertainty.

Joseph was in a pit not knowing if he would be killed or sold into slavery. Mary, a teenage girl, was interrupted with the news that she was going to have God’s son.

The Bible, is about how very much God is in control and how very much we are not.

The Bible is not going to give you three steps to get your life back in control. There is no verse on how to guarantee your safety, health, economy, or nation. The way of the Bible can seem too passive for some. It makes us to vulnerable and dependent upon God. It is not immediate. So,  as we begin this series, don’t underestimate what God says about times of uncertainty. This is not new to Him. This is not an instruction manual about how to get back in control or how to get life back to normal. It is about learning to follow  through the valleys with confidence that God is in control and that His purposes personally and nationally will not be thwarted.

So what are we to do?

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Paul who faces uncertainty gives us this encouragement.
  • God is in control (v. 4,5)

In the midst of uncertainty, don’t be sucked into the same sense of gloom and doom as everyone else. You know who is in control. God hasn’t gone anywhere. God is not anxious or worried.
  • Prayer is a process (v. 6b)

Placing into God’s hands what only God’s hands are capable of handling. Tell God your fears and desires.
  • The Result is “Peace”

Peace grounded in the fact that God is in control.  Peace stands guard and protects your heart, mind, emotions and thoughts. When the circumstances and pressures try to grab your attention, there is peace.  God’s presence holding you close that keeps you from being all knotted up on the inside.  It is an inside work of God, that sets us apart on the outside.

PRAYER ISN’T ABOUT CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES.

PRAYER IS ABOUT BEING CHANGED.

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"Being missional is not an excuse to leave the church but reform it." - Jason

Most people think the start of the reformation is dated to Martin Luther’s nailing the 95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences to the Wittenberg door on October 31, 1517. But that is not necessarily the whole story. Luther posted the 95 Theses is Latin because he wanted to create a debate within the Wittenberg University.   His friend, Friedrch Myconius, translated the 95 Theses them into German and distributed them in Leipzig, Nuremburg and Basel. In 14 short days they became contagious and went viral. Luther was surprised by the response and then followed it up with writing a sermon in German to avoid translation issues called “Indulgences and Grace”. It was printed and immediately went viral. The reformation had began, the church was on fire, and it was contagious.

CHRISTIAN EVANGELISM IS NOT SOLO EVENT OR DONE BY ONE PERSON. IT TAKES A CHURCH!!

The church in Thessalonica was a contagious church and Paul reveals four reasons why they were so contagious. I encourage you to read chapter 1.

A CONTAGIOUS CHURCH KNOWS IT'S PURPOSE (v.2,3)

Many churches know what they do and how they do what they do but few have really embraced the why. Few really know their purpose in world. That appears to be what happened in Thessalonica. Paul commended the Church for their dedication to this purpose.

A CONTAGIOUS CHURCH IS INFECTED WITH THE GOSPEL (v.4,5)

They were infected with the gospel so deeply that it got under their skin; it was a disease that spread through their whole body and they did not want a cure. A fellow named Nygrens said, “The gospel is not the presentation of an idea, but the operation of a power. When the gospel is preached (or spoken)… the power of God is at work for the salvation of men, snatching them from the power of destruction…and transferring them to the new age of life.”
The marks of a Contagious Church is that Christ in us is so alive that our life can’t help but to bring his love and truth in your presence. Billy Graham went golfing with a fellow one time who wasn’t a believer. After a few holes he stomped off in a fury. He told a friend, “I don’t need Billy Graham shoving religion down my throat.” “Was Billy a little rough on you out there?” the friend asked. “No. He didn’t even mention religion.” That’s what I’m talking about…being so infected with Jesus that you don’t even have to say anything, people can sense Jesus in you. How deep is our conviction concerning this gospel?

A CONTAGIOUS CHURCH IMITATES JESUS (vs. 6,7)

The extremely remarkable thing about these Christians is that Paul spent something like three weeks in Thessalonica, established a church, and then moved on. Whatever Paul showed them about Jesus so impressed these people that they decided they had to be like Jesus too. In a short time they became a model to other churches simply by living like Jesus. Because of their faith they suffered ridicule for believing in one god, a poor man who died on a cross; they experienced commercial persecution in that businessmen would have nothing to do with Christians; and they physically suffered, even died for following Jesus. But in the midst of that they had joy – not happiness which is dependent on external circumstances, but joy that comes from the Holy Spirit in you.

A CONTAGIOUS CHURCH IS AN INFECTIOUS CHURCH (vs. 8)

The Greek word for “rang out” or “sounded out” is where we get the English word “echo.” We echo God’s truth as we hear it from him. An echo only repeats what is originally spoken. God has put His voice in us to echo his love. Paul wrote this word suggested two more things. One is that it is not a mere echo heard in the distance but like a sound of thunder. The second thing is that thunder passes, this sounding does not. It keeps ringing continuously. The end result is that a church that keeps in step with Jesus in imitating him and speaking of his love will become known everywhere. It is inevitable. People will hear about Hope Church and about their efforts to make more room for newcomers, about their service in the community, about the love and grace of Jesus being poured out here – and they will rejoice that Christ is preached here – not in sermons, but in life.

A contagious church will infect its community so that the community will be changed by its influence. Jesus called it being salt and light.

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All the people that I have met who have visited Europe say, “Pastor, you need to go over and see the churches. The architecture is amazing and all the art work is beautiful”. The problem is, most of the churches worship a tenth of what they once did. The churches have more guest touring them than worshipping. We are following suit in America. On average ten churches close a day and we now live in the third largest pagan nation.

BIG IDEA: WHEN THE CHURCH STOPS BEING THE CHURCH & THE CHURCH JUST STARTS DOING CHURCH, THEN WE BECOME A DEAD MONUMENT.

Why did the church stop BEING the church of Jesus Christ? I think the church suffers from PDS or Passion Deficiency Syndrome. We lost our passion for our relationship with God and the things that matter most to Him. Those churches that closed weren’t built with the idea that they would close in 100 years or less. People didn’t invest their money, time, resources , and life to see their church closed or become a monument. These churches started as places of life change, restored relationships, rescued marriages, people growing in the Lord, etc. Yet over time they have lost their way and passion. They started just doing church and stopped being the church.

Passion is really the seedbed of reaching a lost and a dying world

God is the God of passion. The whole Bible is a passionate love story of God doing anything and everything possible, even death, to regain His children that are lost. God promises in Genesis to send His son, Jesus.

Apostle Paul’s heart beats with God’s passion and so should ours.

Paul writes, “14 For the love of Christ controls us, (compels us) because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (1 Cor. 5:14-15) The same love that rescued us is for all. That same love ought to control or compel us to live a life of love for others. When you have passion no one has to tell you to read the bible. No one has to tell you to tithe. No one has to tell you to serve. No one has to tell you to pray. You do it because it is who you are and what you desire most.
Jesus is consumed with trying to arrest our attention and devotion to the lost. In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables about the lost. What I am reminded of is people are lost for several reasons like being preoccupied, neglected, or from their own miscalculations. The point is not why they are lost but we, the church, all the church, is called to reach out to the lost. Jesus never said, have a holy huddle, build a fortress, and send out the special ops forces to the world and hope they come back.

Jesus said you are salt and light

We are change agents. God called all of us regardless of personality, gifts, or knowledge to be agents of change. How do we change the world? We don’t do it through external behavior modification program, but through an internal heart transformation. This means it is not some big event or program, or crafted argument but simply by being friends. Notice I didn’t say being a friendly church. The world is filled with friendly people who just want to sell you something. Friends have no personal agenda but to love and share life. Remember, Jesus was known for hanging out with sinners. In fact, Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:37b, “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—“ (Are you listening..this is not a religious/obligation- but a cause-and every Christian’s purpose)--- to bear witness to the truth.
Reflection Questions
  1. Am I passionate about my faith? Does my heart beat for the lost Why or why not?
  2. What do I need to do to regain or keep the passion of the Lord for the lost?
  3. What pre-Christian or unchurched person am I developing friendships with?

 

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Thank you for your positive responses to the Pastor’s Prompt! It was a great encouragement to keep moving forward with this new idea. This week we concluded our series and talked about habits. Another word for habits is disciplines. Most of us see ourselves as undisciplined. We see what we are not doing. The reality is we are disciplined and consistently doing that which is not as helpful. For example, I might not be disciplined to exercise but I am disciplined to sit in my lazy boy and eat nachos. Discipline is choosing between what I want now and what I want most.

DISCIPLINE DILEMA

We all struggle to be consistent with discipline. The Apostle Paul shares very openly his struggle in Romans. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 18 ... I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord... (Romans 7:15, 18-20, 24-25 NLT)

THERE IS HOPE

Paul shares his struggle and says it is not my fault but the sin that is in me. It is my sinful nature which is selfish and then adds that he has found the answer. The answer is Jesus Christ our Lord! He is the one that can deliver me, help me, and transform me. For the Jesus in me is stronger than the issue I have. The Jesus in me is stronger than the appetite I have in me. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and it can give you power to be Spirit disciplined, not self-disciplined. By the power of Christ we will learn to choose what we want most over what we want now. How?

TRAIN TO WIN IN WHAT MATTERS MOST

24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for aneternal prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NLT)


So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should (1 Corinthians 9:26-27 NLT)
We need to train our bodies and our souls just like an athlete to win. In the book “Power of Habit” Charles Dugiff says there are keystone habits. Keystone habits exist in your life. They create momentum and lead to other positive disciplines. If you compromise this most important habit, there is a negative spiral and you tend to be more undisciplined. My friend’s great example is flossing. He hates flossing but it makes him feel healthy and builds momentum for other healthy habits. Remember it is the small things that no one sees that lead to the big things everyone wants.

DON’T DELETE WITHOUT PICKING YOUR ONE DISCIPLINE

  • WHAT DO YOU WANT MOST?
  • MY ONE DISCIPLINE: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO NOW TO HAVE WHAT YOU WANT MOST?
I encourage you to keep your one word with scripture in front of you each day. Use your one thought to guard your mind and speech. Use your mouth to be a life giver, not a life taker and put your new discipline into action. These small things will help you to release the power of God’s grace in your life and be transformed. Small things, BIG DIFFERENCES!
This week we start a new series that will sync your heart and life with God. It is called “Stop Acting like a Christian and Be One”. My heart is burning as I prepare this message. I can’t wait for Sunday!!! See you there.
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Posted by on in Pastor's Prompt

The word prompt means to cause or bring about (an action or feeling) and the act of assisting or encouraging (a hesitating speaker) to say something. My goal is to prompt you to take the sermon into the other 6 days of the week and your life.   This week's prompt is a little longer since I am trying to catch people up on the series.   

We started a new series three weeks ago called "Small Changes, Big Difference."   We are learning how small changes that no one sees, make a big difference that everyone wants.  There are several examples in the bible like:  David, the shepherd boy  who fought off lions and bears which prepared him for Goliath;  Daniel who prayed 3 times a day which gave him the faith and assurance that the Lord was with him even when thrown in the lions' den. 

I asked everyone to seek the Lord for the one word that would describe the small thing that God wants to change in them that will make a big difference.  I asked everyone to attach a bible verse with it because it is not by our power but God's power.  For example, my one word is trust.  The scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6.  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."  I repeat this word several times a every day.

WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?

We learned words are powerful.  We quickly discovered what we think determines our words, our words determine our actions, our actions determine our habits and our habits determine our destiny.  Therefore, if you want to change your life it starts with your thoughts.  Romans 12:2 says, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." 

DON'T DELETE WITHOUT SEEKING GOD FOR A WORD!

We have talked about our thoughts, words (being life giving or life taking), and this Sunday we will conclude the series and talk about habits.  I hope you will be able to join us. If you would like a copy of this life changing series for yourself or to give away please send us an email.

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