Crazy Expectations about Prayer

My first Christian concert experience was Keith Green.  Keith Green was an incredible Christian artist who died in a plane accident.  Here is a link of him on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h89-3_kIRDA&list=RDEM85Pi1EsgQhcF0sgYoSg1aQ.  During the concert, he talked about long intensive prayer sessions.  He talked about praying all night.  He talked about praying passionately and with incredible emotion.  I was a young Christian when I saw him and I left with what I thought was the aim of a great prayer life.

There is nothing wrong with praying long periods of time.  You see Jesus do it.  I’ll be honest though, praying for long periods of time as a spiritual discipline is hard work for me.  I think, what do I do for a whole hour?  I mean there is a reason why I don’t fish.  I don’t have the patience for it.  One time, some elders had me get on my knees while they laid hands on me and prayed. I don’t even remember what they said.  My knees were killing me so bad that’s all I could think about.  My became stiff too and that was 20 years ago!  At times, I didn’t get a greater joy from my prayer life and I always felt guilty for not praying passionately or as long as Keith Green.

Then one day I studied the Lord’s prayer and Jesus said pray this way.  Have you ever timed that prayer?  Go ahead, read this prayer and time how long it takes to read it.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13

How long did it take you, 20 seconds, 30 seconds?  What if Jesus meant what he said?  Pray like that?  I do this.  I do this all throughout the day.  It only takes 20 seconds!  I don’t pray it by rote, I don’t think that was Jesus intent.

There are times now I spend long periods of time in prayer.  I’ve prayed for hours on end, but I don’t think I’ll ever pray with the passion of Keith that night back in Indianapolis.

I liken the short prayer / long prayer life to my relationship with Lisa.  Most days my conversations with Lisa are short and to the point.  There are other times, where Lisa and I will get in a deep conversation on some topic, and we enrich each other with these times.  We even specifically plan on these longer conversations.  We call them dates.  I can see that same pattern in Jesus’ relationship with his Heavenly Father.

Do you feel guilty you don’t pray enough or long enough?  Don’t know what to say?  Jesus said pray like this.  We would do well to follow his lead.

How Can I Please God?

Supertext

July 9, 2017

Message Series:

Your Verse

Message Title:

Faith Pleasing

Hebrews 11:6

(unedited manuscript)

In just 3 weeks, during August, we are doing an “All in.”  All in means everyone is going to do it.  We are going to do a series of messages called, “Making Change” and all of our Go Groups will be taking the material we learn on Sunday morning and taking it to a whole ‘nutha level.  So we want you to be involved ‘cause we want to do this all together.  If you are not involved in a Go Group this is a great time to do it.  You only have to commit to this month.  If you are not part of one all you have to do is use the connection card on your flyer, write your name and contact info on it, say you are interested in a Go Group, and drop it off in the offering box.  Then we will be in touch with you.  Here is a little promotional video about what we will be looking at together. Here is a little promotional video…

 

Ok!  Today I want to talk about what it takes to please God.  What does it take to please God?

 

No matter your worldview, political beliefs, family, church background, you cannot please God without some kind of faith element.  If you are going to please God first off you have to believe in a supernatural being that you cannot see or touch, who lives in everlasting light, that in itself requires some faith.

 

That being said, the way we view faith impacts how we please God.  All of us are trying to figure out life.  All of us, especially as you get older, would like to see everything work together for some kind of good. When you are young you worry about doing something meaningful.  Will you do something good with your life?  When you have children you want a safe and orderly world they can explore and learn.  You might wonder why terrorism, violence, and hate seem to disrupt everything, and the chaos disturbs you.  Perhaps you are at a stage of life where you have a lot self-doubts, why your faith isn’t deeper, why your body is increasingly becoming more unreliable, or how to stay a significant influence on others, or why a loved one suffers. We like to think there is some explanation for the randomness in life we experience.

 

Often, it’s when life seems inconsistent, or when a relationship or something breaks down, or when we want the world to cooperate with us, or God for that matter, is when we want faith to be our hero.  In America, we believe in believing in our self and getting a lot accomplished.  We believe if you have great faith then you can have all this great stuff.  Often, in our culture, faith in God doesn’t begin until our faith in our self ends, and that’s not Biblical faith.

 

What we are going to discover about pleasing God today is it isn’t a crutch, something to get you through your day.  Faith is a reality you live in, like sunshine.

 

What a lot of people do when it comes to pleasing God is they rip out a few verses from the Bible and say that’s it.  That’s the formula.  That’s the cause and effect. Now life makes sense.  I got this verse from the Bible.  We just use the Bible to prove our point.  We think when Jesus lines up to how we think then it’s faith.

 

Let me be clear, faith isn’t something you use to get a theory on everything. It isn’t positive thinking or self-help.  Too often we are suckers for anyone who says faith will make you richer, skinnier, wealthier, happier, or faster.  If faith is so good then why aren’t we all at our dream house, skinny, on our personal island in the Bahamas?  Why do we still have a mortgage or student loan debt?

 

If you want to please God then you will need faith.  And your faith should not be set of ideas, or platitudes, thoughts, or perspectives, or trying to make life work for you.  That kind of faith short-sheets your connection with God.

 

Today I want to show you a verse of scripture that tells you how to please God, and then we are going to look at one man who did please God.

 

I want to take you to the letter of Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 6.  We don’t know who the actual author is of Hebrews.  The letter itself does not tells us.  Traditional sources say it was Paul who wrote it.  Other sources say his friend Barnabus wrote it.  The letter is written to Jewish converts to Christianity, thus the letter is full of references to Jewish theology, religious symbols, and rituals.  The letter over and over again points to how Jesus is better.  Jesus is better than the angels, Jesus is better than Moses, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for our sin is better than the sacrifice of animals.  Jesus is taking us to a better country.

 

In Hebrews chapter 11 the author turns his attention the subject of faith and he lists all these heroes of the faith.  Buried in this chapter of heroes is this plain and simple verse on how to please God, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  (NIV 84)

 

How do you please God?  You please God by faith.  So what is faith?  Back in verse 1 here in chapter 11 the author defines faith.  He wrote, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

 

Faith is not hope.  Faith is one step beyond hope.  Hope is maybe it will work out.  Faith is confident it will work out.    Faith is knowing it will happen.  Faith is like our belief in gravity (hold up book).  We cannot see gravity but we have faith that when I let go of this book it will fall to the floor. (Boom!)  It’s the difference between “I hope they will have lunch with me” to “I have faith they will have lunch with me.”

 

“Certain of what we do not see.”  Faith is certain that something that hasn’t happened will happen.  How can you be sure the book will fall?  How can you be certain about having lunch?   That’s faith.   Hebrews talks about the unseen all the time.  The writer talks about a city yet to come, a heavenly country, events yet to come, and our heavenly reward.

 

He then adds, “This is what the ancients were commended for.”   They pleased God with their faith.  If you want to see what faith really looks like then you need to read all the stories of faith heroes in the Bible.  We are going to look at one of them today.  Hebrews 11 lists hero after hero to show you what true faith is.. Moses, Abraham, Noah, the martyrs, Isaac, Rahab, among many others.

 

Without faith, without being believing God is God, and certain he will do what he said he would, you cannot please God.

 

The hero that sets the stage for verse 6, “Without faith it is impossible to please God,” is a guy named Enoch.  In verse 5 we read, “By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away.”  Enoch illustrates how the writer describes faith in verse 6.  He believed God is real and lived his life in that reality, and God rewarded him by taking him away.  Enoch pleased God by faith.

 

Who is Enoch?  We find Enoch in chapter 5 of Genesis, verse 18.  He’s in a genealogy list.  It reads, “When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch.” Then in verse 21, “When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah (which, according the Bible is the oldest man who ever lived, 969 years).  And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether Enoch lived 365 years.  Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”  Genesis 5:18, 21-24. (NIV)

 

This is all we know about Enoch.  He pleased God by his faith.  How?  What did his faith look like?  He simply walked with God day in and day out.

 

I’m so glad Enoch is included in this list of heroes.  He seems normal to me.  I can relate to him when it comes to my faith.  When you look at all the other heroes listed in chapter 11 you see incredible sacrifice and deeds done.  Noah built an Ark.  Abraham founded a nation.  Sarah gave birth to one.  Joseph spoke into the future about the Exodus from Egypt.  By faith Moses left Egypt and instituted the Passover.  People passed through the Red Sea, Joshua the walls of Jericho fall, Samson brought the house down, David killed Goliath, people conquered kingdoms and brought justice on the wicked.

 

I myself don’t expect to do cross any seas, start a nation, or kill a giant.  What can faith look like for me, and for you?

And Enoch, Enoch, what did he do?  He walked with God.  That’s it.  No big feats, no giants slain, no walls falling down, or traveling to some distant country to start a nation, no martyr’s death.  Enoch walked with God.  I can walk with God.

 

Don’t you find that refreshing?  Sometimes with faith we put so much pressure on ourselves that for to be a real faith it has to be something large and deep in your soul moving.  The truth is to expect a faith like that every day is a little much- even disheartneing.

 

When we walk with God by faith, day in and day out, we demonstrate that we believe in him and we can be certain he will reward us.  Walking by faith tells us that we are pleasing to God.

 

How can I please God? Walk by faith.

 

What does it look like to walk by faith?  John, one of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples, a guy who literally walked with Jesus day in and day out, wrote to some Jesus’ followers, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6

 

Now to understand what John meant by this is to understand how John learned how to walk like Jesus’ himself.  If you are a Jesus’ follower then you did what Jesus did, literally.  You did every last thing Jesus’ did.

 

How many steps to Jesus’ take on the Sabbath?  You take that many steps.  How many hours did Jesus ponder meditate, ponder, memorize scripture each day.  This is how many hours they would interact with the Bible.

 

How did the Jesus’ treat others?  Then this is how they treated others.  How did he treat children?  Then they treated children in the same way.

 

When they saw Jesus praying early in the morning, then they prayed early in the morning.

 

Disciples in Jesus’ day were very detail oriented and precise, right down to length of hair, what they ate, and sleeping habits.  In almost every way the life of Jesus was translated to the disciples.  This is why you see the disciple asking questions or asking Jesus to teach them.

 

However, we do not have a physical Jesus like John, do we?  We don’t the length of his hair or how many steps he took on a Sunday.  What does it look like to follow Jesus for you and me?

 

John write in another letter the answer, “This is love: That we walk in obedience to his commands.  As you heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.” 2 John 2:6

 

To walk with Jesus each day in faith is each day be obedient to the commands of Jesus.  To seriously walk in the commands of Jesus requires three components.  These three components were the three fundamental pillars Jesus used with his disciples.

 

First, you need instruction.  Jesus taught the scriptures.  His Sermon on the Mount being one of his most famous teachings.  Listen, to walk like Jesus you need to know his commands.  You need to know what Jesus taught.  Don’t assume you know either.  In all my time preaching and learning from Jesus, I cannot assume I know anything.  I need the repetition of instruction.  I need to know this everyday.

 

This is why it is so important for you to get into this book and read it.  Use the reading plans in your Bible App.  We have little devotion books on our Welcome Table for this reason.  They are free.  Not only do we have the direct commands of Jesus in the Gospels, we also have how his early followers interpreted what they said. This is the letters you see in the back of the New Testament. We see where they messed up and got it right.   It’s all in here for our benefit.  You need to get into this book and let Jesus instruct you.

 

The second component is imitation, to practice it, or be an apprentice.  Jesus just wouldn’t give intellectual instruction, but he would say do it like this.  In Luke 11 the disciples came and asked Jesus how to pray.  They said, “Teach us to pray like you do.”  Jesus then didn’t set up a 13 part series on prayers of the patriarchs.  He just said, “Pray like this.”  And then he prayed. Imitate this prayer.  Word for word even.

 

This is one big reason God gave us the church family.  This is why we have Go Groups.  Church is the safe place for you to start obeying Jesus.  It should be the easiest place, right?  It’s in our Go Groups where we really get to know each other and truly obey the command of love.  It’s at church we get around more seasoned Christians and not only can we learn from them, we can imitate them and strengthen our faith.  Paul would say, imitate me as I imitate Christ.  It’s why Paul instructs the older Christians to help the younger ones.

 

The third component Jesus used is immersion.  He would tell the disciples to go out in the towns and villages and say start doing this stuff I’ve been teaching you.  Leave the safety of our little community and take it out, where you are uncomfortable, and learn how to do this on your won.  This means you just don’t obey Jesus’ commands while you are at church.  You seek to obey Jesus’ commands at work, at school, hanging out with friends, on vacation, with family members that disapprove of your faith lifestyle.  When you choose to immerse yourself in Jesus’ commands you start to learn the finer points and nuances of faith.  Paul talked about faith immersion to a fellow Christian named Philemon.  He said, “I pray that you will be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  PH 1:6  How do you get a full understanding of Jesus?  Get active in sharing your faith.  And by the way- that takes faith!

 

Here is a simple way to put all three components in action:  Ask, what did Jesus say about that?  How am I responding to it?

 

How do you please God?  You please God by faith!  Faith is walking each day believing God is God and certain he will do what he said he will do. Like Enoch, we walk by faith when we obey the commands of Jesus.

 

How do you please God?  Walk by faith!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why You Need to Be in a Go Group, Part 3

I’m continuing the series of articles on why you need to be part of a Go Group.  I’m writing these articles to encourage you to gt involved in our All IN event, Making Change, in August. Here are five more reasons why you need to be part of Go Group.

  1. Participating in Go Group will help you have a better prayer life. When you pray together you will learn form others how to pray.  When others pray for your concerns and needs you will be encouraged in your faith.
  2. You will feel more connected to the church family. In a Go Group you go beyond the Sunday morning friendly conversation to spending some time with people you learn to love like Jesus loved you, and being loved back like Jesus loved them.  You will experience what the church calls fellowship- which is a bunch of fellows on a ship going in the same direction.
  3. You will stretch your faith. One of the ways God uses Go Groups is during the conversation someone will do something, say something, or tell a story that will challenge your faith in a way that you haven’t thought of before.
  4. You will help the church create momentum. When the entire church is growing in the same direction you create synergy, the collective potential that will move our church forward.  We will have a shared experience.
  5. You will be more likely to apply your faith. It’s one thing to hear it in a sermon, it’s another to do it.  It’s totally up to you whether you do it or not, and hardly anyone will know the difference.  When you talk about the sermon in your Go Group you will be more likely to apply God’s truth to your life.  You are doing life with other people.  This make a difference.  This helps hold you accountable the calling you have received in Jesus.

5 Reasons to make Sure You Are in Worship This Summer

In the summer time when you are on vacation, going to the beach or Busch Gardens, attending your kids baseball games, or family picnics, it can be easy to overlook the value of worshiping and hearing God’s Word preached in person alongside other mission partners.  If we get hazy on church attendance, much of what God intended for you as a follower of Jesus gets lost.

Here are five reasons attending worship regularly is essential to your faith.

First, your faith is fueled by hearing God’s word.  Hearing alongside others as they respond to worship encourages your soul.  Romans 10:17

Secondly, hearing God’s word from your local church is unique to any other preaching available.  Listening to an Podcast or TV of your favorite preacher only goes so far.  When you hear God’s word preached and applied to your struggles and difficulties, the word starts to become real. Hebrews 13:17

Thirdly, never underestimate the power of a personal connection.  I like to talk to Lisa on the phone, but I’d rather see her face to face.  The Holy Spirit uses eye contact, facial expressions, and body language to help create a powerful connection.  A minister feeds off the reaction of the hearers.  A congregation is moved by the concern of the minister for the souls that are there.

Fourthly, spiritual fruit comes from hearing with others.  When we hear it with others we have a sense of accountability we are doing this together.  The preached word becomes a basis for conversations that follow.  Personal discipleship expands as we collectively praise God. 1 Corinthians 14:15-17

Fifthly, public worship leads to corporate discipleship.  When worship is authentically given and God’s word faithfully proclaimed everyone is on the same page and personal discipleship expands.  We grow together as a church family.  When you miss church you miss that opportunity.

What is Eternal Life?

July 9, 2017

Message Series:

Your Verse

Message Title:

“And this is eternal life…”

John 17:1-5

Unedited Manuscript

Good morning everyone.

 

In just 3 weeks, during August, we are doing an “All in.”  All in means everyone is going to do it.  In 3 weeks we are going to do a series of messages called, “Making Change” and all of our Go Groups will be taking the material we learn on Sunday morning and taking it to a whole ‘nutha level.  So we want you to be involved ‘cause we want to do this all together.  If you are not involved in a Go Group this is a great time to do it.  You only have to commit to this month.  If you are not part of one all you have to do is use the connection card on your flyer, write your name and contact info on it, say you are interested in a Go Group, and drop it off in the offering box.  Then we will be in touch with you.  Here is a little promotional video about what we will be looking at together.

 

{Show video}

 

Let me say, if you are here for the first time you came at a great time.  Today we are going to look at a new series of messages we are calling Supertext.   We are going to be teaching on 4 of the most powerful scriptures in the Bible.  You need to know the Bible is the architectural blueprint for our church.  There are peaks and valleys in the Bible and this month we are going to look at some of the peaks.  Today we are going to look at the beginning of a prayer Jesus said just before he died on the cross.

 

In this prayer Jesus says two words that get abused a lot.  The problem is we have reduced these two vital words Jesus said into a proposition, into a thought, or a place in the future.  When Jesus said these words he didn’t mean if you just believe a set of truths, nor was he talking about a ticket to heaven.  Although those are a part of what he was thinking.  We often equate it with mere immortality.

 

Jesus used these words in John 3:16 to Nicodemus, “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.”   Throughout scripture we see many shades of meaning about eternal life. We are told in Romans 6:22 grace brings righteousness and eternal life through Jesus Christ.  We are told it is a gift. (Romans 6:23).  We are told that if we please the Holy Spirit we will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:8).  We receive it (1 Tim. 1:16.)  We are commanded to take hold of it (1 TM 6:12).  Our hope is in eternal life (Titus 3:7).  It is a promise of God. (1 John 2:25.)  it is something God gives us (1 John 5:11).  But, what is eternal life?

 

Growing up in church I heard some people equate eternal life with heaven.  Eternal life is not heaven.  It is something in heaven, but it is not heaven.  Heaven is a place.  Eternal life is not a place.   Some say eternal life is your salvation, your ticket to heaven.  You could make that argument, that puts so much restraint on the concept of eternal life and therefore debilitates your faith.

 

What is eternal life?  The Good News is Jesus defined eternal life specifically and accurately.  It’s not something you wait for on earth to get in in heaven.  It’s something you have right now.  Eternal life is not a proposition to be believed, it is something you live.

 

In the Gospel of John, chapter 17, Jesus defines eternal life.  When he says it, he is literally on the last day of ministry.  On the day before his death Jesus celebrates the Passover meal with his twelve disciples.  In that meal, he gives a long discourse about the purpose of his ministry and the future.  He reveals the traitor in their midst.  He washes the disciple’s feet to demonstrate what leadership looks like.  When he gets to the end of his speech and meal he closes with a prayer.

 

It’s in the beginning of that prayer Jesus defines eternal life.  Look at John 17:1, “Father, the hour has come.  Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you.  For you have given him authority over everyone.  He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.  And this is eternal life- to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.  I brought you glory to earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  Now, Father, bring me the glory we shared before the world began.”  John 17:1-5

 

How is God going to give Jesus glory?  By giving Jesus the authority to give eternal life to everyone.    Jesus brings glory to God by dying on the cross, shedding his blood, be being obedient to God’s plan for his life.

 

In the middle of talking about this glory Jesus defines eternal life- he says it is to know God and the one he sent, Jesus.  Eternal life is to know God and his Son Jesus Christ.   That’s the definition.

 

If eternal life is to know God then what did Jesus mean when he said to “know” God?  The Greek word for “know” is ginoskosin.  It’s basic meaning is “come to know” or “come to an understanding.”  In this context “know” means come to know the things of God or thoughts, behaviors, teachings, that proceed from God and/or Jesus.  To the disciples hearing Jesus’ it would mean a unique knowledge that God is the true God and the god’s or Rome and Greece are false.  It means more than seeing Jesus as a servant, or a good man who spread love and good teachings about life.  It means you come to a singular knowledge that Jesus is divine, the Son of God, the sinless Savior through whom God redeemed the world.  It has a level of acknowledgement, or a movement of your will to align with Jesus.  To know Jesus means you are capable of recognizing his deity and role of his relationship in your life.   You have insight into the will of God because you have this knowledge.

 

The Apostle John, reiterates Jesus’ prayer as a teaching in his letter to Christians.  He writes, “We now also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.  And we are in him who is true- even in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.”  1 John 5:20

 

Knowing Jesus as eternal life has three features to it and its usage in the New Testament.

First, eternal life is chronological.  Meaning there is a time element to it.  Specifically, there is no end to eternal life.  Jude notes, “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 1:21 Eternal life lasts forever because Jesus lasts forever.  Even though there is no end to eternal life it/he is present now!  Jesus is breaking through into your life.  You don’t wait for eternal life!  You don’t wait for it.  You have it in Christ.  Another related word to chronos or time is Kairos.  Karios is when our eternal God breaks through your circumstances and gathers your life into his hands.  Eternal life breaks forth into our life now because of divine knowledge of Jesus exists now.

 

Secondly, eternal life is relational.  It is knowing Jesus Christ.  The Christians had a New Testament phrase to describe this special relationship.  They would say we are “in Christ.”  The Bible says, “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 6:11, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.”  2 CR 5:17. “You are all Sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” GL 3:26 “You, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

 

You see this relationship modeled In Jesus prayer here in John 17.  Jesus talks about how he has been obedient to God’s plan and then at the end, just like a good friend, “Hey, remember to put me back where I was before we started this whole thing.”  Eternal life is knowing God, and the one he sent, every day, day after day.

 

Thirdly, eternal life has a prophetic element.  It has a prophetic tone.  It looks to the future.  It looks to the day when Jesus returns and we are united with our Father in heaven.    We’re not in heaven yet.  We are still on earth.  The Bible says, “The God of all grace, who called you into his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.”  1 Peter 5:14.

 

Eternal life calls on you to keep making progress with your faith.  The Bible notes, “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  Galatians 6:8  One does not sow a seed without expectations of growth into a plant.  As we grow in Christ we are ever called to keep growing in our knowledge and understanding of him.

 

As I noted before, eternal life is so much more than a place, or some propositional truth.  It is a knowledge of Jesus that impacts every part of our lives.

 

So what does it look like for you, and I, to have eternal life.  How do we take hold of it?  How do we receive it in our day to day life?

 

Distilling eternal life down to one statement is hard, and it will never cover its implications completely.  But here is my attempt to take what the Bible teaches about “eternal life” and summarize it into one sentence: Eternal life is a lasting relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  Eternal life is a dynamic, supernatural relationship with your heavenly Father.

 

To make this more real to me it was easy to see “eternal life” in terms of my relationship as a father to my children.  There is a chronological part to it.  As long as they live I’m their father.  Nothing can change that fact.  Being a father is also relational.  My kids know the real me. They know how I am when I smash a hammer on my thumb or when I am silly and saying stupid puns.  I live day to day with them.  It’s also prophetic with them.  As a father, I’m always concerned they go to the next stage of life successfully.  When they were in diapers I couldn’t wait for them to get out.  Then it was taking their own bath without my help.  In school, I was concerned about their grades.  I hollered at them to be on time as school because I wanted them to be on time at work as adults. To where today I’m concerned they start out their adult lives right, as good people.  I’m also looking forward to grandchildren down the road.  I always want my children to grow.  My heavenly Father is no different.

 

Jesus gave two word pictures to show us what it looks like to have eternal life.  First he said, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”  John 15:5-8.

 

Does a branch ever take a day off from being connected to the vine?  Of course not.  It wants to stay alive.  Another part of this picture is it’s natural.  The life just flows.  A branch and vine just go together.  Knowing Jesus is a natural presence that becomes part of your expected day.  Jesus just isn’t about giving you life when you are down, or you need a pick me up.  Jesus is your life today, now, ever present in this moment, just as a branch is to a vine.  This means, you live with the presence of Jesus in each moment.  His promise is to never leave you.

 

Then a second picture Jesus used to describe eternal life, know him, is that of a shepherd of sheep.  In John 10 Jesus said of himself, “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father.”  John 10:14-15. (NLT)  Then again, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else.”  John 10:27-29

 

Notice Jesus says his sheep, meaning us Jesus followers, know Jesus and Jesus knows us.  It is relational. Jesus then goes onto describe how you get to know each other, listen.  Jesus knows you.  Sheep know their shepherd’s voice over all others and they trust him implicitly to take them to green pastures.  Because we know Jesus we know we can trust Jesus and we follow his commands.  This is what eternal life looks like.  This is how it breaks into your life.

 

What is eternal life?  Eternal life is a lasting relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  This is relationship is now.  We live in eternal life when we acknowledge and integrate Jesus into our daily life.  We live in eternal life when we listen to Jesus voice, trust him as a sheep to a shepherd, and follow his commands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Should You be Part of a Go Group? Part 2.

Every disciple needs to be part of a group with the appropriate mix of inviting and challenging you to follow Jesus.  Jesus’ did this with own “Go Group,” the twelve disciples.

In Matthew 16:17-18 you see Jesus affirming Peter.  After Peter confesses his belief Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus affirms his faith and invites him even closer by saying he will give him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.  Later on, after Peter expresses doubt Jesus’ plan to die on the cross, Jesus challenges him, telling him, “You are a stumbling block to me.”  Matthew 16:23  Jesus, time and again, invited people to follow him while directly challenging behaviors that were wrong or unhealthy.

For us to be successful disciples of Jesus we need this same dynamic.  An old preacher saying is a good sermon comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.  It’s true.  You need to be in a Go Group.  A safe place where you are encouraged and challenged to grow and become more like Jesus.

Some C O L L E C T I V E Thoughts

C3 Collective

On Saturday, July 8, we are holding our first COLLECTIVE event (7-9 PM on church land)  featuring worship, testimonies, and prayer.  I’m looking forward to it and encourage you to come out!  When you come tomorrow night come with these four game changers on your mind and heart.

  1. Come ready to participate, sing, raise hands, share, and pray.
  2. Come with an expectation God keeps his promises.  He promises when we lift him up he will draw us to him.
  3. Count Your Blessings.  Our excitement doesn’t come from our surroundings as much as the joy of the Lord living within us.  When you come to worship count your blessings and be excited to worship the God who gave you those blessings.
  4. Don’t give God a little bit or what’s left over.  God is honored when we give him our best.