Can you love someone you have never seen? Christians can, in fact it is key to our faith. Listen to Joel further explain this idea.
Perhaps the greatest injustices are the ones that cause harm but are somehow still legal. As someone who has a knack for sales, I immediately think of pyramid schemes as a prime example. "Did you know you could be your own boss and make over twenty-five dollars an hour?" and, "Do you want to retire twenty years earlier for half the work?" are typically the trumpets that announce these particular schemes. What you don't realize is that you are signing up to be a paying customer yourself and saving the company the cost of advertising, merchandising, and even the cost of staffing (since you are your own boss)! By the time you realize that no one wants to buy a $300 frying pan it's too late. You signed the paperwork and you are stuck with the whole set yourself.
Sin is like that. It entices us with promises of great riches and easy hours. It intoxicates us with cheap perfume and flaunts the lifestyle that seems to only be available to the privileged. Like love-sick puppies we go to the altar with sin and thoughtlessly commit our lives, until death do us part. We are stuck. We are without love, money, or anything that was promised to us and cannot escape. The marriage is legal, but we are condemned.
The Law was never meant to be the solution to our sin. The Law is good and so is following it, but what we need is something greater than the Law. We need something deeper. Paul writes in Romans 7:6, "but now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code." There is something deeper than the law that is able to protect us from injustice. Jesus leads us to it, exemplifies it, upholds it. The promises that are made through this new way sound a thousand times better than what was promised to us by sin and, the best part about them is: when we sign on the dotted line we don't feel stuck. We are finally feel free!
Sermon Clip from Pastor Joel on what is the end game for Christians.
Who is your worst enemy? Is it someone at work? Maybe someone from an estranged relationship? Or is it someone more serious like the devil? Those who stand in the way of our happiness and freedom tend to earn their role as, at the very least, an unwanted obstacle in our lives.
What if I told you that the worst enemy you will ever face is also one of your closest relationships? No, I don't have some special insight into your inner circle, but I do believe that the greatest enemy we will face in our lifetime is not in our workplace. It isn't even the devil. Instead, the greatest enemy to our happiness and freedom is ourselves (Jer. 17:9). When it comes down to it, no matter our lot in life, when we look down at the hole we are in we will find that we are alone and holding the shovel. Because we have all sinned (Rom. 3:20), we all have sabotaged our freedom and become our own worst enemy (Mark 7:21).
I can understand that you may be skeptical. After all, if you cannot trust yourself, then who can you trust? However, I implore you to, with your Bible open and your most honest self-reflection, consider the possibility that your heart may not be the best keeper of your needs. You see, even our hearts face the same decaying effects of sin as the world around us. There is still hope though, even though we have found another enemy. Despite the enemies that surround us outside and in, Jesus has already won the war (Ezekiel 36:26, 1 Cor 15:26)!
Have you ever had to deliver bad news to someone? It's hard isn't it? Especially if a tragedy has occurred (like when someone has died) it is almost impossible to convey the bad news and be comforting at the same time. We try using euphemisms like he passed away or he has gone to a better place instead of the more succinct language. No one likes to think about tragedy, and this is especially truth in our faith. Yet, in our faith the tragedy that occurred was not only crucial to the victory we have in Jesus, but is crucial in our daily lives.
It was not only Jesus' life and resurrection that has saved mankind, it was also his death. God laid mankind's sin on Jesus and Jesus paid the consequences so that we could finally rejoin God's family. However, Jesus also charged us, he charged you and me, to pick up our cross daily to follow him. What are crosses used for? They are for putting things to death. Our faith is about life, and life eternal. However, to live that life we must not forget that we have parts of our lives that are not like God. Like Jesus did for us as an example, we are to put those parts of our lives to death. And as they pass away, we will know that the parts of our lives that remain, will last forever because they have been perfected by the one who has defeated even death.
Ref: 2 Cor. 5:21, Rom. 4:25, Luke 9:23, Gal. 5:25, 2 Cor. 4:16
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work or live in a palace; to literally eat with a silver spoon instead of just referencing it in an expression? How about being the limo driver for the president (you probably know where I'm going with this)? What if I told you that you already do if you follow Jesus? Many of us consider ourselves servants of God, and rightly so, because we do in fact serve God. However, to just say "we work for God" is not the whole story. We are not God's butlers, or drivers, or worship leaders. Jesus makes it clear that we are not even to be called servants. Instead, we are fellow heirs of God's kingdom (John 15:14-15). In other words, we are members of the royal family.
There are a lot of different perceptions about royalty and what they do, so let's be clear that the job of royalty is not to ride the family's prized thorough-bred or practice for the upcoming ball (sorry Disney fans). Rather, being a prince or princess in the kingdom is about continuing the family legacy, and the legacy of God's kingdom is what we are to concern ourselves with at every lifegroup, every church service, and every community event. That legacy is what the Bible calls the "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18) and it is the work that God has ascribed to his children. To show the world what God has done for us and to tell the world that God has also done the same for them is our mission. So, this week as we unload the trailer in the heat, or fight the crazy traffic to get to lifegroup, or finally inviting our neighbor to come, remember that you are not the wait staff. You are royalty.
When was the last time you said "I promise"? You may be thinking about something you said to your kids, or to your spouse, or maybe you said it to yourself as you resolved to get up earlier to exercise. Promises are simply commitments we make in our lives…or at least they are supposed to be. That is, until they are broken. When they are broken, promises become stains in our relationships and fuel for our distrust. Broken promises are betrayal.
This series of Transformation is about Promises. It's not about your promises, because, in one way or another we all have broken ones buried in the backyard of our lives (Rom 3:20). Instead, it is about God's Promises because
God's Promises have the Power to Transform our brokenness into something brand new (2 Cor. 5:17).
Yes, God is the Promise keeper, and it is this very reason that we can completely trust every promise he has made to us (Mark 10:27). The Bible chronicles God's promises and I challenge you to fact check Him. Your pursuit will show a Promise Keeper who created us, who cares for us, who died to save us!
Tomorrow we celebrate the independence of our nation. Tomorrow we celebrate freedom. Within the borders of our country we certainly have our struggles and our needs, yet we are still one of the richest countries in the world. Thanks to our discerning founders we have certain inalienable rights that are affordable to us no matter our social standing. Most of us already know that this freedom came at a great cost. Yet, we have paid that cost and we have paid it all for this idea: freedom.
But what is freedom really? Is it the ability to do whatever you want? Or how about just the ability to believe whatever you want? According to the Bible, freedom isn't either of these. Instead, freedom is simply becoming Christ-like without any hindrances (Gal. 5:1, Heb. 12:1-2, Rom 8:1, Roman 6:15-16). As pastor Anthony showed us in Romans 3 this past week, we are all hindered by our own vices; by sin. We have been locked in a prison by that sin and no matter how hard we struggle, we cannot free ourselves. That is, unless someone takes our place. 2 Cor. Says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus took on the penalty of sin for us, and in doing so, he set us free. As we continue through this study, I challenge you to open your bibles and ask, "why?"
freedom is simply becoming Christ-like without any hindrances
Who really knows you? Not the you on Facebook, or the you at work, but the one who, when no one else is looking, bears your name. Some of us would say that our close friends know us, but rarely do those friends know what we are like at work. Most of us would say that our family knows us, but how much does mom really know after we have moved out and started a family of our own? Or, how much does our spouse see when, thanks to the internet, we can have multiple secret accounts? Do we even really know ourselves?
The truth is that, no matter how well we advertise ourselves, everyone views us a little differently. Our friends from childhood view us differently from our friends now. Our co-workers view us differently than our children. We even see ourselves in light of what we picture as the ideal in ourselves. No, there is only one person who can see real us; God himself (1 Sam 16:7b). The Bible says that God can peer so deeply into the real us, that he can even distinguish between the soul and the spirit (Hebrews 4:12). This isn't a basis for trichotomy, but a reminder that God knows us more intimately than we even know ourselves. It is because of this clear understanding of us that God is in the best position to understand our needs, to direct our steps, and to assess our decisions.
Ultimately, God is the one who can see the real you. That may horrify you, but consider one thing. Even after seeing you this way, He still decided that you we worth dying for to redeem. So, may I ask the real you a question? Are you ready to live following after Him?
Me and Sarah aren't particularly media savvy, but I have noticed lately that the tag "sorrynotsorry" has been quite popular (it's currently sitting at 9.8 million references on Instagram). Sorry-not-sorry is one of those terms that is what "whatever" was to me as a teenager. In America especially, it is a way for us to proclaim our independence from apologizing to others. After all, why should I apologize for being who I am?
I think that the Bible is clear about our identity: "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (Gen. 1:27) All of us bear God's image. All of us. Those of us who have surrendered our lives to God can go further and say that, "outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." (2 Cor. 4:16) So, if this is true we have to take a look in the mirror. When it comes to our attitude towards others, our goal is not to step on people shamelessly as we try to claw our way to the top, but instead we should gently lift up each other ahead of us (Matt. 20:25-27).
Sorry not sorry is a way of writing off people, of being unapologetic. We don't write others off as Christians. We simply can't. God made everyone in his image, which includes your spouse as well as the guy who cut you off in traffic. Instead, I think that our challenge in this cynical time is to develop genuine compassion for others. There are a number of ways that we do that, but it starts by changing our #sorrynotsorry, to #iamsosorry.