Often we begin our careers with high aspirations and hopes, but “reality” often collides with our dreams. The early disciples – who witnessed their Master die on a cross – must have felt the same: a crushing disappointment. Yet, as the early church remembered Jesus’s death and resurrection with wine and bread, the eucharist, their suffering was transformed into words and deeds that gave life to their neighbors. In this message, Jeff Haanen shows how our daily work can be transformed in light of Jesus’s gift of His body “for the life of the world.”
We as Christians often have a hard time sharing the “good news,” for a mix of 3 reasons: First, we’re not really that compelled; second, we’re afraid; and third, we don’t really know how. As ambassadors of God’s peace treaty with the world, we need to be sure we (1) understand its significance, (2) understand our cultural context, and (3) are equipped with a clear “reason for the hope that we have.” It turns out, our culture is very open to dialogue on spiritual things, and the lack of sharing has more to do with our own discomfort than a lack of opportunity. When we share “with gentleness and respect,” what follows can be a beautiful, engaging conversation with our neighbors. We have to get the shape of the gospel right. James Choung’s tool, Big Story, from his book True Story, gives us one example of a holistic Christian worldview that’s theologically grounded and starts with finding common ground with our culture, through drawing 4 simple circles.
What exactly is “Christian Mission”? When we talk about the whole church, taking the whole gospel, to the whole world, what do we mean? Often, Christians think evangelism is something other people do. But what is the origination of that word, and what, exactly, is the content of our “evangelism”? We need to be reminded of what Jesus himself declared to be “the gospel,” and how that understanding was clarified by Paul in his writings to the early church. We also need to understand our neighbors. When we have clarity about what it means to be an ambassador for Christ, and clarity about who we’re being an ambassador to, it will give us joy to share the good news in ways that truly “love our neighbor.”
One of the greatest ways to show God’s grace and love to others is by simply listening to them. Yet, with so many ideas floating around our world and inside our head it can be difficult to really hear what others are saying. Fortunately, God is a great listener and so He has a lot to teach us. This week we explore some barriers that can keep us from listening as well as some tools from God’s Word that will help us be better hearers. When we grow in the ministry of listening, we and those we listen to can experience the invaluable gifts of God’s grace and love.
Today’s service focuses on praising God for inviting ordinary people to join Him in bringing His love to people of every nation until His vision to be glorified throughout the whole earth is fulfilled. We are grateful for and extend a loving welcome to Don and Janet Guizzetti, as well as some of our teens, for joining us today, modeling this way of life and reminding us of this beautiful reality during our service today.
These four verses are one of those “head-nodders” of scripture. One of these short nuggets that’s easily passed by, because it makes enough sense and sounds familiar enough on the surface, not to feel the need to go deeper. But when we engage Jesus’ words, we find more there than we first realized. Our eyes are the lens through which we perceive reality, and they’re closely connected to our hearts. What we see informs what we serve, and what we serve informs what we see. What we believe leads to what we perceive. What we choose to focus on, leads to what we become. Jesus is the light that our eyes need to be focused on, to expose our own inner darkness, so that we can become wholly bright!
After Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to many people over 40 days. In his final time with his disciples he declared that God’s vision to bless the world was still on track and that they would be a significant part of this plan. As he did in A.D. 30, God’s Holy Spirit empowers followers today to join him in God’s vision to bring people from every language, tongue and tribe to himself through faith in Jesus for the glory of God the Father.
Slavery, hunger, sex trafficking, addictions, broken relationships… Have you noticed how many things on our globe are not as they should be? When God decides it is time to renovate a portion of earth so it looks more like heaven He typically does so through His children. Nehemiah wept, prayed and worked with God and others to overturn the “great trouble and shame” in Jerusalem. He embraced God’s assignment for his generation. Will you listen and trust God to do the same for yours?
In 931 B.C. God’s people tore into two nations and sometimes God’s people still divide today. Schisms destroy our joy and our ability to fulfill God’s call to bless all the families of the earth. With so much at stake, God reveals in I Kings 12-16 that relational division is actually the result of one or more people drifting away from God and His ways. For all who know the angst of relational conflict and division, in Christ there is help and hope.
Everyone has pressures & priorities. God made us to live according to His priorities not people’s pressures. This last Sunday of the year is a great time to remember that our marching orders are clear. We are commanded to love God, love our neighbors and love one another.