Part 2 of 2: Today we focus on 1 Thess. 4.12, where Paul gives clarity as to the why behind his instructions around work: so that we can demonstrate a different way of living, and be dependent on no one. However, the unfortunate reality in our culture today is that you can work – even full-time – and still be dependent, due to stagnating wages and rising costs of living, particularly in our city. The sobering reality is that the challenges of finding good work for many in our society, particularly since the Great Recession, has led to significant increases in drug use and overdoses, alcoholism, and suicides. People despair when they can’t find dignity in their work. This presents (1) an incredible opportunity for the church to be the agent of hope and light it is designed to be, and (2) a particular call for business owners and supervisors who declare that Jesus is King, to exemplify true discipleship in the way they employ and supervise!
Religious pluralism is a reality in cities. For followers of Jesus in Denver, as in ancient Thessalonica, a natural question is: How should I live among those who don’t know and follow Jesus and what if anything should I say to them about our my Lord and Savior, Jesus? This message is designed to answer this question by looking to the example of the Apostle Paul. More importantly, you will discover a gospel reality that can set your heart on fire to live and speak as a loving and faithful ambassador for God in our city.
We have all been exposed to thousands of messages about how to manage our money and our stuff. Money penetrates every facet of our lives. As a result, there are a lot of thoughts and feelings we have about money. The good news is, King Jesus doesn’t remain silent on this topic. Both His words and His actions demonstrate that the Kingdom of God is an economy of abundance, and not of scarcity. The earth belongs to God, and everything in it! We are His stewards who are given free reign to listen for His voice, and use our resources to demonstrate how glorious a King He is.
Last week Arik preached, “On Earth as it is in Heaven.” Yet, recent world events may make us feel like Earth is rather more like Hell right now. A series of tragedies between police officers and African Americans has created a climate of judgment, condescension, fear, and apathy. How are we to proceed as followers of Jesus Christ? In Matthew 7, Jesus makes it clear that when we are tempted to judge and lash out, we are to do serious self-reflection. We are to mourn with those who mourn, lament like David in the Psalms, carefully listen to Jesus and others, repent of what gets exposed in us (especially fear!), act in love and out of faith, and develop habits to continue to Heavenize as Jesus’ agents of reconciliation, no matter the environment.
At times we all see ourselves as unimportant, unlovable and too small to matter to anyone of importance. These thoughts typically take us into dark places. Yet, in spite of how we perceive ourselves, we are never insignificant in the eyes of God. Beyond the branches in the air and robes on the path, Palm Sunday announces to Jerusalem and to you “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey.” This is great news – for us and for the world.
Just as a wildlife biologist exercises appropriate authority in the wilderness for the flourishing of an ecosystem and the enjoyment of it by people, the Apostle Paul exercises spirit-led authority in the epicenter of the “gentile wilderness” for people to flourish with the living water of Christ Jesus like never before. Paul exhibits clear vision, persistence, and responsiveness in developing a team that’s focused, firmly grounded, equipped, and ready to begin a dramatic movement. It’s empowered by the Holy Spirit Himself. When servants of King Jesus capture the opportunities presented to them by the Spirit of the Living God, they exercise authority for a flourishing movement, even (especially!) in the midst of the wilderness. What wilderness are you called into, today?
Paul continues his 2nd missionary journey, and travels to Athens, the birthplace of modern western thought and democracy. In a proud city of extraordinary architecture, art, and culture – one designed to display its great history, people, and ideas, Paul becomes “greatly distressed” by what he observes – in a way reminiscent of God himself, whenever God-given artistry and ability is not attributed and celebrated as grace and gifts from him alone. Since Paul has been transformed by Jesus himself, he is able to deeply understand Athens, and at the same time love Athens with the love of Jesus himself. In so doing, he gives us a clear example of how to engage in our highly nuanced, pluralist culture… blank Starbucks holiday cups and all.
King Jesus was born in Bethlehem not Rome. His arrival in this small unnoticed town demonstrates that our king came to shunned places and overlooked people in order to be with and exalt them. Do you ever doubt God’s presence and love? This 4th week of Advent be encouraged, Jesus has come to be with […]
In this 3rd week of Advent we consider, “What is it we are waiting for?” In other words, what is God’s vision for the future? Jesus and the whole Bible reveal that God’s vision for the future is a second advent of Christ followed by a renewed cosmos free from destruction, racial division, injustice and everything else that disrupts the harmony that once existed in Eden. Once this picture becomes clearer a second question must be addressed, “In light of this hope, how shall we now live?” This week we hear God’s invitation for us is to participate in making earth look more like Heaven while we anticipate Christ’s 2nd advent after which He will make all things new.
Having invested the past 12 weeks growing as disciples who love God, one another and our neighbors, we now transition to Advent. “Advent” means “coming” and it has become a term to describe the 4 Sundays that precede Christmas in which God’s people celebrate Jesus’ first coming in Bethlehem as well as His second coming which we await. In this first Sunday of Advent, just before the busy month of December begins, we exalt Christ who declared during his first advent, “Come to me … and I will give you rest.” In Christ we have rest with God and rest within ourselves so that we may accurately represent our King Jesus as faithful ambassadors in this restless world.