Let Justice Roll

If you're a follower of Jesus, consider: what is the reason you go to church, get together with other Christians, or worship God? Sometimes it's to feel good, or to look good. These are not wrong things to look forward to, but if they are the sole reason you are worshipping God, then you need to know that your worship may be false. It's all useless if it doesn't come from somewhere deeper.

False worshippers are concerned about themselves. True worshippers are being changed to pursue justice and righteousness for Christ's glory.

“I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.
— Amos 5:21-24 NLT

God loves it when you worship him with a genuine heart.

But it's easy to slip into worshipping for the wrong reasons.

Your worship should stem from your adoration of Jesus’ love and transforming work in your life.

Action Step:
Genuinely ask the Holy Spirit to grow a strong desire for justice and righteousness in you


Prefer to listen?

Listen here:

In case you missed part 1:

Risen - The end doesn't have to be devoid of hope

 Jesus is the resurrection and the life

As much as we try to ignore it or delay it, death affects us all and brings with it a deep sense of helplessness. However, Easter is a day that reminds us that there is hope, because Easter is a celebration of the One who defeated death and brings us life.

Text: John 11:11-44 (NLT)

A few notes on this passage:

  1. Jesus' deep anger is not directed toward those who are mourning; instead, Jesus is angry at the hopelessness his enemy, death, has caused in those he loves.
  2. As Jesus approached Lazarus' tomb, he was facing off against death. This is a battle between Death and the Resurrection and the Life. The best part: Jesus won!
  3. A short while later, Jesus would defeat death again; this time, it would be with his own death and resurrection.

Jesus' death paid the price for your sin (i.e., your rebellion/rejection against God; your wrongdoing or failure to do what's right). At the cross, he took your sin on himself. His resurrection proves that Jesus is who he claims to be, that you can trust him, and that he has defeated death itself!

When you try to find your own way through life, death is inevitable and nothing good lay beyond it.

Jesus has overcome the hopelessness of death with the hope-filled promise of eternal life.

Imagine going through life with hope for the future and assurance of great things to come, even after this body dies!

It may be tempting to drag your feet and try to squeeze out few more days living for yourself before you give yourself to Jesus and his hope for you. It's easy to put off thinking about the end, but it comes sooner than you think!

April 15, 2017, ushered in a historical milestone.  On a day that most of us can't even recall, Emma Morano died in Italy at the age of 117.  None of us knew her, but she was the last known person born in the 19th century.  Although the 1800s were a long time ago, this quiet passing reminds us that a time comes for each generation when the last remaining person dies. 

No longer how long we put it off, death comes for everyone.

Will this short life be one full of hope now and for the future? Jesus is inviting you to step out of the grave and accept his offer of life.

Action Step:
Place your hope in Jesus and choose to follow him.

Listen to the entire message:

Better: Isaac -- Jesus' sacrifice saved you

 Jesus can be known better through the Old Testament

We all know people who are choosing to carry the burden of their sinfulness on themselves, even though Jesus already paid the price to take those sins upon himself.

Read: Genesis 22:1-18

This isn't an easy passage to read. Why would God do these things? This is the only time in the Bible when God tested someone in this way. He wanted to ensure that Abraham's trust was in God himself, not just the promises that God had made him. By asking Abraham to offer up Isaac, he was asking him to be willing to give up the promises God had given him.

As well as serving as a test for Abraham, this story foreshadows the coming sacrifice of Jesus. Isaac and Jesus have many similarities. Both were born miraculously, both were to be sacrificed, both were dead for three days (Isaac in Abraham's eyes during their 3 day journey, Jesus in reality for three days), both carried the wood that would be used to sacrifice them up the hill, both were raised to life (Isaac through God staying Abraham's hand, Jesus being raised to life from the tomb). 

In fact, where Abraham's obedience with Isaac caused God to promise again to build a nation through whom the nations of the world would be blessed, he was speaking about Jesus who was to come and whose sacrifice on the cross truly would bless the nations with the gift of an eternal, life-giving relationship with Jesus for all who believe in him. Jesus was the lamb God would provide for himself, mentioned in Genesis 22:8!

God sent Jesus to die as a sacrifice so you could find life and freedom.

Jesus’ sacrifice has saved you. If he went through all that for you, what are you willing to do to share His message of hope?

It's a scary thought for many of us--sharing our faith. But we must remember that God is the God who provides. He provides the growth of faith in the people we share the Gospel with. He is the one who provides us the courage and the wisdom and the words as we do so.

Additionally, while you may be wary of putting yourself out there if it doesn't get you anything, remember the testing of Abraham: consider if you trust in God himself, or just in the benefits you get out of following him. He has commanded all who follow Jesus to share the Good News, and we must do so out of our faith in Jesus, not because of any benefit it may bring us personally.

Action Steps:

  • Consider: are you willing to obediently share your faith if there is nothing in it for you?
  • Tell people about Jesus: engage in spiritual conversations, invite people to church and to our Easter Extravaganza!

Listen to the whole message:

Better: Jonah -- Jesus loves his enemies

 Get to know Jesus better in the Old Testament

An Armenian nurse had been held captive along with her brother by the Turks.  Her brother was slain by a Turkish soldier before her eyes.  Somehow, she escaped and, later, became a nurse in a military hospital.

One day, she was stunned to find that the same man who had killed her brother had been captured and brought, wounded, to the hospital where she worked.  Something within her cried out, "Vengeance!"  But, a stronger voice called for her to love.  She nursed the man back to health.

Finally, the recuperating soldier asked her, "Why didn't you let me die?"

Her answer was, "I am a follower of Him who said, 'Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.'

Impressed with her answer, the young soldier replied, "I never heard such words before.  Tell me more.  I want this kind of religion."

It’s really hard to be kind to people who aren’t kind to us. When people are vehemently opposed to who we are or what we believe, we’re often tempted to give them a wide berth, or to do them harm. Sometimes, we're even tempted to do this on Jesus' behalf, with those who we think are his enemies.

In this message, we'll discover how the story of Jonah reveals Jesus' heart for his enemies and how he wants us to handle them. The fact is: Jesus has called his followers to a different way of looking at the world than others do, and that includes loving our (and Jesus') enemies.

If you need a refresher on the story of Jonah, go ahead and read Jonah 1-3.

Jonah wasn't so much afraid of the Ninevites though, as he was afraid that God wouldn't destroy them:

Jonah 4: But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the LORD said, “Do you do well to be angry?” 

Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the LORD God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the LORD said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”

Nineveh was the capital of the nation of Assyria, enemies of the nation of Israel. Jonah figured that, if he avoided giving God's message to his enemies, they would not turn to God and God would destroy them. He tried to force God's hand into getting rid of Israel's problem, but that wasn't what God wanted.

Jesus loves those who hate him and has called you to do the same.

God: saved the wicked people of Nineveh
Jesus: came to earth to save people who had rejected him.
Jesus: died for sinful people
Jesus: asked God the Father to forgive the people who were torturing and killing him.
Jesus: said to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Jesus: said to go into ALL The World and make disciples and to love your neighbour as yourself…even if your neighbour is your enemy.

And if you still think they don't deserve it, remember:

Before you came to Jesus, you were one of those enemies.

How can we follow the call of Jesus? Here's somewhere to start:

Check your attitude and fear at the door and invite at least two unchurched people to our Easter Extravaganza this week!

 

 

Listen to the whole message: