awakening

What does it look like to leave a legacy?

Text to Read: 2 Samuel 23:24, 39 NLT

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Main Points to Ponder:

  • The key to dreaming big is thinking long, even beyond your lifetime.

  • When you act based on a short-term outlook, you’re going to mess up.

  • Jesus came despite your mistakes and overcame them at the cross.

  • Action Step:

    • Dream big, dream long: put everything in the scope of eternity as you go out and chase lions.

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Secret #1 for finding joy in your life

Joy comes from putting Christ ahead of everything in your life and being unified with others who do the same.

As Pastor Chester Miller finished preaching and readied to dismiss his congregation at a morning worship service on March 1999, one of his church members, Victoria Smith, pulled a gun on him during the closing prayer.
Why? Because Pastor Miller had not preached from the book of Revelation that Sunday. The 58-year-old woman in Saddle, Arkansas said a sermon from Revelation was “important for her feud with another church member.” McHenry’s Stories for the Soul, 2001 p.13

While it is jarring to think an incident like this could happen involving church people, the fact is that whenever people gather together, things like this happen. What is supposed to be a place to care for each other and find belonging becomes a place of division.

We often approach things like church with an attitude of What can I get out of this? Rather than what can I give to Christ and others.

Despite what we so often see within Christian community, Jesus followers are meant to live lives characterized by joy, which is what we'll be looking at the next few weeks in the book of Philippians.

Today's Text: Philippians 1:1-11 NLT

Things to note:

  • Paul and Timothy forego giving their honorific titles of Apostle and pastor and instead call themselves slaves of Christ Jesus. They humbly acknowledge that they are completely open to following the will of Jesus.
  • Paul is joyful at the Church of Philippi's willingness to work toward the spread of the Good News of Jesus.
  • Paul encourages the Church to overflow in love and care for one another as they push each other toward a greater knowledge and understanding of Jesus' commands and to focus on building each other up for the sake of the Good News.

Here it is quite apparent that Paul believes Christian community (ie, Church) is very important, yet over the past couple decades we have seen the average regular church attender drop from gathering with believers three times a week to 1.8 times a month!

This isn't the problem we're tackling today; rather, it is the symptom of a greater problem. Now, rather than focusing on Jesus and on others, everything has to filter through our own selfishness. On a Sunday you may ask yourself, "Is church really the most entertaining or productive use of this 1-2 hours?" Suddenly, kids' sports, sleeping in, mowing the lawn, going on a weekend trip, or just staying home to relax may take priority over gathering to worship Jesus and encourage each other!

This is one reason why joy, which is supposed to characterize those who follow Jesus, seems so hard to attain:

When your focus is on yourself, happiness is dictated by your situation. When your focus is on Christ, joy is found in every situation.

Other points:

As you learn to put others’ best interests ahead of your own for the sake of the Gospel, you learn to value others.

As you get involved in partnering together for a common goal, you are bound together by purpose.

As you love one another as Christ loves the Church and lovingly help each other pursue Jesus, this will be a healthy family.

When your focus is on yourself, happiness is dictated by your situation. When your focus is on Christ, joy is found in every situation.

When everything centres on Christ, we will care more for each other and, in turn, our unselfish obedience and care will result in more Christian joy.

Action Steps:

  1. Identify one area where you have been pursuing your own interests at the expense of loving others and make it right.
  2. Encourage each other to become more like Jesus.
  3. Confront sin with love.

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Does God play favourites with salvation?

In his autobiography, Mahatma Gandhi wrote that during his student days he read the Gospels seriously and considered converting to Christianity. He believed that in Jesus he could find the solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India. So one Sunday he decided to attend services at a nearby church and talk to the minister about becoming a Christian. When he entered the sanctuary, however, the usher refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship with his own people. Gandhi left the church and never returned, “If Christians have caste differences also, “ he said, “I might as well remain a Hindu.”

While not all of us may hold the same prejudices that this usher and his church held toward Ghandi, the fact is that we make judgments on people's ability to find Jesus all the time. We even do this when we decide that we're "not good enough" for Jesus.

The fact is, none of us are worthy of Jesus' love and mercy, but he died for us anyway.

When we act in this way, it's not a great thing, because our favouritism and judgmentalism lack the love those who those who follow Jesus are commanded to have.

Our favouritism and judgmentalism lack the love those who follow Jesus are commanded to have.

Today's Text: Acts 10:34-11:4, 18 NLT

I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.
— Apostle Peter

God's grace is not limited to a select group of prim and proper individuals.

God adopts all who truly believe the Good News of Jesus and repent from their offences against their Creator.

Jesus brings life and his Spirit to those you expect and to those you don’t.

Action Steps:

  • Repent of your unChristlike judgments of others and/or yourself.
  • Consider whom you have written off as unlikely to receive Christ’s gifts and go tell them that Jesus loves them.

 

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