revival

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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Do I have to share my faith in Jesus?

We can witness boldly with the Holy Spirit of God.

Lately, a prosperity-gospel tele-evangelist named Jesse Duplantis has been in the news because he wants to raise money to buy a fourth luxury private jet for $54 million. In fact, he says Jesus told him to buy it. Needless to say, a lot of people are skeptical. It just doesn't seem like the kind of thing Jesus would direct someone to do.

There is another issue at stake here: this is a classic example of not putting first-things first. Mr. Duplantis' main mission as a Christian and as an evangelist should be telling people the Good News of Jesus--that they can have a life-giving relationship with God because of Jesus' death and resurrection on the cross, if only they will believe in Jesus and follow him. Yet, prosperity gospel preachers like Duplantis consistently make faith in Jesus more about what cool toys a person can get than about living a life fully connected to God.

At the same time, getting our priorities mixed up is something every follower of Jesus does on a regular basis.

What are the "first-things" of Christian faith? Love and follow Jesus, and love and share Jesus with others! But when Jesus-followers fail to do these things, we live disobediently, we are paralyzed by fear, and the world is disgusted by our hypocrisy and selfishness.

Read This: Acts 11:19-24 (NLT)

In this text, there are a few points of interest.

  1. Everywhere the early Christians went, they told people about Jesus--even though they were exiles running from persecution because of their beliefs!
  2. The early Christians had to learn that there is no one off-limits when it comes to sharing the Good News of Jesus.
  3. Antioch was a big city, and it was renowned for its lack of morality. All kinds of sin was on display, yet the Christians obediently shared their faith, and soon Antioch became an important centre of Christian missionary activity!
  4. As the sinful people of Antioch came to know Jesus, they soon realized the important fact that Jesus changes everything.

For the Christ-follower, sharing your faith isn't optional.

If it wasn't optional for the early Christians when they faced great danger by doing so, it is definitely not optional for you as a Westerner!

Sharing your faith isn't optional, but it's also not something you have to do alone.

Christian faith has never been about what you can do. In fact, it centres on what you couldn't do. Humanity couldn't stay faithful to their loving Creator. Humanity couldn't repair their relationship with God. Israel couldn't keep God's Law. So what did God do? He took matters in his own hands and from the beginning had laid out a plan for his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be born, live a sinless life, to teach us, to be wrongfully convicted and killed, and to rise again. In this act of perfect self-sacrifice, God bridged the gap between us and him for us. He righted our wrongs, and all we have to do is say "Yes," to Jesus and turn and follow him!

Furthermore, because of Jesus, you can tell others about him with the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus-followers are encouraged to be Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, and Spirit-empowered believers in Jesus.

Yes, we're going to mess things up at times, and not everything is going to turn out the way we hope. However, we have to remember that it is our Spirit-obedience that matters, not the results we see. As we are obedient to the Spirit's leading, we can rest easy knowing that he will do the rest.

Here at Abundant Springs, it is our hope that two years from now, when any of us sits down with the people from our community we will begin to hear them share how they know that Jesus is welcoming them, that he cares for them, and that he loves them because of what they've seen this congregation doing and because of the spiritual conversations they've had with us.

For this, we must share our faith, going forth full of God's Holy Spirit. Yes, we'll likely still experience fear, but we must allow that fear to push us to rely on the Holy Spirit.

Action Steps:

  1. Repent of your disobedience.
  2. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you and empower you.
  3. Pray the witness' prayer each morning:

"God, give me today an opportunity to speak with someone about Jesus; the wisdom to see it; and the courage to take it." --Alvin Reid, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out.


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