RESOLVED | Week Two Sermon Notes

Resolved_MainRESOLVED: such a strong word. Resolved means: firm in purpose or intent; determined. to come to a definite decision.

I am RESOLVED to live in the Light.”

Romans 1:18 …God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

I love the way the Bible says, “Duh…look at the sea and the mountains and the sunset. YES! God exists.”

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

In our day and time, most of us do not make gods of birds, animals, reptiles. Our idols are things like acceptance: people liking us, approval of a co-worker or family member, promotion, money, fame, success: making a name for ourselves, We often think that success means there is no conflict in our life. Therefore we work so hard to eliminate conflict and anything challenging. We work so hard and are so focused on this that in it essence this desire takes the place of Jesus and becomes an idol for us.

We have put all of these things as our priority instead of God.

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 Americans have traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

FYI: I changed the word ‘they’ to Americans.

26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.

This last sentence is not just talking about homosexuality but all unnatural actions that are against God’s plan. We as humans suffer within ourselves the consequences of these actions. There is an earthly consequence that we suffer because of our sin and there is an eternal consequence for our sin. What is even worse is that often there are multiple other victims of our sin that did not directly desire to suffer the consequences.

28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents.

“…And they disobey their parents.” I love how it tags that statement with that final thought. Right there with murder, hate, wickedness…disobeying parents.

31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

I love how 1 Peter 2 fits so perfectly with Romans 1…

1 Peter 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter is talking to the church. The saved church who is looking to Jesus for salvation. To be clear, Peter is not talking to a select group of people who have not rebelled or a group of people that have been without sin. Peter is talking to a group of people who have found Jesus in the midst of the trash pit they are living. Amongst the pigsty, the Holy Spirit is moving. God is on the move. Working through the mess of American culture and selfish ambition. Working through the filth of abuse and betrayal and sin-filled living. God is on the move.

You are here today because God is working on and in your heart. Some of you know it and have responded. Others of you here today are new to this idea and have yet to make a move.

The message for you today is that YOU CAN LIVE IN THE LIGHT. You do not have to be bound by the way everyone else lives. You can be free of the bondage of addiction and depression and monotonous chase of happiness and freedom.

Let’s go back to Romans 1 and see what Paul says to all of the folks here today at PromiseLand San Marcos!

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”

1 John 1:5-9 This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

 I am RESOLVED to live my life in Power of the Gospel. I am RESOLVED to live in the Light.

Let’s move into 2016 with a confession of faith. Let’s confess our sins to God. He is faithful and just to forgive us.

In doing so, we reflect the light of JESUS. The light of Jesus is also the grace or power of Jesus. This light, grace, power of Jesus is the determining factor to making a difference in the world.

Almost every service as you leave the building, I pray Matthew 5:14 over you:

Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

Jesus told his followers to believe in the light while it was with them.  Jesus brought a revelation from God, but he was more than a revealer.  He was himself that revelation. John the Baptist came to vouch for the light so that it would bring people to believe. Those who received Jesus, who believed in the light, received “the power to become children of God”.

This message of Jesus reaches its highest point He says to his followers: “You are the light of the world” (Mt 5:14), thus applying to them words which are also applied to himself.  We don’t save the world like Jesus’ light saved the world. Our light points to the one who saves.  We are to show the quality of life proper to the people of God and in this way act as light to the people of the world.  We are to let our light shine before the world in such a way that people will see their good deeds and so come to praise God.

If we ignore the illumination he brings us and live like those in the dark, then indeed we are in deep darkness. We are worse than others because we know what light is and what it can mean to us, and have turned away from it. But we need not do this. We are reminded that Jesus said of John the Baptist that the people were ready to rejoice for a period in his light (Jn 5:35). Their response was brief, and they are blamed for not taking John more seriously. But the point is that John’s light shone clearly. They knew what he stood for. Paul urges the Romans to put on “the armor of light” (Rom 13:12), a metaphor that points us in the same direction.

RESOLVED Week One | Sermon Notes

Resolved_MainToday, we are launching a new RESOLVED sermon series that will run the rest of January. We are going to end the month with a big BAPTISM service on the 31st. If you are wanting to be baptized, start telling your friends and family to join you on the 31st. We are going to have photos and videos of everyone’s baptism.

RESOLVED: such a strong word. Resolved means: firm in purpose or intent; determined. to come to a definite decision.

Today, I want to talk to you about two areas that I am resolved in. I would love for you to follow me in these areas. Come on in, the water is fine!

I am RESOLVED to submit my life to God and remain consecrated to him.

I am RESOLVED to respond to the Gospel with everything that I have.

This series is one of those series where it will be easy for some of the churchy people to think: “oh, yeah. I know someone who really needs to hear this message. So and so has really been posting some bizzare things on Facebook, they need to resolve some things with God today!”  However, this sermon series is not for so and so. It is for YOU. This is about YOU & GOD.

15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2: 15-17

Last week, we had one of those days. You know one of those days when:

  • When the Dryer breaks – large piles of laundry strewn out over whole downstairs. Went all the way to Lowes to get a new belt because their website said they did and they didn’t.
  • When your indoor dog has diarrhea
  • When one of your fish dies
  • When you have people calling with emergencies.
  • When two of your three kids are squirting things from all places
  • When there is about 3 hours of homework at night
  • We marinated the chicken so long that it tasted like a salt block. I went ahead ate it like a good husband. “mmmmmm, babe, this has so much flavor.” I was so thirsty.
  • Poor thing when she took it out of oven some of the burning hot juice fell out of pan and burned her leg through her clothes.

 

When you have one of those days, it is extremely hard to keep your eyes on things above and not the things of this world.  And…the things of this world are LOUD and RELENTLESS.

At the end of the BAD day, all of the pressure was temporal. All of the bad things were not eternal. They were earthly.  They were the “things of this world”.

The world means anything that is opposed to God or His ways. Alienated by God. In rebellion against God. In the garden of Eden when sin first entered into creation, there was a separation between God and heavenly realm and the world.

This scripture is clear in saying that the world that we see, touch, experience, is temporary. It is fading away. The life that we live is just a blip on the timeline of existence. If all we do is focus on the temporary and loose sight of what is eternal and heavenly then we are not only wasting our time, but we do not have the love of the Father in us. The love of the Father draws us to what is truly important. Those things that are beyond what we can see and touch and smell and hear and taste.

Oh, but how enticing and captivating are those things that arouse or offend our senses. Pain hurts. Stress depletes. Betrayal robs. Loneliness abandons. Sin slowly kills.

Pain, stress, betrayal, loneliness, and sin are all symptoms of worldly issues.   Most of the problems and heaviness we feel in life is because we have put too much attention or focus on the temporary world.

In order to deal with these difficulties, we often go to the wrong solution.

We crave attention from others so that they can provide our needs.

  • We often look to other people to give us the affirmation or approval that will support our worldly view of ourselves.
  • We look for pleasure in relationships, in sex, in money to deal with the consequences of our worldly pain
  • We work so hard to achieve status and acclaim professionally. We need to be known or appreciated in the workplace.

When there is an absence of this approval and acceptance from others, we are driven to work harder or find someone else that will approve of you or satisfy you.

The Bible teaches a different way.

The bible teaches us how to MAKE SURE we are not lured into worldly vision and to keep our eyes on God’s ways.

I am RESOLVED to submit my life to God and remain consecrated to him.

I am RESOLVED to respond to the Gospel with everything that I have.

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.   2 Timothy 1:6

Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.  1 Timothy 1:19

Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.   1 John 5:21

Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.   1 Peter 2:25

Let’s take some time right now and examine ourselves.  Let’s seek God to show us the areas where we are not focused on Him. We want to know where we focused on the world and not him.  We want to know where we have placed substitutes in the position that He is only worthy to hold. 

Wait a moment in meditation and prayer

We are so stuck, blinded, and used to our way of life that we need something to shake us and clear our thinking.

God gives us a package just for that.

  • Prayer and Fasting.
  • Meditation and Scripture reading.
  • Gathering to Worship and Fellowship with other believers. 

YOU RECEIVED A FASTING GUIDE.

LOOK AT INFO ON THERE FOR A CHURCHWIDE 21 DAY FAST.  Monday and Tuesday we will have prayer meetings here 7pm. Childcare provided.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RERUN Sermon Notes from Jan3

RERUN_psmThere is nothing like a good rerun! It was great the first time. Wonderful the second time.

Today, you are getting a rerun of 2015. The best moments of the preaching and teaching and discipleship.

2015 was been a year of extremes for our church. Some individuals in the church experiencing the worst year of their life. Family problems, Illness, the passing of loved ones. Two dramatic flooding events with millions of dollars worth of damage. Then, on the other hand, as a collective group we have records broken at the church with attendance, giving, new members.

Let’s look at 2015 according to the numbers:

  • On average, we have 88 people watch live each Sunday, however the archives have been watched and listened to 20,052.
  • On an Average Sunday we had: San Marcos: 826 = Biggest: 1260 (2 weeks ago)
  • 190 went through 101 (membership session)
  • 74 – Promise Groups in 2015. Meeting every day of the week.
  • 515 – Average number of people attending groups each week

Every week, we encourage you to give financially to support the work here.

  • We gave $40,000 to international missions and $60,000 to local missions
  • In our 2020 vision offering, we had $13,426 given and $54,368 pledged

 

We began the year wanting to THRIVE.

We want to eliminate the separation of positive faith “moments” at church/private devotion and mundane everyday life so that we can live in the healthy rhythm of a Spirit saturated life.

Ephesian 4: 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

God wants us to be spiritually mature and emotionally mature.  So we need to be aware of our self. Our emotions.   Knowing yourself helps you get to know God.   Awareness of yourself and your relationship with God are intricately related.  We won’t be afraid to admit our struggle, our emotional trouble. Instead we humbly take it to God.

If we want a FIRE of God in our life we need three key elements. Just like earthly fire needs heat, fuel, and oxygen.  Our relationship with God needs: God’s Presence (heat), Devotion (fuel) and Sabbath (air)  Intentionally and consciously plan to keep God at the center of everything we do.

 

One of those ways is to TALK TO GOD

Most of us have a problem talking to God because: We don’t understand how much God really likes us. We give a lot more attention to people that we like and those who we are connected to closely.

When it comes to prayer, God is not concerned with our oratory skills or what others think about our prayers. You don’t have to sound a like a preacher or a deacon. You need to sound like a child that is needing a Father.

God wants us to share our thoughts, desires, concerns with him. He cares for us.  We spent a whole sermon series going through the Lord’s model of prayer in Matthew 6.  It gives us a structure for our conversations with God.

We begin talking to God…”Father, I come in the name of Jesus Christ.”  The name of Jesus Christ is my ticket. My access.  Dropping the name Jesus gives us access, credibility and common ground in our conversation with God.

As we left winter and approached the Easter season, our mind focused on why Jesus goes to such great lengths.

When reading the Old Testament we actually hear the broken heart of Jesus. Listen to what he says.

Song of Solomon 3:1… I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not. 2 I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves. I sought him, but found him not. 3 The watchmen found me  as they went about in the city. “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?” 4 Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go…”

At each turn in the story, Jesus is making his way to you. He is searching the valleys and ascending the high mountains. Where is Pete? Where is Monica? Where is Robin? Where is James? Where is Sharon? I hear them crying. I know they are hurt. I know they are separated from me and are afraid. Afraid of life. Afraid of me.

But, I’m looking for you! You are my love.

We think we are different or weird because of our problems.

We often think that God is inaccessible to us because WE have separated from HIM. This separation is our fault and we don’t understand how he could still want us. After all when people leave us it is so difficult for us to accept them back into our lives.

We think that we will always be THE SAME.  The SAME ol’ SAME ol’  The SAME cycle of addiction – The SAME relationship issues – The SAME financial trouble.  If you are ready to change the SAME habits as your dad and granddad and great granddad …….   I HAVE GOOD NEWS FOR YOU!  God gives SAMEness a new look.

“the SAME” has been getting a bad rap because it mostly is associated with negative, boring, or monotonous patterns. God gives SAMEness a new look.

Look at the possibilities of when our SAMEness is transformed into His SAMEness!  Instead of focusing on our SAME brokenness, let’s focus on Jesus.  We as believer, can boldly say because of our faith in Jesus, “oh, yeah, I am the SAME.”  “I’m the SAME as HE has always been.” This begins to redefine your past, present and future. When you put your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, then you have access to a new YOU.

When you get down to it….Most of us have a problem with our pattern. The problem of our lives is not our problems but our patterns. The problem is the pattern.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

We are to pattern our life after the original Word of God.

It is not complicated. It is not. Peaceful people are those that are following the pattern. Get over yourself, submit to a higher authority (Jesus), live for him, serve others.

When you change the pattern, you change the product! 

When we come to Jesus, he converts us through THREE BAPTISMS:

Salvation, Water, Spirit

  • Salvation to all those who call on the Name of the Lord – brings eternal life.
  • Water baptism ushers you into a new identity in Christ.
  • Spirit gives confidence and clout.

We need that Confidence from God’s Spirit. We live in a very difficult, broken world!

There is true evil existing in the world and someday it will be dealt with efficiently and effectively. We can trust in our heavenly Father as the ultimate Judge setting all things right. In the meantime,

We should respond to it with the love and hope of Jesus.   We bring justice to our situations not by judging but by bringing Jesus.

Not by drawing guns (smoke wagons), but instead by turning the other cheek, being the salt of the earth, being a city set on a hill.  You can trust God today that He will take care of you.  He will heal your wounds now.  He will make sure that anything that needs to happen will happen.  You can rest.

Romans 12:17 Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. 18 Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the lord. 20 Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” 21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

We studied the book of GALATIANS in the month of July.

The book of Galatians brings clarity to the Gospel of Jesus. It gives a picture of a fake gospel that looks and sometimes feels like the real gospel, and then the actual Good News. The fake gospel says that you will be accepted and approved of by what you can accomplish as a good person.

Real Gospel is the Good News that you don’t have to save yourself from this world, but that God loves you so much He saves you

Galatians 3:6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”  7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. 8 What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles (all of us in here today) to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9 So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.

And…

Everyone who calls on the name of the lord will be saved. “People of San Marcos, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know. 23 But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. Jesus was nailed to the cross and killed. 24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip.  (Acts 2)

We baptized 132 people in 2015.  We went to the San Marcos River on August 23rd and baptized 68 people!

You were created with specific talents, skills, and abilities.  You have a unique personality.  You were created with Spiritual Gifts. 

1 Corinthians 12:4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts (abilities), but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

In Mark 2:1, When the crippled man needed to get to the feet of Jesus, his friends carried his mat to the house, up to the roof, tore off the roof, lowered him to Jesus. At the point of his greatest need, his relationships carried him to Jesus. Who is carrying your mat?

HOME WRECKERS

Matthew 7:24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.  26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

 

Our finances wreck us because of our selfishness and lack of discipline.  Our desire to please our self.  Our marriages wreck us because we look to another human being to be our source of completion.

What Paul is saying is that contentment and peace comes from something besides what money can buy. It comes from something besides being married to a specific person.

Give to God your finances. Wives submit to your husbands. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.

These are INSEPARABLE. You can’t have one without the other. When these are together, this is where the magic happens.

Your home is built on a firm foundation.

 

It’s a Wonderful Life | Week 3

itsawonderfullife_MAINI want to talk to you a bit about your Wonderful Life. In the Movie, It’s a Wonderful Life,  George Bailey lives in Bedford Falls. A man of big dreams and high aspirations. Yet, he spent his whole life helping others all the while his own plans are ruined. He never gets where he wants to go. George is stuck. He is frustrated. Ultimately, he is suicidal because of a bad business transaction. He finds himself angry at the world and proud of nothing.

Then, he has a “come to Jesus” moment, when God leads in through this life and he sees first hand the value of his life. He sees the deep meaning below the meaningless surface.

Let’s check out this spoiler footage at the end of the movie when he realizes he has a wonderful life after all.

  1. CLIP ONE George comes down stairs happily with family. He is led with his wife to the living room where he is about to receive a bunch of money.

STOP! Hang on a second. I want you all to see a very profound truth in life that is clearly defined in this movie. You might skip over it if you don’t watch closely.

When we see George here he is ecstatic, yet he has no clue (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT) at this point that he will receive any money. When he is walking down the stairs, he still believes that he owes $8000, his business is a total failure, that he will loose his possessions.

REWIND THE TAPE AND LETS SEE IT AGAIN.

  1. CLIP TWO

Rewind and start scene over. Ok, right here George has no idea that a blessing is coming. For some reason, he is profoundly at peace and has joy in the midst of his dark financial and future reality. Then, we see the grace of God displayed as the community comes and drops all this money on his table. Now, he not only has peace, but he also has blessing and understanding.

So, how did George find peace before he found his reward or blessing?

Quite simply, he prayed. “I don’t really know you. I am not really a praying man, but if you are listening, “Help me find my way.”

Some folks in here today, might not have talked to God in a long time, or you have not been focused on God. You are not a praying person, but you find yourself in the place needing the magic of Christmas to overwhelm you.

Let’s talk to God, today. The good news is that He is listening and ready to move.

There is peace in His manger that precedes your blessing.

There is peace available to you today is not based on the fulfillment of your dreams.

There is a peace from God that surpasses understanding. It guards your heart and mind.

Philippians 4:6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Before we go to the next verse, let’s make sure we understand that last line.  “His peace will guard your hearts and minds AS you LIVE IN Christ Jesus.”  Live in the truth of who Jesus Christ is. Why he came and what he accomplished.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Can you imagine what it would look like to live in a village of 100 people your entire life. The village is in a remote, mountainous area of central Guatemala. About 30 minutes down a rough 4×4 path to the nearest small town.

Marry a guy from the village and raise 6 kids. Then, after your kids are almost grown, you husband leaves you. Two years after your husband leaves, 2 of your sons are murdered.

This is the story of Dora Flores Morales. She found herself single. No support. Heartache from divorce and then the despair of loosing two children.

But, God…

She cried out to God and God’s response was, “I need you to lead the church of the village.” Not exactly the message she thought she would hear or wanted to hear, but she was obedient and began to lead the only church in the village of Las Joyas.

Dora has sort of found herself in the place of George Bailey. Trapped. Life not going as planned. Things that she thought were secure and trustworthy have been pulled from her, But GOD…

Check out this video of a prayer session I captured of this church praying to God for provision.

God’s peace moves towards her and envelopes her. She gives all the glory to God for the amazing peace she feels that passes all understanding.

How could you be at peace and live in these conditions? Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Dora has no idea, but we are about to walk to the front and start dumping money in this manger just like the community did for George. George had no idea it was going to happen and as the people of Las Joyas prepare for Christmas this season, they have no idea that there is a group of people in San Marcos, Texas about to sacrificially give so that their community can have fresh water this year. So that their kids can have a safe place to learn this year. A new water system for the whole village. A fence, bathrooms, a new roof and playground at the school.

Today, we are going to participate in the blessing of a whole village. They have been praying for God to help them with their needs. So many great needs in this rural village of Guatemala. When Erica and I were there this summer, we captured this video of them praying for God to help their need.

If you are new and haven’t heard about what we are doing, we are taking up a special offering right now that will 100% go to reach people outside of these walls. We have a 5 year plan to completely transform the village of Las Joyas. In 2016, we will start with water and school.

We are also going to start other campuses of PromiseLand in surround areas: Lockhart, TX State, etc.

You should have been given a card when you walked in today. If you didn’t get one, we want to hand you one now. Raise your hands and we will get you a card.

  • Explain Card
  • PRAY
  • GIVE!

 

It’s a Wonderful Life | Week One

itsawonderfullife_MAINWeek one of our sermon series: It’s a Wonderful Life. Listen to the message  podcast by clicking here.

George Bailey lived in Bedford Falls. A man of big dreams and high aspirations.

Film clip: The Last Meal – (George and his dad, Peter Bailey, at the dinner table)

George Bailey looks like many of us. We are pursuing the Wonderful life! We are running fast towards our goals and aspirations. We believe that contentment can be found in adventure and success in hard work.

It’s a Wonderful Life. Really? On the news this week, we saw the latest installment of evil. 14 people gunned down in California. There have been 355 mass shootings this year. The face of evil that other countries across the world see on a regular basis is now being seen here. It shocks many Americans because we think we are smarter or should have evolved than this.

It’s a Wonderful Life. Really? 600,000 will die from heart disease this year, 580,000 will die from cancer, 55,000 from the flu or pneumonia, over 40,000 will take their own life.

To the Christ follower, the darkness of the world often saddens us. We weep with those who weep. We mourn and do not minimalize the suffering. It is real.

BUT it does not shock or surprise us. We know its source.

It is not because of a gun or because of a mental illness or because humans haven’t evolved beyond it.

It is because there is a very real and present “evil being” that is seeking to destroy God’s creation. Satan exists. We see evil and sin in this world because of satan.  Christmas is a like a pinhole of light in a dark landscape.

The birth of Jesus is the beginning of a light that is spreading even to this day.  Reversing a curse. Rewinding a trend. That someday will completely accomplish its mission.

Even with full lights on in the room, there is still darkness on the edges, corners. Shadows difficult places where there is no light. Could you imagine a time where darkness will be completely defeated. There will be no more shadows. Not just in the atmosphere, but in your life. No more secrets, no more suffering. No more pain or disease. No more betrayal and backstabbing. No more deficits. No more darkness.

Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Here we are between now and God’s ultimate restoration of all things.  We live in the hallway between the resurrected Messiah, Jesus Christ on one side and the rejoining of heaven and earth forever.  We live in between

The only way we can say that Life is Wonderful is to understand the whole scope of time. The whole picture. Life snippets can be exhilarating, exhausting, haunting.

Christ, the light came, so that we could have Life MORE Abundant.  Jesus said while on the earth, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10”

If you are looking for a life of wonder by the scope of your adventure or the size of your bank account, you will be always chasing after an elusive prize.  We often accomplish our goals of success. We land the job. We win the promotion. We graduate! We get the raise.

Yet, isn’t it amazing how life has a way of disintegrating wins. A new season rolls around and it feels like you are starting over. We find ways to spend our bonuses and raises.

Life has a way of sucking the win out of our successes.

A Life of Wonder comes from outside of the chase. It comes from outside of the destination.

Luke 1:6 Zechariah (a priest) and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

What must that be like in that day in time. Kids were everything back then. Our generation now is all about the career and personal life. Back then, if you didn’t have kids, you were over. Kids were the path to meaning and significance. You didn’t just have 1 or 2 or 3 kids. You had as many kids as you could because many kids died young.  Here they were faithful to God. Living their ordinary life…not seeing anything spectacular. Not bitter. Not giving up. Just living and serving God.

8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense.

Those words are bold because I want to emphasize the normal, mundane, sort of life that They lived.

10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. 11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth…

Wait a minute, what prayer? Which prayer? Way back? Did he pray it every day? Had he given up on that request? Either way, it didn’t affect his worship. He was faithful. He continued to work his job, love his wife, and worship his God. Day in and day out. Believing God’s will to done.

The message today is, don’t sweat the small stuff. In fact, invest in the small stuff. God might be testing you, he might be waiting until the right time, or he might realize you need a ‘no’, but you can rest assured, that he has not forgotten about you. He has not abandoned the world.

He loves the world. He is heartbroken about the darkness and despair. The separation is not pleasing to him. In fact, he loves us so much that he choose to actually participate with us in its brokenness.

What an awesome God.

To choose to be with us.

When God wants to change the world he doesn’t send an army instead he sends a baby. That baby leads us to God

Romans 8:15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. 18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) 26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 

 

 

 

 

Robin Steele

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