“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.
Week One sermon notes for series: “Jesus is in a Small Group…Are you?”
Today, we have a gathering of people who are interested in Jesus. Some of you love him. You follow after him. Others are newer to this church or perhaps brand new (first timers). Regardless, the central theme of all the songs, scriptures, dancing, shouting, preaching, praying is JESUS.
We are looking to HIM for our salvation. We are wanting him to be an active part of our life.
I have a secret that I want to share with you. Many of you might not know.
I know where he meets with people.
I know how you can get to know him better.
I know where Jesus hangs out.
AND I WANT TO LET YOU IN ON THIS SECRET, and so I have titled this message series:
JESUS IS IN A SMALL GROUP. Are you?
Jesus taught 5000 people and then fed them (Mark 6). He led 120 to the upper room (Acts 1). He sent 70 out in the Gospels to teach (Luke 10).
However, the reason that we are sitting here today is not because of the 5000 or the 120.
The reason that the gospel message is alive and well and continuing to bring freedom to people 2000 years after Jesus walked on the earth is because he spent the majority of his time with 12 men and a few women.
I have baptized hundreds of people. Strangers. Friends. Family.
However, until this past Sunday I had never baptized one of my kids. I baptized 2 of them. Wow! What a special day.
The whole service was unique because we were focusing on children. We wanted to show our congregation how important the next generation IS (not will be) and we wanted the adults to remember how important it is to remain like kids. You can check out the sermon notes here. You can listen to the message podcast here.
Erica and I have been talking to our boys about baptism for years. Of course, they see tons of people baptized at church every year. They are compelled to talk about it and ask tons of questions. Erica and I have been extremely careful to push the decision later in life. Something in us wanted to make sure the boys were making the decision for themselves and not simply because their friends were or because there was any pressure from mom and dad.
The last month or so, the boys have been telling us over and over that they wanted to be baptized. I would quiz them over and over with random questions. I would surprise them in the car, around the dinner table, or getting ready for bed. “Why do you want to be baptized?” “What does baptism mean to you?” “What does sin mean to you?” “How does sin go away from you?”
Before you start thinking we were real creative, we completely ripped this idea from Elevation Church in NC. However, we did STEP it up a HUGE notch.
The idea is to show your congregation what it would be like if no volunteers served at your church. When people arrive at ‘No Show Sunday’ they have no idea what is going on. It was extremely important for us to keep this a big secret. The first clue they get is that there are no folks in the parking lot to help them park. There are no greeters at the door, no greeters anyway. The children’s building was locked with a sign that said, “All kids will be joining us in the service today.” (This is where we differed from Elevation. They offered children’s ministry on their No Show Sunday)
When people arrived into the sanctuary, there were a few lights on the stage (very basic), all the screens were off. I think we had a stack of worship guides on a side table. People could find them if they looked around.
Once church started, our worship leader went to the keyboard and a drummer started playing. They led us in 3 or 4 songs. She even taught a new song (without words on the screens or printed guide with words). After worship, I went to the stage and spoke. I clued everyone in to what was happening. We told everyone, “If you guys can sit nice and tight during the sermon, everyone gets FREE ice cream after church.”
At the end of the service, people filled out a card where they could commit to 4 months of serving in one of our ministries. They gave their offering in baskets at the door as they left.
Here are our conclusions:
- It was a huge success. People loved it.
- Our volunteers were HONORED and felt appreciated.
- Having kids in the service was not as distracting as we thought. We supplied crayons and coloring paper in the pockets of several seats on each row.
- We had a TON of volunteers sign up
- The worship music part of the service was actually awesome. God didn’t need all the hype. People learned words the old fashioned way. People stepped up and engaged in worship. This is not what we were aiming for, but it was a great lesson for us all.
- The chaos was awesome. The confusion on people’s faces was worth it! It was a great palate cleansing for our church. I do recommend making sure volunteers that have to plan during the week (teachers) know early. No need in surprising them at last minute. We did surprise all other volunteers and simply said, “You don’t have to volunteer today.” It was funny to see naturally friendly people being forced to not be friendly and greet people. So awkward.
- I recommend it in Mid-August when crowds haven’t fully returned from summer and it is great prep for the fall.
As of today, I calculate 942 worship services have occurred at PromiseLand San Marcos over the last 7.5 years. Each year averages 52 Sundays and 12 first Wednesdays. When you calculate adding multiple services on a weekend, all the sudden the number goes a lot higher quicker.
What does this mean? A lot.