I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

What I Learned Last Sunday

And [Jesus] said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19

Check out last week’s sermon here.

1. I have decided to follow Jesus
The Bible is filled with wonderful and helpful descriptors of what Christ offers sinners when He says, “Follow me.”

From Darkness to Light
“Follow me!” Jesus calls. Christ, the light has called me out of the darkness. I had become so used to the darkness that it seemed like a friend. The dark kept me company. When Christ first appeared to me, he was an enemy. The darkness I loved was exposed by Christ’s light. I felt shame. Run from the light? I can no longer. He is always behind me. Surrender to the light? I will lose the darkness that accompanied me these many years. Can I keep the darkness and claim the light? No, dark and light cannot abide in the same room.

Surrender to the light? Yes, and what joy! How hard it is to see clearly in the dark. How long I lived with my greatest hope only the next paycheck/relationship/pleasure. Christ the light has opened my eyes.

Rejecting My Kingdom for God’s Kingdom
“Follow me to My Kingdom!” Jesus calls. Christ offers entry into the universal realm and reign of God almighty. What is the cost? Everything. My kingdom is no good. My kingdom must surrender its territory and plans. My enterprises and investments are to be called in and handed over to the King.

This seems to be a serious risk. Shouldn’t I keep some of myself back from the King for a rainy day? Will He keep me safe if I fully surrender my old kingdom? Will He fail? Is this King the true King?

And [Jesus] went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. -Matthew 4:23

Though His Kingdom means great cost to my kingdom, I am given in return the safest place in eternity.

2. No turning back
When I see the Light given, displacing my darkness, I cannot return to the dark. The Light is better than the darkness, pure and life-giving. When I see the better Kingdom offered, more secure and grand than my own, I cannot return to my old shabby Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is stronger and more stable than my own. In fact, in His Kingdom I see that I am right where I belong, under this King.

And, when I see the Savior bid me follow Him, I am overwhelmed. My own path has always meant death, the end of all mankind. Jesus’ path meant death and life. His path meant a cross and a tomb emptied victoriously. I cannot turn back. I will follow Him in faith, plunging into His death and rising victoriously by His life. His death means my life, and my life is bound eternally to Him. No turning back.

Be Gone, Satan!

Be Gone, Satan!

What I Learned Last Sunday

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil…Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. – Matthew 4:1, 8-11

Check out last week’s sermon here.

“Be Gone, Satan!”

Real help and real hope is found in those words. Jesus endured real temptation from the great adversary. More than enduring, Jesus ended the encounter with the Devil in power, showing all along God’s providential care in each moment.

It was the Spirit who led the Son to be tempted, and it was the Son who turned away the Tempter with the Word of God. At the moment when we all would say, “yes” to the offer of the world, Jesus said to the Tempter and the temptation, “Be gone, Satan!”

How is this helpful?

A simple answer would be that Jesus is our great example to follow. He was tempted as we were and now sympathizes with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15).

Yet, it is not ONLY helpful and hopeful that Jesus is our example. Having an example to follow does not solve the problem of our temptation to give in to the Devil’s ways (sin).

How is this true?

Imagine your father were to one day set out to teach you woodworking. He sets you down and hands you a beautifully ornate birdhouse trimmed and stained and to perfection. Your eyes may desire to build such a box in the example your father gave, but you may be less hopeful when your father reveals that he was given the birdhouse, and your father has no means or tools to build one with you. The example may be of top quality, but you have no tools or ability to follow that example. In our own strength, we are at best incapable of accomplishing the change needed to turn down the temptation to sin.

Thank God, Jesus is much more than an example. Jesus is our Substitute (Romans 5:6, 1 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus is our Advocate (1 John 2:1). Jesus is our Savior (Acts 4:12). He only bids us to follow, having made the way and cleared the path by actually transporting us into His Kingdom by God’s power (Colossians 1:13).

“Be gone, Satan!” Those words are hopeful and helpful with real and everlasting implications. I do not just have an example who showed me the path of life. I have a Savior who saves me to, by the grace of God and the power of the Spirit, say to the Tempter in my great hour, “Be gone, Satan! I will serve my Lord today.”

Question: When tempted will I turn to Christ in faith, trusting that He is able to far more exceedingly beyond all that I ask or think (read Ephesians 3:20)?

Come and See

Come and See

What I Learned Last Sunday

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

“A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene. – Matthew 12:13-23

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The Humility of Christ

Come to Nazareth, most insignificant of towns, and see the Savior humbly dwell. He had no beauty or princely upbringing that we should see Him as a worthy Lord (Isaiah 53:2). He came from lowly Nazareth. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
Come and see the greatest good for all mankind. God took on human flesh, serving the servants. He came from humble Nazareth, bore our sins on the cross, and now reigns exalted at the right hand of God (Philippians 2:5-11).

The Sin and Suffering in the World

Come to Herod’s house and see the tyranny of our sin. King Jesus calls for us to call Him Lord; our ‘king of self’ must be made obsolete and Jesus enthroned in us by the Spirit. But Jesus will not rule within our hearts of opposition. We would rather play David’s card and take measures (through effective murder) to keep our reign (2 Samuel 11:14-17). We would rather play the Herod card and kill those who might usurp our power and control over what is ‘ours’. “My kingdom of self, my choice!” We will slaughter others no matter the cost if it might keep us on our throne.

The Providence of God in it All

Come to the Advent story and see a God by no means naive, a God not competing with chance, nor a God not far off but utterly close. He spoke to His prophets (v. 15) many times calling for His Son’s peculiar arrival into the world. The world engrossed in sinning, suffering, and loss was offered a lowly Savior, God’s Son. Jesus came to His own, and they rejected and killed Him (John 1:11). Yet, the very act rejecting this humble Servant was God’s purposeful sovereignty. God willed to crush His Son (Isaiah 53:10). Now there is an offer of peace by crucifixion of that Savior (Colossians 1:20).

Praise God, by His providence you can proclaim, there is no other name than Jesus alone where salvation is found (Acts 4:12)!

Merry Christmas!

Joyful Surrender to Jesus

Joyful Surrender to Jesus

What I Learned Last Sunday

When [the wise men] saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. – Matthew 2:10-12

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The Gospel is an unwavering message proclaiming that Jesus is Lord, having sacrificed himself to God’s wrath in payment for our sin. The Gospel’s call is to surrender to this Christ in repentance and faith. There is no means of salvation outside of surrender to Christ.

Last Sunday Pastor Mike shared the contradictory responses that King Herod and the wise men had upon hearing of and seeing Jesus’ birth. Herod sought Jesus’ death. The wise men sought Jesus to worship.

With exceeding, great joy, the wise men rejoiced in the Savior. They, “laid down their earthly treasures to treasure Christ.” What can be said of King Herod but that he sought to kill Christ for the sake of his earthly treasures. There could only be one King on the throne of Herod’s heart–Herod himself.

To the singular, unchanging Savior, Herod and the wise men responded in radical ways. To us Jesus offers himself. He offers life, eternal life, joy, and peace. No one is given more or less of Christ. To have him is to have all of Christ, life, joy, and peace.

Yet, Jesus never morphs or reshapes himself to fit our fancies. Jesus offers himself, Savior, King, and Lord. There is no room for two Kings in the universe; there are not two thrones to be filled in your heart. Jesus will never surrender his lordship to Herod’s. Herod must surrender to Jesus. Jesus cannot surrender to the wise men. They must surrender in joy to Jesus or reject him. Jesus offers only himself to you. You must surrender to have Jesus.

Jesus is the one standing, knocking at the door (Rev 3:20). Jesus is the one calling, offering rest for weary sinners (Matt 11:28). What is Jesus’ call to us? Let us see his star (his wondrous works), rejoice with redundant joy (as Pastor Mike shared), and fall down in surrendered worship before the Savior.

When Your Child is Struggling with Fear

When Your Child is Struggling with Fear

Word in Season

What do you do when your child is struggling with fear? When a scary story is being replayed by the mind and a sticky, frightful image won’t stop haunting?

As parents, we have walked with our kids through many a sleepless night, wiped many tears, looked under beds a gazillion times, held them in our arms while praying over them. Answers seem so easy and so obvious, and yet it is a struggle to guide a child through the battle in his or her mind.

A good starting point when working with fear is what the Bible says about it. It doesn’t just tell us not to fear, it also provides multiple reasons for why we are not to fear. And the Bible calls those who are around fearful people to “encourage the faint-hearted” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)”. We know that Christ, as he walked among imperfect people, often said, fear not. We know that his presence was gentle, as Isaiah had prophesied about him: “A bruised reed He will not break.” (Isaiah 42:3).

The Bible also has a solution to fear: trusting the Lord. There may be dangerous and frightening things out there, but we belong to someone who holds our very existence in his hands by the power of his word (Colossians 1:15-17, Hebrews 1:3). The reason why we need not be afraid when we walk through valleys of the shadow of death is that the Shepherd has gone through those himself. He took the punishment for our sins, including our tendency to seek refuge in things other than him, and he defeated death. Death and resurrection of Christ apply to big things in our life – like terrible dysfunction of this world – and the little ones, like a night terror.

Here is what not to do when helping someone to work through fear:

  • Become frustrated and resort to manipulating the fearfulness out of their fear.
  • Call the child only to use logic. Fear is often not based on or tied to reality and it is hard to explain it away and make the feelings go away.

What we do need to do and say:

  • Speak openly about it. Help the child put his feelings into words; it looks to me that you are feeling ____, is this right?
  • Turn to the Lord” – help the child turn to the Lord with these feelings. Help her see how big God is. Fear makes real things around us, including God, seem small and insignificant. As a parent, my role is to help the child keep the right perspective. And by the way: talking Big God theology with kids is important on calm days so that in the day of crisis we have something to call to mind and lean on.
  • You are not alone” – we say this all the time. Another lie of fear is that you are all alone facing danger and that it is up to you alone to overcome.
  • And here is what my husband says all the time in times of crisis and in times of calm: “Trust me”. A child needs to learn to trust the parent. That is how he learns to put his trust in something other than himself. On a very basic level, that starts with trusting his parents.
  • Do not let fear control you. Fear wants to be your master, but you already have one – the Lord – who also calls himself a Good Shepherd! Fear lies; it says that it can make you its slave to obey its commands: “retreat, play ___thoughts over and over in your mind, feel ___, hide”.

As parents who are called to raise our children in the Lord, we wanted to put this struggle with fear in the context of his or her life with the Lord. Here is a simple exercise we did with one of them recently to root her confidence in Christ. This is by no means a formula to follow, but an example of how to engage a child in the life-giving Word. We read Psalm 23 with her and asked her to do some simple things, and all of it took about 15 minutes:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Let’s take turns dictating the verses to each other and writing them down. You read, and I write and then we switch. What do these words mean?

Can you circle three things that stand out to you about God and us? And I will circle mine. Can you explain why you picked these things?
Let’s pick a couple of things from this Psalm to draw. Can you explain what you drew? And here is my drawing! Can you bring this picture to mind – yours and mine – when you feel afraid? We can hang it up in your bedroom if you wish.

Let’s pray together about this Psalm.

What can we learn about Jesus in this Psalm?

Here are some truths we dwelled on as we read the Psalm together:

  • God is the Lord of all. We do not have to let fear control us, but instead, can be led by the new master, the Lord.
  • God is a good shepherd who knows all of our paths. Sometimes they lead to the still waters, and sometimes they cut through valleys of the shadow of death.
  • He not only knows them but takes care of us every step of the way.
  • He is always near; the rod and staff are symbols of his guidance and protection.
  • He is the God who grants peace and victory in the midst of war.
  • His love is inseparable from us.

What was important to me as I worked with her:

  • That the child had a maximum engagement with the Word, not me talking at her. That she would absorb it through different channels: writing, hearing, drawing, talking about it, picturing/imagining it, meditating on it.
  • That the child had some initiative in this: I gave her a choice in what to draw and which concepts to talk about.
  • That she saw me actively engaging with the Word and me being affected by it as well.
  • That she had an image in her head that could solidify the truth for herself.
  • That ultimately, she could get to know God’s character through this, because it is easier to trust someone you know!

All of the above is just an example of how we as parents can turn to the Lord in any situation and lean on him, and guide our children to him. It may not bring about desirable results immediately, but engaging with the Word of God will certainly bear the good fruits of trust and rest.

And last, but not least; besides working with the child through these points, as a parent, I also must depend on Christ. I must rely on him to help me be patient and gentle as he is with those who are afraid. My child is not the only one who needs to learn these truths and grow more into Christ!

End-of-the-Year Members’ Meeting

End-of-the-Year Members’ Meeting

Word in Season

Dear Church Family,

Thank you for participating in the members’ meeting last night (December 5). We enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship and thoughtful conversation about the church; our ministries, vision, finances and the church’s constitution. I’m thankful to the Lord for the atmosphere of unity and humility and the deep love that was present for the Bride of Christ.

Many shared ministry reports. How encouraging it was to hear the joyful accounts of VBS and conferences and home groups and FCA and student ministries and Sunday School and missions and children’s church and AWANA and the many Bible studies in 2021 and more.

I delivered the elders’ report, sharing our thankfulness to God for many answered prayers in 2021, and our commitment to focus mainly on three areas in the coming year: evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship.

Evangelism because “it has pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:21).” Our world and our community need Jesus Christ, and the hope that comes only through him and his death on the cross and his triumphant resurrection. We want to spread that good news, and the fame of Christ’s name, in 2022!

Discipleship because, in God’s love and wisdom, he has designed us to grow together. So, in 2022 we will press into what it means to be a people committed to “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in our hearts to God (Colossians 3:16)” in both formal and informal ways.

And fellowship because we are a family, and families need to spend time together. If the last couple of years of pandemic craziness has taught us anything, it is that fellowship is vital. We sense that “all the more as we see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25).”

I also shared that the elders are putting forward Cole Wyatt as the new elder candidate, believing him to be biblically qualified (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Cole plans to share his testimony during the gathering this coming Sunday, and the church will meet to vote on December 19, following the worship service. We are inviting members to share any concerns or questions they have about Cole’s candidacy with an elder before the meeting on December 19.

Sam Parker shared details about the church’s finances, and our thankfulness to the Lord for his provision in 2021. He also presented the 2022 budget proposal, and the church voted unanimously to approve it. We proposed two minor constitutional amendments. One passed unanimously. The second we tabled after a few members helpfully suggested wording changes. The elders agree with these suggestions and will present this for vote also on December 19.

We then adjourned the meeting and made our way to the RidgeRoom for a wonderful potluck dinner and a time of sweet fellowship. What an encouraging Sunday night this was!

As we come to the end of 2021, my heart is full of gratitude to God and I am so humbled at how merciful and gracious he is towards us. I am grateful to the Lord for his church, and this local church especially. I look forward to 2022 with hopeful anticipation. May the Lord Jesus Christ be made much of among us and by us, for his glory alone.

In Christ,
Pastor Mike, for the Elder Team

Twisted Past, Redeemed

Twisted Past, Redeemed

What I Learned Last Sunday

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah… – Matthew 1:1-6

Check out last week’s sermon here.

Question: Are you ashamed of the things in your past?

You might agree that remembering the past can recall both happiness and sorrow. For every rosy recollection, there is usually the remembrance of that blunder you did to him, those cruel words to her, or the one thing you wish you could have done but failed to do. The remembrance of your sin can leave tinges of pain and embarrassment.

As a result, you choose to not bring up the past if you can.

Matthew’s Jesus *Genealogy

When Matthew penned his story of Jesus, he scanned his people’s past full of joys and many sorrows. Rather than sugar coating Jesus’ family line, he reveals the real genealogy showing the underbelly of humanity. Cheaters (Jacob), twisted adulterers (Judah and Tamar), prostitutes (Rahab), outsiders (Ruth), and a murderer (David) add a small taste of the sinfulness composing the line of Jesus. Why on earth would Matthew fill the written lineage of King Jesus with such filth?

Is Matthew combatting a lie?

Who did Jesus come to save? Some today proclaim that the work Jesus did to save you was to actually reveal your true identity. You were always special as God’s child, and Jesus came to pull back the shutters of your life.

Though it may sound nice to think about myself so positively, and there is a partial truth in our special connection to God (see Genesis 1:27, 31), Paul would beg to contradict the sentiment that we are naturally good (see Romans 3:23). Additionally, personal experience, that honest remembrance of my past recalls failure after ungodly failure, only ‘special’ by my unique ownership of each one (they are specially and uniquely my sins).

It could be then that Matthew is combatting the lie that his readers are good and worthy of God’s affections on their own. There is a benefit in remembering our many failures in order to fully see the counteracting miraculous work of the Savior. “**Our sins they are many, His mercy is more.”

Are you convinced that your past failures need to be corrected, fixed, perfected in order to receive Jesus’ love? Friend, Jesus calls you to fall at His feet, weary (Matthew 11:28-30) and sinful (Luke 5:32). The work Jesus does in human hearts is just like the work He did to His genealogy. He takes twisted and sinful things, and redeems them with His presence. Jesus’ genealogy is a glorious testament to grace. Let your life be the same.

*Andrew Peterson wrote a great Christmas album which includes this song about Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel. I recommend listening.

**His Mercy is More written by Matt Papa and Matt Boswell

Total Inability & the Sweetness of the Gospel

Total Inability & the Sweetness of the Gospel

Word in Season

You tell someone you are a Christian and they in return ask you, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” How do you answer?

You ask someone if they are a Christian and they reply, “Well, I try really hard so I think so.” How do you answer?

I’ve been mulling over these two interactions in my brain for a while and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would start in the same place with the same concept: Inability.

in·a·bil·i·ty (/ˌinəˈbilədē/) noun, 1. the state of being unable to do something.

Most who hear this word tend to put a negative connotation along with it. When was the last time you told someone about your inabilities? Yet with the kingdom of God, inability equals supreme blessedness, happiness (Matthew 5:3).

Being a Christian means that I see my sins and my inability to pay for my sins. I’m unable to save myself from the judgement of a just God. I deserve eternal punishment and there is no way out. The paradox is that it is only when we see this inability that the gospel becomes glorious.

John Murray, a Scottish theologian, explains it in this way: “The only gospel there is is a gospel which rests upon the assumption of total inability. It is this truth that lays the basis for the glory of the gospel of grace.”

How dull grace becomes if you or I can achieve it ourselves. The grace offered to us in Christ only becomes amazing when we see how completely helpless we are.

This means that ability is the antithesis to the gospel. Murray continues, “The doctrine of ability makes men self-sufficient and that is the contradiction of the gospel and makes them immune to its appeal.” The doctrine of ability is most clearly seen in the Pharisees all over the gospels. The keeping of laws, the self justification, establishing their own righteousness, (Romans 10:3) and yet their utter blindness to who Jesus was. They were immune to the appeal of the gospel because they had already figured this righteousness thing out on their own.

Not only is inability important as we receive this saving grace, inability is part of our continued walk with Christ as His Spirit sanctifies us. Am I able on my own to say no to the things God asks me to, to persevere in this marathon life of a believer, to love like He has loved me, to give thanks in suffering, to die to myself daily, to speak kind words, to forebear with others as he has done so with me, to cast of idols…and on? If you have lived one day you know the answer to this question is an emphatic, “no!” I am fully dependent on the Lord to keep me, work in me, and to conform me to the image of Jesus.

As believers we can become immune to the gospel as self-sufficiency grows in our hearts. We want immunity to a lot of things, but the gospel most certainly isn’t one of them. The Lord was gracious recently in my own life to reveal how dependent I was becoming on myself. I want to end each day astonished that the Lord kept me following Him for another day. I see what my flesh is capable of if left to myself. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord who is the only one that can save me from this path of death! (Romans 7:24-25).

Being a Christian is about seeing my neediness time and time again and turning to Jesus with great dependence on Him and what He accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection.

Being a Christian is about us decreasing and Christ increasing (John 3:20).

Being a Christian is less about how hard we try and more about who we trust.

Being a Christian means that I am unable and Christ is the one who is able.

Being a Christian means that with man it is impossible but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

“I’ll make up for it” becomes “Jesus paid for it.”
“I’ll try harder” becomes “Help me Jesus.”
“I can do it” becomes “Jesus did it.”

Do you want supreme happiness? This is what Jesus promises for those who are poor in spirit. The helpless, unable, powerless, inadequate, weak people who turn to Christ day in and day out are supremely happy. Why? Because we become free from trying to produce something ourselves that is impossible to produce. What sheer joy to release this burden onto Christ! Our inability becomes the pathway for our boasting all the more in Jesus.

May our hearts beat the drum of inability in our own lives and to others around us.

For the Sake of the Name

For the Sake of the Name

What I Learned Last Sunday

Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers, strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God. For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. – 3 John 5-8

Check out last week’s sermon here.

The formula goes like this…

God’s glory (climatically in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection). + Seeing Jesus with a heart of faith.  = Following, sending, serving, and going for the sake of His name.

Question: Will I be found faithful to God (3 John 5) when the moment to serve arises?
What is the problem with this question? Mainly, it assumes that service to God is something that can be turned on and off like the water tap. Rather Scripture calls us to give our whole selves (time, talent, and energy) to God as a living offering to God (Romans 12:1).

In 3 John 5-8, John connects faithfulness to God to the proclamation of Jesus’ name to the world. It is an act of faithfulness to God to _________ for the sake of Jesus’ name.

For the sake of the name, the name of Jesus Christ, FOLLOW.
Jesus will reign, every knee knocking (some in terror and others in joy) bowing in reverence before Him (Philippians 2:5-11). Jesus is reigning now and will be recognized by every tongue proclaiming, “He is Lord!” He is a worthy Lord to follow, now.

For the sake of His name, SERVE and SEND in a manner worthy of God (3 John 6).
Beloved Gaius in 3 John was found faithful in his service to the itinerant Christian brothers. He did not turn off the tap of faithfulness when given the opportunity to serve. Jesus’ name is worthy of our service.
He is also worthy of the restructure of our resources, so that we would send well. What does sending well look like? John says that we should send and care for Christian missionaries, who go for the sake of Jesus’ name, in a manner worthy of God. What is God worthy of? All our time, resources, and energy. The burden seems to be less on miserliness and more on genuine generosity and care for those who go.

For the sake of Jesus’ name, GO.
“*For God’s global glory,” go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus’ name, his fame and global reputation, must be proclaimed to the ends of the earth. There is no other salvation available outside of Jesus (Acts 4:12). The combined value (by the Spirit) of the exclusiveness of Christ, the severity of the human condition outside of Christ, and the great glory of God are the rocket fuel of the Church to go out and proclaim.

*Shared from the sermon preached by Pastor Mike on November 14, 2021. I encourage you to listen here.

The Heart of True Friendship

The Heart of True Friendship

What I Learned Last Sunday

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  – 3 John 1-4

Check out last week’s sermon here.

Friendship is…
1) Rooted in love, 2) rooted in truth, and is 3) full of real concern and real care.

Discipleship…
1) is goal oriented toward helping one another walk in God’s truth, 2) usually bears fruit, 3) brings incomparable joy.

It’s interesting that we, for the most part, see the value of friendship while discipleship is a ‘holy’ word reserved for a select few. John helpfully unites friendship and discipleship via writing to his dear friend Gaius.

It’s a beautiful thing that the love of Christ and the work of the Spirit can shape uncommon people into common brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers. The shaping work of the Spirit produces lasting treasure (glory to God) through real, Christian, discipling, friendships.

At The Heart of True Friendship
Do I like you for the same ball team?
Or share a passion for hunting,
politicking, for shopping, running,
ranching, for parenting?
Or because we follow the same regime?
Or does the Good News blur those pastimes?
Are those saved sisters, blood-washed brothers,
true family, friends sublime?
To whom Jesus cries, “Follow!”
whom God calls, “My child!”
Are they worthy of your time,
your prayers, your life?
Worthy to pursue for growth?
Worthy for Christ’s name,
the glory of God?