Blessed to Bless, Pt. 4

tyler-nix-457491First and foremost, let’s remember the theme of this series: we are immensely blessed, but not for our own good; we are blessed for the benefit of others and for the exaltation of God. Today, as we continue on in our series, we’re doing something a little bit different than as planned; Lead Pastor Andrew Bach shares a testimony of abundance and blessing through a recent experience in the Mosaic Discipleship School. If you are in need of a revival in your faith, the restoration of the joy of your salvation, we would encourage you to take a listen.

John 6:1-5: After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

We are ones called to go when God says go. And what this scripture does so beautifully is remind us that Jesus cares about the practical things in our lives (not just the spiritual). He cares about our spirits, of course, but he cares when we are hungry and when we are sick, too. He cares about us through all of it; there isn’t anything that slips through the cracks of His compassion for us.

John 6:6-14: He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

Have you ever considered the boy in this story? What a role he has played! The Bible says nothing about or force or persuasion to coerce the boy to share his bread; he, the one that actually prepared a lunch for himself, gave his loaves and fishes in faith.

Similarly, we as people of Seattle, are dreamers. We yearn to see the impossible. What if God is waiting for you to do yours in order for Him to fulfill His? Maybe He’s waiting for you to take the next step (perhaps your heart beats faster hearing this, because you already know what that next step looks like…).

The thing about faith is that, we only have this one life to experience it. When we die, we are going to be with Jesus; we won’t need the faith that He calls use to have here on earth! Everything will be within our reach; we have to have faith here, and believe in the things unseen. Let us be people that inspire angels with our faith! Let us be people that make a wrong decision in faith than a good decision without any. If God is relational, and He knows our hearts, then He knows whether our decision is one of faith. Even when you are making the wrong decision, if God knows that you have done it in faith, He celebrates.

Jesus is the bread of life. He gives us security in this life of faith (despite the struggles, trauma, disappointments, and heartache) that He is our sustenance. He has made a way for us to receive it. Praise. 

Biblical References: John 6

Questions:

  1. How is God calling you to step into an increase in faith?
  2. “Everyone wants to see a miracle, but no one wants to be in a position to need one.” What is God saying to you about this statement?
  3. Is God waiting for you to do “yours” then He will do “his”? What would that look like for you to do “yours?”

Message Recap: Blessed to Bless, Pt. 3

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Acts 20:34: In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” 

Sometimes God calls us to bless others in ways that make sense to us, in ways that we love blessing others. And, sometimes, God calls us to bless others in ways that are illogical or are more challenging than by sharing our gifts and talents. It’s neither one of the other; it’s both that God asks of us.

Psalm 124:1 : The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof…

None of these things of ours are ours  – they belong to God. Not our finances, our homes, even our giftings or our talents; they are God’s.

1 Timothy 6:10:  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

The actual “stuff” we have and are blessed with is not inherently wrong or sinful. It’s the love of money that’s wrong; it’s the greed and the desire for money rooted in sin. It has nothing to do with the goods, and everything to do with our heart posture.

The world attempts to deal with this through 2 ways:

  1. To give away everything you own; the thinking being that, “If I have no money at all, then there is no place for evil”.
  2. To possess as much as you possibly can; to hoard and to gather and consume (famously known as “materialism”)

Matthew 6:25-34: Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

God wants our hearts headed toward the things of the eternal. Everything that has been entrusted to you is from God, and it’s so you can be a blessing. Let us be people that are obedient when it makes sense and doesn’t make sense.

Matthew 6:21: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 

Biblical references: Acts 20:34; Psalm 124:1; 1 Timothy 6:10; Matthew 6:25-34; Matthew 6:21

Questions:

  1. Are you asking God how He wants you to steward the resources, finances, personality, gifts and talents you’ve been blessed with? What would that look like to start?
  2. How can you be a blessing this week to someone?
  3. Reflecting on the verse Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Where is your treasure?

Message Recap: Blessed to Bless, Pt. 2

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To recap quickly what we learned in last week’s message (as we continue on in our series, “Blessed to Bless”): we are created to bless others (by benefiting them in some way) and to bless God (by exalting Him, or to see Him higher than ourselves).

Genesis 12:2-3: And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

2 Corinthians 9:7: Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

What a thought: when we give to God, He loves it! There’s something I can do to bring joy to God, to put a smile on the face of the Maker of all things. I am able to do something that He loves. 

James 1:17:  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Everything in your life – whether tangible or intangible – exists not for the purpose of your happiness, but in order to bless others. This can be problematic, if we take it as offensive to our hard work (our early mornings, our long hours, our strategically-honed skills). But this is a worldly perspective; every good thing (yes, even with all that hard work) was given to you by God. Everything is His, that He gives freely (and is not the ability to work hard, wake early, hone our skill sets, and even the breath in your lungs, blessings all on their own?). Remove your hard work from the equation, and you are still blessed).  Remove God from the equation, and you do not even exist.

Here’s the catch: we don’t always feel #blessed. But is it possible to be abundantly blessed and simultaneously face incredible hardship? The Bible says yes: 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Luke 16:10: One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.

Matthew 16:24-25: Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

We are tempted, so often, to bless God and bless others up to the point until it costs us something. We are encouraged, societally, to give only out of our surplus, and never any more than that. But this is where we have to remember that we have been immensely blessed first (even when it doesn’t feel like it!); nothing that we have to give is ours to begin with. It’s Gods, and He calls us to bless others with the gifts He gives.

Biblical references: Genesis 12:2-3; 2 Corinthians 9:7; James 1:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Luke 16:10; Matthew 16:24-25

Questions:

  1. Have you been faithful in the little?
  2. Have you been faithful in much?
  3. How can you bless God and bless others? It will come at a sacrifice.

 

Message Recap: God is Speaking

godisspeaking-01This week, we are doing something a little bit exciting to switch things up; Lead Pastor Andrew Bach heads our discussion, but we also get to hear from members of Mosaic, the church body. Thank you, friends, for your vulnerability, wisdom, faithfulness, and Andrew, for your awesome leadership.

The question we are asking ourselves this week is not, “is God speaking?” (because He is); rather, the question at hand is, “are we listening?”. There are so many voices coming from so many different places, it sometimes seem impossible to hear from Him. Remember, though, that God is bigger and grander than all of those things, and simultaneously smaller and more intimate.

1 Kings 19:11-12: And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

Though God speaks via every channel listed in the passage above (evidenced in the Bible), Elijah hears Him in a still, small voice. C.S. Lewis, author and wise man he was, wrote of God’s voice: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

The Christian life is so much more than an agreement that the Bible is true. We aren’t looking for new truth, but for this Truth to permeate, infiltrate, and change our hearts. Though we will never know for certain if the voice we hear is God (for we see dimly in this life), we can trust that we still do see. To hear God, read the Bible, and then ask the Holy Spirit to speak. He will – trust Him!

Biblical references: 1 Kings 19:11-12

Questions:

  1. What voices are distracting you from hearing God?
  2. Are you listening to God speak?
  3. What is God speaking to you this week?

Message Recap: 2 Timothy Pt. 4

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This is our last week in our series, “The Risk and Tension of Discipleship”, and to close it out, we are looking at 2 Timothy 4. This letter is an example for us for discipleship (which, defined, means one person helping another to follow Jesus).

Who is helping you follow Jesus? Who are you helping follow Jesus? As the body of Christ, we are responsible for each other – for the growth, life, and endurance in faith of God for another person.

1 John 1:1-4: That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Discipleship is one of the greatest joys of our faith. It’s part of how God uses evil for good; your breakthroughs can help others find freedom faster. Your testimony isn’t just for you – it’s for helping others!

Three Aspects of Discipleship:

  1. It’s for every season of your life
    • 2 Timothy 4:1-4: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
    • Have a resolve that Jesus is Lord
    • Be ready in season and out of season
    • The hungry eat. Stay hungry.
  2. Discipleship requires a holding to the gospel
    • We live in a time when people honor fluidity and adaptability in their convictions. A hard line of integrity isn’t honorable – socially – like it used to be.
    • What we need is for someone to tell us the Truth. This is love.
  3. Discipleship involves giving your life away for God.
    • 2 Timothy 4:5-6: As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
    • Paul, even in his imprisonment, knows that his life is a sweet offering.
    • You are not meant to be a Dead Sea Christian (without outflow). You are meant to receive and to pour out.

Discipleship involves a tension between the word of God and our culture, Resolve to believe that Jesus is Lord; His Word is True, and He truly knows what is best for us.

Biblical references: 1 John 1:1-4; 2 Timothy 4:1-7

Questions:

  1. The hungry eat. Are you hungry?
  2. Are you letting circumstances or your season of life become a barrier or excuse for seeking discipleship?
  3. Are you giving your life away for God? Are you giving your life away for others to encounter God?

Message Recap: 2 Timothy Pt. 3

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October 31st is the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Thesis, which led to the Reformation movement. It began a movement toward a belief, again, in Scripture. The Bible is our sustenance (Matthew 4); the Bible is a sword that divides the the soul from the Spirit (Hebrews 4); the Bible is a mirror that reveals who you are (James); the Bible is the Word of God.

Some of us still think that what we do determines who we are, but who we are is determined by the Word of God. the Bible gives us our identity. There is only one Person who can tell you who you are (and it’s not even you!); it’s your Maker.

2 Timothy 3: 1-9: But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

The problem is not an external one; it’s an internal one. We can’t just fix the “doings”. We can’t just do “better”. We have to change. The only way to change completely is to become new from the inside-out.

2 Timothy 3:10-14: You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a]you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

What – or Who – are we going to let define us? We cannot get our identity from the world; we have to get it from the Bible.

2 Timothy 3: 16-17: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Scripture tells us about our identity, and then completes the work. We don’t read the Bible to learn what we are supposed to do, but to learn who we are. The Bible rebukes and trains and teaches the right way of life because it tells us our identity.

You are a child of God (John 1); you are a new creation (2 Corinthians); you are you are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2); you are an alien and a stranger in this world (1 Peter); you are part of the true vine (John 15); you are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5); you are a child of light and not of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5); you are a child of God (Galatians 3); you are righteous and holy (Ephesians 4); you are born of God and the evil one cannot touch you (1 John 5); you are an enemy of the devil (1 Peter 5); you are no longer a slave to sin, but you are a child of God (Romans 6).

Not even your mistakes can take away the fact that, in Jesus, you are a child of God. The deeds of the darkness have nothing to do with you because of who you are. You have nothing to do with philosophies, perversions, or the things of the world. Are you living by the breath of culture, or are you living by the breath of God? What – Who – is your life source?

God didn’t save the world because He hates your sin. He saved the world because He loves you. And He knows who you are, because He made you! We have to keep coming back to who we are, as He declares as True.

Biblical references: 2 Timothy 3

Questions:

  1. When you read scripture, are you reading it as a history book or as a mirror?
  2. What does the bible say you about you?
  3. Where does your identity come from? The world? Your accomplishments? Others? God? Ask God, to reveal revelations of truth about your identity to you.

Message Recap: Pray!

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This week, Paul Jackson closes our sermon series, Pray!, as we reflect on the importance – and necessity! – of prayer in our spiritual lives. We have to remember that prayer actually changes things. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman; He doesn’t force His way in, but instead moves into the places in which He is invited.

Prayer is so important because it truly changes our circumstances, and because it changes us as individuals. Prayer grows and matures us as Jesus followers.

Matthew 6:9-13: Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” 

The linchpin of Christianity is taking our understanding of scripture and actually applying it to our lives, living it out as Truth.

Matthew 6:14-15: For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

There are several kinds of prayer (including adoring, beseeching, and confessional), and this week, in particular, we are looking at prayer of forgiveness.

There creates a spiritual dissonance when we ask God to forgive us when we have yet to forgive our own debtors. Church, we are called to be a people that forgive – there’s no getting around it!

Matthew 18:21-35: Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place.  Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Perhaps we have a hard time forgiving others because we don’t realize the incredible grace God has shown us. We are the ones with the impossible debt – not those that have hurt us. Forgiveness is something that we can grow in (praise!). What it takes is seeing the generosity of God toward us, so that we can extend generosity toward others quickly and joyfully.

Harboring unforgiveness is a scheme of the enemy. He wants us to be unforgiving, so that he can steal, kill, and destroy us. God calls us to forgive others because He wants the absolute best for us, and in forgiveness we will find abundant life. The process of forgiveness – though healing can take time – started and concluded on the Cross.

Forgiveness is a choice and an action. Let us be ones that are quick to forgive, knowing well the vast, immeasurable forgiveness that has already been shown to us. The Kingdom of God is not of talk but of power, and forgiveness is powerful.

Biblical references: Matthew 6:9-13; Matthew 6:14-15; Matthew 18:21-35

Questions:

  1. How can there be an upgrade in your prayers this week? In frequency, in depth, in intimacy, in faith?
  2. Are you adoring God, beseeching Him, confessing, and receiving deliverance in your prayers?
  3. Do you have unforgiveness in your heart? If so, release that to God and choose freedom through being quick to forgive because of what Christ did on the cross for you.
  4. Is there anyone you can invite in or share what God has done for you and in you?