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: Blessed to Bless, Pt. 1

Blessed-to-bless_slide (1)Church! Welcome to the introduction of our newest series, “Blessed to Bless”. It’s a powerful exercise to think of all the ways in which we are blessed, and we are expectant and excited to remember the grace of God in this series. #BlessUp

In the Bible, we see two uses for the word blessing:

  1.  To bless another person (or to do something for their benefit)
  2. To bless God (or to exalt God out of adoration for Him)

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.

Psalm 103:1-5: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Ephesians 1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…

There is nothing that God has withheld from you. If you have trusted in Jesus, every spiritual blessing is available to you; it sits at the tip of your fingers, waiting to be had! You were created with the capacity to touch the heart of God. Isn’t it incredible that God receives love from us, mere human beings?

Mark 14:3-9: And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” 

This woman, shown in Mark, was blessed to possess this ointment (worth almost a year’s wages). With this, she performed an act of love, and blessed Jesus.

There are three reasons we bless others: duty, logic, and love (the greatest of these). And there are three reasons we bless God: duty, logic, and, yes, the highest of these – love. As we love God and love people, we change the world.

Blessing God out of love doesn’t always make the most sense, logically or societally. But, we must not be caught up in the praises of man, and instead turn our complete affection toward God.

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.

Acts 20:35:  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.’

The Kingdom is upside down; they key to receive blessing is to give first.

Biblical references: Genesis 12:2-3; Psalm 103:1-5; Ephesians 1:3; Mark 14:3-9; James 1:17; Acts 20:35

Questions:

  1. How has God blessed you?
  2. How can you bless others this week?
  3. How can you be thankful for ways others have blessed you?

 

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: Greater Purpose, Pt. 8

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This week, we are continuing to look at the lineage of Jesus and identifying specific characters, revealing to us our own greater purposes in the eyes of Heaven. Pastor Paul Jackson, thank you for your humor, your wisdom, and your incredible message on Jacob this Sunday!

Too often, we forget the importance of going through suffering. For Jacob, it was inevitable, like it is for us, too, It is a means for God to grow us; we do not suffer in vain because we know God has everything under control, that He is and constructing our lives lovingly and intimately every step of the way.

James 1:2-4: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We beg God to grow us, but we do everything we can to insulate ourselves from the hardships that this growth requires. Hardships leads us to maturity; what matters is the way we engage with God, not that we avoid them altogether.

Matthew 1:2: Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers…

Jacob was a child of promise, an answer to prayer. Even so, he faced trial after trial in his life – many that we out of his control.

Genesis 32:6-8: And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and there are four hundred men with him.” Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.”

Genesis 32:22-31: The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

At this point, Jacob receives both a new identity and the blessing of God. 

In the pinnacle of your problem, how do you relate to God? Do you wrestle with him, or do you turn your back and pretend He doesn’t exist?

What should we do? Petition Him! Wrestle with Him! Fast and pray. He is involved, He is close to you. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to wrestle with Him, for you will see breakthrough. God wants to bless you, His beloved child. Let Him. 

Biblical references: James 1:2-4; Matthew 1:2; Genesis 32:6-8; Genesis 32:22-31

Questions:

  1. In the midst of trial, do you turn back from God or press into Him?
  2. What do you need to wrestle with God about today?
  3. What trail are you entering in, leaving or currently in? What did God do in the midst of it?

Message Recap: Greater Purpose, Pt. 7

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Though we know that our lives have greater purpose (generally), we too often forget to live in unshakable confidence of this Truth, day in and day out. Thank you for this beautiful reminder, and this week’s message, Pastor Brian Eastland.

As a church, we don’t have a problem with purpose; we have a problem with significance. From the day to day, we carry a great significance that leads to our greater purpose (thought it doesn’t always feel like it). Father, breathe deep significance into each of us today, that we may have better understanding of who we are made in You. 

The world says that our significance is directly tied to our job or to our accomplishments as people (have you won a Nobel Peace Prize? have you put your kids through college? have you worked out today – was it enough?). But, this way of thinking breaks God’s heart, for He has called us significant, regardless of the world’s approval.

As we continue on in our series centered around the genealogy of Jesus – Matthew 1:10 –  we are looking specifically at the character of King Josiah.

1 Kings 13:1-2: And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’”

2 Kings 22:8-11: And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord.” Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king. When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes.

Our significance has nothing to do with what we have done or what we have not done, but everything to do with what God says about who we are.

2 Kings 23:15-16: Moreover, the altar at Bethel, the high place erected by Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, that altar with the high place he pulled down and burned, reducing it to dust. He also burned the Asherah. And as Josiah turned, he saw the tombs there on the mount. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it, according to the word of the Lord that the man of God proclaimed, who had predicted these things.

Church, let us read the Bible as God intended for us to read it: personally. In the Bible, “you” really means you, and “we” really means we. If you are ever looking for your name in the Bible, you don’t have to look very far: you are everywhere!

Ephesians 2: 8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

God wants us to read the Bible as if our name is in it, because it is. God has already called us significant, as He has written.

Biblical references: Matthew 1:10; 1 Kings 13:1-2; 2 Kings 22:8-11; 2 Kings 23:15-16; Ephesians 2: 8-9

Questions:

  1. Where have you been placing your significance?
  2. What does God say about who you are and what you were created for?
  3. What would it look like to live out of the God ordained significance that leads to your greater purpose?