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: Celebrating Father’s Day

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The heart of our Heavenly Father is to lay down His life for us, His children. Similarly, the role of a father on Earth is to lay down his life for his own children. Today, we pause in our sermon series, Building the House, to honor our dads on Father’s Day.

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.

God planned to bless every family on the earth through Abram, the famous Biblical father referenced here in Genesis. Through his story, we learn 3 Truths about fatherhood:

  1. God intended fatherhood to be desirable
    • Genesis 15:1-4: After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”
    • The cultural perception of fatherhood is that it is nothing more than a necessary evil, rather than something to be desired.
    • But, fatherhood brings joy, and it’s a chance to reproduce something better than yourself! It is an incredible honor, and a very high calling.
  2. Fatherhood is something to be thankful for
    • Genesis 21:1-8: The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
    • Fathers, the enemy wants you to fail as a dad. He plants lies to make you think fatherhood is a burden, and not a blessing.
      1. The antidote is thankfulness, to diffuse and deflect the lies of the enemy.
  3. Every father can afford their children an inheritance of faith
    • Hebrews 11:8-10:  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
    • A father that makes a lot of money leaves for their children exactly that: a lot of money. But the father that gives money away in obedience to God gives his children an inheritance of generosity, and the father that makes his money lawfully leaves an inheritance of integrity. The father that is wealthy monetarily can give an extravagant wedding to his children, but the father that honors his vows to his wife leaves his children an inheritance of faithfulness.

Thank you, dads, for all that you do. We pray you feel overwhelmed with love and celebration today, from all of us!

Biblical references: Genesis 15:1-4; Genesis 21:1-8; Hebrews 11:8-10

Questions:

  1. How can you be someone who encourages and lifts up physical and spiritual fathers in your life?
  2. Do you believe in the fullness of God as a good father? Where are the places you have misconceptions of the character of God and need the Holy Spirit to come and bring revelation and healing?
  3. What a joy it is to leave the next generation an inheritance of faith in Jesus! What does this look like for you today?

Message Recap: Flourishing in Brokenness

Since today is Mother’s Day, we thought it especially fitting to honor the mothers of the church in celebration, as well as devote this week’s sermon to the high calling of motherhood. Thank you, Carrie Bach, for pouring out your wisdom and being brave in sharing your story of motherhood with us.

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Let us start by addressing all women of the church, because motherhood is not just a physical state, but a spiritual state. If you are a woman, you are a life-bringer. Your calling from God is to bring life, and what a calling it is! We lift up those who are weary, and in every place we step, we give life.

It’s easy to trust God when we have everything together, but let us be a people that praise God in the midst of our own weariness, in our brokenness; from a Kingdom perspective, to flourish and to be broken are not always mutually exclusive (and often, they go hand-in-hand). To flourish and to be broken are, more often than not, intertwined.

2 Corinthians 4:7: But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

The releasing of the treasure comes in the breaking of the jar. We try so hard to hold all of our pieces together, without realizing that in doing so, we are holding hostage the treasure inside. Let us be unafraid to break – believing in the sovereignty of God – and allowing the treasure within us to be released!

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

In our weaknesses, we are made strong because God fills the gaps of our inadequacy. Our weakness is an opportunity to lean on God; let us not miss it! And, it’s good to wrestle with Him when we are feeling weak (or even faithless) because it puts us in close proximity to Him. And, when we are so close to Him in our wrestling, we will see that He is nothing less than good.

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Sometimes, as Carrie so wisely pointed out, to lean not on our own understanding means to lean on the learnings or expertise of others, as long as it aligns with God’s Word. 

Because life doesn’t stop in a crisis, God is so full of grace to cover us when we don’t think we will make it out in one piece. The Kingdom of God is an upside-down Kingdom; death leads to life, mourning leads to joy, and brokenness leads to flourishing.

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Biblical references: 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Proverbs 3:5-6

Questions:

  1. Where are the places of weakness in our past or present that God has made strong in Him and filled in our gaps of inadequacy?
  2. Who are the mothers in your life, whether physical or spiritual, that have brought life in moments of weariness? Reach out to them and encourage them!
  3. What is causing you to fear the breaking process? Is there any disbelief in the sovereignty of God? If so, identify it and allow the treasure within you to be released through the Holy Spirit?

Sermon Recap: Parenting the Next Generation, Pt. 4

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Raising up the next generation is the topic of today’s sermon, the last in this 4-part series; it is not the duty of the parents alone but the duty of the church of Jesus. As His people, it is our responsibility to fight for the next generation so they can go farther and faster in God than we could go. The best thing we can do for the next generation is have faith in their inheritance; our faith is always one generation away from extinction, and it is our calling to uphold it.

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:3-4)

“…things that we have heard and known,
    that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
    but tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
    and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalm 78:3-4)

It is so clearly our calling to raise up the next generation, according to the Bible. Let’s look at three practical ways we can follow through:

  1. Testify
    1. Deuteronomy 4:9: “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children…”
    2. It’s human nature to forget the goodness of God, and we are prone to disbelieve.
    3. The things that we are most thankful for have we acknowledged as gifts from God?
    4. Why would we not testify?
      1. We’re not sure we believe ourselves. But, this is the plan of the enemy; He wants us to question our faith and doubt the goodness of God.
      2. We are afraid that our testimonies exalt us rather than God. Rest assured, they don’t. Testimonies always exalt God!
      3. We are “covering” for God; we don’t want others to be disappointed if God doesn’t do the same thing for them that He did for us. But, thinking in this manner is prideful. God can cover Himself – He’s God. 
  2. Be honest
    1. Deuteronomy 30:15-20: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” 
    2. God already knows where we are disappointed, so there is no reason to put on a facade.
    3. If we are going to pass on our prosperous faith, we must exercise honest faith.
    4. Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
      1. What a relief! We don’t actually have to figure everything out on our own. Praise God.
    5. If we aren’t honest about our pain and suffering and doubt, then we will raise up a generation characterized by a performing faith rather than a prosperous faith.
  3. We must practice radical obedience, rooted in faith
    1. What a beautiful time and a beautiful city in which to be the people of God.
    2. Better than anything we can say, our children will know the love of God most deeply when they see day-in, day-out radical obedience to His voice.

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We meet every Sunday, at 9am and 11am, and would love to see you there!

P.S. – we have coffee. *wink wink*  

Sermon Recap: Parenting the Next Generation, Pt. 3

In this series, we are discussing the high calling that is parenting. We have identified that children are a blessing – a gift from God! – and ways in which to love them intentionally, just as God loves us intentionally. Today, we are approaching a more difficult topic: discipline.

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As parents, we are the protectors of our children. And, in an effort to protect, we are called to discipline. We are to lead them, and if we don’t, they will find someone else to follow. Why, then, is discipline so important?

  1. We discipline because we love them:
    1. Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
    2. Proverbs 3:11-12: “My son, do not despise the Lord‘s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”
    3. Hebrews 12:6-7: “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
    4. According to God, love and discipline are inseparable. God, in His grace and love, disciplines us as His own children.
  2. We discipline to teach them:
    1. Proverbs 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”
    2. If our children are disobedient, it isn’t a reflection of them, it’s a reflection of our parenting.
  3. We discipline because we have hope for them:
    1. Proverbs 19:18: “Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”
    2. Proverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Why are parents, then, reluctant to discipline?

  1. We don’t want to kill their spirit, creativity, dreams, uniqueness. But, our children will find abundant life because of our discipline, not despite it. They crave safety and boundaries, which discipline provides and encourages.
    1. Proverbs: 23:13: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.”
  2. We don’t want to be inconvenienced. It takes time and it’s hard. In public, it might be embarrassing. And, watching our children suffer can be emotionally taxing and painful.

Let’s define clearly the differences between discipline and punishment, because they are not synonymous as we often assume. Punishment is payment and leads to condemnation. Discipline is training our children within the grace of God to teach them obedience (after all, unlike parental discipline, God’s discipline towards us never ends). Discipline leads to abundant life.

The Parameters of Discipline:

  1. It is restorative.
    1. Galatians 6:1: “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” It must be done in a spirit of gentleness and not in anger. Anger won’t be the thing that trains our children’s hearts.
    2. Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
    3. Restorative discipline is the result of a child choosing discipline because of their disobedience.
  2. It is unpleasant (neither a joy for the parent or the child).
    1. Hebrews 12:11: “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
    2. It’s a painful process.
  3. It produces repentance without regret.
    1. 2 Corinthians 2:10: “Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ.” 
    2. Discipline looks like confession, repentance, and forgiveness. It should never lead to resentment; God doesn’t hold grudges against us for our disobedience, so we shouldn’t hold grudges against our children either.
    3. Discipline should not have a negative affect on our relationships with our children. Rather, it should lead to greater trust.

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Join us next Sunday as we head into the last sermon of our current series, Parenting the Next Generation. It’s going to be so good! 

Sermon Recap: Parenting the Next Generation, Pt. 2

Parenting is a high and a happy calling. The problem isn’t that parents make mistakes (it’s inevitable as imperfect people); the problem is when we lose our vision for the high and happy calling that is parenting. Let us run after Jesus, and look toward our perfect Father for strength and guidance as we dive into week two of our sermon series, Parenting the Next Generation. 

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A major component of parenting is making sure that our children feel loved. There are two ways to experience love:

  1. Love that happens to us (it’s the warm and tingly feeling)
  2. Love that is intentional and purposeful (which is often more of a choice rather than a feeling)
    1. Intentional, purposeful love is the kind of love that transforms lives.
    2. Luke 6:32-35: “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”
    3. God’s love is a love that prefers the other, and doesn’t just happen to us like a warm feeling that bubbles up and stays just for a moment.
    4. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 
    5. We must, as parents, make the transition between loving our children because of a warm and tingly feeling to loving intentionally – even when it’s challenging.

If a child doesn’t receive intentional love, they might start to perform, prove, or seek it elsewhere. Of course, this is dangerous and destructive. Let’s look at 4 acts of intentional love:

  1. Pursuit:
    1. 1 John 4:8-10: Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
    2. It’s from the perfect pursuer, God, that we learn to pursue our own children.
    3. Pursuit takes time and effort. It’s hard.
    4. We have to study our children, individually and intentionally, so we know what makes them more alive. Ask them, “How am I doing at loving you?”
  2. Encouragement:
    1. Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
    2. He encourages us when we do well, and He encourages us when we fail miserably.
    3. Psalm 138:3: “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” God is the strengthener of the souls of His children. 
    4. The more our children ignore our encouragement, the more they need it.
    5. We aren’t only worthy when we do something worthy. We are worthy all the time.
  3. Celebration:
    1. It’s the small things!
    2. Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
    3. God rejoices because of who we are, not just what we do.
  4. Service:
    1. Mark 10:43-45: “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
    2. Jesus came to serve us, and He kept no record for it.
    3. He didn’t give us His life for His sake, but for ours.

There is no higher calling than to give away your life to prefer another person. Our children will know they are loved when we go from idea to implementation.

We love because He first loved us.

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We meet every Sunday at 9am and 11am. We hope to see you at a service as we continue on in our parenting series!  

Sermon Recap: Parenting the Next Generation, Pt. 1

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Calling all parents (literal and figurative), people who want to be parents, people who have parents, and people who know parents: this series is for you. Parenting is a high calling; perhaps it is the highest calling. It’s a wonderful responsibility, an exciting endeavor, and a very difficult job to raise up the next generation. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that we talk about it, even though the conversation might be uncomfortable or offensive or taboo. Let’s get to it (and S/O to Lead Pastor Andrew Bach for leading the discussion).

To do our best job as parents, we must look to our perfect Father, because He knows best, despite the innumerable amount of self-help books and online articles. In today’s sermon, we look at 3 (but not the only three) Biblical truths about parenting:

  1. God is a perfect parent.
    1. Our right to parent is not based on our perfection. We shouldn’t try to be perfect, because it isn’t possible; instead, we leave standard for God to fulfill alone.
    2. John 20:17: “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Just as He was a perfect Father to Jesus, He remains a perfect Father to us. We face hardship, but He has never once made a mistake toward us in His parenting. 
    3. Matthew 7:7-11 exemplifies that He is a perfect provider: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
    4. We see in Deuteronomy 33:12 that He is a perfect protectorLet the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.”
    5. Luke 15:17-22, the story of the prodigal son, displays God’s awesome grace for us: When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.'” 
    6. God intends to fill every gap of our own parents’ imperfections. He has never failed [Ed. Note: and He won’t stop now!].
  2. Children are a blessing.
    1. Psalm 127:3-5: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” 
    2. Contrary to society’s tone, children are not a hindrance to abundant life. They are very much part of an abundant life, and an absolute gift from God!
  3. Parenting begins with parents.
    1. Deuteronomy 6:4-9: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
    2. Our children will glean more from our parenting when we are honest about who we are (flaws and all), than if we pretended we were perfect parents.
    3. Our calling is to raise up the next generation to know they are eternally loved by a perfect Parent, and their imperfect parents.

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This coming Sunday, we get to hear more about parenting the next generation, in part two of this sermon series. See you there!