Don’t run from God, run to Him!

Don't Run

Sunday 06/30/19

Series: Walking the Talk

Message – Don’t run from God, run to Him!

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Our Father’s Heart

Last week we took a look at our Father’s heart while finishing up a two part series on the characteristics of God and His Children.

Our last two points were:

  • Know that you are valuable
  • God is stronger than all

In this lesson we explored the Parable of the Father’s heart and the son who stayed home. I call it that since the Parable is NOT really about the prodigal son – because in one way or another everyone knows that story and have seen themselves in it when they’ve looked into the mirror. We don’t need a parable to tell us about that – and besides, all parables are about Jesus, the Father and the kingdom. So I call it the Parable of the Father’s heart and the son who stayed home.

Of course all of these teachings are within the greater backdrop of our focus this year – and that is doing business until He returns. 

What does that mean?

  1. Where did we get the phrase, “Doing business until He returns?”
  2. The Parable of the Nobleman
  3. What did it mean?
  4. It meant to occupy or represent and further the rule and reign of Christ until He returns. It is “Doing the work of the Kingdom”
  5. In whose hearts to we encourage the rule and reign of Christ until He returns?
  6. Ours first, fellow believers second and the world third.

Now, let’s look at that passage one more time to set the pace for todays’ lesson…

Luke 15:11-32, HCSB “(11) He also said: “A man had two sons. (12) The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them. (13) Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. (14) After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing. (15) Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. (16) He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, but no one would give him any. (17) When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! (18) I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. (19) I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.’ (20) So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. (21) The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ (22) “But the father told his slaves, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. (23) Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, (24) because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate. (25) “Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. (26) So he summoned one of the servants and asked what these things meant. (27) ‘Your brother is here,’ he told him, ‘and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ (28) “Then he became angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded with him. (29) But he replied to his father, ‘Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders, yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. (30) But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’ (31) “‘Son,’ he said to him, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. (32) But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

Therefore do not run from God or avoid Him, run too Him!

Often, like the prodigal or wasteful son, we blow FAR too much time away from our Father.

Points:

  • God desired union and intimacy from the beginning
  • God had pursued the heart of man – He’s done this without shame – remember the heart of God revealed in the life story of Hosea. The God Who would spend nations for you will also spend a life on you…in the person of the prophet Hosea, in a young virgin girl named Mary or in the person of a killer -turned Apostle like Paul and it’s ultimate expression of Jesus Himself. But in Hosea, God reveals His unashamed love for us and His willingness to bear insult and grief and association with the shame of our unfaithfulness to Him. Hosea is commanded to go and marry an unfaithful woman. She was a prostitute at best, or at worse she was simply a loose and horney woman. She had little to no personal value at all and gave herself freely to whomever showed interest. 
  • So often, we become myopic – we suffer from tunnel vision, where all we see is the apparent fun and prosperity of the world in front of us, when in reality the story they are living is FAR different than what they let you see.
    • It’s like FB. People often take pictures of their lives – where they have gone, what they have done, who they were with…everything is all smiles and excitement. But in reality the ones they are trying to convince the most is themselves.

And like Gomer, whom Hosea married, we find the pursuit of God is sometimes less than romantic, but it is never the less, passionate and impossible to ignore, though it is often misunderstood as something else.

In steps Asaph. Asaph, for those of you who have been coming on Wednesday, was a descendant of Gershom the Levite, and was one of three Levites whom King David commissioned to be in charge of praises and singing in the “house of God”. But this song was an old time country song in that it was depressing but in the end turned out good.

Psalm 73:1-28, HCSB A psalm of Asaph. 

“(1) God is indeed good to Israel, to the pure in heart. (2) But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my steps nearly went astray. (3) For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. (4) They have an easy time until they die, and their bodies are well-fed. (5) They are not in trouble like others; they are not afflicted like most people. (6) Therefore, pride is their necklace, and violence covers them like a garment. (7) Their eyes bulge out from fatness; the imaginations of their hearts run wild. (8) They mock, and they speak maliciously; they arrogantly threaten oppression. (9) They set their mouths against heaven, and their tongues strut across the earth. (10) Therefore His people turn to them and drink in their overflowing waters. (11) They say, “How can God know? Does the Most High know everything?” (12) Look at them–the wicked! They are always at ease, and they increase their wealth. (13) Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing? (14) For I am afflicted all day long, and punished every morning. (15) If I had decided to say these things aloud, I would have betrayed Your people. (16) When I tried to understand all this, it seemed hopeless (17) until I entered God’s sanctuary. Then I understood their destiny. (18) Indeed You put them in slippery places; You make them fall into ruin. (19) How suddenly they become a desolation! They come to an end, swept away by terrors. (20) Like one waking from a dream, Lord, when arising, You will despise their image. (21) When I became embittered and my innermost being was wounded, (22) I was a fool and didn’t understand; I was an unthinking animal toward You. (23) Yet I am always with You; You hold my right hand. (24) You guide me with Your counsel, and afterwards You will take me up in glory. (25) Whom do I have in heaven but You? And I desire nothing on earth but You. (26) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. (27) Those far from You will certainly perish; You destroy all who are unfaithful to You. (28) But as for me, God’s presence is my good. I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, so I can tell about all You do.”

Psalm 32:1-11, HCSB Davidic. A Maskil.

(1) How happy is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! (2) How happy is the man the LORD does not charge with sin, and in whose spirit is no deceit! (3) When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. (4) For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. Selah (5) Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You took away the guilt of my sin. Selah (6) Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You at a time that You may be found. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him. (7) You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. Selah (8) I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel. (9) Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle, or else it will not come near you. (10) Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the LORD will have faithful love surrounding him. (11) Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart.”

As I said, God’s unrelenting pursuit of us is sometimes not that romantic and can easily be misunderstood. But it is passionate!

We read this last week and here we will end, in Luke 12:30-34.

God is encouraging us to not run from Him but to Him. He is a refuge for us!

“(30) For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. (31)  But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (32) “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (33)  Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.(34)  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


God Bless!

I hope this message will bless you richly…not because I taught it, but because it reveals Christ. He alone is our blessing and if in any way – whether big or small, 100% accurate or even just partially so – I have revealed our great God and Savior to you in a relationally knowable way, then this was time well spent on both our parts.

We at Living Grace Fellowship encourage you to place your trust in Jesus Christ, deliberately choosing Him and bowing the knee to Him as your Master and Lord, so as to come to realize Him as your Savior.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. The fact that you exist… that you are His creation, says you were in His heart, you are His delight!

If you do not know Him, please reach out to us. Give us a call at the number located on every page of this website or use our ‘Contact Us‘ page. We would be deeply honored, if you gave us the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Neither money nor attendance at our church will EVER be mentioned.

If you HAVE been spiritually fed by this ministry and WANT to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but please understand that all the outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.

Blessings!

Hi I am Pastor Mark...

I have been a pastor for nearly 30 years now (2018), though never quite like I am today. (more on that in a moment)

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As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my best friend, greatest personal support and most valued critic.
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As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught. I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled). Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then,

"If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling."

~ Fredrick Buechner

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As I said, as of 2009 I’ve been a Pastor for nearly 20 years. Earlier in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our church was not in keeping with the New Testament. This was a shock to me and it is was a revelation that did not come all at once but over the course of a few weeks.

We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until about 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We believe the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly and though we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me. I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!

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