04-01-12 Sunday Morning

Freedom from/Freedom to: End of Freed to Believe V / Intro into Freed to Love.mp3

Stir it up!PDF

Key Texts: N/A

Other Texts:

  • Matt. 15:24-28
  • I Jn. 5:1-5
  • I Jn. 4:16

 

I explained the difficulty I experienced in allowing God to love me. It was the single, hardest thing I have ever done in my life – and there are NO close seconds. The fear of letting go and letting God speak to my value and love me had no rivals which even came close. It terrified me to the core -even though I was deeply suspicious that only penetrating acceptance and love awaited my surrender. The Lord used the following song to break down my resistance that weekend in May 2008, and I have never been the same. The phrase that hit me the most (and still does) is, “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way…He love us.”

~ enjoy!

 

In this message I did far more review than I desired. Nevertheless I believe it was a necessary and fitting summation of all that we have covered up to this point in regards to faith. It “could” be argued (though I wouldn’t) that faith is the most important aspect of the human experience. Without it we can receive nothing, we cannot please God and we fail to offer to Him the most tangible expression of our love and devotion…our trust. Trust places us in proper relation to God and it is n fact the only thing specifically named by Christ as the thing He is looking for upon His return (Lk. 18:6). Nevertheless, faith/hope/love all work together, and though they can be analyzed and taught separately, they can never be truly experienced apart from one another.

In the past several months we have explored the three heavy hitters of the Christian life: Hope, Faith & Love – in that order. Today we end our current study on faith and launch into the “greatest of these” (I Cor. 13:5). Love is in fact the greatest of the three because it is the only one which speaks to the very person of God. Faith and hope are attributes of God to be sure – but only love speaks to WHO HE IS. In fact, there are very few things in Scripture which reveal WHO God Is. Love is the most well known, but Holy is another. “Holy IS the Lord”. Which is not to say it is an attribute He possesses, but it is in fact WHO He is. “Holy, Holy, Holy IS the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come”. Here we see another revelation of WHO He is – He IS eternal (was, is & is to come). Though I would love to expound of these as well, we will stick to the topics at hand which are Faith & Love…

The key points were:

  • The 1st thing one has to reconcile is their relation to God as Creator. This is primary. No subsequent aspect of our relationship with God, no fellowship and intimacy can we enjoy in with Him if we do not 1st place ourselves within the proper context of creature to Creator. Be certain, there are other aspects of our relationship with God, but their enjoyment will be limited and will often stagnate if we do not embrace 1st principles – God is 1st and foremost our Creator. Out of this recognition springs forth a respect and awe which creates the proper environment for all subsequent relationships we enjoy with Him. It is, as Solomon put it – “The beginning of wisdom”.
  • To rely upon God’s revelation of Himself is equated as being in right relations to Him. This is no more “spiritual” than natural relationships. One can hardly claim to be in “right relationship” or “right standing” with you, if they will not trust you and rely upon you within the context of having come to know you personally. If once someone comes to know you experiencially as a trustworthy person, but time and again they refuse to place their trust in you, then the relationship is at a stalemate. No true relationship can be said to exist, where trust is not at its core.
  • Our faith (or trusting reliance) in God comes from His revealing Himself to us. This places HIM in charge NOT us. We cannot say that we are “standing on a scripture” for the scripture you hear from Him may change from day to day. The issue is NOT what scripture you have received from Him, but that you have heard His voice. It is our daily bread. It is the lesson of the manna (Deut. 8:3).
  • Genuine “faith” is never self-focused. If faith is taking us to a destination, then the destination MUST be the focus of our trust. According to II Tim.1:12 & Eph. 1:13 our “faith” is always IN HIM – NOT FOR SOMETHING.
  • The result of all genuine faith is:
  • The praise, honor and glory of Christ.
  • The salvation of our souls (I Pet. 1:7-9)
  • Notice Peter does not say that the end result of a particular expression of faith is the salvation of our souls. The reason is because the statement is true regarding any expression of true reliance upon Him. It saves our soul, because it redeems it from the selfish “I” and places the heart into willing subjection to and reliance upon the God of all Faith.

Faith is NEVER “THINGS” oriented. If that is where your “faith” is directed then James says to you,

You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss – so that you can spend it on your own pleasures.” Js. 4:1-5

 

Faith works by love, so then faith can never be self-absorbed (I Cor. 13:5)

  • Luke 18:1-6 reveals “faith” from God’s vantage point. Faith is not about when I receive my desired end results – it is about not loosing heart and trusting regardless of the outcome I personally experience (See Luke 18:5 & Rev. 6:9-11).
  • We ended with I Jn. 4:16. The Love of God cannot be enjoyed unless and until believed (relied) upon and surrendered to. The Love of God frees us from the shackles of self into a life of surrender and freedom to serve. Until we are fully persuaded AND rely upon the deep, passionate, blush-producing love which God has for us – until we are enveloped in and by it, we will never be free from the need to maintain our own protection. We will never be able to truly love ourselves in spite of ourselves. We will never be freed to serve and genuinely love others.

 

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 aid.
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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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By 2009 I’d been Pastoring 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!