08-19-12 Sunday Main

 

 

Freed to Love XII.mp3

Stir it up! – PDF

Key Texts:

  • Deut. 30:6
  • II Thess. 3:5
  • Isa. 58
  • 2 Peter 2:17-19
  • 2 Peter 1:1-10
  • Phil. 2:1-18
  • Isa. 54:16
  • Exodus 4:1-12

Review:

By using the three “lost” parables Jesus was illustratng the various dynamics of our relationship with the Father.

  • There is a way in which God seeks for us, finds us and assumes His complete and total ownership of us – the lost coin [Luke 15:8-10].
  • There is a way in which He seeks us out, and carries us home on His own authority, bonding with us as only our true shepherd can [Luke 15:4-7].
  • There another way in which He comes to us only in our thoughts, and stirs us to return to Him where we will find Him waiting with open arms [Luke 15:11-32].

All of this is true and it beautifully illustrates the many sided dynamics of the relationship we have with out Creator/Owner, Shepherd/Friend & Father.

It is the self-established identities we construct for ourselves as a means of protection and as a story big enough to live in that causes us to wander so very far from our Father’s embrace. Our self-focus blinds us to the beauty of His desire for us, His passion for us and His unwavering devotion to us.

All of the lies the enemy speaks into our ears to gain our trust in and reliance upon his deception, are based on truth. As a way of conceptualizing it, assume that what satan whispers in your ear is 98% true 2% lies. Most of what he says resonates with us becuase he draws the material from your real life experiences, but then he invite you to believe his “implications” of those truths.

To the younger son in the parable of the lost son (prodigal) he would likely have said, “you are the younger son…you know that means you will only receive 1/3rd of the inheritance. You will always be living under the long reaching shadow of your brother. Your life and personal significance will be eclipsed by his radiance! You know what you should do – you should take your part of the cash and go and make a name for  yourself….etc.” Most of what satan says here in our illustration is true. That is speaks to the identity and therefore the value of the younger son was a lie. Because the younger son believed the lies of His father’s enemy and not His Father’s words – he found himself far away in the company of pigs – both hungry for love and filthy…poluted with his own ways.

The enemy is a master at selling half-truths which are whole lies. He tells you that you are weak, that you are incapable, incompetent,  unworthy, unnecessary…etc. all of which is true if you were all there was to the story. To have a toy with no child to love it, renders the purpose of the toy useless. This may seem an oversimplified and perhaps even insulting analogy for our relation to our Creator, but it is closer to the truth of our condition than we know.

We were created for His pleasure the scriptures tell us. This means that our function is to simply BE what we were created to be. The devil comes to the Christian and tells them, “You are not pleasing to the Lord. You should go do this, or go earn that so that you can DO something over which He could be proud.” or he says, “You are insignificant! Look at how all your relatives are more wealthy than you – they all have good business sense and you are just a house wife, or a painter or a grocery clerk…etc.” – These are the subtleties of drawing you away from what really matters – James 1:14.

It isn’t until we get home and hear the loving words of restoration and identity from our Father that we ever begin to rest in who we really are!

Moving On:

The next phase of the journey is that one in which we become so accustomed to the love and acceptance of our identity in Christ that we begin to get lazy. We begin to excuse behavior that falls way short of where God wants us and we even get to the point of excusing away our sinful behaviors with a wave saying, “Well God love me anyway”. That is walking dangerously close to a calloused heart. A callused heart does not always feel callused. All callousness to God begins with an over sensitivity to ourselves and our own self-interests. You can do this and still raise your hands in praise and talk teary eyed about How God loves you. I am not in any way against reveling in our love and acceptance in Him. It should be the greatest truth of our lives which never looses it sense of rapturous amazement and joy! I am cautioning you much like Paul did the Galatians who he was “talking” out of an overly legalistic approach to life in Christ. Yet, even though they were not yet embracing their freedom in Christ Paul understood their human tendencies and warned them,

“You however, brethren, were called to freedom. Only do not turn your freedom into an excuse for giving way to your lower natures; but become bondservants to one another in a spirit of love.” – Gal. 5:13

A token sign of this “crossing the line” is if the one proclaiming liberty is himself a salve – II Peter 2:17-19;  1:1-10

When we talk about being freed to love it DOES NOT MEAN simply being freed to receive love, talk about love or even express love in ways with which you are most comfortable. It is a calling outside of our comfort zones to love as He loves.

Paul “poured himself out” – Phil. 2:17; II Tim. 4:6

Example:

If you like to go out to eat, taking a friend may seem like love (and it may be) but what if that brother needs you often in very annoying ways which rub you the wrong way? NOW you know if you are walking in love of God and your brother or simply in love of your own self interests.

BRIEFLY consider  Jesus after He hear the news of the brutal death of His cousin John the Baptist. Jesus was deeply grieved, but it was His compassion for those He was called to minister too, that pull Him out of self-focus and onto the needs of others. Which is what Paul attempted to do with Timothy in II Tim. 1:1-7. God did not take away the sorrows from Timothy or Jesus – He simply refocused them.

“Freed to Love” …how?:

  1. In believing what God has said and not wallowing in the mud of our old self-identity any longer.
  2. Spending ourselves on others. – Phil. 2:1-18
  3. Forgiving our brother.

 

Point #1   We are Freed to Love…in believing what God has said and not wallowing in the mud of our old self-identity any longer.

If you are the “toy” you did NOT make you! There is no design flaw! You are pleasing to Him because you exist! What displeases Him is our failure to TRUST that what He made you to be is enough!

This MOST often is revealed in those areas we hate about ourselves.

Consider Moses…our example (I Cor. 10:1-11)

The lie that Moses believed concerning fulfilling His calling could very well have cost him his role as the earthly deliverer of Israel. What is it that caused Moses to falter at the task before him? Faulty considerations of self!

“Then Moses answered, “What if they won’t believe me and will not obey me but say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?” The LORD asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” he replied. Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” He threw it on the ground, and it became a snake. Moses ran from it, but the LORD told him, “Stretch out your hand and grab it by the tail.” So he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand. “This will take place,” He continued, “so they will believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” In addition the LORD said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” So he put his hand inside his cloak, and when he took it out, his hand was diseased, like snow. Then He said, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” He put his hand back inside his cloak, and when he took it out, it had again become like the rest of his skin. “If they will not believe you and will not respond to the evidence of the first sign, they may believe the evidence of the second sign. And if they don’t believe even these two signs or listen to what you say, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the Nile will become blood on the ground.” But Moses replied to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent–either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant–because I am slow and hesitant in speech.” The LORD said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” ~ Exod. 4:1-12

Why did Moses stutter and stammer?

The medical condition known as stuttering is NOT well understood at this point. Ms. Catherine Montgomery is an internationally recognized speech-language pathologist with 30 years of experience dedicated exclusively to the study and treatment of stuttering. She founded the American Institute for Stuttering, in 1998 and according to their website they do not yet have enough comprehensive information to outline the primary causes of stuttering. Though speech is an exceedingly complex mental and physiological process, it does not appear that the problem of stuttering is primarily due to “faulty” wiring in the brain. Though it remains to be seen if there is a brain pathology which contributes, it is a 100% treatable condition at any age if treated properly. This is what contributes to the common idea that stuttering is not due to an inherent problem between brain pathology and neurological stimuli to motor function. The fact that the debilitating condition is terribly worsened by anxiety and stress only adds to this belief.

In the end, we do not yet know what causes it and so we do not know what caused Moses’ speech impediment. But that is to get bogged down in the wrong question!

The real question is – what was God’s answer to Moses’s claim of suffering from a stuttering problem?

“But Moses replied to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent–either in the past or recently or since You have been speaking to Your servant–because I am slow and hesitant in speech.” The LORD said to him, “Who made the human mouth? Who makes him mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go! I will help you speak and I will teach you what to say.” ~ Exod. 4:10-12

Again, this is a lot like the answer God gave to Paul who complained to Him about circumstances beyond his ability. God’s answer seems to never change. God all but takes credit for Moses’ inclination towards stammering and tells him that He will teach him how to speak His words.

(NOTE: If anyone wants Jason’s music I encourage you to BUY it and therefore bless he and his family. You can purchase his music directly from his website at JasonGrayMusic.com.)

I first thought of Moses and then remembered that Jason Gray has had the same challenge. So, I deliberately used Jason’s story today because I know how much everyone has enjoyed his gift in our times of worship. If Jason drew his identity from his own abilities, he would surely be able to boast in terms of his music, but would be tempted to feel insecure due to his speech infirmity. What is beautiful is God IN Jason! It is not about personal eloquence! It is about abandonment to Him and His purposes manifest through our weaknesses.

If we walk through this life self-aware, we will decidedly NOT be Christ aware. Remember we love Him BECAUSE He first loved us. God’s pursuit of our hearts should cause us to swoon to His side and never leave. We are His treasured possession, but we cannot allow ourselves to grow complacent in that love. Nor can we allow ourselves to entertain thoughts of self-loathing or inadequacies  – we must embrace those things which we esteem the least and allow God to be revealed in and through us.

So, one of the ways in which we are freed to love – is to love God by honoring Him in His design of us as individuals. I am not in a position to say whether I believe God is directly involved in the deformities or genetic abnormalities in children as of yet. I can see the argument from both sides on scriptural grounds, but what I am saying is that physical infirmities serve as NO boundary to those who love Him. To them, it is simply another eye-catching way to draw attention to He Who really matters and THAT my brother and sister is true beauty!!!

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!