Remember the year when the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl with a large number of their starting players unable to play due to injury? As I watched them win, I thought, “Championship teams are flexible and enduring.”
Managing is the skill of placing people where their strengths can be effective for the organization. As the MCA Church key results, “God is glorified and people are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ,” become further defined, it is prudent to posture our team for maximum impact.
With this in mind, it is a delight to share the following Pastoral Staff realignments.
First, we thank God for the ministry of Michael Roux in leading the MCA Church Worship and the Arts ministry for the past seven years. Michael and Rachel add life, joy, and energy every where they go. Michael’s tenure as the Pastor of the MCA Worship and the Arts ministry is coming to a close as he moves to God’s next assignment for him.
Recently Michael stated, “It is time to make a change. God is moving me on.” If it weren’t for the confidence that God is all wise, we would argue against this decision. However, we are completely supportive of God’s will and plan.
The MCA Interim Youth Pastor, Jonathan Redfearn, will transfer on September 1, 2016, to the role of MCA Worship and the Arts Director. I look forward to watching all that the Lord intends for our Worship and the Arts ministry, including additional dramatic arts and choral opportunities.
In every venue we have room for the release of your worship and the arts ministry. Do you do graphic design? Write music? Poetry? Are you an actress or actor? Your skill set is in high demand at MCA Church!
Kelli Reed, MCA Young Adult Director, is planning a year away from the hustle and hurry of young adult ministry. Not to worry! She’ll be back highly energized, invigorated, full of new revelation. We love Kelli and are fired up about God’s plans for her.
I’ll miss Kelli’s quick scientific mind dropping quotes on us in staff meetings, but fully expect her to drop into our meetings from time to time with the latest discovery in string theory (Umbral Moonshine?). Hurry back to the action, Kelli.
Alejandro (Alex) Esteban has responded to the call of God to serve the students of South Central Alaska and the MCA Church network as the MCA Church Youth Director. EXCITING! Alex (from Guam) and Zyla (from Hawaii) add to the wonderful cultural diversity of our team.
Alex has resigned his supervisor position at NC Machinery to pursue God’s special calling to youth ministry. Prior to NC Machinery Alex worked (over six years) at Denali Family Services with students experiencing autism, ADD and ADHD, depression, severe emotional disturbance, emotional neglect, and physical or sexual abuse. His co-workers there speak exceptionally highly of Alex’ effectiveness with the students.
Additionally, Alex, knowing the call of God, has prepared for this calling by participating in classes at Far North Bible College and the Alaska School of Ministry. His ministry to students at MCA Island Revival and Revival Assembly has been effective and life changing for the teens.
Sorry, Green Bay Packers, you aren’t the only flexible and enduring championship team. :0)
We are designed and created for God’s abundant life. John 10:10
God’s communications are essential for experiencing, right here and now, this abundant life.
- The Psalmist’s current hope was in God’s word. Psalm 119:114
- In real time, right then and there, God’s word was a lamp and light. Psalm 119:105
- The wise men, in the birth of Jesus narrative, were guided by God’s communication. The details of God’s communication with these folks is still unknown.
- How did they learn that the birth of the King would be accompanied by a star?
- What motivated them to have the confidence to follow the star and bring gifts?
- Of all the kings at that time, why would they make great effort to worship this one?
- Consider God’s communications to Paul in Acts 16:6-10.
- How did the Holy Spirit forbid them to speak the word in Asia? Acts 16:6
- What all was involved in “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them”? Acts 16:7
- We do know that their decision to minister in Macedonia resulted from a vision God gave to Paul. Acts 16:9
What God had said in Deuteronomy He was saying again through Jesus to the tempter. Matthew 4:4
How do I know the difference between what God said and what God is saying today?
- Live (Abide) in the communications of God. John 15:4-7
- Learn the sound of God’s communications. John 10:27
- God’s communications are best understood in community.
- But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
- The apostles and elders were gathered together to consider this matter. Acts 15:6
- For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us… Acts 15:28
- No prophecy comes from someone’s own 2 Peter 1:20
I invite you to join me each day this week.
- Read John 15
- Meditate on a verse of John 15 each day.
- Memorize John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
We were designed and created to have the life of God flowing through us.
The Judaism of Jesus’ day was 100% integrated with God’s communications. Even while in Mary’s womb, Jesus was fully integrated in God’s communications.
God’s command to “tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads (Deuteronomy 6:8) was viewed as an illustrative metaphor until the Jewish people returned from exile in Babylon. At that time, they began to interpret this literally. The “frontlet” is a small box in which four bible passages, each written on a small parchment paper, are placed. The four bible passages are:
- Exodus 12:2-10 (Commencement of Passover)
- Exodus 13:11-21 (Remembrance of the Exodus)
- Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (The Bible’s Greatest Verse)
- Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (Reminder that Life Must Be God’s Word Centric)
For Jesus, integrating God’s communication into every area of life, is true life. Matthew 4:1-10
- God created by speaking. Every word that proceeds from the mouth of God includes the other sources of food that God created by speaking.
- God sustains life, in addition to physical food, through His word.
- Humanity’s life is sustained by bread only If God so blesses.
- Humanity’s life is sustained without bread only if God so blesses.
As man, therefore, I will await divine supply, nothing doubting that at the fitting time it will arrive. Jameison-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Here we are taught, in imitation of Christ, always to maintain such an humble dependence on the divine blessing, as never to venture out of the way of it, be our necessity ever so urgent. Benson Commentary
Let’s give careful consideration to Jesus’ statement, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
Tuning our lives to the frequency of God is true life. Since God’s word is coming from God’s mouth, God’s word must be coming from my mouth as well!
Let’s learn the lesson of Numbers 14:26-28 – “As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you…”
Personalize and Proclaim God’s Promise! “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Happy cheerful young woman jumping in the air in the middle of golden meadow with high grass. Conceptual of enjoying life happiness and life spirit.
** Note: Soft Focus at 100%, best at smaller sizes
We were designed and created to have the life of God flowing through us.
- We see God breathing into man the breath of life – God’s life into mankind. Gen. 2:7
- Jesus offers abundant life. John 10:10
- It is the Spirit who gives life. John 6:63
We were designed and created for our lives to be powered by God’s life. Consider how poorly your automobile will operate with just one gallon of water in your gas tank. Your life “runs” even more poorly when your life tank has even a drop of non-God life in it.
Do you find John 7:38 to be true of your life today? “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
Listen, in Shawn Johnson’s story, for the moment where the living water began to flow. “In that instant I felt the entire world lifted off of my shoulders. In that one instance I knew it was all going to be ok.”
Living water flows from the heart of the one who is hearing Father God’s communication.
Jesus reveals that his words are spirit and life. John 6:63
Notice the many different components to God’s communication in Psalm 119:57-64.
- Words. 57
- Promise. Vs. 58
- Testimonies. Vs. 59
- Commandments. Vs. 60
- Law. Vs. 61
- Righteous rules. 62
- Precepts. Vs. 63
- Statutes. 64
Embracing God’s communication is life-giving (Proverbs 4:20-23) because God and His communications are alive (Hebrews 4:12).
Repent Regret, with remorse, that you have met your desires on your own, apart from God, and proclaim that you will totally trust God to meet your deepest desires. Acts 3:19-20, Ezekiel 18:32,
Renounce Formally declare one’s abandonment of a claim, right, or possession. 2 Corinthians 4:2
Today’s text is 2 Corinthians 4:1, 2.
Earlier in 2 Corinthians Paul has been making powerful statements about the gloriousness of the ministry God has given to him and the people of the New Covenant.
It is because of this great ministry of the New Covenant that Paul does not lose heart. Vs. 1
Paul then points out that if one loses heart, the temptation is to move into shameful ways that one keeps secret (Vs. 2). Shame and guilt are brothers.
- Both shame and guilt are internal experiences resulting from a sense of violating the character of God.
- Guilt is judicial. I stand guilty before God, the Judge.
- Shame is relational. I stand traumatized before God with damage done to my self-identity.
After Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden they first hid from God (guilt) and then from each other (shame).
The first shameful way that Paul highlights is deception.
- In the original language deception is: unscrupulous cunning that stops at nothing to achieve a selfish
- From the Oxford Dictionary, to deceive is: cause (someone) to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage:
The second shameful way is distorting the word of God.
- To distort is to adulterate. Adulterate is: render (something) poorer in quality by adding another substance, typically an inferior one:
- To distort is to corrupt. Corrupt is: cause to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain:
- To distort is to hold out the worm concealing the hook (the original is related to the word bait).
Paul’s Spirit inspired solution? “But by the open statement of truth…” 2 Corinthians 4:2
The hedge of protection is the name given to God’s actions of limiting and restricting the Devil.
Two of God’s most known and celebrated characteristics are His love and Fatherhood. “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us….” 1 John 3:1
For our conversation today: Love is the total commitment to do what is best for the one loved.
Father God, in love, initiates (causes to begin) the hedge of protection.
- Father God initiates creation. Genesis 1:1
- Father God initiates forming Genesis 1:27
- Father God initiates the garden of Eden and placing Adam there. Genesis 2:8
- Father God initiates the forming of Eve. Genesis 2:22
- Father God initiates the hedge of protection. Genesis 2:15-17
Father God, in love, initiates and sustains relationship under the hedge of protection.
- God causes to begin an amazing relationship with Abraham. Genesis 12:1
- God causes to begin an amazing future for Joseph. Genesis 37:5
- God causes to begin the deliverance of Israel from Egypt through Moses. Exodus 3:1-5
- God causes to begin his relationship with us today. Ephesians 1:3, 4
- God sustains all of the relationships He initiates. Isaiah 46:1-4
Fathers, love is the total commitment to do what is best for the one loved.
- To be a father is to initiate God pleasing spirituality for your family. Joshua 24:15
- Consider beginning with a conversation about your decision to initiate God pleasing spirituality with your family.
- Consider making God’s word your most common conversation theme with your family. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
- Consider a non-negotiable commitment to participate every week in the Church by attendance at the Lord’s house. 1 Timothy 3:15
- To be a father is to initiate God pleasing relationship with your family.
- Consider beginning with a conversation about your decision to initiate God pleasing relationship with your family.
- Consider initiating the practice of blessing (appropriate meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, an active commitment).
- Consider initiating an ambiance of forgiveness with specific forgiveness actions.
The Bible is clear. God’s plans are for you to have abundant life even in the face of the “thief” who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. What is my part in the interaction between God’s design of abundant life and the thief’s hope for destruction? John 10:10, 1 John 3:8
Jesus’ blood, for those who place their trust in Him, is God’s restriction and limitation upon the devil.
God’s restriction and limitation of the devil is summarized by the devil himself, “Have you not put a hedge around him and his house…?” Job 1:10
The blood of Jesus functions as Job’s hedge of protection in our lives today. Pastor Jack Hayford writes (http://www.jackhayford.org/teaching/articles/single-entry/print/pleading-the-blood/)
- The blood provides protection
- The blood provides a means of deliverance
- The blood provides the promise of a new day
- The blood provides a witness
The Bible reveals that God’s restriction and limitation of the devil is impacted by various things and choices we make as free moral agents. Four Categories of Factors Known to cooperate with the intentions of Satan.
- The influence of ancestry.
- The influence of geography.
- The influence of certain types of sin.
- The influence of certain types of attitudes and actions.
Next week we continue… :0)
It is appropriate on Memorial Day weekend to remember Jesus’ love demonstrated by His death, burial, and resurrection as the sacrifice for our sin.
- According to the Bible, “Life is in the blood.” Leviticus 17:11
- Jesus’ blood is the blood of the covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin. Matthew 26:27-29
- Spiritual life is found in the blood of Jesus.
Today, you and I have either experienced God’s life by trusting in the blood of Jesus or have rejected God’s life and still stand alone, apart from the blood of Jesus.
We are studying the interactions between people and the devil and particularly the giving of opportunity to the devil to influence our lives. 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11
God restricts and limits the devil’s influence (John 10:10) through what may be called “Rules of Engagement.”
God governs the universe. Psalm 103:19
The devil, understanding the “Rules of Engagement,” seeks permission from God to “steal, kill, and destroy” you.
The Bible reveals the devil’s offense includes at least seventeen types of attacks. Thirteen of the attacks are against both those who trust in Jesus’ blood and against those who have not yet trusted in Jesus’ blood. Those who have not trusted in the blood of Jesus are open to an additional four attacks.
- Satanically inspired thoughts
- Provoking to foolish and harmful actions
- Destruction of the flesh
- Disputing and criminal activity
- Influencing Politicians and government leaders
- Taking away the understanding of the Bible
- Blinding the mind toward spiritual things
- Leading into error about spiritual things
- Hindrance of demons
Four Additional Attacks against those not trusting in Jesus’ blood
- Persistent disobedience
- Participation with demons
- Periodic possession
- Constant possession
Foundational Responses to the Offense of the devil
- Prayer asking for God’s great mercy. Hebrews 4:16
- Resist the devil. James 4:7
- Declare God’s revealed word. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10
- Rely on the “blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 12:11
Special thanks to Dr. Joseph Fuiten for his doctoral work on the subject of God’s protective hedge. Read Dr. Fuiten’s amazing dissertation here.
Let’s highlight two things that happen when we trust in Jesus for salvation.
- Like the doorways in the story of Passover, Jesus’ blood is placed on my life. Exodus 12:7, 12-13
- Like the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, Jesus’ blood covers Leviticus 16:11-15, Romans 3:22-25
How do my past and current decisions, actions, and attitudes impact me today?
Through our past and current decisions, actions, and attitudes we extend invitations and opportunities to God or the devil to influence our lives.
The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4:26, 27, reveals that unrighteous anger extends an invitation and opportunity to the devil to have influence in a Christian’s life.
Paul also reveals, in Ephesians 4:1-4, that when Christians “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” they extend an invitation and opportunity to God for increased influence in your life.
First, it is essential to develop truthful self-awareness to provide you with an accurate assessment. Psalm 51:6
Second, your accurate assessment of the self must be evaluated and properly named by the Bible. James 1:22-25
If you have and/or are giving opportunity to the devil
Repent Regret, with remorse, that you have met your desires on your own, apart from God, and proclaim that you will totally trust God to meet your deepest desires. Acts 3:19-20
Renounce Formally declare one’s abandonment of a claim, right, or possession. 2 Corinthians 4:2
Repurpose Dedicate what was once given to the devil to God and His purposes. Romans 6:13
If you have and/or are giving opportunity to God
Hear Build faith by hearing the promises of God. Romans 10:17, Ephesians 3:20
Heed Do as God’s promises require. 2 Peter 1:4, 10
Hold Endure and persevere in the promises of God. 2 Timothy 2:11-13, James 1:25
Listen – My Story
- What is one of the best opportunities you have ever been given?
- What enjoyable opportunities do you have this summer?
Learn – Digging Deeper
- Read Psalm 51:1-17
- In what verses do you see David repenting?
- In what verses do you see David renouncing?
- In what verses do you see David repurposing?
Lift – Prayer
- Please pray for God’s wisdom for those in your Life Group who have opportunities about which they must decide.
- Please pray for those in your group who have given the devil opportunity in their lives and help them renounce any commitments and allegiance made to sin and the devil.
- Please pray that any territory of the heart formerly given to the devil will be repurposed for God.
Life – Taking it Home
- Do you have an area in which you want to repent, renounce, and repurpose?
- What could you do this week to strengthen these three things?
- What is your next step in response to this teaching?
God and Israel’s relationship with each other was characterized by seven joyful feasts/festivals each year. Each feast was a special appointment with God. Leviticus 23:2
In calendar order, the feasts are, 1. Passover, 2. Unleavened bread, 3. First Fruits, 4. Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), 5. Feast of Trumpets, 6. Day of Atonement, 7. Feast of Booths (Tabernacles or Gatherings).
The feast experiences are:
- Relational – a bit like a family reunion filled with eating, dancing, and singing
- Remembrances – keeping alive the story of God and Israel
- Lessons about how God interacts with people
- Expecting greater fulfillment in the future
Today, according to our calendar, is the Feast of Pentecost. The Jewish Calendar celebrates the Feast of Pentecost on June 11/12 this year.
Pentecost is a feast in celebration of God’s bountiful provision of three things:
- The giving of the Exodus 19-20
- The giving of the wheat Leviticus 23:15-22
- The giving of the Holy Acts 2
It is interesting to note that God likes to do something special during His appointed feasts (remember the four feast experiences above). Acts 2:1-13
Notice that a couple of things change in the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2.
- The message of Pentecost is no longer the Law but Jesus! Acts 2:22
- The harvest of Pentecost is no longer wheat but people being saved. Acts 2:21, 41
When we have a personal Pentecost, we receive power and boldness to proclaim the message of Jesus throughout the world and see a harvest of people into the family of God.
In Leviticus 16:9-12 gives guidance to the kind of Pentecost celebration God enjoys.
- Give tribute to God with a freewill offering from your hand. 16:12
- And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. 16:11
- You shall remember that you were slaves. 16:12