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"Let us reason together…" Isaiah 1:18

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Becoming People of Realized Potential: Your God Will Be My God

Becoming People of Realized Potential

Your God will be My God

One of God’s greatest gifts to humans is the exclusive ability to become.

I am human and I am becoming human because there is more humanity for me to personally realize.

  • My house cannot become.
  • Our dog cannot become.

Only to human beings has God given the gift of becoming.

I am both created in the image of God and into the image of God I am becoming.

  • 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26, 27
  • 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son… Romans 8:29

We have identified the four most important decisions every human being decides for becoming people of realized potential.

  1. With who will I travel and stay?
  2. Who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

One of the most respected statements in Christian history addresses the decision, “Who will be my God?”

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God.”

–A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York: HarperCollins, 1961), 1.

There are two options on this matter, God or idolatry.

“When a finite value . . . [becomes] a center of value by which other values are judged . . . [and] has been elevated to centrality and imagined as a final source of meaning, then one has chosen what Jews and Christians call a god. . . . To be worshipped as a god, something must be sufficiently good to be plausibly regarded as the rightful center of one’s valuing. . . . One has a god when a finite value is worshipped and adored and viewed as that without which one cannot receive life joyfully.” Thomas C. Oden, Two Worlds: Notes on the Death of Modernity in America and Russia (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1992), p. 95.

Tim Keller makes idolatry easily understandable.

A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.

An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”

Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods . Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

From the research of Brian S. Rosner, Greed as Idolatry: The Origin and Meaning of a Pauline Metaphor (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2007), Keller states, “The Bible uses three basic metaphors to describe how people relate to the idols of their hearts. They love idols, trust idols, and obey idols.”

Considering the above compositely, we might say, “An idol is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living and it is so central that you love, trust and obey it.”

Becoming people of realized potential, we find ourselves with Joshua and all the tribes of Israel at Shechem.  Joshua 24

With Joshua and all the tribes of Israel, we present ourselves before God.  Joshua 24:1

Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.

Second, we recall the vast number of amazing things in our lives that only God could have provided and done.  Joshua 24: 2-13

Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.

“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen[a] as far as the Red Sea.[b] But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.

“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their landWhen Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.

11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’

Third, we fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.  Joshua 24:14

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness.

Fourth, we throw away our idols and serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:14

Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  14

23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

Fifth, we understand it is of our own free will that we make our god/God selection. Joshua 24:15

15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you

Sixth, we are personally responsible for making this, life’s most important decision.

…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.

Seventh, we record our decision, with witnesses (water baptism). Joshua 24:26

26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God.

Eighth, we set up a memorial to remind us and our witnesses of our commitment.  Joshua 24:26, 27

Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.

27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”

Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives

  1. With Joshua and all the tribes of Israel, we present ourselves before God. Joshua 24:1
  2. We recall the vast number of amazing things in our lives that only God could have provided and done. Joshua 24: 2-13
  3. We fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Joshua 24:14
  4. We throw away our idols and serve the Lord. Joshua 24:14
  5. We understand it is of our own free will that we make our god/God selection. Joshua 24:15
  6. We are personally responsible for making this, life’s most important decision. Joshua 24:15
  7. We record our decision, with witnesses (water baptism). Joshua 24:26
  8. We set up a memorial to remind us and our witnesses of our commitment. Joshua 24:26, 27

 

Listen – My Story

  • What is one of your favorite aspects of what you are becoming?
  • Do you know a powerful story, either positively or negatively, of someone becoming?

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Pastor Kent taught the great danger of idolatry as seen in Joshua 24. Read Romans 1:21-23.  What is the idolatry in this passage?
  • Read Romans 1:18-20. What is God’s response to this idolatry?
  • Read Romans 1:28-32. What happens in the lives of those living in this idolatry?
  • Do you see Romans 1 in our world of today?

 

Lift – Prayer

Identify one of the Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives

  • Identify one of the Eight Processes of Destroying Idolatry in Our Lives that each member most wants to improve and pray for each person.
  • Celebrate Recovery (each Tuesday, 6:30 PM, Central Campus) helps many people destroy idols in their lives. Would you consider joining?  Please pray for the effectiveness of Celebrate Recovery.
  • Please pray for a powerful anointing upon Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames, 2019.
  • Please pray for each life group member to boldly move toward becoming people of realized potential.

Life – Taking it Home

  • What is the Holy Spirit asking you to add, delete or recalibrate in your life?
  • Have you been baptized in water? Is this a next step for you to publicly declare your memorial?
  • Who do you know, living in idolatry too, who would be blessed to be included in MCA ministries and Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames?
Posted on 16th February 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized  •  No comments yet
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Personal Revival in Psalm 119:154

Personal Revival:  Psalm 119:154

The Psalmist brilliantly navigates the terrain of his heart and provides for us, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, an example of personal revival.

Eleven times in Psalm 119 the author petitions God to “revive me and give me life.”

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Vs. 154            Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Vs. 156            Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

Vs. 159            Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.

In eight of the eleven personal revival verses David shows how well he understands his inner being and expresses that experience to God.  Vs. 25, 37, 40, 50, 93, 107, 154, 159

In the other three personal revival verses of Psalm 119 David petitions God for revival based upon the known nature and character of God.  Two times God’s steadfast love and once God’s great mercy form David’s basis for his petition.  Vs. 88, 149, 156

From this we can learn the importance and value of understanding and expressing to God the experience of our inner being.  This personal awareness is evident in Jesus too.  Matthew 26:36-39

36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Knowing God, His nature and character, is also vital.  The well-understood inner being is only safe when entrusted to God.  1 Peter 4:19

Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Let’s now consider David’s ninth personal revival prayer.

Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!  Psalm 119:154

Three petitions are stated in this prayer.

  1. Plead my cause.
  2. Redeem me.
  3. Give me life according to your promise.

Plead my Cause

The Psalmist deeply feels the weight of injustice against him by wicked people.  He believes he is receiving treatment that isn’t fair, right or deserved.

Plead my cause, which is the same thing as to undertake a cause, or to take the charge of defending one in judgment, or to maintain the right of the oppressed.  Calvin’s Commentary

First, to “plead my cause” is a request for God to undertake his cause for him.

  • Alexander reads it, “Strive my strife, and redeem me” — that is, stand in my stead, bear my burden, fight my fight, pay my price, and bring me out to liberty. When we feel ourselves dumb before the foe, here is a prayer made to our hand. What a comfort that if we sin we have an advocate, and if we do not sin the same pleader is engaged on our side. The Treasury of David

Second, “plead my cause” petitions God to take charge of defending David in the judgements being made by wicked people against him.

  • It feels to David as if the wicked have set up a trial, found him guilty, have sentenced him to punishment and all this wrongly and without legal representation.
  • He asks God to be his defense attorney and advocate.
  • “He now supposes himself to be arraigned before the tribunal of men, as he certainly was in their general charges against him; arraigned, too, in his helplessness, without a name, without state; in such way as one disowned would be arraigned….As it were, he regards himself as one sold to corrupt judges, or at all events, as one that has lost his standing in society in the estimation of men.” The Treasury of David

Third, “plead my cause” is a prayer for God to maintain the right of the oppressed.

  • What God expects from David, David asks God to do for him.
  • Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. Isaiah 1:16, 17

Redeem Me

David urges God, in prayer, to be his Kinsman-Redeemer.  From the Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary we gain insight into a kinsman-redeemer.

Male relative who, according to various laws found in the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act for a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need of vindication.

Although the term “kinsman-redeemer” is used only seven times in the NIV (all in the Book of Ruth) and “avenger of blood” is used twelve times, the Hebrew verb ga’al, from which both of these terms are translated, is used over 100 times and rendered by such additional terms as “redeemer” or “near relative.” The Hebrew term designates a male relative who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16Exodus 6:6); redeems property (Leviticus 27:9-25) or person (Leviticus 25:47-55); avenges the murder of a relative as a guiltless executioner (Numbers 35:9-34); and receives restitution for wrong done to a relative who has since died (Numbers 5:8). The unique emphasis of the redemption/salvation/vindication associated with the kinsman-redeemer is the fact that this action is carried out by a kinsman on behalf of a near relative in need. This idea is most clearly illustrated in the Book of Ruth.  https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/kinsman-redeemer.html

Give Me Life According to your Promise

The Psalmist prays, “I can’t defend myself.  God and God alone is sufficient to be my Advocate and Defender.  I am unable to get out of this situation on my own.  Redeem me God!  This experience has drained the life from me.  When you advocate for me and redeem me, I ask you to revive me.  Give me life according to your promise.

 

Posted on 13th February 2019 in Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential: The Importance of Your Tribe

Ruth succinctly states four crucial decisions in every human being’s life.  Ruth 1:15-18

  1. With who will I journey and stay?
  2. Who is my tribe and who are my people?
  3. Who is my God?
  4. Am I fully committed to these three decisions?

 

Today we consider the importance of “my people and tribe” as I journey to Father’s House.

 

From conception we begin our journey to Father’s house.

 

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:1

 

From the Trinity, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we gain insight into an exclusively Christian experience of fellowship.

 

  • 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9
  • that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3

 

Christianity is a common shared life (fellowship).

 

With whom am I in fellowship as I journey home to Father’s house?

 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured the high value of fellowship in his book, Life Together.

 

The believer feels no shame, as though he were still living too much in the flesh, when he yearns for the physical presence of other Christians.  Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacrament the believer receives the Lord Christ in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God’s spiritual-physical creatures.  The believer therefore lauds the Creator, the Redeemer, God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for the bodily presence of a brother.  The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile sees in the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God.  Visitor and visited in loneliness recognize in each other the Christ who is present in the body; they receive and meet each other as one meets the Lord, in reverence, humility, and joy.  They receive each other’s benedictions as the benediction of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But if there is so much blessing and joy even in a single encounter of brother with brother, how inexhaustible are the riches that open up for those who by God’s will are privileged to live in the daily fellowship of life with other Christians!

It is true, of course, that what is an unspeakable gift of God for the lonely individual is easily disregarded and trodden under foot by those who have the gift every day.  It is easily forgotten that the fellowship of Christian brethren is a gift of grace, a gift of the Kingdom of God that any day may be taken from us, that the time that still separates us from utter loneliness may be brief indeed.  Therefore, let him who until now has had the privilege of living in common Christian life with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of his heart.  Let him thank God on his knees and declare: It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.

 

Christianity is a common shared life, it is fellowship and we are extremely blessed by this grace.

 

Careful selection of those in your fellowship is very important.

 

“…your own performance is either improved or diminished by the other people in your scenario.” Cloud, Henry. The Power of the Other (p. 9). HarperBusiness. Kindle Edition.

 

  • Ruth was improved by Naomi.
  • Samson was diminished by Delilah.
  • Paul was improved by Barnabas.
  • David was diminished by Saul but improved by Jonathan.

 

Careful observation of the Acts 2:42-47 church reveals seven beginning points for this glorious improved common shared life (fellowship).

 

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

 

The Early Church Common Shared Life Our Common Shared Life
Devoted themselves to….the fellowship Devote myself to the fellowship
The fellowship includes communion and prayer Devote myself to holy communion and prayer
All who believed were together Devote myself to being together with the fellowship
Had all things in common Devote myself to sharing with the fellowship
As any had need Devote myself to meeting the needs of the fellowship.
Every day attending the temple Devote myself to daily corporate worship
Eating together daily Devote myself to eating with the fellowship

 

When someone prioritizes these seven beginning points of fellowship with you, they are, as Bonhoeffer said, “a gift of grace” for whom “we thank God on our knees.”

 

Fellowship is a double blessing.  We are at home in our fellowship as we travel Home to Father’s House.

MCA Life Group Homework

Listen – My Story

  • Do you have a memorable eating together experience?
  • Is there a time when a Christian friend was “the presence of Christ” for you?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Please pray for God to increase your joyful anticipation of being in Father’s House someday.
  • Please pray for each Life Group member’s hopes and wishes for their tribe and people.
  • Please pray for Connie Ordway, long-term MCA member nearing Father’s House.

 

 

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Read 1 John 1:1-7.
  • From this passage, do you see any differences between friendship and fellowship?
  • Who are the fellowship partners in verse 3?
  • What does God require of his fellowship partners? 6
  • What are the two benefits of walking in the light? 7
  • Who are the fellowship partners named “one another” in verse 7?

 

 

 

Life – Taking it Home

  • Which of the seven beginning points of fellowship do you need to prioritize with your tribe?
  • Is there someone you should consider adding to your tribe?
  • Is there someone you should consider deleting from your tribe?

 

 

 

Posted on 9th February 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival in Psalm 119: God’s love, word and ways

Personal Revival in Psalm 119

God’s love, His Word and His Ways

Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.  119:149

The Psalmist knows of God’s steadfast love.

  • The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”  Exodus 34:5-7
  • 11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
    12 You stretched out your right hand;
    the earth swallowed them. 13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.  Exodus 15:11-13
  • “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.
  • 12 “And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. 13 He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. 15 And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.16 And you shall consume all the peoples that the Lord your God will give over to you. Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you.  Deuteronomy 7:6-16

Based upon God’s steadfast love, the Psalmist requests God to hear his voice.

  • O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you[a] and watch.  Psalm 5:3
  • In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6
  • Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.  Psalm 28:2
  • Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:17
  • But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.  Psalm 66:19

Assured God hears his voice, David makes a twofold petition for personal revival (depending upon how you render the Hebrew word judgement/justice).

  • First, give me life based upon Who You are (What you have said – judgements).

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and this is instruction for mankind, O Lord God! 20 And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! 21 Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it.22 Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them[d] great and awesome things by driving out before your people,[e]whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? 24 And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God.25 And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken26 And your name will be magnified forever, saying, ‘The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,’ and the house of your servant David will be established before you. 27 For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. 29 Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.”

Second, give me life based upon What You do (How you have done in the past – justice).

O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.  Habakkuk 3:2

Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?  Psalm 85:6

10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 2 Corinthians 1:10

Posted on 6th February 2019 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Full Potential: Position, Decisions and Desires

People who realize their full potential understand that key life decisions position them for experiencing their deepest desire.

Christians live a well-decided life within an all-encompassing unique framework.

Prior to the often-helpful framework of personal core values, purpose and mission statements, the Christian comes to terms with every human’s deepest desire.

Decisions and desires are a closely woven tapestry.

“The highest dream we could ever dream, the wish that if granted would make us happier than any other blessing, is to know God, to actually experience Him.” Crabb, Larry. Shattered Dreams (Kindle Locations 188-191). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A well-decided Christian life becomes evident in those who understand their deepest desire is to know and experience God.

Notice, in Philippians 3:7-11, Paul’s emphasis upon his deepest desire to know and experience God.

Considered a Loss Considered Great Gain
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ,
  10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

 

Our most important decisions are to be made in harmony with our deepest desire.

In the experience of two women, Naomi and Ruth, God reveals the four most crucial decisions in every person’s life.

A short version of the narrative is:

  • There is a famine in Bethlehem.
  • Elimelech moves cross culturally to Moab with his wife, Naomi, and their two sons.
  • Elimelech suddenly dies. Naomi is now a widow.
  • Their sons have married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth.
  • Suddenly, both sons died too. Naomi is a widow who is childless.  Orpah and Ruth are now widows.
  • Naomi decides to move back to Bethlehem and encourages Orpah and Ruth to enjoy their Moabite lives.
  • Orpah agrees.
  • Ruth disagrees and reveals to us the four most crucial decisions every human being makes.

Ruth 1:15-18

15 And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” 18 And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

Ruth’s Statement My Crucial Decision
For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. With which persons will I journey and stay?
Your people shall be my people Who will be my people?
and your God (shall be) my God Who will be my God?
May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you. Will I fully commit to these decisions?

With which persons will I journey and stay?

  • The wise selection of my spouse and closest friends is crucial.
  • In what ways do we help each other pursue and realize our deepest longing for God?

Who will be my people?

  • The wise selection of my primary group or tribe or cohort is crucial.
  • In what ways do we help each other pursue and realize our deepest longing for God?

Who will be my God?

  • The wise selection of God, as revealed in the Bible, is crucial.
  • The wise selection of how you and God will relate is crucial.

Will I fully commit to these decisions?

  • Have I developed the wisdom to courageously and loyally serve these three decisions?
  • When these decisions and life as God allows it to come to me become exceptionally difficult, will I remain steadfast and unmovable in these commitments?

MCA Life Group Homework

Listen – My Story

  • What is your best ever decision (other than trusting in Jesus for salvation and selecting your spouse)?
  • Who most helped you make that decision?

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Read Philippians 3:4-6. What are Paul’s reasons for “confidence in the flesh?”  Would most of Paul’s audience consider these reasons for confidence as positives or negatives?  Are there positives in our lives today that we should consider loss?  Are there negatives we should consider loss?
  • How might we develop Paul’s love (deepest desire) for knowing Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and becoming like Him in His death? Philippians 3:10
  • Ruth helps us understand the four most crucial decisions every human being makes. Ruth 1:16-17
    • With whom will I journey?
    • Who will be my people?
    • Who will be my God?
    • Will I fully commit to these decisions?
  • Read Mark 8:27-30. Talk about why the question Jesus asked is still the most important decision every human being will make.

Lift – Prayer

  • Pray for each other to more deeply understand and experience the soul’s deepest longing for God.
  • Pray for each other to confidently join Paul in knowing what to personally “consider loss.”
  • Pray for the each other’s petitions.
  • Take time to listen for the voice of the Lord.

Life – Taking it Home

  • Is there something you need to do this week regarding Ruth’s four questions?
  • Is there something in your life regarding the four questions that you should consider loss?
  • Is there something in your life regarding the four questions in which you are experiencing the strong presence of God?

Share the Joy – Invite a Friend to Your Life Group

  • Someone in your circle of influence very much longs to be included in your spiritual tribe.
  • Some may even deeply desire having you as a very close friend.

 

 

Posted on 2nd February 2019 in Realized Potential, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival: Psalm 119:107

Psalm 119: Personal Revival

We are giving thorough study to each of the eleven occurrences of “revival” in the 119th Psalm.

The Hebrew word includes the following ideas:

Barnes Notes on the Bible

Cause me to live; give me vigor and strength to break away from this which binds me fast, and to rise above these low propensities.

Pulpit Commentary

Raise me up to life and health and vigor.

Psalm 119:107 is today’s text.

I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Verses 105-112 comprise this portion of this poetic Psalm.

  1. Before we celebrate the lamp and light, let’s remember the lamp and light are needed because it is extremely dark.
  2. It is so dark as to be called “extremely afflicted.” An interlinear reading is “very afflicted, very.”
  3. The Psalmist says, “I hold my life in my hand continually.”
    1. Exposed to perpetual and extreme danger, as any precious and frail thing is which a man carries openly in his hand, and which he may easily let fall, or be deprived of by violence.  Benson Commentary
    2. The idea in the original is that his soul – his life – was always in jeopardy. The expression seems to be proverbial. Anything taken in the hand is liable to be rudely snatched away. Thus a casket of jewels, or a purse of gold in the hand, may at any moment be seized by robbers. Barnes Notes on the Bible
  4. It is also extremely dark because “the wicked have laid a snare for me.”

There are two primary experiences for the Christian under the heavy weight of extreme affliction, 1. God infuses His strength into the Christian and/or, 2. God removes the extreme affliction and strength and vigor naturally return to the Christian.

The Treasury of David

According to the last verse he had been sworn in as a soldier of the Lord, and in this next verse he is called to suffer hardness in that capacity. Our service of the Lord does not screen us from trial, but rather secures it for us. The Psalmist was a consecrated man, and yet a chastened man; nor were his chastisements light; for it seemed as if the more he was obedient the more he was afflicted. He evidently felt the rod to be cutting deep, and this he pleads before the Lord. He speaks not by way of murmuring, but by way of pleading; from the very much affliction he argues for very much quickening.

Alfred John Morris, 1814-1869

We can recommend so persuasively the cheerful drinking of the cup of sorrow when in the hand of others, but what wry faces we make when it is put into our own.

Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney, 1786-1859

The Christian lives in the midst of crosses, as the fish lives in the sea.

Into this extreme darkness of affliction comes the most glorious lamp and light of God’s Word.

I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word! Psalm 119:105

Extreme affliction is met by an even more extreme life-giving word of God!

God’s word is more powerful than human words can adequately reveal.

Consider this paragraph from the Treasury of David by C. H. Spurgeon.

  1. Quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word. This is the best remedy for tribulation;
  2. the soul is raised above the thought of present distress,
  3. and is filled with that holy joy which attends all vigorous spiritual life,
  4. and so the affliction grows light.
  5. Jehovah alone can quicken:
  6. he has life in himself, and therefore can communicate it readily;
  7. he can give us life at any moment, yea, at this present instant;
  8. for it is of the nature of quickening to be quick in its operation.
  9. The Lord has promised, prepared, and provided this blessing of renewed life for all his waiting servants:
  10. it is a covenant blessing, and it is as obtainable as it is needful.
  11. Frequently the affliction is made the means of the quickening, even as the stirring of a fire promotes the heat of the flame. In their affliction some desire death, let us pray for life. Our foreboding under trial are often very gloomy, let us entreat the Lord to deal with us, not according to our fears, but according to his own word.
  12. David had but few promises to quote, and probably these were in his own psalms, yet he pleads the word of the Lord;
  13. how much more should we do so, since to us so many holy men have spoken by the Spirit of the Lord in that wonderful library which is now our Bible.
  14. Seeing we have more promises, let us offer more prayers.

The challenge?

  • Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lorddelivers him out of them all.  Psalm 34:19
  • In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials. 1 Peter 1:6

The Overcoming Victory?

  • God revives the soul through His word!

Paul’s call to the Romans is his call to us. (12:12-13)

  1. Rejoice in hope,
  2. be patient in tribulation,
  3. be constant in prayer.
  4. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

May God grant to you a deep and abiding personal revival.

Posted on 30th January 2019 in Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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Becoming People of Realized Potential in Christ

The Holy Spirit is inviting us to become people of realized potential in Christ.

Potential – Those realities “existing in possibility” and those “capable of developing into actuality.”  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/potential

Realized – To “bring into concrete existence.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/realized

People – Is most often used in the plural but is also appropriately used in the singular.

  • “American people are filled with faith.”  Plural
  • “In America we find a people of faith.”  Singular
  • In our theme, we intend “People” in both the plural and singular.

 

Plural Singular
Potential Existing in possibility as a group Existing in possibility as a person
Realized Bring into concrete existence as a group Bring into concrete existence as a person

 

In realizing full potential, the individual (person) is significantly impacted by their group (people).

In realizing full potential, the group (people) is significantly impacted by its individuals (persons).

Shawn Achor, author of Big Potential, shares insight from lightening bugs on the singular and plural aspects of becoming people of realized potential.

The success rate increased by 79 percentage points when flashing as an interconnected community rather than as individuals. Achor, Shawn. Big Potential (p. 17). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

 

As we look to the Bible for revelation into becoming people (singular and plural) of realized potential, let’s consider the concepts of position and placement.

In auto racing we see hints of the importance of position.  For NASCAR, driver Richard Petty has the all-time record winning 61 times from 123 pole positions with an average of 49.6%.

In the Bible, position and placement are a huge part of the realized potential process and can be action taken by God in our lives, action that we take or a combination of the two.

  • God was at work in positioning Joseph (rather miserably) for his full potential entirely against his own will. Genesis 37-50.
  • God was at work in positioning Zacchaeus (rather delightfully) for his full potential through Zacchaeus’ own interest in seeing Jesus. Luke 19:1-10

Four “positionings” for becoming people of realized potential in Psalm 92:12-15

 

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Positioned in righteousness.
They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.

 

Positioned in the house of the Lord.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,

 

Positioned in fruit bearing.
to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

 

Positioned in declaring the Lord.

Specific Applications

  1. Knowing lightening bugs’ success rates increase by 79% when acting as an interconnected community, will you commit to a small group in your MCA Church community?
  2. Knowing position is important in auto racing, will you commit to intentional placement for becoming a people of realized potential?

MCA Church Life Group Home Work

Listen – My Story

  • Were you ever in the “right place at the right time?
  • Are you more prone to spiritual growth in the singular (by yourself) or in the plural (with others)?
  • Do you have a specific friend who could greatly benefit from spiritual growth with you and your Life Group?

 

Lift – Prayer

  • Prayer is possibly the most important activity of spiritual life in both the singular and plural.
  • Please pray together.
  • Please close your prayer time by asking God to take your Life Group to its fullest potential in Christ.

Learn – Digging Deeper

  • Read Proverbs 16:9. What action do people take? What actions does God take?  Do you see the possibility for a combination of action with both God and people?
  • Abraham had the uncomfortable positioning by God “to a land I will show you.” We think Abraham had no idea where he was going to be positioned.  Even in the unknowing Abraham trusted God.  Read Isaiah 51:2. What was God’s intended purpose in re-positioning Abraham and Sarah?

Life – Taking it Home

  • Is there a specific action you should take to be better positioned in righteousness, the house of the Lord, fruit bearing and declaring the Lord?
  • Is the Holy Spirit speaking to you about a ministry action to take prior to closing today’s group meeting?

2019 Financial Contribution Records

Thank you for your financial contributions to MCA Church.  Your tithes, offerings and gifts keep the vision growing to the glory of God.

Your financial contribution records will be mailed on Tuesday.

Posted on 26th January 2019 in Realized Potential, Uncategorized  •  Comments are off for this post
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Personal Revival and Memory

Psalm 119: Personal Revival

Eleven times the Psalmist prays for personal revival.

Vs. 25              My soul clings to the dust.  Revive me according to your word.

Vs. 37              Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.

Vs. 40              Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

Vs. 50              This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.

Vs. 88              In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Vs. 107            I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word!

Vs. 149            Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Vs. 154            Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!

Vs. 156            Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.

Vs. 159            Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.

The Hebrew word includes the idea of “revive, the people of God by God Himself with fulness of life in His favor.”  https://biblehub.com/hebrew/2421.htm

Barnes Notes on the Bible

Cause me to live; give me vigor and strength to break away from this which binds me fast, and to rise above these low propensities.

Pulpit Commentary

Raise me up to life and health and vigor.

The personal reviving of Psalm 119 flows from an experience with God through His written Word.

In both the Old and New Testament, an Agent of experience with God is the Holy Spirit.

King David knows the presence of the Holy Spirit is with him and pleads with God to not take the Holy Spirit away from him as a response to his great sin.  Psalm 51:11

Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Today, we too have God’s written Word with the added delight of the outpoured Holy Spirit.  May we experience the personal revival of Psalm 119 through the Agency of the Holy Spirit applying God’s written Word and through the Personal presence of the Holy Spirit.

Today’s text, Psalm 119:93, connects revival to remembering what God has said.

Vs. 93              I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.

Notice the action of God in our personal remembrance.  Psalm 111:4

He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and merciful.

Memorials can be created to help us remember.  Joshua 4:1-7

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”

In the ways of God, remembrance holds a very special grace for the believer.

“The question arises, When believers remember the deeds of God and when God remembers his relation to Israel what kind of remembering is in view? Is it merely recollection of information about the past? Or is it remembering the past in such a way that the facts remembered have some impact on the present? As a minimum, this remembering within the Old Covenant would seem to imply that the God who performed the past mighty deeds, which are remembered, is the God who is present with his people as he or they remember those deeds. And he is present as the same, living God, bound to them in election and covenant as he was to their ancestors in days past, for he is Yahweh, “I am who I am.””

“…he who is remembered is very much present at the memorial/remembrance.”  Biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers

Psalm 119:93 declares, “I will never forget” and in the never forgetting there is deep personal revival.

Undoubtedly, the theology of remembrance is experienced in highest form at the Lord’s table.  Luke 22:17-20

17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

“…he who is remembered is very much present at the memorial/remembrance.”  

 

Posted on 23rd January 2019 in Uncategorized, Wednesday Evenings  •  Comments are off for this post
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The Maker Has Made Himself Known: Make Him Known

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2018

What part of God’s world do you love?

Last weekend we investigated a two-way relationship with God, “Because He loves to give the gift of making Himself known to you, He also loves it when you give Him the gift of making yourself known to Him.”

 

In the same manner, “God so loved the world that he gave,” is His extravagant invitation for us to love God’s world as He does and participate in making the Maker known to others.

Pause for a moment and experience the exquisite joy of the angelic declaration first shared with a group of shepherds.  Luke 2:8-12

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Embrace the Good News!  Jesus’ birth, sinless life, miraculous ministry, death and resurrection are for “all the people.”

At the birth of Jesus, Bethlehem becomes God’s centerpiece of lovingly drawing all people to Himself.  God loves to make Himself known and demonstrate His love for all people.

People who have lived rough, messed up lives are included in God’s love story.

  • Men – David, the King and King Solomon (Matthew 1:6, 7)
  • Women – Tamar (Matthew 1:3) and Bathsheba (Matthew 1:6)

People considered undesirable and unwanted are shown they are desirable, wanted and loved by God.

  • The shepherds (Luke 2:8)

People who deny the true and living God are included in God’s loving Self-revelation.

  • The magi (Matthew 2:1)
  • “even the most pagan of pagans may respond to Jesus if given the opportunity (cf. Jonah 1:13-16; 3:6-4:1, 10-11). For one special event in history, the God who rules the heavens chose to reveal himself where pagans were looking.” Keener, Craig S.. A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (p. 100). Eerdmans Publishing Co – A. Kindle Edition.

People who love the true and living God are also recipients of God’s love and Self-revelation.

  • Joseph – Righteous (Matthew 1:19), humble, obedient (Matthew1:24), gracious, gift of discernment
  • Mary Highly favored, the Lord is with you (Luke 2:28), I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word (Luke 2:38)

The Good News of great joy is for all the people!

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”  John 6:35-37

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires (whosoever will) take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:17

What part of God’s world do you love?

  1. Do you love people who have lived rough, messed up lives and are waiting for you to explain and show that they are included in God’s great love?
  2. Do you love people that others consider undesirable and unwanted who long to be included in God’s circle of love through you?
  3. Do you love people who deny the true and living God and are looking for you to bridge the gap to God’s love?
  4. Do you love people who love the true and living God and hope you will love them too?

Someone near you is waiting, longing, looking and hoping you will make the Maker known to them.

Jesus’ statement, “God so loved the world that he gave,” is His extravagant invitation for us to love God’s world as He does and do our part in making the Maker known.

Posted on 22nd December 2018 in Christmas, Weekend Talks  •  Comments are off for this post