Speaker: Multiple Speakers Nov 29, 2015 - Dec 27, 2015
For many of us Christmas is a time filled with celebration, gifts, cards, and gatherings. For others it can be a time of sorrow and struggle. Join us in this series as we help you learn how the coming of Christ will help you experience God’s presence in all of it.
Speaker: Brandon Lemois Nov 29, 2015
In our new series, Times and Seasons, we are going to learn how to see God at work in the midst of every season. Our lives are made up of different seasons, there are times when things start, times when things stop, mountaintop seasons, and valley seasons. Life is a series of rhythmic stops and starts, different times and seasons.
In music, the beat and rhythm are what makes a song interesting. As Paul says:
Romans 5:1-6 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
There are times and seasons in our lives when we can’t see past the next week. But because of Christ, we have an expectancy for what is coming. It creates within us a hope in Him.
You might be stuck in a season right now, but you are longing for something more. The scriptures say that in that longing comes a joyful expectancy for what is coming.
No matter what season you are in, every season has a savior. As we go through these seasons, how does God stay with us? God stays present in three ways.
1. Socials : Gather with Other People
God stays present in your season as you gather with other people.
Genesis 1:14 “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years.”
The word for seasons here is ‘MOADIM’ which means appointed times when people celebrate, festivals, feasts or groups of people. God designed the world to include celebrations at appointed times so we can be part of something bigger. The more we celebrate, the more we remember what we celebrate. Often, when we are going through tough times we tend to lean away from our friends. But that is not the way God intended it to be, he intended us to lean into others when we are struggling. We stay hopeless most of the time because we are doing it by ourselves. God wants us to interact with others, celebrate and worship God.
When was the last time you looked at the season you are in as an appointment with God? Perhaps God is going to produce more in you through this time. If you are going through a tough season, try looking at it as an appointment with God. Spend some time considering how God is growing you in this season.
2. Sabbaths: Know your Limits
Genesis 2:1-3 “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had one, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
In Genesis, Gods rests. Sabbath literally means ‘rest’, or ‘stop it.’ The first thing that God asks us to do as a follower of him is to delight in what he created. God wants us to know our limits. He wants us to rest so we have the energy to enjoy the life he gave us. We can become addicted to work or productivity, which causes us to miss God interacting with us. In this season leading up to Christmas, many of us will work nonstop, but forget to take time to reflect on the hope of the world in Jesus.
Create a day every week when you stop and delight in His creation.
The Jewish understanding of a day 2,000 years ago was that it began at night and they started their day resting with their families, then sleeping. Then when they woke in the morning, they worked.
3. Sayings: Ask for Wisdom
God stays present in the midst of sayings and scriptures. In Genesis, God created a great world, and then everything went wrong. God came to rescue the world thousands of years later through Jesus.
Hebrews 1:1-2 “Long ago, at many times and I many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”
God spent 2,000 years speaking to the world of the coming Messiah. While the Israelites were going through a season of complete separation from God, He was pointing to the end of this season and the beginning of the next season. They had to be in the middle of a painful season so that the next season could begin. In this time of hopeful longing, the Israelites were prepping their hearts for Jesus, but God also wanted to interact with them during the trying season.
There are so many wise people in our church, and God uses wise men and women to help point you back to Him. We tend to withdraw when we need to reach out to others.
God speaks to us through scripture too. God knows what you are going through and he has given wisdom and direction in the Bible.
This Advent season, slow down and pay attention to the season we are in. He wants to speak to you through his word or through your friends. Set time aside to be purposeful with your time during Advent. Let’s see what God does when we give him the space to work in our lives.
Speaker: Brandon Lemois Dec 6, 2015
When Jesus is present in our seasons, he creates a confident expectation. Our lives are made up of various seasons, good and bad, wonderful and trying. No matter what season you are in, there is a savior in every season.
Luke 2 shows us what happens when our expectations and God’s plan collide (Luke 2:1-7). For thousands of years, the Israelites were in a period of waiting, waiting for a savior. They were looking for a warrior to come restore their nation. They are hoping the Messiah was going to come and wipe out their persecutors. They expected him to show up on a white horse and conquer the world. But Mary came into Bethlehem on a donkey and Jesus was first seen in a manger.
Jesus showed up in the world in a way we would never have imagined or chosen, just as he is working in our lives in some ways we would never had imagined or chosen. We have expectations of ourselves, our relationships and God, and often our expectations don’t match our what God is doing in our lives.
When Your Expectation and God’s plan collide, remember:
Think of a time when your expectations didn’t match the way God worked. In Luke, an angel appears to Zechariah and Mary and tells them basically the same message ‘you are going to have a baby in an unconventional way.’ Zechariah’s son is going to prepare the way for the Messiah, but even though Zechariah had been waiting his whole life for the Messiah, when the angel gives him this news, he says ‘prove it.’ This shows you Zechariah’s heart. Zechariah’s heart had grown so cold toward God, that he didn’t believe when what God was doing when it didn’t match Zechariah’s view of things.
Luke 1:18-19 “And Zechariah said to the angel, ‘How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.’ And the angel answered him, ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.’”
Gabriel also appeared to Mary with a similar message, but even though she questioned the message, she responded ‘whatever you need from me, I will do.’
Luke 1:34 ‘And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’
It’s ok not to understand, but it not ok to wait for God to prove it to you.
Rather than trying to make things happen our way, we need to surrender our lives and hearts to God.
Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
We often focus on how things are unfolding, while God is focusing on what he wants to accomplish in us.
When Zechariah doubts what God is doing, God makes him mute until his son is born. But when Mary accepts the angel’s message, she joins with her cousin Elizabeth and celebrates how God is working in her life.
How we respond to the work of God will determine if we enjoy what he is doing in our life. It is being able to celebrate the good of what God sees that brings us joy.
2 Corinthians 4:1-17 “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,”
Don’t lose heart, you are being renewed day by day, so enjoy the journey. God wants to work things together for the good. He wants you to connect with his plan, but instead, we spend our time trying to get him to connect to our plan.
When Mary became pregnant before marriage, she was probably scorned and could have been stoned to death. When Jesus was born to an unmarried girl, he became part of the Manses sect, the fatherless children. Even with this difficult start to her son’s life, she still praised the Lord. Her praise wasn’t out of sheer happiness, but she was celebrating what God was doing in the world.
Jesus wants you to worship him, no matter what season you are in. God ferociously cares about who is the Lord of your heart, and he came to earth to die for you because he cares so much. He wants you to worship him, and every season you are in gives you another opportunity to worship.
Speaker: Brandon Lemois Dec 13, 2015
In our series Times and Seasons, we are realizing that every season has a savior. Jesus can be a savior in good times and bad. When Jesus is present in our hearts, there should be a welling up of emotion to share with others.
When Jesus was born, the angels first announced this miracle to shepherds in the field, read Luke 2:8-20. What made this good news? What sent the shepherds running from the field to seek Jesus?
In that time, Caesar Augustus was an oppressive dictator who believed that his father, Caesar, was God, and he was the son of God. He used military force and heavy taxes to oppress his rule over the people, proclaiming that ‘Caesar is Lord’. Governing under Caesar Augustus was King Herod, who was even more oppressive because he was trying to impress Caesar Augustus.
The Israelites had been waiting for thousands of years for the Messiah to arrive, so when the shepherds heard the good news from the angels they were thrilled and hoped that they would finally be free of oppression. Shepherds of that day were untrustworthy, vile, manual laborers. They were a group of thieves and nomads, working in dirty, lonely conditions.
In the 1st century, people hired heralds when they wanted to share good news. Rich people were able to afford more heralds to spread the news. Mary and Joseph were young and poor, in a foreign land, so they would not have been able to afford heralds when their son was born. But when Jesus was born, God sent angels to be heralds for this good news.
The angels announce to the shepherds, ‘joy can be yours because of Jesus.’ When we read this announcement, do we believe that the gospel is good news? Do we feel joy and excitement over this announcement? It is impossible to be a herald about the good news of Jesus without understanding what we are saved from.
We are the shepherds in this story. We are the thieves in need a savior. If we believe this good news, we should want to talk about it with others. We should drop what we have and run to share the news, just as the shepherds did 2,000 years ago.
When we believe the gospel is still good news today, we should be the angels sharing it with others. But there are reasons why we don’t share the story of Jesus’ birth and good news.
Three Lies We Believe About Sharing Our Faith
1. I have to be smarter
Many of us believe that we don’t know enough, or aren’t smart enough to answer every question or debate every philosophy anyone has about Jesus. Answers remove hurdles, but they don’t save souls. Jesus saves souls, you don’t. Your answers may remove hurdles to others objections, but it is ok to say ‘I don’t know, but I would like to find out more about that.’ Now you are in an ongoing dialogue with that person. You can learn together.
It doesn’t matter if you are smart enough, have the conversation anyway. Start a dialogue.
2. I will make it weird
So don’t make it weird…
We as a culture still think it is ok to strive to be cool, we want people to like us. But if the gospel is really good news for you, sharing it should be cool and not weird. Invite someone over for dinner, this encourages relationship and conversation. Get to know them, want to be their friend. Believe in your heart that Jesus is good news for them too. They will be able to see the joy in your heart, and see what shapes you and your family. You can let them know they can have that joy too because of Jesus.
3. I need to make it beneficial
There is no amount of salesmanship you can do to sell the gospel. Sometimes we are so worried about being a lawyer and defending the gospel, but God just wants us to be a witness. It is the power of the gospel that does the work, we don’t need to sell it.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is speaking to people who want to make the gospel sound smarter. Paul tells them that he was weak, but the Holy Spirit residing in him brought about power in his life. If the Holy Spirit is working in you, this will be displayed in your life, you don’t have to sell it.
God has given us this announcement to share with others: there can be joy for all people because of Jesus. Do you believe that? If you believe that in your heart, you need to proclaim it is not you, but Jesus Christ as Lord who creates the light in your life. You don’t need to be better than you are right now to talk about how great Christ is.
When you hear the Christmas story, do you still believe this is good news?
Who are you going to share this joyous announcement with this week?
Speaker: Brandon Lemois Dec 20, 2015
We all have different seasons in life, some incredible, some overwhelming, but life is not one constant season, it has starts and stops. The good news is that every season has a savior.
In our journeys of life we are always trying to find peace. Everyone is looking for things to be “settled” in life, it makes us feel content. At our core that the world today is not as it should be, it is not settled. This leads us to one of three solutions to solve this unsettled feeling: ourselves (if I work harder, do more, etc.), other people (my relationship with this person will make me happy) or often we go to the world (buy things, experience things), that try to satisfy this need for peace. The story of the Wise Men shows us this need for peace exists beyond ourselves. The only person worth finding at the end of a long journey is Jesus.
The story of the Wise Men, as found in Matthew 2:1-11, shows that these men were compelled to follow the star to find the treasure. It was dangerous for them to travel through foreign lands, carrying large amounts of wealth to chase a star. God uses whatever it takes to pull us toward him.
Jesus did not shed his blood for those who MIGHT believe But so that everyone CAN believe.
God uses anything and everything to bring us back to Him and to restore the world. If the announcement of Christmas is that all people can have joy and peace, how do we respond to this?
How to Respond To the Work of Christ
1. Move toward Jesus
Just as the Wise Men followed a star across the land, we need to move toward Jesus to find peace and joy. In the beginning of Matthew 2, King Herod calls in the most religious leaders of the time, the chief priests and scribes, who had spent their entire lives looking for the Messiah (Matthew 2:4-5). These most religious people in the land, who were expecting the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem, responded to King Herod’s questions about the baby with indifference. They treated this divine experience as something normal.
We believe we can know people without truly knowing them. When we see a miracle from God, we want to move toward God and not treat it as an ordinary event.
Do you know Jesus, or do you just know about him? Have you spent time with him? Has he changed you at all? When you truly meet Jesus, it will change you.
2. Meet Jesus
We can be moving toward Christ for years and years, but at some point we have to meet him. The Wise Men traveled years to find Christ and they eventually met him.
In John Chapter 3 and 4 tells stories of two very different people meeting Jesus. In John 3, Nicodemus, a wise, rich, religious man, meets Jesus. Then in the following chapter, an unnamed woman, who is an immoral, poor, outcast meets Jesus. No matter what side of life you are on, John 3 or 4, we all need to meet Jesus.
Once you meet Jesus, you will be changed. The change will come from the inside, but out of you will flow a joy and vitality about who God is. You will have a desire to become more like Christ and less of yourself.
3. Worship Jesus
If you knew there was a treasure that would make your life incredibly rich, wouldn’t you sell everything to get that treasure? God designed the world in the best possible way and we want to work according to his plan to bring forth that treasure.
Matthew 13.44 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Christianity is a party filled with joy and life, but we often settle for so much less. As C. S Lewis says, “We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
The Wise Men were driven to find and worship Christ because of their faith. They were not buying their way into God’s favor, there isn’t anything you can give God that he needs. We are giving out of the overflow of what God has given us. This joy and peace creates generosity within us.
What is your field you need to sell to seek this treasure? What are you holding onto that you need to get rid of to pursue Jesus? There is not anything we can produce for ourselves that will outweigh what God has for us.
Jesus is the only one who is worth our worship. Find peace not in what you have created, but in what God has created for you.
Every Season Has a Savior
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reset upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamites. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
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