If you are able, please read Hebrews 8 before coming tonight.
So, last week, we talked about the idea of "Considering Jesus" at every stage of life. Knowing that God is omnipresent, it is clear that He was there at every event, every trial, trauma, good day, or bad day. So, when we consider the events in our past that have governed our lives, we can only conclude that Jesus was there -- for everything. As we stated last week, we ought to be asking questions such as: Why am I this way? Where did this issue/habit come from? Why do I feel this way? It may require that you take a journey backwards to see where certain things originated. It may also require that you revisit some traumatic and difficult events in life. Now, some may tell you that we ought to "forget the things which are behind." However, much of what we do in our attempt to forget is merely suppressing, not forgetting. Then, at a moment in time, those memories find occasion to resurface and cause you to experience the pain all over again. Healthy forgetting is when you can think of and find Jesus in the event, and at the moment. This way, when the memory resurfaces, we see Jesus. We see what He was doing in light of what the Bible speaks of His character and nature.
Whether it is sinful activity, abuse, trauma or anything that brings harm to you or through you, the nature of Jesus speaks this way: This is the covenant that I will make with them After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, And in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:17).
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
So, if you are in Christ, your past, no matter how difficult, sinful, or traumatizing, should not have the right to govern your present or your future. So today, we will strip the past of its power to do so.
Here's some scripture to give an idea of where we are going:
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Luke 3:9).
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-17)
Two Versions of Me
Very often when our past governs us, we try to change our behavior to conform to present realities. In our hearts we do not want to be what we used to be, so we adjust our behavior. However, the scripture tells us: as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). What ends up happening is we learn how to act. We become pro-maskers when it comes to inner realities. Then every once in a while, we begin to bear fruit, despite our outward behavior.
No matter what you say, or how passionately you say it, the fruit you bear (Mt 7:17) tells the world exactly who you are...period.
When we lay the axe to the root, we bring Jesus into the equation to disempower the demonic governors of our lives. We have to cut down that entire tree. We must destroy the foundations.
On Friday May 7th, we will be gathering at the same time and same place, but it will be a "Member's Only" gathering. If you consider yourself a member of First Love Fellowship as a local church (1 Corinthians 16:19), I'd be honored if you'd come. I want to solidify the vision and mission of First Love Fellowship, and begin to establish a team so that we can do the work we are called to do. This is based on what you will find in Acts 6:1-7. I believe wholeheartedly that it is time we begin to assemble a team.
If you have been coming (or logging in) on Tuesdays for Night Watch, you will understand where I am going, here. Right now, and in response to Matthew 25, we are involved in several ministry initiatives that must be supplied with faithful volunteers, givers, and people who pray. Here are some of the ministries and activities we are involved in:
Make no mistake: We are a missions-driven church. We are not a Friday Bible study. This is real church that is here to take the great commission, seriously. I want us to reach the suffering with the love of Christ and the Father's promise of salvation and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This will require that we allow the agenda of Jesus to interrupt our everyday lives. Still, to do this will require that certain ones among us are able to take ownership of certain ministries, and help fulfill them, as a church.
Every Friday, we have in our midst, an amazing group of people, some of whom identify as First Love Fellowship, and others who go to other churches, and visit us on Fridays. There are some visitors who show a level of dedication that rivals actual membership! For that, I am thankful. Over time though, it has become difficult to know who to call upon for certain functions because I am not aware of your level of commitment to this local church. (We will be covering what it means to be a local church, later. But in short, the Bible speaks of the Church of Jesus Christ, the local churches, and the ministries within the local churches. All of these things comprise of the Church). We are not complete if we identify as "The Church" without biblical standards set in place. More on that later. Stay tuned.
By now, you should be very aware of the book of Matthew, and also Romans 8. You should also be keenly aware of the ministry and baptism of the Holy Spirit which was so excellently taught by our dear brother Chris Foster. This is all a part of the big picture of Restorative Discipleship. Here is the reading for Friday: Hebrews 12...all of it. Read it slowly, today and we will continue our journey to freedom.
In week one of Restorative Discipleship, we established that the gospel was meant to be believed, and that this same gospel is the answer to EVERYTHING. In week two, we established that idea that you and I are just as much children of God as Jesus is to the Father. This week, instead of assigned scripture reading, I'd like you to review what has been said so far because on Friday, we are going to do open Q&A. I do not want to move forward without the assurance that we are all on the same page. So, please read the notes from the prior two weeks and BRING YOUR QUESTIONS so that we can answer them, together.
Now, here's something that is heavy on my spirit: "Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion..." Zion can be seen throughout the scriptures to represent the church. In my personal prayers, I grieve because of my fear that we are too relaxed. Let's move on from being church people to being disciples of CHRIST who can make a difference in this city. This discipleship is reflected in your prayers, worship, service, giving, witness, and lifestyle. Please, take seriously the scripture reading (as some of you currently are). Prioritize your giving so that the blessing of the Lord can fall on your household. Commit to coming to prayer on Tuesday nights. And finally, get involved in the work of the ministry. That's how you grow and develop your gifitng in Christ.
If you think you are already "there," then you only prove that you are not. None of us have "arrived." So, be humble. Be dedicated. Be generous. Be prayerful. But, please, DO NOT BE AT EASE, ZION.
By now you have read Romans 8. By the end of this lesson, It is my hope that you become spiriually minded. This is indeed, a requirement for true freedom. So in week 1, the guiding proinciple was that the gospel is the answer to everything. THis week, we will establish sonship with the Father.
For to be carnally minded is death, but to spiritually minded is life and peace (Romans 8:6).
If you live after the flesh, you shall die. But if by the Spirit, you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13).
Second Principle: You are just as much a son of God as Jesus.
Goal: To commit to becoming spiritually minded
You inherited His mission, to SEEK and save the lost (Luke 19:10).
You inherited His POWER (Luke 10:19).
You inherited His sonship (Romans 8:29; Matthew 12:46-50).
Our mentality about what being the CHURCH must change. We are called to be spiritually active as sons and daughters of God, not as spectators and organizational volunteers. This is life.
Questions to discuss: