Sunday, December 3, 2017

HOPE


ADVENT 2017 – HOPE

CONNECT VIDEO “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

TENSION What gave Longfellow the resolve to pen these remarkable words?

SOLUTION HOPE, hope in the God of hope. Hope in a God who is greater than any struggle; hope in a God that will never disappoint; hope in a God who will never leave you or forsake you.

He is the God who is transcendent, yet is also imminent. He is infinite, yet is personal…. He is the God who is there… As Francis Schaefer put it, “He is there and He is not silent!”

John 1:14 (MSG) The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood…

This is the mystery and miracle of Christmas. This thing we call “The Incarnation”, this veiling of flesh by Jesus. 

Philippians 2:6–11 (NLT) Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The immortal one put on mortality so that we mortals could put on immortality! Jesus is the One who is beyond time and space, yet invaded time and space to reveal Himself and redeem His own creation. The transcendent Creator became one with His creation.

We sing about it every Christmas... Frederick Mendelssohn wrote this beautiful hymn, but we do not often sing the second verse...

Christ, by highest heaven adored:
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see;
Hail, the incarnate Deity:
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Dr. Jeff Myers of Summit Ministries says it this way…

“This is hope—that God is alive and awake; that he stepped into his own creation, entering the world stage as a helpless baby; that Immanuel, God with us, lived among us and willingly gave himself over to death on the cross, paying the penalty for our sin; that he was resurrected, overcoming death; and that he promises life of the ages to all with ears to hear.”

INSTRUCTION

1.     We have hope today because God is with us!

Matthew 1:23 (NLT) Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.

With us in a general sense and a personal sense…

Isaiah 41:10 (NLT) Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 43:1-2 (NLT) But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you."

2.     We have hope today because God is in us!

Colossians 1:27b (NLT) And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance (hope) of sharing his glory.
Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit to His disciples by the Sea of Galilee...

3.     We have hope today because God is for us!

Romans 8:31-32 NLT What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Do we dare believe this? Yes!

Mark 9:23 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Mary’s statement to Gabriel…

The Magnificant of Mary…

INSPIRATION

Richard John Neuhaus eloquently said: “We have not the right to despair, for despair is a sin. And finally we have not the reason to despair, quite simply because Christ has risen.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

APPLICATION

At this Christmas season, are you facing a hopeless situation? Do you feel like you have no hope in your life? Bring that situation or feeling to mind and focus on these three truths:

1.     God is with you.
2.     God is in you.
3.     God is for you.

Now meditate on these passages…
Romans 8:24 (NLT) We were given this hope when we were saved.

Romans 15:4 (NLT) Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Romans 15:13 (NLT) I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Remember: Hope that is seen is not hope; it is a time of waiting...

INVITATION AND BENEDICTION


Sunday, November 19, 2017

LET’S GET STONED

LET’S GET STONED!
Restoration Fellowship
Sunday morning, November 19, 2017

CONNECT I love the water: lakes, ocean, pools, rivers, especially ‘lazy rivers’! Sometimes rivers have stones…

TENSION Our lives are like rivers that have all kinds of stones in them…

SOLUTION Use the stones in the river of our lives to remember what God has done!

INSTRUCTION

Joshua 4:1-11 (NLT) When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’” So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.” So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day. The priests who were carrying the Ark stood in the middle of the river until all of the Lord’s commands that Moses had given to Joshua were carried out. Meanwhile, the people hurried across the riverbed. And when everyone was safely on the other side, the priests crossed over with the Ark of the Lord as the people watched.

Joshua 4:15-24 (NLT) The Lord had said to Joshua, “Command the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to come up out of the riverbed.” So Joshua gave the command. As soon as the priests carrying the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant came up out of the riverbed and their feet were on high ground, the water of the Jordan returned and overflowed its banks as before. The people crossed the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month. Then they camped at Gilgal, just east of Jericho. It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River. Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”

Let’s go to your river, your life. What are some different stones that we find in your river?  I want to talk about three.

1.     Cornerstones

These are the foundations of our life.

Ephesians 2:20 (NLT) Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself.

Have you made Jesus the cornerstone and foundation of your life?  If you go to the river of your life will you find the stone of salvation? The stone of a relationship with Jesus? What’s your story?

1 Corinthians 3:11 (NLT) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

2.     Stepping stones

These are the people and places God has used to take you and make you! What’s your journey?

The helping tribes…

Joshua 4:12-13 (NLT) The armed warriors from the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh led the Israelites across the Jordan, just as Moses had directed. These armed men—about 40,000 strong—were ready for battle, and the Lord was with them as they crossed over to the plains of Jericho.

The tough places…

Philippians 4:11-13 (NLT) Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

I call these 'watershed' moments...

3.     Milestones

These are the peaks in your life!

Romans 15:18-19 (NLT) Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT) As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

APPLICATION Now let’s apply this…

1.     When did you give your life to Christ? Have you thanked the Lord for saving you? Are you living for Him today? How do you demonstrate it to others?

2.     Who has helped you on your journey? Have you thanked them? Have you thanked God for bringing them into your life? Have you told others of the impact these people have made in your story?

3.     What are milestones you have accomplished? Have you thanked God for them? Have you shared with others what these are and their importance to you?

INSPIRATION Perspective…

HASHTAG #getstoned