Thursday, February 11, 2021

PROVIDE FOR YOUR FAMILY Part Two, Happy Valentine's Day

PROVIDE FOR YOUR FAMILY Part Two, Marriage, Happy Valentine’s Day

INTRO: Valentine’s Day can be tricky for a guy. I remember one instance, in particular, where I really dropped the Valentines Day ball! Alba story…

On this Valentines Day, I want to continue to talk about providing for your family during a time of trial. Today is about marriage. 

Allow me to read the introduction to the marriage ceremony I wrote many years ago and still use today. 

Today we have gathered here to celebrate a glorious occasion. This couple will enter into the beautiful covenant of marriage. Marriage is God’s idea and He still calls couples to hallow this sacred union at a holy altar and, in His presence and in the presence of witness, vow till ‘death do us part’!  Through marriage God illustrates the mystical union between Christ and His church.  Through marriage, God has ordained that two separate personalities merge into one brand-new creation.  Through marriage, God has provided a crucible where He can mold the character of each into the image of Jesus Christ and demonstrate to the world the power of agape love!  Through marriage, God has provided for joy, pleasure, comfort, companionship, security, provision, and hope.  The Bible says, “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing!”  Therefore, knowing what God has prepared for these in this wonderful union, let us now begin.

Marriage is God’s idea. 

Genesis‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭(NKJV‬‬) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God, He created him; male and female He created them.‬‬

Genesis‬ ‭2:7 ‭(NKJV‬‬) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.‬‬

Genesis‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭(NKJV‬‬) And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”‬‬

The fullest expression of man being made in the image of God is in marriage. There is an exponential increase in the power of God when male and female come together in marriage.

Deuteronomy 32:30 (NKJV) How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had surrendered them? 

Ecclesiastes 4:9–12 (NKJV) Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. 

Listen to the rest of the story about Eve’s creation…

Genesis 2:21–24 (NKJV) And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

Jesus declared this in the Gospels.

Mark 10:7–8 (NKJV) ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh’; so, then they are no longer two, but one flesh. 

Paul declares it in his writings.

Ephesians 5:31 (NKJV) “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 

So, this singular expression carries with it the dynamic truth that the full expression of what God meant for mankind is manifested in marriage. That is why the devil hates it and tries to destroy every marriage.

We are in a marriage crisis in this country. Unmarried couples now outnumber married couples. Even among Christians the number of unmarried couples are growing exponentially. The very definition of marriage is being destroyed. Why? The devil knows that if he can destroy the Biblical marriage, the first institution that God created, he can ultimately defeat the church. Why? Because marriage is the picture of the church. The relationship of Jesus and the Church is a mystery that is lived out in full color before the world and demonstrates to the world the power of the union of Christ and the Bride. If that is marred, then people will lose the ability to see the power of a living Christ through his Church!

Listen to Paul again…

Ephesians 5:22–33 (NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

A married couple is an expression of the power and purpose of God! There are three passages in the New Testament that deal in depth with the marriage relationship: Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-21, and 1 Peter 3:1-7. The context of all these passages deals with a larger picture of living out the Christian life. The context of the Ephesian passage is the spirit filled life; the context of the Colossians passage is the resurrected life; the context of the Peter passage is the obedient life. It is clear in each of these passages that the laboratory of the Christian life is the Christian home! It is there we learn to live out the transformed life Jesus gave us. We then take what we have learned in the laboratory and live it out on the main stages of life!

For some practical steps, let’s look at the Colossians passage. The theme is “Not carnality but Christ.” Now think about putting all these into practice in your marriage!

Live Out the Resurrected Life

Colossians 3:1–21 (NKJV) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 

Bury the Old Desires

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 

Put Off the Old Man

8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 

Put on the New Man

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 

14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body: and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 

The Christian Home

18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. 20 Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 

These instructions seem short, but the context gives them weight and structure.

Now this is the result…

Colossians 4:2–6 (NKJV) Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. 

You see what happens? The things you have perfected in the home and in your marriage, you can now take to the world and demonstrate the power of a risen Christ in a life: the transformed life, the transformed marriage, the transformed home!

One of the greatest couples that Alba and I know are Richard and Barbara Peterson. They have ministered to literally thousands of couples through their local churches, Nova Shalom, Marriage Ministry International, and many others. But their ministry started with them in their marriage and in their home. They proved it out before they gave it out. Then their home because a place of ministry and healing to the wounded and hurting.

You can be that! God is not a respecter but persons. God can heal your marriage and your home and use it as a light to the world. On this Valentine’s Day 2021, let’s ask God to work a miracle in our homes so that the power of Christ living through a couple can be demonstrated to a jaded world that needs God’s love!

Now just a word to singles. You are not forgotten; you are not second-class citizens of the Kingdom. You have a special place as fully committed servants of the Lord God. You have the ability to serve God unhindered by the irresponsibility of a partner! Your spouse is God Himself and He never fails! You are a builder, perhaps a re-builder. God has special plans for you and special things for you to accomplish!

MINISTRY TIME


Saturday, January 30, 2021

PROVIDE FOR YOUR FAMILY Part One

 PROVIDE FOR YOUR FAMILY Part One

 

The past several months have presented some opportunities that families have desired for some time. Parents wanted more time with their kids, so they have gotten to see them 24/7! Kids wanted more time out of school, so they have been out of school and at home now for several months! Grandparents wanted to see their families more, but often didn’t get to see them at all! Jeremiah has given us some very practical advice for us in these situations. 

 

Jeremiah 29:5–7 (NKJV) Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

 

We have used this passage in 2021 to guide us in three areas of concentration: providing for ourselves, providing for our family, providing for our city. We have talked about taking care of ourselves, seeking the peace of our city, and  praying for our city. Today, we start talking about providing for our family in 2021. We will team teach for the next several weeks and you will have the opportunity to hear from our entire staff and some guests along the way. We also have our XO Marriage Conference coming on February 12-13. 

 

The Bible teaches us that God ordained three overarching institutions: the family, human government, and the church. Some would say that Israel is another one, but I use the term “church” to include God’s people from every generation. As John stated in the book of Revelations:

 

Revelation 7:9–10 (NKJV) After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

 

What institution was established first? The family! God made Adam, but knew man by himself is not enough!

 

Genesis 2:18 (NKJV) And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

 

God made Eve for Adam. He gave Adam to Eve. They were the first generation. Children came as a result of their love and grandchildren would follow. 

 

God is often identified as the God of multiple generations. 

 

Exodus 6:2–3 (NKJV) And God spoke to Moses and said to him: “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord, I was not known to them.

 

Hebrews 11:9 (NKJV) By faith he (Abraham) dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;

 

When God looks at a family, He sees three generations.

 

Psalms 128:6a (NKJV) Yes, may you see your children’s children…

 

Proverbs 17:6 (NKJV) Children’s children are the crown of old men, and the glory of children is their father.

 

Willie George, founder of Church on the Move in Tulsa, recently turned the church over to his son, Whitney. He said that God showed him a vision of a three generation church: parents, children, grandchildren. Each generation begins a new cycle. 

 

Before we go on, let me deal with some questions and exceptions. I want this to be an encouraging word, not a word causing pain or fear. If you do not have children or are not married, God has a special plan for you. I will address this at the end of the message. 

 

Jeremiah talks about three generations: husbands and wives, children and their spouses, and grandchildren. This three generation formula is a pattern repeated throughout Scripture.

 

2 Timothy 1:3-5 (NKJV) I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

 

 What is the responsibility of each generation? Now look again at verses 5 and 6…

 

Jeremiah 29:5–6 (NKJV) Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished.

 

1.    First generation: Build the house. 

 

a.    Build the house literally.

 

                                              i.     Provide physically.

 

1.    It doesn’t have to be fancy. 

 

Proverbs 15:16 (NKJV) Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble.

 

                                            ii.     Provide financially.

 

Proverbs 13:22a (NKJV) A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…

 

                                          iii.     Provide emotionally. 

 

Proverbs 15:17 (NKJV) Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.

 

b.    Build the house generationally.

 

                                              i.     Get married.

                                            ii.     Have children. 

1.    Marry your kids off. 

2.    Encourage them to have kids 

a.    Marry them off. 

b.    Increase the herd!

 

c.    Build the house spiritually.

 

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 (NKJV) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

 

                                              i.     Make Jesus the foundation.

1.    Get saved. 

2.    Live it out. 

                                            ii.     Build on it 

1.    Lead your kids to Jesus.

a.    Make it natural. 

b.    Make it consistent.

                                                                                                    i.     Not perfection

2.    Lead your grandkids to Jesus. 

 

2.    Second generation: Repeat

 

Joel 1:3 (NKJV) Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation.

 

a.    They become the first generation of a new house.

b.    They build on your legacy. 

 

3.    Third generation: Repeat

 

a.    They are the second generation of their parents.

                                              i.     They build on the grandparent’s house and their parent’s house. 

 

b.    They become the first generation of a new house.

 

And the legacy goes on and on! This story from Dr. Larry Peyton illustrates the power of this truth. 

Jonathan Edwards, was a Puritan Preacher in the 1700s. He was one of the most respected preachers in his day. He attended Yale at the age of thirteen and later went on to become the president of Princeton. He married his wife Sara in 1727 and they were blessed with eleven children. Every night when Mr. Edwards was home, he would spend an hour conversing with his family and then praying a blessing over each child. Jonathan and his wife Sarah passed on a great, godly legacy to their eleven children.

An American educator, A.E. Winship, decided to trace the descendants of Jonathan Edwards almost 150 years after his death. His findings are remarkable, especially when compared to another man from the same time period known as Max Jukes.

Jonathan Edwards’ legacy includes: 1 U.S. Vice-President, 1 Dean of a law school, 1 dean of a medical school, 3 U.S. Senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 60 doctors, 65 professors, 75 Military officers, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers, 100 clergymen, and 285 college graduates.

How may this be explained? Edwards was a godly man, but he was also hard working, intelligent and moral. Furthermore, Winship states, “Much of the capacity and talent, intensity and character of the more than 1,400 of Edwards’ family is due to Mrs. Edwards.”

Max Jukes’ legacy came to people’s attention when the family trees of 42 different men in the New York prison system were traced back to him. He lived in New York at about the same period as Edwards. The Jukes family originally was studied by sociologist Richard L. Dugdale in 1877.

Jukes’ descendants included: 7 murderers, 60 thieves, 190 prostitutes, 150 other convicts, 310 paupers, and 440 who were physically wrecked by addiction to alcohol. Of the 1,200 descendants that were studied, 300 died prematurely.

Dr. Peyton goes on: Surely "goodness and mercy" shall follow those who follow the Lord. Which will you leave behind to your family and friends - Blessings or Curses? Leave more than money behind when you leave this planet. Leave a legacy of blessings more valuable than gold such as unconditional love, faith in God and His Word, forgiveness, commitment, honesty, moral excellence, the value of hard work, love for family, church and country and the practice of daily prayer. Your best sermons will be preached when you are gone.

Now, let me deal with those special situations I mentioned at the beginning. 

 

You may not have children, or cannot have children. You are not left out. God will use you to touch a multitude of children and grandchildren through other ways. A few years ago, our football coach had no children at the time. God spoke to him and told him to look at his team. The majority of the young men did not have a father in the home. God gave him a new calling: Father these boys!

 

You may be unmarried or widowed. Listen to Paul’s instructions…

 

1Timothy 5:14 (NKJV) Therefore I desire that the younger widows (those under sixty) marry, bear children, manage the house…

 

I know many of you are laughing! But this shows God’s heart for the family.

 

Some are estranged from the children and grandchildren. What can you do? Pray. Pray for them. Pray for a reconciliation. Pray for their salvation, God’s fullness and power to touch them. 

 

James 5:16 (NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

 

MINISTRY TIME

 

Illustration: Funeral at Ft. Hancock yesterday…

Thursday, January 21, 2021

PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF THE CITY

PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF THE CITY

Last week we began to talk about seeking the peace of the city we are in. Jeremiah had commanded the exiles in Babylon to seek the peace of the city. We looked at some practical ways we could seek that peace. Today, we are looking at how to pray for the peace of the city.

Second, we are to ‘pray for the peace of the city’.

What kind of prayers? 

1.    Prayers for the Shalom of the city. The peace, prosperity, success, welfare, health, friendliness, deliverance, salvation, completeness, soundness.

2.    Prayers for the leaders.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NKJV) Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

3.    Prayers against the strongholds of the city, the prince demons and principalities.

Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Daniel 10:13 (NKJV) But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 

Daniel 10:20 (NKJV) Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? And now I must return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I have gone forth, indeed the prince of Greece will come. 

In December of 1992, John Dawson, an internationally acclaimed speaker and the author of a classic book on spiritual warfare entitled TAKING OUR CITIES FOR GOD, visited El Paso. After studying the history of our city and touring the area, he did a presentation on the demonic strongholds affecting us, even to this day.

Insights about the spiritual forces of darkness affecting El Paso can be gained from a review of our past. Cities are influenced by prince demons who are territorial in nature. They rule over areas with a vengeance, bringing terrible results.

If one word was used to summarize the history of El Paso, it might be “sin.” Why? Money. But the Bible reminds us that “the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).”

As a border town, El Paso sold herself early into prostitution, adultery, gambling, alcohol/narcotics, corruption, prejudice, theft, violence, witchcraft and murder. In 1835, bounties were paid for Indian scalps. The early sheriffs were criminals who had the fastest guns. Elections and politics have been notoriously corrupt since the beginning. Santa Fe traders, the Army and the 49ers used El Paso as a place to satisfy their flesh. Gunfights downtown occurred with some regularity. Witchcraft was common.

The arrival of the railroad in 1881 brought a flood of immoral men and women. During Prohibition in the l920's, illegal liquor was smuggled through El Paso to cities across the nation. The Border Patrol reported that "hundreds" of smugglers were killed as well as 8 officers. Soon thereafter El Paso became a pipeline for narcotics. El Paso was branded as one of the four most wicked cities in the U.S. Brothels continued until 1937. Reform measures seemed futile so the KKK was actually invited to town. Before they were ejected, their members included 3500 El Pasoans.

Discrimination abounded. Only daughters of wealthy, Anglo, Protestant families were selected Sun Queen for 40 years. A black woman was not admitted to UT until 1955. In 1976, a Federal Judge ruled that El Paso schools discriminated against Hispanics. In response, Mexican American youth formed gangs. The conditions under which illegal aliens worked and lived were often disgraceful.

In 1977 a UTEP professor shocked the community by proclaiming that 15 to 20% of El Paso households receive a major portion of their income from illegal activities. The Mayor announced in 1980 that the city loses over $500,000 a year to employee theft.

It has been said that "El Paso & Juarez are Siamese twins joined together at the cash register". In addition, the heritage of Mexico directly affects El Paso. The combination of   the mystical, loving Mexican Indians and the proud, religious, but not necessarily moral, Spaniards has spawned influences that are evident today on both sides of the border. In John Dawson's book he reports that first generation children born to white Spaniard fathers and Indian mothers were "born into a gap between two cultures. A son, for example, wanted to be like his father who was a   proud, powerful conquistador, but the center of warmth and affection was his Indian mother.” This could affect many areas including their view of God the Father. Some other areas could include pride, adultery, and the role of women.

What is El Paso now reaping from the sin sown over the centuries?

Hardly a week goes by without the newspapers reporting another gang killing. For example, in one week in this year 9 teenagers were shot. Satanism is rampant in our schools. In two high schools it was reported that over 50% of the students are involved in satanic activities. Witchcraft continues to defile generations of families. Sexual immorality, including adultery and incest, continues to break homes and scar lives. Thefts, particularly automobiles, have reached epidemic levels. Drugs continue to pour through El Paso, killing thousands of our brothers and sisters each year throughout the U.S. Juarez, in addition to being the 24-hour divorce capitol, was the abortion slaughterhouse for North America. 

How do we break the power of the enemy here in our city?

Luke 10:17–20 (NKJV) Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” 

2 Corinthians 10:3-4 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.

 

Ephesians 3:10 (NKJV) to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,

 

The children of Israel were given the land of Canaan, but they had to go in and possess it. The land was full of enemies; they had to be driven out. 

 

Joshua 1:2-3 (NKJV) Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.

 

The giants in the land must be driven out. We have the power and authority, but we must take it!

 

1.    Name it. 

2.    Defeat it. 

3.    Claim it. 

 

Caleb: I want that mountain!

 

MINISTRY TIME

 


Saturday, January 16, 2021

SEEK THE PEACE OF THE CITY

 SEEK THE PEACE OF THE CITY

 As Christians, what is our responsibility for the place where we live? Historically, there has been five basic responses. Dr. Jeff Myers lists them for us. 

1. Leave the secular things to the sociologists and we will take care of spiritual things.

2. Cities are not worth redeeming. The church is just about rescuing souls from hell.

3. We really can’t change the cities. We have to work on just changing people.

4. Our only concern should be for the church. The city can take care of itself.

5. The church should be actively engaged in their city and increase their influence. 

I have encountered all of these attitudes over the years, often in me! All these views are probably represented in our church this morning!

 What does the Bible say? We have looked this year at three areas of concentration: providing for ourselves, providing for our family, providing for our city. These come from Jeremiah 29. 

 Jeremiah 29:4-7 (NKJV) Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

 Today, we are looking at providing for our city. In the next few weeks we will take a deep dive into providing for our families. 

 Look at the last verse again. 

 Jeremiah 29:7 (NKJV) And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the LORD for it; for in its peace you will have peace.

 First, we are to ‘seek the peace of the city.’

 Seek means to actively inquire, request, pursue. It is a command; it is something we must do. Why? If the city has peace, we have peace. 

Romans 12:18 (NKJV) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

Peace here means more than no war or fighting. It is the Hebrew word, Shalom. It means peace, prosperity, success, welfare, health, friendliness, deliverance, salvation, completeness, soundness. It is used three times in this passage. 

 How do we bring that about here in our city? Isaiah has some answers.

 Isaiah 58:6–12 (NKJV) Is this not the fast that I have chosen:

To loose the bonds of wickedness,

To undo the heavy burdens,

To let the oppressed go free,

And that you break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;

When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you;

The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst,

The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul,

Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones;

You shall be like a watered garden,

And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.

12 Those from among you

Shall build the old waste places;

You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,

The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

 Isaiah 61:4 (NKJV) And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.

 To be totally honest, this is the vision of our church, Restoration Fellowship, restore, refresh, rebuild. Where? Not inside our walls, but outside these  walls, in the community. Listen to Jesus…

 Mark 2:15-17 (NKJV) Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

 Hebrews 13:12-16 (NKJV) Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

MINISTRY TIME