Halloween... All Saints Day...
Celebrate... participate... ignore... swear against it...
Last night our church put on a Trunk or Treat Harvest Party. Our goal, to team up with culture to point children and their families to Jesus. There are not too many times that I like to say that we teamed up with culture, (since Jesus called the Prince of this World the evil one) but that is another thought to think about later.
We had over 100 children come, dressed up, excited with friends and family. We walked them through a journey to learn about overcoming darkness, fear and evil through Jesus. Each of the 7 fun stations had a purpose to overcome darkness, fear and evil in a really fun way. Next year I hope you can attend and experience it for yourself!
We focused on three main points.
1. Darkness & Fear are real.
Halloween is about Darkness & Fear but disguised with candy, the idea of dressing up and more candy. We can see Darkness & Fear in costumes, decorations, Haunted Houses and more visuals that can cause a ton of fear in children. But, do children go along with all of this because of candy?
Have you ever looked into the original Halloween? In doing research, there are a variety of directions on where Halloween came from. Some are clearly made up. Others are taking some truths and mixing with their own ideas. But, do you know who the Druids were? Do you know where the Druids lived? Do you know how the spirits of the dead would come and visit them? Do you know what those spirits of the dead sought and demanded? Do you know how the Druids responded? If you study this, you will know the origins of Halloween are evil to the very core.
2. Light & No Fear is real.
Jesus is all about Light & No Fear. How many children are afraid of the dark? How many children are afraid of evil hiding under the bed or in the closet or in the backseat of the car? When times of darkness and fear occur, let's equip our children that Jesus is the light who shines bright in darkness in order to drive away fear.
John 1:5, 7, 9 (Living Bible) Jesus’ life is the light that shines through the darkness—and the darkness can never extinguish it…. Jesus Christ is the true Light…. The True Light arrived to shine on everyone.
2 Tim 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of fear and timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and self-control.
Last night was a blast when all the different groups of children went through the dark room to experience light overcoming darkness and fear.
3. Stomping out darkness, fear & evil is a real option.
Jesus is all about stomping out darkness and fear.
Col 2:15 Jesus disarmed the dark spiritual rulers and dark authorities. (How?) Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them on the cross.
Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection STOMPED and STOMPS out darkness, fear and evil. In Jesus, there is no darkness. In Jesus there is no fear. In Jesus there is no evil.
During Halloween, Candy is free… But, it makes your tummy ache.
Every day, Jesus’ gift of salvation is free... Jesus loves to stomp out darkness, fear and evil. Just ask Jesus for His free gift.
Every day, Jesus offers Himself to walk with you no matter if your day is full of light or darkness, fear or peace, evil or love. Just invite Jesus to walk with you throughout your day and every day.
Pumpkins… have you heard this one? Have you shared your story through a pumpkin?
My life is like a pumpkin, I am covered with dirt, vines, leaves as I live in the patch of life. One day, God picked me while I was still dirty on the outside and inside. God brought me in and washed me off. He slowly cleaned my inner world of selfishness, sinful thoughts and actions one at a time. Then He put His Son, the Light of the World in me. Then He carved a new attitude in me. Now, I am His to shine for Him.
God says, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart." Ezekiel 36:25-26
The beauty of Jesus shone brightly through our Trunk or Treat event last night.
How will you let Jesus shine brightly through you today?
Seeking to shine for Jesus together,
What do you do when you need a boost?
...when you need a jump start?
...when you need a wake up call?
Do you get alone? Do you get around certain people? Do you listen to music? Do you get out in God's creation? Do you read God's Word?
God's Word has power to cause His truth to jump out at us. God gave me a boost through Psalm 60.
David and the Nation of Israel were in trouble. They were beat up, defeated, scattered, in despair, blaming each other, even complaining to God. But then verse 4. Thank God for verse 4.
"But You have raised a banner for those who fear You - a rallying point in the face of attack." (NLT)
"Then You planted a flag to rally Your people, an unfurled flag to look to for courage." (Msg)
This God planted a flag or banner. It reminded David and God's people of God's promises. God's promises to be their God. God's promise that no matter how bad circumstances can get, God will never leave them nor forsake them. God's promise that even if darkness or evil seems to win or drag on for a long season of life, God will bring ultimate victory, ultimate life, ultimate hope.
Do you need a boost?
Look to God's flags throughout the Bible.
For Moses it was the burning bush.
For the Hebrews it was the tornado pillar during the day and the fire pillar at night.
For Jonah it was a big fish.
For a few fishermen it was a man from Galilee.
Look to God's flags that He has planted in your life, in your church, in your experiences. Maybe write God a thank you letter for all these flags.
What is the purpose of these God flags?
They are to rally God's people to deeply connect with Jesus, to joyfully enjoy each other and to be on mission to befriend, listen and serve those who are far from Jesus.
Pray for a handful of us today as we give 250 donuts and coffee to the university students at Northwestern Health Science University just two blocks south of church.
Pray for Washburn Elementary families to positively respond to our invitation to Trunk or Treat Wed Oct 30.
Pray for God to bring a new Fab 5 to each person of our church.
Pray for God to adopt these people into His family. Pray that we get to have the privilege to baptize many in the coming months. Pray that hell will be depopulated. Pray there will be much rejoicing in Heaven. Pray God does amazing things through you and me.
Looking to God's flags of courage together,
What are the biggest battles that you are facing right now?
Job situation, relational strain or brokenness, financial pressure, a bad medical report...
Have you ever considered that your and my greatest battle is in our mind?
Let's read how Paul explained this massive battle that we face every day in our minds.
2 Cor 10:3-6 (NASB) "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete."
Those who seek to follow Jesus do not battle the way the world battles. We learn here that God has weapons to win these invisible and internal battles. The question I think God wants us to ponder is what are these divine weapons seeking to destroy?
"Divinely powerful for the destruction of FORTRESSES."
"Destroying every LOFTY THING."
"Taking every THOUGHT captive."
Have you ever understood from God that our minds are negatively controlled like a "fortress," by "speculations," "lofty things" and "thoughts?"
These are four powerful barriers waging war against what God wants to do in our lives. Can you picture these four invisible mind barriers in you?
What is God helping us understand with this description of "fortress?"
Back in New Testament times there were fortresses that protected the people from the enemy. Massive walls of protection. The enemy had to try and climb the high walls, shoot flaming arrows over or ram a hole through.
How have we built this fortress around our heart, mind and soul to protect us against God and what God wants to do in us?
Remember, we are all born into sin; we are born with this fortress around our heart, mind and soul. Then as we live and do life, we consciously and unconsciously build this fortress; making the walls bigger, thicker and beautiful (we think) protecting us from God, God's Word, Jesus' grace and truth. Our natural tendency is to cling to this massive fortress, to keep that fortress in place.
But God... through the miraculous birth, perfect life, sacrificial death, victorious resurrection and lofty ascension of Christ, He blows up that fortress. God does His miracle work of adopting us into His family. He pronounces "Not Guilty," "Mine," "Paid In Full."
But our old nature... still has power over us. Think how many years we built this massive, powerful fortress against God? Think through all the ideas, philosophies, religions, patterns of life we have developed and live by (our fortress)...
God's spiritual growth in us is to change all of these; to dismantle this mighty fortress that is set up against God.
God is always fighting for you. He is always climbing that wall, shooting His Word over the wall, and seeking to bring His presence and truth to change the way we think; to change the way we do life, to change the patterns and habits of our lives.
God want us to identify these walls of this fortress.
What are these walls in your life?
What are the negative thoughts, arguments, conclusions that you have ingrained in you?
Do you have negative thoughts toward certain Christians, towards, certain churches, towards certain preachers, towards certain ways of doing life with Christ?
Do you have negative thoughts toward how you treat others, your spouse, your kids and grandchildren that are contrary to Jesus?
Do you have negative thoughts about anything that God wants to do in your life?
Daily, God challenges us to become more and more like Jesus. Jesus was a servant. Jesus was daily meeting with His Heavenly Father to get the guidance of who and how to serve each person He would meet that day. Does this describe your daily life? Or is your mighty fortress preventing this? How are you involved in God's plans? What church are you seeking to build? What ministry team are you on? Who are your Fab 5? How are you on mission with Jesus?
Or is the mighty fortress protecting you from this? Is the mighty fortress causing you to seek a comfortable and cozy life? Is the mighty fortress causing you to live in your scheduled life or are you willing to change your schedules to be more available to Him?
Let's join God in discovering the ways our mighty fortress is still guarding our heart, mind and soul from all what God wants for us?
Are you recognizing when this mighty fortress pushes God's Word out of your life or do you just go along with this invisible fortress?
Let's invite Jesus to knock down each wall.
How is this internal battle against this invisible mighty fortress going these days?
Inviting Jesus to knock this fortress down together,
What helps you stay close to Jesus?
What helps your heart to be captivated by Jesus?
What helps you walk with Jesus invisibly in every area of your life and every waking moment of your life?
The Psalmist says, "How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word." Ps 119:9-16
How to stay on the path of Jesus?
I have hidden Your Word...
With my lips I recount...
I meditate on...
I delight in...
I will not neglect...
Memorizing Scripture... how helpful is this spiritual exercise?
How does praying through a passage of memorizes Scripture deepen your connection with Jesus?
How does a memorized verse help in the heat of losing control of your tongue?
How does memorized Scripture help you as you encourage a brother or sister in Christ as they share a difficult life situation?
How does memorized Jesus' teaching help you as you are interacting with some one far from Jesus (one of your Fab 5)?
How does a memorized gem of a verse help you with your attitude about someone or something?
"Take hold of My Words with all your heart; keep My Commands, and you will live." Pr 4:4
God wants us to "live," really live. How?
"Take hold" - Hebrew is tamak, meaning "to grasp, to seize, to lay hold of."
Memorizing Scripture gives you a firm grasp on the Word and most importantly the Word to have a firm grasp on you.
Don't we need Jesus to grasp us when we are about to gossip, display a bad attitude, disobey authority, impulse eat, buy, say, do?
When was the last time you memorized Scripture?
Maybe its time to jump back in one of the most life changing spiritual exercises all of us can do.
Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your wisdom will be in demand. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your faith will be solidified.
Have you memorized the Memory Verse for the current series on Wrestling with God yet? It's helped me experience Jesus' High Priestly duties on me.
Memorizing Jesus together,
Let's pick up where we left off last week as we thought through the "cup" illustration Jesus used. Remember, Jesus loved to use ordinary, real life to help us understand the most important things in life. Every time we drink from a cup to enjoy our favorite beverage, let's peer in to see if it is clean on the inside. Every morning as we drink in life, let's peer into our souls to see if it is clean or not. Remember, Jesus is the only one qualified to clean our souls.
Now, let's look at what Jesus says to us about money in this dinner discussion.
"When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited Him to eat with him; so Jesus went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.
Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." Luke 11:37-42
What did Jesus say about tithing?
There are many who claim Jesus did not say anything about tithing. Others say that Jesus has changed the way we need to give.
Let's look at what Jesus said...
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone."
Here was a prime time opportunity for Jesus to actually change the teaching about tithing. But He did not change it.
Jesus was confronting outside of the cup living, legalism. While at the same time keeping the Biblical guideline to give a tithe.
So, Jesus did not change the Biblical guideline of the tithe. I believe He is helping us understand more of what God has already revealed in the Old Testament.
He is saying that God has never held back, He has and does and will always give more and beyond anyone ever expects. Because at the core of who God is, He is a Giver.
He gave life. He gave the universe. He gave the earth. He gave everything on the earth. He gave you, you. He gave to each of us much talent, intelligence, skills, abilities. He gave us His One and Only Son. He has given us salvation. He gives us His Spirit. He gave us His Word, the Bible. He has given us all of His promises. He is the one who has given us the ability to learn, to get an education, to get a job, to have a career to receive a salary. He is truly a Giver.
I believe Jesus is helping us understand that when it comes to tithing and giving an offering, Jesus wants us to respond to God as the Extravagant Giver by becoming more like Him. He wants us to be generous like God. The tithe is not to be changed to anything lower. It still is the benchmark that puts all of us in a position to actually trust God. Ten percent of what we make is a lot of money that we can use. But, do we trust God? Do we realize that all of the money and income that we have is not really ours, it is all of God's. We are just stewards of His resources.
As we put more and more of our trust in God, we begin to become more and more like Him, we become generous. We seek to give more than the tithe. We seek to put more of our lives on the line for God and with God. We discover that God is our present and our future.
So, tithing and beyond reminds us that we are putting God first in our lives.
It is declaring to temptation and evil, "Jesus is our Lord and Savior, so move out of our way."
It is our declaration that we are going to trust God for our future.
It is our declaration that investing in God's Kingdom will last forever.
It is declaring He is our first love.
Let's follow Jesus teaching and His example.
Let's continue to grow in our generosity.
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.