What’s God’s will according to 1 Thess 5:16-18?
Joyful. Prayerful. Thankful.
As we seek to be in constant communication with Jesus, I cam across this from Francois Fenelon, a seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Frenchman, said this about prayer: “Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one's heart, its pleasures and its pain, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them; talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others.
If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subject of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think.”
Blessed are they who seek to do God’s will.
A New Year, A New Decade... the possibilities are endless...
How many sunrises are the same?
How many sunsets are the same?
How many spiritual adoption stories are the same?
With Jesus, no sunrise, no sunset are ever the same. He is so creative.
With Jesus, no spiritual adoption story is the same. He loves revealing Himself to each person differently with different circumstances and situations.
How is Jesus going to use you this New Year, this New Decade?
Or do you think, Jesus loves to use other people to impact this world, not me. Do you think, He doesn't need me. I am not useful to Him.
These are lies. Jesus is eagerly desiring to use you to change someone this year, this month, this week, this day.
Remember the gift of the Savior, the gift of the Incarnation, the gift of Emmanuel? Jesus is in you. Jesus is with you. Jesus is for you.
Do you believe this? Do you live this out? Do you realize that every time you walk into any and every room, you are bringing the presence of Jesus with you?
Do you remember when Jesus went to the cemetery where the demon possessed man lived? Jesus asked the demon's name. Jesus cast the legion of demons into the herd of pigs. The pigs jumped into the sea and drowned. The man was fully healed and restored. Jesus loves to creatively adopt people into His family. He loves to creatively show His kindness, love and power.
Do you remember when Jesus did that to you and for you? Pause and thank Him for that.
Do you remember what the X-demon possessed man did as a free Christ follower? He asked to join Jesus' traveling disciples team. How did Jesus respond? Let's read His response...
"As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with Him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” So, the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed." Mark 13:18-20
Why did Jesus refuse to let this man join Him?
Jesus sent this man home so that his family, friends, co-workers and community could see for themselves how powerful and loving Jesus really is. Then the man could not just stop telling people about Jesus in his hometown. He had to go to another town and another town and another town. He ended up going to ten cities (the Decapolis) telling people what Jesus had done in his life. And people in each city were amazed at Jesus.
Jesus wants to do similar things through you.
Jesus wants you to go to your family, friends, co-workers and community and tell them what Jesus has done for you.
Jesus wants all the people in your life to be amazed at what Jesus has done in you.
Jesus wants all the people you know to want to know more and more about Jesus through you.
Do you believe this?
Are you ready to be Jesus' eyes and see the things He wants you to see?
Are you ready to be Jesus' feet and go to the people He wants you to go to?
Are you ready to be Jesus' hands and care and serve others?
Are you ready to be Jesus' smile to others?
Are you ready to be Jesus' mouth to encourage and share the love of Jesus with others?
Jesus is waiting to do great things in you, through you and around you. Let's let Him do it.
Trusting Jesus to use us this decade, this year, this month, this week and each day together,
Happy New Year!
We have not communicated with you through the Encourager since last decade.
So, how is 2020 going so far?
Are you excited? Hopeful? Anticipating?
Or are you realistic, hohum, maybe even cynical?
Jesus always helps us understand that if we are a Christ follower, the best is yet to come. Jesus is a God of Hope.
But, life and the more we live this life, with all the ups and downs, problems, challenges and pain, it is easy to slip into a less than hope filled mind set. Maybe because of so much pain and disappointment, we have stopped trusting, believing and hoping. Maybe cynicism has slipped right in.
To kick this new decade off, we are going to focus on 8 different passages of Scripture that have to do with God's will for our lives. We will dive into each text to discover what is God's will for us. Then at the end we will take a step back and look at what we have discovered. I have entitled the series, Finding 2020 Vision. It is my hope and prayer that God will speak to us powerfully and practically and reinfuse us with His fresh excitement, possibility and hope.
If you were not able to be present this past Sunday, we started this series in John 6. After seeing and talking about signs from God, the crowd asked Jesus, "What must we do to do the works that God requires?" In other words, what does God want? What is God's will? Jn 6:28
Jesus responded, "The work of God is this; believe in the One whom God has sent." Jn 6:29
Then Jesus makes it really clear a few verses later, "I Am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty." Jn 6:35
What is God's will according to John 6?
To LOOK at JESUS... "I Am the Bread of Life." Daily behold, look, truly see who Jesus is.
To COME to JESUS... "Whoever comes to Me..." Daily come with all of who you are.
To BELIEVE in JESUS... "Whoever believes in Me..." Daily fully believe that Jesus wants to do His will in you, through you and around you.
Let Jesus' teaching sink in for a minute...
No matter what is going on in life especially during the hard, painful times, Jesus wants us to daily LOOK at Jesus, daily COME to Jesus and daily BELIEVE in Jesus.
"May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may over flow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Rom 13:15
Looking, coming and believing together,
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem village, Judah territory— this was during Herod’s kingship—a band of scholars arrived in Jerusalem from the East. They asked around, “Where can we find and pay homage to the newborn King of the Jews? We observed a star in the eastern sky that signaled His birth. We’re on pilgrimage to worship Him.”
When word of their inquiry got to Herod, he was terrified—and not Herod alone, but most of Jerusalem as well. Herod lost no time. He gathered all the high priests and religion scholars in the city together and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
They told him, “Bethlehem, Judah territory. The prophet Micah wrote it plainly: It’s you, Bethlehem, in Judah’s land, no longer bringing up the rear. From you will come the Leader who will Shepherd-rule My people, My Israel.”
Herod then arranged a secret meeting with the scholars from the East. Pretending to be as devout as they were, he got them to tell him exactly when the birth-announcement star appeared. Then he told them the prophecy about Bethlehem, and said, “Go find this Child. Leave no stone unturned. As soon as you find Him, send word and I’ll join you at once in your worship.”
Instructed by the king, they set off. Then the star appeared again, the same star they had seen in the eastern skies. It led them on until it hovered over the place of the child. They could hardly contain themselves: They were in the right place! They had arrived at the right time!
They entered the house and saw the Child in the arms of Mary, His mother. Overcome, they kneeled and worshiped Him. Then they opened their luggage and presented gifts: gold, frankincense, myrrh." Matt 2:1-11 (Msg)
Christmas is traditionally about gifts; giving and receiving gifts. Our commercialized culture has capitalized on this. Mom's and dad's spend time thinking, searching and shopping for just the right gifts for their children.
The question that came to my mind as I read Matt 2 was, what gifts will I bring to Jesus this year? As we celebrate Jesus' birthday, what gifts will we bring to Jesus?
Have we ever compared the amount of thought, effort and time we spend on finding presents for loved ones with finding presents for Jesus?
Why did the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh?
What will we bring?
I think about the time and effort the Magi put in to seeking out Jesus to give Him these gifts. They interrupted their jobs, families, friends and their location to devote to seeking out this new born child.
What time and effort do we put into seeking and giving to Jesus?
When you celebrate someone's birthday, what if you forgot to get that person a birthday gift or forget to wish them a "Happy Birthday" or celebrated others without celebrating the birthday person?
What will we do this Christmas to celebrate Jesus?
Seeking to not miss Jesus' birthday together,
“Bear with one another any grievance you have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
Not long ago, something happened in Texas that made waves around the nation. It occurred during the trial of a former police officer who claimed to have entered the wrong apartment after returning home from work. According to her testimony, she opened the door, saw the apartment’s rightful resident, believed he was an intruder, and shot and killed him. After hearing her case, the jury found her guilty of murder.
Then something amazing happened in that courtroom.
The victim’s 18-year-old brother took the stand to give an impact statement. On earth, this young man will never see his older brother again, never hear his voice or receive his advice or laugh with him. Their family will never again celebrate Christmas together. Yet, face-to-face with the woman who took his brother’s life, this young man said these remarkable words:
I don’t want to say twice or for the one-hundredth time . . . how much you’ve taken from us. I think you know that . . . If you truly are sorry . . . I forgive you. And I know if you go to God and ask Him, He will forgive you . . . I love you just like anyone else. And I’m not gonna say I hope you rot and die, just like my brother did . . . I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you . . . And the best would be, give your life to Christ.
When he finished, he asked the judge if he could hug his brother’s murderer. The judge said, “Yes.” The former officer ran into the young man’s embrace with tears streaming down her face.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Who do you need to forgive?
Maybe the best gift we can give this Christmas is the grace-filled gift of forgiveness.
Seeking to forgive together,
What a wonderful time we have spent diving into some of the most important prayers in the Bible this fall. Which of those prayers did the Holy Spirit grab your attention? Which of those prayers does the Holy Spirit want you to ponder, memorize and pray?
As God has led me to these prayers, Abraham's active listening prayer and then his bold and scandalous prayer still grips me. I must pray that prayer regularly.
Several of the Southtowners have shared with me that they are re-reading those prayers and praying those prayers for their families, our church family and our Pentapolis.
Another prayer that I love is the prayer Jesus taught and teaches us. It's known as the Lord's Prayer. Remember how we started looking at that prayer?
That prayer reminds us who God is and who we are. When we pray it with this view, God re-calibrates who we are and what our focus is on each and every day. Let's take a look at that again.
Prayers Who God is… Who we are…
Our Father in heaven -Father -a child away from home
Hallowed be Your name -Highest -a worshipper
Your kingdom come -King -a subject
Your will be done -Sovereign -a servant
Give us today -Provider -a beggar
And forgive us our debts -Savior -a sinner
As we forgive our debtors -Confronter -a revenger
Lead us not into temptation -Protector -a sinner in danger of being a greater sinner
As we look at this prayer from this perspective, we naturally see our descending spiritual state, which is so true. But, when we are reminded of Jesus' teaching, "Blessed is the spiritually poor..." we learn that it is also a spiritual ascending prayer as well. The more we walk with Jesus openly and honestly, the more Jesus helps us understand our full need for Him to be our Confronter and Protector. The more spiritually close we become to Jesus, (the more spiritually mature), the more we realize how much of a danger we really are in. So, when we pray these many prayers in the Lord's prayer, let's be very mindful of these two spiritually descending and ascending realities of who we are.
For the past 15 years, every Sunday morning I pray the Lord's prayer on all of you, all pastors, all churches and 7 plus billion people alive. It usually takes me about 15-20 minutes to pray all these wonderful prayers in the Lord's prayer.
Maybe you might adopt one of these 9 prayers that we looked at all fall and pray that prayer on certain days or with certain people or in another way the Holy Spirit leads you to pray them.
Wrestling For The Twin Cities - Abraham's prayer
Wrestling For The Family - Hannah's prayer
Wrestling For The Meaning of Life - Jacob's prayer
Wrestling For Identity - Moses' prayer
Wrestling With Finances - David's prayer
Wrestling For The World - Daniel's prayer
Wrestling Through Darkness - The Psalmist prayer
Wrestling For Strength - Paul's prayer
Wrestling With Jesus - The Lord's prayer
Wrestling with Jesus together,
How are your relationships these days?
Are they close or distant?
Can they be counted on during challenging times?
Can you trust them?
Can they trust you?
You might be thinking this Encourager is about human relationships, but it is not. We have spent over five months on building our relationship with God through different Biblical prayers this year. So, let's use those same questions and shift them from human relationships to our relationship with God...
How is your relationship with God these days?
Are you close or distant?
Can God be counted on during challenging times?
Can you trust Him?
Can He trust you?
Remember this past Sunday we looked at Jesus' three instructions about prayer...
-Be aware of Public Prayers v Private Prayers. Matt 6:5-6
-Be aware of Rehearsed Prayers v Relational Prayers. Matt 6:7-8
-Be aware of Fire Prayers v Forgiving Prayers. Matt 6:14-15
As we think through our closeness and excitement about Jesus these days, let's have a spiritual mentor from a few hundred years ago encourage us.
George Whitefield was an Anglican Pastor and Evangelist in the 1700s. God used him in wonderful ways. He created the following list of questions to encourage himself to not take God for granted.
George Whitefield’s self-examination prayers
(1) Been fervent in private prayer?
(2) Used stated hours of prayer (morning, noon, evening)?
(3) Used prayer every hour (spontaneously)?
(4) After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God’s glory
(5) After any pleasure, immediately given thanks?
(6) Planned business for the day?
(7) Been simple (avoid luxury) and recollected (aware of God’s presence) in everything?
(8) Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?
(9) Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?
(10) Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others?
(11) Recollected in eating and drinking? Thankful? Temperate in sleep?
(12) Taken time for giving thanks according to William Law’s rules?
(13) Been diligent in studies?
(14) Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?
(15) Confessed all sins?
Maybe we need to print this list off, carry it with us and look at it throughout the day for awhile.
Seeking to be close and excited about Jesus together,
What attracted people to Jesus?
Why did hundreds and thousands seek Jesus out?
What caused so many conversations about Jesus when they heard He was coming to town?
Why did so many bring their loved ones who were sick, evil controlled and disabled to Jesus every night for Him to heal and pray for them?
Jesus was different.
When facing a life situation, Jesus responded differently.
When it came to decisions, Jesus decided differently.
When responding to others, Jesus' attitude, words and actions were different.
Doesn't the life of Jesus sum up His sermon on the mount?
"You have heard that it was said... but I tell you..." Matt 5:21
Think of all those topics Jesus preached on; anger/murder, lusting/adultery, marriage/divorce, oaths/keeping your word, revenge/grace, dealing with enemies, etc.
His teaching theme which was His life, "Be Different."
Are you different?
Is your attitude different than the world's and more like Jesus'?
Is your thinking different than the world's and more like Jesus'?
Are your words different than the world's and more like Jesus'?
Are your actions different than the world's and more like Jesus'?
Are your prayers different than the world's and more like Jesus'?
Are the people in your life amazed at how you respond and relate to them because you are more like Jesus than everyone else?
Which nature is more alive in you, your old human nature or Jesus' new nature?
Praying to be more like Jesus in every day life together,
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,
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.