Archives For Beyond Sunday

…by Brian Walker

We are blessed….to be a blessing. I love how this idea runs all the way through God’s story. From the beginning of Genesis to God’s ultimate blessing in Christ to our continual participation in blessing others. There are two things I’d like to point out and a resource I’d like to pass along.

It’s important for us to look at Abraham’s story as we think about being a blessing to the nations. It was immediately after Abram was blessed by God that he encountered the Egyptians. In the heat of the moment, Abram was afraid and told Pharaoh that his wife Sarah or Sari was actually his sister. He did this because he didn’t want to be killed and have Sarah taken from him, since she was beautiful. So Pharaoh took Sarah as his wife. This brought all sorts of chaos and curses down upon the Egyptians and eventually they discovered that Sarah was actually Abram’s wife. So instead of being a blessing to the nations, Abram was being a curse. To top it off this kind of thing didn’t happen once but twice. The second time is found in Genesis 20 when Abraham tells King Abimelek that Sarah is his sister.

I think what we can take away from this is that we won’t always do everything right in blessing people or treating people correctly, but God will still use us to bless the nations. We see that even in Abraham’s story as he gave rise to a nation that gave rise to Christ! God is true in His promises and He will be true to us as we faithfully try to be a blessing to the nations.

Secondly, I think it’s important for us to see being a blessing in light of our live sent series. Remember 2 Corinthians 5:16-21:

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

I love that passage. There is a strong connection between the idea that we are Christ’s ambassadors/aroma and we are a blessing to the nations. As we share this message of reconciliation we are bringing people a blessing. We share the hope of the world that is in Christ! The old has gone and the new has come! Think about that as you engage with how to be a blessing in the world.

Finally, I want to share a good resource from diving deeper into being a blessing and praying through how God might use you. I found this resource as we were looking for creative ideas for this past Sunday. It is a worship project put together by some people from Willow Creek. The whole series is called “A New Liturgy.” If you aren’t familiar with what liturgy means, it literally means “the work of the people.” It’s meant to be a term of participating in worship. It’s not the sole job of the worship leader to worship God, but for us as His people to worship Him. So this liturgy offers groups or even individuals to worship God and experience what it means to be a blessing. Practically, this liturgy is a mixture of prayer, scripture and song that is led by “worship leader” on the audio tracks.

I hope this helps you engage even more with what it means to be a blessing. You’ll want to open up both the lyrics and the audio to get the most out of it.

Blessed to be a Blessing Audio

A New Liturgy – No 2: Blessed to Be a Blessing

Blessed to be a Blessing Lyrics and First 10 min of audio

http://www.anewliturgy.com/02.html

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The story of Noah – a man that was probably seen as coo-coo for cocoa puffs and who would have been medicated on numerous levels if he lived in our day – was just a man following God. To be the one soul (plus immediate family of course) chosen to live out the flood is an amazing realization. Our God created a fresh start. I certainly didn’t live through that time, but I find it hard not to see myself there. I relate to the fresh start. I think it’s awesome how God created a fresh start in me when I chose to follow Him.

 

I carried around regret for a long time but thanks to God, He didn’t leave me there. He loved me too much and knew all the potential I had to serve Him once I was able to let all that go. He has work for me and if I’m hung up inside my own head, I couldn’t be His hands and feet here on earth. Are you hung up on something? He wants to take that away. No pain, no worry, no regrets. He wants you to let it go and follow Him. He has mighty work for you.

 

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us,
Oh, how He loves us,
How He loves us all

(David Crowder Band)

You can do it.  Reading the Bible…you can do it.  Those may have been the most important words that Greg spoke on Sunday.  You really can do it.  I know the Bible is big and intimidating and often confusing.  I’ve cowered at the thought of reading it all.  But I took a step of faith a couple of years ago and made a commitment that I would not stop until I finished reading the entire Bible using the One Year Bible reading plan.  Well, I didn’t finish it in 12 months, and when I got behind, I got really frustrated.  However, I kept going and eventually read the entire Bible.  Let me just tell you as I honestly as I can about my experience and a few things I learned:

 

1)      The Bible is not a huge book that is impossible to read.  Honestly, the Bible has some parts that are very difficult to understand and hard to figure out why they were even included in Scripture.  However, the more I read, the more understandable it has become.  I figured out that I couldn’t really follow Jesus if all I did was take someone else’s word for what was in Scripture.  To follow Jesus requires regular time with Him (John 15:4), a faith that comes from hearing the Word (Romans 10:17), and courage to follow what you read (Joshua 1:7-9) that can only be found when you get to know the grace, power, and faithfulness of the God we follow.  And all of that requires more from us than an hour and a half every Sunday.

 

2)      Though I once thought that I didn’t have time to read the Bible, when I made a commitment and had a Bible reading plan, I found that the plan gave me confidence to move forward with focused intention rather than just wandering from Scripture to Scripture wondering when I would hear something from God.  Not everyday is a mountaintop experience, but God does promise that we will find Him when we seek Him with all of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).

 

3)      I never regretted the time I spent with God.  I never finished my time with God and thought, “Man, I really wish I wouldn’t have missed that TV show or sporting event or those extra 60 minutes of sleep.”  The Holy Spirit helped me to understand the Scripture but, more importantly, cultivated a more intimate relationship with God.

 

4)      I’m not great at prayer.  However, I found that reading and praying over Scripture gave me a more concrete way to interact with God on a regular basis and ensure that my prayers are not simply a list of all my needs but rather an adjustment of my perspective so that my requests line up with what God wants for me.

 

5)      I found that the more time I spent reading the Bible, the more my mind reminded me of Scripture throughout the day without even intending to do so.  The world is filled with messages about you and me, about money, about life, and about where we can find satisfaction.  Regular time in God’s Word helps us to see those messages for what they are and reminds us of important truths concerning who we are in Christ, the character of God, and where our hope lies.

 

6)      I was reminded again of just how awesome God has been to me.  I encountered God in a fresh way during that year or so and was blessed with a spirit of gratitude.  I mean, I spent years of my life running from God and doing just about everything I could to get away from Him.  But, even in my sin and shame, God continued to love me, pursue me, and graciously lead me back to Him.  He still offers that much needed grace and forgiveness to me today.  God’s faithfulness to me even when I haven’t been faithful to Him is something I don’t want to “get over”.  And that’s one reason I’ll never stop reading God’s Word.

 

I pray that as you begin to read the Word of God that you will be drawn to Him, that your heart will be soft and open to Scripture, and that your time with God will be more than just a reading assignment.  I pray that you will find peace and wisdom in the words from God and courage to follow what you hear from God.

 

What if you knew for sure that you could go to Heaven?
What would you do if you knew God’s Spirit and power was directly influencing you?
What if you knew exactly what God wanted from you in this moment/week/month?

The first two questions are for another day, but this week, we took a Biblical approach to experiencing what God wants in that third question.  The Bible did not hide what God wants from us at any given moment.  Jesus invites us to come and follow Him.  But what does that look like?

I remember in my first conversation with our lead pastor, Greg and one of our elders, Gordon, when they came to interview me in Ohio.  They spoke of a unique approach the church at Suncrest takes when it comes to defining and marking what the Bible describes as a disciple of Jesus or a follower of Christ.  I remember being struck by the simplicity and the power of what they called the 4Cs.

I grew up in the church and cared a lot about being a disciple, but not sure I ever tried to define it – just thought I “knew” I was a disciple.  The leadership at Suncrest gave verbiage and specific markers to measure how well or at least how well-rounded I was as a disciple of Jesus.

The idea that a true disciple of Jesus would care about people far from God, contribute by serving, cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and connect in relationships where truth meets life was sweetly Biblical and wholly clearer than I had put together on my own.

I learned quickly that I love the Cultivate C and am slow to follow in the Care C.

Enough of my story, how about yours?  Some of you may have heard of these 4Cs before.  Are there a few you excel in?  One that is tough for you?  How did you do with the guide this week?  Did it point out strength areas and areas to grow toward?

What if you knew exactly what God wanted from you in this moment/week/month?  We do know, don’t we?  Doing it is the tough part, right?  The church wants to come alongside and encourage you in this – you can do it, we can help.  We’ve put together some helps that were at the HUB this week.  Here are a few:

Cultivate Resources
www.suncrest.org/cultivate

Messages online
bit.ly/2014connect
bit.ly/2014cultivate
bit.ly/2014contribute
bit.ly/2014care

Generosity- Give online
www.suncrest.org