The Great Restoration: Part I “Newness of Life”

This week Pastor Charlie kicked off a new series called “The Great Restoration,” which focuses on this parable told by Jesus:

“No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. (Luke 5:36-38 NIV)

Although many of us carry scars from the past – whether they be from things that happened to us, such as abuse or neglect; addictions we have faced; or bad decisions we have made, we all have the opportunity to experience complete and full forgiveness in the eyes of the Lord. Read More

Finish Strong! (our race as Christians)

This week Pastor Charlie begin his sermon by saying: “No matter what the start of your life, you can finish strong.” Even when we have made mistakes, lived for our flesh, turned against God, or pretty much felt like we “ruined our chances” with God, He still loves us and wants us to finish strong as Christians, to turn things around and let Him be our guide, not to be ruled by the world or held prisoner by our past.

From the moment we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness, we are forgiven.

But there’s more to being a Christian than making mistakes and asking for forgiveness. There’s a deeper spiritual level of living out there – one that requires us to dig into His word and learn more about how to live like Jesus. One that releases the shame and guilt we feel about our mistakes. One that prepares us to show others the way and love whole-heartedly. It’s the life that God desires for all of us – a life of love, with our hearts on fire for Jesus. Read More

The Role of a Christian

This week Harvest Church heard a powerful message by Pastor Charlie that asked us the question: what do you measure you by? It matters greatly. You see, if you are just measuring yourself in relation to others, then you’re most likely finding yourself in an average life, doing average work, making average choices for yourself and those around you.

As Christians, we should be compelled to be above average. The world isn’t looking to thrive; most people are merely surviving. We should never be okay with just surviving. That’s average. And the truth is, we don’t have to. Everyday we have the opportunity to live for God, to be shepherds for His people, guiding them to His love, grace and promises. Do you have any idea what you’ve got and how many other people desperately need it? Jesus isn’t here on Earth anymore: it’s just us – sent here to do His work.

Faith by itself isn’t enough. (James 2:17 NLT) 

We need to be action-oriented. Jesus didn’t just call His disciples together to “hang out.” He called them to go out among the people and do God’s work.

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1-2 NIV)

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27 NIV)

Jesus didn’t shy away from those in a lower class or circumstance, He actually went out of His way to “hang out” with the sick, the suffering and the sinners; the widows, the orphans and the lost. In our modern day society, think of how many people could use the love of God! That means we have to do something. It might make us feel uncomfortable, and it might make us feel awkward or even afraid. But when God saved us, He didn’t just want us to be saved, He wanted us to be witnesses to others.

There a two powerful parables that illustrate this:

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:3-10 NIV)

Think of the joy and spiritual growth it would bring you to know you’ve helped even just one person commit her life to God. To re-set the coordinates of one man’s path towards eternal life in heaven.

3 Things Needed to Reach the Lost

1. Reaching the lost takes Compassion

You can’t start a witness without compassion, without seeing all people as needing the love of God, and feeling that love in your heart as well. Most people don’t realize that “welcomed” in the verse shared above (Luke 15:1-2 NIV) is translated in Greek as “received as friend.” Jesus not only sat and ate with sinners, He received them as friends. The parable of the good Samaritan also demonstrates the compassion we should have for the suffering:

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:30-37 NIV)

2. Reaching the lost takes Effort

We won’t win the lost by sitting in church waiting for them to come to us. We have to reach out and be the voice. How?

  • Pray for them
  • Reach out through the church (outreach events, ministry opportunities, and service)
  • Financially support missions to reach the lost

41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:41 NIV)

3. Reaching the lost takes Persistence

There’s greater joy in reaching people than any other joy in the world. But it doesn’t come easily, and it doesn’t’ come without consistent and persistent work. Remember the woman who lost the coin, and searched and searched until she located it? It’s with that fervor that we are called to seek out and find the lost. What we’re helping people find is too valuable to lose!

Faith without Good Deeds Is Dead

14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. (James 2:14-17 NLT)

At Harvest Church, we are a body of believers striving to go beyond the four walls of our building and into the community. We invite all members, guests, friends, families, neighbors and most importantly – sinners, orphans, widows, and the lost and the suffering, to come with us to grow in the spirit of God, and to reach out to bring others to His love too. We do it with joyful hearts and compassion, effort and persistence.

Following-Through

First Corinthians 13:8 says, “Love never fails….” One translations says, “Love never stops…” Usually you won’t fail if you won’t stop moving forward.  I think many are living below God’s best and living without His blessings, not because they are doing wrong things, but because they have stopped doing the right things. They gave up too soon.  If we are going to experience God’s best in our lives, we have to follow- through.  As Christ-followers we shouldn’t just think short term.  “How can I get where I want to be this week? This month?  This year?”  A Christ-follower (a leader) thinks about a lifetime.  We’re not thinking that when we hit forty, fifty or sixty the end of our life is near.  We should be thinking about living our life long enough to establish God’s will, to fulfill His plans, to finish the work He called us to and to be the people He created us to be.

The world thinks:

*Get rich quick.  How do I get what I want now?     * I don’t want to fulfill my contract.  If I don’t like it, I should quit or renegotiate.   * I don’t want to follow-through on my word.   * I don’t want to get married.  Let’s just have sex.

Today many people can’t follow-through. Often times that is why they are wracked with failure .  You and I are supposed to be different and follow God’s plan.  Part of that plan is long-term thinking and long-term follow-through.

PC

 

 

Change is the way to LIFE

...we must be willing to change

Throughout the book of Proverbs, the words reproof, reprove, rebuke, correct and teach show us that to have the wisdom, and the ways of God, we must be willing to change.  Renewing our mind is more than just learning, and change is more than just gaining new insight or information.  The process of change has as much to do with “taking off” as it does “putting on.”  It is as much about subtracting, as it is about adding.  In Eph. 4:22-24 Paul says, “that we put off, concerning our former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and holiness.” God uses the “taking off” and “putting on” principle throughout the New Testament.  In the process of renewing our minds, we have to realize that there are as many thoughts that must be taken off as there are that must be put on.  It is possible to learn many good things, but also possible to never take off the things or thoughts that keep us from success.

Moved with Compassion

I heard a pastor say once, that he had a guest speaker who said to the congregation when we spoke that he had a  “special anointing for you to prosper, and if you’ll will give, you will receive a hundredfold return.”  The pastor went on to say, that the offering the congregation gave was nearly ten times the normal missions offering.

Have we gotten to a place where our motivation is so self-centered that we’re not moved with COMPASSION at all? (Image Credit: Flickr nivas58)

Often times in the church when there is the promise of personal gain, the amount goes up.  But when we are ask to give to missions, or the poor or the needs of humanity its not as much.  This isn’t to be critical.  Its just saying we generally get more motivated for personal gain than anything else.   We may need to stop and examine our motivation, because its normal to be more attentive to and more involved with that which is close to us.  But have we gotten to a place where our motivation is so self-centered that we’re not moved with COMPASSION at all?  Are we moved only when there is personal gain?  I remember reading a book where the author said, that Jesus only did miracles and healed people to prove his deity (that he was God).  And now they don’t happened anymore cause his deity was established.  I was offended by the thought that God would use hurting people to prove who He was, that God didn’t really care about sick people.  Jesus didn’t need hurting people to prove He was God.  Jesus did miracles because He was moved with COMPASSION.   He healed, taught truth, prayed for labors to help with the harvest all because he was moved with compassion.  That’s what motivated Jesus–COMPASSION!  What is our motivation with God and others today?

PC

Being “People” People:

Olaf Breuning

... the Bible does not say that life is a pie. Its says life is a river. You can drink as much as you want. God is infinite. he's not going to run dry. There's more than enough for all of us to get everything we need and want.

As disciples of Christ, we must become “people” people.  We are to care about people, to relate to people and to live for people.  We’re not envious or jealous and we’re not picking on each other.  We’re not competing with each other.  We’re not gossiping about each other.  Rather, we’re helping each other achieve God’s best.  Many Christians are frustrated because they have the “pie mentality” of life, meaning, “I’ve got to have the biggest slice before you get part of the pie.  When I see you eating a big slice, I get mad because it means I get a smaller slice of the pie.”  But the Bible does not say that life is a pie.  Its says life is a river.  You can drink as much as you want.  God is infinite.  he’s not going to run dry.  There’s more than enough for all of us to get everything we need and want.  I don’t have to worry about you getting too much, because we can all get as much as we want.  The point is, embrace the people you meet.  Love God and love all His Kids.  When you meet a negative person, be kind and move on.  Never let a closed, bitter, or small attitude keep you from people.  If we can’t love people, we can’t love God.

The Priority of People

In God’s Kingdom, there are no lone rangers, on islands, no individuals who do it all.  Anyone who doesn’t need anyone else will be seriously limited in fulfilling the will of God for their life.  Even in the natural world, people skills are more important than technical skills.  Through the years I’ve known many people who had great technical skills, but their people skills were so bad that no one wanted to work with them.  They were great in terms of knowledge and ability, but the general attitude was, “Go somewhere else.  We don’t want to be around you.”  So no matter how much vision and strategy you have, if you don’t have good people skills – the ability to relate and build good relationships, you are seriously limiting you life.

Internet Safety: 2 Steps to Protecting Yourself and Family from Tabnabbing

Web browser ‘Tabnabbing”… It’s what the new security exploit is called when someone wants to trick you into thinking you’re logging into your email or facebook account when you have multiple browser tab’s open. With the advancement of new browsers that have “tabs” (which allow you to have many websites open on one browser window), come new ideas, not all of them good.

You can watch the full news story on YouTube by clicking on the link – http://youtu.be/98Nc4ktrOe0 – or watching the video after the break:

But basically, Tabnabbing is when your browsing the web and you come across an article or site that looks interesting and you right click on it to open it in a new tab. After the new tab opens, you switch back to finish the original article before moving onto the next. Once back on the original articles tab, the one that you just open changes to the look of the screen to your email or facebook login page, tricking you into thinking you’re logging into your email or facebook. You then enter in your username and password and the site redirects you to the real page you’d normally log into, all the while collecting your email and password.
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Emotions Follow our Thinking

Many people don’t realize their emotions follow their thinking.  Emotion doesn’t cause thinking.  It follows thinking.  So if you are blah and down and someone walks up to you and gets you to thinking about something good, suddenly your emotions come up.  The same is true in the opposite way.  If  I am feeling good, and someone gives me something negative to think about and I begin to give my thoughts to it, my emotions are down.  Our emotions will always follow our thinking.  Prov. 23:7 says, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” When we think good thoughts, our emotions are up and energy or power is apart of our life.  But when we think negatively, and the negative thoughts dominate our life, our emotions are down and we feel tired, depressed or discouraged.  When God said, his thoughts and ways were not ours, he wasn’t saying we couldn’t have his thoughts or ways.  In fact he gave us his thought and his ways through his word.  We can have power and energy in our lives by having the thoughts that are higher; God’s thoughts.  If our thoughts are negative today, let’s be quick to change so we can find the power we need to succeed.  Changing the thinking will change the emotion that follows.