Godly living takes a village. If you want to grow more and more with God you have to grow deeper and deeper with God’s people. There are very few things that will influence the outcome of your life more than who you do life with. That said, you don’t have to come to church as the best version of yourself. Come broken and bruised, come with your problems, come with your insecurities. The church is meant to be a hospital, a place where you can heal. You are welcome as you are.
“concerning brotherly love you have no need…but increase more and more” 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
Our job is not to judge someone but love them. We need community even more than we can imagine. It’s God’s desire for us to be known, held accountable and loved on.
The best place for you to start growing in your community is by serving. God wants you to find your sweet spot, He wants you to be doing the thing that makes you feel like you were born for this! That said, sometimes the best place to start is where you’re willing to do whatever is needed. It’s important to learn to be a part of a team. It’s not about what comes out of you but what is in you. We should always desire to grow more and more in community.
We must mind our business with an intentional focus on tranquility. God’s desire is that we should desire more and more of that peaceful serenity He gives. This is His desire for us even and especially when what’s happening around us has nothing to do with the peacefulness that is flowing through us.
“that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” 1 Thessalonians 4:11
That phrase “quiet” speaks of all that we’re talking about – aspiring to lead a life with that peace. We must begin by wanting it and working toward it.
“Seek strenuously to be still.” – Charles Swindoll
It does take an intentional focus to relax and wind down. We must work hard at resting.
“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10
The more we do this the better we’re going to get at doing it when it counts, when everything is crazy. The more we will perform well under pressure and be unflappable in the face of things that formerly made us lose our cool. We must be watchful on our lives, seeking strenuously to fight for tranquility.
We were not born again as an end unto ourselves but as a beginning for someone else. The more we give the more life can grow.
“The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” Proverbs 11:24
We were born for our world to grow bigger as we reach out wider. Not only were we born for this, but others need to be born into this. The same gospel that brought us life must be passed on so other’s can have life. We’ve got to share the only name by which men can be saved: Jesus. He must overflow from our lives.
“May the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 MSG
This is going to take generosity. Generosity of spirit, of time, with finances, and with sacrifice. As we are fishers of men following Jesus Christ the mark of our progress is not simply Bible knowledge, it’s evangelistic passion. You know you are like Jesus when you are growing in zeal. A generous spirit knows salvation was given, not earned. We’re stewards of the gospel and will be held accountable for what we did with it. What right do we have to let it stop with us?
Having a purpose in life gives you perspective – when you have a purpose for doing something it changes how you respond to obstacles. Increasing desire to spread the gospel and share Christ is a mark of progress in the Christian life. That’s what we see happening here with the Thessalonians:
“…sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.” 1 Thessalonians 3:2-4
The Thessalonians had experienced pain as a result of their decision to follow Jesus. Paul tells them not to make the mistake of interpreting their situation as evidence that they did something wrong, but that they did something right. They were appointed to this. They’re on the right track. They were, in fact, born for this. Their passion to preach the gospel was a mark of progress, and so was the adversity that came against them. If you are going to shine a light darkness will try and put it out.
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
This is far from being a bad sign – it’s evidence you are right where you are supposed to be.
This weekend in part three of “Our Glory and Joy” we talked about will. Will can also be defined as determination, resolve, drive, dedication, doggedness, tenacity or tenaciousness.
Paul’s will was to minister God’s word to the Thessalonians. He was grieved to be apart from them physically, but was still with them in heart. Their part was to have a will to receive God’s word.
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
1 Thessalonians 2:13
Paul didn’t thank God that they simply heard it, but because they received it with faith. God’s word is powerful when it is received with active faith, otherwise it does not work effectively. The impact the word has is conditioned on the faith in which it is received. The word can’t work where there isn’t that a will to see it work.
“But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.”
This is why the work at Thessalonica was so on fire, sounding forth all of Greece so that Paul didn’t even need to say a word. There was a humility before God’s word and a drive to see it work.
What’s your will when it comes to receiving God’s word?
Last month I preached a sermon series at Fresh Life based on four themes pulled from my book “Through the Eyes of a Lion.” (Check it out here!) I’m so excited to announce that we’ve packaged EVERYTHING we created to make this series happen and are giving it away for churches anywhere to use!
This series guide is intended to help people see that you can face impossible pain and find incredible power. It encompasses everything you need to have your own “Through the Eyes of a Lion” series at your church. It’s designed to be accompanied by the book which can be read and discussed in smaller groups or offered as an optional resource to those attending the series to read at their own pace.
Whether you have me come speak at your church for a month through the videos, or use my notes and preach it yourself, I am praying that many people will find hope and salvation through this campaign. This series is for anyone who is hurting – whether grieving, recently divorced, newly laid off, etc. It’s also for everyone else – because we all need to train for the trial we’re not yet in. It’s not a matter of “if,” but “when.”
To receive the guide, click here and submit your email. You’ll then be emailed a link to download the following:
-Video files of each teaching
-Word for word transcripts of each teaching
-My sermon notes for each teaching
-Social media images
-Kids ministry curriculum and craft ideas
-Image of the giveaways we gave to our church from each message and links to purchase them
-List and recipes for lion-themed drinks to serve at a cafe
-Videos played as part of worship
-Digital files to download for printing invites and social media e-vites
If you use this series at your church or in a small group, I’d love to hear from you and people in your church of how God uses it. Share your “Roar Stories” here and remember to use the hashtag #eyesofalion when posting on social media!
We are about to launch into a brand new study at fresh life called APGAR. While I can’t tell you what it is all about just yet (you will have to show up) I can say that it will be an opportunity for us all to discover how we are doing and where we are in need of attention in our walks with God.
I hope you will join in at one of our locations or for an online experience. And if you have a minute click here to visit the APGAR page where you can send an E-vite out and show the new series some love on social media.
What should you do if you are dating someone who is dragging you down in your walk with God? Should you date someone who isn’t a believer? What if you are in high school and your parents don’t want you to date? What should you do if you married the wrong person by mistake?
What would happen if you put God first in your love life?
This weekend we are beginning a new series that will take us all the way to Easter. Each week, as we ramp up to Resurrection Sunday at the Majestic Valley Arena, our hearts will be injected with a sense of God’s power over death. I am praying that throughout this intense series many people will prepare to meet their Maker.
Acts 26:8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
The opening chapter of the book of Ruth punched me in the face this week. I learned from just about every character in the story. From Naomi I learned that I must not let my feelings dictate my faith. I learned from Orpah that if you quit when it’s hard you will miss out. I learned from Elimelech that running away from God when He is trying to get your attention never solves anything. From Mahlon and Chilion I realized that those are terrible names. And from Ruth I saw that even if just about everyone around you is making mistakes and everything is falling apart, God still has a plan and you can still choose to participate in that grand adventure. No one can stop you from trusting that God is in control.