thursday november 20, 2008
faceless. nameless. servant.
Question: How as woman should we witness to guys without them thinking we are interested in them? Is their a difference in the way a girl should witness to a another guy when she is dating someone?
Reply: Hey! Thanks for your question! So pumped to hear that sharing the Gospel is on your heart! Jerry Gillis, one of the pastors at The Chapel at CrossPoint, was actually introduced to Christ by a young lady when he 19 years-old. Her passion was Jesus, and Jesus directed her in His mission to reach out to Jerry – in love with the Gospel. God uses women in his purpose to propel the Gospel.
When we walk closely with our God, we hear his direction. John 10. His Word is the lamp to our feet, so we can see and examine each step we take; His Word is the light to our path, so we see can see where we are headed. Psalm 119. When we walk closely with our God, he grows us in His wisdom, His knowledge. Colossians 2. When we walk closely with our God, we open our hearts wide – every door – and ask Him to know us, test us, try us, and show us what is offensive to Him, and lead us in a new way – the way that is everlasting. Psalm 139. When we walk closely with our God we guard our heart, with Him – His Word – because everything we do then flows from a pure source. Provers 4:20-23. When we walk closely with our God we pray what He wants us to pray; we go where He wants us to go; we love who He wants us to love. I Thessalonians.
Walk closely with God. Let him lead you. You are the servant of God. How amazing, amazing, AMAZING!!!! Your direction comes from Him. Is that just crazy goodness or what?!?!?! I stand back amazed at the young godly women and men at Vintage proclaiming Him, teaching Him, and encouraging Him. Do you see them, too? Do you stand back with me and just watch what God is doing in our midst? If you watch closely you will see the body of Christ in action. Every week – EVERY SINGLE WEEK – young men and women are receiving Christ. As I see them stand to make public their decision to follow Christ – how they got there to that moment – why they stayed – why they listened - how they surrendered – how in that moment the gift of understanding and repentance has come to them– is a faceless answer – it is God. He has met His purpose somehow, some way -by His Spirit -through His Body -his faceless, nameless body; many servants working together toward His purpose. He is God. You are part of the body of Christ. What a privilege! If God blesses you with the opportunity to extend an invitation to someone to come to Vintage– guy or girl -move in that obediently. If God blesses you with the opportunity to share your story of how you came to know Christ with someone, guy or girl – move in that obediently. If God blesses you with the opportunity to share how they –GUY OR GIRL- can know the love of Christ – move in that obediently. The beauty of that opportunity is you are His chosen instrument, His chosen vessel – for the purpose of reaching out to that one – in that moment – in just that way. Focus on Him. Then you will be confident with pure intentions, pure direction, pure thoughts, pure results.
E-groups are another aspect of the body at work. Guys are with guys; girls are with girls. We’re different in our struggles, in our needs, in our experiences, and even in the way we communicate with one another. For that purpose, e-groups are structured to meet our individual needs. So if you realize that a guy that you have shared Christ with is relying on you for help in the area of spiritual growth, direct him to godly men who will be able to meet him where he’s at and relate to him with the Word of God and what it means to be a man seeking God fully. God has blessed us with His plan for growing together through E-groups. And the beauty His plan is it works! Within our E-groups we are hearing stories of how girls and guys are turning from idols – to serve the living God.
I Thessalonians 1:9.
I am excited for you! Grateful for you! Praying for you! Right now!
Isaiah 41:9-10 “I took you from the ends of the earth; from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Servant; faceless - nameless - God's.
posted by laura lewis
wednesday november 19, 2008
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Question: I guess this isn’t really a question. It’s a statement. I can’t stop having sex with my boyfriend. I can’t. I want to, but I can’t. I feel bad. Then do it again. I tell him we can’t. Then we do it again. I want to stop. It’s just not happening. I’m sick of the cycle. I’m giving in to sex, cause it’s easier than living for Christ. I guess that’s the bottom line. It’s too hard to stop.
Reply: That’s one bold statement you’re making. Shout it, sweet, sweet hurting heart, as loud and as long as you want to. I will listen to your hurt, your frustration, your feelings of inadequacy. I will listen, but I will not let you walk away from me believing that lie. Your statement simply isn’t true. Hear this loud and clear: You can stop. You can. You may be tempted by the very same sin until the day you die – but when it comes to sin – any sin – it doesn’t matter what it is - we – who are indwelt by the Spirit of the LIVING GOD - always have a CHOICE – and we always have the POWER to choose freedom from sin.
Will you read Romans 8:1-9 with me? Get your Bible and turn to it with me. Okay. I want to show you something amazing that we need to grasp together. I’ll wait. Go get it. Yes! Get your Bible. We need God’s Word to wash over our wrong thinking (II Tim.3:16-17!). So, go get your copy of God’s Word. I’ll be here when you get back. And if you don’t have a copy of God’s Word, I’ll type out the passage we will read together below. Okay! Got it! Let’s check this out!
Romans 8:1-9. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are IN Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in human flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the SPIRIT. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. The sinful mind is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but are in the Sprit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you.”
Pray: Let’s study some of these verses together, okay. I’m so excited, I can’t stand it! First, we’ll pray! Will you pray this with me? Father – we are grateful for your Word. We are grateful that you wrote it and have preserved it, protected it, provided it here – now - so we can know you, the one in whom is all knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Teach us, please God. Wash over our wrong thinking with truth, so we live differently for your amazing purpose in Christ. Thank you, Lord. We seek you – believing you are your Word. AMEN!
Read the passage several times: Okay! Romans 8:1-9. Read these verses several times. Really, more than once is a great reading strategy! The first time you read a passage, it’s like a drive by. You see color. The second time you read it, you recognize shapes. The third time you read the passage you should begin to discover meaning.
Identify: word for word truth in each verse. Now when you start to identify shapes, you are locking in on the truth in that verse. So, another reading strategy that we can apply to God’s book, is to think about the truth you have identified. A good way to think about that is to write it down. We’re studying, right? When I study to know something, I take advantage of every opportunity God has given me in 2008 to know Him. So, low and behold – pen and paper lend themselves to knowing God. Hey, we use pen and paper to prepare for a job, to learn in school, to connect with others, why wouldn’t we use pen and paper or whatever tools available - to learn of our God. So, let’s write down the truth that we lock into, that we are realizing as we read each verse. Verse 1. Right off the starting block we have HUGE, REFRESHING truth. Do you see it? “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” What is the truth in those words? This may seem like a hard question, but we can answer it easily using the words on the page. Yup, you are simply saying what it already says.
Understand TRUTH: There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Do you know what condemnation means? Well, if we’re not sure, we better be sure. God has it in there for us to realize. So –let’s check it out in good old Webster. Yup, another great reading strategy to apply to knowing our God – a dictionary! Who would have thought? Since we’re doing this together, I’ll look for us. I happen to have my dictionary right here. A. B. C….okay here it is…Condemnation is the process of pronouncing guilty. Does that make sense? Once going through the judgment process – condemnation follows. Guilt is established, and so one is then condemned. The truth, then, that we can grab from this verse in light of what condemnation means is what? Can you think that through? There is now no condemnation… The penalty for the guilty verdict that we are due - is not held against any of us who are in Christ Jesus.
Think about this TRUTH (Meditate on it): WOW! Is that amazing or what? Okay if you’re not finding that amazing, let’s process this together. We’re meditating on God’s Word! Yes! This is meditating on TRUTH! Consider all the sin you have committed in your entire life. It doesn’t count against you when you stand before God in that ONE MOMENT you will have in all eternity to meet THE ONE who died in your place so that you could live forever in His kingdom of love. Your sin, before a holy God will not be seen, or held against you. AMAZING!!!! Have you ever been caught doing wrong? If not – can you imagine getting caught in the act of your sin? Besides being embarrassed, how ashamed you would feel?
Build on your learning/understanding with more of God’s Word that you have heard and learned: (What else from God's Word supports this truth? ) Like the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8. Do you think she felt her shame and embarrassment before she was caught or after? She was naked in both scenarios, right? However there’s a difference for her – and for us to realize - in being naked in the moment before she was caught AND THEN being naked in the moment after she was caught. Can you consider with me what that DIFFERENCE might be? Before she was caught how might she have felt? Well, she was engaging in sex, right? So she must have felt completely comfortable in her nakedness – even alluring, attractive, powerful. What was different about her nakedness after she was caught? Her nakedness was exposed in light of her accusers, was it not? She was brought naked before Jesus to be accused, and condemned. She must have felt guilt, shame, embarrassment, completely mortified, and scared beyond belief. Power, allurement – gone. Now here’s something we need to think about as well – because this is us, too! Because of her sin –she faced judgment. Because of her sin, she would be condemned to die– and the punishment for adultery was death by stoning. Jesus, was placed before her as her judge. True, she was found guilty according to the law. Her guilt was not in question; she was caught in the act. Jesus did not reiterate her guilt. In fact he did not say anything about what she already realized in her humiliating nakedness. The sin factor did not need further explanation. She needed to realize something far greater that would change her forever. She already knew the law - and she broke it anyway. She needed to learn something about the love of her God. In Christ there is no condemnation. Having encountered Christ; Him seeing her in her sin – and having been excused from the condemnation that was due as a result of her sin, how do you think this woman lived from then on? He gave her back her life. He gave her freedom, and he gave her new direction. “Go now, and leave your life of sin.”
APPLICATION: Wow!!!! That is you and I!!!! Christ does not accuse us nor condemn us to face what we deserve. In fact, while we were sinners, he died for us! Romans 5:8! TRUTH is – our sin – like the woman caught in the act of adultery – is sin. Before we feel bad, after we feel bad, before we are caught – and after we are caught, no matter what the scenario - it is ugly, humiliating sin. And without Christ – we are condemned. If JESUS were not standing between that adulteress woman and her accusers – she would have died a horrible death, in her shame, and in her guilt. He stood in the gap, and she went free. IN Jesus – we are not condemned. He stood in the gap for us – between a holy God and hell. If you get that, you get what an awesome gift from God you have been given! HOW we LIVE IN the light of that realization is up to us. How could I live any other way once I realize what He has done for me? I can’t go back to my old life. He changed my view of my sin; Jesus came into my life – as he did the life of this adulteress and, like he did with her, he did not accuse me – He simply turned on the light in my heart, and MADE ME REALIZE how he saw me through His love I was worth dying for. You were worth dying for. And so, in light of that LOVE, I realized the way I was living did not acknowledge or even consider such undeserved love or match the beautiful image His love projected on me – wretch that I know I am. Oh how great, how great my gratitude! How great the gratitude of this one adulteress woman who realized not her sin, the law taught her she was sinful – but realized the impending doom of it – and was set free by Christ! What do you think she did after that moment? Do you think she would return to her life of adultery? Or do you think she chose to follow Christ? Her Savior – and in that encounter with Him, she had no idea the depths of His salvation – but her Savior had given her freedom and direction through love – not condemnation. This woman must have been so pumped with the love extended toward her! I imagine she followed Him. Sought him out wherever he was, and if she didn’t know where he was, she looked for him. I imagine she became the kind of Christ follower that hung on every word and direction He gave. I imagine she followed him right to the foot of the cross, and cried in horror as she watched her redeemer die, powerless to do for Him what he had done for her. And I imagine this woman, clinging to those who mourned the crucified One, rejoiced with the news of his resurrection, and stood in awe with those who saw Him ascend. What do you think she thought of her savior then? The realization of her heart and mind – grasping that the God who authored the law through Moses, The GOD who knew she couldn’t keep the law, and was condemned according to it, gave His Son – so that she would never have to live in fear of it again, but instead live out of the love He had shown for her. That is how I imagine her changed life. She pursued Christ fully, and continued to live for Him, love Him with love she had never known she could feel –out of His love that changed her life. The Bible doesn’t tell us what she did, but the Bible does draw me then to consider my own life – free from condemnation. And then ask myself, how will I live from now on? Will you consider this with me? How will we live from now on, my friend?
ACTIONS based on TRUTH/Application: See the next part of our study, in light of the truth we have just grasped – is to consider the “now what?” That thought is critical to our LIFE in Christ. Truth is truth whether we live by it or not. It won’t go away. It’s eternal. It rocks on whether we join in with the melody or not. You with me? So, we could look at that truth, consider it – maybe even think – “Wow, what a beautiful thought!” and then go on our way never responding to it. It’s the application of truth – IN APPLICATION there is a changed life. So my question for both of us to consider is: how will this truth - that in Christ we are no longer condemned – come through our life? That answer is totally up to you. I can’t answer it for you, nor could you answer it for me. Will you think about that for a moment – think about the truth God gave us and ask Him to turn the light on in your heart with his love and life-giving truth. Write down your thoughts. Yup. Back to pen and paper; these tools help us remember the truth we learned and how God, Himself, impressed it on our hearts and minds.
Now you may be thinking…sheweeee, we have a lot more verses to go, and we’re not even on verse two yet! See! See how rich and full the Word is! I so get lost in the fullness of it! I lose track of time in it! We could stop there with all the goodness we’ve absorbed, and I totally understand if you want to shut it down for today and return to this tomorrow. So come back when you have more time cause there’s something else I want to learn with you in this first verse. I’m going to continue you on…and you lock in when you’re ready. I’ll be here. Keep thinking about what we have learned. Meditate on it all day!
Okay, you with me? Romans 8:1; we need to read it and grab the truth it holds. It says – and I’m going to repeat the first part of that verse to keep the whole idea of it knitted together as it is meant to be considered. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Now you might be thinking, I already thought about this verse. There can’t possibly be more. There’s more; ONE word that we can lock into and chew on for more truth. Just like we focused on condemnation – and what that mean – now we’re locking into another word. This one is much smaller. Got your pen and paper?
Pray. Ask God for understanding. Again, Read the passage several times. Start digging for truth. Word for Word, verse by verse, identify truth.
The TRUTH: for those who are in Christ Jesus. Write that down. What is the one word to which the first part of verse 1 is strongly connected? The first part that says “there is now no condemnation”. Did you say, IN? Circle the word in on your paper, in your Bible – somewhere. Think about that. For “those of us who are IN Christ Jesus” is critical to the “no condemnation” part. If you’re in Him, you’re not condemned.
Think about this TRUTH (Meditate): What does it mean to be IN Christ? You can probably think that through without too much trouble. If I’m IN a marriage relationship – which I am – to my sweet Kemper – I live IN that relationship – not apart from it. My marriage to Kemper has totally changed how I live. If I live IN Christ, I live in that relationship, not apart from it.
Build on Understanding:What could we do to understand God’s Word on this idea a little further? There is an amazing tool in your Bible – if you have a study Bible. It is a cross-reference guide. The cross-references take you to another part of Scripture to show you more about what is mentioned in a verse – be it a person, place, idea – whatever. The cross-reference will take you to more Scripture to help you understand more about what you are studying. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend it to not only help you understand God’s Word, but also truly appreciate this amazing book God has written. The cross-reference in my Bible takes me to Romans 8:39 to read more about being in Christ. It says, “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will e able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Love of God is in Christ Jesus. Who are we in? Christ Jesus. What is in Jesus? God’s love. What is in us? The love of God. Wow! There are so many levels to that TRUTH! We have already learned there is no condemnation in Jesus. Now we are learning the love of the Father is in Jesus, and IN Jesus – we can experience a life free from the condemnation we deserve AND the LOVE of God!!!! There is so much to realize about living in Christ, sweet girl, but what is most amazing to me – that the first thing He wants us to get is we live not condemned, but LOVED…IN HIM! How I would love to study this idea with you! The great news is you can study more about what that is on your own! Check out John 15 when you get a chance.
Actions based on Truth/Application: Here’s that truth we have learned together: You are free from condemnation in Christ. (Remember ALL that we considered with this truth.) Christ is God’s love for us. (Remember ALL that His love IS: not condemning, but life giving – new life – new direction – out of love.) NOW: How will you live in light of that truth?
There are many other verses we could study and think about together, but I will let you go so you can study them on your own. I believe that God Himself will speak to your heart more powerfully than I ever could. Your statement, that you cannot stop having sex with your boyfriend is not true. Read for the TRUTH you CAN apply to the LOVE God has for YOU! Romans 8:1-16. Studying God’s Word is a discipline. I realize that. But the difference that He brings – is SURE – and IS WORTH every effort!
Build on your learning.
posted by laura lewis