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John Sees a Battle

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John Sees a Battle

John writes, In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him. He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity. The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it (John 1:1-5 GW).

John sees a battle that we cannot see with our eyes. John sees a battle between light and darkness, between good and evil, between life and death, and he’s telling us that is the world that we live in.

John says that is the reality. You will encounter darkness in this world and in your own heart too. You will fight against the forces of death in this world and in your own life.

But John believes the power of love is greater than the power of hate. He teaches that love will win the day, and in the end, love will prevail. And these themes are visited throughout John’s gospel and his Epistle to the churches.

You can experience the message this blog is taken from (audio or video) at http://www.lakeviewchurch.org/sermon/christmas-through-the-eyes-of-john-week-1/.

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Christmas through the Eyes of John

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Christmas through the Eyes of John

Today we begin a Christmas blog series, but don’t worry. We won’t be talking about shepherds, mangers, and a pregnant woman taking a long trip on a short donkey.

Our series is a study from the Book of 1st John. And yes, this is the same John who wrote the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation.

I think the other gospel writers acted sort of like reporters. They told us what happened at the birth of Jesus.

Matthew wrote; “The birth of Jesus took place in this way,” and he unpacked the details. Luke began with; “I thought it’d be a good idea to write an orderly account, so you know what has been told is true.”

And they wrote the stories they heard from others because none of them were at Jesus birth. They wrote about angelic visitors, wicked rulers and two common people chosen by God for an uncommon task.

But John wasn’t much like a reporter. He was more like a mystic. John told us why Jesus birth happened; why He came, and why it mattered.

When John shares the story of Jesus, He doesn’t take us to the manger. He takes us to the beginning. I mean, the very beginning, to eternity past, to a time before our world, our universe existed.

Going all the way back, John writes, In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was already with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him. Not one thing that exists was made without him. He was the source of life, and that life was the light for humanity. The light shines in the dark, and the dark has never extinguished it (John 1:1-5 GW).

So, go with me on a journey in my upcoming blogs over the next few weeks, as we see Christmas through the eyes of John.

Open Our Hands to Serve

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Open Our Hands to Serve

The church will grow when we open our hands to serve.

Even if we open our doors and our hearts, if we don’t open our hands and engage our gifts in the church it cannot grow. Our vision is to see Lakeview become a unique place in our city. God is opening the door to reach out to the poor and to immigrants in meaningful ways beyond just providing a temporary fix.

The Westside International Academy is opening within a few weeks. It’ll be a top-notch academy for kids from 6 weeks to 5 years old. We will be teaching multiple languages. We will offer a top curriculum. Most of all, we will be giving them Jesus and touching families, rich and poor.

I’m told we have 10,000 apartment units within a 2-3 mile radius of our church. How many kids come home to an empty apartment? God willing, we are going to launch after school care in 2018.

Our heart to reach our community can only be accomplished if you open your hands to serve!

 

To listen to the entire message, click here. Watch this service on video here. 

Open Our Hearts to Reconciliation

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Open Our Hearts to Reconciliation

The church will grow when we open our hearts to reconciliation.

The people of Ephesus were not all that different from the people here on the westside of Indianapolis. One year ago this week I was in Ephesus with a group. They only discovered these amazing ruins within the last 20-30 years. This ancient city even had one of the first underground sewer systems!

Ephesus as a bustling city of a ¼ of a million people. They unearthed an amphitheater that was as large as most football stadiums in America. Because of its trade, renowned doctors and a medical college, Ephesus was a place where people from all over the world came to live. And it became a city of conflicting opposites. There were many rich and many poor. There were many shrines and statues to false gods reflecting their former lives. Ephesus was a diverse city, and the lines of division between the races and cultures was clear and pronounced.

The Apostle Paul said this is exactly why Jesus came. Jesus came to tear down the walls of division and bring all into one family. He called it the mystery of the gospel. (See Ephesians 3:1-11.)

Would the forces of darkness tremble if God said, “Don’t count on your spirit of racism and superiority to destroy America. My church will settle this.”

It’s commonly known that the church in Germany did little to stand against the tide of racism and hatred during the reign of Adolph Hitler. Their silence contributed to an unspeakable slaughter of Jews. But there’s a different wind blowing today in Germany. Over the past few years Germany has been flooded with refugees and that kind of movement always has its challenges.

But in Frankfurt, Germany in the last three years 11 new “mono-multicultural churches” have been planted. These are churches are filled with German nationals who are intentionally reaching out welcoming every tongue, tribe, nation and people. And the churches are growing.

The hostility between the races will only be broken down when the church becomes united and loves like Jesus. Ephesians 2:14-16 says, So he is our peace. In his body he has made Jewish and non-Jewish people one by breaking down the wall of hostility that kept them apart. He brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses’ Teachings so that he could take Jewish and non-Jewish people and create one new humanity in himself. So he made peace. He also brought them back to God in one body by his cross, on which he killed the hostility (GW).

The church will grow when we open our hearts to reconciliation.

To listen to the entire message, click here. Watch this service on video here. 

Open the Door to Outsiders

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Open the Door to Outsiders

The church will grow when we open our doors to outsiders.

Here’s something that’s very important to realize. All unchurched people feel like ‘outsiders’ when it comes to the church.  And it’s that way, but not necessarily because the church makes them feel that way (although it can be).

Primarily they feel that way because they are not yet born again; they are not yet adopted into the family of God. Ephesians 2:12-13 and 19 says, Also, at that time you were without Christ. You were excluded from citizenship in Israel, and the pledges God made in his promise were foreign to you. You had no hope and were in the world without God. That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family (GW).

We must assure the unchurched we understand that uncomfortable feeling, and we may experience that same feeling from time to time.

Have you ever noticed that church is comfortable until it’s not? I’ve talked many times with Christians who have fallen into sin. When that happens suddenly they don’t feel like going to church. If they used to sit up front, they now feel inclined to sit in back. And that’s the #1 reason the unchurched don’t want to come to church. It’s because they feel uncomfortable.

Our #1 job is to assure them it’s okay. We totally get it. We understand their feelings. Assure them they will be welcomed. Let them know our church is not a gathering place for perfect people, but a place where outsiders are made insiders by the grace of God.

I fully believe Lakeview will grow when each one of us become more aware of and in tune with outsiders. Bring the unchurched TO church! Meet them. Sit with them. Assure them they will be welcomed with open arms.

The church will grow when we open our doors to outsiders.

 

To listen to the entire message, click here. Watch this service on video here. 

 

Gifted to Grow the Church

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Gifted to Grow the Church

God has supernaturally gifted each one of us to serve others.

“God has given each one of us a special gift. Each of us must use the gift God has given us to serve others.” Ephesians 4:7 says, God’s favor has been given to each of us. It was measured out to us by Christ who gave it. And 1 Peter 4:10 says, Each of you as a good manager must use the gift that God has given you to serve others.

So, where do we use our spiritual gifts?

They’re not something we turn on/off at church. Our spiritual gifts ought to function at home, at work, and in the neighborhood. Basically, they should be in operation wherever we live life.

But I think it’s even more important we understand that our spiritual gifts must include the church.

  • Our spiritual gifts connect our heart to the church.
  • Our spiritual gifts strengthen and build the church.

My spiritual gifts as a pastor are meant to inspire and equip you so that God uses you to grow the Body of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-12 says, He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church. Their purpose is to prepare God’s people to serve and to build up the body of Christ (GW).

If you are not serving in the church, in some capacity, you are stunting your growth and hindering the growth of the church.

Ephesians 4:13-15 says, This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head (GW).

Doesn’t verse 15 sound awesome! “We will grow up COMPLETELY!”

Maybe we’re not growing because we are not engaging our gifts.

I love verse #16 because Paul paints the picture of how effective and powerful our spiritual gifts really are. See Ephesians 4:16.

“He makes the whole body FIT together.” That tells us the church is like a jigsaw puzzle. Don’t you hate it when there’s one piece missing!

“He makes the body grow.” God’s desire is always to grow the church. Is that your desire?

In the next few blogs, I’ll share how we can help grow the church, because we know that church growth is God’s desire.

To listen to the entire message, click here. Watch this service on video here. 

It Takes an Obedient Heart

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It Takes an Obedient Heart

If you have a child that consistently disobeys you, and they shut out whatever instruction you give them, what do you do to help them? You pull back. You let them fall. You let them learn their life lessons the hard way because you know they won’t obey you anyway. Why bother to waste your breath?

And isn’t our Heavenly Father an even better father than we are? God knows when to pull back.

Look at the lives of King David and King Saul. David had a heart for God, even though he made mistakes, but King Saul was habitually disobedient. It was to Saul God said, “It’s not sacrifice I’m looking for. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Disobedience is no different than the sin of witchcraft.”[1]

After God quit speaking to King Saul, that’s exactly what Saul turned to for direction, witchcraft (see 1 Samuel 28).

If we won’t obey, if we won’t heed the direction of God’s voice, He will quit talking and leave us to guide our lives.

God said to the children of Israel through the prophet Zechariah; “Did your ancestors listen? No, they set their jaws in defiance. They shut their ears. They steeled themselves against God’s revelation and the Spirit-filled sermons. And God became angry, really angry, because he told them everything plainly and they wouldn’t listen to a word he said. So this is what God said, if they won’t listen to me, I won’t listen to them. They turned a dreamland into a wasteland” (see Zechariah 7)

How badly do you want to hear God’s voice? Are you willing to wait until He speaks? Are you willing to obey?

[1] 1 Samuel 15:23

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