A Welcome Foreigner

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So this Sunday I’m kicking off our “CONNECTED” series at the Mid-High gathering.  In studying Ephesians 2 for this message, I saw a connection I’ve never seen before.

Verse 19 says “you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”

First, if you are not part of God’s Kingdom, you are a foreigner.  Much like if you are not a ‘murican, yer one of them foreigners.  But the good news is there’s a way to be welcomed.

Foreigners can become citizens through a lengthy naturalization process.  Foreigners can become family through adoption.

Citizens and children both enjoy all the rights and privileges of that country.  But children have access to the Father.

I can’t wait to unpack why it’s so important to be connected in the body of Christ!  If you know any 7th, 8th, or 9th graders, send them my way at 9:30am this Sunday!

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The Other 6 MOBILE

MondayRead Acts 2.42.  There are 4 “normal” practices the early church engaged in.  How would you compare your dedication to these four things?

Tuesday –Read Acts 2.44-46 first.  What are some of the things that marked the people of the church?  Now read Acts 2.47.  What was the result of this kind of attitude?

Wednesday – Read Ephesians 4.11-16.  You have a part to play in the church.  What do you think, personally, your part is?  What are your gifts?  Talents?  Abilities?  Affinities?

Thursday – Read Ephesians 4.11-16 again today.  How can you use your gifts, talents, abilities, or affinities to build up the church?  It’s not just your youth pastor’s job, so what are you going to do?

Friday – Read Acts 20.28.  According to this, does the Church matter to God?  What in this verse made you reach that conclusion?

Saturday – Read Acts 20.28 again.  Do you think you can love God and hate the church?  Consider this: if you like hanging out with your youth pastor but talk smack about his wife, how do you think that’s going to go for you?

BIG STORY: Creation

Notes from Zac Niles’ message to KirkYouth on 6/5/11:

We don’t seem to care for answers until things in our life break down.  When pain happens, when tragedy happens, when we realize things are broken, we go looking for answers (in a sense, we go looking for the box top to the puzzle).

When you are broken, you want to run to a sure thing.  You may not care at all about the things of God today, but you will when your heart is broken.

WHY AM I HERE

God created – There’s no hope if you’re just an accident of the cosmos.  When your heart gets broken, if you truly believe your life is just an accident, you have no hope, you have nothing to turn to, you have no big picture.

According to Ephesians 2.10 you are not a random accident.  You have a role to play.

THREE RELATIONSHIPS

We were created to have a relationship with God – In Genesis 2.7 we see that God didn’t just speak mankind into existence like everything else.  God came close enough to breathe on us; close enough to embrace us.

We were created to have a relationship with Creation – God didn’t need a gardener in Eden (Genesis 2.8).  But he values us so much that he let us jump in to what he’s doing.

We were created to have a relationship with Others – From the very beginning God wanted us in relationship, as evidence by Genesis 2.18 “It is not good for man to be alone.”  Adam had everything else in the universe, but it wasn’t good until he had a relationship with others.

IT’S ALL GOOD

So this is the start of the Big Story.  God created mankind with purpose, and that purpose is to have perfect relationship in various realms.  But something tragic happened.  And next week we’ll try to answer the question:

If God created everything “GOOD,” why are things so bad?

The “T” in HOT

THE FAMILY OF GOD

Read Genesis 24.3 & Genesis 24.15 – Abraham, as the patriarch of the people of God, wanted a wife for his son from the same family (the family of God).

In High School I gave myself a boundary: I would not date anyone who was not a Christian.  Not because I was terrified of the world (I went to public school).  Not because non-Christians aren’t pretty.  Not because non-Christians aren’t fun to hang out with.  But because the Bible clearly talks about how those who are in Christ are not to be joined with those who are not in Christ.  Consider the following:

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15What harmony is there between Christ and Belialb? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.

1 John 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from allb sin.

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light  9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)  10 and find out what pleases the Lord.  11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.  12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.  13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible,  14 for it is light that makes everything visible… 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ladies, do not think that if you’re a Christian and he’s not, then somehow he will become one.  Missionary dating does not work.  Sharing the gospel does.

Fellas, do not be satisfied if she says she is a Christian.  Ask her if she loves Jesus, and then see if she has the heart of a servant, obvious character, and is in the family of God.

Because being in the family of God is hot.

How Do We Respond To This?

What the rest of the world thinks is “hot” becomes obsolete in a month.

What the Bible says is hot has been that way from the beginning.  Rebekah had the heart of a servant, obvious character, and was in the family of God.

Ladies, this is who you want to be like.

Fellas, this who you want to pursue.

And when we look at her story, we can say “That’s Hot.”

unDeserving Debtor

What is a “DEBTOR”

  • a person who owes a creditor; someone who has the obligation of paying a debt
  • A person owes a debt to another.
  • The person who either owes payment or other performance on an obligation such as a contract or note.

When we say Jesus is the unDeserving Debtor, that means He paid a debt He did not owe.  We owe a debt we cannot pay.  We owe a debt to God because of our sin, but Jesus paid it in full.  And we’re going to unpack that today:

WHAT did He do because of our debt?

Isaiah 53:5-6 says “But he was pierced for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.  We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

1 Peter 2:24-25 says “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds you have been healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

A physician explained the pain of the cross in this way:

adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows…However, this maneuver would place the entire weight of the body on the tarsals [ankle bones] and would produce searing pain.  Furthermore, flexion of the elbows would cause rotation of the wrists around the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the damaged nerves…Muscle cramps and paresthesias [pins and needles when your foot or arm wakes up] of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the discomfort.  As a result, each respiratory effort would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia.

WHEN did He do it and WHERE did it happen?

Colossians 2:13-15 says When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away nailing to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”

According to this, when did Jesus become the unDeserving Debtor?

The only time we are referenced in this passage is when it says “you were dead in your sins” and the rest is about Jesus.  This is our condition.  We are sinful.  And apart from Jesus, we are dead in our sins.  See, salvation doesn’t happen when good things outweigh bad things.  We don’t balance our debt, we get rid of it:

  • If I owe$3,000 on a student loan and I have $3,000 in my bank account, that doesn’t mean I’m free…it means I’m broke
  • If you lose sleep because you played Black Ops all night and make it up for it by sleeping in class you’re not free…you’re failing

And the only way we get rid of our debt is through Jesus.  He is the one who has paid our debt.  And He paid it in full.

WHY did the unDeserving Debtor take our debt?

2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made him who had no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.

He died so that we could be made right.

Jesus is holy.  Jesus had no sin.  Jesus was not created and therefore not affected or ruled by sin.

But we are.  We are not good enough.  Jesus didn’t die because we earned it.  In fact, the Bible says apart from Jesus, we are “children of wrath” or “deserving of wrath.”

He died because He loves us.

He died so we could be made right.

He died to cancel our debt.  He became the unDeserving Debtor.  He paid what we owed.  And because of that we can be saved.  We can be made right with God!

The unCreated Creator stepped into creation as the unDeserving Debtor.  He paid for our sin with his life and three days later He became the unStoppable Savior.  And we’ll see what that means next week.

Sunday Remix // Identity

THE QUESTION

How can I figure out who I am in Christ?

THE RESPONSE

Read the Bible.

Belong to a church.

Commit to each other.

You will never experience or fully understand your identity in Christ in isolation, as a casual observer, apart from the Word of God.  It takes dedication; it takes discipline; it takes the death of apathy.

THE WORD

Colossians 2.6-3.17

Ephesians 2.1-22

INKED by UNITY

Unity Is:  “The quality of being one.”  Not uniformity.  And not a giant group hug where sin and false religions are tolerated.  In today’s post we’re going to talk about a life permanently marked by unity because there’s only one Jesus.  In Ephesians 4.3 it says

“make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit.”

So the first thing we need to unpack is

HOW DO WE MAINTAIN UNITY?

The answer is in Ephesians 4.2:

1.   Be Humble (lowliness of mind; especially in thinking)

  • Literally “your mind not rising far from the ground”
  • There is nothing more scathing or abrasive than arrogance.  And where arrogance exists in the body of Christ, unity does not.  Therefore, in order for you to maintain the unity of the Spirit, you must be humble.
  • To make this practical, read John 3:30
  • Why are we humble?  Because Jesus is humble, and there’s only one Jesus

2.   Be Gentle (power under control; like a sailboat)

  • Being gentle is not being soft, squishy, and ticklish
  • It is real strength, but it does not have to display itself or show off how strong it is
  • Why are we gentle?  Because Jesus is gentle, and there’s only one Jesus

3.   Be Patient (endure annoyances over a period of time)

  • Sometimes enough is enough, but we don’t explode the first time something happens that is, in fact, annoying.  Impatient people destroy unity, because maintaining unity is more of a process than creating it (which, by the way, isn’t your job).
  • Being patient literally means to have a long-temper or a big soul as opposed to a short-temper
  • Why are we patient?  Because Jesus is patient, and there’s only one Jesus

4.   Show Tolerant Love (putting up with each other in love)

  • In NO WAY is this akin to the cultural group hug that is tolerance.  In the Bible, this kind of tolerance is more like this:
    • not a question of maintaining a façade of courtesy while inwardly seething with resentment but is a Spirit empowered positive love to those who irritate, disturb, or embarrass you [within the body of Christ]
  • Why are we tolerant in love?  Because Jesus puts up with us, and there’s only one Jesus.

HOW DO WE RESPOND TO THIS?

We maintain unity with other believers because there’s only one Jesus.  We act this way toward other believers to maintain the unity that we have in the major stuff.

Not every church does things the same way.

Not every church looks the same

Not every believer looks the same.

But there’s only one Jesus.

We all do things differently…but there’s only one Jesus.

And if someone is pursuing that Jesus, then we are united with them through the gospel, and we are called to maintain that unity in the Holy Spirit.