Here's some encouragement for today from Romans 12.
Here's my favorite section from last weekend's talk:
Grace doesn't lower commitment, it increases it!
Let me give you some examples:
Grace does not lower standards or commitments. It doesn't ask how can I get out of honoring God and live for self. No way!
God's grace is so beautiful and powerful, it empowers us to live our lives sacrificially for Jesus. He is worthy of our everything, and we willingly surrender all because He is worth it all.
No one twists our arms to honor Christ. We do so with joy! We get to honor Jesus with all we have: time, money, conversation, attitude, and actions. He is our everything.
Watch the whole talk from part two of our JUICE series:
Posted at 05:06 PM | Permalink
We heard a ton of positive feedback about the kickoff of our BAEwatch teaching series last weekend as we gave out God's wisdom for dating. We used Genesis 24 as our text, and we pulled some practical applications from an ancient story.
If you missed it, here's a quick recap of the 10 Healthy Relationship Principles we discovered in this passage:
Principle # 1 - Look for a spouse among people of like-minded faith.
Genesis 24:3-4 “Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?
Principle # 2 - Trust God. He will guide you.
Genesis 24:5-7 The servant asked, “But what if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to travel so far from home? Should I then take Isaac there to live among your relatives in the land you came from?” “No!” Abraham responded. “Be careful never to take my son there. For the Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants. He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son.”
Principle # 3 - Don't settle just because you are lonely. Have some standards.
Genesis 24:8 “If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath of mine. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there.”
Principle # 4 - When you are ready for marriage, take action!
Genesis 24:9-10 So the servant took an oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham. He swore to follow Abraham’s instructions. Then he loaded ten of Abraham’s camels with all kinds of expensive gifts from his master, and he traveled to distant Aram-naharaim. There he went to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor had settled.
Song of Solomon 8:8 Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.
Proverbs 18:21 He who finds a wife finds what is good.
Principle # 5 - Pray for guidance.
Genesis 24:11-15a He made the camels kneel beside a well just outside the town. It was evening, and the women were coming out to draw water. “O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’ - let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.” Before he had finished praying…
Principle # 6 - Attraction Matters! Don't date them just because they are a person of faith!
Genesis 24:15b-16 …he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin.
Principle # 7 - Character matters! If they are not servant-hearted, they are not worth your time.
Genesis 24:16-20 She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.” “Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels.
Principle # 8 - Be honorable to parents. Seek their blessing.
Genesis 24:21-33 The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the Lord had given him success in his mission. Then at last, when the camels had finished drinking, he took out a gold ring for her nose and two large gold bracelets for her wrists. “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. “And please tell me, would your father have any room to put us up for the night?” “I am the daughter of Bethuel,” she replied. “My grandparents are Nahor and Milcah. Yes, we have plenty of straw and feed for the camels, and we have room for guests.” The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord. “Praise the Lord, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. “The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.” The young woman ran home to tell her family everything that had happened. Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, who ran out to meet the man at the spring. He had seen the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man had said. So he rushed out to the spring, where the man was still standing beside his camels. Laban said to him, “Come and stay with us, you who are blessed by the Lord! Why are you standing here outside the town when I have a room all ready for you and a place prepared for the camels?” So the man went home with Laban, and Laban unloaded the camels, gave him straw for their bedding, fed them, and provided water for the man and the camel drivers to wash their feet. Then food was served. But Abraham’s servant said, “I don’t want to eat until I have told you why I have come.” “All right,” Laban said, “tell us.”
Genesis 24:49 “So tell me - will you or won’t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.”
Principle # 9 - Mutual consent. None of this one-sided, “God told me to marry you, so you need to get with the program.”
Genesis 24:50-58 Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The Lord has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.” When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed down to the ground and worshiped the Lord. Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry and clothing and presented them to Rebekah. He also gave expensive presents to her brother and mother. Then they ate their meal, and the servant and the men with him stayed there overnight. But early the next morning, Abraham’s servant said, “Send me back to my master.” “But we want Rebekah to stay with us at least ten days,” her brother and mother said. “Then she can go.” But he said, “Don’t delay me. The Lord has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.” “Well,” they said, “we’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.” So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. And she replied, “Yes, I will go.”
Principle # 10 - Stay covered ‘til the covenant.
Genesis 24:59-66 So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abraham’s servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekah’s childhood nurse went along with her. They gave her this blessing as she parted: “Our sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants be strong and conquer the cities of their enemies.” Then Rebekah and her servant girls mounted the camels and followed the man. So Abraham’s servant took Rebekah and went on his way. Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahai-roi. One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming. When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted from her camel. “Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?” she asked the servant. And he replied, “It is my master.” So Rebekah covered her face with her veil. Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done.
This weekend we are going to continue our series by studying 1 Corinthians 7. We will discover wisdom for sex, singleness, marriage, and faith. You are invited! Bring along a friend for Fresh Faces February. Service times & locations.
Posted at 05:24 PM | Permalink
Are you sick of winter yet?
Around February, Minnesotans start really dragging their feet with this season. Going outside is painful; heating bills are going through the roof; the floor of your garage is covered with sand from the roads. (Let’s not even talk about what your car looks like.) It’s not entirely acceptable to keep Christmas lights on this late after the holidays, and the snow is no longer delicate and glistening – instead it’s tiredly heaped in dingy piles in the parking lots… what’s the point anymore? Winter doesn’t seem to have a purpose in February, with Christmas over and the “fun” of snow worn away.
That seems to be every season of life, though, doesn’t it? At first it’s great, but after a while, it just gets tiring and we are more than ready for the next thing.
We all go through different seasons in our lives: childhood, adolescence, adulthood. In each of those seasons are more specific ones, from going to college or getting married or retiring. Sometimes there are joyful seasons – pregnancy, or traveling, or landing your dream job. Sometimes there are seasons of deep sorrow and uncertainty: Divorce. Cancer. Miscarriage. Foreclosure.
Just like winter requiring different clothes than summer, every season changes how you approach life. And every season (even the good ones) is HARD.
What’s hard to see in the moment is that each season is purposeful and temporary. God designed the earth to cycle through winter, spring, summer, and fall to bring about growth and beauty, not to cause us to despair or die of boredom. Even though it feels that it will be winter forever, we know deep down that spring is coming.
But what happens when we go through February wishing for spring? We end up spending all our whole time looking ahead (or dwelling on the warmth had in the past) and we miss what we’re experiencing right now.
This is true about YOUR current season of life. Each season is purposeful and temporary, and all sorts of problems arise when you spend your time yearning for a change instead of embracing where God’s put you right now – with all the accompanying pleasures and pains. When we are constantly wishing (coveting) for our situation to be “other” than what it is, we tend to live in frustration or bitterness or anxiety. We miss the God-given opportunities to find the joy in every moment we experience.
Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the Day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” For too long, we’ve been pining for a Day that doesn’t exist instead of rejoicing in the Day we have. For too long we’ve said, “Once I get to [insert stage of life here] I’ll be SO at peace and joyful!” and then we get there and find it’s just as stressful as our previous stage of life. Why? Because peace and joy are not based on our situation. They are based on faith in the God of hope. He fills us with joy and peace when we trust in him, no matter our situation. (Romans 15:13).
Do you see what this means? The world gets joy and peace from vacations or parties or yoga, but as a Christ-follower, you can have joy and peace in the midst of anything – even a 70-hour week or chemo or a breakup.
For some of you, this seems impossible. Maybe you are living right now in Winter - a season of tragedy, surviving through the greatest pain you’ve ever experienced. But Psalm 37:23 says that though you might trip, you won’t fall on your face because God is holding you by the hand. He will bring you through it! No suffering is too great or too small for our God to care for.
What’s more, your season is temporary – so find all the joy you can, and learn all you can before it becomes a memory. As American philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “Live deliberately… live deep, and suck out all the marrow of life.”
You’re only in this job you hate for a little while - do your best! You’re only single for so long – make it count! Your new baby will eventually sleep through the night – enjoy those midnight cuddles while you can! Your pain right now will eventually end – choose hope, and don’t give up!
This season of your life - it is the Day that the Lord has made for you. The more you choose to trust in Him moment by moment, the more you’ll find that you are rejoicing and being glad IN it.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him. – Romans 15:13
-Karli Phelps, Guest Writer
Posted at 12:03 PM | Permalink