Finding Community

One of the songs on the current playlist that we’ve introduced once so far, and will be doing more in the coming New Year is called, “God You Are My God.”

I wanted to share this video testimony about the impact that this song has had on a worship band called Desperation Band. The video is also a testimony of the importance of finding community in the body of Christ and spurring one another along to steward our gifts and talents for the glory of God. We are to stir one another up to love and good works as the writer of Hebrews tells us (Hebrews 10:24).

We are singing one of the Desperation Bands original songs called, “My God,” as a part of the current playlist.

In case you missed it, here is a link back to the original post on the current playlist of songs we are doing for the Astonished sermon series.

God You Are My God

By Jason Ingram | Paul Mabury | Rory Noland

Verse 1

No praise can define You

No thought can contain You God

No other one is holy

No other one is robed in righteousness

 

Chorus 1

God You are my God

Glorious glorious

 

Verse 2

No light can outshine You

No power can defeat You God

No other one is holy

No other one is high and lifted up

 

Chorus 2

God You are my God

Glorious glorious

God You are my God

Victorious victorious

 

Bridge

From the dawn of time You reign

To the end of days

You’re the God who saves (sing)

All the earth will shout Your praise

You will never change

You’re the God who saves (sing)

Here is the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS1u2MO8xz4

Jeremy Ellis

Worship Director, Mountain Springs Church

 

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #11 – Cleaning the Wound

Focus verse: Matt. 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

Salt is an interesting mineral.  Not only does it season our food, but it preserves it as well.  However, possibly the most interesting aspect and use of salt is its ability to clean and disinfect.  During wars throughout history, doctors and medics would utilize salt to disinfect and clean wounds that had been inflicted, thus preventing infection and disease from spreading and killing the injured soldier.  There are many minerals in the world; however, if you were to rub dirt or rocks in a wound it would not cleanse but rather expedite the infection process leading to eventual death.  Jesus is not in the business of death, but life; not infection, but disinfection.

We are all part of His business plan, as witnesses of the grace bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We are commanded to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).  In other words, we are to go disinfect the world, preserve and flavor it and teach others to do likewise.

In this verse Jesus drives home for us the plan and purpose He has for our lives.  We are either fulfilling His plan or we are not.  There is no middle ground in this ultimatum.  You don’t cover a lamp; a city on a hill cannot be hidden.  If we are to make a difference for the kingdom of God in this world and do not, then what good are we?  We are “good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men”.

Jesus wants to use us.  We can help disinfect this world by telling lost souls about the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We can help preserve the spirit, body and soul of other believers by coming along side of them in their time of need.  Be what you were created to be.  Clean the wound, cleanse the world, flavor and preserve; be the salt of the earth!

Justin Gibbons

Discussion question:

  • How are you being salt in this world and teaching others to do likewise?
  • Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:14-16

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #10 “From My Sake To His Sake”

Focus verses: Matt. 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven…”

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “blessed” as “enjoying spiritual happiness and the favor of God”; “divine joy and perfect happiness.” More than an emotion based on outward circumstances, “blessed” is the condition of those who fear the Lord and seek to do His will in their lives.  Only God can put a person in such a place, despite any adversity they are facing.

Early in my career, a few guys labeled me as a “climber.” I was the subject of locker room derision by a few more seasoned veterans. I walked into a room one day as my actions were being recounted (with little resemblance to the truth) and I expressed my displeasure in a less than Christ-like manner to the tale-bearers.

Words like “blessed,” “spiritual happiness,” and “favor of God” do not describe my feelings at the time, but then I wasn’t being reviled for His sake but because of my own actions.

Fast forward several years; now an outspoken follower of Jesus Christ, I was faced with much different reviling from coworkers. Now the comments were the result of the radical transformation taking place in my life.  This time my reactions were not anger, bitterness, retaliation, or hatred.  Instead, I was acutely aware that this lightweight “persecution” I experienced was for His sake and I found joy in that.

Jesus said; “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.  Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”  John 15:18-20 

Scott Thompson

Discussion question:

  • When you’re feeling persecuted or misunderstood, is it for His sake or because you’re inviting it by your own actions? If it’s for His sake, rest in the knowledge that you’re walking in His footsteps!

Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:13

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #9 “Bring It On”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

On the surface, our passage seems contrary to logic and hard to understand. We are blessed when we are persecuted for our faith?  But understanding is important, because persecution of Christians is on the rise in the U.S.  Persecution involves opposition, trials and hatred.  It can be manifested verbally, physically, culturally and spiritually!  But when we are persecuted, we can be encouraged by Jesus’ words in John 15:20; “…. ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you”.  The prophets of old, the 12 disciples and the early church were all persecuted…even to the death!

So, how can we possibly be blessed when we are persecuted for righteousness sake … for doing good? The answer to that question comes when we remember that the journey of discipleship is about developing the character of Christ!  It’s about being transformed into the image of Jesus and about the inward man/woman being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16-18).  When we are in the thick of persecution, we have the opportunity to draw closer to Jesus!  In these times, as we allow God’s Spirit to have His way with us, we experience a closer relationship with Jesus than before!   We are truly comforted by the Spirit of God (2 Cor 1:3-7).

Persecution serves to make our faith deeper, more sincere and genuine (1 Pet 1:6-9).  Imagine if you were told that you could no longer publicly profess your faith in Jesus Christ, nor assemble together with other Christians.  This could happen to us, as it has to many others in the world.  How God would work in you to focus and sharpen your faith!  How suddenly you would become more kingdom focused and less earthly focused!

The nature and severity of the believer’s persecution in this life can be very great. But current sufferings “are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom 8:18).  An eternity in heaven with Jesus awaits us. “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:12).

Ricky Cruz

Discussion question:

  • Have you ever experienced persecution as a Christian? How did you react?

Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:11-12

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #8 “Peacemakers”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word Peacemaker?

The first thing that comes to my mind is a Colt .45. Throughout history the Colt .45 has been referred to as a “Peacemaker”.  Some historical trivia:

  • General Patton carried an ivory handled Colt peacemaker which he used in the Mexican Punitive Expedition of 1916 as well as carrying one during the Second World War.
  • Famed British adventurer and soldier T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”) had a special fondness for this weapon, because it saved his life during one of his pre-World War I trips to Mesopotamia He was jumped by an Arab bandit who stole the gun and tried to kill Lawrence, but Lawrence’s assailant couldn’t because he did not understand the revolver mechanism. Lawrence thereafter always carried one of these weapons for good luck.

It seems odd that a tool designed to kill would be an instrument of peace. The Colt .45 was called a peacemaker because it was the weapon of choice for early lawmen who used it to enforce the law and thereby keep the peace.  Sometimes death is required for peacekeeping.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is our peace offering. He fulfilled the Law, bringing peace between Jew and Gentile and between us and God, through the New Covenant in His Blood;

Ephesians 2:15-16 “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances …. thus making peace …. that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross …”

We are called to be peacemakers and living sacrifices. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Romans 12:1)

In Matthew 5:44-45 Jesus commands us to love our enemies. One of the most effective ways to be a peacemaker is to love our enemies by sharing the Gospel of Christ with them.  Since we were once enemies of God, prior to being reconciled to Him by Jesus Christ, we can identify with those who are still separated from God by sin.  We have been given the calling and privilege of helping them become reconciled to God by bringing the Gospel to them.

Don Kramer

Discussion question:

  • What are you doing to be equipped to reconcile others to God?Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:10

Sermon on the Mount – Devo # 7 “Pure in Heart”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”

It is our way to complicate things. We take clear, pure, singular, and we add to it…usually with the best of intent. We add so we can understand, we elaborate to relate, and we illustrate to teach, all with the best of means. But by definition, no matter what the aim, adding anything to purity dilutes. “Blessed are the pure in heart…” pure only because of a singular cathartic moment – the moment we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. In that moment we are reborn without blemish, without spot…a heart made pure by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:19/John 3). We are made pure because of what Jesus did, not because of what we have done. As Jesus sits on the mountain He is teaching this very thing to the multitudes, in affect saying: ‘in trying to elaborate you have complicated’ … ‘in trying to teach we can dilute’. “You have heard…” (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43)…it might as well read ‘you have added…you have diluted it…you have forgotten’. We forget (Revelation 2:4)… forget that we ARE, now and forever, pure in heart because Jesus first loved us and we have accepted His love.

So now what? We are to grow (Hebrews 5:12-14), commanded to grow, by studying God’s Word. It is in this growth where we will “…see God”. If we search His Word, and do not add to it or dilute it, then we will begin to “…see God” in every line and chapter. By studying and focusing on Him we keep God in front of us. Then, from the pages of scripture into everyday life we will “…see God” because He “… is not far off…” (Deuteronomy 30:11-16). By keeping His commandments we will see His promises, His character, and His hand moving everywhere. Every minute of our day, on every street we travel, and in every workplace and relationship, we will see God. We will see because we will recognize what we are looking for…God.

Never dilute what is pure, never complicate what matters most (Matthew 22:36-40); that Christ died for you, and through belief in Him as Savior, and living a life that focuses on Him as Lord, you “…are pure in heart…” and will “…see God” now and forever.

Jason Steffen

Discussion question:

  • Do you see God in your everyday life? If so where – be specific.

Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:9

Sermon on the Mount – Music “How He Loves”

We have been singing this song called “How He Loves” for some time now at MSC, and it is also a part of the current playlist.

Here is a link back to the original post on the current playlist of songs we are doing for the Astonished sermon series.

I have been really impacted lately by the fact that God loves us as a Father. As the apostle John writes in 1 John 3:1a, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!“

I wanted you to hear the story behind the song shared in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6wl3uqfbYQ

Jeremy Ellis, Worship Leader

Mountain Springs Church

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #6 “Like Teacher, Like Disciple”

Focus verse: Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

The Pharisees, a religious ruling class of Jews in the 1st century, favored legalism over mercy (Mk 3:1-6).  On the other hand, Jesus taught in our verse that we are to have a merciful or compassionate heart toward others.  In so doing, we will be blessed.  In the original, that means we will be happy; not a superficial happiness, but a divine self-contained happiness regardless of external circumstances.  We experience God’s favor and a peace from God (Nu 6:22-26).  Moreover, God promises to bestow mercy upon us in the future as we are merciful to others now.

Jesus Himself is our example. Jesus is our “merciful and faithful High Priest” (Heb 2:17).  At the cross, He made “propitiation for the sins of the people”.  That is, He Himself satisfied God’s wrath with His death for our sins.  What mercy toward us!  We didn’t get what we deserved, which was death and eternal separation from God in the Lake of Fire.  Instead, Jesus paid the ultimate price so that our relationship with God could be restored and we could have eternal life.  Christ’s mercy toward us is boundless (Ps 108:4) and everlasting (Ps 103:17).

The religious, self-righteous Pharisees were another story though. Jesus said of them that they were like the blind leading the blind (Matt 15:12-14).  Their Rabbis (meaning ‘teachers’) lacked mercy and grace and their disciples were likewise.  But Jesus is merciful; and likewise His disciples are to be merciful (Lk 6:40).  Believers are His disciples.

As followers of Christ, how are we to exhibit this mercy? It seems to be bound up in, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:37-40).  We forgive others who have wronged us, bearing with one another in love.  We help our Christian brothers or sisters in their times of need (Matt 25:31-46).  We go into the jails or visit shut-ins who need a compassionate outreach.  We point lost souls to Christ as the way out of their hopelessness. We are not to judge the lost, but to show mercy just as Christ had mercy on us.

Discussion questions:

- Has someone had mercy on you lately? Were you thankful or just thought you deserved it?  Do you think too highly of yourself or do you think more highly of others?

Don Wheeler

Next Week’s Scripture:  Matthew 5:8

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #5 “Are We Starving Yet?” MATTHEW 5:6

Focus verse: Matt. 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”

During His earthly ministry Jesus used bread and water as examples to describe His relationship to those who would express faith in Him (e.g. John 6:35 “I am the bread of life…” and John 7:37 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink…”).  Jesus does so once again in our passage today.  As He spoke the words of Matt 5:6, His listeners were far more familiar with real hunger and thirst then most of us in 21st century western civilization.  Many in Jesus’ audience were one bad crop, or one drought away from starvation.  For these people food and water was never a luxury, but an absolute necessity that required their full attention and effort to acquire.  To them, hunger meant the hunger of a starving man and thirst was that of a man who would die without water.  By using physical descriptions, the people could understand and relate to what Jesus was, in effect, stating; ‘So you want to be pleasing to God and taste of God’s goodness?  Well, how much do you want it; as much as a starving man wants food, or a man dying of thirst wants water?’

So how do we relate to Jesus’ statement of hungering and thirsting for righteousness today? In Luke 15:11-24 Jesus tells the parable of the prodigal son.  This young man wanted to live life on his own terms, which meant money, clothes, food, friendship and high times.  What he ended up with was poverty, hunger, loneliness, and misery.  It was only when he was starving that the young man turned back to his father.  In his father’s presence the young man found all he truly needed for life.  And so it is for us.  Do you desire the world’s pleasures more than the righteousness of God?  If so you will never be truly satisfied or filled.  It is when we come to God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ and desire His righteousness, like the starving man desires food with every fiber of his being, that we will be blessed by the Father.

Discussion question:

  • What areas of your life are you unwilling, or having a hard time giving up in pursuit of righteousness?   Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:7

Paul Hazdovac

Sermon on the Mount – Devo #4 “The Power of Meekness”

Focus verse: Matt. 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

 

This passage calls us to an attitude of meekness toward God and our fellow man. Meekness can be easily misunderstood.  We often view meekness as a synonym for weakness.  The dictionary even describes someone who is meek as being “deficient in spirit and courage.”  Yet, Jesus says of Himself in Matt 11:29 “for I am gentle and lowly in heart.”  Jesus is describing meekness for us, and we know that Jesus is certainly not “deficient of spirit and courage.”  So, how do we rightly understand meekness?  Meekness is to possess great strength and courage, yet the self-control to apply that strength and courage at the appropriate time.

Before His betrayal, Jesus having the infinite resources of God at His command, prayed “Not my will but Your will be done.”  Upon the cross, being humiliated by those who were carrying out His crucifixion, Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”  These are not displays of weakness from our Lord and Savior, but rather glorious examples of the power of His meekness.  Because of His meekness, the power of God overcame death upon the cross.  Because of His meekness, we can enter into a relationship with God.  We don’t have to strive in that relationship.  Instead, we allow the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of gentleness or meekness in our lives (Galatians 5:23).

In maintaining an attitude of meekness before God, we are blessed. This is not merely a happy feeling that fades away with difficult circumstances.  Rather, Jesus refers to a blessing that endures in the midst of trials and temptations (James 1:12).  As a result, Jesus tells us that we will inherit the earth.  You might be thinking, “With the state of the world these days, why would I want to inherit this earth we live in?”  But, we must not lose sight of the fact that God has given us the end of the story; He is making all things new.  This includes a new heaven and a new earth, in which believers in Jesus will dwell with Him face to face, for all eternity (Revelation 21:1-4).

Jeremy Ellis

Discussion question:

  • What are some more examples from the Scriptures that highlight the meekness of Jesus?   Next Week’s Scripture: Matthew 5:6