Why Should We Care?

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messy heart1John 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 

Gal 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Last week we got to experience something incredible. We slimmed down to one larger service on Sunday and spent the afternoon showing Jesus’ love to many in our community through practical care projects. Nearly 200 of us regathered and dispersed in 22+ teams for yardwork, deck building and variety of home projects to encourage others in our community. The celebration meal with family & guests overflowed with joy. THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!!

Why would we do that? Before we went out we looked at some of God’s core principles for showing love to others. Here are the highlights. You can catch the full lesson at www.parkviewfamily.com.

REASON #1 Our Practical Love Helps Others see Jesus.

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Stand Firm In Your Faith

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umbrella in stormEphesians 6:10-11 & 16 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  …in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 

Faith can be a confusing cliché. Many people claim to have faith but what exactly do we mean by that? Faith is more than a wish or a hope that somehow the universe will work it all out for us. Some claim faith in Christ yet we don’t own it with life changing conviction. It caves when trouble, pressure or challenge comes.

How do you know if the faith we claim is any good? ANSWER: it must be tested. Now no one signs up for that on purpose, but there is no need to worry God’s enemy is happy to accommodate that need. Just like He did with Job in the Old Testament and Peter in the new, Satan continues to poke and press those who claim to follow Jesus to test the reality of our faith.

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Stand Firm in Christ’s Peace

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umbrella in stormEphesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil… 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 

Is 26:3 “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.

October is scary movie season. As a kid I spent a lot of Saturdays watching Creature Feature movies. I loved the classic psychological thrillers. Honestly I liked the old fashioned monster movies as well. I was so excited to introduce my kids to the Creature from the Black lagoon and the Blob. Somehow they weren’t so impressed. The approach has changed but there is something in the human heart that is drawn to scary stories. Something in us likes to be started and frightened for our entertainment.

Real life is a different story though! Fear can be fun in a movie theater or Halloween haunted house. But not in real life. Real fear in real life drives us to fork over the bucks for insurance and security devices. Fear leads to paralysis and panic. Fear makes us withdraw and worry. Sometimes is hits us with sudden intense emotions. Other times it is a low grade worry. It almost always holds us back. For followers of Christ too often it keeps us from moving forward in our walk with Him. God’s enemy uses fear to keep us from living the full abundant life Jesus calls us to experience.

We need to Recognize Fear & Worry as Key Weapons of Spiritual War.

Satan schemes to choke us out with fear & worry. In a parable Jesus describes worry as weeds that choke out the good seed God seeks to plant in our lives. Faith begins to sprout, but worry rises and chokes it out!

Fear causes us to make bad decisions, to lose our courage, focus or sense of reality. Through worry & fear, Hitler rose to power. This weapon also disrupts peace in our relationships. This lack of true inner peace drives us to stiff arm others in ways that hurt our chance of harmony and wholeness with them.

Worry is low grade fear that doubts God’s care or strength for us. It is a pollution of faith. It fertilizes doubt and distracts us from our true hope in Jesus. It causes us to lose our footing. It sets us up for a fall. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Rest in the Ultimate Peace Jesus’ Cross Brings.

Rom 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Mark 4:40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

It seems contradictory for God to tell us to dress for battle by preparing our feet with the gospel of peace. Peace seems incompatible with war. Biblically however, we cannot stand firm in war without soul deep peace. This peace calms the storm in our hearts so we can face the storms of the world with a clear head.

This peace means standing firm in the face of the enemy or uncertainty. It is an inner calm and tranquility, a clear-headed confidence. Peace with God is the source of our peace with others. Peace comes from confident faith in Christ.

The gospel is the foundation of true peace. Jesus is the prince of peace. His cross makes ultimate peace possible. Peace with God settles our hearts so that we can be at peace with others. When we are securely loved. We are free to love others… even those most difficult to love! In Christ, we have nothing to fear. The key is to continually, intentionally remember our security in Jesus.

What fears keep coming up for you? Keeps you up at night? Paralyzes your heart in the day? What low grade worries drive your work, decisions, approach to relationships. What are you afraid of? Why not release your fear to Jesus to settle your heart in His peace?

Ps 56:11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Phil 4:7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Recognize & name your fear. Release your fear to Jesus through intentional prayer. Stand Firm in Life’s Battles by Anchoring your Heart in Christ’s Peace.

To catch the whole lesson go to www.parkviewfamily.com. Even better, join us this weekend at 9 or 10:45 to experience God’s life changing presence and take in the next part of the lesson.

Stand Firm in Christ’s Righteousness

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Eph. 6:14 Stand firm therefore… having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 

In every one of our lives, there is a moment we hope no one ever knows about. Something we fell into. Well at the time we chose it, but were quickly realized what a mistake it was. We were overwhelmed by guilt or shame that can hang over us a long time. In an age of social media we can live with low-grade fear that somewhere, sometime someone will call us out over a past moral failure.

Secret sins have great power over our hearts. They make cowards of us in moment when we should be strong. They cause us to fit in when we should step out. This happens to every follower of Christ who dares take up Jesus’ mission and engage the battle. If we are going to stand in those moments we need to embrace the righteousness of Christ.

This Matters because Satan Seeks to Trap You and Define You by Your Sin.

1Peter 5:8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. CF. Job 1-2

Personal sin makes us weak, vulnerable & guilty before God. But then, Satan who deceived us and invited us to sin immediately become our accuser. To Him, our sin is like blood in the water to a shark. He wants to overwhelm you with guilt that spiritually paralyzes. He attacks with tenacious accusations of our sin & identity. Satan finds a weakness and pick it to death!

One of the ways Satan holds believers back is with his constant whispers of accusation:  “I know what you did, who you are! If they knew what I know they would be anywhere near you. You’ll always be a … You’ll never get past this. You are really messed up! You don’t deserve a break. I really suck. I’ll never get past this.”

Satan knows your name but calls you by your sin…  He seeks to define you by your sin. He wants us to play hurt, limping along without the confidence you can have in Jesus. Which whispers plague you?

The answer is to stand firm in Jesus’ Righteousness.

Rom 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Is 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool.  

1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Righteousness means being clean and clear of all accusation. Being right with God is ultimate security for the soul. Are we good enough on our own? NO! But Jesus makes us righteous through His sacrifice. When we stand in Him at the cross we are righteous. God knows your sin but calls you by your name.

To get it we simply agree with God about our sin & His holiness. We receive His gift of soul deep cleansing through the sacrifice of Jesus. Then we can live with confidence in his righteousness that keeps our conscious free of false guilt and the paralyzing accusations.

Through Jesus, we become new creations, we get new names, we receive a new nature! Simon became Peter, Saul became Paul. You become… NEW! Righteous in Christ.

We live on a spiritual battlefield. Like Goliath did to David, Like Job’s friends did to him, Satan whispers accusations in our ear. They are designed to neutralize our growth & impact. There is no need to listen to them. Jesus cross & resurrection set us free. The only question is where we stand. Solid ground or sinking sand? Satan will still accuse but we have power to shut it down. Stand Firm in the Righteousness of Christ.

To hear the whole lesson, go to www.parkviewfamily.com. Even better join us for the rest of the series each weekend at 9:00 or 10:45. @ 803 west 18th street in Lexington, NE.

Stand Firm in Life’s Battles

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standfirm promoFinally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

I remember discovering the WWII section in my elementary school library. It was like finding a secret treasure. The first book I read was called Battle for the Atlantic, Then I read everyone one they had. There was something fascinating, noble heroic about that history.

That is what drew me to those stories? They speak to the human heart & condition? The struggle between good & evil, average people who rise, fight & sacrifice for a greater cause. The inner wish that we would be so noble and sacrificial in our own lives. The dream of being part of something truly significant.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

The truth is, We live in a war zone. If you have ever stepped up to really follow Jesus you have felt this. If not, you may not realize it yet. When you take your faith with Jesus seriously you become a target of His enemy. The whole purpose is to prevent us from going deeper in our relationship with Jesus, His family & especially His mission. He wants to disrupt Jesus’ work through us! This happens especially when you are on the verge of a spiritual breakthrough.

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What is Your Center?

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cross & thornsCol 3:1-3 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

For me, Jesus is life, PERIOD. I can’t image approaching life without Him, I can’t imagine facing a day without being centered on Him. He gives light in the darkest days and perspective to the brightest ones. This study has been a great reminder sinking even deeper in my own heart. As we wrap up this series, I hope is has in yours as well.

Before you move on, ask yourself one more time: What is the center of your life? Not the answer you think I want, but the truth. What trumps everything on your schedule, in your wallet, in your weekend? How has it been working? What if you got even more aligned with Jesus as the center? What would that look like? What would it take? What is He asking of you? Here is one final look at the big picture of what we gain when we are centered on Jesus.

Centering on Jesus Restores our Lives to His Original Intention.

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My Prayer for You

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praying manGod’s Word is amazing, powerful, relevant, convicting and encouraging. We turn to it in tough times, make wall plaques, posters & t-shirts of our favorite verses. We memorize some of it and quote it to each other. Still, other parts seem strange, old fashioned, and just boring. We are tempted to skip over them in our personal study. This week’s passage is kind of like that.

But buried in this final paragraph of Colossians is an astounding verse that will reignite any Jesus’ follower’s prayer life. After you work through the conviction of it, it can renew your passion and sharper your focus in prayer. Let’s take a look:

Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 

Stop reading and let these three words sink in:

…Always laboring earnestly…

…Always laboring earnestly…

…Always laboring earnestly…

…Always laboring earnestly… WOW!

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