We all have private battles we are facing. You do not have to look very far to see and hear the public battles raging all around us. God’s plan does not resemble humanity’s, for God’s plan is greater than ours. God has certainly given us spiritual armor to fight with, but we must remember that the "battle belongs to the Lord". How then, do we remain steadfast and faithful through the battles of this life? Our sermon series will take us on the journey of a nation in pursuit of their next leader. We are reminded that our desires are not always God’s for us. God’s ultimate plan is always perfect.
In church we talk a lot about who is included and who is not. Or do we? Every Christian community desires to reach out to those who need a relationship with God. However we tend to be selective as to who fits our model for inclusion. It seems to be our nature. However the Gospel (Good News) was and is world changing because Jesus reached out to those who were thought to be beyond the love and grace of God. The unacceptables. 2021 and beyond requires us to rethink and reimagine everything. Who needs to be included at First Baptist? Who is excluded now?
What if God were to write a letter to First Baptist Church? What would God say to us? For what would God commend us? What would God challenge us to do? In the Book of Revelation, God sent letters to seven churches. Some of these churches sound a lot like us. What might we learn by considering these seven letters from God, and these seven churches?
In Mark 5 a woman is healed as she touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. God is active all around us and his power is available to us – to speak into our lives, to guide us in our choices and decisions, to heal the brokenness in our lives – and yet so often we barely scratch the surface of this faith that God offers to us. Why is that? And how can we experience more of the mystery and wonder of God in our lives?
Remembrance, proclamation, and participation are distinctive of Christian discipleship. List some of the people and events that have helped to shape your life. Name some of the people and events that have helped shape your faith. Do you walk the talk and talk the walk? How might your serving other people be more inclusive of your neighbors? How about people different than you?
God has created this vast expansive creation, and yet still cares enough to think of you and me. Never lose our sense of awe and wonder with this great gift we have been given. Let us never take it for granted or cease being thankful. When was the last time you truly stopped and looked at the stars? When was the last time you allowed God’s creation to leave you awestruck with wonder?
David danced before the Lord with all his might. He loved God and wasn't afraid to show it. Would others know that you've experienced the love and grace of God through your enthusiasm and joy? When was the last time you did anything for God with all your might... with reckless abandonment, enthusiasm, and joy?
Loving others is a significant part of our Kingdom work, and it is in our church’s DNA. Many times we chose to make simple gestures to show our love for others, but we should be cautious with simple at all times. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, reminds us that loving others requires deep sacrifice and it can be costly. He responded to his Father’s call by sacrificially loving us, and we are called to sacrificially love others as well! What are you willing to lose or give up to love the “others” in your community? When was the last time you paused to thank God for sacrificially loving you?
Do you ever compartmentalize God to a certain day, particular place, or specific activity? The worship of God and the Church of Jesus Christ is neither validated by the presence of a crowd nor diminished by an empty sanctuary. Wherever you are is sacred space and Jesus thinks you are worth dying for. Remain open to the manifestations of our Holy Creator that may joyfully surprise us in nature, other people, angels of whom we are unaware, a song, poem, scripture passage…The possibilities are endless, as is God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.