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October 22, 2018
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Jesus, in the book of Matthew, gives us seven “first things” First Things First = The Power of Spiritual Alignment! We have been pursuing/discovering the power of “first things”. Aligning our Priorities, our Attitudes and for the last two weeks; Aligning our Relationships. Matthew 5:23-24 (NKJV)
God designed us with an awareness of our need for relationship and the importance of those relationships. Genesis 2:18 “It is not good that the man should be alone…” There are a variety of reasons relationships change over the years, but remember God created you with a need for relationship. God did it. This need is not a weakness in your DNA, but something God put in your heart.
It is not easy handling the process of loving, being hurt, forgiving, being restored, and making yourself available in relationships again. To isolate yourself is dangerous and God will do what is necessary to keep you from isolation. We are called to love God and love people, therefore, being offended and hurt are part of the equation. God is not building ministries; He is building a Body, where every part is interconnected.
Colossians 2:1-2 (NKJV)
Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Three Levels of Biblical Relationship
1) Biblical Fellowship – The Holy Spirit places love and identity between us because we are in the body of Christ (Koinonia).
2) Kingdom Partnership – Those you serve with… (same vision, values, heart, and kindred spirits).
3) Covenant Friendship – Have common ground, common love and choose to do life with each other. The relationship grows in transparency, responsibility, accountability and vulnerability.
Four personality types we relate to every day
1) Multipliers (x) – They produce faith, influence, significance to the relationship. Their presence produces high value/anointing.
2) Adders (+) – They always add to the relationship. Faithful, serve, patient, constant, reliable support. Great wisdom.
3) Subtractors (-) – They take, little capacity to give. Unrealistic expectations we meet all their needs. Seasonal; if they linger they drain you then leave you.
4) Dividers (/) – They lean towards hypocrisy/condemnation. Behaviour is divisive and many times hateful; demeaning, degrading.
God gave the perfect gift in the form of His Son Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, rise again to reconcile our relationship with Him. We have a hole in our heart that can only be filled by a relationship with God. We also have a place in our heart that can only be filled by relationships. If we are not careful, we put God pressure on human relationships. It begins with God, not people (Alignment). Once we know God FIRST (Priorities) our thinking changes (Attitude), then we value others properly (Relationships).
Here is how Jesus Christ FIRST reconciled us so that we could be reconciled with our brother… Matthew 27…
1) He was scourged (physical healing)
- Verse 26 “…when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.” The Greek word for scourge - phragello; one of the most horrific words used in the ancient world. The scourge consisted of wooden handle 18-24 inch straps of leather; metal, wire, glass, jagged fragments of bone.
- Peter quoted the prophet, Isaiah, “…by His stripes we are healed.” The Greek word for stripes - molopsi (lashing that draws blood, swelling of the entire body).
- Greek word healed/iaomai – refers to physical healing, borrowed from medical term to describe healing/curing of the human body.
2) He was scorned (emotional healing)
- Matthew 27:31 (NKJV)
- Praetorium, courtyard, whole garrison (300-600 Roman soldiers).
- Stripped Him; Greek ekduo “totally unclothe”. Scarlet robe (Mocking Jesus as King). Twisted crown of thorns; epitithimi, implies forcefully shoving. Reed in His hand, “Hail King of the Jews”. They spit on Him; (Garrison was 300-600 guards). The Greek word for struck means repeatedly over and over.
3) He was crucified (spiritual healing)
- Matthew 27:34-36 (NKJV)
- Greek word crucified - staurao, describes upright, pointed stake used for punishment of criminals; always in connection with a public execution. Jesus wasn’t brutally murdered in secret; it was public! Our faith should be public!
4) He tore the veil (relational healing)
- Matthew 27:45-51 (NKJV)
- “there was darkness” - Greek ginomai describes slowly creeping up.
- “Behold the veil was torn in two from top to bottom”. Behold is the Greek word idou. A difficult word to translate, it carries such intense feeling/emotion.
- The second veil 60 feet high, 30 feet wide, entire handbreadth in thickness. An early Jewish writing states that the veil was so heavy it took 300 priests to move it or manipulate it. “…the earth quaked, and the rocks were split”.
Jesus, the light of the world, broke through the darkness of separation/sin; made way for you and me to be restored as children of God. Jesus aligns our relationship with the Father, out of that relationship we can align our earthly relationships. Why do we love? Because He FIRST loved us!
October 15, 2018
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
In 1969, California enacted the first purely “No-Fault” divorce law. No real surprise there. The only grounds for a No-Fault divorce at that time was this, “Irreconcilable Differences”.
Jesus said, “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Something has happened for us to have gotten to this point. Reconciliation needs to take place before we can offer our gift to God. The Bible gives us the process on how to reconcile. Today we are going to hone in on three import aspects of the reconciliation process.
Offences can be brought on by many things but let’s look at a few. First things first…
A. The Cross is Offensive - Paul tells us this in Galatians 5:11. What’s he talking about? 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 To the Jews “skandalon” an “offence” and to the Greeks “Gentiles” it’s foolishness. To followers of Christ, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God.
B. The Devil is Offensive - All you have to do is look at what is happening in the world and know that the one who comes to steal, kill, and destroy is offensive, John 10:10. His is an offence to Jesus, Matthew 4:1, and he is an offence to us, Ephesians 6:11. If the Cross is offensive and we are true followers of Christ then…
C. We Are Offensive - Matthew 10:34-38 This passage teaches us that because you serve Jesus, because you handle issues differently from the world, because the First and Foremost love of your life is Father God and His Son Jesus Christ, whose Spirit lives inside of you, and you trust to govern your every thought and action; you will be an offence!
• Offensive words or actions governed by the Holy Spirit are acceptable.
• Offensive words or actions governed by any other source is us, unacceptable, and creates an un-necessary wall between you and that individual. These words and actions can start to build unhealthy walls in our lives. (Begin building the wall)
• A good rule of thumb, MaMa, always said, “If you can’t say something nice…”. If your Mama didn’t tell you that, then God did, in James 3:2-12
• Vs 2, …he is a mature man.
• Vs 8, First amendment of the Constitution, no man can tame another person's tongue.
• Vs 10, …these things ought not to be.
Why? Because they cause offences.
Now it’s time to unpack Forgiveness.
• Forgiveness can change your attitude towards the offender. Matthew 18:28-30
When we don’t forgive, we continue to build those unhealthy walls. It’s too late for forgiveness when we are standing before Him in heaven.
Reconciliation only works when there is accountability. God has set up an accountability structure for believers. Guess what it is, other believers. 1 Corinthians 6:1, 7&8
Remember that we can be offensive. There are consequences for our actions. Other Believers is whom God made us accountable to.
• We are accountable to one another. When we can’t work out our differences with our brother, everyone around us is affected. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
• We are accountable to God. He has given other Christ Followers authority to hold us accountable, Matthew 18:18-20
October 08, 2018
Throughout this message series “First Things First,’ we have focused on “Aligning Our Priorities”. We have focused on “Aligning Our Attitudes”, and today we want to shift our focus to “Aligning Our Relationships”
In Matthew 5:21, Jesus begins with a series of interpretations of the Law. He starts by quoting what the people are familiar with. Then, He proceeds with an explanation of the Law He quoted so that the people would understand the true meaning of these Laws; to make the incomplete Law, full. Matthew 5:17.
Steps to Reconciliation
Step One - Recognition
This action step takes place in the heart and mind. “I have come to a conclusion, that there is an issue.” This all happens internally.
Step Two - Acknowledgement
This action step also takes place in the heart and mind but moves from being internal to external. How this step looks externally depends on the issue.
- “I’m the Issue” - Matthew 5:25 explains the process. Verse 26 explains the repercussions for not following the process in vs 25.
- “I’m Not the Issue” - Matthew 18:15-17 explains the process. Verses 18-20 explains where the authority comes from. Verses 32-35 explain the repercussions for not following the process in vs’ 15-17 and gives us our next step to being reconciled to our brother.
Step Three - Forgiveness
This action step is internal (heart and mind), external (speaking it out to someone else), and repetitive. Forgiveness is a necessary step towards reconciliation, and probably the most difficult because forgiveness is ongoing.
Like us, Peter knew how people could be. So he posed the question that you and I would ask Jesus concerning that one person who just won’t do the right thing, “How many times, Lord?”
Jesus knew that we would snuggle with this step towards reconciliation. So much so, that of the seven major focus points in Matthew 6:9-13, He addresses forgiveness right out the box, Matthew 6:14&15.
Step Four - Reconciliation
It is important to understand a little about your brother if reconciliation is to take place.
October 01, 2018
Today we continue to delve into the world of Attitudes First Remove the Log - Aligning our Attitudes;
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5 NLT
Judge not is one of the most popular verses in our culture because it seems to fit with our culture’s basic assumptions: a) religion is private b) morality is relative. We use this verse “judge not” like a defensive weapon whenever what we are doing is questioned; we think the truth is a preference.
Criticising/judging others is a struggle most people deal with, at least occasionally. The fact is we all have blind spots, blind to us anyway. It seems crystal clear when it comes to someone else’s issues. Jesus begins this FIRST THING, encouraging us not to pass judgement on others.
FIRST REMOVE THE LOG… FIRST THINGS always give us better insight, mercy, and compassion. Allowing the Lord to heal my attitudes, my issues enable me to see clearly so I can help my brother with mercy and patience. We can assess what is right without having a judgmental/critical spirit. We assess “fruit” (actions), not a motive. Jesus taught us how to assess and respond to those with values that differ from us.
In Matthew 7 Jesus highlights two types of people we may differ from—brothers close enough to see the speck (7:3-5) and those who oppose us (7:6).
- Mark 6:1-5 (NKJV)
- Dishonour and Disrespect – stopped the flow. Familiarity – His own house.
- Familiarity can breed disrespect.
- They were offended. Disrespect/familiarity lead to offence. Offence builds walls in the heart.
- Respect releases what’s inside.
- Romans 12:10 “…in honour giving preference to one another.” Respect gives access to a relationship; Dishonor/disrespect shuts down relationship.
- Matthew 10:40 “He who receives you receives Me”. Receive people as a gift of God to you, and you release what God has put in them for you.
- John 1:12 “…as many as received Him… to them, He gave the right…”
- Luke 9:53-56 (NKJV)
- Romans 15:7 “Receive one another just as Christ also received us…”
“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
Another translation says when mercy comes in, judgment must go.
“Therefore be merciful just as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
You want something given, then give. Give mercy, and you will get mercy. Give love; you will be given love. Give faith; you will be given faith. When we offer unforgiveness, relationships die. Give mercy, give love, give grace. But, to do that you have to… FIRST REMOVE THE LOG!
September 24, 2018
Today we delve into the world of Attitudes with First Remove the Log - Aligning our Attitudes.
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye[c] when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5 NLT
If you ask the average person on the street to quote two verses from the Bible, this is one of the two. When I Google searched “the Bible says not to…” here’s what Google suggested for me
Judge not is one of the most popular verses in our culture because it seems to fit with our culture’s basic assumptions:
a) religion is private
b) morality is relative, which means it’s all about preference; kind of like Waffle House vs. Ihop.
We use this verse “judge not” like a defensive weapon whenever what we are doing is questioned; we think the truth is a preference.
Our criticism of others says a lot more about us than it does about those we are judging.
God is a righteous judge James 4:12 “Who are you to judge another?”
We are not called to police everyone’s attitude; we are called to police our attitude. The Pharisees had a bad habit of judging others while making excuses for their own faults. Jesus essentially rebukes any who judges another harshly while overlooking their own need for change; Log and Speck. Identifying what someone does is not judging but simply an observation.
What is Jesus saying then?
1. You judge when you dismiss personhood
“God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through him.”
2. Judging reflects our denial of our own sinfulness
Jesus is telling you not to be a hypocrite, but as always Jesus is going a little deeper. He is confronting us for failing to deal with our own sinfulness.
How do we know we are more focused on the speck than the log?
1. You are more outraged by others sin than embarrassed by your own
"But consider yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
2. You refuse to forgive
You are saying that you refuse to give to others what God has freely given to you! “I’ll forgive, but I will not forget…” Which many times means I am going to say I forgive you but not forgive you in action.
3. You demean those you disagree with as if they do not matter
You have to love the person more than you love your right to be right. That doesn’t mean we compromise the Gospel or fail to declare it.
Best example: Jesus/Judas. After he’d betrayed Him and Jesus knew it, He called him a friend.
4. You gossip
5. You refuse correction
When you don’t do well with correction/criticism you put yourself in a higher place, from which you can judge others who have faults you don’t.
6. When you refuse to speak the truth
When you refuse to declare Gods Word either you don’t believe it, or you think they are not worth it! You’ve condemned them, written them off.
7) You see people as hopeless
When Jesus told us not to judge He was not telling us to not assess someone’s situation. He was telling us to assess the situation without dismissing the person.
Only supernatural power can change the heart in the words of E.M. Bounds: “We shouldn’t try to talk to a person about God without also talking to God about that person.” People don’t just need information; they need revelation only God gives that. FIRST THINGS FIRST – First remove the Log from your own eye!
September 17, 2018
“The main thing is to keep the main the main thing.” What is the main thing in your life? What is the “first thing” that pushes all non-essentials out of the way? Jesus, in the book of Matthew, gives us seven “first things” we do to align with His priorities. First Things First = The Power of Spiritual Alignment! We are pursuing/discovering the power of “first things”; hearts/minds/Heaven.
The word first in the Greek means first in time/number, first in rank/value – the most important. Today we continue Seek First the Kingdom of God, Our Priorities.
The Kingdom of God is to come; a place of eternal peace/joy, yet it is also alive and well today in the lives of believers. The place where Jesus Christ becomes Lord. Where our Priorities line up with His Promises… Seek FIRST!
Seeking First the Kingdom is
1) Protecting God’s Purposes
“But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Let’s not spend our time, let’s invest our time; creating a life that ensures God is first in all we say and do!
2) Giving God the Priority Due Him
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
“When God is our priority we cannot be intoxicated by the drivenness that accompanies an overloaded lifestyle.”
What will you do to make God a priority in your home, your city, our state?
3) Understanding His rule, His will, His authority
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”
We have been delivered! Now we are under the rule, will and authority of the Lord Jesus; King of kings, Lord of lords. The portions of our lives which have been damaged by sin are now healed, they are restored!
We sabotage the good God has for us by stepping out from underneath His authority.
4) Welcoming the Fulness of the Holy Spirit
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you and cause you to walk in my statutes and you will keep my judgements and do them.”
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…”
1 Timothy 4:2
Welcoming Holy Spirit opens us up to sensitivity to sin. Why? Because the love of God becomes the driving force of our lives! We can be transparent before God, we can respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit; we are alive to God and dead to sin! Romans 6:11-14 (NLT)
“The fruit of the Spirit is love and it is manifested in Joy, which is love’s strength; Peace which is love’s security; Long-suffering which is love’s patience; Gentleness which is love’s conduct; Goodness which is love’s character; Faith which is love’s confidence; Meekness which is love’s humility; Temperance which is love’s victory. Against such, there is no law.”
September 10, 2018
“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” What is the main thing in your life? Jesus, in the book of Matthew, describes seven “first things”. First Things First = The Power of Spiritual Alignment! If we allow the “second things” to become the “first things” then the truth/power of first things is lost. If we spend so much time worrying about deception instead of pursuing truth, then we will not understand the truth at all!
What is the Kingdom of God? Is it the eternal, physical heaven or a way of life now? The answer is both. The Kingdom of God is to come; a place of eternal peace/joy, yet it is also alive and well today in the lives of believers.
Seeking First the Kingdom is
Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
Hudson Taylor, the English missionary to China, as to giving God the highest place wrote
“Well do I remember, as in unreserved consecration I put myself, my life, my friends, my all, upon the altar. The deep solemnity that came over my soul with an assurance that my offering was accepted. The presence of God became unutterably real and blessed; and though but a child under 16, I remember stretching myself on the ground, and lying there silent before Him with unspeakable awe and unspeakable joy. For what service I was accepted I knew not; but a deep consciousness that I was no longer my own took possession of me, which has never since been effaced. It has been a very practical consciousness.”
Psalm 73:25 King David asks, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You.”
Who/What do you hunger for? Our schedules, time, recreation, relationships, bank statements all speak to what we are hungering.
COMMUNING seemed the right description. “talk, discuss, share one's intimate thoughts/feelings with.” In other words, KNOWING! When we share intimately with God FIRST, then all other communication flows from that place of truth/revelation!
He longs to make Himself KNOWN to you and to do exceedingly abundantly above all you can think or imagine, ACCORDING to the power that works IN YOU!
Listen, when I encountered/received Christ He did not come back and die for me again. He died once, for all! What happened to me was that I now had the revelation (KNOWING) that He had died for my sins. He loved me; He wanted me to restore me to the Father. He wanted me to KNOW I was a child of God and not a spiritual orphan!
The things we do in life should come out of our communing with God FIRST; our relationships should flow out of our relationship with God, not the other way around - FIRST THINGS FIRST!
AW Tozer, country boy with no formal education; pastor, author, did virtually no administration/ counselling; focused on prayer/Word of God prayed this…
“Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou makes the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”