Ephesians 2:19-You’re no longer strangers or outsiders.  You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.

At some point in your life you may have felt like an outsider.  You may even feel like an outsider right now.  Pastor Michael’s sermon focused on belonging, as he broke down Ephesians 2:19 into three points.

The first point says you are no longer an outsider as you are part of the family of Christ.  Jesus said you have as much right to be a Christian as anyone.  When you feel like an outsider, you feel hopeless.  Jesus said you don’t have to live your life without hope as you have a future that includes an eternal Heaven.  FBC wants to find the outsiders and let them know what it feels like to be an insider.  It’s not about one or two people.  It’s about us altogether.  Jesus said you fit in.

The second point is you belong here.  Sometimes when you are a part of something, you can have a fear of being replaced.  With Jesus you do not need to have that fear as your relationship with Him is inside you and on going.  We are stronger together than we are apart, even though we are different.  Our differences balance each other out.  Sometimes we don’t recognize that we belong to something bigger than ourselves.  There is a hunger in us that can’t be filled with money or stuff.  It can only be filled with our desire to be a part of God and to have a relationship with Him.

The third point is you have the right to the name Christian.  You are a member of God’s family.  Being part of His family is not contingent on what you do.  You are God’s masterpiece with all of your flaws and imperfections.  God is proud of you and He loves you.  God did not mess up when He created you.

God is moving through FBC.  We have prayed about our Home for Good and received a donation of land.  We prayed for healing and it happened.  People are realizing they fit in and marriages are being saved.  We are a part of something much bigger.  Don’t miss out on what God is doing.

Call of Duty – Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:10-20 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Bill Atchison spoke about being strong in the Lord, putting on our armor and standing our ground against the evil at work in the world.  We are fighting a battle for the advancement of the Gospel.  Jesus is supreme.

The belt of truth allows us to move freely.  When we live our lives the way God wants us to, we do not need to worry about what other people say.  We are not hypocrites as we are clothed in the breastplate of righteousness making us invincible.  The shoes of peace allow us to go out and share the news of Jesus.  There are people in the world crying out that they want their lives to change, but they don’t know how.  Jesus is the truth and those people need Him.  It is up to us to show them the way.  The shield of faith extinguishes the fiery darts of temptation, which come from the adversary when he attacks.  How we think is how we act and the helmet of salvation secures that nothing in all Creation can separate us from the love of Jesus.  He is ours and we are His.  We are loved by Him and are part of his eternal family.  The sword of the spirit has a double edge, being sharp on both sides.  There is a defensive side keeping us from sin and a protective side used against the temptations of the world.  The power of prayer is how Jesus fights our battles for us.   Prayer needs to be applied continuously with passion and energy that focuses on specific targets for the benefit of others.  Prayer is mighty and powerful.  Prayer is hard work.

Our call of duty is to be strong in the Lord, to put our armor on and keep it on and to focus on Jesus.  Don’t doubt in the dark what you can see in the light.

Taking This Journey Together

Deuteronomy 8:10-14, 17-18
17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

Pastor Jack spoke about taking a journey with God. He broke this journey into three chapters. The first is God’s gift of a place of blessing. God’s purpose is to bless His people. At times we feel that we have to bargain or negotiate with God in order to be “good enough” for Him to bless us. That is not the case, as God blesses us because He loves us. We can see that when we walk with God.

The second chapter is temptation and self-pride causing us to become complacent. When life is going well it can become easy to lose our reliance on God. We become dependent on ourselves rather than God which can lead to attending church less, praying less and not thinking about Him as often. When our lives are not going as well, then we often look to God for guidance and leadership. We need to remember that God gave us all of our blessings. When we become complacent then God opens the school in the wilderness, which is chapter three.

The wilderness is any situation in which the supports we depend upon have been taken away. These are the times that our world has been turned upside down. God knows we make mistakes, go through rough patches and drift away. When we are alone in the wilderness, we can see and hear things very clearly. God doesn’t cause the wilderness, but He does allow it. He has given us a world of freedom and tragedies do happen. Remember that God is with us through the wilderness and is teaching us all the way. When we come out of the wilderness to the place of blessing, we will be stronger, more compassionate, better people and more receptive to God. In the land of blessing, we need to work harder to keep our focus on God. Remember He has given us everything we have and is always moving us forward. We just need to trust Him.

Together – 2016 Vision!

Ephesians 2:19-22

You’re no longer strangers or outsiders.  You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone.  God is building a home.  He’s using us all together, irrespective of how we got here, in what He is building.  He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.

Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the Cornerstone that holds all the parts together.

We see it taking shape day after day, a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a sanctuary in which God is quite at home.

Pastor Michael opened today by stating he feels God creates waves of direction.  God has uniquely designed you and placed something on your heart that moves you individually.   He gave several examples of how people at FBC have used what moved their hearts to give back to their community.  Pastor Kelleen is passionate about prayer and created the worship on the water event.  Jason Gibbons has used his love of basketball as a way to spread a powerful anti-bullying message and several food/ hat & mitten drives took place to fill a need in our schools.  One person can make a difference.  Kim beautifully sang “The Man in the Mirror” to reiterate the point that change begins with you-the person you see in the mirror everyday.

Pastor Michael then posed the question of what can a whole group of people do together? We have size in our favor and being unified by God allows us to change our community. God is blessing and leading us in the direction He wants us to go.  FBC is made up of people with a variety of backgrounds, beliefs and skills making us more powerful in reaching the lost. Due to our strength together, the only weapon the enemy has is distraction causing us to stand alone to fight our own individual battles.  When Christ is not the cornerstone holding us together, our core becomes weak.  When we are weak, we have a hard time accomplishing anything.   When we unite as one, we can accomplish what is not supposed to happen.  Then we not only survive, but we win.  One person can make a difference, but together we are unstoppable.

Staying Positive-It’s A God Thing

Philippians 4:8 Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Pastor Michael asked how does one stay positive in difficult and sad circumstances? He believes the answer is where your focus is. Is it on yourself and your environment or is it on God? When your focus remains on God you develop spiritual enthusiasm or en theos. That means you are filled with God allowing you to positively influence your environment. He told the story of David and Goliath. David was completely focused on God at that point in his life, which allowed him to fight Goliath and win. After his victory, David became comfortable and shifted his focus toward himself. Since he was distracted it caused him to be in a place he shouldn’t have been which got him in trouble. David tried to fix what he had done. It was the prophet Nathan that finally got David to see what he had really done and then he begged God for forgiveness.

The secret to being content is en theos. By keeping your focus on God and allowing Him to fill you up, you won’t be pulled down by your situation. Knowing that God is with you and giving you strength will allow you to change your environment. That focus will bring positivity and allow you to be the light that shines on the world so you can make a difference. Where is your focus?