Tuesday, February 12, 2019

First Pillar of Witnessing

A couple of weeks ago we had an interesting situation in our teen Sunday School class. A lady that had been attending the church for a couple of weeks decided to sit in on what I was teaching the youth. Now, that’s not a problem, I encourage anyone that wants to, come and see what the teens are learning. Because the same thing I teach them on a Sunday morning is what I usually teach adults on Wednesday night. 
The teen Sunday School class is a place where we get into the more complicated teachings of the Bible, and where the teens are taught how the Bible interacts with the world around them on a more intellectual level, than they would get on a Friday night. If you have ever been to one of my Summer Adult Sunday School classes or my Wednesday night Apologetics classes, then you’ll know how deep we will go.
This past year I started a teaching a new subject to supplement two other subjects that I teach. These first two are Basic Beliefs of Christianity and World Religions. This new one is called Counter Arguments, where we review an argument from someone of a different belief system, and we both de-construct their arguments, and give a response to it. 
Well the week we started this with the teens, was the same week this lady decided to sit in. And it didn’t sit right with her. During the video, she interrupted a couple of times. Then after the video she proceeded to tell me that I was the worst teacher. That I was filling the teens heads with evil ideas, and things that were not of the Bible. 
So I asked her to ask the teens what they had been learning about for the past twelve weeks. It was the first subject on Basic Beliefs of Christianity. A class mind you, that one adult told me they were way past their college years, and couldn’t follow that type of teaching anymore. This isn’t easy stuff. After they had told her about all that they had learned, which I was impressed with on it’s own, she still said that what I was teaching them wasn’t needed. That all they needed to know was that Jesus loves them. 
That’s when I challenged her to give me a reason that she would tell someone whom she she was sharing the Gospel, how and why the Gospel is true. She told me because she knows it is. I told her that’s great, but what if I don’t believe in God? What would she tell me? She said that I just needed God.
This spiraled into a situation where every time she said something, I asked her show me in the Bible, show me in history, show me in anything. All she could say is, I know that Jesus loves me, and that’s all that matters.
Now it’s true, the only thing that matters in this world is that Jesus loves us, because it’s that very reality that salvation is rooted in. But, what about the person that doesn’t believe Jesus is real? That he even existed? Or who struggles, not with the reality of Jesus, but the reality of pain and suffering around them and the question of how can a good God allow evil?
I told her quiet frankly, and with as much love as I could possibly muster at the moment, that her type of Christianity is where we have a tendency to fail as Christians.
We have allowed ourselves to fail the people around us, by not being solid enough in our own application of the Bible, so that the world around us may know that God is real and active.

And so for the next two weeks, in preparation for Clay Jones coming to speak on the 24th, I want us to take our last week of legacy and go a little more in-depth with it.
So if you have you Bibles, we’re going to root ourselves for the next two weeks in 1st Peter, chapter 3, starting in verse 8.
Last week we talked about how a component to eternal worth legacy was our witness. Our testimony, of how God has worked and is working in our lives. For the next couple of weeks, we’re going to go deeper into what that looks like.

Now as we open up to 1st Peter chapter 3, verse 8, let’s get a brief overview of the letter Peter is writing. 

This Peter is the same Peter in the Gospels. The same Peter who always seemed to open his mouth and say dumb things. The same Peter that at one moment proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, and then the next moment, rebuked Jesus for saying he was going to die. This is the same Peter that denied Jesus three times, and then was restored to Jesus through three questions. It is this Peter, that we see the biggest growth out of all the twelve disciples.
Now he is writing to believers who are throughout Asian Minor, and he is writing to them for a very specific reason. This reason is found in his closing words, in chapter 5 verse 12, “With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

The whole purpose of Peter’s writing is to encourage the believers to stand firm. Firm against what? Stand firm while going through persecution. Stand firm in their marriages. Stand firm in seeking godly leadership for the church. Stand firm in their submission to governmental authorities. And stand firm in their trust in God.

And it’s towards the middle of this encouragement to stand firm that we come to chapter 3, verse 8 of Peter’s first letter. Let’s read.

8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. 9 Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 11 They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

There are two main points from this passage that I want us to focus in on. The first one is the most pressing, and encapsulates the second. Peter tells us, be like-minded…sympathetic, loving…compassionate…humble. He tells us, not to repay evil, or respond with insults, but instead repay evil with blessing. Peter implores us to do good, because it can deter others from doing evil to us. But Peter adds and encourages us in verse 14, that even if we experience suffering for doing good, it’s better, because God’s blessing is for us. Then verse 16 finalizes this doing good, because if we are doing good our conscience will be clear and shame will be brought on people for their treatment of us, as we do good in Jesus’ name.
Paul has a similar idea in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 11, and 12, “11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

Why is this important? Because of what is happening around us today. I want to share with you some statistics.

We’re seeing a walk away from the Church in our society. Pew Research did a study back in 2014 where only 13% of the non-christian population said that any type of religion was very important, while 21% said is was somewhat important. But combined, that still doesn’t equal those that say it’s not important at all, at 39%.
When asked about what is the source that people turn to for their moral compass, only 7% said any type of religion. 
Why is that? Research by the Barna group might point to about 27%-36% of people thinking that the church is full of hypocrites. This could be a reason, but there’s more to it than the statistics show. 

But this is to the first point of Peter’s words to us, we have to live lives that are focused in loving. Loving God, and loving people. The two greatest commandments of God, and the commandment that all the other hang on.
This is what the second point is wrapped in. If we are not loving, if we are not forgiving and seeking forgiveness, if we are repaying evil with evil, and insult with insult, the second point Peter makes is mute. The second point doesn’t matter.

This is why Paul says in 1st Corinthians 13, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Knowing that, now we can get to Peter’s second point in this passage. Verse 15 says, “15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

In fact Jesus said in his high priestly prayer in John 17, “22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

The love we show, the unity that we are intended to have are key factors in our witness to the world. Paul says without it we have nothing. Jesus says with it the world will know that he was sent, but without it how are they to know?
A life that is wholly focused on loving God and people is what God desires of us, it is integral to our sharing the Gospel with people. That means when we mess up, we need to ask for forgiveness. That means we must give forgiveness to people. That means we must check our mouths, and ask should I say this or not? We need to speak truth, and do so in love, so that people would be saved from destruction.
This is the first pillar of a good witness, someone who’s life is wholly focused on loving God and loving people. 

Next week we’ll tackle the second pillar which is found in verse 15. But before we can get there, we must come to this decision in our lives, to live out the love that God desires us to live. Not in our own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit living in me. 
We must press ever deeper into understanding the depth of God’s love for us, so that that love may flow over to others.

My challenge to you this week is this: Ask yourself, am I living the first pillar of my witness? Am I living in compassion? Am I living in love? Am I living in forgiveness? Or can someone point to me and say their just another one of those Christian hypocrites? This first pillar has to be in place first, or no matter how strong the second pillar is, the whole thing will come crashing down.
So does your life actively reflect the love of God, or is it dormant?

My prayer this week for you, is Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3, “16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

Let us be people who witness both with our lives, and with our mouths, so that people will be pointed to his eternal life, that is found only in Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Legacy Series Week 4: Legacy of Witness

Several years back, the town had a local charter school. It mainly focused on high school, but served several towns in the area. In it’s last two years of operation I was able to coach their baseball team. During this time, the church had moved Marika and I over to Herb Kell’s home, which the church rented for us, as our family began to grow. One of the great perks of that house was the fact that it had a hot tub. Which, during the baseball season, I took full advantage of. Being a pitcher by trade, I threw batting practice of about 25 pitches to each player. We tended to have between 10-12 players, so at the minimum I was pitching 250 balls every offensive work out, which was twice a week. That means every week I was throwing about 500 pitches, only hitting the players once or twice.
Suffice it to say, that when I got home, my shoulder was hurting. And so I would spend anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour in the hot tub, usually alone. One night I was sitting in the hot tub looking towards the eastern mountains and three orange lights appeared in the sky. They shown for a few moments and then disappeared. They didn’t make a sound like a fire cracker and they didn’t explode like one either. They just appeared and disappeared. I had never seen anything like that before. And of course no one was around to share the experience, so my mind started to run through the possibilities. And of course, my mind settled on aliens. I mean, I’m a logical being, and so it must’ve have been aliens. 
I told wife, trying to get her to help me figure it out, but that got me no where, because she didn’t see it. I talked to a few more people, but all I got was some weird looks, as if I was crazy. It wasn’t until a few days later, when I was talking to Zee Still. She also saw the lights, which was a big relief because I knew now that at the very least I wasn’t crazy. But it wasn’t until later that I heard that it was a military exercise that happens from time to time. Since then, I have seen the lights serval times. Sometimes in the east, sometimes in the west. This past summer I even got to share it with the interns, and of course I told them the truth. It’s the aliens, and I tell them the story of the UFO Marika and I saw under a tarp going down the road, but that’s a story for another time. 

But it’s this idea of witnessing an event and sharing what we have experienced that we are going to talk about as we come to the end of our legacy sermon series. And as we talk about witnessing, what better place to jump into, but Acts chapter 1?

So if you have your Bibles, open with me to Acts chapter 1 verse 1. And as we get into God’s Word today, let’s catch up with the last several weeks in our legacy series.

In the first week of our legacy series, we talked about about the difference between leaving legacies of eternal worth rather than of temporal wealth. Saying, that temporal wealth legacies are easily destroyed and usually last one or two generations. But the legacy God desires us to leave, is one that works with him to produce things that are of eternal worth. A legacy that is focused on eternity, is a legacy that has it’s focus on Jesus and making his glory the most important thing in our lives. This legacy builds up rather than tears down, and moves beyond the right now, into the world to come.
In the second week, we started to ask the question, how can we have enteral worth legacies? It’s here that we started talking about different components of this legacy. The first one being trust. Is the trust I have in Jesus so real to people, that people realize I have it? Or is my trust in Jesus so light weight, that people cannot see it in action, and therefore do not realize that I even trust in Jesus as my Savior?
Then last week we talked about making sure that the Word of God is central to our lives. Do people understand that I build my life upon God’s Word, or does it not show? Has God’s Word transformed me, or have I been changed by other forces? Is there dust on my Bible, or is it highlighted and marked up?
There are other components that we could cover, but it’s these two, and the one that we’re going to talk about today, that are a good place to start.

So now, let’s get into our last component of leaving a legacy that is of eternal worth. Let’s start reading in Acts chapter 1 verse 1.

1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

There are a couple of similar accounts within the Gospels of this sending out of the disciples. But the thrust of this passage is in verse 8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The disciples wanted a question answered that they had been at the forefront of their mind, probably as long as they had been following Jesus. That question dealt with when Israel would become a great nation once again. They wanted Jesus to be the conquering King, and now that he had conquered death, they wanted him to conquer earth.
But Jesus tells them that, that information is not for them, but rather they have their own job to do. Which is to be Jesus’ witnesses to the world, starting where they were at in Jerusalem.

And it’s this word witness that I want us to focus on. What is a witness? One of the things I teach our teens as they are going through our leadership program, is to ask questions about the text. Because a lot of the time we assume we understand words or phrases that are being used, but that can get us into trouble from time to time.
So let’s ask, what is a witness? Well there are two parts, there’s the noun and the verb. The noun would be someone who sees something happen. They have experienced an event. Like I experienced those three orange lights in the eastern sky. The verb, would be that person relaying what they have seen. Like how I told my wife and others about the lights.
And in Jesus’ telling the disciples that they would be his witnesses, he was telling them that they would be both a person who has witnessed, and one who would be relaying that witness. In other words, they were a witness witnessing. And in fact that is what the Greek language is implying here. Martus is the word used in this passage. It means both a person who is a witness, and a person who witnesses.
But what’s interesting about the Greek language, is that the same word can have a different spelling, but mean the same thing.

A little later on, in Acts 4:33, were told this about the disciples, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” 
The word witness in English isn’t there. Instead we see the word testify, which is the action of the witness. And the Greek word that is there is Marturion, a variation of the word Martus, but their meanings are the same. It’s a witness witnessing.

And so we have two words in English, witness and testify. One is the person, the other is the action. In Greek we have one word, Martus, with a variation of it Marturion. They both imply a person and their action of telling of an event they have experienced. 

But, the big question is what are they witnessing to? Right? Because that is the definition of a witness. Someone saw something, they’re a witness, and if they tell someone, then they are witnessing or testifying to what they saw.
So the disciples are witnessing to what? To the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. What do we call this? This is the Gospel. And you know what, there’s a passage in Matthew that talks about the Gospel being witnessed.

Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

That Greek word for testimony is Marturion. And what were the disciples to do? They were to be the witness of the Gospel to the whole world. 

Now none of this should come as a surprise if you’ve been to any amount of church services. Especially in the Alliance, we like to talk about sharing the Gospel with people. There are tracks, acronyms, guides, and a whole lot of other information out there about sharing the Gospel with people. So us talking about sharing the Gospel is not something new. But the question we are asking today is, are we leaving a legacy of sharing the Gospel to those we desire to leave a legacy to?
Are the people that we will be leaving behind known how to share the Gospel by our example? Or do they have no idea what it means to be a witness and give a testimony about the Gospel?

There’s an old adage that says, “Never discuss politics or religion in polite company.” Why? Because these are two areas of life that can get heated. But because we are taught this, people see no need for Jesus, because his witnesses have decided it’s not a topic that needs to be talked about. And look were that is leading us today. We have a large swath of a generation that has walked away from Jesus. Not to mention our current state of politics.
There’s another saying, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” This is attributed to a man named Francis of Assisi, but one it’s a false attribution, and two it’s unbiblical. We are to be witnesses of and witnesses to the Gospel.
Hence the reason Paul says in Romans 10:14, “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?”

You and I, at the moment we accept Jesus, became witnesses of the Gospel. So what does that mean? How am I a witness of the Gospel?

What is a witness again? Someone who sees something, and then relays it. So the question we need to be asking is, what has Jesus done in my life? How has he effected me? How has the Gospel changed my life? Now, who can we share that with? Who has God brought into your life that needs to hear the message of Jesus? The message that has changed you?
Because this is the last component of leaving a legacy that is of worth that we’re going to be talking about, being a witness of the Gospel. Both in the noun and the verb sense.
Because if we are not a witness to people, then what are we leaving behind for them? Aren’t we just leaving behind a story from a book? One that we might read daily, but no one has heard how it has changed us? Aren’t we leaving behind a belief? A trust that, to us, might be real, but to others, they don’t know why we trust in this Jesus? And aren’t we leaving behind a legacy that wasn’t eternally focused, because we did not think it necessary enough to speak about it?
And what does that tell the next generation? If we are not a witness, or we’re scared to be a witness because we don’t want to offend or lose friends or make situations awkward, doesn’t that tell them, that Jesus is a personal life choice, and not a transformational movement from death to life?

In these past weeks I’ve had several legacy stories shared with me. One was from a lady who’s two grandson contacted her. One thanked her for showing Jesus to the family, and the other asked her to pray for him as he is seeking a raise at his employment. Here is a grandma that is sowing an eternal legacy.

I want to end this series with a reading from C.S. Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce. In this book, Lewis gives us an image of heaven and hell. In the eleventh and twelfth chapters, he writes this, “But once more my attention was diverted. ‘Is there another river, Sir?’ I asked.
“THE REASON why I asked if there were another river was this. All down one long aisle of the forest the under-sides of the leafy branches had begun to tremble with dancing light; and on earth I knew nothing so likely to produce this appearance as the reflected lights cast upward by moving water. A few moments later I realized my mistake. Some kind of procession was approaching us, and the light came from the persons who composed it.
“First came bright Spirits, not the Spirits of men, who danced and scattered flowers-soundlessly falling, lightly drifting flowers, though by the standards of the ghost-world each petal would have weighed a hundred-weight and their fall would have been like the crashing of boulders. Then, on the left and right, at each side of the forest avenue, came youthful shapes, boys upon one hand, and girls upon the other. If I could remember their singing and write down the notes, no man who read that score would ever grow sick or old. Between them went musicians: and after these a lady in whose honor all this was being done.
“‘Is it? ... is it?’ I whispered to my guide.
“‘Not at all,’ said he. ‘It's someone ye'll never have heard of. Her name on earth was Sarah Smith and she lived at Golders Green.’
“‘She seems to be ... well, a person of particular importance?’
“‘Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.’
“‘And who are these gigantic people . . . look! They're like emeralds . . . who are dancing and throwing flowers before her?’
“‘Haven't ye read your Milton? A thousand livened angels lackey her,’
“‘And who are all these young men and women on each side?’
“‘They are her sons and daughters.’ 
“‘She must have had a very large family, Sir.' 
“‘Every young man or boy that met her became her son-even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter."
“‘Isn't that a bit hard on their own parents?’ 
“‘No. There are those that steal other people's children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.
“‘And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them.”’ I looked at my Teacher in amazement. 
“‘Yes,’ he said. ‘It is like when you throw a stone into a pool, and the concentric waves spread out further and further. Who knows where it will end?’”

Where will our legacies end? Where will ripple in the pool dissipate? If it is a legacy of temporal wealth, it will end sooner than we would like.
But if it is an eternal worth legacy, showing trust, build on God’s Word, and spoken about through our witness, who knows when the ripple will end. Only God knows the work that he will do through his servants.

My challenge for you this week, is to do two things: First, write down your witness of what God has done in you through Jesus and his Gospel. Write it down in a simple, direct and loving way. And in a way that you are comfortable speaking out loud. Then, go before God, asking him to give you people to witness to. 
Remember, Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:20 that he will be with us. And we’re told in Acts 1:8, that the Holy Spirit is upon the believer. So let us be Jesus’ witnesses to the Gospel. Both as the noun of who we are, and the verb of what we’re relaying.

Let us be the people who God has called us to be, people that desire legacies of eternal worth. Not for our glory, but the glory of God who has saved us. Amen.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Legacy Series Week 3: Legacy of God’s Word

Both of my parents accepted Jesus as their Savior before I was born, and while they lived in Stockton, California, they attend an Assemblies of God church called Century. There, my parents were a part of several ministries; it was also there that I went to preschool. Now, I’ve said it before, as far as I remember, I was a pretty good kid, but apparently my mom didn’t see it that way. See I was her only boy, and apparently I was a little rowdy. Well it really came out when we had kids of our own, and Marika asked my mom how I was at that age. I think my mom exaggerated a bit, but she told Marika that, she would go into her woman’s Sunday school class and cry because I was so out of control.
Then she went on to give Marika horror stories, of how I apparently wouldn’t stay in my seatbelt while we were driving, and then a cop pulled us over, and again she broke down in tears. I don’t remember anything like that, so it must be blown way out of proportion. 
Anyway, we eventually moved to the little town of Comanche, and started to attend another Assembly of God church. My parents didn’t feel like they fit in, and we proceeded to church hop, never finding a place where my family felt they could be long term. They never found the support they experienced in that first church anywhere else. And eventually, we just stopped attending. 
Now, I never really paid much attention to the whole thing, and didn’t really understand until later what had happen. What I do remember, and I have shared this before, is the long drives I would take with my dad in the summer, as we would work on side jobs for people. He would talk about God, who Jesus was, about salvation, and a lot of other topics. He never quoted Scripture to my memory, but at home, I do remember his Bible. It was a large, brown leather bound, New International Version. And in it was red inked. Not just the words of Jesus in red, but my dad’s own handwriting filled the margins and back pages of the book.
It contained thoughts on verses, questions, and answers. Connections between other passages, and notes from sermons. It is so clear in my memory, that I can feel the thin pages between my finger tips, and smell the musk of it.
Though I never really attended Sunday school, nor many sermons in my youth, those conversations and that marked up book, impacted me more than anything else.

And that’s where we come to the our legacy series today, a place where we’re going to look at the need of having God’s Word impact the next generation.
So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be in Deuteronomy chapter 11 verse 1.

And as we begin in Deuteronomy 11:1, let’s bring ourselves up to speed on where we’re at in our legacy series so far.
This is our third week talking about the legacy that we’re leaving behind. In the first week, we talked about how our legacies tends to be focused on temporal wealth. Things like money, real estate, and other possessions. But that’s not the legacy that we’re looking at. The legacy God desires us to leave behind, is a legacy that is of eternal worth. This type of legacy looks to have our impact on the next generation continue beyond what physical wealth we have, and rather having a focus on the work of God and his Kingdom.
Then in our second week, we began to look at the components of this eternal worth legacy. We started talking about legacy that shows our trust in Jesus. Do people realize that we trust in Jesus? Does it show to them? Is it just a Sunday trust, or is it a trust that beats through our everyday living? When our trust is real, to not only us, but the people around us, it leaves an impact for the next generation, and it brings eternity into focus.

So now we’re in week three and looking at another component to this eternal worth legacy. And so we’re looking at Deuteronomy chapter 11. Now let’s put this passage in it’s context. Moses is recounting the events of Mount Sinai and imploring the people several times to walk in the path that God is calling them toward. And in doing so, Moses gives the people three Musts. Three things they must do. So let’s pick this up in verse 1 of chapter 11, in the book of Deuteronomy.

1 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done.

Moses put this idea in front of the people, that they were the ones who saw all the miracles that God had performed to get them out of Egypt. But, you know who didn’t see them? Their children. Moses is pointing out the fact, that the children who were now in their nation, did not see these events. They had been wandering in the desert for such a long time that the children being born had no idea what got them to this place. So Moses is telling the people, that they needed to tell those children about what God has done. Why, because the adults had seen the work of the Lord, but the children had not.

So Moses tells the people their first must: they must tell their children what God had done. Moses didn’t want the next generation to forget the work that God had done on behalf of the people. Moses didn’t want the children to think that Egypt was a better place than the land ahead. He wanted them to understand what God had done, so that they would follow where he led. But that’s not the only thing they must do.

Going to verse 8 Moses says, “8 Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess…”
Then dropping down to verse 13, “So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14 then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15 I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”

Moses is now telling them, they must observe and be faithful to the commands of God. He even gives them a reason why this is a good idea. When the people are faithfully following the commands, God too will be faithful. As they faithfully observe the commands, God will supply the land with what it needs, so that the people will receive what they need.

These two musts are building up. The people must tell the next generation what God has done and the people must observe and be faithful to God’s commands. Do you see the legacy focus of Moses? The, we must relay God’s work to the next generation and we must show that we believe in him. Then in verse 16 Moses gives them their final must.

16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.

This last must, is a must not. The people must not turn to other gods. If they turn away from God and begin to worship other gods, then the rains will stop, and the land will no longer produce what they need. And the people themselves will end up losing everything.

Moses tells the people, you must tell the next generation about the things God has done, you must faithfully observe the commands of God, and you must not turn to other gods.
But how does Moses expect the people to achieve these musts? Well, he gives them that in verse 18.

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

Moses wants them to take the Word of God and make it a part of their lives. This isn’t the first time Moses has told the people to do this. He told them back in chapter 6 to do it. And he is repeating himself so that the people will realize the need to internalize the word of God in their lives.
Why? Because when we internalize God’s Word, we can teach it to our children because it is a part of who we are. We can follow God’s commands, because it’s who we are as a person. And we won’t turn to other gods, because we know the truth, from the true and living God.

This internalizing of God’s Word component of the eternal worth legacy was really pressed upon me several weeks ago. I have always agreed that we need to know God’s Word, and I’ve always believed that pointing back to God’s Word is important. But it wasn’t until recently that I made this connection between God’s Word, Jesus, and internalizing. 

Some of you might have heard where Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
I have always understood this, as a context of Christians meeting together.
This passage was one I thought was focused on the fellowship aspect of Christians and that’s about it. But then I heard this quote from the Mishna, which is the oral tradition of Jewish Rabbis. The quote is, “But two who are sitting together and there are words of Torah [spoken] between them, the Divine Presence rests with them…(Pirkei Avot in the Mishna 3:2)”

This idea that when two speak together about the Word of God, there the very Divine Presence of God is, brought the necessity of internalizing God’s Word into a whole new light. When I am internalizing the Word of God in my life, and I am sharing it with my children, or other people, the Divine Presence of God is there. I am not just putting words from the page of a 5,000 year old book out there, but I am literally internalizing God’s Presence. He is the Word, and his presence is to be shown in and through me.

So, when I come upon passages like 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”, are brought more to life. And the need to read, and study, and understand the very Word of God, becomes more than simple Scripture memorization.
Now I’m not saying this book is Jesus, nor do I want us to confuse the two. But what I am saying is that God’s presence is with us as we internalize his Word, and as we share his Word with others.
I have believed for years, that God’s Word contains everything we need to know to live out this life. But in recent months, this has become more apparent to me. And not only for me, but for the eternal legacy I am building. Am I pressing upon my children this desire to read the Word of God. That they need to internalize it? That it is more than just some words on a page, it is the living transformative presence of God?

This is our second component of legacy that is of eternal worth. Are we pressing upon our children the need for the Bible? We are blessed beyond measure. There are roughly 100 different English versions of the Bible in print today. We have them for free at the welcome table, you can pick one up for a dollar at the dollar store, or you can spend a lot of money and get a really fancy one. You can even go to a hotel and take one from the end table. The point is, they’re available everywhere in the US. 
No other generation and few other countries, is as blessed as we are to have the Word of God so readily available. But are we impressing on our children just how important it is? Or is it something we simply carry to church and it sits on our shelf every other day?

I hope I will forever have the smell, the sight, and the touch of my father’s Bible in my mind. Because seeing the use from it, has helped me realize the need for it.

My challenge to you today, is to ask yourself, do I internalize the Word of God, so that the presence of Jesus can be seen in me? Is my Bible worked through in a way, that others would see my love for God’s Word, or do they see a pristine artifact of a shallow faith? What will me legacy be in sharing God’s Word with the next generation?
Let us be people who live out an eternal worth legacy, that press upon the next generation the need to internalize the Word of God. Amen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Legacy Series Week 2: Legacy of Trust

You know, one of the hardest lessons to learn is patience; especially when it comes to savings. At this point in my son’s life, he loves building Lego structures. Recently for Christmas, his grandparents bought him a large firehouse Lego set. In the box were advertisements for other Lego products, and one of those advertisements had a volcano set. He decided that it was what he wanted.
So we found it online and told him, it cost about $155. Then we told him that if he did his chores, saved his money, and then waited until after his birthday, and added any money he got then to his total, that he would most likely be able to buy the set himself. So far, he has earned about $4. It’s been about 4 weeks since he made it known he wanted to buy the set; so at this rate, he’ll be done, in about 2 years. Then this past week, he broke something that wasn’t his, and had to pay for it with the money he has saved, and extra chores. If he doesn’t get some much needed help from his grandparents, I foresee a bleak future for him, where there is no volcano Lego set.
Why? Because he likes to spend money. Every time we go anywhere and he has money in his pocket, it’s time to spend it. Candy, $1 toys, whatever it is, if it’s shinning and new, his attention is drawn away from what he intends to buy, and zeros in on what he can get at that moment. And when he doesn’t have money, he begs and bargains his sisters for their money. Like he did yesterday at the QIA POW WOW.
I can’t really fault him for it. There have been many times in my life where I’ve succumbed to the same thing. Why wait for what I could get, even though it might be wonderful, when I can get something now for a temporary indulgence?

At that’s where we come to our second week in our Legacy series, a place where our legacy can either be short sighted, or eternally focused. 
So if you have your Bibles, we’re going to be in the book of Hebrews chapter 11, starting in verse 8.

And as we get into Hebrews 11:8. Let’s catch ourselves up to speed at where we’re at from last week.

Last week we started talking about the Legacy we are leaving behind. We talked about how we tend to think about our legacy when we see the end of our lives approaching. We saw this in the life of Paul. The two letters he wrote to his protege Timothy, were very different in their focus. The first letter was focused on the here and now of running a church. With all of it’s need to have good leaders, strong stances on teaching, and how to keep going in adversity.
Paul’s second letter on the other hand, was one that focused on eternal things. The relationship we have with God, and how to strengthen it. Paul’s charge to Timothy to continue was to run the race well, just Paul had done. 
And so, these two letters showed us how biblical legacy is focused on things that are of eternal worth, rather than on temporal wealth. 
As we ended last week, we also said, that we were going to go more in-depth about what are some key components of eternal worth legacy.

We’re going to begin here in Hebrews 11:8, where we pick up in the text, another well known chapter of the Bible. This chapter is usually referred to as the faith Hall of Fame. The whole history of the Israelite people is summed up in 40 verses. Covering people like Abel a son of Adam, to Noah the Ark builder, to the prophets that finish off the Old Testament writings.
And it’s in between all of this that we find our first component of eternal worth legacy.

Let’s begin reading…

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Here is our first component of eternal worth legacy, visible trust in the promise of God that will pass onto the next generation..

Abraham was a man in the land of Ur, he followed his father to the land of Haran. There God called Abraham to the land of Canaan. God told Abraham that he would make him into a great nation. God told him that he would make his name great. God told him that all peoples on earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:2-3).
But all that Abraham had at the end of his life, was a son of the promise, a daughter in-law, some servants, some cattle, some respect of the people around him, and one gravesite. A great nation this was not. At the end of Abraham’s life, the promise of God had not been fulfilled.
Yet, through it all, Abraham trusted in the promise of God. That God would make him a great nation. And, that promise was fulfilled through Joshua, as he came into the land of Canaan and conquered it. That promise was fulfilled in Solomon, who governed over a united Israel. And that promise was fulfilled through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, who because of him, we gather together. 
We are a result of the promise that God gave to Abraham. And the Hebrew writer knows it. And brings out the fact that each one was still looking for the next part of the promise to be fulfilled. 

“13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”

God’s promise was not fulfilled in Abraham’s lifetime, but he trusted, and his trust was carried on by his son, and then by his son, and it continued, until the first cries of Jesus. And as Jesus was presented in the temple, a man named Simeon took the baby in his hands and said, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel (Luke 2:29-32).”

Abraham, though he never saw this moment, trusted God until his dying breath. 

The story of this denomination is a simple one. The founder of it, was a man named A.B. Simpson. He was a very good preacher and pastor. He was from Canada, but due to health concerns he was instructed to move to a different climate. He eventually moved to Louisville, Kentucky and then to New York city. In New York, Simpson took the position of pastor at the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church. It was an upper middle-class church with some very influential people, making, at the time, $5,000 a year. That’s a salary of $120,000 by today’s standards. Simpson was at the top of his field, and in a wealthy church.
As he pastored the church, he would go down to the docks and preach to the Irish and immigrants coming off the boats. He eventually wanted them to be brought into the church. But that wasn’t okay with the current congregation. Without fanfare, Simpson left his very well off pastorate, and with the help of several other ministers, started the Gospel Tabernacle. A place that reached out to the poor of the city.
As Simpson pastored this new church, God turned his heart towards the unreached people’s around the world. A new calling was put on his life, get the Gospel out to those people. Simpson called on his poor church congregation to train and send out missionaries to these unreached people. What little they had, a watch here, a wedding ring there, was put into the ministry, and eventually the first set of missionaries were trained and sent out. 
These missionaries were sent out with all their worldly belongings in a 6ft by 2ft wooden box. That they understood would double as their coffin, because once out there, they were almost guaranteed to not coming back. 
From these beginnings, the Christian and Missionary Alliance began. Churches were raised here at home, to send missionaries to unreached people groups. And though, even today, the Alliance is not the biggest, it is one of the leaders in missions. Establishing churches in countries, building up the national people to run them, and then moving on to the next unreached people. Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

This verse has given the Alliance the mantra of “Bring Back the King!” Meaning, let us preached the Gospel to all nations, so that we may see the return of Jesus our King.
A.B. Simpson died in 1919. The world was still dealing with the aftermath of the first world war. He had sent many a young missionary to far off places, who never returned. Today the Alliance is in over 60 countries. We have 22 other countries where the national churches are strong enough to send out their own missionaries. In 2017, over 26,000 people came to Christ through the work fo the Alliance.
I share this with you, not to make the Alliance look good, there are a lot of denominations that do great work. I share this with you, because it doesn’t matter if your a shepherd being called by God to be the father of a great nation, or a pastor called to send out missionaries, or someone who lives their life, day by day; what matters is that we trust the call of God, even though that call may not be completed in our life time.

This is the first component to eternal worth legacy, visible trust in the promise of God that will pass onto the next generation. The question we need to ask ourselves is, am I living the promise of God out so strongly in my life, that I am passing on that trust to the next generation? Abraham trusted so much that he was willing to sacrifice God’s promised son Issac. Simpson trusted so much that he left $120,000 job. Because of Abraham’s trust, God fulfilled his promise by bringing Jesus into the world. And when Jesus returns, God will have fulfilled his promise again when he said that the, “gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

The question that we must ask ourselves, isn’t, “Do I trust in Jesus?” The question should be, “Is my trust in Jesus so life altering and clear, that it will pass on to the next generation?”

Abraham to Isaac. Isaac to Jacob. Jacob to Moses. Moses to David. David to Jesus. Simpson to Jeremiah. Jeremiah to whom?
Who will follow our trust in Jesus?

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews ends with these words, “35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
“39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”

Are we willing to live these types of lives, to leave the legacy that says, I trust God above all else?
All the wealth of the ages has and will past, but trust in God stands the test of time. It is passed from generation to generation by men and women who are brave enough to pass it. The question is, are we those type are men and women?

My challenge to you this week is to ask someone that you would like to leave a legacy with, has your trust in God shown to them? And if so, are they following in that trust?
I pray that God will be seen in our lives this week, that he would be glorified, and that others would trust him, through our lives. Amen.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Legacy Series Week 1: Legacy of Eternal Worth

About a year and a half ago my wife started telling me that I was morbid. Not because I have an interest in death, or I watch scary movies, or anything like that. She started calling me morbid, because the last several times we’ve visited with my parents, I’ve brought up the subject of them having a will.
Now I don’t bring up the subject as if I’m the prodigal son, trying to get my cut of my parent’s estate. Rather, the more I live in Quartzsite the more it’s pressed upon me that we are not always going to be here. I don’t know if you know that. And I have seen people pass away, without having a well thought out plan about what will happen to their estates when they leave it behind.
Now, some people don’t care. They say things like, “What would I care, I’m gone.” But I have watched families struggle trying to get everything in order. I have seen families fight about who gets what.
And so, I just want to make sure that my parent’s wishes are fulfilled. What is it that they want? Are those wishes clear? And is there a clear way of implementing everything when the time comes? Personally, I don’t have emotional attachments to anything my parents have. And so, there’s nothing that I really want from them. All I want, is for their legacy to continue. And I don’t mean the legacy of their stuff. I mean the legacy of their lives.
Growing up, I never really knew my grandparents. My parents kept us away from them, because they were either very abusive, or they lived lives that my parents didn’t want us to experience. 
But I want my kids to know their grandparents. Both my wife’s and mine, because I think they’re great people. They love God, their generous, and their fun to be around. That is the legacy I want to live on. A legacy that builds up, and doesn’t tear down. I don’t want to see, at the end of my parent’s lives, the legacy that had been built into their children and grandchildren, come falling down, because a will wasn’t there or wasn’t clear.

And that’s where we come to the beginning of our sermon series on Legacy. For the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about leaving a biblical legacy. Now we’re going to intertwine the personal biblical legacy that God calls us to, with the ministry legacy of the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite.
But here’s a spoiler for the sermon series: the personal legacy is not about money, while we might touch on the topic of money, this sermon series is not about our earthly wealth.

Legacy is defined as; anything handed down from the past… Can that be money? Yes, but there’s a greater legacy that we who have put our trust into Jesus as our Savior are called to. And it’s the greater biblical legacy that we are going to talk about. So let’s jump into it.
If you have your Bibles, we’re going into 2nd Timothy chapter 3, starting in verse 10.

As we get into 2nd Timothy 3:10, lets find out where we’re at. Since this is a 2nd Timothy, that means there was a first. The first one was written about three years prior. Both are written to Timothy, and both are written by Paul. Timothy was one of Paul’s proteges, and someone Paul left behind to do ministry in the city of Ephesus. Paul’s first letter was to teach Timothy how to be a leader of a church. But Paul’s second letter is very different.
In the first letter, Paul is very much thinking about the here and now. How to lead a church, how to recognize the attributes of Elders and Deacons, how to see false teachings that will inevitably seep their way in. All of it has a focus on carrying out the work that needs to be done now, in this present time. Paul even states in chapter 3 verse 14 of his first letter, “Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, 15 if I am delayed…” Paul is thinking about visiting Timothy, he might be delayed, but his goal is to visit his protege again.
But Paul’s second letter is very different. Instead of a pure focus on the here and now, Paul focuses’ on the future to come. Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful to the end, to be a workman approved by God, to not get involved in useless quarreling, and how in the last days there will be godlessness. Paul’s focus has shifted from the work of the here and now, to the time ahead.
And it’s at the end of this letter that we pick up Paul’s words in chapter 3, starting in verse 10. Let’s read.

3:10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
4:1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

We tend to hear, or read, or even recite Paul’s words in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” These words are good, but it’s not the full legacy that Paul wants Timothy to receive.

Paul starts off with, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured.”
Paul tells Timothy, you know what my life has been like. The pain, the suffering, and the love and purpose of it all. Paul tells Timothy, you know the teachings that I’ve given to you. But it’s not until verse 1 of chapter 4 that we really get into the legacy Paul desires Timothy to receive.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:”
We tend to start thinking about legacy when death is knocking on our door. Paul is literally in the last year of his life. Paul wrote his first letter to Timothy when he still thought he’d be around to visit him. But now, three years later, Paul is in a situation, where he is focusing on meeting his Savior. Everything else is dropping away, and only legacy is in view.
So he tells Timothy in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, here is your charge from me. Here is the legacy I desire to pass on to you.
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Paul tells Timothy, preach the word, being ready at any moment to do so. And then in verse 5, Paul tells Timothy, buckle down and do the work that God has called you to you. Don’t worry about these other things that will happen. Don’t worry about people leaving you to hear other messages that tickle their ear. No, Timothy, you do what God has called you to do.
And it’s in this context, this context of being at the end of this life, of sending the next generation off, that we get Paul’s oft so quoted words in verse 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

In other words, I have done everything that God has called me to do, now Timothy follow my example. Live within the legacy I am leaving behind, the legacy you have watched me build all these years.
This is an Elijah and Elisha moment of the Old Testament. Elijah was the Paul, and Elisha was his Timothy. The mantle, the garment, the legacy of Elijah passed to Elisha.
This is what biblical legacy is, the passing of the torch of the word of God from believer to believer. From the old in the faith, to the new in the faith.

This ministry of the Alliance Church was started, when godly men and women took up the legacy of reaching people. That legacy has been passed down for the last 40 years. You and I have been given the responsibility to continue the legacy of God’s work here. Not to make the Alliance Church great, but to do the work that God has called us to.
This is the legacy that we have received, and we are to pass to the next generation. Are we willing leave it ready for them? Have we done what we can to leave them in a place to achieve greater work? Elijah gave Elisha a double portion of spirit. Paul gave the work in Ephesus that he started to Timothy. Jesus said to his disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these (John 14:12)…”

Are we running the race in such a way, that the legacy we leave behind would be one that people would want to be a part of? Or are we running the race in such a way, that they just want to throw it out?

In June of 2018 I officially took over for Pastor Jeff as Lead Pastor of the Alliance Church here in Quartzsite. I see the legacy that Jeff has done here, and I want to continue to build on it. Because I see that Jeff ran the race and did as God led, and I want the double portion of Jeff, I want to pick up where he left off, I want to do greater things, because of the legacy he, and those before him in this ministry, have left.
And I want to challenge you to be a part of that work, to be a part of this legacy. To run it well, so that we can pass it on to the next generation, so that they can accomplish greater things.

So what is this legacy? Paul left no money, no land, no nest egg behind. Too often we think that legacy is synonymous with money. If I leave money, or land, or whatever behind, I will be remembered.
That might be true for one generation, but what about the one after that, or the one after that? 
We tend to leave legacies of temporal wealth. Those things that can be forgotten in one generation. Those things, that Jesus says will pass away. I think there is a place for that. There’s a great richness in being able to give the next generation advantages of wealth that we have built up. And to show our beneficiaries that we care for them enough to give them something when we pass on. 
But God calls us to legacies of eternal worth. This type of legacy shifts it’s focus from the temporary enjoyment of our beneficiaries, to the building of God’s Kingdom. 
Legacies built on temporal wealth are used, fought over, divided, and forgotten. But Legacies built on eternal worth move the work of God forward, and lay the ground work for people coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

I’m not asking that you make the Alliance Church a beneficiary of your wealth. I’m echoing God’s call on your life, to work with me for God’s Kingdom.

And so I ask you, what type of legacy are you leaving behind? Will your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren see your legacy as temporal or as eternal? That is my question and the challenge for this week, is this: take some time, and evaluate your legacy, asking what is the legacy I’m leaving behind? Is is temporal wealth, or eternal worth?

Let us be people that leave legacies of eternal worth, so that the Kingdom of God may house even more people. Let’s pray.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Famous 2019

One of the best Disney movies is Aladdin, which is getting live action redone that comes this year. If you don’t know the story, Jafar is the evil advisor to the sultan. He is trying to gain the magical lamp with the Genie to take over the kingdom of Agrabah. He uses street rat Aladdin to enter the cave of wonders and retrieve the lamp. While doing this the cave collapse, sealing Aladdin inside with the lamp.
Using the Genie’s magic to get out, Aladdin wishes to become a prince, so that he can marry the princess of Agrabah, that he fell in love with at the beginning of the film. And his introduction is an amazing song and dance entrance. 
But everything starts going off the rails, when the fame becomes more important than the truth. And it’s because Aladdin isn’t truthful with the princess when he should be, that causes his relationships with his friends to become strained, he ends up losing the lamp, and only be the skin of his teeth does it all turn out alright in the end.

I use Aladdin’s story to bring up the idea of being famous. Now in the past, I have said, a lot of us want to be famous, and I have had teens say to me, “Oh I don’t want to be famous.”

Well, I got the stats for you to say, “yeah, you’re probably lying to me if you say you don’t want to be famous.
In 2017, a survey was taken by a website called the dailymail online. Now it was of teens in the United Kingdom, but another survey back in 2009 showed that the trends of developed countries, like the US and the UK are usually statistically similar. So what did the daily mail find out?
The top 5 jobs that teens want to get in the future are, YouTubers at 34%, Blogger/Vlogger at 18%, Musician/Singer at 16%, Actor at 15%, and Film Maker at 13%. That means 96% of teens want to be in a role that will bring them fame. This doesn’t include the overlap of TV Presenters, or Athletes. We have a desire to be known by people. Why? because who wants to live their lives as if it didn’t matter?
We don’t want our lives to have no meaning. This is especially true if we look around us and see people who’s lives seem to make no difference. Or if we are shuffled to the back of the family. We have a sibling that seems to get more love from our parents or grandparents. We have other kids around us that seem to be smarter, stronger, better at things, and we want the recognition. 

In the band Imagine Dragons, their song Thunder picks up on this idea.

Just a young gun with a quick fuse
I was uptight, wanna let loose
I was dreaming of bigger things
And wanna leave my own life behind


Kids were laughing in my classes
While I was scheming for the masses
Who do you think you are?
Dreaming 'bout being a big star
They say you're basic, they say you're easy
You're always riding in the back seat
Now I'm smiling from the stage while
You were clapping in the nose bleeds

We tend to want to make ourselves known, but what will that get us? Momentary love of others, until we’re no longer useful. Sure you have people like Beyonce, who is going strong in her career, but for every one that makes it, hundreds even thousands are left behind. Still hoping for their shot.

But God desires a different fame for us. Jesus said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it (Matthew 16:25).”

One of Jesus’ disciples, Paul, wrote this at the end of his life, “6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing…18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 18).”

Paul realized what true fame was: not to be known by the world, but to be known by God. 
People want to be world famous. And some have reached that status, but others are more well known than any of the actors, or youtubers, or bloggers of today. Paul is one fo the most quoted men of history, and all he did was talk about Jesus.
This is the fame that lasts, not that the world knows us, but that God knows us, And when we find this fame, then we find purpose, we find contentment, we find life.

As we begin this new year, I would ask you, where are you seeking your fame? From this world, that is fleeting? Or from God eternally?

Let’s close on the song, Yours (Glory and Praise) by Elevation Worship.