Ever felt like you're living under a heavy cloak of expectations, criticism, or maybe just self-doubt? We’ve all been there. And guess what, so was David – the shepherd boy turned king!
Throwing Off the Old Mask
David's story is one of transformation. It’s about taking off that ‘old-self mask’ and embracing the ‘new nature’ that God has for us. Just like many of us, David faced resistance. Remember when he stepped up to challenge Goliath? He was met with skepticism from his own family, doubt from King Saul, and, of course, threats from the giant himself.
Yet, David stood his ground. Why? Because he had faith. Not in his physical strength, but in the God who had been with him every step of the way.
Faith is a Journey, Not a Sprint
We learnt from the sermon that just as salvation is instantaneous, maturity isn’t. It takes effort, time, and a heart willing to cooperate with Jesus. This process, known as sanctification, involves growing, walking, and learning daily.
Facing the Giants in Our Lives
Who hasn’t dealt with their own “Goliaths” or listened to the negative voices trying to pull them down? Be it criticism from loved ones, the weight of other people's expectations, or the intimidating voices of our challenges, we’ve all faced them. But David's confrontation with Goliath teaches us a vital lesson: with faith and authenticity, we can overcome.
David didn’t wear Saul’s armor because it wasn't him. He stuck to what he knew - his sling and his faith in God. So, next time you feel pressured to wear someone else’s “armor”, remember David. Be true to who God made you to be!
Finding Time to Listen
In the hustle and bustle of life, taking time to be still and connect with God can seem challenging. But here's a small challenge for you – twice a day, take out just two minutes. Close your eyes, open your hands, and just be present with God. Listen. Speak. Connect.
The verse from Psalm 46:10 reminds us, “Be still, and know that I am God”. Let’s find moments in our day to truly embrace this.
Life is filled with moments that test our faith and character. But as followers of Jesus, we are called to shed our old selves, our masks, and step into the life God has planned for us – one that is authentic and free.
- Adapted from the messages preached at all 3 campuses on 9/24/23.
Let's chat about something that might seem all too familiar to many of us: having that 'all is well' facade when, underneath, it's a bit of a hot mess. Ever bought a shiny apple that turned out to be rotten inside? That's our topic today - Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality.
Take King Saul, for instance. A prime example pulled straight from 1 Samuel 15. On the outside, Saul seemed like the poster boy for leadership. However, dive a little deeper and we find a man ruled by ego, pride, vanity, and, surprisingly, fear.
Saul's surface actions didn't always align with God's deeper commands. In trying to appease people (or perhaps his own ego), Saul sometimes defied God's exact orders. And when confronted by the Prophet Samuel, Saul did what many of us might do – he tried to spin things to his advantage.
The heart of the message can be found in 1 Samuel 15:22-23. It emphasizes that obedience to God's voice is more significant than any sacrifice. That's a zinger! It's not about our outer activities or how religious we look, but how authentic our inner relationship with God is.
Contrast Saul with King David. David had his fair share of mistakes, but he was acutely aware of his internal world. He voiced his joys, sorrows, regrets, and praises. David was genuine, both with God and with others. He didn't hide his flaws; he owned them and brought them before God.
Now, here's the kicker: it's easy to brush this off as ancient history, but let's get real. There's a mini-Saul in all of us. Today's church often focuses on scripture and knowing about Jesus, but do we truly know ourselves? Our emotional health and spiritual maturity are intertwined, and we can't grow spiritually if we're stunted emotionally.
For many, there's a cycle of repetitive 'baby' Christianity, year after year, without diving deeper. Instead of progressing in our faith and understanding, we sometimes just circle the same mountain.
In the upcoming weeks, we'll delve into 10 symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality. For a teaser, the first three are:
So, as we wrap up, remember: it's not about the religious motions or pretenses. God yearns for us to be like David - raw, real, and after His own heart. Let's aim for that, shall we? 💛
Until next time, stay genuine and keep that heart open!
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on 9/17/2023.
Have you ever heard the phrase, "God has no grandchildren"? It's a foundational fact that reminds us of a powerful truth: each of us has an individual relationship with God. Here's the skinny from our latest sermon in our series through the book of Judges:
The Big Idea: We can't piggyback on the faith of our parents or grandparents. Salvation isn't a family heirloom handed down through the generations. It’s a personal journey, one that each of us has to undertake individually. We've got to own our faith, accept Jesus personally, and live in a relationship with Him.
A Biblical Blast from the Past: The story of Jonathan, the grandson of Moses, serves as a wake-up call. Here was a guy who, despite his impressive lineage and front-row seat to some of God's most fantastic acts, chose to live as if God's teachings were optional. He seemed more like he was at a breakfast buffet, picking what laws he wanted to follow, rather than embracing the full teachings of the Lord.
The Ripple Effect: Jonathan's lukewarm approach to faith impacted an entire tribe. The Tribe of Dan, seeking an easy way out, chose to ignore God’s promises and plans. Instead of striving for their God-given inheritance, they took shortcuts, leading to consequences that lasted generations. Their name was even missing from the Chronicles listing the tribes of Israel!
The Takeaway: Faith is a personal endeavor. Just as one generation can deeply know the Gospel, the next might merely assume it, and the following one might entirely lose it. Look at Moses: he knew the Lord personally, his son assumed he knew God, but by the time it got to his grandson, Jonathan, there was a clear disconnect.
In the end, while it's amazing to come from a line of believers, we each have to make our relationship with God our own. Let's not just assume the Gospel. Let's live it, embrace it, and make it our own.
So, here’s a challenge: Let’s commit to truly knowing God, delving into His Word, and living it out authentically. Remember, our faith journey is personal, and God's waiting to walk it with each of us.
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on 8/27/2023.
Ever thought about the difference between a regular light bulb and a laser beam? Both might have the same wattage, but their impact is vastly different. A 60W white light bulb can light up a room, but a 60W laser can cut through thick materials. The difference? Focus.
This past Sunday at church, we talked about the concept of focus and how distractions can pull us away from our God-given destinies. We took a journey through the life of Samson, a man with immense potential, but whose distractions led him astray. His story is a powerful reminder that even the strongest among us can lose our way when we lose our focus.
Distraction vs. Destiny
The story of Samson is a tale of potential lost to distraction. Despite being chosen by God to lead and deliver his people, Samson's distractions, particularly his relationships, led him away from his destiny. Like a white light scattering in all directions, Samson's attention was dispersed, weakening his impact.
Three Steps to Reclaiming Your Destiny
Distractions are everywhere, but with dedication, devotion, and dependence on Jesus, we can stay focused on our path. Like a laser, when we channel our energy and attention in one direction, our impact can be powerful.
Stay blessed and focused, church family! Let's shine our light brightly, with purpose and clarity, in the direction God has set for us.
- Adapted from the sermon preached at our Walloon Lake campus on 8/20/23.
Samson's life story actually began with his parents receiving instructions for his birth. As a Nazirite, Samson was set apart for the Lord, never to cut his hair or indulge in wine or anything unclean. His life was to be a constant reminder that he belonged to God Almighty.
Samson's parents, faithful and wise, prayed for guidance on how to raise this special child. That's lesson number one: Always seek the Lord's wisdom, especially in raising children.
Fast forward, and we find Samson, about 25 years old, behaving impulsively. His eyes catch a beautiful Philistine woman, and he demands her to be his wife. Samson's parents object, reminding him of the Lord's command not to marry unbelievers. But Samson, driven by his hormones, persists, and his parents sadly cave.
What can we learn from this?
The story of Samson's life serves as both a cautionary tale and a beacon of hope. He was flawed, impulsive, and at times, reckless. But God chose him, imperfections and all, to serve a purpose.
Like the frog in the kettle, Israel was so comfortable with the Philistines that they didn't even realize they needed rescuing. In our lives, too, we can become so cozy with worldly values that we risk spiritual extinction. But even when we don't realize we need a hero, God is always ready to raise one.
Samson's life also reminds us that God works through spiritually flawed people. We're all imperfect, but we need Jesus every single day to rescue us from ourselves. So let's hold strong to our faith, follow God's guidance, and not allow the culture to shape us.
Let's remember to pray for wisdom, stay true to our convictions, and always keep our eyes on the Lord.
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on 8/13/23.
Ever had a hot dog and wondered what's really inside? It's a mix of things, some good, some not so good. And believe it or not, that's how many of us build our faith. We mix in a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and before we know it, we've got something that's not quite pure.
In a recent sermon, we took a deep dive into the story of Judge Jephthah from Judges 10-12. It's a wild ride, and there's a lot to learn. So grab your favorite snack (hot dog, anyone?) and let's dive in.
1. Mixing Culture with FaithJephthah's story is a bit like a hot dog of faith. He's got some genuine faith in there, but he's also mixed in a lot of his culture's beliefs and practices. The result? A spiritually toxic mash-up that looks Christian but isn't.
We all do this to some extent. We cherry-pick beliefs, mix in our opinions, and sometimes end up with something that's more about us than about God. It's a good reminder to keep our faith pure and focused on the truth.
2. The Cycle of IdolatryThe Israelites were caught in a cycle of idolatry and oppression. They'd turn to idols, get oppressed, cry out to God, and then do it all over again. Sound familiar? We often chase after things that enslave us, thinking they'll make us happy.
But here's the kicker: an idol isn't just a statue. It's anything we trust for our identity, value, and happiness other than God. Money, success, beauty – these things can become idols if we're not careful.
3. The Tragedy of Jephthah's VowJephthah's story takes a dark turn when he makes a vow to God and ends up sacrificing his daughter. It's a disturbing and heartbreaking moment, but it teaches us some powerful lessons.
First, we're often more influenced by our culture than we realize. Jephthah's vow was shaped by his culture's beliefs, not by God's word. We need to be careful not to let our culture shape our faith in unhealthy ways.
Second, our idolatry has devastating effects on those around us. Jephthah's idolatry cost his daughter her life. Our idols can hurt those we love, too.
Finally, God's grace is hard to grasp. Jephthah felt he had to earn God's favor, but God's grace is a gift. We can't earn it; we just receive it.
Friends, faith in the grace of God is the only way to health in Christianity. We don't have to earn God's love or make extreme sacrifices. We just need to trust in His grace and mercy.
So next time you're enjoying a hot dog, take a moment to think about your faith. Is it pure and focused on God, or have you mixed in some unhealthy ingredients? Let's strive to keep our faith pure and trust in God's amazing grace.
In today's world, we often hear the phrase, "the more, the better". We believe that strength lies in numbers, that victory is assured by having a vast army. However, in God's unique economy, the mantra often resonates as "less is more", and this profound principle is brought to life in the story of Gideon.
Our journey begins in Judges chapter 7, a part of the Bible that records a time when the Israelites were oppressed by a massive army and needed a miraculous deliverance. Enter Gideon - an unlikely hero called by God to lead an army against the oppressors, the Midianites.
Initially, Gideon assembled an impressive army of 32,000 soldiers. However, God had a different plan. He told Gideon that this army was too large, expressing concern that victory would lead Israel to believe it was their strength and skill that had won the war, rather than divine intervention. So, God instructed Gideon to send home anyone who was timid or afraid. This downsizing reduced the army to just 10,000 soldiers.
Still, God declared the number to be too high. Gideon was then guided to further reduce his troops based on how they drank water at a spring. After this peculiar selection process, Gideon's army was whittled down to a mere 300 men. This was a drastic downsizing from a ratio of 4 Midianites to 1 Israelite, to now having 450 Midianites for every Israelite!
God had a plan, a masterstroke that was as unconventional as it was effective. Gideon was given assurance through divine signs and a dream that the victory would indeed be theirs. Gideon, now full of faith, armed his soldiers not with swords and shields, but with trumpets, torches, and clay pots. Their battle plan was simple: make a lot of noise in the middle of the night.
As the 300 men blew their trumpets, smashed their pots, and shouted, the enemy was thrown into chaos. They turned on each other in their confusion, and the mighty Midianite army was defeated without the Israelites having to lift a sword.
This remarkable story underscores the principle that in God's hands, "less is more". God purposely downsized Gideon's army so that the victory could only be attributed to Him. His power shines the brightest when we are at our weakest, showing us that we do not have to rely on our strength.
As new believers, we can take great comfort from Gideon's story. We may sometimes feel weak, inadequate, and outnumbered in life's battles. But remember, God can use our weaknesses and turn them into His victories. We don't have to be the strongest, the bravest, or the most numerous. We just need to have faith and allow God to work through us. After all, in God's economy, less is indeed more.
- Adapted from sermons preached across our 3 campuses on 7/30/23.
For seven long years, Israel, God's chosen people, suffered at the hands of the Midianites and the Amalekites. These oppressors plundered the Israelites, stealing their crops and leaving them starved and desperate. This circumstance may remind some of us of our own situations, where we feel overwhelmed and helpless against seemingly bigger and stronger opponents.
The Israelites, out of their despair, cried out to the Lord for help. Are we not like them, crying out when we are pounded on, feeling as though we face insurmountable challenges? The Lord, in response to Israel's cries, sent a prophet to help them understand why they were facing such trials.
Before a rescuer or judge was sent, a sermon was delivered. Israel needed to understand their need for a rescuer. This prophet reminded Israel of their deliverance from the grip of mighty Egypt, affirming that the same Lord could rescue them from their current oppression. However, he also highlighted their idolatry - their worship of the Amorite's false gods - as the root cause of their suffering.
This led Israel from regret to repentance. As explained in 2 Corinthians 7:10, "For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There's no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death." The challenge for us is to discern whether we are living in regret or moving towards repentance.
Despite being weak, insecure, and filled with doubt, Gideon was chosen by God to rescue Israel. The Angel of the Lord - believed to be a pre-incarnation of Jesus Christ - appeared to Gideon, calling him a "mighty hero". Despite Gideon's doubts and protests, God reassured him that He would be with him, and he would be given the strength needed to rescue Israel.
When Gideon asked for a sign to affirm the truth of God's words, the Lord graciously provided it. In realizing he was in the presence of God Almighty, Gideon built an altar on the spot and dedicated it to the God of Peace. This teaches us that before we battle our enemies, we must ensure we are at peace with Jesus, having confessed our sins and donned the armor of God.
The story of Gideon offers us two key lessons.
Gideon's story reminds us of our own challenges and how we can find strength in our weaknesses. It encourages us to cry out to God in our trials, understand the root causes of our struggles, move from regret to repentance, and take courage in the Lord's promise of His presence and strength. In doing so, we too, like Gideon, can become "mighty heroes" through God's power.
- Adapted from the sermon preached at WLCC on 7/23/23.
In a recent sermon, we explored the fascinating account from Judges 4-5, a narrative centered around God's people and their battles. But the core message wasn't so much about the physical war, as it was about the spiritual battles we face in life and God's call to conquer them.
The story isn't about Deborah as you might think. It's actually about Barak, whom God invites to step up as a warrior. Here’s the shocker: God doesn’t need us to fight His battles! Yet, He graciously invites us into His grand narrative to teach us strength, courage, and faith. He sees the warrior potential in us and calls us to step into it.
In this narrative, Barak, unfortunately, refused God's invitation. He missed his chance to become the warrior God intended him to be. But as we know, God’s plans are never thwarted by human hesitance. So, He chose another - Jael - to be the unlikely hero.
Here’s the takeaway: Daunting obstacles are divine opportunities to create daring overcomers.
You see, God uses obstacles to shape us into overcomers. No obstacle, no overcoming. It’s that simple. And while we might see these obstacles as nuisances or roadblocks, God views them as stepping stones for us to rise above our circumstances and grow stronger in faith.
You may feel God is calling you to something daunting, something that feels beyond your current capabilities, connections, or cash flow. But, understand this: God doesn't call us based on our capacity, but His. If He calls you to it, He will carry you through it.
God's purpose is not to stress you out, but to stretch you, pulling you out of your comfort zone into a realm where His intervention is necessary for your success. It's not that He needs us. He wants to build us up, and with each level He takes us to, there will be new struggles to navigate. But with those struggles come divine triumphs.
God's gracious call also comes with a warning. If you shy away from His calling, He can and will use someone else in your stead. However, never forget that God is a merciful deity, abounding in lovingkindness. Even when we falter, His grace is available for us to continue in our pursuit of His promise.
Remember Jael, who seized the divine opportunity, and God honored her. Or consider Barak, who, despite his initial hesitation, pursued God's promise to the end. His faith, though small, did not go unnoticed.
If you haven’t fully acted on God's last directive to you, be like Jael. See that challenge or command as an opportunity for God to manifest Himself. Be like Deborah, boldly displaying your faith for all to see. And if you've faltered, be like Barak. Pursue God’s promise relentlessly, for as long as you have breath, you have a divine purpose to fulfill.
So, embrace your divine opportunities. Confront your daunting obstacles. They are stepping stones to becoming daring overcomers. No matter what, keep your faith strong and vibrant. Show it, share it, live it. Today is always a good day to believe God and walk in purpose!
- Adapted from the sermon preached at WLCC on 7/16/23.
In a world increasingly filled with excuses, it appears that people are often trying to defend or justify their actions, lessening the blame, and making apologies for what they've said or done. Excuses are something we all have and use, yet, many of our heroes in the Bible overcame their excuses and were greatly used by God.
It's been said that "excuses destroy success every time." When God is seeking to accomplish something, He's looking for willing hearts, not for those full of excuses.
Here are 3 common excuses for not serving the Lord:
Interestingly, each of the first few judges in the Old Testament book of Judges had one of these excuses for not stepping up.
The very first judge we read about in Judges 3, Othniel, was a mature man, possibly in his 60s or 70s when he stepped up to lead Israel against the King of Aram. At an age when most are looking to slow down, Othniel, empowered by God's Spirit, led Israel to 40 years of peace under his leadership. Othniel demonstrates that age is not a good excuse to stop serving the Lord.
The second judge, Ehud, was left-handed by default. Perhaps he was born with a deformed right hand, or it might have been injured. Regardless, God chose Ehud, who could have seen his physical condition as a handicap or a disqualification, to serve as a judge. In spite of his disability, Ehud was used powerfully by the Lord to bring victory and peace for eighty years. The key here is that Ehud didn't allow his weakness to be an excuse. When we are feeling weak and humble, that's when God can do His most powerful work. Ehud didn't allow his disability to be his excuse for not serving the Lord. He understood that God was working through him to bring victory over the Moabites.
Here's the point: the Judges of the Old Testament, like Othniel and Ehud, teach us invaluable lessons about not letting excuses get in the way of serving God. Whether it's age or physical disability, God's power is not hindered. He's looking for willing hearts to accomplish His will.
So let's not let excuses prevent us from being used greatly by God. Instead, let's commit to serving Him in all circumstances, knowing that His strength is made perfect in our weakness!