I thought this year, I would try something a little different with messages that I will give at AFW. I am going to post my basic thoughts on my blog before hand and see if I can get some input from those that are part of AFW and even those that are not. They are basic and raw and underdeveloped but I want to be able to hear the raw and underdeveloped thoughts back so that I can begin to process what others are processing as they hear and read messages that we will talk about. I’m excited about our new series called “Fork in the Road.” We will start with the first message called “Big Stuff God” this next week on September 9th with High School Students. Middle school students will hear a similar message on September 20th. Read, input, disagree, agree, cry, laugh, but seek God’s word with everything that is said in this blog. If I am out of line, call me on it! Here is the first message in the series “Fork in the Road.”
Every year, I preach a message series that has to do with ‘why we do what we do year after year.’ I often speak about the churches mission, method, and dream as well as some of the core values and principles that our church would tend to promote. This year, I want to go about this first talk a little different way. We could start a lot of different places this fall. We could start with the mission of our church, to develop fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. We could start with the method to reaching that dream, by intentionally building those that know Christ and passionately pursuing those without. We could start with our dream as a church, to daughter churches that daughter churches to reach our county for Jesus Christ. We could start with some of the core things that we need to do as Jesus Christ’ followers, spiritual disciplines and encouraging relationships. We could start with all sorts of things. Or we could start with the center of all of the lyrics listed above. Something that we often forget about, something that radically changes our lives if we let it. Something that is life changing and messes with our plans and our goals in our life. And that something is Jesus Christ.
But we may be like the church in Ephesus and we have forgotten that first love!
1“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.
I think we are standing together in front of a fork in the road. We have forgotten our first love, Jesus Christ, and now we have some choices to make as a group and as individuals. We can stand still, go right, or go left (See Definitions of each below.)
(Complacency and Apathy abound in our relationship with Jesus Christ and in our corporate worship setting.)
We must run from complacency and apathy and pursue other things in our relationship with an almighty God!
14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.
(The Easy Route. The world’s way. It looks wide and it looks good, but it is not right.)
Again, this cannot be the way that we take as individuals or as a group. For when it is, it destroys.
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man[e] is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind[f] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
(The Hard Route. God’s way, it is narrow and it is hard stuff. )
We must resolve to turn right and seek God! The message to the right is one of community, seeking God, wonders, miracles, worship, evangelism and prayer. And these are things that we see our God display his power within. He is a Big Stuff God and he does big stuff in our lives as well as our churches and groups such as AFW.
42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
I Corinthians 1:
18For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[c]
20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
So, what do you think? Do you think that you personally are standing still, turning left, or turning right?
As a youth group, what are we doing? What should we be doing as a group to turn right?