Monthly Archives: July 2014

ONE CLICK AWAY FROM THE TRULY SHOCKING

       Shocking photos!

       Unbelievable secrets to calm your kids!

       88 year old looks like she’s 20!

We see these teasers on the internet all the time.

Not to mention. “Foods Guaranteed to Increase Weight Loss”, “Easy Ways to Make Cash While Sitting in Your Home”, or “Live Longer With This 10 Second Habit”.

Have you ever chased after one of these internet rainbows and not been disappointed? Yet, we keep thinking this time we might really be only one click away from fulfilling our dreams.

The world has to offer hype, because it cannot deliver on its claims to know how to give us peace – fulfillment – everlasting joy – or deliverance.

But, why would we expect the world to be able to give what only God can accomplish?

Why use margarine, when you have butter? Why eat frozen yogurt, when you have ice cream? And why pursue the promise of the world when you have the presence of God who rules over today and holds eternity?

In this article by Michael Leake on the Borrowed Light blog, he encourages us to look to the place where we really are guaranteed to be amazed.

 

WONDER AT ANY SCALE

I was given a book of Hubble Telescope photos. 
 
Inside are images of color, shape and light. It is beauty unlike anything I have ever seen. They are literally otherworldly. 
 
As wonder beholding as the sights, are the unfathomable distances that they stretch across. A galaxy held by a page. My mind is numbed by the numbers. What is a billion trillion stars? How far is a lifetime of light years? I cannot will myself to comprehend these questions. 
 
I have walked through meadows. 
 
Here the scale fits comfortably in my thoughts, and all my senses enter their applause. The dull buzz of insects, the soft stroke of tall grasses against the inside of my hand, and the entanglement of colored texture are at once understood and yet amaze. 
 
Here is a world I can bow down into and find ever more understated beauty. Whether it is an ant climbing up a stem or the innumerable shades of tawny and green within one arms length patch of field. 
 
God made them all by speaking. In a moment, out of nothing, came infinite wonder. 
 
We can and should be worshipful wherever we look, for in every frame of creation we encounter God’s ability to amaze. 
 
Yet, as God’s awestruck servant wrote for us, these are all just the “fringes of His ways”. 
 
So what could be greater? What works are at the majestic core of His ways?
 
They are found in a manger, on a cross and from an empty tomb
 
As you walk through today: breathe, listen and look. But also remember, ponder and receive. 
 
Take in and worship out.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 7.28.14

What do you want from God?               

Exodus 33

In chapter 32, Aaron formed a golden calf for the people to worship. God’s anger was stirred, Moses interceded, and God “relented” from destroying them.

God tells the nation: proceed to the land (vs 1-6)

At first glance, it looks like the people will get all they could want (vs2-3)

Their enemies will be driven away & they will live in a blessed land

This is what most people want from God: a smooth path and good things

People want God to do all this without the ‘annoying’ shadow of his law or presence

People don’t want to be in Covenant with God

Yet, what God said to the nation was “disastrous” (v4)

God offered temporal blessing without his covenant – without himself

The people would have no tabernacle, altar incense, mercy seat, or law

God had no interest in having a polygamous relationship with them (or us)

The nation appropriately goes into mourning at this news (v4)

We often don’t see it this way, but God’s law over us is his blessing; and the removal of it is a curse

vs 7-16 show what we should want most from God

A vivid contrast is made: Moses has a level of relationship that the people don’t

The “tent of meeting” is not the Tabernacle: it’s far outside the camp (v7)

In this tent God came to Moses and would speak to him

v11 is one of the great statements of intimacy in the Bible

Moses asks God for what all of us need most (vs 15-16)

Moses doesn’t want to take a step without out God’s covenant presence going with them

Without God’s covenant presence, the Bible is emptied of hope

The peak of our salvation is not the removal of God’s wrath, it is our forever with Him

We were created to share life with God

The glory of salvation is the restoration of what Eden lost

Do you look at gospel fulfillment, just in terms of being saved from wrath?

For all the value of that reality, it is only the front door of our salvation

Is your highest desire from God that He keeps your path smooth?

God has something bigger!  He wants your life to be lived alongside him

Moses brings a bold request to God (vs 17-23)

What does Moses really want when he asks God to “show me your glory”?

Moses had seen many wonders of God:

The burning bush, the plagues, the Red Sea parting, the pillar of cloud & fire, and God’s voice on Mt Sinai

Moses wanted intimacy and as much from God as he could have

God already said he would go with them, so we might expect a rebuke to this request

Instead, God says yes!  God gave Moses what glory he could see

We don’t know what Moses saw, but it was a taste of heaven, not more of earth

God’s answer in v19 makes sense when we think of it in terms of covenant restoration

God told Moses he would reveal his “goodness” and proclaim his “name”

God goes on to declares that his mercy is not taken, he must give it

Can we make a request like this of God?

What does it mean for us to be shown God’s glory?

We already have the glory of Christ revealed!  (John 1:14)

We already have the glory of the Holy Spirit given!  (John 7:38-39)

Although we have these glories, they can fill us more fully

Like Moses, there is glory we cannot see now (it must wait for Jesus’ return)

Like Moses, our life has room for God to fill and overflow

Our request should be: “Lord, may your glory be fulfilled in me today”

The glory of Christ for us is the character of Christ in us (1 John 3:2)

The glory of the Holy Spirit for us is to be led in the ways of Christ’s kingdom (John 16:13-14)

We experience God’s glory in the fulfillment of God’s purposes:

When we overcome sin, apply God’s Word, strengthen other believers, exercise our gifts, take joy in Christ, are used for the gospel, and set aside half-heartedness

What do you want from God?

Do you want more of Him in your life?

IT’S THAT KIDS SUMMER CAMP WEEK FEELING

2014-06-16-vbs2We were thrilled to be able to work with your children this week during our Kids Summer Camp.

And we are just as proud of our many volunteers who are deeply committed to showing Christ to each child that attended.

Yet, as packed as this week has been, we have an exceptional Children’s Ministry staff and program that is in action all year long. Whenever you have an opportunity (at Greentree or at your church), please THANK them, PRAY for them – and just maybe, JOIN them!

The above comic from Adam4d.com honors all who served this week

MARRIAGE RETREAT

Listening and Talking

We all know good relationships can’t happen unless we get these things right, but getting them right requires just the right blend of gospel-grace and practical down-to-earth instruction.

Tim Shorey will be leading us through a better understanding of these essentials to a strong marriage.

The retreat will take place Friday, September 26 – Saturday September 27 at the ocean front El Coronado Hotel in Wildwood Crest. Enjoy breathtaking ocean views from your balcony or relax by the pool, in the poolside hot tub or on the beachfront sundeck.

There is nothing like a walk along the beach to practice listening, talking or just being quiet together skills!

The early registration deadline is August 3rd, so don’t delay in signing up

Registration includes One night hotel accommodations, Breakfast, Coffee Breaks, Conference room rental, and all Conference Fees.

Couples can share 2 and 3 bedroom suites to significantly lower your cost. Each couple in a suite will have their own bedroom and a private bathroom.

A microwave, refrigerator & coffee maker are in every unit.

Follow this link to register and find out more information about the retreat schedule, speaker and hotel.

 

THINKING ABOUT JESUS

Jesus    Jesus     Jesus 

Every Christian knows Jesus

And we have lots of complimentary things to say about him

But can we say our heart is brimming with love for him?

Do we have intensity in our desire to serve him?

I have long noticed that the Puritans of years ago wrote with strong impassioned language in their thoughts about Jesus.

Why did they have a passion that the Church today often seems to miss? I think one reason is because they actually thought a lot about Jesus!

It is really a simple concept

Jesus is thoroughly glorious and all his works on our behalf are wonderful. So if those whose hearts have been opened to him by spiritual birth will think long and deeply about him – those opened hearts will become overflowing hearts

Try reading Scripture with the attitude of trying to learning what Jesus is like.

List the many names for Christ in the Bible (a Google search can do that) and think about the implications of each one.

Read good books that stretch your thoughts about the person of Jesus Christ.

But the KEY is to then let your thoughts flow over what you know about Him. Be freshly amazed and offer him praise for the staggering list of reasons why we should.

Here are some thoughts that encourage my heart about Jesus:

Jesus saw the open rebellion of this world and still came

Jesus, the eternal Son of God, humbled himself to born an infant

Jesus joined himself forever to a human nature

Jesus was rejected by those he came to save, but he didn’t leave

Jesus took every trace of my guilt away – forever

Jesus bore the complete brunt of the Father’s wrath, so I would never know what it is like

Jesus fully understands the struggles in me that I find hard to explain to others

Jesus loves me as much as he loves His heavenly Father

Jesus knew me before the universe was created

Jesus is always right here

Jesus is the most wonderful person to ever live and I will meet him

When all humanity and angelic beings bow before Jesus, I will be there

I will see Jesus’ scars of love for me

I will hear the sound of Jesus’ voice say my name

I will feel the arms of Jesus embrace me

Jesus, Jesus, Oh how wonderful He is and will ever be to us!

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR DEVOTIONS

I am not excusing half-heartedness!

And I do not want to make it easier for anyone to rationalize skipping over prayer and reading their Bible

But, there are some days when events and overslept alarms make it virtually impossible to settle in for devotional time with our Heavenly Father.

Although the physical reality of having no time may have caught you, remember that the spiritual realities of the world you’re about to enter also want to catch you – and that is a reality with real teeth.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” 1 Peter 5:8

We simply cannot afford to go off into our day without any preparation.

So, what to do?

Do something to worship God and bow your knee in humble submission before Him

Read a short Psalm with your bagel

Recite what you appreciate about the gospel while you shower

Sit down for just 3 minutes to praise God for being Lord and ask Him to lead you through the day

Replace talk radio with a worship CD – and sing out loud with it

Work on memorizing a verse while you brush your teeth (a famous Bible scholar works through theological books 2 pages a day while brushing his teeth)

The point is to do something that orients your heart and mind toward Christ and his kingdom. He has no desire for you to thrash yourself with guilt because your schedule went ballistic. He wants you and he knows you need him.

Devotions are not a duty to appease God; it is much needed time with God who treasures his relationship with you

Now if you commonly find that you have no time for time with God – then change your schedule!!

Get up earlier, go to bed earlier, change your routine or just stop fooling yourself that it is about your schedule. If we rarely spend time with God it is a HEART issue and nothing less.

ARE YOU TOO CHRISTIAN?

“Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?”

One of the other pastors on our team recommended an article with this title from the Desiring God Blog that asks us to look at how engaged we are with people who don’t know Christ.

The point being made is vital,

If we have no connection with unbelievers, how do we reach them?

The article by Rick Segal also makes the point that it can be difficult to develop new connections when we are uncomfortable with what people believe and with how they live.

Segal’s article ends with a few helpful suggestions for being used by God in reaching people around us who need the gospel.

Any article is worth reading if it helps us to think through what keeps us from sharing Christ and provides good advice on steps that will help us become more gospel effective.

Please read it!

 

THE “I AM” IS HERE

Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”  Exodus 3:13-15

On Monday evenings this summer, women from our church have been listening to the teaching series by Paul Tripp, “Women Helping Women”.  We are learning that through God’s grace we will often go through storms in our lives to help us to know that we are not alone. God takes us through these storms so we can see his glory at work producing in us what we could not achieve on our own.

The I Am is the most important name for God in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus claimed he was the I Am.  The power of this name shows us that God is always there, that He is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, He does not change, He is all powerful.

Paul Tripp says:  “It is impossible for you to ever be in the storms of life by yourself because your life has been invaded by the grace of the one who is the I Am.”  Our hope is not in situations, locations, or people.  By His grace we have hope because the I Am is here.

“When you are facing things in your life that are too difficult to solve, say to yourself, ‘I am not in this moment alone.  Because my life has been invaded by the grace of the one who is the I Am’.”

What a great word picture.  “The I Am has invaded our lives.”  He saved us when we wanted to push Him away and fight against Him and He has conquered our sin and lives within us.  We are now His possession and His children.

When it seems that there is no hope in your marriage, say to yourself. “The I Am is here!”

When the sickness in your body seems like it has won, say out loud to yourself:  “My life has been invaded by the grace of the one who is the I Am.”

When problems arise with family, your job, your finances, remind yourself repeatedly that “The I Am is Here, I am not in this alone.”

The I Am is here, the I Am is here, the I Am is here.  And the I Am is the source of our hope.

OOH, I WANT THAT!

Shiny, fun, better, more exotic

Each day we are given reasons to desire what we don’t yet have

Old, worn, flawed, insufficient, ordinary

And just as often, we are tempted to find discontentment with what we do have

People don’t have to love God to recognize that wanting is a beast whose hunger is never fully satisfied. But as those who do love God, we are to recognize that discontentment is a sign that our heart is not completely filled up with joy in Christ and his kingdom.

If Christ is ours, we should be content.

For Christ is “God with us”. This one with us is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace”. He is described as the “radiance of the glory of God”. And it is declared that he will forever be “King of kings and Lord of Lords”.

And in Christ, God has “lavished” upon us the “riches of his grace”.

The reason we can have Christ and still not be content in him, is because we still need as Paul writes, to have –  

“the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” (Eph 1:18-19)

However, even for Paul who understood a great deal more than we do about theological truths, contentment was a reality he said he had to “learn”. This means that even for spiritual giants, owning contentment is a gradual process with peaks and valleys.

So how do we make progress in learning to be content?

Change the ratio of what you talk about with God!

What I mean is that we should spend more of our prayer time telling God how wonderful He is (in specific ways), than telling God how bad our problems are. Thank God more profusely about the riches of the gospel than complaining to God about our lousy life.

One of the obstacles to our having greater contentment is the content of our talk – both to ourselves and to God.

Yes, your life right now might be lousy, and I have no doubt that you have Alpine Mountain size problems. But, the gospel in us surmounts them all, outlasts them all, and will deliver us out of them all – forever and ever, Amen!

Next time we say, “I want that!”, wouldn’t it be a good thing if we could be talking about contentment?