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A JESUS FOR THE (UN)CHURCHED

Mar 26, 2017

 Jesus for the (un)Churched
Luke 4:16-44
Pastor Duane Smets
March 26th, 2017

I.   Jesus & Church Pastors
II.  Jesus & Church People
III. Jesus & Church Power
IV.  Jesus & Church Preaching

This year as a church we’re trying to get to know and understand Jesus and His mission better, so we’re working through one of the four books in the Bible that was written about His life and time on earth, the one written by Dr. Luke.

Last week, we basically finished up his introduction. You know how when you buy a book or get one from the Library, there’s an introduction before the first chapter? That’s kind of how Luke’s book is set up. It took us six weeks to read and work through it but now the introduction is over and we’re heading into what’s basically chapter one today.

It’s mid-chapter 4 in the way the numbers of the Bible are set up but this week’s section is really the first time we see and hear Jesus in action. Up until now, it’s been all this stuff happening to Him…his birth, his baptism, his battle with the devil in the desert. But today, with the chunk of text we’re going to look at are some of the very first scenes of Jesus of what took place when Jesus started His preaching, teaching and healing ministry.

What we’re going to see is four different scenes where the first things Jesus does is work in and based out of the church. Each scene happens either inside of a church service or right after a church service. We’ll see this word “synagogue” and that’s the old school word for church. The idea of church did not originate with Jesus but had been happening every week for hundreds of years in gatherings of people called a “synagogue.”

Now, what we’re going to see is that the leaders of these old school churches weren’t really that stoked on Jesus and that the who, what and the why of the church, according to Jesus is not at all what the people of Jesus’ time expected…and I would venture to say, is often not what we may of think and expect today. Jesus' church might be very different than a lot of our common conceptions and perspectives are about church.

It’s for that reason that I titled my message today, “A Jesus for the (un)Churched.” We’ll read the text in a second but before we do I kind of want to set it up or set us up with this question, or rather a few handfuls of questions…

What is church? Who’s it for? What is church supposed to be about and be doing? Why is church sometimes a good experience and sometimes a bad one? Why is it hard to come to church or be a part of a church? What makes a good church and a bad church? Why do churches have music and sermons and do all the weird stuff they do? I’ve got a whole slew of questions about church that are good questions I think to ask and to work through. Do you remember your first church experience?

I think they’re especially important in our day and age because the reality is fewer people are going to or are part of churches today than there has been in a long long time. Statistics say only about 40% of Americans report regularly going to church. But most of them are what experts call C.E.O. Christians, where they really only show up on Christmas, Easter and a few Other Sundays during the year. Really only about 20% of Americans regularly worship with God’s people on a weekly basis. Sixty years ago the rate was 80%.

Journalists and researchers from a number of different newspapers and organizations have collectively began calling it “The Great Decline.” Every year it is reported in the US that 4,000 churches close down. 2.7 million church members leave or fall into inactivity. Half of all churches have not added any new members in the last two years. And of the ones that do grow or are adding new numbers the majority of those people are simply transfer growth…people who were a part of another church but made a switch or a change and transferred over.

Is that crazy to you? It should sound crazy. Actually, it should sound pretty depressing. Essentially what the data is telling us is that the popular perspective of American people is that “church sucks.”

And really it shouldn’t surprise us. It shouldn’t surprise us because here’s the deal. Probably almost every single person here in this room has either been a part of or been to some other church before this one. If you haven’t and this is the only church you’ve ever been to or been a part of, then congratulations! You win!

Now, that’s it’s not all bad. I’m not at all suggesting that any of you should necessarily go back to the church you came from or that any of you are never allowed to leave. There are good reasons at certain times in your life to make a church change.

The real reason I’m bringing this all up is because I’m not so sure Jesus would disagree with people who have left churches and as a result have a bad taste in their mouth when in comes to church. Jesus in the story Luke has a very bad church experience and so He sets out to revolutionize it and re-center the church’s place, purpose, and power.

So today, if you’ve had a bad church experience in your life…like maybe even just coming today was challenging and difficult because of the things it triggers in you, negative memories and hard things you’ve gone through…I want you to know a few things.

1. Jesus Himself knows what that was like. 

2. A lot of other people here know what that feels like.

I’ve been reading this book “(un)Christian” by David Kinneman this week. It’s about the perspective of Christians and churches from people who are either not Christians or used to be but are no longer. He says people think we’re:

Hypocritical - Where we say one thing but live something entirely different.

Insincere - Where we are just manipulative trying to get people to “be saved!”

Anti-homosexual - Where we hate people who are gay, bi or transgender.

Sheltered - Where we are boring, unintelligent and out of touch with reality.

Too Political - Where we are really about the goal of making a Christian nation.

Judgmental - Where we think we are better than everyone else.

I’d probably add racist on to that list too. But I can assure you today that what we’re going to see from Jesus on what the church is and is to be about has nothing to do with any of these things. In fact, some of these things are the very things He confronts and takes on.

3. If you’ve had a bad experience there is hope.

I believe God can and wants to redeem your experience so that you can come to know His life and His love and how His church is meant to be a great means through which we experience His goodness in our lives.

That’s my prayer for all of us today. That we would be the kind of church Jesus means for us to be…a good church full of His goodness and grace.

I know that was sort of a long introduction but with that let’s go ahead and read our text for today. Why don’t you stand with me in honor of this account of Jesus being words God had recorded for all time for our good.

Luke 4:16-44
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph's son?” And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, he went away.

And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

And he arose and left the synagogue and entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was ill with a high fever, and they appealed to him on her behalf. And he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her, and immediately she rose and began to serve them.

Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. 

• Pastoral Declaration: This is the Word of the Lord.
• Congregational Response: Thanks Be To God.
• Pastoral Prayer

Alright. I’ve got four short points for us today to look at from the experience, people, activity and words of Jesus today about the church. So let’s talk briefly about Jesus & Church Pastors, Jesus & Church People, Jesus & Church Power, and Jesus & Church Preaching.


I. Jesus & Church Pastors

This point is from the first scene in our text. Verse 16 says, “As was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day.” This was Jesus’ custom, throughout His life and ministry, to go church on the day of worship.

Some people think that Jesus came to abolish the church and just introduce some new just me and God type of religion. It’s actually the contrary. Jesus was all about church, went regularly, and meant for church to be “fulfilled”. That’s the word Jesus uses in verse 21. Jesus means for the church to be all God intended it to be and for churches to be filled with people who know and love God.

Now at this point, Jesus has identified Himself as a rabbi and because of that is given opportunity to be the guest preacher for the day. And He picks a passage from the Bible from Isaiah 61:1-2, which is what good preachers ought to do, to preach from the Bible, but He says something quite unexpected in His sermon from the passage.

The passage He preaches from talks about a certain person who God would send to proclaim or preach good news to the poor, the captives, the blind, the oppressed…and that this good news would tell of the Lord’s favor.

Everyone is a little bit taken aback by this. Verse 20 says everybody’s eyes were fixed on Him. This passage caught their attention.

Then after reading and talking about it, Jesus says in verse 21, “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Which is a way of saying I am the person this passage of the Bible is talking about. In saying that Jesus is saying, “I am the Lord’s anointed. I will preach good news to the poor, the captive, the blind, the oppressed and through me God will extend His favor to mankind. 

The church leader’s, the pastors of the day, their reaction to Him is not good. Verse 22 says they essentially flatter Him, giving Him false praise, but their facetiousness is revealed with their mocking jest, “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

Now if you were here last week then you might remember how we talked a bunch about one of Luke’s themes and purposes in his book is to show how Jesus was and is the true Son of God. He shows it in Jesus’ birth narrative, in Jesus’ baptism, in Jesus’ family tree… And then last week we saw Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness where twice he says to Jesus, “If you really are the son of God… then…”

So these pastors are kind of doing the same thing the devil was and Jesus sees right through it and launches into this tirade, using passages and stories from the Bible to condemn them.

First, Jesus aligns himself with a group of prophets in the Bible who turned out to be really sent from God, but the pastors of the day didn’t believe them and actually had them put to death. Second, Jesus tells two stories, one about a poor widow and one about an oppressed leper, where two different prophets, Elijah and Elisha ended up ministering to them. And neither the widow or the leper were Jews like the pastors of this church were.

Jesus’ not so subtle accusation is that the pastors of this church really don’t know and love God, are serving the devil and are racist men who only care about themselves and their own position and power. His charge is that if they really were godly men then they would recognize Jesus as God’s anointed Son and be ministering to the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed people of the world instead of just Jews who thought they have it all together and are better than everyone else.

Jesus’ charge against them is serious and they get it. They realize the magnitude of the accusation Jesus is making and it they get furious because of it. They get so mad they try to kill Jesus by throwing Him off a cliff. Kind of funny, Jesus’ first recorded activity nearly results in Him getting Himself killed…think that’s a little picture of what would come? I think so. But it wasn’t Jesus time yet, so He mysteriously slips away.

So that’s scene one. Makes it kind of scary to be a pastor. But not really because Jesus makes it really clear about what kind of pastors His church leaders are to be. They’re to be pastors who recognize who Jesus is, that the whole of their lives is about pointing to Jesus as God’s anointed who gives us good news and that the way they do that is by taking care of both the physically and spiritually poor, captive, blind and oppressed.

For us here at The Resolved Church, none of our pastors are here for our own glory. This church is not about me or any other person except Jesus. That’s why we made our second core value, “The Jesus Story”. We are all about who Jesus is and what He has done.

And second, we see ourselves as servants of the people. The synagogue or church leader used to be called either "the rabbi" or "the priest". That’s one of the things Jesus changed. He said the leaders should be called pastors, which means shepherds who care for sheep…it is a term that focuses on a care for others, not the elevated position of the leader.

You see the church is meant to be more like a hospital for broken and hurting people than like a club for those who have it all together. That’s the kind of churches and pastors Jesus wants. Not hypocritical, insincere, anti-homosexual, sheltered, political, judgmental and racists pastors and churches but welcoming and gracious ones.

And let me ask you this…deep down, isn’t that the kind of church you really want to be a part of? Welcoming and gracious. Isn’t that the kind of leaders you want? Isn’t that the sort of thing that really is worthwhile to invest your heart and your time and your money in? I think so.

May God help us to be that kind of church and to be those kinds of leaders.

Well, after this scene Jesus goes to work putting His money where His mouth is and starts doing what He says He came to do, so let’s move onto our second point, “Jesus & Church People” and check out what kind of people Jesus means to bring into His churches.


II. Jesus & Church People

In the next four scenes, we see Jesus interacting with a wide variety of different people. First, this crazy demon possessed dude, then a dude's mother in law, then a group of sick people, and then a big crowd. Some of them are people He’s interacting with at church, and some are people He ministers to outside of church

In Jesus’ sermon we just looked at, He laid out a wide scope of people, for whom the Gospel, the good news is designed and intended. And that exactly what we see Him doing, giving Himself to wide variety of people. Essentially, what church is, is people. And Jesus and Jesus’ church is meant for all kinds of people. Think about each type he ministers to here.

First the demon possessed dude. We’ll talk about demons and miracles in our next point. But for now, let’s just say the demon guy is a wierdo. I mean he’s yelling and shouting crazy stuff. At minimum we could say he doesn’t really fit the mold. He’s a little off. Maybe has some serious mental issues? He’s socially awkward. Maybe He smells or dresses funny?

What Jesus implicitly teaches us and shows us here is that there is a place and grace for those kind of people. I’m so proud of our church and our people. You might not know it but every Tuesday night, there’s a group of about 10-15 homeless people who show up here and we feed them, love them and do our best to minister God’s grace to them and tell them that Jesus cares. If you’d like to get involved in that, hit up the connect booth and they can hook you up with Josh Stillwell who runs that ministry.

But it’s even more than just homeless people. It’s constantly being willing to welcome new people into our midst. It’s so easy for us as a church to get comfortable in our friendships and get kind of closed off where it’s hard for new people to break in. Don’t do that. Do your best to welcome people into your homes, community groups, and into your lives…even if they may seem different than you. I’ll tell you this principle, God most often will use people who are different than you to change you and grow you in the way you need to.

Second here we’ve got Simon’s mother in law. Simon is one of the dudes who we’ll see next week became one of Jesus’ disciples. So what we’ve got here is a picture of us caring for our own as family. When one of us gets sick, we pray for one another. When someone is in the hospital, like one of our band leaders last week, one of our pastors went to visit Him. When you have a baby, we love to make meals and bring it to you. When you can’t pay your rent or mortgage, we step in and help. That’s what it means to be Jesus’ people in Jesus’ church...caring for one another as family.

Third here is a group of sick people, who verse 40 says had various diseases. Now most, not all, of these were probably physical sickness, but as we’ll see in Luke, sickness and disease can also stand for spiritual sickness which we all have due to the damage and brokenness that sin brings into our lives. Each a picture and a need. 

What we see here in Jesus is that there is healing from Him. In every one of the physical healings Jesus performed He did it in order to minister to the person’s greater need that of their heart and soul.

This is one of the reasons why we do community groups here at our church. When you get together regularly for a meal and start talking about your lives and your story and the person of Jesus and His word, God uses that to begin to heal your soul. Verse 40 puts emphasis on Jesus’ touch saying, “he laid his hands on them.” He was up close and personal

God means for us to be the loving hands of Jesus and to get personal. Where we use our gifts to minister to one another the healing work of Jesus in our hearts. We may not be able to perform these supernatural physical healings like Jesus but we sure can perform supernatural spiritual healing as we love one another with all we’ve got.

Lastly, in 42 we see this crowd of people pursuing Jesus, who are interested in Jesus. When we’re doing the work of Jesus it creates a widespread appeal and attraction. The ministry of Jesus in and through His church is meant to happen in both smaller settings and larger gatherings.

That’s one of the reasons why days like today, Sunday’s are important. Sunday is our biggest door for people to walk through and be interested in Jesus. That’s why it’s good for all of us to show up and welcome people in, so that they might hear the welcome of Jesus.

With Jesus, all people matter. People who are different. People who are family. People who are sick. All kinds of people, everyone. Jesus is a savior for all. And He means for His churches to be churches who reach out to and welcome all.

That’s the goal of our church. It’s why our third core value is simply, “San Diego”. We want to engage and reach as many people with the good news of Jesus as possible. It’s exciting to be a part of. I’m so glad I get to be part of such a wonderful church doing so many things to follow Jesus in being the kind of church He calls us to be.

No matter who you are, what kind of background you come from, regardless of whatever you’re dealing with, I want you to know…there is a place for you here.

We, as the church really do have something to offer. Jesus has blessed us with His grace and with His power. Let’s talk about that for just a few minutes in our next point, “Jesus & Church Power.”


III. Jesus & Church Power

With this point, I want to call attention to a repeated theme in a number of the scenes in our text today…the theme of Jesus’ power.

Verse 32 says people “were astonished at his teaching for his word possessed authority.”

Then when Jesus frees this demon possessed dude verse 36 says the people “were all amazed and said to one another, ‘What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!”

Last week we looked at Jesus interactions and encounter with the devil. I made a point saying that Jesus as the divine son of God was the first man not to fall prey to Satan’s temptation since Adam, the first man who gave in. Because of that, when Jesus defeated the devil, He broke the power of Satan’s reign over mankind and introduced the possibility of freedom from the damaging effects of sin, our own sin and the sin done to us.

What we have in our stories today is an outworking of that. Verse 14 of chapter 4 says Jesus left the desert time with the devil in “the power of the Spirit” and then went to work.

Now I know that in our day and age talk about the devil and demons can just sound like a fanciful myth. But the truth is that just as much as right and wrong are not just things from an ambiguous moral code, but things that happen in the context of relationships between human beings. So the sources of right and wrong must come from a personal being.

The story of the Bible is that right and wrong comes from the person of God and that evil and violations of what is good and just comes from Satan who was once a good angel, who wanted to be god himself. So he rebelled against god, taking a third of the angels with him who became his demons and has been wreaking havoc among the sons of Adam ever since.

Part of the purpose of Jesus’ coming was to overthrow the kingdom and power of Satan and to institute the in-breaking kingdom of God and His power. Jesus in these stories demonstrates His absolute authority and power as the Son of God over demons and disease.

One of my favorite authors of all time is a dead guy who was a pastor and theologian named, John Stott. He wrote what is probably my favorite book on the cross titled, “The Cross of Christ.” In it, he has a good explanation of what I’m talking about. He says,

“People tend to have either an excessive preoccupation with the devil or excessive skepticism about his very existence.” But that he believes there is an “immensely powerful, evil and cunning being who is called the Satan or the devil…who God through Christ has won victory over and conquered his evil.”

He talks about six stages of conquest:

1) The prediction of Satan’s defeat in the garden,

2) The beginning of Satan’s defeat in the ministry of Jesus,

3) The decisive defeat of Satan on the cross,

4) The declaration of Satan’s defeat in Jesus’ resurrection,

5) The message of Satan’s defeat in the ministry of the church and,

6) The consummation of Satan’s defeat when Jesus returns.

In speaking about the beginning of Satan’s defeat in the ministry of Jesus he says this, “We see Jesus kingdom advancing and Satan’s retreating before it as demons are dismissed, sicknesses are healed and disordered nature itself acknowledges its God.”

Then speaking about the ministry of Jesus’ church today he says, “The conquest is extended as the church goes out on its mission in the power of the Spirit, to preach Christ crucified as Lord and summon people to repent and believe in Him.”

Now all of that might sound a little heady to you. And that’s okay. But let me simplify a bit for us. Earlier we looked at Jesus’ sermon. Jesus said part of His mission and His design for the church is to proclaim liberty for captives.

What sin, both our own and the sin done to us does is make us captive. It constricts us and holds us down and back from being and experiencing the good God means for us. Jesus came to free us from that bondage. Jesus came to break the power of Satan’s work in our hearts and our lives.

What John Stott is saying is that it happens simply through turning to and acknowledging Jesus as Lord. At Jesus’ word demons and disease departed from Jesus because they recognized who He was.

The demons were right about who Jesus was as Christ and the Son of God, but Jesus shut them up because He didn’t want them soiling the message, sowing their own wickedness the midst of the truth as though they were on the inside with Jesus. What Jesus is after is an acknowledgment from us that He is Lord, that He came and lived and died on the cross and rose again to pay the price for all of our sin, so that we can be forgiven and freed to walk in a joyous and victorious life.

Here’s what I think. I think too often Christians walk around beat down. Maybe it’s from being abused by a bad pastor or Christian or being part of a bad church. Maybe it’s from being stuck in some cycle of sin. Maybe it’s from something else.

Either way, when we’re beat down it’s because we have not seen the victory of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He grants to us. We’re meant to be happy and free in the name of Jesus!

Stott says that for every true Christian conversion and I would add someone who is following Jesus, he says there is “a power encounter in which the devil is obliged to relax his hold on somebody’s life and the superior power of Christ is demonstrated.”

For the Christian, there is a turning from sin to the savior, a turning from darkness to light, a turning from lies to the Lord, a turning from idols to the living God, a turning from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of the Son. The victory of the Christian is found in embracing the victory of Jesus as their own.

Today, are there things in your life that have got you beat down? Are there places where you feel captive and oppressed? Please know today, there is freedom and healing in the power of Jesus. He loves you, grants you favor and welcomes you in.

Well, I’ve got one last point and it’s a short one. It’s simply, Jesus & Church Preaching.

IV. Jesus & Church Preaching

The point comes from the last two verses of our passage. I had to add this short fourth point because these two verses are just too powerful and clear, verse 43-44.

[Jesus] said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. – Luke 4:43-44

You can’t find a clearer statement from Jesus Himself on why He came to earth. He came to preach the good news of the kingdom of God.

It’s been said that God only had one Son and He made Him a preacher. Jesus, the preacher’s message is…

There is good news for the poor, both the physically poor and the poor in spirit.

There is good news for the captive, those bound by their own physical and spiritual limitations…guilt, fear and shame, there is an answer.

There is good news for the blind, those physically and spiritually cannot see.

There is good news for oppressed, there is freedom from all the things and ways people have mistreated and hurt us.

There is good news and the good news is that the favor of God is extended toward us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. There is favor.

Jesus said He must preach. Jesus must preach. He must be preached because we must hear. Our hope is in the message He brings. That we might hear it, believe it and be saved and changed by it.

The preaching Jesus wants in His churches is preaching that says He is the savior, that no matter who you are and what you’re dealing with there is something He can do about it. Jesus came as a servant to minister to us.

So how do you need Jesus to minister to you today? What of His word of grace and favor do you need to pierce your soul?

There’s a hymn we sometimes sing here called, “Come, Ye Sinners.” The first verse says,

Come ye sinners, poor and needy
Weak and wounded, sick and sore
Jesus ready stands to save you
Full of pity, love, and power

That’s all of us. Poor and needy. Sick and sore. But Jesus stands ready to save us and welcome us with His pity, love, and power.

Conclusion

We started out the sermon today talking about the decline in church and those who have had a bad experience in church.

What we’ve seen and heard from Jesus today is that He means for His churches to be places where we meet with God, hearing and experiencing His love and favor to us.

If pastors and or people from church have hurt you I just want to say I’m sorry. I know that’s hard. I’ve been hurt a lot from church people and I know I’ve been on the other end of that equation at times. It’s part of the mess we live in with church being a group of fallen sinners who hurt each other at times. There is no perfect church but there is a perfect Jesus. 

The good news is Jesus has provided a remedy for it and we have an opportunity to be and become the kind of church He calls us to, to welcome all kinds of people in, not because we’re better but because we’re all giving ourselves over to Him to be healed and to help each other become more like Him.

One of the ways we do that is by receiving tangible elements of Jesus gift of His life and death to us in what we call the Lord’s Supper. We take a piece of bread as His perfect powerful life and we dip it in the wine or the juice as His blood shed on the cross in order to heal us and save us from all that has wrecked and ruined us.

Another way we do that during this time is by both the giving of our money and praying for our money to accomplish God’s work. It took money for churches back in Jesus’ day operate just like today and so the Bible teaches that everybody is to give just a little and then all together that takes care of the whole.

The principle is that money enables ministry to be accomplished. It’s a way we express the generosity of God and partner with His work. If you’re still new around here, don’t worry about it, but if you’re a member or have decided this is your church home and you haven’t given yet this month I want to encourage you to do so.

We trust the Lord for $56,000 to make it each month. This is the last Sunday of the month and we’re 68% of the way, so if everybody today gave like $20-30 we’d be set. And if you have already given this month, I just want to say THANK YOU.

I know that is a really big deal to give your hard earned money. We feel it in my family but we give not only because we believe it’s biblical but because we believe in this work and we actually find a lot of joy in giving. We pray as a family every night for our church’s finances. It’s a blessing.

Well, why don’t you go ahead and stand with me. The way we’ve been transitioning in our time where we respond and come to the Lord’s Table is with a word of confession we all read together and then a word of God’s pardon and assurance.

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