Thursday, November 20, 2014

Give Thanks- Part 2

This week at Wednesday Night Worship we wrapped up the "Give Thanks" series.  We opened up with a worship set that included "Happy Day" (Tim Hughes), "My Heart is Your" (Kristian Stanfill), and "Waiting Here For You" (Christy Nockels).  I gave a brief review of the previous week's message and we again read Luke 17:11-19.  In this passage there are 10 lepers that have been healed.  Nine of them go on with their lives, but one returns and offers thanks to Jesus for healing.  We have to ask ourselves if we are like the nine or the one?

As we consider this question, we must first realize that if we are saved that we have been healed of something far much worse than leprosy.  We have been healed of our sin that has separated us from God.  When we realize what a wonderful thing that this is, we should offer a response.  Our response should be to show Jesus how thankful we truly are.  The one leper modeled this as he returned to Jesus.  True thanksgiving is offered at the feet of Jesus.  

So what does this look like in the life of a believer?  It means we give ourselves fully to Him.  We do this by giving our time, our efforts, our service (through spiritual gifts), and by giving our finances.  If we are all-in for the kingdom of God like we say we are then it will be reflected in our giving.  Following Jesus must cost us or it is not truly following Him.  I challenged the students to prayerfully consider what sacrificial giving to the kingdom of God looks like in their own life.  It may mean that there are some things they can do without:  entertainment, eating out, coffee, video games, music, hobbies, etc.  By doing so they will establish a healthy habit of giving now.  If we say we will give later, like most things we will really never get around to doing it.  

It is easy as a teenager to think that they do not have much to offer.  Probably most of them do not work a job.  However most receive money in other ways:  allowances, rewards, gifts, etc.  They can still give a portion as God leads them and it will be used for God's glory.  We read Luke 21:1-4 about the widow who only had two small copper coins to give.  It was not much, but she gave out of her heart.  I told the students that if God leads them to give only $5, that He will honor it.  God is more concerned with the heart behind the giving than the amount given.

We closed in a time of prayer asking God to show us what we can sacrifice to give back to Him.  I told the students that if they have questions, need to talk more about this topic, or need prayer that I am here to help them work through it.  I left some of the "All-In" commitment cards for the students to grab as they left for them to fill out and turn in at our Thanksgiving service this Sunday.  It always excites me to see the students stepping out in obedience to God and I am excited to see how they respond to this.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Give Thanks- Part 1

This week at Wednesday Night Worship we began a 2 week series called "Give Thanks."  We began the night with a worship set that included "You Are the Fire" (Michael W. Smith), "My Heart is Your" (Kristian Stanfill), and "Hosanna" (Hillsong United).  We transitioned by watching a funny video set at a family's Thanksgiving meal.  They ask the young girl who is about five years old to bless the meal and she prays a very long prayer giving thanks for everything from food to bubble gum to Barbie dolls, and finally to her wonderful family.

I started off the message talking about some of our favorite Thanksgiving meal options.  Some foods stated were turkey, corn, mashed potatoes, and even something I had never heard of called sloppy-joe casserole.  I talked about how when you get the first plate of food, the first bite tastes so good.  The second plate tastes pretty good as well.  However, there comes a point when you start to become full and each bite become less tasty.  Another way to put it is that each bite has a diminished value to you.  We experience this in many ways others than just in eating.  We all at one time or another have received a gift and considered it the greatest thing ever, but over time it loses its value to us.  We begin to become less grateful for it.  If we are not careful, we can easily develop a habit of this and become less thankful for what is in our lives.  Then if this becomes a habit for us, we begin to develop a sense of entitlement.  We begin to think that we "deserve it" and are not thankful anymore.  Some questions I asked the students to consider were:
1) Has my thanksgiving/gratitude in general diminished?
2) Has my thankfulness for salvation in Jesus diminished?

We read Luke 17:11-19 where Jesus heals the 10 lepers.  Jesus heals all 10, but only 1 returns to show his gratitude.  The 9 may have been so concerned with returning back to a normal life that it was more important than showing their gratitude for their healing.  If we are saved, we have been healed from a disease that is far worse than leprosy.  Our sin has been removed and we are healed.  How much more so should we fall at the feet of Jesus and show Him that we are thankful.  However, we often allow the value of salvation to us diminish.  Maybe over time we begin to be less thankful that Jesus saved us from death.  

We closed with a time of prayer and examination.  I asked the students to search their hearts and see if they have allowed this to occur in their lives.  If so, I challenged them to pray asking forgiveness and to pray what David wrote in Psalm 51:12 "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation."

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Spiritual Gifts- Part 2

This week at Wednesday Night Worship we wrapped up a series on Spiritual Gifts that spanned over Sunday School and Wednesday Night Worship for a couple of weeks.  We began the night with a brief recap and I handed out to everyone their spiritual gift inventory that they began the previous Wednesday night.  We spent some time completing them and/or time in prayer.  When we joined back together we looked at Psalm 67:1-7.  This psalm of worship makes the plea that God would be made known throughout the earth.  We were created to bring God honor in all that we do.  We bring Him honor in making Him known as we allow Him to work through our spiritual gifts.  I spent some time giving descriptions of each spiritual gift and how they are used in the body.

I closed by challenging the students with this thought:  "God blesses us to be an abundant blessing to others."  I asked the students to consider who in their life introduced them to Jesus.  It could have been a parent, grandparent, friend, pastor, teacher, etc.  I asked them to consider where they would be without that person introducing and pointing them to Jesus.  If we are all-in for the kingdom of God then we are to also point others to Jesus by using our spiritual gifts.  We spent time in prayer searching our hearts, asking the question if we are all-in and ready to be used by God.  After a few minutes I read Jeremiah 1:6-8 and we sang a worship set of "Oceans" (Hillsong United) and "Forever Reign" (Hillsong).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Spiritual Gifts- Part 1

Back in the summer I had some conversations with students about how they were seeking to see how God wants to use them.  I knew it would be a good idea to do a series on spiritual gifts and planned it into our fall teaching schedule.  Then as I was printing Sunday School curriculum a couple of months ago I discovered that we would also be covering spiritual gifts for 2 weeks in Sunday School.  I thought it would be good if they coincided and was going to move the WNW series to line up.  However, what I discovered was that they already lined up without me having to change anything.  I love it when God works things out like this!

We began the night with a worship set that included "Relentless" (Hillsong United), "God is Able" (Hillsong), and "Battle Cry" (They Came Running).  I began the message by talking about the All-In initiative that our church is currently a part of.  I am incorporating it into our WNW messages during this period.  We all have to ask the question of whether or not we are all-in for the kingdom of God.  One way that we can be all-in is by serving God through our spiritual gifts.  We read Matthew 13:44 the parable of the hidden treasure.  There are two ways we need to think about this verse.  First, we need to look at the man as Jesus, who gave up everything so we could be made right with Him.  He did this by laying His life down for us on the cross.  He did it with joy because we are His prize.  Second, we need to look at the man as ourselves.  We are to pursue God wholeheartedly, serving Him with our best.  We do not do this in order to be saved, but because we are saved.  

It is easy to think though that we are not equipped to be all-in for God.  However, there is one part of this verse that we tend to overlook.  This verse says that he sells "all", but we fail to remember that his all was already supplied to Him by God.  God Himself equips us with everything we need to pursue Him, follow Him, and give back to Him.  One way He does this for believers is through spiritual gifts.  We spent the rest of the night working through a spiritual gift inventory to reveal to us the areas that God has gifted us in to serve Him.  I encouraged the students to be honest, and not answer about how they want to be.  I also told them that if they are not a Christian, then this does not give true results because the Holy Spirit does not dwell in them.  Several of the students completed theirs but not everyone.  This next Wednesday we will complete them and make application.