Sunday, November 18, 2018

Here am I. Send me.

As an introduction to this continuation of the message series, "Witness," Pastor read Isaiah 6:1-8.  Isaiah confesses he is a man of unclean lips, the angel lays the coals on his lips, the question is asked by the Lord, "Who will go for me?" and Isaiah responds, "Here am I. Send me."
Why do we witness?
     1. It is to and for the glory of God.
     2. It is God's mission.
     3. It is to build and expand the Kingdom of God.
He has commanded us to go.  We are to spread the Gospel message, connecting people with Jesus Christ; we are to grow in our relationship with Jesus, sending people out with the Good News!
The promise:  "I will be with you."
Acts 1 relates the giving of the Great Commission and the Ascension of the Lord.  This is the turning point of the Scriptures. We are responsible for bearing the message to those closest to us. 
What are we doing about it?
We are responsible for bearing the message not only to those closest to us, but to those who are "not like us."  What are we doing about that?  Who are the "Samaritans" in your life? They are your neighbors.  Within a radius of 25 miles from Tipton there are more than 80,000 people who do not know Jesus.
"A hurting world need the love of Christ, and what are we doing about it?" --JB

Luke 4:18,19:  Jesus reads from the Scriptures:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,      
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Again, The Great Commission, Acts 1:8
What's your excuse?
 Too old?  Abraham and Sarah; too young?  David and Samuel; baggage too heavy? Paul; cat got your tongue? Moses; not "educated" enough? too scary?  Which excuse is a good excuse?
 John Wesley said, "It is my duty to declare to all who are willing to hear, the message of salvation."
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Great Commission

The lesson is taken from Matthew 28:16-20.  16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  (NIV)

The level of engagement

When the disciples saw Him they worshiped Him  (v.17a)  This is the point at which the disciples were "all in."  They are fully engaged.  Recognition and acknowledgement of who Jesus is; but also the recognition of who they themselves are.

"But some doubted. . ." (v. 17b) The disciples were all in but some followers on the fringes had doubts.  A true disciple is all in, will do anything to follow Jesus.

How engaged are you to the call of Christ to His mission? 

Jesus recognized that the disciples were ready; He gave them the Great Commission. (vv. 19,20)

What does it mean to be fully engaged in Christ's mission?

1.  Connect people with Jesus (v.19)  People are hungry for a relationship with Jesus.

2.  Growing in our relationship with Jesus. (v20)  Christ accepts us but wants us to become more like Him.  
We are called to live Holy lives.

Each person is responsible for his own spiritual development.  Make self available to the means of grace provide by Jesus Christ.  Spiritual growth is best nurtured in community.  The scriptural imperative beginning "you" could best be interpreted "y'all."  We are in this together.

3.  Sending people out with the Good News.  The imperative "Go." (v19)  We are sent. Every disciple is called to be a missionary.  The Holy Spirit will equip every disciple to actively share his faith.

Pastor Johnnie Blair 
Sunday morning

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Witness

We are to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.  That  is the crux of the matter.

Some things are perplexing, baffling, and at the same time amazing.  Pastor enumerated some things which fill the bill for him, among them ventriloquism, acrobatics, and the persistence to persevere in the face of defeat, to grasp victory from its jaws, so to speak.

How much more should the moving of God amaze and perplex us!

"The church is God's primary vehicle for bringing His message of salvation to the world."  Amazing (and perplexing)!

Man has tried to eradicate, defame, and persecute Christianity.  Even so the message thrives and proliferates.  Amazing--  and baffling!   Yet He has entrusted the message to us.  Now is that not amazing and perplexing?

It is amazing that God would send His only begotten Son to die on a cross to save us from our fallen and sinful state.  How amazing that a Holy God would do such a thing.

The message still brings hope in the most hopeless of situations.

Read Ezekiel 38:23, 39:21  "I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in many nations, then they will know that I am the Lord."

The Earth is groaning to be redeemed, even in the shadow of the end times.  God is our hope.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  --Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8)
This is the Great Commission.

"I believe God wants to show His greatness again. That will amaze and baffle us.  We are in a very pivotal moment in Christianity.  I believe we are set up for another Great Awakening.  God wants to truly transform lives.  Chains will be broken, we will see people released from bondage and set free in Christ.
"If this is to be, let it begin in me."

May our desire be to witness His greatness. 

We may be tempted to pursue our own fame, our own agenda; we may be tempted to pursue earthly pleasures, seeking to build our own kingdom. 

God forbid.  These do not fit in with what God wants to do.

EVERYTHING WE DO IS 
1.  to and for the glory of God.
     The purpose of the church is to bring Him honor and glory.  Ephesians 1:6, 1:12,14, 3:10.
     Worship will last forever.  Adoration and praise to God is the point.  Hebrews 2:14
2.  God's mission.
     The calling is owned and appointed by God.  All we do is for Him.  It is His mission.  We receive power (Acts 1:8) to do His mission.
     God has a mission.  He gives the vision and the plan.  He .reveal the next step at the right time.  God supplies every provision.
3. to expand God's Kingdom.
    Whether we are known is of no consequence so long as we make Jesus known!

We shine not for our own sake but for the sake of Christ and to connect people with Jesus!

 Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Me to We

"We are called to build bridges and tear down walls; we are not called to put up fences." --JB

Continuing the study in the Gospel of Mark we see that the disciples are selfish, always about self and missing what Christ wants from them as a group.

"They had argued about who was the greatest."  Mark 9:34

THE COMPETITIVE FENCE
The disciples desired that Jesus would put a stop to one outside their circle who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus.  --We are greater mentality.  A fence.

Jesus said, "Whoever is not against us is for us." (v. 40)

THE SECTARIAN FENCE
Those who are not part of our group surely cannot be right.  No,
All born-again followers of Christ are members of the Body of Christ.

 "Whoever wants to be first must be slave of all." --Jesus, Mark 10:44

THE EGOTISTICAL FENCE
The overzealous spirit wants to distinguish itself, puts its own agenda ahead of what Christ wants done.
"People just do what comes naturally."  --Dennis Kinlaw

FROM ME TO WE
There is something we MUST grasp:  We are called to DO together.
When we are for the self we are missing what Christ has for us:  To build the Church.

For the disciples the Shift from Me to We occurred at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them. 
 *****
Too many people like the idea of following Jesus, but are not loyal to each other.
We are to be bonded to each other in Christ. 
"To belong is as important as to be."  --JB
IF YOU LOVE HIM YOU WILL LOVE EACH OTHER.

YOU WERE MADE FOR COMMUNITY

  "This is my command: Love each other." --Jesus (John 15:17)

Action plan
     1.  Get involved in small group; connect with the Body of Christ more than once a week
     2.  Become a member so you can be more actively involved.
     3.  Find a way to serve along side the brothers and sisters.
     4.  Pray that God will send us people who are not like us and that He will send us out to people who are not like us.
     5.  Commit to a weekly time of worship with the group.
     6.  Submit to the authority of the Church.
     7.  Spend a significant amount of time praying for the needs of others.

Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning
 Like to hear this message?  Click here.

"It is places of crisis and community where God will work a change in you."

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sheep to Shepherd

     
 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”   --Jesus the Christ

God calls us out of our comfort zone, calls us to lead.

We first become followers of Christ, we learn to feed on His Word, then He calls us to come alongside others.

The scripture is Matthew 28:18-20 in which Christ commissions his followers to become leaders, to preach the gospel throughout the world.  Jesus has been given all authority and He transfers the authority to teach His saving gospel when he says "Go!"  This is accompanied by His promise to "Be with you unto the end of the age."

We share with others what Jesus has done for us; the Holy Spirit takes your testimony and works in the hearers' hearts.

"Being a shepherd is messy; it's hard work."

How to move from being a sheep to being a shepherd.
     1.  Seek:  pray that God would reveal those faces and names who need to hear.
     2.  Be willing to speak truth into lives when given the opportunity.
     3.  Shepherd:  be willing to walk alongside a new believer.

Jesus wants us to step out and pour into others.
Pastor Amanda Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Ask to Listen

John 10:27  "My sheep hear my voice."
Isaiah 55:3  "Hear and your soul shall live."
Revelation 3:20  "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me."

Jesus wants us to hear Him.

When Stephen testified to the Sanhedrin they refused to hear him; Zechariah prophesied and the people refused to listen.  The Isralites wandered forty years in the desert because they refused to listen to the voice of God.

Today there are so many voices that we hear the Word preached over and over, and yet we do not hear the Word.  In the scripture lesson, Mark 4,  we read "listen" (v.3), "hear" (v.9) and "hear" (v,20)
Our capacity to listen is a measure of how good we are as disciples.

In the ninth chapter of Mark we read of Peter, James, and John, with Jesus on the mount when Christ is transfigured, revealed in his glory as God everlasting and there appears with them Moses and Elijah, the greatest prophets  of the faith who ever lived!  Yet stunned and terrified as the disciples were Peter interrupted and proposed the building of shrines.  Then spoke the Voice from Heaven and said, "Listen!" to My Son.
James 1:19  "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak. . ."

The call to listen is foundational and imperative for every disciple.   First and foremost as disciples we are called to hear every word!

Ours is a culture of asking questions.  We need to listen more.  When we are asking we want to "fix."  We need to have God's directions.   Take it in, soak it up.

When we ask we want to know; when we listen we understand God's control.  Force yourself to be still before God and listen.    "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord" (Psalm 27:14)

Shift from asking questions to listening to His voice.

How the Lord speaks.
     1.  Through His Word, the Holy Bible.
     2.  Through people.
     3.  Through situations.
(Anytime God speaks to you through people or situations, it will be verified in the Word.)
  
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Consumer to Steward

The scripture lesson is Mark 10:17-25 in which the rich man encountering Jesus tells the master how good he is then asks, "What more must I do?"  Jesus looks on him with love and compassion and tells him he must turn loose of everything and "follow me."  The man went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.  The saddest story in scriptue.

What kind of disciple are you?  Look at the way you handle your possessions.
What do you value most?  What if God asked you to surrender it?

No matter how many times we fail Jesus looks on us with love and compassion.  As with the rich man, Jesus goes to the heart of the matter, "Sell all, take up the cross, and follow me."  This is a Divine invitation to be a disciple:  "Walk this road with me!"  The man in the story went away sad because he had great wealth. 

"I wonder about us."
Jesus, do you really require that much?  "We have forgotten how radical is the call to follow Jesus."
Wealth can blind our moral sight and lead to spiritual bankruptcy.  If you are comfortable with the call to discipleship, you are not there.  The call will make you very uncomfortable.

God is demanding something incredible of you.

To be a steward is to manage someone else's property.  What we are given belongs to God.  We must handle them appropriately.
     1.  We are to steward our time.  We may be so concerned with "me time" that we miss the opportunity of a lifetime.
    2.  We are to steward our abilities.  Whatsoever talents we possess, spiritual or physical, we give to God.
    3.  We are to steward our physical and tangible resource.   Eternity will be empty and void if all you do is accumulate things.  You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer
    4.  We are to steward our Salvation. Must feed ourselves, get into the Word, read the Word in prayer.  Take responsibility for your spiritual health.

How do I develop a spirit of stewardship?
     1.  Develop a spirit of gratitude.  
     2.  Develop a spirit of generosity.  Shift from being a consumer to being a steward!

 


Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday mornnig

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Seen to Unseen

The Call to Open the Eyes to the Spiritual Realities which have Always been there.
 
The scripture lesson is Mark 10:46-52 in which the blind man, Bartimaeus, approaches Jesus and asks for his sight.

The shift from the seen to the unseen is like being cured of blindness.

The unseen is eternal; fix your eyes on Jesus! (2 Corinthians 4:18)
Open your spiritual eyes. (Ephesians 1:18)
     We have two sets of eyes: physical and spiritual.

In 1 Kings 6 we read of the Syrian king who was troubled that his forays against Israel always failed, suspected a spy in his midst.  When he was told the problem was Elisha, he inquired as to the man's location, determined to go to Dothan to dispose of the prophet.  When Elisha's servant saw that they were surrounded by the Syrian forces, he moaned, "Alas, Master, how shall we do?'  Elisha replied, "Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see."  (vv. 16,17)  Then the man's eyes were opened and he saw the Lord's host surrounding them.

If we want to see the unseen, when we are healed of blindness

1.  We discover we are not alone!
2.  It requires a shift in our values.    (You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.) We will be required to step out of our comfort zone.

How to shift.

1.  Pray .  "Give me eyes to see what is unseen."

2.  Believe.  ----In the unseen Kingdom.

3.  Focus.  Quit looking at the problem; get your eyes on Jesus.

4.  Confess.  "Have mercy!"  confessing, "Jesus, I need you!"

5.  Listen.  Study the Word, attune yourself to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

 Pastor Marc Watkins
Sunday morning

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Slave to Child

The Third Message in the Series, "Soul Shift."

The Scripture lesson is a continuation of the conversation Jesus had with His disciples, as recorded in the ninth chapter of Mark's Gospel.

--Some have forgotten who they are--
      They conflate their identity with what they do.

--Some have forgotten whose they are--
      Their spiritual experience is based on religious practices; trying to make God proud of them
You are unimpressive
if your religion is base on performance.  There is nothing you can do to earn God's approbation.

"Some are good at being childish, but really bad at being children of God."

Could it be that some of the most devout people among us still need to change?  Are we living up to the true potential that Jesus expects?  "Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” --Mark 10:15 

--The expectation:  "Just be with Me!"

"The older we get the more chains and shackles we carry around."

God is a Father, a father who knows his children.  God is not a reflection of your earthly father, He is the original Father.

 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. --Galatians 4:4-7

 The Father is not stuck with us, he chose us!
He is Daddy; we are his children.

 Enslaved:

1.  In bondage to rules.  He did not choose us to exchange one form of slavery for another.   He sets us free!

2.  In bondage to what people think of us. If you are living to please others you are an imposter.

3.  In bondage to addictions.  (We wouldn't recognize ourselves without them.)  Christ wants to set us free!

Solution:
It's all in the conversation!

Be attuned to the small whisper of His voice.  Read the Word.  Meditate on it.  Slowly, no hurry; let the Word penetrate.
Your Heavenly Father wants to communicate with you.
 "If you aren't hearing Him, it is not because He's not talking, it's because you aren't listening."  

Drop little notes of love and appreciation to God.  Acknowledge that you have heard His voice!

It's in the conversation!
 
Pastor Johnnie Blair
Sunday morning

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Prudence

My physical therapist often told me, "Listen to your body!"

Today I was worrying a stump with an axe, ninety degrees, sunny.  After a time, not specified, my body clearly said, "One more whack with that axe and I WiLL kill you!"

The rest of the stump will still be there another day.

(I used to work eight+ hours on the job, go home and split wood for two hours before dinner.  "Used to" was a  wonderful stage in life, was it not?)