God extends love to our enemies…then asks us to do the same

October 2, 2011

 

How does God feel about our enemies?

You could hardly find a more violent enemy that Saul was to the early church.  Not only did he join in with the persecution and murder of Christians, he also hunted them down in other cities for the purpose of attacking them.

But something happened to Saul on the road to Damascus in the hunt for Christians.

Jesus encountered Saul in the form of a bright light and told Saul that he was now going to work for Him.  The light also happened to knock Saul down and blind him.

And then, Annanias, a faithful disciple of Jesus in Damascus, was asked to go and pray for Saul so that his sight could be restored.

After some struggle, Annanias went and prayed for Saul, a great enemy of the church!

Again and again, Jesus asks Christians to pray for and love our enemies.  We never know what will happen.  Sometimes, we may have the opportunity to join in with a divine reconciliation!  Just like Annanis did with Saul.

Who are your enemies?  Who opposes you?  What if we ask God to show us His divine plan to love them?  And then what if we pray for them along those lines?  And then what if God asks us to be part of the piece of love that brings reconcilation?  Just like Annanias was.

Check it out ahead of time at  Acts 9:1-19.

Come and join us on Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT in shared space at 5413 Blue Ridge Cutoff, as we share a Sermon called “God extends love to our enemies…then asks us to do the same”.

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God’s Heart for Government Officials

September 22, 2011

 

How does God feel about government?

Is government a demonic conspiracy, a necessary evil, or an institution that was created to bring God glory–both now and in the future?

We will touch on that a little bit this Sunday in our discussion about the account in the Book of Acts regarding the Ethiopian Eunuch.

But mostly, we will talk about God’s heart for government officials.

Throughout the Old Testament, it turns out that many of the heroes of the faith actually had their biggest spiritual impacts while working in the government profession:  including Joseph, David, Daniel, Nehemiah, and Esther.

It will be interesting to keep that in mind as we are reflecting on the account of the early church in the Book of Acts.  This Sunday, we see the first account of God’s dealings with a govenment official in the newly born church.

Read it ahead of time for yourself. I think you will find that Acts 8:26-40, which will be the centerpiece for our discussion, is a beautiful story about God’s love for a government official, and the opportunity the man Philip had to be a key instrument in communicating God’s love to him.

Come and join us on Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT in shared space at 5413 Blue Ridge Cutoff, as we share a Sermon called “God’s Heart for Government Officials”.


Will Work for Love

September 4, 2011

 

Why work?

For money, for something to fill our lives with, for purpose in life?

God has a different plan!

When we work in partnership with God, our work comes into alignment with what God works for:  Love.

Feeling frazzled?  Just find out what God is doing…and join in!  Learn God’s rhythms and unhurried style…and work for Love!

If you would care to look ahead, feel free to review Matthew 11:28-30, which will be the centerpiece for our discussion.

Come and join us on Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT in shared space at 5413 Blue Ridge Cutoff, as we share a Sermon called “Will Work for Love”.


God Converts an Act of Terror into a Triumph of Love

August 3, 2011

 

As we have been studying the Book of Acts, we have encountered prayer, preaching, and supernatural healings.  We have also taken note of ongoing persecution of the early church.

In this week’s reading, we will witness the account of the first murder of a Christ follower.  Although Stephen’s position was a food server, and not a preacher or evangelist, he was the first Christian martyr in history.

While some might have expected the violent oppression to quench the fire of the young church, Stephen’s reactions actually turned an act of terror into a triumph, and have served as a model for Christians facing persecution worldwide down through the ages. 

(By the way, an estimated 70 million Christians have paid for their faith with their lives–a staggering 2/3 of these in the last century!)

Here are some of the questions we will answer this Sunday:

o How does persecution of the church fit into God’s plan?
o How does God prepare the church for persecution?
o How does Stephen demonstrate he has been freed from fear of death in this passage?
o How does God put Love on display through the gruesome details of the murder of Stephen?

If you would care to look ahead, feel free to review Acts 7:54-60, which will be the centerpiece for our discussion.

Come and join us on Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT in shared space at 5413 Blue Ridge Cutoff, as we share a Sermon called “God Converts an Act of Terror into a Triumph of Love”.


Touching Japan this Mother’s Day

May 8, 2011

 

The crisis in Japan due to the 1-2-3 punch of the Earthquake-Tsunami-Nuclear Power Plant is far from over. Even though the intense media attention has shifted from Japan to other hot spots around the globe, the impact continues as Japan reacts to the devastation:
  • Confirmed dead over 14,000.
  • Missing or unaccounted for almost 11,000
  • Currently Displaced over 125,000 persons.
In conjunction with our Mother’s Day Celebration today, we feel compelled to take some time to “press in”  to pray for Japan and to take the step of writing out words of encouragement and love that will be translated and sent in the next days.  We want to share God’s love with everyone we touch, and especially the Mothers of Japan and those who are now without Mothers.
 
Here is a note from Lauren Ray, who has been heading up our effort to Touch Japan:

“Happy National Day of Prayer everyone! As we head into the weekend, I just wanted to remind you all that I will be collecting your letters to Japan THIS SUNDAY. These letters will help to encourage, console, and hopefully lead some hurting people into the healing arms of JESUS! 

Please don’t hesitate to ask them questions and get a conversation going. As far as I know, Mio would love to translate as many letters as we have. If you don’t feel like writing, or don’t know what to write, please pray for those writing: that the Holy Spirit would guide their pens, pencils, and crayons, and for those who will be reading, that God would prepare their hearts to receive Jesus. 
 
If there is anything that you would like to include in our package to Japan (i.e. cross necklaces, coloring sheets, blankets, food, art supplies, religious comic books, japanese bibles, etc.) please bring them on Sunday as well. Monday I will send these letters to Mio for translating and we hope to have them in the mail next Friday. Thank you! See you Sunday!”

Sharing a Blessing of Love with Raytown on Valentines Weekend

February 13, 2011

 

This prayer was delivered as a Blessing of Love at the Raytown Vinyeard Church on Sunday, February 13, 2011 by Lead Pastor Tim Truesdale:

Our Father who is in Heaven, we pause right now on Valentine’s Weekend and declare that you are the Sovereign God.  You are Holy.  You are mighty.  You are worthy of all of our praise.

We ask that you would reach down and grant us access to the heavenly realms where you are seated.  We ask you to lift us up to your holy throne.  Although none of us is worthy, we ask you to cover us with your love and with the blood of Jesus.

God, on this Valentine’s Day we humbly recognize that none of us is capable of generating pure love without you filling us with your Holy Spirit.  It truly takes God to love God. Come and fill us, Holy Spirit.

We stop to consider your first commandment~which is to love You with all our hearts.  O God, we are amazed at the lengths you have gone to demonstrate what wholehearted Love looks like.  We are amazed every time we think that you would your place of glory to show us how much you love us.  So you could show us how earnestly the Father desired to woo us to Himself.

We say that you have loved humanity so well.  We say that you have loved our country so well.  We say that you have loved our community so well.  We say that you have loved our church so well.  We say that you have loved our families so well.  We say that you have loved us so well.

And our Loving God, at the very center of your call to us, you invite us to direct our entire lives around your love for us, and our love for you.
We are bold to step up and confess today that we have not loved you with our whole hearts.  We have enjoyed brief moments of sweet intimacy with you, and then we have sadly moved on to lesser pursuits.

To be perfectly honest, we have pursued pleasures that are unworthy of those who have experienced the God of Love.  We have pursued “good” things that are not Your best for us.  And we have even been so wrapped up with serving you that we have at times lost track of your primary desire—and your first commandment—for us to love you with all our hearts.

O God of Love, we come before you today with hearts that are aching from great need.  We need you to stir up Love for You in us.  We come as humbly as we can.  Not because of any spiritual achievement on our part, but because of your great love and mercy towards us.

For this personal and corporate shortcoming at loving you less then wholeheartedly, we are truly sorry, we humbly repent, and we seek your loving forgiveness.

In Jesus name, we bless each one who is here today with an overflow of unlimited Love for God, without measure.  Dear God of Love, for the sake of Your Love, we bless each person in our church and community who is need today of a refilling and refueling of Love for you. 

And we invite you to remind us again and again of your word that you have brought us to your banqueting table, and your banner over us is love.

I speak words of Love over our church and our community, I am bold to declare that we will pursue unashamedly to fall more in love with you each and every day, as long as you give us the strength and the Love to continue.

All this we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Falling in Love with God this Valentines Day

February 10, 2011

 

We are amazed each time we consider that all that God requires of us can be summed up in two simple directions:

1)  Love God with all your heart.

2)  Love your neighbor as yourself.

This Valentine’s Day Weekend, many of us will shower tender signs of affection on the people around us who we love so dearly.  There will be many chocolates, flowers, and cards.  Even cupcakes, poems, and a song here and there.

At our worship service on Sunday night, we will be extending the love by sharing tokens of affection for God.  Some are bringing poems, cards, songs, photographs, and even truffles. (Yummy!)  All are invited to bring all their love for God! 

It is our prayer that as each one shares our love for God, it will allow each one of us to fall in love with Him a little more.  After all, that’s the first thing He asks of us:  to love Him with all our hearts!

Come and join us on Sunday at 5 PM as we CONNECT in shared space at 5413 Blue Ridge Cutoff, as we enjoy a Valentines Party for God!