12 miles

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What is 12 miles? The distance that many of the members of this church walk, one way just to get here.

You see this is the only church in the area. This culture is very pedestrian in the sense that many of them aren’t fortunate to have a car or moto so they walk. Even so 12 miles one way? So let’s get this perspective. They are almost walking the distance of a marathon to attend church.

Now before you think I’m about to bash those of us who live in the west and give you some speech about how when I grew up we had to…etc. slow down, that’s not my intention.

However, I do want us to investigate the question that in our current mindset, our life of options and conveniences if someone told us we could only go to church 12 miles away and we had to walk would we do it?

Do we love the gathering that much? Are we that committed to the cause of Jesus, His Church, that we would walk it?

Seriously, how motivated, how inspired, how spiritually hungry, would we have to be to make that walk?

Are we that excited and motivated about our relationship with God, are we that moved by our love for our church? Are we burning with the spiritual hunger and passion enough to take that walk?

As I write this to you, I’m challenged in my own relationship with God? Am I that hungry for him? Am I committed to that level?

Again, it is not my desire to condemn you or make you feel bad, it’s a question I’m asking us.

Warning: before we make excuses like…

Well they don’t have the distractions we do, true, there distractions are more like roads that are dirt and difficult to traverse.

Well, they don’t have all the options we do, don’t get this twisted, they are human and can easily choose other things that are more convenient and make for a much easier day.

I could go on but let me stop and make an observation. Our blessing doesn’t make us bad, and their lack doesn’t make them good, and that’s my point.

I didn’t say every African goes to church, and I didn’t say every African Christian would walk or has to walk twelve miles.

What I’m saying is this is not an externally religious obligation that motivates at this level. It’s an internal heart motivation based on a relationship with the one who has saved our lives.

The question I’m asking myself and the question I want you to ask yourself is our relationship with God and His Church worth a twelve mile walk?

God give us the heart that we would walk to the end of the earth for you.

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Only Believe 3

Mark 5:35-36 msg

While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.” 

Intro:  Jesus instructions here imply that faith is the antidote for fear, cynicism and doubt. We treat faith as if it is the result of not having those things. The reality is, however, that faith is what chases those things out of our mind.

Jesus statement to Jairus seems to say think faith, then Jesus models for him how faith works.

1. First think faith (chase the negatives out)

2. Speak faith (the girl is sleeping)

3. Act in faith (little girl rise).

These 3 components are still at work in the function of faith today and are very practical and easily applicable to our lives and daily circumstances. 

Hebrews 11:7 MSG

By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God. 

3 components to the effective, practical function of faith in our lives

1.  Think faith

This is where the battle is. The war of faith is waged and won or lost in the mind. 

Turn off the influencers and informers of doubt. 

Well meaning doubt dealers

Those married to mediocrity 

The status quo police

The defenders against danger

The incredible insecure. The ferociously fearful

Turn on the flood gates of faith

Put on the mind of Christ 

Renew your mind to the word of God

Know who you are and who’s you are

Meditate on Gods truth

Consciously chase negative, doubt filled, fearful thoughts out of your mind.
 
Romans 12:1-2
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 

Psalms 1
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. 

Joshua 1:8
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

Phil 4:8
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. 

2.  Speak faith 

Faith is meant to be declared, stated, spoken. 

There is the component of your mind and heart but also your mouth. 

Speaking faith is a powerful tool, saying what you believe builds faith and has power. 

Genesis 1:3-5 MSG
God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared. God saw that light was good and separated light from dark. God named the light Day, he named the dark Night. It was evening, it was morning— Day One. 

Mark 11:23,24
For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. 

Proverbs 18:20, 21 MSG
Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. 
      
 3.  Act in faith (obedience)

Single greatest activator of faith is obedience.
Act on what you believe, what you know to be true. 

Its excellent to think faith, wonderful to speak it, but obedient action takes faith to another level

James 1:23-25 NKJV
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. 

Gods Heart Beat

 Acts 13:20-22 MSG

 “Up to the time of Samuel the prophet, God provided judges to lead them. But then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, out of the tribe of Benjamin. After Saul had ruled forty years, God removed him from office and put King David in his place, with this commendation: ‘I’ve searched the land and found this David, son of Jesse. He’s a man whose heart beats to my heart, a man who will do what I tell him.’ 

Matthew 6:9-13 AMP

Pray, therefore, like this: Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors. And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 

Note:  the basic definition according to God of having a heart like God, having our heart beat with Gods heart beat is about obedience to God. 

Obey:

to follow the commands or guidance of to conform to or comply with, to submit to

>David stood out to God because he had a submissive heart and a pliable will. David stood for what God stood for, loved what God loved, because he loved God

>The search:  its interesting to me that God goes on a search to find a man who’s heart beats with his. I wonder today if God begin a search, when His eyes lit upon us would he find our hearts beating with His heart or would He find our hearts in doubt, fear, rebellion, distracted, status quo, mediocrity, or compromising?

>There is no doubt that doing the will of God requires submission on our part, but God has given us the ability to choose. 

>Something to think about:  When we go our own way, and move away from Gods way life is not better. There is a lie out there that if we do things Gods way, if we Aknowlege His will in our lives, if we submit to his authority, our lives will horrible because he’s out to get us.

>It’s like saying the only reason police exist is to give us tickets and make our lives hard. Not seeing the reality that the objective of the police is to protect us and make our communities safe. 

The Challenge:

Romans 7:14-25 MSG

I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more ! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.

Romans 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and Death.

Galatians 2:19-20 MSG

What actually took place is this; I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work.  So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man.  Christs life showed me how, and enalbled me to do it.  I identified myself completely with him.  Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ.  My ego is no longer central.  It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to imporess God,  Christ lives in me.  The life you see me living is not”mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I am not going to go back on that.

>The Best Life is the God kind of life.  A life submitted to Christ and His will for us.

BIG QUESION:

How do we acquire a heart like Gods?

1.  Pray
      
            1 Thessalonians 5:17 AMP

            Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]

            The Lords Prayer is a great guideline of how we should pray.

Worship the father
Submission to His will
Requests
Forgiveness and forgiving
Ask for direction
Deliverance/spiritual warfare 
Submitted praise

  2.  Meditate on the word of God

     
Joshua 1:1-9 MSG

And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” 

Psalm 1:1-3 MSG

How well God must like you— you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon, you don’t slink along Dead-End Road, you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College. Instead you thrill to God ’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night. You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom. 

Romans 12:2

Don’t be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may be the proof of what is good, acceptable, and perfect in the will of God. 

3.  Fast

Daniel 9:3 AMP

And I set my face to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting and sackcloth and ashes; 

1 Samuel 7:5, 6 AMP

Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray to the Lord for you. So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the Israelites at Mizpah. 

Joel 2:15-17 AMP

Blow the trumpet in Zion; set apart a fast [a day of restraint and humility]; call a solemn assembly. Gather the people, sanctify the congregation; assemble the elderly people, gather the children and the nursing infants; let the bridegroom [who is legally exempt from attending] go forth from his chamber and the bride out of her closet. [None is exempt from the humiliation.] Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; and let them say, Have pity and spare Your people, O Lord, and give not Your heritage to reproach, that the [heathen] nations should rule over them or use a byword against them. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God? 

OUR PURPOSE:

That we as a church will fully develop a heart like Gods

That we will become desperate for the salvation of our family, friends, city, area and world. 

That our nation will turn its heart toward Jesus

Praying, meditating on Gods word, and fasting are all things we should do as individuals, but there are times that God calls us as a church to Fast and pray together. As I prayed about 2014 I really felt impressed to lead the church in a time of Fasting and prayer.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What are you expecting God to do
in your life as an individual through this fast?

What type of fast am I going to commit to?

What would you like for the church to pray with you about during this fast?

LAST THOUGHT:

Fasting should always be done in conjunction with prayer and bible meditation. 

   

We are Family 3

The Exchange”

Ephesians 1:5 NLT

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

I 18:3-5 NKJV

Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt. So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. 

Note:  I truly believe that all humanity craves relationship.  As we have stated before in this series God created man to have relationship with Him first and foremost, but then he also created us with a need for others.  We weren’t created to be alone, or isolated, or without true, real family and friends.

>Have we trivialized Friendship, have we minimized the relational aspects of family?

True, deep, meaningful relationships are what we are all in need of and what we are all seeking.  We all want and need someone who we can trust, have confidence in and with whom we can be confident.  Someone with whom we can be completely honest and vulnerable, holding nothing back.  Someone who does not seek to judge but to love, Somone who is not set to destroy but to protect.  Somenone does not enable but holds us accountable.

One of the greatest concerns I have for our present and especially our future generations is that we seem to be increasingly disconnected.  

At what point can we truly be real with one another?  

At what point will we quit observing life through technology and start living life through deep, vulnerable, real relationships.  

DONT MAKE THE MISTAKE:

Please hear me well when I say, I am not telling anyone to have deep, vulnerable relationship with everyone.  If we are to truly benifit from this kind of relationship it has to be a trusted, two way, real, relationship.  There has to be an exchange.

Jonathan and David, made an exchange, that was initiated by Jonathan.  Their relationship is the personification of the covenent relationship God has for us, and that he wants for us together.  

>Jonathan and David Loved each other.  Friendship at this level is like having a second self.

>Jonathan and David lived for each other.  Friendship at this level is to defer to the other for their benefit and betterment.

>Jonathan and David had a covenant.  Friendship at this level is much more than a human contract this is a spiritual connection that binds the relationship togeher based on faith not fear.

COVENANT is the GREAT EXCHANGE

Jesus Did the exact same thing for us.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 MSG

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you. How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God. 

1.  Jesus made a covenant with us.

He exchanged his Majesty for our Humanity

He exchanged is Dignity for our humility

He exhanged our filthy rags of sin, for His righteous robes.

He was the sacrifice, He shed his blood, He Knew no sin, but became sin, so that we might become righteous.

He made the covenent eternal with His commitment to Never leave us or forsake us.

2.  Jesus wants this kind of covenent between the members of His family.

To Love each other as we do our own soul

To live FOR each other

To commit to care for, to fight for, to get vulnerable with, to have confidence in each other.

3.  Jonathan and David were not blood relatives but were blood brothers but the blood of the covenent and the Exchange of Love.

We are Family.

When people see you they see me
When people see me they see you
When people see us THEY SEE JESUS

Do you want a friend that sticks closer than a brother?  Are you looking for love, real love?  Do you desperately need someone to be on your side?  JESUS and His Family Are YOUR ANSWER.
 

Love, Loyalty, and Life Together

Ephesians 1:5 NLT

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.
 
2 Samuel 23:13-17 MSG

One day during harvest, the Three parted from the Thirty and joined David at the Cave of Adullam. A squad of Philistines had set up camp in the Valley of Rephaim. While David was holed up in the Cave, the Philistines had their base camp in Bethlehem. David had a sudden craving and said, “Would I ever like a drink of water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem!” So the Three penetrated the Philistine lines, drew water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David wouldn’t drink it; he poured it out as an offering to God, saying, “There is no way, God, that I’ll drink this! This isn’t mere water, it’s their life-blood—they risked their very lives to bring it!” So David refused to drink it. This is the sort of thing that the Three did. 

The flow of family

The relationship between David and these three leaders of the mighty men was pure family. There is no other real way to describe it. 

These men loved David and he loved them.  They were all loyal to the same cause. They all lived their lives together. There is a respect, a selflessness, an honor that exist at a certain level of relationship that just can’t be replaced by any other thing. 

>That is Gods expectation for His family.

Family is all about what we see here in this passage of scripture. Love, loyalty and life together

I think its remarkable that when Father God saved us and made us His children, He also, put us into family, knowing that we need each other. 

At the very beginning when God created Adam, he looked on creation and said everything is good except one thing. “It is not good for man to be alone.

Genesis 2:18 NKJV

 And the Lord God said, “ It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 

He created us to belong. We have a need, an internal need to connect with God and others

>Our culture has taught us to be very individualistic but it’s just pure fact we are better together. 

We are family. 

The three things that fuel family are Love, loyalty, and life together 

1. Love

>Deference to other members of the family
>Sacrificing for other members of the family
>Caring, above comfort, and convenience, for others in the family

Family love inspires us to prefer the other members of our family before ourselves.

2. Loyalty

>Not merely a commitment to each other, but more importantly a commitment to the common cause of the family
>Loyalty to what the family is about, which results in a tremendous loyalty to one another. 

David was loyal to God and his greater cause of the kingdom. As was exemplified when he refused to touch Gods anointed even when he had motive and opportunity. It was easy for these men to be loyal because they had seen loyalty in their leader. 

Thought: being loyal to the cause and not merely the person mingles with our love and helps us to see past imaturities, and childish behavior.   

3. Life together 

The family of God is not just some acquaintances, connecting around a statement of faith. We are spiritual relatives bonded by the sacrificial price of Jesus blood. We do life together. We are here for each other. We are family.

We truly need each other. We need to know we can depend on each other. We need to know that someone is watching out for us. 

First Big Question:  are we honoring the Spirit of the family of God by being this kind of family?

Second big question?  Do you have spiritual family today?  Real, true family? Jesus family could be that family, this family could be that family. 

Find out more at http://www.yoursummitchurch.com

The family is here waiting to love you.

We are Family 1

“Everybody Needs Somebody”

Ephesians 1:5 NLT

God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Romans 8:15, 16 NLT

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 

Psalms 68:6 NLT

God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy…

Galatians 6:10 NLT

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

There is a basic need in every human on this planet, everyone wants to belong. 

Family is all about, especially Gods family is all about belonging, it’s all about unconditional love, love that cares. It’s all about being a part of something special. About having each other’s back. It’s about crying together, laughing together, mourning together, celebrating together, operative word being TOGETHER. 

1.  Family means to belong

>Knowing that you are not alone in life
>Knowing that there is somewhere and someone you’re connected to. 
>Knowing that we matter to someone

2. Family means unconditional love

>Love that loves no matter what
>Love that cares
>Love that accepts you where you are but cares too much to leave you there

3. Family means we are here for each other

>I’ll take care of you, you will take care of me
>We pray for each other
>We sacrifice for each other

Family is what Jesus made the church to be, the family of God. Jesus chooses us, adopts us, and places us in family, to belong to him and to each other

The family of God is the safest, most loving, caring place to be. We all want to be a part of something special, this is that thing. 

This is not about joining a church this is about being spiritually connected. The only way to be a part of this family is to be in relationship with our father, which happens by simply accepting and following Jesus. 

If you are a part of this family, lets realize and function in the benifits of it, and if you are not, this is a place where you could belong. 

Born for Faith

John 18:37 NKJV

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 

I Corinthians 13:13 NKJV

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 

The birth of Christ was the single most intentional and purposeful act by God sense the creation of the world. Jesus was absolutely born for a cause. And he has been very clear about what that cause was, but just as God himself is multifaceted so to was His purpose in sending Christ. His ultimate purpose was and is the salvation of mankind, and yes mankind does need to be saved. However there are many facets to this idea of salvation. A part of the cause for Jesus birth is definitely to establish faith in God. Not faith in an idea, philosophy or religion but a consistant confidence and trust in God. 

Misconceptions about faith:

Cosmic clause:  God is not our Santa Clause blessing us based on some naughty or nice list or handing out wants and desires like some kind of genie in a bottle

Faith in self:  Its not enough nor can you be saved to believe in yourself. Its great to have self confidence but beyond that we are bound by human limitation.

Faith in philosophy or man made religion:  we can look around us and see how that’s going

Faith in faith:  its not enough to just believe. What you believe in is far more important than just believing. The power is not in believing, the power is in whom you believe.

Hebrews 11:1 AMP

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. 

Hebrews 11:6 AMP

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. 

>>>Jesus came to restore faith in God, to trust in, rely on, and adhere to God.<<<