Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sunday Snippets on Thursday

I missed church on Sunday because I was at the beach.  But I finally got to listen to the sermon today so I figured I would do a little Sunday Snippets on Thursday post.

We are continuing our sermon series on how to be transformed by The Gospel.  We are spending a week on each of the five outward signs of the inward renewal the Gospel brings.  Just a reminder those five outward signs are:

1. Prayer & Bible Study
2. Character
3. Community
4. Evangelism & Missions
5. Generosity

Reminder this is not a list of things you must do to be transformed by the Gospel.  These are things you will naturally start doing when you've had that inward transformation.  It doesn't happen overnight (at least for me it didn't.)  And it doesn't come naturally or easy, but these are things you will start gravitating towards and doing once you have truly realized what Christ has done for you. 

What is the Gospel?  That we are all- everyone of us- sinners.  And the penalty for sin is death.  But God loved us so much that he sent His son Jesus to pay that price for us.  He died on the cross to pay the price for my (and your) sins.  Once you admit that you are a sinner and realize you can't save yourself just by trying to do better or be a better person and you finally admit it and let go and give your life over to Christ (follow him and his ways) in thanks for paying your price with his life on the cross- that gratitude and amazement will overwhelm you at times.

Those 5 signs listed above are just outward signs indicating that inward transformation has taken place.  Kind of like you know you have the flu- the outward signs are a stuffy nose, cough, fever, aches and pains, etc.  Those outward signs are your indication that you have been infected by the flu virus.

Last week the focus was on Community.  Here are some quick bullet points of the main take-aways I had from the sermon and our small group study:

- You must be involved in a local church.  I know I used to say my relationship with God was a very personal thing and I didn't need to be involved in church or even attend church to have God be a part of my life.  The thing is God shouldn't just be a part of your life.  God gave you your life.  Jesus saved your life.  Your whole life should be theirs and you can't have significant growth and support without the community of other believers to build you up, pick you up when you fall, and hold you up when you can't stand.

- When you go do a mega-church it can be hard to feel like you are truly a part of it.  I struggled with that for almost 2 years at my church.  But you have to BE a part of it to FEEL like you are a part of it.  Join a small group, volunteer, go on a mission trip, introduce yourself to people.  If you just hurry into service and hurry out of service every Sunday you will never feel like you are a part of it because well, you kind of aren't.  You're kind of just a spectator at that point.  Building real, deep, relationships in any area of your life is not easy.  It can be downright painful.  But if you really want it and you are intentional about me it is so worth it! 

- Some people are followers of Jesus like they are followers of Justin Bieber on Twitter.  You don't really know Justin and he has no idea who you are but you like to check in on what he is up to or suggests every once in a while.  You are a fan, could even be an acquaintance, but have no meaningful relationship with him.  That is not the way to be a follower of Jesus.  Followers of Jesus have real relationships that go beyond surface level with Him and with other followers of Him.

- We talked in my small group about how we all segment our friends.  We have our work friends, our church friends, our fun friends, our high school friends...and we hardly ever intermingle the different groups and may behave differently around each of them.  A healthy way to build a stronger community would be to intermingle the groups.  The girls beach trip I took last weekend did that well.  It was a bunch of girls from different areas of my two church friend's lives.  We all got along splendidly.  I know there is fear when intermingling groups or introducing new people to a group, because group dynamics are super hard to figure out.  And when it goes bad, it can be really bad.  But I am going to try to get better at this.

- Confession: when I joined my small group I was like WTF is this?  I thought I had nothing in common with the other girls, it was such a pain to do the homework and give up 2 hours of my weekday night for the meeting, I thought I was the stupid one in the group and had stupid questions, I thought everyone was judging me...I hated it.  For about 6 months.  I really hated it.  But things started to change.  I started getting more comfortable.  I started to get to know some of the girls even better.  Some of the things I thought of as really weird I just accepted as being different.  I seriously LOVE my small group.  I make it a priority in my week.  Just like exercise, I have to force myself to go some weeks, but it brings so much to my life.  We are far from the perfect small group but it amazes me the things God has done in our group.  If you are not in a small group at your church I highly recommend it.  If your church doesn't have small groups, get your friends together for a bible study on a regular basis.  Trust me you will be amazed at what God can do through community.

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