Series Preview – Why God Why?
By Matt Dawson
Watch this video as Pastor Matt discusses the new series beginning this Sunday at Journey which deals with the pivotal moment in our lives when are faced to address our theology of suffering.
What could happen when you devote 21 days in a row to prayer? I’ll tell you what could happen…MORE than what you could ask or imagine.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or imagine.” Ephesians 3:30
I believe God has MORE in mind for you this year than a simple New Year’s resolution.
I believe God has MORE in store for your life than what you experienced in 2018 and before.
I believe the reason we don’t experience MORE, is because we are not ASKING FOR MORE!
We all ask God for what we want…so maybe you are asking Him for more, but you can’t experience more until you GROW to receive it. Even if God has MORE for your life, you need to keep stretching your faith, building your character, investing in relationships, and even making some ironclad commitments before HE CAN GIVE YOU MORE!
It’s called EXPANDING OUR CAPACITY!
This is what we are dedicating the next 21 days of prayer to. Asking God to expand our capacity to experience and produce MORE than what we could ask or imagine!
I hope you are excited to kick off the new year at Journey Church. I look forward to seeing you all this Sunday!
I saw a few people post last week how eager they are to start the new year…even at the expense of just “getting Christmas over with” so the can press into the new year.
I understand. Sometimes it’s been a bummer year and no matter how enjoyable Christmas is – we just want to get on with a New Year.
I also understand if Christmas is not going to be all that much fun this year. Maybe you’re missing someone, maybe family is not getting together, or maybe you’re alone again and nothing seems to be changing.
For those looking to END this year, and GET ON with the New – let me give you a quick challenge.
Spend Time Remembering (Not Ruminating)
Notice the difference. Don’t ruminate on all the good that hasn’t happened and all the crap that did. REMEMBER what God has done for you in 2018.
Even if you went through one of the hardest things in your life this year…He was with you in the midst of it. God can always be seen when we are intentionally looking for Him. Reflect on this past year and THANK GOD for all that He has done.
Lamentations 3:21-23…Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fails. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Like I said, even if you can’t wait for this year to be over, God will still actively be at work in your life. Take time to remember what He has done!
Dreams for 2019 and Beyond
When we did our “Dream Again” series this year, I still got a lot of push back from folks that really live life day to day, week by week, year by year.
They are so overwhelmed with the NOW that they have no margin for the “What If?…”
Before you start making RESOLUTIONS for January… start by reading this verse.
Ephesians 3:20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE THERE IS MORE before you can DREAM ABOUT MORE!
Remember and Dream
These two actions can propel you on a life that you’ve never thought possible with God.
Don’t wish away the end of the year and settle for short-sighted “goals” for the new year.
Remember ALL THAT GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU and then begin to DREAM AGAIN!
‘Tis the Season for laughter, joy, family gatherings, close friends, carols, gifts, cheer, and merriment.
However, we also know that this season is the most difficult season for some. For some, the season brings grief, painful memories, past mistakes, loss of relationships, and feelings of loneliness.
So what do you do when the season of joy is not your season?
You look for absolute Hope!
1 Peter 5:10 In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.
Romans 5:3-5 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
We do not disregard the pain of our lives. We do not ignore the grief in our hearts that results from loss and broken relationships. We are not careless in our current struggles.
However, we are the Children of God. He is a good, good father who will never leave us or abandon us in our times of need. We hold firmly to the truth that God will strengthen us. We cling to a peace that surpasses understanding. We know that OUR HOPE WILL NOT FAIL US!
Christmas is the season in which God restored our relationship with Him through the birth of His Son “Immanuel” (GOD WITH US). It is a season of JOY to all but even more so a season of HOPE!
I’m not sure if Christmas is a season of JOY for you or a season of SORROW. I know that God is WITH YOU!
I know that many people around you may seemingly avoid you during this season because they do not know how to be joyful yet be present with you in your grief and loss. The HAPPIER everyone is around you, the more you will be tempted to ISOLATE yourself and your pain as to not “bring others down.” I pray this prayer for you today.
Romans 15:13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
That even in the midst of this difficult season…you will be filled with Hope by the Holy Spirit!
Racial tension, socio-economic inequality, poverty, first world problems, #blessed. This is a list of buzz-worthy phrases that are typically used to label ways that we experience separation in society. Rather than focusing on how these phrases divide us, let’s look at what they actually have in common?
Regardless of your opinion, regardless of your race, economic status, gender, or academic upbringing, if you claim to be a follower of Christ you are a part of God’s Church. You are capable and responsible to be a part of a Global and Local representation of the church
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:11-13
If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:17
Then Jesus said to his host . . . When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. Luke 14:14
I could list so many other verses in support of this point, but I have personally served in 8 countries and some of the most impoverished cities and towns in America, and I have always been amazed at the generosity and faith of the poor. I have learned far more about trusting and loving God from those who have nothing, than from those who seemingly have everything.
In suburban America, what is our responsibility to God’s church? Is it time? Is it our heart? Is it our resources? How about compassion and generosity? I have very deep personal feelings on this issue, but my feelings and beliefs can never be yours.
I simply ask, “Have you surrendered your worldly possessions to the control of God’s kingdom principles?” If you do not have an answer, then I simply suggest you spend some serious time wrestling with God about what kind of an impact can you be making in this world with what he has entrusted to your stewardship.
I have no intention of quilting you into investing your money or time anywhere. I encourage you to realize that God’s ability to use you far exceeds your home and work environment. Take a moment this week to process if you are experiencing the fullness that God has for you in his global economy. If you need some help and direction in your search, join us Sunday as we talk about the difference you can make globally and locally. We hope to see you then.
Lamentations 3:17-20 I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the Lord.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Read this verse carefully.
Notice all the trigger words that Jeremiah uses to express his unhealthy thoughts that lead to unhealthy emotions. “Forgotten” “Hope Gone” “Remember Affliction, Wandering, Bitterness, and Gall”. The resulting unhealthy life of a soul that is downcast (think depression).
The fact that unhealthy emotions leads to an unhealthy life is not a shocking realization or brand new information. However, we very rarely take stock or reflection of our emotions so we’re not really paying attention to if what we are feeling is healthy or unhealthy.
The big thing I see in Jeremiah’s confession is the fact that he was stuck on remembering all the bad stuff. This is called RUMINATING.
Rumination is the act of repeatedly discussing or remembering negative events, using negative language, and/or replaying even a mildly negative event in your head that only strengthens the connection in your brain between the experience you are focused on and the negative emotions it evokes in you.
Whether you engage in this negative cycle of ruminating over coffee with your best friend or while sitting in a therapist’s office, the results are the same — your ability to change your situation becomes literally limited.
Christ Has Set Us Free
Galatians 5:1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
I don’t believe this is only speaking to the trappings of SIN, but of unhealthy thinking/feeling/living. God wants us to live in freedom and REMAIN FREE to live the life God’s called us to live.
When unhealthy thoughts and emotions rule our lives, Christ is no longer ruling our lives.
I love the way Jeremiah follows up the thought from before. Re-read the above verses and then read these to see how Jeremiah transitioned his unhealthy thoughts and emotions to a HOPE!
Lamentations 3:21-23 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fails. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
What can you do today to shift from RUMINATING on all the unhealthy thoughts and emotions in your life and finally get to a place of HOPE? Great is Thy Faithfulness!
Great Is Thy Faithfulness Lyrics
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
“The Great tragedy that I have witnessed over and over again is that we keep underestimating how much God wants to do in us and through us. Too many of us have believed the lies we have been told: that we are not good enough, we are not smart enough, we are not talented enough, we are just not enough. One of the facets of God that makes Him extraordinary is His ability to do the impossible through ordinary, everyday, common people like you and me. This book has one intention: that whether you win or lose, succeed or fail, live a life of celebrity or anonymity, that when you take your last breath, you will know without reservation that you have given everything you have, everything you are, to the life you have been entrusted with.” Erwin McManus.
I could end my blog right there. As we go through our series, Dream Again, this quote sums up what we are trying to awaken in you. This quote was taken from Erwin’s book The Last Arrow. I LOVE THIS BOOK!! If you have not read it yet, you should read it during this current series. Just as this quote (and the rest of his book) reveals, the manner in which God inspires and uses our dreams/lives can be in power or obscurity, wealth or poverty, success or failure, fame or anonymity. Our role is to discover what God is doing in us and through us!
Later on in the book, Erwin discusses how many dreams are begun by a key leader, but the “dream” must be carried out by “dreamers that are content to walk in obscurity.” What matters is not which role we play, but have we discovered how God has uniquely equipped us to fulfill the purpose he has for us!
This book and our current series reminds me of one of my elders in my previous church. He literally grew up on the wrong hill in Kentucky. He lived a life of extreme bullying. For example, each day he had to cross the river rapids on a homemade raft to get to school. The kids would often sabotage his raft so that he would have to swim the rapids to safety while he was trying to cross (he had many other stories of how he lived on the hill on the other side of the river). As an old man, he was one of the most humble and wise men I have ever met. He knew the word of God better than most of my M. Div. colleagues, yet he lived in what most would call abject poverty. As I was eating dinner with him at his house he said, “Donnie, I wasn’t born to money or intelligence. And this world just needs to learn that sometimes we just need to be content with who are and serve God wholly.” That man lead more people to Christ than I can ever begin to share. He found his purpose, and it wasn’t what the world would call success.
If you want to be inspired, then read this book!! I will leave you with one other phenomenal quote from Erwin. “Before you die, live the life you were born to live!”
‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. Act 2:17
The most recurring dream I had as a child was that I was Superman…not the adult version, just me dressed in the costume at my school, hanging with my friends, with all his powers – ready to be awesome at a moment’s notice. Anything was possible.
As an adult, I still have dreams. My dreams are different now (although, I admit, I still return to my Superman dreams every once in a while). My dreams often have to do with my family, life, or church and sometimes they entertain one of the thousand “what if” questions that fill my mind.
What if someone broke into my home?
What if someone gave me a million dollars tomorrow…what would change, what would stay the same?
What if Journey’s next building had a community center, co-op working space, pre-school, athletic gyms, and a Chick-Fil-A?
What if turtles could fly?
What if I’m dreaming right now in this dream?
I believe that when we lose the ability to dream, we lose our HOPE for the future. We stop EXPECTING that God has MORE (so much more) in store for our lives, our church, and our cities!
We begin to settle and dreams are replaced with details. Routines take over and our minds are filled with thoughts of limitations. We lose our purpose and we have little desire that goes beyond our immediate need for comfort.
However, in our deepest places we know we were made for MORE. Something in us that longs for a life of significance instead of survival.
We CAN discover what’s been LOST.
We CAN restore what’s been DIMINISHED in our hearts.
We CAN begin to DREAM AGAIN!
The future of the western church lies in the prophecy of what Peter declared would be fulfilled within the church in the last days. When God pours out His Spirit on us we would see and prophesy the TRUTH of God, our visions would bring PURPOSE to our lives, and our dreams would be fueled by the ABSOLUTE HOPE of Jesus Christ!
I hope you will join us for all three weekends of our newest series entitled “Dream Again” at Journey Church. It’s a great series to invite a friend to join you as we challenge ourselves to “experience immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine by His power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
In this series, as we have been talking about Spiritual Disciplines being the key to Getting More from God, it is important to realize that these disciplines are rooted in relationship. Nowhere is that more true than the discipline of prayer. Prayer is one of the things that many of us tend to forget about or only do during a meal or when life brings challenges that become difficult for us to bear. But, the true beauty of prayer is that it is an invitation to communicate and get to know the God of the universe better. That alone should be reason enough to make prayer a part of daily routine, but many people don’t. So, I want to give a few more reasons why Prayer should be an important part of our day.
1. Prayer Gives Us a Picture of Who God Is. I mean if you want to know about someone you better spend some time not just reading their Facebook posts, but spending time in conversations with them. Many people fail to see prayer as just this kind of interaction between them and God. Many churches have made praying so formal that it has lost it’s relational meaning. I know it sounds weird to say that we get to know God more, but the truth is as we begin to talk and express our love, devotion, need for Him in our lives, He begins to reveal Himself. As we open our hearts and minds to communicate with Him regularly, we are able to see more of His nature.
2. Prayer Invites God Into Our Mess. When we communicate with God through prayer He already knows our situation, but it allows us the freedom to truly trust Him in the midst of our life. Prayer doesn’t inform God of anything new, but it helps us to know Him and know that He is there with us. Many times this comes as a sense of peace while your are praying; other times your mind may be led to a previous situation or even a passage of scripture. God is all knowing and longs to be involved in what we are going through and prayer is the avenue that releases His love and peace into our lives.
3. Prayer Allows Us to See Things From God’s Point of View. One of my favorite Psalms is 119. There is so much good instruction for how to follow and obey God. One verse that always stands out to me is verse 18. It reads, “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.” (NLT) This stands out to me because Psalms is really a collection of prayers and praises to God. When we pray something like verse 18, God will begin to “Open our Eyes” so that we can begin to see things as He does and thus change how we live and interact with those around us.
There are many other benefits to making prayer a daily discipline, but the most important thing to remember is that we have been invited to spend time with God. Can you imagine being invited to an incredible dinner somewhere with someone you always wanted to hang out with and blowing it off to cut your grass? That may seem a bit extreme, but that is how many people approach prayer. They don’t understand the power of the invitation that lies before them in prayer. As individuals and as a church, the greatest thing we can do is spend time in conversation with God. To know Him, to invite Him into our mess, and to gain His perspective as we try to move for Him. I hope that you will begin to accept the invitation and spend some time with God this week in prayer.
Joel Osteen (a famous pastor in Texas) wrote a book several years ago called “Your Best Life Now.” To be honest, I still make fun of the title. I’m not a huge fan of SELF-HELP books, programs, and language that give people the impression that it’s all within their own power to change their destiny and experience their BEST LIFE now.
I was wrong about that. You can Live Your Best Life Now.
I’m not entirely wrong, because self-help instruction often negates or ignores God and puts ALL THE WORK on man to shape his destiny. This view is short-sighted and often comes with language like “you do you” or “be the best you you can be” or “find your authentic voice.”
However, I can’t argue that with the proper Biblical foundation of understanding how God has made you and empowered you through His Holy Spirit – YOU CAN live and experience YOUR BEST LIFE NOW!
And in order to do that, it takes an incredible amount of work. It takes DISCIPLINE. It takes commitment to living the way God has called us to live. It takes a proper theological understanding of not only BLESSING, but SUFFERING as well.
So let me rephrase my position by making this statement. A Life Devoted to God through His Spiritual Disciplines Can Experience Your Best Life Now!
Over the next several weeks at Journey, in our series “How to Get MORE from God,” we’re going to be discussing these essential spiritual disciplines. This is not a comprehensive list, but ones that almost everyone can agree are disciplines that directly influence our spiritual growth.
1. Reading God’s Word
There is simply NO WAY to know who God is and what God’s Will is for your life without reading His Word to us. This discipline effects all other disciplines. We can get everything else WRONG if we don’t actually read His Word and understand what He’s saying to us.
This is our way to commune with God. It’s part mediation, part conversation. It’s talking with a friend, but also approaching our Lord and Savior. It’s thanking, asking, and sharing as well as listening, feeling, and resting. Prayer is essential to our connection to God and for His Holy Spirit to communicate with us.
This is often confused for music, yet music is a tool God gave us to worship. Worship is the celebration (both individually and corporately) of who God is and what He is doing (and has done). We do this anytime we acknowledge God and “pour out our lives” for Him. Many things can be done with a heart of worship including work, play, fellowship, solitude, and all of our other disciplines.
4. Rest (Sabbath)
Probably the most OVERLOOKED and misunderstood discipline is the command to REST. To rest is not necessarily just sleep or vacation, but rest is best described as when we “stop striving” in our own strength and power, and trust in God. God commands us to take ONE DAY of the 7 days He’s given us to sabbath rest. This not only takes discipline and practice, but needs to be done with an understanding of what our focus should be while intentionally resting.
We are either good stewards or bad stewards, there is no middle ground. If we fail to recognize that all that we have has been given to us by God, then we will be bad stewards. Stewardship is the discipline of living a generous life with our resources and following in obedience the ideals and instruction given to us (through His Word) on how to manage our money.
Also an overlooked discipline is sharing the message of Jesus with our circle of relationships. We call them our TOP 5 at Journey. It’s considered a discipline because sharing our faith with others FUELS US. We tell people that “Leading brings Hope” because evangelism is an act that not only brings the HOPE of Jesus to people who need Him, but also fuels us with HOPE in the process.
I hope you will engage with us for this entire series. It will be challenging, but I have no doubt that for those ready to take on the challenges, they will begin to experience MORE than they could ask or imagine and might begin to experience their Best Life Now!