Who is Immanuel to you? God, took on flesh, took on substance that we might see Him, as John says: that we might touch Him, that we might worship Him, that we might hear Him. God took upon Himself human form, Jesus came as a baby and grew into a man, fully God yet fully man. He could be seen, He could be touched, people could hear Him speak. Immanuel, God with us. Do you see Immanuel is with you?
When you are living out your God-given identity you will be generous and you will be gracious to others and no matter how much they push your buttons you’re not pushing back, because you’re living out your God-given identity. They don’t determine who you are, God determines who you are.
Richard Herrington not only knew that truth but it defined who he was and what He chose to do with His short time here. This morning, and every morning, let us renew our commitment to do all these things. Let us keep the faith, even in the midst of persecution. Let us live holy lives.
Let us be willing to repent when we get off track. And let us commit ourselves, let us commit our next 200 years to the invitation of all to that Celestial City.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Hadn’t Jesus made this promise early in His ministry? The problem was the hunger, these people wanted to fill their stomachs. The bread Jesus offers is Himself. He wants to fill their hearts. It is the ONLY thing that lasts and the ONLY thing that will satisfy. He promises that they will never be hungry again.
Communion is not dependent on Confession, nor is Confession dependent upon Communion; Each is independent but at the same time they work together toward the same goal. These two mysteries are not part of the same process, instead think of them as parallel and often intertwined processes.
A plant without sunlight will die.
An animal without water will die. A body without food will die.
Faith without good works not only will die, but it is already dead.
Let’s be a community who reach out to those in need.
Let’s be a community who look for ways to help.
Let’s be a community who don’t just talk about their faith but shows it by what they do.
Here’s the question we’ll leave you to consider this morning:
CAN PEOPLE SEE YOUR FAITH?
Here’s another controversial statement that we’ll throw at you during this series:
1) “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community”
2) “Let him who is not in community beware of being alone.”
The first statement recognizes that God calls us as individuals, and it is us alone who must respond to the call of Jesus, and it is us alone who will give account to God when we die. The second statement recognizes that while we were called alone, we weren’t called to be alone. We were called into community so that in life, we would not be alone. So, a healthy community has people who can be alone and people who can be together.
The thing that makes a group of Christians a community is the mutual bond we share in Jesus Christ. That is really the only explanation for our life together as the people of God. We are a community not because we share the same tastes and interests outside the church. We are a community because we have had a common experience of an uncommon grace. It is the blood of Christ shed on the cross that binds us together.
The strength of a church is not revealed in the business meeting or the number of people in a pew on Sunday or even in its balance sheet. The strength of a church is always revealed in the prayer culture that exists. The prayer-life of a church is the true life of a church.
Are programs, ministries, services, activities important parts of church life – yes, of course but realize that all are useless unless they are supported by prayer and anointed by the Holy Spirit. The early church knew this, and their prayer meetings were demonstrations of how God’s people ought to pray.
Church, God is scanning this room. His eyes are focused each of us, looking for those that who will passionately and persistently seek Him. His search never ceases – and this is so important!! Because He is always on the lookout for your prayer, He never misses one single opportunity, any time, anywhere, to demonstrate His power on behalf of any person or any people group who rely on Him rather than relying on themselves. What does He see in you??
Let me ask this on a larger scale: Does God find here a church that longs for Him and cries out to Him, so that He moves to powerfully support us in His working? We’ve seen in these past two weeks that His power will explode on behalf of a church like that!
In almost every quarter of the globe, Christianity is advancing…except for four primary areas: North America, Japan, Australia, and Western Europe. Guess what one of the common denominators is everywhere Christianity marches forward? Christians spend time in prayer together. Track what God is doing in Korea, in China, in India, in South America, and you will find behind the scenes prayer meetings.
Jesus invites Matthew first and foremost into a relationship with him. The relationship was not the by-product of them doing ministry together, the relationship was the assignment, just like Patrick spent his time in prayer and reflection while working as a common slave. The ministry is what comes from the spending time together with God. The Christian life is not about doing stuff for God but being with God. It’s remarkable how Matthew got up immediately with no questions asked. Jesus’ invitation was a bit vague. He just said, “Follow me.” Some real similarities to St. Patrick. Here’s the thing…all Jesus asked of Matthew was to get up. It was all about movement! He had to get up from the table and move!