This is the second week in a series called Simple Discipleship:
The topic for next week will be Worship/Sacrifice and we will be discussing:
2 Chronicles 20:1-30, Genesis 22:1-19, John 4:20-24, Malachi 1:6-14, 2 Samuel 24:18-25, and Luke 7:36-50
This week, we are learning about Intimacy/Love of God.
Here are my notes: Simple Discipleship Week 2
Here is the recording of the teaching, Feb 10, 2016: Intimacy/Love of God
This week’s teaching is what I would consider as the most important one to come to understand in the whole series. The love of God and the relationship that we have with Him will affect every other aspect of our lives.
What is Intimacy? to know deeply, completely and have a greater love for then when you did not know as much.
What is Love? A deep, selfless, pure closeness and knowing of a person no matter what their words, actions, or behavior. This closeness is promised with words, but proven by action.
Our revelation of the Love that God has for us will color every other thing that we come into contact with. How can we love others if we do not love God? How can we even love God if we do not understand the enormity of His love for us?
In John 15 Jesus speaks of an illustration of how close we should be in relationship with Him. He is the vine and we are the branches. We must be in such a relationship that we are a part of Him, and we are getting everything we need for us to live from Him . Without this relationship with Him, we can do nothing. I know that all of us want to be doing great things for the Lord. However, if we are not constantly and consistently connected with Him, we are doing absolutely nothing no matter how great we may look.
If you don’t remember anything else remember this, everything we do flows from our relationship with Jesus!!! You want to do great things? You must have a great relationship with Jesus.
1 Corinthians 13 gives us a picture of the perfect God kind of love. Paul is very clear at the beginning that no matter what you may be doing, saying, or giving to the Lord if it is not done in love, it is worthless.
Paul is very intentional about describing the God kind of love because it is so different than our view of love. This love is God’s love for us and the kind of love we should be seeking to have for him and for each other. We have a long way to go until we are able to obtain a love that begins to look like this perfect God kind of love.
Ephesians 3 speaks even more to how important this love is for us to have and know. We are strengthened in our inner selves by this love. In fact, this power, the Love of God and our revelation of this love, is the power with which God works out exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask for, hope for, or imagine. Our faith opens the door for this love to come in and each new revelation of this love that we have unlocks a greater power to work in and through us in every area of our lives.
It is evident in Deuteronomy 7:6-9 that God has chosen you as a special treasure and set you apart for holiness. There was nothing that you have done or ever could do to deserve this, but God did it because He loves you. God is full of mercy or he never would have chosen any of us sinful creatures. He is faithful because He continues to pour out His mercy when over and over again we prove that we do not deserve it.
I challenge you to sit down in a quiet place by yourself with a pen and some paper. Ask Holy Spirit to come and speak to you. Ask Him a simple question “How much do You love me?” Then, simple write or draw whatever He speaks to you. The voice of God is always loving, encouraging, and full of life. This is what He will speak to you.
After you have completed the above exercise, I would encourage you to pray and ask Holy Spirit:
Do I have a deepening relationship with you? Does my life sustaining force flow from my relationship with You?
Am i being obedient to You out of love or am I trying to prove I am worthy of Your love?
Am I glorifying You through my love for You?
Finally, pray this with me: “Father, bring a new revelation of the love that you have for me. Show me how much you truly love me and help me to do better at showing that love to the people around me.”
May the Lord bless you with new revelations of His love ever-increasing and ever-strengthening you with power for great and mighty works.
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
I know that it has been a while since I have written, but I praise the Lord that we continue to get great ministry opportunities to be a part of and press into all that God has for us on this trip. A few days ago, we got to fellowship with one of the friends I made in Harpenden last year at Circuit Riders, the leader of the Youth With a Mission (YWAM) Discipleship Training Schools (DTS) and his wife. As we talked and later prayed together, I got the opportunity to share a recent testimony that encouraged and spoke to him, and I pray that it encourages you as well!!!
Two weeks ago, I got the privilege to speak at the church of one of my friends here in Newcastle. I had met him last summer during the Circuit Rider outreach here. This was right before he became the pastor at Gateway Church and was at St. Luke’s where we were based out of. On one of our many days to go out and do evangelism, Sam joined me and we went around looking for where God was moving and trying to talk to people. We tried many times to start some sort of conversation with people but were seemingly blocked at every turn. Finally, we did get to talk to two gentlemen for a while even though they were obviously just wanting someone to talk to and did not really care about what we were saying. Apparently, Sam went out later with Jedidah and Heidi who have a gift of evangelism and talked to many people.
Sam shared with me, while we were eating lunch with him and his wife this year after I had preached, that he was rather encouraged when he went out with me. I found this very odd since it seemed hard and laborious and is definitely not my gifting. However, it seems that God was able to speak to him through this weakness and encourage him. He saw how even though this was not my gift, I was still being obedient. This led him to be obedient and lead many street evangelism teams with his church even though this is not his gifting either.
For me, this was an amazing testimony because all last year during Circuit Riders, I never got the privilege of leading anyone to The Lord. However just like Jesus said to Paul “my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9) He spoke this to me as well. Even though this was an area where I was obviously weak, I had a desire to be obedient and grow. Even though it seemed like I was failing and every outward indication was that there was no fruit from my efforts, God used it. God used my weakness to encourage a man who was about to become a pastor to lead his church on continuous evangelistic outreaches. In a way, God used my weakness and obedience in a manner that allows me to take part in every salvation that comes out of Sam’s church. God is awesome, and if Sam had not told me this, I would never have had any idea that God had used my weak obedience in such a mighty way.
My encouragement to you is to be obedient in every area. Even in the places that you feel weak, unqualified, like you have failed, or are just no good, be obedient!!! He is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask for, hope for, or even imagine” even with our weaknesses!!! He is able to turn every one of your weaknesses into strengths and every one of your supposed defeats into great victories if you are completely obedient and submitted to Him!!! Ask Holy Spirit right now where you can be completely obedient and submitted to Him and move into that place no matter if you feel weak or strong in that area. He will make His name great so do everything to please Him completely!!!
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!
Our God is truly amazing!!! After our flurry of activities in Scotland, we were able to take a kind of chill week to relax and get into the rhythm of things here in Newcastle. It was a short train ride from Stirling to Scotland, but it was incredibly beautiful along the way. We have been completely welcomed into the family of God at St. Luke’s, and I have gotten to connect with many friends from last year. The vicar here Robert, has commented several times that he hopes we stay for a really long time. We will see what happens, but at the very least, we know that we can be close to friends and family over the holidays, which is always a blessing.
We have the privilege of staying with Paul, a friend I met from last year, who has a unique perspective on things. He was not raised in the church and did not have the most pleasant of lives growing up. However, Jesus found him and brought him to St. Luke’s just like he brought us here. He is one of the most honest people I know. He talks about how he feels and openly admits when he is wrong. That is not something that is found today, an open transparency.
As we were walking our customary 45 minutes to the church last week, we began to talk about the people here in Newcastle. For those who do not know, Newcastle was rated the third in most popular European nightlife destinations only beaten out by London and Berlin and 7th in the world category. In other words, Newcastle is a huge party city. The funny thing is that for the “normal” person, being out in the daytime, you may never know this. However, the nighttime, especially weekends, is when the craziness begins.
As Paul and I began to talk, we discussed the different masks that people choose to put on and how it is evident here. He mentioned how a lot of his friends all looked nice and began to dress in the same stylish manner and how they would give other people a hard time. I remarked how that had never been a big deal to me. It was easy to see how some people have so many faces that they put on for other people, they may not even know who they are any more, or perhaps they do not like who they really are so they use masks to fit in. We suggested some of the false faces people put on, one for work and school, one for friends and partying, one for church, one for looking good and one for relaxing… There are an infinity of masks that people will put on and there are a plethora of reasons why they may put these on. I think it comes down to one basic reason. Fear! We are often afraid to let people know who we really are. Will they like us? Will they judge us? Will they hurt us? Will they accept us? Will they be open with us or give us a cold mask of superiority?
I have found that some of the best masks can be found in the church. We like to present ourselves perfect, even though we all know that we are not. We dress nice, act our best, and are on our best behavior. Often, those who have not come to Christ yet, come in hurting and see all these perfect plastic people and decide they can never be a part of this perfection. Sometimes, our masks are so good we almost begin to believe them. Outsiders coming in would never believe that the church is made up of hurting broken people and so they often do not feel welcome there. We are afraid that others will judge us and who we really are if we let them know we are broken. Why is this, because we judge the imperfections in others. I know for me, this was one of the sins I struggled with for so long. I could look at someone and see myself as better than them even though I was struggling with my own stuff. God led me through a place where I did a lot of work with young people in the prison system and people of all walks of life and this helped me to learn to be real, honest and transparent.
I want to encourage you to be yourself. Be real, honest and transparent. The church should be where we get together as transparent people and reveal Christ shining through all of our situations and failings. People should feel more welcome in the church than anywhere else in the world. We show the love of Christ to all who are caught up in the ways of the world, because we too were ones such as this. And even now, when we know the Truth, we do not follow Him as we should. We fail! How much more can we expect those who do not know the Truth to walk like they do? You are accepted by God who will never hurt you. You are free to be yourself. I am not perfect at this, but I am learning more and more how to be my own strange self.
Final story – Yesterday, we went out to celebrate our three month anniversary (you would be celebrating too if you were me and had such an awesome wife!!!). We decided to see a movie, and as we were buying tickets, I was having fun being myself. The guy asked me if I was a student or had anything that would discount the tickets. I was just messing with him and said “No, we are foreigners though. That should be worth something. Or you could give me the redhead discount.” He also happened to be a Ginger so I guess he thought it was funny or something. Anyway, I realized that after I had bought the tickets, he had given us a student discount, which was actually quite a big one. I had not actually been trying to get a discount, but was just being myself and got blessed.
Just remember, God made you. He accepts you, no matter how strange you might be (believe me, I know from experience). He loves you and will never leave you alone or love you less. Who else’s opinion matters?
Jeremiah, Man on Fire!!!