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©2019 michael martin | ask@lifefellowship.org

the past...

The past is important. It holds all of our experiences and lessons, and has been used by God to shape us into who we are today. In the past, each of us has experienced victories and crushing defeats. We’ve seen success and failure, happiness and great pain.

The past certainly has its place in our lives. But we can’t live there.

don’t live in the past

Many times in Scripture, we are told to move on from the past. Let’s take a look at what we are told to leave behind...

don’t live in past desires

ecclesiastes 7:10

Do not say, “Why were the old days better than these?” For it is not wise to ask such questions.’

matthew 16:24

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

While we sometimes long for the “good ol’ days” when we think things were better, we should remember that God is working in our lives today. Yet, sometimes we are so comfortable with the past that we desire to return to even the worst things from our past.

proverbs 26:11

As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.

numbers 14:3-4

Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Our past lives may seem comfortable to us because they are familiar. Sometimes, our fear of today’s unknowns can lead us to desire a return to the way things were. But longing for the past prevents us from living and rejoicing in the blessings of today.

don’t live in past hurts

Similarly, dwelling on past hurts can pull our focus away from what God is doing and how He is blessing us today. And so, we are told to cast those things off.

isaiah 43:18-19

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

ephesians 4:31-32

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1 peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

my notes:

don’t live in past failures and shame

We’ve all made mistakes and suffered the consequences and shame of those failures. But while those things may have shaped the circumstances in which we live today, they do not define who we are and what God can do in our lives today.

psalm 103:11-12

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

1 john 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

proverbs 28:13

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

1 corinthians 6:9-11

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

romans 10:10

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

don’t live in past achievements

isaiah 64:6

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

philippians 3:10-14

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

whose achievements are they, anyway?

When we remember past achievements, it is error to think of them as things we accomplished. Anything we “achieved” in the past was done not by us, but by God. Furthermore, we should not make the mistake of believing that those past achievements, in the spiritual sense, entitle us to anything today.

deuteronomy 8:17-18

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

1 corinthians 4:7

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

matthew 7:22-23

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

what to remember about the past

While we are clearly told in Scripture not to live in our past, there are surely some things about the past that we are to remember. Lets take a look at these:

remember God’s faithfulness

There is great value in remembering God’s faithfulness. After all, God does not change. So, if God was faithful in the past, will He not continue to be faithful in the future?

1 samuel 7:12

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

1 chronicles 16:11-12

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 12 Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced...

my notes:

joshua 4:20-24

And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.

remember God’s lessons and discipline

Our past is also filled with mistakes we’ve made and things we’ve learned from those mistakes. Indeed, In addition, Scripture is filled with examples of mistakes that we can learn from. Have you made a mistake or undergone discipline as a result? Remember what you learned!

1 corinthians 10:6-11

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.

hebrews 12:11

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

proverbs 10:17

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

proverbs 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

remember God’s commands and calling

Of course, it is vital to remember the things that God has commanded and called us to do, or our future will not be very bright.

deuteronomy 6:6

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

joshua 1:8

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

revelation 3:3

Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

my notes:

remember God Himself

And most importantly, remember God personally. Remember His character, His justice, His love and His mercy, and all the ways in which He has shown Himself in the past.

deuteronomy 8:17-18

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

ecclesiastes 12:1

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”—

isaiah 46:9

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.

2 timothy 2:8

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel.

psalm 119:55

In the night, Lord, I remember your name, that I may keep your law.

the proper context for the past

When it comes to the past, we should not focus on anything that overstates our self-importance, either positively or negatively. The past is not about us and what we’ve done. It’s about God and what He has done!

humbling ourselves as a church

Over the 40 years in which LIFE Fellowship has existed, God has done many amazing things, and many of our people have served admirably. But as true as that is, it was God, and God alone, who accomplished all of that. And yet, in view of where God has brought us, it is easy to become comfortable and complacent.

proverbs 6:10-11

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

And so, in order to advance, let us consider what we may need to confess about ourselves as a church.

things we need to confess

Q. Have we been prideful about our church?

Q. Have we been too inwardly focused?

Q. Have we been too concerned with our personal comfort?

Q. Have we marginalized people whose preferences are different from ours?

Q. Have we been complacent?

Q. Have we shown enough love and concern for our community?

Q. Have we focused enough on evangelism?

Speaking for myself personally, I am guilty of all of the above, and that is no one’s fault but my own. Each of us will need to ponder those same questions, and if we believe we’re guilty, then let us confess it to God and turn away from those sins. It’s time to wake up.

my notes:

we’re not a remarkable church, but we serve a remarkable God

God has humbled us as a church, and that’s a good thing. Let us now live in humility...

1 corinthians 4:6-7

Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

james 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

matthew 23:12

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

our God is able...

As we advance in humility, let us also advance in confidence that our amazing God is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine...

ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

my notes:

on to today...

With the past in its proper place, it’s time now to focus on today. Today is a new day. Our past accomplishments don’t mean we’ve done “enough” for the Kingdom, and our past failures don’t mean we can’t do anything for the Kingdom now.

I believe that God is doing a new thing in our church. Let’s embrace it!

isaiah 43:18-19

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

2 corinthians 5:16-17

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

proverbs 4:25

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.

philippians 3:12-14

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

the order to advance

If we think of this earth as a battlefield for souls, then Christ is our Commander-in-Chief. And Jesus has given us very clear marching orders. We are to advance.

matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Here in the Great Commission, Jesus told us–all of us–to go and make disciples. He didn’t tell us to merely win converts, but to make disciples–people who will follow in the discipline of Christ and who will join the fight. But this Great Commission begins with one simple word. “Go.”

In fact, many of God’s marching orders to His servants begin with “go.” Consider these examples:

genesis 12:1-3

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

exodus 3:10

So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

my notes:

isaiah 6:8-9

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go and tell this people...

deuteronomy 1:21

See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

jeremiah 1:7-8

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

ezekiel 3:4

He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them.

jonah 3:2

Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”

john 8:11

“...No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

my notes:

To go is to advance. It is an action that must be chosen and committed to. God has often told His people to go, either to communicate His Word or to move on to a new way of living. If we are to fulfill the Great Commission, we have to advance. We have to take action. We have to go.

And if we do that, we can be the witnesses that God wants us to be:

acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

the willingness and readiness to advance

matthew 9:36-38

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Before we can go, we have to be willing and ready. The harvest is plentiful and the opportunities to advance are many. But we have to join the fight. We have to accept the marching orders that God has given us. In other words, we need to be ready and willing to answer the call as Isaiah did:

isaiah 6:8

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

And as we answer God’s call, we need to be prepared for all that comes with it, and that comes from knowing God better for ourselves.

1 peter 3:15

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...

2 timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

And so, in order to answer God’s call and to be prepared, we need to don the full Armor of God:

ephesians 6:10-18

The Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

my notes:

the audacity to advance

luke 11:5-10

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’

7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’

8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

We have no right to be as blessed as we are right now, and no right to expect success in the future. We deserve nothing but condemnation. And yet, by the grace of God, here we are.

God’s Word is full of examples of people who were not strong enough, not powerful enough, not wise enough, and not worthy enough to advance against the darkness. David, Gideon, Moses, Joshua, and all of Jesus’ disciples were nothing but ordinary men. But because of their faith and obedience to God, they had the audacity and the courage to obey, and to believe that God would win the day.

God has commanded us to do what we, in ourselves, are not able to do, and to expect results that we have no earthly right to expect. We have no right to think we can advance as a church. And yet, Jesus tells us that we must have the audacity, trusting God, to do just that. We need to advance in the shameless audacity to believe that God will answer our prayers.

my notes:

the courage to advance

joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Along with audacity, we must have the courage to go as God has commanded. Going up against seemingly insurmountable difficulties, we must go; not in our own strength, but in the strength of Him who sends us, and in the courage that He gives us.

1 chronicles 28:20

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.

1 corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

john 14:26-27

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

2 timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

romans 8:15

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

1 corinthians 16:13

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

As we advance on the darkness, we must remember that the lost people of this world are not our personal enemies.

ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

john 16:33

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

my notes:

...but don’t boast in yourself

jeremiah 9:23-24

This is what the Lord says:

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

galatians 6:14

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

So, as we prepare to advance, let us make our plans. But we must always be prepared to surrender those plans to God.

james 4:13-17

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

my notes:

how to advance as a church

Now that we’ve seen God’s clear marching orders to advance in the courage and strength that He provides, let’s discuss the nuts and bolts.

God’s general order to advance is for everyone. The Great Commission is an order given to every single disciple of Christ, making every single one of us a foot soldier in the battlefield for souls.

That means that no one is supposed to be a spectator. SO let’s take a minute to understand what our roles are.

you don’t attend a church, you are the church

Say that again. You are the church.

The church is a body. And every part of the body serves a function that enables the body to function as a whole.

romans 12:3-8

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

1 corinthians 12:12-31

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

my notes:

Since every part of the body serves a function, it would be harmful to the whole body if any of its parts failed to function. In other words, whatever skills, talents or gifts God gave you (or didn’t give you), you are a vital part of the body.

As such, let us consider how each one of us can serve the body as a whole.

meeting together

hebrews 10:24-25

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Notice that this passage does not tell us to continue watching church on tv. That’s a fine option for shut-ins or for those who are physically unable to come to church, but it’s no substitute for those who are able. Similarly, this passage doesn’t tell us to continue coming to church, but staying in the shadows. Instead, it tells us to continue meeting together. That requires being physically present and engaged.

We cannot spur one another on toward love and good deeds, nor can we encourage one another if we don’t meet together.

matthew 18:20

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

proverbs 18:1 (esv)

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

my notes:

encouraging each other

In the body of Christ, none of us are self-sufficient. We need each other. Others need you, and you need others...

...to prevent us from being hardened by sin...

hebrews 3:13

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

...to sharpen each other...

proverbs 27:17

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

...to build each other up...

ephesians 4:29

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

...to empathize with each other...

romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

...to carry each other’s burdens...

galatians 6:2

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

and more.

Meeting together, fellowshipping with one another and encouraging each other is vital. In our bodies, no part exists separately from the others. Every part is connected and intertwined. So it is with the body of Christ.

giving

Yes, we have to go here. All of these ministries we use for serving each other and for reaching out to our community cost money, and when we give to God as Scripture commands, those funds can be used for obediently carrying out His commands more effectively.

If you’re not giving to God financially, or if you perhaps aren’t giving to your full ability, it can be scary to consider giving to God. That’s when we need to remember God’s commands and His faithfulness, giving us the faith and the courage to obey Him. If we are to advance, both personally and as a church, we need to advance in the area of giving as well. Consider these Scriptures:

2 corinthians 9:6-8

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

give according to your ability...

2 corinthians 8:12

For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

trust and test God in this!

malachi 3:10

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

serving

There can be no doubt that we should serve God by serving others, whether serving people within the church or serving those outside of the church.

If we are to advance as a church, then we must serve. Here are just a few of the many Scriptural directives:

romans 12:11-13

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

john 12:26

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

matthew 23:11-12

The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

mark 10:42-45

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

1 peter 4:10-11

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

God has given each of us certain gifts, talents, and strengths. But why? For what purpose? It is to serve each other! So, let us not neglect to use what God has given us to serve and love one another!

galatians 5:13

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

It all comes down to love. Each moment, we have a choice to make. We can indulge ourselves, or we can serve the people around us in love. And if we serve others in love, we are serving God in love.

matthew 25:40

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

We can all serve in some way. None of us are disqualified because of past failures, and none of us are exempt because of past accomplishments. We all need to serve, both for the benefit of others and for our own sake, as we obey the commands of our Lord.

evangelism

While we are certainly meant to serve each other, we are also supposed to serve those outside of the church. And there is no better way to do that than to share with them the gospel that can save their souls from condemnation!

2 timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

1 peter 3:15-16

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

As we can see, we should always be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities God gives us to share the gospel. This requires us to be willing and ready to share what we know about Christ and what He has done in our lives.

But this command is more than just a way to serve others. It is a matter of life and death.

revelation 20:11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

We must never forget the stakes. Eternity is on the line for all who haven’t heard the gospel. How each person responds to God’s good news is up to them, but we must love each person enough to share the truth with them. In doing so, we can have a hand in snatching them from the fire.

jude 22

Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

my notes:

as living sacrifices...

romans 12:1-3

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

As we consider all of God’s commands to meet together, to encourage each other, to give, to serve, and to share the gospel, it may seem like an awful lot to give.

That’s why we’re told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. As disciples of Christ, our lives really don’t belong to us. We were bought by Jesus. We must therefore be willing to “lose our lives” in order to follow Christ. And in so doing, we will gain our lives back again.

matthew 16:24-25

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

my notes:

by all possible means...

1 corinthians 9:19-23

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

When it comes to sharing the gospel, we should take our cues from Paul, who “became all things to all people so that by all possible means he might save some.”

That’s why we have so many different kinds of ministries. Each ministry will help the Kingdom in a different way, and each ministry will be most effective in blessing a different kind of person.

It’s also why we will be asking for your ideas about how to reach people whom we haven’t reached so far. Everyone needs to hear the gospel and meet Jesus. If we can do that in ways we haven’t done before, that’s a good thing!

my notes:

not too difficult...

deuteronomy 30:11-14

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

It may seem difficult, or even impossible, to do the things that God has commanded in His Word. But we shouldn’t concern ourselves with whether something is “possible.” We should simply trust and obey.

consider this:

Q. Was Moses able to speak to Pharaoh? To part the sea?

Q. Was Joshua able to defeat Jericho?

Q. Was David able to defeat Goliath?

Q. Was Gideon able to defeat the Midianites?

Q. Was Peter able to walk on water?

The answer to all of these questions is “no,” except for the fact that God had prompted and enabled them to do it. The principle is this; if God has told us to do something, even something seemingly impossible, He will make it possible for us to do it.

philippians 4:13

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

2 corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

In other words, in God’s strength, you can do as He commands!

i’ll pray about it?

Listen, praying about decisions is a good, Biblical practice. But what is the purpose of praying about a decision? It’s to discern God’s will, isn’t it? Well, what if God’s will is already clear to you?

a few questions...

Q. Has God’s Word made it clear that we’re supposed to meet together and worship?

Q. Has His Word made clear that we’re supposed to encourage each other and fellowship with each other?

Q. Has God made it clear that we’re supposed to give back to Him?

Q. Has He made clear that we’re supposed to serve?

Q. Has He made clear that we’re supposed to spread the gospel?

Q. Does God ever command us to do anything He won’t enable us to do?

Then what are we waiting for? We can pray about the specific details, like how to serve or how much to give, etc. But as for whether we should meet together, encourage each other, serve each other, give to God, or share the gospel, we already know the answer!

God’s Word is very clear about all these questions. Don’t use prayer as an excuse for inaction. Do what God has clearly told you to do!

my notes:

advance!

It’s decision time.

The past is the past. We praise God for His victories, His blessings, and His faithfulness, and we remember what He has taught us along the way. And, we leave behind our hurts, our shame, and our selfish desires.

Today is the day the Lord has made.

Today is the day of salvation.

Today is the day to move forward.

We know what God has told us to do. We know it’s for the good of those who love Him. We know He will give us the strength, the courage and the ability to do His will.

We’ve hidden behind our shields for long enough. It’s a battlefield for souls, and the battle belongs to the Lord.

Our efforts won’t win the day, but they will be used by God, whose grace is sufficient to make our feeble efforts succeed.

ephesians 3:21-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

For God’s glory, let’s go on the offensive! Let’s put on God’s armor, draw our swords, and move!

Let’s advance!

ministry opportunities

To be clear, we don’t want you to feel forced or manipulated by us to do anything. Our desire is simply to present what the Scriptures say, and to give you a chance to respond. The choice is now between you and God. But if you feel God’s prompting to step up and do more, there are many ways in which you can do that!

existing ministries

We have many opportunities for you to serve in our existing ministries, most of which only require a few hours per month. Take a look and consider where you might fit!

ushers & greeters

Become one of the warm, smiling faces who welcome visitors or provide assistance. To sign up, click here.

neighbor labor

Help us to maintain the grounds here at LIFE by joining with the occasional Saturday morning crews or by arranging your own schedule to help with weeding, mowing and more. To sign up, click here.

care ministries

Several ministries are encompassed in our care ministries, including:

meals: prepare and deliver free meals to church families in the midst of medical or grief struggles

shut-ins: visit and offer fellowship to shut-ins from our church

moving crews: join along with our crews of people who help members of our church family to move to new homes

helping hands: lend your skills (or resources) to help make home and auto repairs for widows, single moms, etc. from our church

To sign up, click here.

cleaning crews

Help us to keep the church clean by joining one of our rotational teams, spending a few hours each month to clean our church.To sign up, click here.

concerts

If you’d like to help greet people, offer hospitality, or help with the logistics of hosting concerts here at LIFE, visit this link.

music and tech

We’re always looking for people who can enhance our praise team, worship orchestra, and tech crews. If you’re skilled in the musical arts, or would like to learn how to serve on the tech crew, click here.

never thirst

Spend a few hours on Saturdays (only about 4 times a year) offering love and hospitality to soccer families at the park. It’s a fun and easy outreach! To sign up, click here.

bookstore

Our resources center (the bookstore) has a lot to offer, but we need people to help operate the store on Sundays, helping people to find resources and taking payment. To sign up, click here.

children

TruthQuest, AWANA, Sunday School and Nurseries could always use a few extra hands to help manage kids and possibly to teach. To sign up, click here. Background check required.

youth

If you’d like to serve as a sponsor and mentor for our youth group on Sundays and Thursdays, assisting with games, small groups, discipleship and more. To sign up, click here. Requires background check.

security team

This team works on a rotation schedule to provide general security for the campus and its people during worship services and ministry events. If you’d like to lend your attentive eyes to the team, contact Pastor Leon click here to sign up.

building maintenance

If you have some basic skills and some spare time during the week, Pastor Leon will be happy to coordinate with you to help with general building maintenance. To sign up, click here.

giving

If you want to learn more about how you can build a Biblical habit of worship through giving, or for information about setting up and managing online or automatic giving, visit the giving page on our website.

upcoming ministries

This next grouping of service opportunities are for ministries which don’t yet exist, but which we’d like to start if God provides the means and the volunteers.

goodwill ambassadors

Along with helping to manage donations from Panera Bread, we envision this ministry as a team of volunteers who take turns purchasing and dropping off donuts and other treats to local businesses and offices as blessings from our church. To sign up, click here.

invitation cards

This ministry simply involves keeping a few of our LIFE invitation cards with you, and passing them out at restaurants and other settings to invite people to church. These cards are available today at the welcome booth. Take some home!

details & logistics

Are you OCD? Do you like everything to be just “so?” We’d love to have you spending a few minutes before worship services making sure everything is ready and “ship-shape” in our campus before visitors arrive. To sign up, click here.

saturday evening service

Would you be interested in a Saturday evening service here at LIFE? We’d love to know your interest level and your ideas for how a Saturday service could help reach new people. Visit this link to let us know what you think.

proposed ministries

Finally, here are a few more ministry ideas that have been proposed, but are not yet fleshed out. Would you be interested in helping to make any of these happen? To let us know, click here.

crochet ministry

Do you like to crochet? Do you want to learn how? This ministry is envisioned as a team of people who crochet useful items to donate to people in need.

life skills

This proposed ministry would seek experienced people to train younger people, both from within our church and from the community, some life skills, such as cooking, baking, sewing, basic home and auto maintenance, and more, all in the spirit of Biblical fellowship and discipleship.

liaison to the city of westminster

This concept would call for a volunteer with strong interpersonal skills to foster a constructive relationship with the City of Westminster, regularly seeking out ways in which our church can be a blessing to the city through community projects and more.

project crews

This ministry would have teams of people available to go and serve on large work projects, such as helping to repair homes or vehicles, or to carry out community service projects.

medical response team

This concept seeks to ensure that qualified personnel are always available to help people who experience medical emergencies while here at church. If you’re a nurse or a qualified medical professional, would you be “on call” for medical emergencies here at church?

booths at community events

At community events such as city or county fairs, arrange to set up a booth or tent where free refreshments, giveaways, or games would be available, as well as people to staff the booth and tell people about our Lord and our church.

outreach to frcc

Front Range Community College is right in our backyard. How could we minister to the people who go there?

brand-new ideas?

Do you have a ministry idea that you’d like us to consider (or perhaps a suggestion for improving other ministries)? Visit this link to let us know.

Our staff will evaluate each suggestion based upon practicality, viability, sustainability, and other factors. Of course, there are many factors that may lead us not to use some ideas, but if we believe that your idea could work without hindering other ministries, we may give it a try!

Please note , however, that we need you to make any of these ministries actually happen.