October 16, 2021
- Pastor Karrie Landsverk
- Go Forth in Unity
- Hebrews 10:24
- Philippians 2:13
- Philippians 4: 2-4
- Romans 14: 17-18
- Titus 3: 1-9
- Titus 3:7
- Avoid Foolish Controversy
- Engage in Good Deeds
- God's Grace
- God's Love
- God's Power
- Holy Spirit
- Honoring God
- Live Kingdom Focused
- Living as One
- Living Gospel Church
Go Forth in Unity
The Power of Oneness
Sunday, October 17, 2021
Welcome: Can you believe in about 6 weeks thousands upon thousands of people will be busting out the Christmas decorations and turning their homes and workplaces into a beautiful array of color and lights.
While some of you are groaning at the thought of all you will be forced to help within decorating, others are thinking “what do you mean 6 weeks- “I’ll be decorating right after Halloween!” While others yet are laughing thinking “amateurs…I still have my lights up from last year!”
There is something magical and wonderful about the lights adorning our town and how they are so peaceful to sit in silence next to in our homes, cozied up in a blanket, and just take in their simple beauty. The glow of a light warms the heart, lights a path, creates wonder and awe, and brings comfort in the darkness. The glow of a light casts hope, peace, and calm.
The end result of our decorating is so fulfilling to step back and take it all in. It’s pulling out and hanging the bundles of light strings that can be maddening-that no matter how you try to sort them, get tangled trying to get them to wind around the tree in just the right way. There is nothing worse than getting the lights arranged ever so neatly into the branches, only to plug in the final cord to the wall and see some lights are not working. You checked them all beforehand-how can this be? Where is the power cut off? Do you have bulbs to replace the one that isn’t working? Do you need to replace the whole string? Or have you connected various strings thinking they are all the same only to find one entire string blinking to its own random pattern while the others are not blinking?
Hanging Christmas lights most often results in a creation of beauty to behold, but can certainly be frustrating in the process when all lights and strings aren’t working in harmony.
You know the church can be very much like strings of Christmas lights. Any one person or believer that has their bulb go out (their faith weakened or shaken) can affect how the whole string or the church works. Now imagine several believers in that string not abiding in faith, living apart from Christ-not connected to the vine, not loving others. How much weaker and less likely is that string or church going to function as it’s designed to?
Just as one light bulb can affect the entire string of lights, so does one believer’s walk with Christ affect the entire church body. Because we are on the same circuit-joined together through the Holy Spirit and drawing power from the same source, Jesus Christ Himself. We are not individuals ever- where our actions and decisions only affect us.
We affect one another every single day. We positively or negatively affect the Body of Christ.
We either help transfer that power from one to the next on a closed circuit where the church is functioning as designed; under the power of One. Or we are a blockage of that power transferring and the circuit becomes opened-stopping that electric current.
The beautiful thing is we get to choose every day how we show up and how we affect the world around us; how we build up the Body of Christ and how we further His kingdom.
It all begins with knowing who our Power Source is and plugging into Him!
Has anyone seen National Lampoons Christmas Vacation? Clark Griswald was going to have the best light display in his neighborhood. He had thousands of lights hung up all over his house-so much when it finally did turn on it caused a power surge in the city. The family did a big drum roll to have the lights first turned on only to have nothing happen. No lights-no show- nothing…after all that work. He checked and rechecked and became very frustrated-even throwing things around. Why wouldn’t they work? What could he have missed? Ever been there? His wife realized by accident, that the switch they were ultimately plugged into in the garage was not turned on. The power source had not ever been turned on so of course, the lights wouldn’t work. Once the switch was turned on, the circuit was closed and the lights did what they were designed to do. They gave off light and they all worked in unison to create a beautiful and blinding sight to see.
The same holds true for us as believers and God’s church.
To be clear we are not our own self-operating power source. We are vessels designed to be filled with another power, that of the Holy Spirit.
We are the branch connected to the vine. Apart from Him, we can do nothing and we have no lasting power. He showed me a visual of Him holding this ball of light- an energy source in His hands. Then He took that ball and He placed it into my heart with His hand. He later explained that as we believe in Him, we are fused together as One. His light and energy flow through every part of who we are, activating His power to flow from us to others. That Power radiates His truth, goodness, love, and righteousness in the world around us. He said you are no longer separate but are joined with Me and I with you for eternity.
So it is with all believers. This is the Power of Oneness.
Let’s pray. Father God give us new understanding, right understanding of how we are connected to You, our Power source and how we are connected to one another, all other believers as the Body of Christ. Show us today what that means for the effectiveness of Your kingdom and how we ensure we keep the flow of your Spirit moving through us to others. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
We’re continuing in our series of going forth in unity and we’ll be focusing on this power we have-only as we remain one with Jesus and one with the Body of Christ. The power is cut off when we stop the flow of His energy flowing through us and when we respond to others in ungodly ways. God gives us a road map in how we stay connected to the Power Source and how we maintain a free flow of His energy from us to others. We in turn, must be willing to follow that map.
The Apostle Paul went to the island of Crete-a Greek island to share the Gospel. Crete was considered a center for the worship of Greek gods. They were known as being self-indulgent, liars, living immorally, and not really concerned about the welfare of others. Paul and his co-laborers had their work cut out for them. Might this reflect several areas in our world yet today? Paul assigns Titus to lead and teach these people how to live out the Gospel message. As you can imagine they were integrating Christian worship into other worship practices they had. They were thinking of themselves more than others. They didn’t know how to think above their culture and have a kingdom mindset. They were living very much in and of the world that had been built around them. Paul as Titus’ mentor and father in the faith, was giving instruction in how to lovingly bring this new group of believers along and keep the Gospel message true and thriving in that area. This is a message that applies to all of us yet today.
When the church isn’t operating from a place of power in this world (remember Jesus has overcome this world)-we have to look to the strings to see where there is an outage, where one string might be going rogue and blinking to its own tune out of sync with the others and if the true power source has been turned off altogether.
When the church knows and lives in the truth that Jesus Christ is the only power source and builds ministries aligning with His heart and drawing from His power, it is an unstoppable force. We know this as we look at history. When this is happening, unity is absolute. We don’t have to wonder if we’re united. We know we are because the Holy Spirit is what binds us together.
This was the message for the Cretans. This is the message for us today as well.
Titus 3: 1-9 NASB
1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people. 3 For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This statement is trustworthy and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and beneficial for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are useless and worthless.
Let’s break this down a bit and see the truths revealed in this instruction to Titus.
Before we get into what we need to do and not do, let’s look at what is revealed about the heart of our Father. Let’s look at the character and reasoning why any of us are saved in the first place. This is what Paul wanted Titus to instill in the Cretans. This is what we must know and remember as believers today.
What do we see beginning in verse 4?
The kindness of God appears, through Jesus.
We see because of His great love for mankind-His creation we are saved! Not because of anything we did; not because we are righteous-solely because of His love and His rich mercy. We are washed, regenerated, and renewed by the Holy Spirit as we believe. All our sin is wiped away and we appear spotless before God because of the Holy Spirit. We are justified then before our Holy God, by His grace. If that’s not enough, in His grace and extreme generosity, we are made heirs to the hope of eternal life! We are all heirs to this hope. Every believer! No one is excluded from this priceless gift and inheritance.
So let’s just take that in for a moment. It’s easy for us to jump right into the do this/do not do this list-but if you only look at the rules-you miss the very intention as to why we do those things or don’t do those things in the first place.
We miss the heart of our amazingly loving, gracious God. All that He did and does for us comes from a place of love, so we can be with Him, so we are all united as His children and all share in the joy of being fused to the Body of Christ-share in the fellowship of the trinity and one another. Therefore, we all operate from His Power source. We have to have this understanding first and always.
Without it, we very easily slip into legalism, elitism and have a critical or judgmental spirit towards others. Or we stand in guilt and shame looking at how far we fall short. Both of which open the circuit and stop the flow of the Holy Spirit moving through the church. We become a blockage to the flow of His power, grace, and love.
So what do we need to do to keep that circuit closed and His Power flowing freely?
- Engage in Good Deeds
Titus 3:1 NASB Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed,
Be subject to those in authority-remembering God is sovereign and He places leaders in positions for His purposes and glory, be obedient to Him and His ways-because it keeps us in a right heart posture to Him- it keeps us reverent to who He is as our Lord and God. Disobedience is you fulfilling your own desires at the moment without regard to what God desires-it’s selfishness being played out or it’s a lack of trust in who God is. Call it what it is. Honesty is the only way for us to move past disobedience and come to His Presence and will. He won’t work through our disobedience. He desires a surrendered heart-one that trusts in and honors Him. Be ready for every good deed.
A surrendered obedient heart will be open to what God wants to do through us keeping that circuit flowing.
Philippians 2:13 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
This is the definition of grace right here. It’s God giving us both the desire and power to do His will. A surrendered heart will respond to His power. A disobedient heart will not.
Hebrews 10:24 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
This is the truth Titus was tasked to teach in Crete. To help the newer Christians consider one another. That means be mindful of others, think about people, check in with people, help people, stir up love, take care of one another. This is the absolute function and heart of the church. Not out of obligation to look good but in mirroring the heart of our God whose Spirit resides in us. It starts in our families of course and we are also to be mindful and helpful to our church family-notice what is happening. Be aware. Serve where you are able and gifted. Be aware in our community. Notice. If we keep it all just within our families, we’re missing the function of the church. We’re missing the connection of community and the connection to the Body.
- Avoid Foolish Controversy
Titus 3:9 NASB 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are useless and worthless.
Doing good works and being loving to those who are loving and good to us is pretty easy right? This truth can be a hard one to let go of when we come from a place of needing to be right or feeling like we have to defend our beliefs. Listen, God does not need defending. The Gospel does not need defending. Honoring yes-always. Committing to Him and abiding in His truth-yes. But to get hung up in bantering and debates only opens that circuit and stops the flow.
We hear it is useless and worthless. There is no eternal value to this type of behavior. We have to ask ourselves when we get caught up in this-who are we doing this for? Ourselves or for God?
Paul watched and observed where this would rise up in the churches and nipped it in the bud right away-which we should all do and all have the power to do. We have been talking about the church that started in Philippi. Paul was very pleased with them, their faith, and their heart for the Lord. But as with probably every church, there were disagreements that rose up. Unlike last week’s message where the disagreements did not interfere with a unified purpose, Paul was noticing division rising up the church between two women. He reminded the ladies of the bigger purpose; to remember you are not your own person; you are fused together in Christ and to the body, and you have great influence over others. Use that influence with great care and responsibility.
Philippians 4: 2-4 2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.!
I want us to note how Paul addresses this-not with shame or condemnation. Not choosing sides. Not kicking them both out-but bringing back the united purpose of the Gospel message and affirming in these ladies-you have both been integral to this ministry in this area. They were given great responsibility; they had influence and Paul appreciates and honors them both. This is how we work through differences and restore unity.
We each choose then to live Kingdom Focused-not self-focused; not personal agenda focused; not needing to be right, not digging our heels in but to love one another in our differences and remember we are not separate but joined for eternity. Remembering because of the Spirit, there is unity in the midst of our diversity.
- Live Kingdom Focused
Titus 3:7 NASB so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
All believers are heirs to the hope of glory. We have to live in this mindset that we are part of His kingdom and His kingdom is among us and resides in our hearts even now through His Holy Spirit.
Romans 14: 17-18 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
2 Corinthians 13:11 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
This is the promise- rejoice in the Lord each day! No matter what your day looks like; no matter what’s happening in the world around us; no matter what another Christian did or said that offended you-rejoice in the Lord. It brings us into the right perspective and keeps our hearts softened to Him. As we rejoice in Him– we are positioned to ask for His Spirit to bring about restoration, to flow through us that we might encourage others and be others minded, that we might focus on the bigger purpose which is the Gospel being shared and lived out; that we might choose peace. As we do these things, the God of love and peace will be with us. This is the promise.
Conclusion: The power of Oneness is released and multiplied when we understand who our Power Source is and His purpose. The Light of Jesus is fused to our hearts, thus His energy flows through us like a circuit we are all connected to. We transfer the Light of Christ to others grafted into the circuit. For it is God working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Living as One.
Thank you Lord for showing us what is right and good and true. Thank You for this teaching as our guide. Help us to soften our hearts to You Lord and create in us a desire to do Your will. Equip us then Lord to carry that out and be a vessel for Your love to flow through that others might experience You through our actions and words, and know You as we know You. Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done Father, on earth as it is in heaven. Show us the way and help us to follow. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Final Blessing: 2 Corinthians 13:11 11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.