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Engaging with God: Worship Through Thanksgiving

Last week we talked about engagement – about becoming interlocked like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. As we strive to become a whole church, we want to engage with God, engage with God’s people, engage with our community, and engage with our world.

So for the next few weeks we’re going to start by looking at how we can engage with God. Just think about that for a moment – Engaging with God. Being interlocked like a puzzle piece with God. Don’t forget who God is! He’s the God who created everything by just saying “Let there be…”.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33:6

It’s amazing to think that the God who created the universe by just saying a few words – it’s amazing to think that THAT God, that all-powerful being wants to engage with you.

You might think, “Of all the billions of people on the earth, why does God care to engage with me?”  Well, to God, you’re not just Human #6328974515. God knows your name. He made you. He determined exactly who you would be before your were born. He created you as an eternal being for the sole purpose of spending eternity engaged with Him.

Doesn’t that just blow your mind? God. All-powerful. All knowing. Perfect. Sinless. Absolutely Holy and Righteous! And He wants to spend eternity with YOU! With ME!

What is He thinking!?  I guess He’s thinking that we are His creation. He are created in His image. And what He creates is always very good – despite what we may think about ourselves. So because God created us, He loves us like crazy and wants to spend eternity engaged with us.

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Becoming a Whole Church

This is the introductory sermon to a series on becoming a “Whole Church”. This sermon was born out the concepts in Mel Lawrenz book – “Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement“.

As I mentioned in the introduction this morning, over the next four months we are going to looking at how we can become a whole church. We want to take full advantage of the opportunities that God is sending to us to expand His kingdom, but we can’t do that as a broken church or a fragmented church. We have to do this as a whole church.

Now there are two aspects to this idea of a whole church. The first aspect that I want us to look at is the idea of unity. Moving beyond our differences and focusing on what we have in common. This is exactly what we read in our passage earlier.  1 Corinthians 12:12-13

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

Yes, there are many different parts, but we make up one body. Does everyone still have your puzzle piece? Can you take it out and hold it up for me to see for a minute? (Earlier, I had invited everyone in the congregation to come to the front to take a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that I had put together earlier…)

One of the biggest issues that I’ve wrestled with as a pastor over through the past two years is this issue right here. God has a lot of different puzzle pieces. And I don’t always know how they fit together, but I know that somehow they do. Just like the verse says…

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The Power of Facebook

This morning I want to discuss something that has never before been talked about in this church. In fact, I would guess that no one in this town has ever hear a sermon on the topic that we are going to tackle this morning.

And yet, through our discussion of this topic, I believe will better understand how to reach our community. I believe we will better understand how to grow as a church and as individuals, and I believe we’ll better understand the God who created us and loves us like crazy.

The topic that I want to discuss today is Facebook.

For those of you who know what Facebook is, you may wonder why it’s our topic of discussion today.

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It’s All About God

Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

We can learn a lot of stuff about God just in the very first verse of the Bible.

First of all, we need to know what the word “create” means? To make out of nothing.

Humans can not create things. We can take something and form it into something else. We can build things, compose things, assemble things, shape things – but we cannot create things.

But God creates stuff. Out of nothing. It’s not even hard for Him. He just says the word and BAM it’s there.

Look at this salt. One little grain of salt has about 12(+17 zeros) atoms in it. God made all those atoms out of nothing. If there are that many atoms in one grain of salt imagine how many atoms are in this salt shaker…. In this church building…. In the entire earth. That’s a lot of atoms that God just made out of nothing.

But God didn’t just make the earth – he made the heavens and the earth. Scientist have found a star that is so huge that you could fit 7 quadrillion earths inside it. If earth was the size of a golf ball, this star would be the height of Mt. Everest – about six miles high. And that’s just one star out of trillions. And God just created all that out of nothing.

That kinda puts things in perspective, doesn’t it. God’s amazingly powerful. Do you think a God like that is capable of taking care of you? Do you think a God like that can handle your problems?

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Lessons On God’s Work

Well, this is our final week of looking at Nehemiah. We’ve seen how God led Nehemiah to return to Judah from exile to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. We’ve also seen how Nehemiah faced great opposition, but persevered in spite of it. Now today we are going to look at just two verses to wrap it all up. But I should mention that this isn’t the end of the story of Nehemiah. In fact, we’re not even half-way through. There is lots more to the story and many more things that can be learned, so I would encourage you to read through the rest of Nehemiah.

But for today, we are going to look at two verse in chapter 6, verse 15 & 16:
So on October 2nd the wall was finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of our God.

From these two verses we can draw four principles that we can learn about God’s work.

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Satan’s Tactics: Discouragement, Distractions, & Down-Right Sin

This is our fourth week of looking at Nehemiah and how he led the people of Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls after 70 years of exile. It’s been very interesting (for me anyway) to read through this story and discover what principles we can apply to our situation here.

And I’m very excited to share with you the next part of the story. It’s my favorite part and I think the lessons that we learn from it are very applicable to everyone here. So let’s jump right into it.

Nehemiah 4:1-3
Sanballat was very angry when he learned that we were rebuilding the wall. He flew into a rage and mocked the Jews, 2 saying in front of his friends and the Samarian army officers, “What does this bunch of poor, feeble Jews think they’re doing? Do they think they can build the wall in a single day by just offering a few sacrifices? Do they actually think they can make something of stones from a rubbish heap—and charred ones at that?”

3 Tobiah the Ammonite, who was standing beside him, remarked, “That stone wall would collapse if even a fox walked along the top of it!”

God put it on Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the wall, God moved the king as to allow Nehemiah to go back to Jerusalem, and God put everything into place so that the walls of Jerusalem can be rebuilt for the His glory. So what does Satan do? He tries to stop it. Doesn’t Satan work the same way today? When God is doing something, Satan tries to get in the way. And he uses the same tactics back then as he does today too. So we are going to look at three of Satan’s tactics to stop God’s work. The first tactic he employs is discouragement.