Thursday, January 26, 2012

Loving the Broken

“Loving the Broken” is our theme this Sunday drawn from the stirring Bible story of Mephibosheth. Saul, his grandfather, was David’s arch enemy while Mephibosheth’s father, Jonathan, was David’s’ best friend. David shows Mephibosheth great kindness for Jonathan’s sake. Mephibosheth knows what brokenness is all about… his grandfather, father and uncles are killed when he is a child and a nurse drops him from her arms, crippling him.

When we think of brokenness three issues come to mind.

1) The burden of brokenness. Broken promises, broken dreams, broken relationships, broken health, financially “broke”. Nervous breakdowns, marital break ups and broken hearts – we live in a broken world!

2) The blessing of brokenness. There is a story in the Bible of a woman who broke an alabaster box to pour expensive perfume on Jesus. Sometimes out of brokenness comes the sweet fragrance of understanding, compassion, and patience. At the Last Supper, Jesus says of the bread, “This is my body broken for you.” His brokenness brings our wholeness!

3) The banishment of brokenness. In Heaven no one or no thing will ever be broken(Revelation 21:4). Hallelujah, what a future – but for now let us be as Jesus and love the broken.
See you Sunday!

1) Note the ministry of the Messiah. Isaiah 61:1
2) What are the sacrifices God honors in Psalm 51:17?
3) What does God heal besides broken bodies? Psalm 147:3
4) What “brokenness” have we all experienced? Romans 2:23, James 2:8-10
5) What did Jesus do to illustrate His sacrifice in Luke 22:19?
6) Study these fascinating prophecies about Jesus and His death. Genesis 12:46;
Numbers 9:11-12; Psalm 34:20; John 19:36; I Corinthians 5:7
7) What can’t break? John 10:35
8) If we have the Spirit of Lord, whom we will reach out to? Psalm 34:18

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Loving Your Enemies

One day a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus made it clear that anyone in need is our “neighbor”. Studying this Sunday’s text I would like to ask Jesus “Who is my enemy that I’m to love?”
Does “loving our enemies” include terrorists who wreak death and destruction, criminals who harm innocent victims, celebrities who mock Christian values, gossips that ruin reputations, and those who wrong us or our loved ones?
Does “loving our enemies” mean we never fight a war, punish criminals or oppose those who teach error?
To be commanded to “love our enemies” assumes we have enemies. Who do we picture in our minds as “the enemy”? How would we “love” them? Would that “love” be primarily an emotion or an action? Is our attitude toward “the enemy” one of resolution (if possible) or retaliation?
May the Spirit of Jesus stretch us and teach us as we consider “loving our enemies”.
See You Sunday!

1. What is the promise to Abraham’s descendants about their enemies? Genesis
2. Psalm 23:5 mentions a prepared table in the presence of our enemies – what
might that mean?
3. What is David’s prayer request in Psalm 59:1-2?
4. Does God have any enemies? Psalm 68:1
5. Have we ever been “the enemy”? Romans 5:10
6. Who does the New Testament say is our enemy? I Peter 5:8
7. What is the “last” enemy? I Corinthians 15:23-26
8. Compare Matthew 5:44 and Matthew 6:12.
9. Do you think Jesus may have had these proverbs in mind when teaching us to
love our enemies? Proverbs 24:17, 25:21

Friday, January 13, 2012

Loving Others

Years ago J.B. Phillips wrote a bestseller entitled, Your God Is Too Small. His thesis? Most people, including Christians, suffer under the illusion that the God of the universe has limitations. These are the limitations imposed by what others have told us about Him or by what the circumstances of our lives seem to imply. These are also the limitations that we impose by projecting our deficiencies on God. Phillips’ point is that our lives are diminished and our faith remains tepid by every false notion of God. As we have seen over the decades, God is bigger, better, and more in control than any of us can possibly know this side of heaven.

In the same way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been diminished over the years by many including a lot of evangelical Christians. It seems crazy, but it’s true. The prevailing notion among most evangelical Christians is that the Gospel of salvation is all about getting to heaven. It’s not. In fact, it’s only been in the last century in America that the Gospel has been seen exclusively as a ticket to heaven. For 1900 years Christians have known that salvation by grace through faith as a gift far greater and more comprehensive than what happens to us after we die. Indeed, the wholeness that Jesus brings to a broken life is not only eternal redemption, it’s also temporal transformation. He begins a process of changing us into His own character.

Two weeks ago we began looking at the marks of a transformed heart. We began with love – loving your brother. Last week God used Jay Mitlo to show us how a transforming heart can love a son or daughter as God loves him/her. Jay nailed it. The focus of loving our children is a clear appreciation of God’s loving control over the ones we love. So much of what passes for loving our children these days is selfish control. And the Lord’s message through Jay was a terrific corrective.

This week we look at how a transformed heart is to love others. In Matthew 7 Jesus concludes His most famous discourse, the Sermon on the Mount, by offering what has become known as the Golden Rule. It’s a “rule” we teach to our children. It’s a rule that most hold as a noble ethic. But in the last few months I’ve come to see it as far more than that. What I once deemed to be an expression of ethical living, God has exploded.

Taking the injunction that a text without a context is a pretext seriously, check the surrounding verses. In the verses that immediately precede verse 12 Jesus reveals the depth of His Father’s love for His children. He says, “If you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more does your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask.” And for years I felt that the period that ends that sentence was the end of the thought. But recently I’ve come to appreciate the “so.” In other words, He links verse 12 to what’s come before. Moreover, He links what immediately follows with verse 12. So think of that. He leads with a description of His Father’s love for His own. He follows that with the Golden Rule. Then He continues the thought with a description of the broad way to destruction and the narrow way to life. What do you make of that? Have you ever examined the linkage between these three concepts? What do they mean to you? That’s what we’re going to talk about this Sunday as we explore what a transformed heart looks like in loving others.

In preparation for Sunday you may wish to consider the following:

1. What is the significance of the Sermon on the Mount in Jesus’ preaching
2. Why do you suppose this “message” is so de-emphasized within the
evangelical church?
3. How is the life of Christ as important to the Gospel as His death and
4. How important is the Golden Rule to you?
5. When you were first taught the Golden Rule was it more about doing “good”
things for others or avoiding doing “bad” things to others?
6. What is the correlation between the description of the Heavenly Father in
verses 9-11 and the Golden Rule?
7. How do verses 13 and 14 relate to the Golden Rule? Or is Jesus onto a
separate topic?
8. What does Jesus mean by the words “destruction” and “life”?
9. How does Jesus’ life mirror the Golden Rule?
10. What is the relationship between this part of the Sermon on the Mount and
transformation from brokenness?

See you Sunday!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Loving your Son

Hello! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jay Mitlo. I have been in ministry (both with YoungLife and as an Executive Pastor) for the past 16 years. Doug Rehberg has asked me to preach this Sunday on the subject of “Loving your son (child)”. My youngest son, Trey, was diagnosed on December 24, 2010 with Neuroblastoma. Neuraoblastoma is a very stubborn if not aggressive cancer that is tumor (rather than blood) related that occurs in babies and young children. After 12 months of treatment it has now been ruled by the doctors that Trey’s cancer is not curable. I have certainly seen the Lord do some amazing things through, but much more in, my family in the past year. It is my honor to share some of them with them you this week.

What makes parenting so hard? I apologize if I am assuming that you think it is hard. For those of you who are skipping through your parenting years wondering why everyone else is struggling, you may stop reading now. Obviously, there is no single answer to this question but a myriad that come to mind. What is it for you? I think a few things come to mind very quickly. Things like time commitments, other parents, today’s culture, etc. Yet, I believe that there are some base level issues that we all face that truly bog us down as parents. No matter what we try or what book we read we just get exasperated when dealing with raising “Godly (or at least not complete failure) children”.

The scripture this week needs a bit of an expository exception. I will be preaching primarily from Luke 15: 11-32. You know it as the story of the Prodigal Son. I say “expository exception” in that the reason Jesus told this parable is that He was defending His spending time with “sinners and tax collectors”, a charge made against Him by the Pharisees and scribes. Its main parallel is the son being “the lost” coming to know Christ and coming home to our Heavenly Father (his birth father in the parable). The acceptance he receives from his father is in direct contrast to that which he receives from his brother, symbolizing the stoic believer who offers no grace. That being said, I believe we can glean much wisdom from how this father treats his son(s).

I will leave you with a few questions in preparation for the sermon Sunday.
1. What do you struggle with as a parent?
2. How does your journey resemble that of the father in this selection?
3. How might you have handled a similar situation?
4. What stands out more to you about the Father? That he let his son go or that he welcomed him back?
5. What is your greatest fear as a parent? What is behind that fear?

I look forward to this Sunday. If you are not a parent this sermon will most assuredly pertain to you as well. The base level truths found in this scripture apply to most every part of our life and walk with Christ. I know that Rachel (my precious wife) and I are not the only ones facing heartache and tough times as parents. It has been our humble blessing to walk through these challenging times with some amazing people facing their own struggles as well. I will be praying that God will prepare your hearts and open your ears to hear His gentle whisper this Sunday.