Rank #1: Guilt & Shame
Here are two truth’s Pastor Leonce encourages us to meditate on, think about, and pray to believe: 1. In God’s grace my guilt is carried away, and I am granted access to Him through Christ. 2. In God’s grace my shame is covered and I am clean because of Christ.
Rank #2: For The Love Of Money
In fact in both the pursuit and the acquisition we think we have the power to produce joy for ourselves. But if we are honest, endless hours have never actually satisfied. And no product we’ve been able to purchase has ever produced a lasting happiness, let alone joy.
We are willing to bet that every one of us has saved for something we believed would alter our emotions, or reposition our status, or become a symbol of our accomplishment, and when we finally got it, the let down was more than we could have possibly imagined.
So, yes, I LOVE his story, because it gives me hope and should give you hope as well. We too can choose the counterintuitive path.
We can choose to organise our lives around living rather than around working for things. We can choose to not pursue the American dream and instead enjoy God’s vision for us.
This is at the heart of what the Teacher wants us to see today. It’s not that money or the things we can buy with it are inherently evil. The issue is if we love money and the life it can provide for us, then we will miss what it is we are actually searching for—joy. Even stronger, the Teacher says that Only God gives the power to enjoy money and possessions.
Vanity | For The Love Of Money | Ecclesiastes 5:8-6:9
Rank #3: God Is Near
For the Christian, we turn to the scriptures to remember and lean on the promises of God. Today Pastor Doug will unpack a song in the Bible that has given hope to the people of God for thousands of years.
Stand Alone Sermons | God Is Near | Psalm 46
Rank #4: Going Through
Today we begin a rather lengthy, but I anticipate enjoyable, journey through the letter, James. What we have before us in this letter is a group of people going through it, suffering economic hardships at the hands of the wealthy and the temptation to either lose hope or sinfully regain control, and their Pastor is writing to them deeply concerned that as they go through it, they do so in a way that reflects who they truly are and what they say they believe.
This quote fairly accurately captures the nature of James’ ancient words. His letter is powerful, unsettling and comforting all at the same time.
I imagine this will speak to many of us, particularly those of us from cultures that have historically endured oppression. And yet, as those who have been drawn into a conciliated community through Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s generosity, even if we are not from a people who have been historically oppressed, we can enter into the narrative of our sisters and brothers because of our common communion with Jesus.
As we explore James words, and the context in which they were written, we will find ourselves together wrestling with our perspective on wealth and poverty; the depths of Justice; public policy; how to endure difficulty well, and reward for doing so; wisdom in what we say and how we say it; preferential treatment and the nature of Justification, which is, for those of you who may not yet be Christians, what it means to be square with God.
I hope that as we spend the summer wrestling with these words together, we will grow not just as individuals, but as a community, because this was James’ intent in writing the letter, and God’s intent in preserving it for us.
James | Going Through | James 1:1-12
Rank #5: The Value of Life
Stand Alone Sermons | The Value of Life | Psalm 8:1-9
Rank #6: To A New Season
God has something He wants to do in me, in you, in us… at all times… but because we are afraid of what it might cost, or what we might lose, or how it might feel, or what someone will think, we shrink back.
The hope for today is that we will be set free from fear and not be captive to familiarity, so that whatever new work He is doing in each of us, and through each of us, we might welcome it with gladness and freedom.
Why? Because as Jesus is going to show us—by way of what He taught others—is that The new season of God is unfit for the old.
Rank #7: Time
Because we think time belongs to us, and we should be able to do whatever we want with it. We think we’re the King of the Clock. The Masters of Time; Acting confidently that Time should be obedient to us. And yet life as a self-proclaimed Time Master drives us to autonomous, angry, anxiety laden lives.
Today we dive into the third chapter of Ecclesiastes to hopefully discover the truth that can help us see time properly. Time belongs to God and, this demands we stand in awe of Him.
Vanity | Time | Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
Rank #8: Renovation Church | A City On A Hill
Do you have the desire to be apart of something bigger than yourself? As a people, we are designed with an innate desire to make a positive impact on the world around us. But how can we fulfill these desires? What is the best way for us to engage the world around us in a way honoring to Jesus?
This past week, during our bi-annual vision Sunday, Pastor Léonce spoke on what it means to be engaged in the life of Renovation Church. Renovation Church is to be A City On a Hill; a light in a world filled with darkness.
Rank #9: How To Pray
I know that seems like a strong accusation to open with. I think with a little reflection we will all agree this is true about us to one degree or another. The reasons for this will vary wildly.
For some us, it will be that we have a strong religious background. If you grew up in another religion, God as a father is most likely completely foreign. Your perception of Him is one of distance and otherness. A god that is separate and far off.
Or perhaps you grew up in the church, but the scriptures that describe God in his cosmicness where overemphasized. The stories your parents or pastors emphasized where about God being surrounded in unapproachable light or when Moses ask God to see Him, and God responds that you can not see me and live. For those that grew up in those traditions often feel as though we are offensive worms and God is a judge simply holding back his anger because of Jesus. As a result, we tend to pray to God in a manner that is aware of His holiness but absent His affections.
The second group of us actually talk to God like He is a father, it’s just as a reflection of the sins of our earthly father. We talk to God out of our daddy issues. Our communication with God was formed in how we communicated with our earthly fathers. For those people, myself included this manifest itself most commonly in a few ways.
We talk to God from a place of shame. We pray to Him as though He constantly disapproves of who we are. Almost as though we feel like He believes He made a mistake in creating us.
Walk talk to God from a place of fear. We pray to Him as though He is at any moment we could push him over the edge. It sometimes feels like at any moment He will abandon us. So we pray from a place of trying to keep punishment at bay.
So the idea of talking to God as a loving father seems foreign.
While these categories by no way cover everyone, I think we can all agree that we don’t talk to God like a loving father.
For most of human history the ideas of distance, shame, and fear were normal for humanity’s understanding of its relationship with God.
But in the story we are going to read this morning, we are going to see a very different relationship that. In fact, scriptures position is that our heavenly Father wants to hear the heart of His children.
How To Pray | Stand Alone Sermon | Matthew 6
Rank #10: God Sees The Unseen
In the book of Luke, we have a scene the God intentionally put in scripture so that we would know the lengths he has gone through to let us know, he sees the unseen.
Visible | God Sees The Unseen | Luke 7:11-17
Rank #11: Boundaries
Rank #12: Wait On Him
We would rather take the reigns, feign control, and power through, rather than wait for God to do what He will, working always on our behalf.
The call from James, though, cuts through our tendencies, and points us to a better way—Be patient through your difficulty; the Lord is coming—the Lord is near. Wait on him with patient confidence, He will never fail to keep His word.
James | Wait On Him | James 5:7-12
Rank #13: Anti Christ
Rank #14: The Persistent Widow
We very easily lose heart. We grow discouraged. We cease to believe that which we long for, or long to see will ever come to fruition. Our thoughts become consumed with the idea that things will always be this way. They will never actually change. We think to ourselves, God doesn’t hear me. God doesn’t care. The injustices of this world are overtaking my sight, and sucking life from my soul— We. Feel. Abandoned.
And though all of these feelings are real, and not to simply be ignored, they are met with this resounding, wondrous truism, a promise from He who cannot lie. Words we must speak over ourselves in moments of deep doubt, and mounting discouragement—God hears our cries, and acts on our behalf, so we should not lose heart.
Yes, it often seems vindication comes slowly. It often seems prayers go unanswered. It often feels as though things will never change, and we will remain stuck, or heartbroken, or unaware of which way to go. But Jesus assures us in this beautiful, short little parable, that we are not forgotten.
Parables | The Persistent Widow | Luke 18:1-8
Rank #15: God Talk
Rank #16: Money As God's Gift
And yet from the Old Testament declaration of God getting a tithe, 10%, from all that He’d given His people (Leviticus 27:30-32); to Jesus’ words about the inseparable connection between heart and resources; to Paul’s admonition to the ancient church at Corinth that they should prove their love by excelling in generosity as they did in faith, speech and knowledge (2 Corinthians 8:7-8); and that God has a special place in His heart for the radically generous (2 Corinthians 9:7), it seems genuine faith and faithful generosity are indivisible.
True salvation and radical generosity cannot be uncoupled.
Sex Money Power | Money As God's Gift | Luke 19:1-10
Rank #17: Higher Thinking
Start, Stop, Repeat | Higher Thinking | Colossians 3:1-2
Rank #18: Enjoyment
Vanity | Enjoyment | Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:26
Rank #19: Why Mission?
Rank #20: Wives & Husbands
What we will find today as we search the scriptures together is that Marriages thrive when Wives and Husbands diligently pursue one another's joy, desire and honour. That is what will help to create a thriving, healthy marriage.
Relationships: Messy & Marvelous | Wives & Husbands | Proverbs 5:18-19, Song of Songs 7:1-13, 1 Peter 3:1-7