Last Sunday Pastor Juan dug deep into the book of 1st Peter and talked about being different. Peter reaches out to the hurting Xians, who were facing extreme persecution, in Asia minor (or modern Turkey).
In 1 Peter 1:1, he wrote to encourage the Xtians: “This letter is from Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. I am writing to God’s chosen people who are living as foreigners in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”
Peter described them as strangers, and foreigners. Why? Because they were not from here and neither are you!
As followers of Jesus, we are not called to look like the rest of the world. We don’t live like those from here since this world is not our eternal home.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT: Different values, Different standards, Different goals.
Too many times, we are more acceptable of being told what is right or wrong by news outlets or media then by the Bible or a Pastor. Being miserable has nothing to do with the person who is reminding you of your Christian values, standards, and goals but being miserable has everything to do with our stubbornness.
We live in a world where the consequences of sin hurt people. We must be different. We must be the difference!
We are always going to face trials while we are here.
You might ask, if trials are bad, why would God allow them? You can see it as God is allowing these trials or He’s testing your faith.
It’s all about perspective.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” 1 Peter 1:6-7
If there is a “genuine faith,” there’s also a false faith which we must be watchful of. One of the biggest challenges in churches today is False faith.
WHAT IS FALSE FAITH?
There are different types of false faith. One is Hereditary faith.
This is where you only believe because maybe you grew up in church or maybe your parents believed. You believe based on your history and not on your own personal al relationship with God.
There is Superficial faith. The story of the sower in Matthew 13:7, 22 describes how some can be sporadic in their faith. They listen to truth and maybe even come to church and seek God for a short time but then it is no longer a priority. There are no roots and, therefore, no fruit.
In verse 22, it says “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.”
There is also Conditional faith. It’s the mentality, “I will believe as long as things go my way.” Many people only have faith until circumstances happen. Once a difficult situation arises, they turn from God.
God uses your trials in many different ways. Trials test your faith!
Trials Reveal your Faith.
“7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” 1 Peter 1:7 (Also see Luke 22:31-32)
Peter in the early years was Obnoxious, Impulsive, Cocky, and very inconsistent. In later years, he is described as Faithful, Devoted, Patient and even Bold. The trials he faced, grew his faith.
Take a look at James 1:2-4 Living Bible (TLB) “2 Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, 3 for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete.”
There is purpose in your pain! God never wastes anything you go through.
Trials also draw you closer to God. In difficult trials, we need to run to God, Pray, trust and spend time in His presence.
“8 You love [God] even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 NLT
God promised to save us from our sins, not our trials. Trials help you grow in Christ. They help you focus on what matters most, not just what matters now. Trials helps us be more choosey of our path.
As we grow to depend on God, we will rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy knowing our reward.
We need to base our faith in who God is, not our circumstances. By focusing on God, we can overcome any trial with victory and walk out of any valley with confidence knowing the end result and where we are from.
Join us Sunday for the next chapter in This is How We Do it!! 10:15 am!
Last Sunday we continued our series on This is how we do it! We put God first in our lives! This is part of spiritual growth.
Though there are definitive steps to growth, the first and foremost important step is death to self. This is SO hard in our narcissistic, selfie-taking, me-first, copycat, unoriginal, plastic surgery, and keeping up with the Jones’ culture that we live in.
Remember Polaroid pictures? They were no joke! You got one shot for the perfect picture.
Now we can take 100 pictures, curate all the shots and come up with the final 3, retouch it on our phones (take out all the wrinkles, blemishes, and trim the double chin), and then post them on social media and get a bunch of likes. With snapchat, the filters are so good that you can wake up looking like Dracula, and still look like princess Diana.
The problem with filters is that they hide what’s really going on.
We hide behind cameras. We tell a public fairytale story, when our private life is falling apart.
KEY THOUGHT: God cannot elevate who you pretend to be.
God is all about changing and blessings us, but he can only change and bless our true selves.
There’s a story in the bible about a man named Jacob. Jacob, from the moment he was born, it was all about him.
Jacob was always trying to be first. When he was born, he came out grabbing onto his brother’s heel. Even as was a baby, he subconsciously wanted to get ahead. Jacob had a “me-first” mentality.
Today, we live in a “me-first” culture, in which we all subconsciously strive to be recognized.
Jesus asked in Luke 9,
VS. 25 “Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? If any of you is embarrassed with me and the way I’m leading you, know that the Son of Man will be far more embarrassed with you when he arrives in all his splendor in company with the Father and the holy angels.” (MSG)
We all grasp at things like status and security, but in the process of grabbing at stuff, we run the risk of losing our very selves.
This, my friends, is the greatest problem we have in America. We live in a world where God is an option of many other gods around us.
We live in a world that we are miserable because we are all about me first. Self-sacrifice is what it costs to follow Jesus.
WE DON’T FOOL GOD WITH OUR FILTERS:
When Jacob was younger, he tricked his old, blind father into giving him the blessing that was meant for his older brother. In Genesis 27-28, he even dressed up in animal skins and pretended to be Esau to steal his blessing (Essau was hairy).
Jacob invented himself a 4D version of the filter back in the day!!! (Genesis 27:21-27)
We also put on costumes and filters to get things we think we need.
We all have a gap between the person we want to be and the person we are, so we create a fake identity to bridge the gap.
Jacob got the blessing by pretending to be someone he wasn’t. But because of his deception, he had to spend the next 20 years on the run from Esau. He got exactly what he wanted, but he never got to enjoy it.
God cannot elevate who we pretend to be!!
We don’t fool God with our disguises, and the blessings we get when we pretend are not even real blessings that we can fully enjoy for ourselves.
Just because the pictures look good on social media, doesn’t mean that the heart looks great.
They could be going through unimaginable things in their lives and you would never have guessed it.
The only time God can really bless us is when we choose to get a hold of God in our lives and not let go! Jacob clung to God and would not let go in 'Genesis 32:22-31. God blesses those that cling to Him and don’t let go.
Most of us fight for relationships, promotions, status, but what if we just fight to not let go of God until he chooses where we will be blessed?
Jacob was 97 years old when he wrestled with God. Having conned his way through life, this was his turning point. After wrestling all night, God told him to let go. But Jacob refused to let go until God blessed him. When God asked his name, he said “Jacob.” In that moment, God renamed him “Israel” and blessed him.
Jacob had finally gotten a hold of God, the only One who could truly bless him, and he wouldn’t let go.
The first key to finding our very selves is to make the decision not to let go of God. God is the only One who can truly bless us. Don’t tap out on Him and give up on His promises. Hold on. Never let go.
When God asked Jacob his name, he answered truthfully. He didn’t pretend to be someone else, as he had in the past.
The second key to finding our very selves is to admit who we really are. All God wants is for us to come to Him as we are. Then He gives us a new name. A new new identity in Christ!
However, even after Jacob’s name had been changed, the Bible continues to call him both Jacob and Israel. This is because change is conflicting, and it’s a process.
Change is conflicting, and change takes time. It is not a linear process. REAL Change begins with not letting go of God.
So, who are you fighting for? The fake you that you consistently and exhaustingly pretend to be? or the identity that God wants to give you?
Don’t give up too quickly… Me first is miserable.
Join us Sunday for the next chapter and bring a friend!
Last week, we started a new Series titled: This is how we do it. We put God first!
The premise of this new series is to explore ways to be contagious Christians. It is not enough to be a Christian in the outskirts of our everyday life, we must be contagious in our approach! Not only contagious but also deliberate with how we show up when others choose to go with the flow. You shouldn’t have to make excuses for being a Christian! Even with many doing it wrong, you can be a loud voice to show how it’s done right. The first area we are focusing on is generosity.
We rarely talk about generosity since we don’t want anyone ever to feel pressure to give but rather understand how we should be leading the way with irrational generosity!
At UPC, do at least one charitable event every month. And this month we are planning two!
We have done over 40 I love my city projects. Here, at UP Church, we aren’t interested in teaching anyone to give, we are interested in teaching you how to be irrationally generous. We will be feeding people on Thanksgiving who have no place to go and providing meals to families in need and we are so excited!
Most people think they are generous because they give but giving and being generous are two different things.
Most Americans don’t feel rich and we are. We have a House, Car, etc. Most Americans think we are generous and we really aren’t.
The average American gives 2.8% if their income.
The number one reason why we don’t give is because we have a scarcity mentality.
And scarcity is a cycle that is really hard to break!
It goes like this: God Supplies: We consume. We lack. We fear. We consume again.
The scarcity mentality is one that says: “I can’t never get ahead…” “I always have to struggle…” “I wish I could give more…” Or we just start cringing when the pastor starts talking about generosity, even if it’s not often.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT:
WE GIVE GENEROUSLY.
7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 2 Cor 9:7-9 NLT
This is how we do it!
THIS IS HOW GOD DOES IT:
GOD MULTIPLIES ABUNDANTLY.
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God.2 Cor 9:10-11
We give. God multiplies. Faith kicks in. We give again.
Here’s the difference: God doesn’t give, God is generous. And God is calling us to be like Him. He is calling us to not settle for good enough, but to be great and stretch our faith to be more like Him… Being more like God is being generous.
Giving is ordinary, generosity is extraordinary.
Giving is what I do when I have an overabundance of something, generous is what I do when I want to test my faith.
3 Ways To Foster Generosity:
• Spiritual Growth -> Know the source (GOD) -> Trust the source -> Be blessed by the source.
• Active faith is actually stretching our giving to foster generosity. It’s not giving what is conformable, but rather, giving what will stretch your faith.
• Confidence in God: You are confident, not waiting, but confident that God will supply your every needs.
Most people stay outside the bounds of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is what determines the level of generosity, or the lack thereof.
How come we like to listen to the Holy Spirit in every other area of our life but not in the area of generosity? After all, aren’t we stealing from God?? If God is saying this is what obedience looks like… Give your tithes and offering and you can test me in this… And we are like… Ummm…. Nah… That’s alright.
This is not about coursing or manipulating anyone to give but rather to teach people to listen to the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is always right! The Holy Spirit is an unstoppable force that will tell you to go to the bible so the bible can give you practical lessons on generosity. One way God is calling us to be generous is to test him with our tithes:
TITHING BREAKS THE CYCLE OF SCARCITY AND CREATES A NEW CYCLE OF SUPPLY.
First 10% of everything we receive—belongs to God.
THE POWER OF THE TITHE
1) THE TITHE TEACHES US PUT GOD FIRST.
The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives. Deut. 14:23 TLB
For me to do that—I’d have to rearrange my whole life—YES.
I’d have to give up something—YES.
This would stretch my faith—YES!
It takes faith to give first. It doesn’t take faith to give last.
2) THE TITHE BUILDS OUR FAITH.
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. Mal 3:10-11
Give me your first and best, I’ll bless the rest!
90% with God’s blessings goes further than 100% without.
3) THE TITHE PROVIDES FOR THE WORK OF GOD’S CHURCH.
10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Mal 3:10
Last Sunday we gave food and provided services to the community with our Harvest Fest without charging them a penny… That was due to our generosity.
We have dreams and visions (God-given vision) such as starting new services to reach more people, starting an online campus and more!
We can either advance the work of God through our generosity or a keep things stuck. Think about all the lives that are going to know Jesus Christ through our every effort of being radically generous.
This is what WE do. We put God first! In our generosity and every area.
Join us Sunday for the next segment of This is How We Do It! Bring a friend and come worship and fellowship with us!
The lead and social media team will be bringing you content on all things UP church! Subscribe to our page!