Even If? week 1 – 11/19/17

Main Scripture used – Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you”-[this is] the Lord’s declaration-“plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

One of our core beliefs at Cross Connect Church is the idea that you come as you are and leave different.  It is OK to belong before you believe.  Our church strives to be a place where it is safe enough to belong.  Everyone is welcome.

After belonging, we want to help you reach a place of believing. Believing is an intellectual agreement with an idea.  It changes everything.  This is all about Jesus!

With believing, we move to the next stage of becoming!  We become the people we were meant to be.

These are some of the things that we at Cross Connect Church value:

  • Excellence (not perfection) – “Do all things as unto the Lord!” We may not be perfect, but we do the best we can do.

  • Multiplication – This is multiplying ourselves into other people.  Churches should be making more churches.  Christians should be making more Christians.

  • Creativity – Using our God-given talents

  • A Contrary Voice Approaching things from different vantage points

  • Service – We do what we say.  “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.”

 

 Even If? week 2 – 11/26/17

Main Scripture used – Matthew 13:1-23

A Harvest Story

13 1-3 At about that same time Jesus left the house and sat on the beach. In no time at all a crowd gathered along the shoreline, forcing him to get into a boat. Using the boat as a pulpit, he addressed his congregation, telling stories.

3-8 “What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

“Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Why Tell Stories?

10 The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”

11-15 He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:

Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing.
    Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
The people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
    so they won’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
    so they won’t have to look,
    so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face
    and let me heal them.

16-17 “But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.

The Meaning of the Harvest Story

18-19 “Study this story of the farmer planting seed. When anyone hears news of the kingdom and doesn’t take it in, it just remains on the surface, and so the Evil One comes along and plucks it right out of that person’s heart. This is the seed the farmer scatters on the road.

20-21 “The seed cast in the gravel—this is the person who hears and instantly responds with enthusiasm. But there is no soil of character, and so when the emotions wear off and some difficulty arrives, there is nothing to show for it.

22 “The seed cast in the weeds is the person who hears the kingdom news, but weeds of worry and illusions about getting more and wanting everything under the sun strangle what was heard, and nothing comes of it.

23 “The seed cast on good earth is the person who hears and takes in the News, and then produces a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.”

In our culture, we are taught to start with “please” and then end with “thank you.” Does this mean that we should get what we want in order to be thankful?  The Bible teaches us to be thankful for everything in all situations.  (Eph. 5:20) The “thank you” part should never be contingent on the “please.”

In this parable, Jesus talks about the good seed falling into 4 types of ground:

  1. Hard Ground (a path) – This represents people who want everything about God explained before they experience it.

  2. Rocky Ground – These are the people who respond quickly to the gospel message, but they have no roots.  The emotions wear off and they soon stop responding.

  3. Thorny Ground – These are people who allow the worry of life and the pursuit of wealth to soon take first place in their lives.

  4. Good Ground – These are people who hear the Word and take it to heart and it produces a harvest beyond their wildest dreams.

Ask yourself:

  1. What kind of soil are you?

  2. What kind of soil are you ready to become?

Even the most wretched soil can become healthier and produce!

 

 Even If? week 3 – 12/03/17

Main Scripture used – Matthew 13:24-30;36-43

The Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds

24 He presented another parable to them: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while people were sleeping, his enemy came, sowed weeds among the wheat, and left. 26 When the plants sprouted and produced grain, then the weeds also appeared. 27 The landowner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Master, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Then where did the weeds come from?’

28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he told them.

“‘So, do you want us to go and pull them up?’ the servants asked him.

29 “‘No,’ he said. ‘When you pull up the weeds, you might also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At harvest time I’ll tell the reapers: Gather the weeds first and tie them in bundles to burn them, but collect the wheat in my barn.’”

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 He replied: “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; 38 the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will gather from his kingdom all who cause sin[h] and those guilty of lawlessness.[i] 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Let anyone who has ears[j] listen.

Have you ever had the thought that you thought you knew someone “but then they reared their ugly heads?”  In this parable, it is interesting to see that the weeds looked just like the wheat until they grew.  When we experience these kinds of situations, we tend to “pull up the weeds.”

But remember:

  1. It is not your job or my job to uproot.  Dr. Johnson said, “God Himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead, so why should I?”

  2.  If we try to uproot the weeds, we will damage everything (the wheat).  The church never hurt anybody! People hurt other people!  It is our job to live well (as wheat) in this tension.

The challenge of the weeds can help us grow stronger.  The miracle of God is that He can change weeds into wheat!