On Sunday, we kicked off our new series about the book of Acts. There are many people who focus only on the gospels and skip over Acts entirely, and there are others who only concentrate on Acts, but can't tell you about salvation and the cross. It's so important to have an understanding of both! Jesus' suffering on the cross was for our atonement because He loves us so much. The cross became a beautiful collision of the justice & love of God. He didn't have to do it, but He chose to for you & for me. Thank you, Jesus! He also gave us the promise of a gift, the Holy Spirit. This gift will empower us (putting His super on our natural), unify us (even servants can receive it), purify us (give us the ability to be convicted & bear fruit), and reveal to us (help guide us & make us aware). The purpose is for us to be His witnesses. Let's engage culture and share it everywhere we go! FORWARD LIFE HANDOUT
Pull out your number 2 pencils. Here's your scantron. It's test time. You may begin. For a lot of us, tests are the worst, but God uses them to decide when we're ready for our promise(s). Tests can accelerate or delay us for the shifting of seasons. Many times God will put us in a time of squeezing & pressure to reveal what's inside. He wants to see our hearts. If they're not in the place to handle the promise, He won't give it to us yet. The Lord will not give us something that has the potential to take His place in our hearts. In Joshua 7, we read the story of Achan. His hidden sin and unwillingness to come clean when under investigation, destroyed not only him, but his entire family. His family endorsed his sin by not confronting it & speaking the truth in love. We must give God what belongs to Him. The only difference between a gift & an idol is what we're willing to sacrifice. We cannot be more attached to the promise than the God who gave it to us. Let's let God be enough. May we put on the altar the very thing we've been praying for because the reward isn't the promise, but HIM. His presence is our reward. FORWARD LIFE HANDOUT
God is doing a new thing. He has new territory He wants us to step into, but we must have faith & trust. We like to think that the promise is for us, and it is, but more importantly we're instruments for Him. All of the obstacles we face are actually opportunities. Joshua had the instruction (the what), but he needed the strategy (the how) which comes by way of intimacy with the Lord. Before God crosses us over, we need to slow down and create space to get in His presence to hear Him clearly. Space precedes strategy. We must make time to take our shoes off and let Him anoint & prepare our feet for our new place.
God is doing a new thing. He has new territory He wants us to step into, but we must have faith & trust. We like to think that the promise is for us, and it is, but more importantly we're instruments for Him. All of the obstacles we face are actually opportunities. Joshua had the instruction (the what), but he needed the strategy (the how) which comes by way of intimacy with the Lord. Before God crosses us over, we need to slow down and create space to get in His presence to hear Him clearly. Space precedes strategy. We must make time to take our shoes off and let Him anoint & prepare our feet for our new place. FORWARD LIFE HANDOUT
On Sunday, Falon preached on the responsibilities of a promise. She explained that our first responsibility is simply to believe! We must believe it exists and that it's for us. The second responsibility is to commit to saving a people through our promise. We're given promises not just to enjoy, but for a reason. In Joshua 2, we read about 2 spies who were sent to check out Jericho. They ended up hiding in the prostitute Rahab's house where she kept them safe from harm. Though she had not seen miracles like the Red Sea parting with her own eyes, she believed & ended up having more revelation than the Israelites. When Rahab encountered the 2 spies who were men of God, she asked for a sure sign, for salvation. She wanted in. Despite her past, God saw enough in Rahab to allow her to eventually be part of the lineage of Jesus Christ! Forward City Church is here as a sure sign that God can save. Let's be responsible with our promises and watch how the Lord uses us! FORWARD LIFE HANDOUT
On Sunday, PT preached about the three areas/stations God took the Israelites through in the book of Joshua. He first took them to the Jordan which represents our "pre-op." This is the place where purification and cleansing happen and where God prepares us for what He's about to call us into. Next, God takes them to Gibeath Haaraloth which PT compared to surgery. This is the place where pain happens. No one desires it, but it often comes before promotion. It helps prepare, qualify, and strengthen us for our next. Finally, the Lord took them to Gilgal, or the "post-op." This signifies a place for healing and vulnerability & exposure. When skin has been cut open, it exposes what's hidden underneath. It's not until we trust God with our pain that He can deal with our shame. We are no longer bound by it! If we allow Him to roll back our shame, it will allow us to be who He called us to be. Let's trust Him to do an operation on us for our future. Forward Life Handout
In Joshua chapter 6, the Lord says to Joshua, "See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands..." God uses the past tense though no one has seen anything actually happen. God does things before we see them, so we must learn to see before we see. The Lord's language is faith and what we've been waiting on is already done! God gives Joshua specific commands regarding marching around the wall of the city. The obvious wall was around Jericho, but there were hidden walls as well. We have our obvious walls we face like divorce, debt, & sickness, but Mark 7:20-22 speaks of hidden walls like envy, slander, & pride. These are the root issues in our hearts that result in our outward sins. It's time to let God crush our hidden walls to qualify us for the place He's taking us. Let's let God deal with our noisy issues in a quiet place as we march on in silence. Father, give us faith, trust, and eyes to see when we can't see. Thank you, Lord, that you've already done it! Forward Life Handout
The story of the Israelites is our story today. God draws us out of our bondage and captivity for the sole purpose of drawing us unto himself. The Israelites experienced freedom from slavery but failed to recognize the purpose of their freedom- worship. Rather than take hold of the territory that was promised to them, their mistrust in the goodness and character of God led them to wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Like Joshua and Caleb learned, the Promise Land is reserved only for worshippers. God is searching for people who will dedicate their lives to worshipping Him in Spirit and Truth. Let’s devote ourselves to worship and experience the abundant life the Lord has for us! Forward Life Handout
In Jeremiah, God tells us that before He even formed us in the womb, He knew us. This version of us He speaks of is the REAL us, not who we want people to see or who we even see ourselves as, but who God knows we are. We have to be willing to give God the opportunity to reveal the real us by allowing Him access to everything, even what we hide. He desires for us to let go of anything that's become a necessity or an idol, and cling to Him instead. You see, our perception is not always God's reality. The things we perceive we must have we don't actually need, and the one thing we really do need, we already have! Jesus! What is God after today? Let's lay it at the altar and let the real us, the one He created us to be, come alive! Forward Life Handout
Grace. It sounds beautiful, but why is it so confusing? Why is it so hard to comprehend that it's a gift and all we have to do is accept it? We don't have to qualify for it or earn it. It's already been bought. No one understands drowning in grace like Jonah. By running from God and delaying his assignment, he caused the Lord to create a storm that could only be subdued by Jonah jumping in the water. All he could see were the waves that could destroy him, but underneath was God's plan of provision. After experiencing amazing grace from the Lord, Jonah had trouble extending it to the people of Nineveh. What he didn't understand is that God is in love with sinners and His priority is eternity. When we walk in selective grace, bitterness, and unforgiveness, we are denying God access. There is a direct connection between our ability to walk in grace and to be used at the highest level God wants to use us. It's time to finally let it go and drown in His grace. Forgive and experience freedom like never before. Forward Life Handout
It's just another typical day for Elisha. He's out plowing the fields with his oxen like always when, in just one moment, he experiences a collision with destiny and transforms from a plower to a prophet. God only needs a moment. Elisha's circumstances were the same, but he was different. He slaughtered his oxen and burned his plowing equipment to cancel that option. It's time to stop playing around with things that are delaying us and slay them. Sometimes we're just too safe to be great, but faith requires a bit of recklessness. Faith doesn't have a back-up plan. God has been setting you up, working in the background. Your calling isn't an accident, it's part of His story. What you've been searching for is about to find you. Keep moving forward! Forward Life Handout
In Daniel 3, we read about King Nebuchadnezzar and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The king gave 2 options to either conform by bowing to his idol or to get on fire by being thrown in the furnace. The answer to not conforming to this world is in being transformed by the renewing of our minds, but how do we do that exactly? We renew our minds by getting on fire, by burning them. Some strongholds are only broken by the fire, for there are no natural remedies for spiritual battles. The enemy is an usher sent to escort you away from the fire, but if you let God set you on fire, He will ignite the real you and you'll never be the same! Repair the altar and get back to the fire. Forward Life Handout
When it comes to our lives, we love to be in control. It can be so difficult to give it up, but God desires to take us deeper to a place where we give Him the control and, in turn, experience true freedom & peace. On Sunday, Pastor Trav talked about Ezekiel and the vision God gave him of a river flowing out of the temple. This river represents the Spirit of God. The water is always running, never stagnant, giving life to all it touches. The water is also expanding further and fuller in His presence. The more lost we are in Him, the more found He is in us. Finally, the water is deep. This river sounds amazing, doesn't it? Well, it actually flows within US and the more we desire Him, the more the rivers flow! In His presence there is fullness and you'll lack nothing. There is surely life in His river.
Marriage. It's wonderfully beautiful, but yes, it's also complicated. On Sunday, Pastor Jackie explained that there are 3 parts of marriage that people find complicated: the "foreverness" of it, the selflessness involved in it, and the fidelity that is absolutely required for it. God gives us the gift of marriage, yet He says, "Marriage is mine." He created man to love his wife like he loves himself and he created woman to submit to her husband and be his helper. Oneness, or sacred connection, unity, solidarity is so important. It's where our power lives, it's the way we show our children & others what God intended marriage to look like, and it allows us to produce everything the Lord call us to. A husband and wife who are one are on assignment together. Let God use your oneness in miraculous ways!
We all know the story of Noah and the ark. On Sunday, though, Pastor Travis reminded us that, like Noah, we were sent here to build, too. Noah's life shows us that favor was his sustainer, righteousness was his distinction, family was his assignment, and building an ark was his instruction. We are no different. Jesus is the new ark, the ark of salvation, and we must make room for it to dwell in us. We weren't just saved for ourselves, but to help rescue others. Let's live lives set apart, knowing that the future of others is attached to our obedience to the Lord. Keep building and watch what He creates!
Voids. We've all felt them. We were actually designed with them. God created all of us with the need for Him because He is the only one who can fill our voids. Period. No man or woman could ever fill them, though we sometimes think otherwise. In Judges 6 we read about Gideon trying to fill his void with wrong timing, wrong places, and wrong people. His fear/void drove him, but God used Him anyway. When God started speaking, Gideon's void started filling up. We have to listen to what God says about us and let His words of truth fill our emptiness. The more Gideon obeyed, the more fulfilled he became and the same rings true for us. He is enough. Forward Life Handout
God's desire is for us to desire Him above all else. He never asked anyone's opinion about creation because everything He creates is flawless & perfect in His sight. He created man and woman and was very clear about how he designed marriage. A lot of times we just want the "God of convenience." We like to say, "Amen" to the parts of the Bible that fit into our lives, but we pretend we didn't read the parts that may be more difficult for us. We can't love God and not love His word, though. They are one in the same. He only desires the best for us and He wants us to know we aren't what we've done and we aren't what we feel. We are what God calls us! Forward Life Handout
Serving is worship and worship is demonstrating the worth of God. This begins when we wake up in the morning & continues at our jobs, the gym, at church, and everywhere in between. God desires our serv-ship. He can't wait to say, "Well done my good and faithful SERVANT." There are two types of people who serve: those who want to be important by being seen & needing a title, and those who want to make an impact by changing lives even when all eyes aren't on them. Everyone matters in ministry- not just those on stage. It's time for us to get out of the stands, rise up, and get in the game. Let's use the gifts God has given us to display our serv-ship and demonstrate His incredible worth. Forward Life Handout
Why? But why? Toddlers love this question, but it can sometimes be an uncomfortable one to answer. It's important to know the reasons WHY we do what we do, though. Why do we serve? Are our motives tainted or pure? Do we perform for man or for the Lord? The enemy's goal is to target our purified why. He wants us weighed down and in bondage, but God desires us to live in freedom and healing. We must serve Him because He's worth it. We all have areas that are tainted, but it's time to let od invade our hearts, heal our wounds, and make our "whys" pure. He deserves it. Forward Life Handout