LOVE THE 937
September 24, 2017
We seldom give much thought to the actual words we speak, yet Jesus taught that words are meaningless without actions to back them up. Join us this weekend in worship as we continue searching out what it means to truly LOVE the 937 -
LOVE the 937: promises, promises
- Genesis 1:1-3
- Matthew 8
- John 1:14
Live As People Of Promise
See this week’s REFOCUS questions for deeper reflection.
LOVE the 937
We seldom give much thought to the actual words we speak, yet Jesus taught that words are meaningless without actions to back them up. Join us this weekend in worship as we continue searching out what it means to truly - LOVE the 937:
MONDAY: 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
To begin to love the 937, you have to embrace the pain in the 937. How have you seen pain in the people around you? How can you embrace them in it?
TUESDAY: Genesis 1:1-3, Matthew 8:5-13
God’s word immediately becomes deed. Does your word carry out into action? Are there promises you need to fulfill?
WEDNESDAY: Deuteronomy 31:8, Romans 10:9
God has given us many promises. What has God promised you? How do you see those promises playing out in your life?
THURSDAY: Romans 8:31-39
These verses are a powerful promise to the world. How can you share it? Do you know someone who needs to hear it?
FRIDAY: Ephesians 4:11-13
God gave us gifts to use as we share God’s love. What are some of your gifts and talents? How can you use them to God’s glory?
SATURDAY: Joshua 1:9
What do you fear? Is it causing you to break your promises to God and others? How can love conquer that fear?
SUNDAY: Matthew 5:27-37
Who in your life deserves a new/better promise from you? What promise do you need to make and keep for yourself?
Love the 937 - Promises, Promises
Pastor Chris Heckaman
Good evening/morning friends. I am loving you loving the 937.
If I’m honest… This study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has been messing with me big time. Especially as I got into this week’s text.
I thought it was going to be a simple message about keeping our promises, you know—let your yes be your yes and your no, no—but no, no, no, no, no, nooo… not when Jesus starts with the context of adultery and divorce. He’s blowing the lid off & taking it to a whole ‘nother level.
What in the world do adultery and divorce have to do with loving the 937? The answer is EVERYTHING.
Initially I wanted to skip over these two topics and save them for another day. They are pretty big subjects. We cannot… to talk about promise-keeping we have to step into the dark underworld world of promise-breaking.
It’s where Jesus started. Smack dab in the middle of the deepest brokenness in his world.
The truth is friends: we’re not very good at keeping our promises at all.
How many of you have ever heard of Chris Stapleton and his song, “Nobody to Blame?”
She took down the photograph of our wedding day. Ripped it down the middle and threw my half away. And I got nobody to blame but me. I got nobody to blame but me.
She broke all my fishing rods. Put my guns in hock. Threw my clothes out in the yard and changed out all the locks. And I got nobody to blame but me. I got nobody to blame but me.
I know right where I went wrong. I know just what got her gone. Turned my life into this country song. And I got nobody to blame but me. I got nobody to blame but me.
What a sad song. Each verse just repeated a new version of “woe is me.” It had no ounce of hope at all? So many people today are stuck in a sad country song and don’t know how to get out. Sisters and brothers, Jesus knows we’re stuck… and he knows how to get us out.
Here’s some more background to today’s:
In Jesus day men would issue a certificate of divorce to their wife whenever they felt like it. If she burned his toast. If he just got bored. He didn’t have to go to court and prove it. He just did it. She was left completely destitute. No court ordered support. No alimony. No way in her culture to get a decent job. The man had no obligation. He suffered no consequences. It’s why Jesus said God hates divorce.
Adultery was chiefly to blame. Not just a one-night stand or even a long-term sexual relationship. Adultery was the pollution of the bond of marriage in any form…just as it is today. The gradual loss of interest and investment in someone or something else... Work, a hobby, an addiction, other relationship, or relationships– Intentionally or not
Anything that keeps you and I from building deeper bonds with our key relationships adulterates our relationships. Thus, the term “adultery.”
Now if you are single and before you think this message has nothing to do with you, just wait.
Jesus wasn’t just talking to married folks. He was talking to all of us.
Adultery and divorce were emblematic of the entire breakdown of relationships in our society… metaphors for our inherent inability to connect in heathly and long-term ways.
If you are divorced, stop beating yourself up. His message was much bigger than that.
How we so easily write people off… divorcing them. How we spoil the building of good relationships by getting distracted with so much other… adultery. How we can grow so far from God and God’s ideal. “Divorced” from all that is good. “Adulterating” the beauty of God’s provision.
I. BROKEN PROMISES
It’s a broken promise filled world and it always has been.
Those to whom Jesus was speaking were living under occupation. The Romans invaded and never left. Their national leaders, and main political parties capitulated and made deals to preserve and protect their own self-interests. Common folk felt abandoned.
The smell of broken promises still lingers in the air. We ALL live with the pain.
It’s what ancient theologians meant when they called this “A World of Sin.” Not because a bunch of people are running around committing all sorts of evil/sinful acts. But because a fundamental breech exists in the fabric of relationships. Impeding our enjoyment, connection and fulfillment with others. Between us and God and us with each other. The world is enveloped by a big, cavernous, gaping pit that we have to work around every day and often fall into.
I still remember the feeling when my folks were divorced. The car rides from one side of the family to the other, one state to the other, from one home to the other. How I watched my Mom bear the burden of having to make a tough decision. Or my biological dad, living with the pain and reality of a relationship he didn’t know how to navigate. Or my step dad, feeling like he had to earn his right to be my dad, for me to treat him with respect. Most of us in this room have been affected by divorce.
The pain is real, and deep, and it’s all around. For every one of us here…for a whole host of situations. And so, it’s to this fallen, broken-promise-filled world Jesus gave a profound answer for a new world order.
Let your yes be yes, your no be no… In the midst of a broken, hurting world keep your promises & demonstrate God’s promises.
Promise keeping might be the most counter-intuitive thing you will ever do. In a world where you don’t want to owe anyone anything, In a world where you want to remain non-committal,
Make promises – keep promises – demonstrate God’s promises.
II. PROMISE POWER
When we make and keep our promises we bring the power of God to any relationship or situation. “But how?” you might ask.
Promises go beyond the words we speak. True promises bring actions too. In the Bible, there is no distinction between word and deed. Making and keeping promises brings life into the world.
Look at how this works…Genesis 1:1-3
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Boom.
When God spoke, God called forth life in so many ways. Through the power of God’s word alone. You can too.
The promises we make spark with power. Light will invade darkness, love will overcome hate, hope will cast out fear.
Just look at the life and ministry of Jesus...(Even just his encounters immediately following the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 8).
To the Leper who asked, “Lord, if you are willing make me clean.” Jesus responded, “I am willing. Be cleaned.” Boom. Word AND deed.
To the Centurion who had a sick, near death servant, “Go your way. Let it be done to you as you have believed.” Boom. The servant was healed. Word came with the deed.
When the storm raged on the Sea, Jesus rebuked it and it died down. It was so. Boom.
The Word was immediately followed by deed.
In Jesus… John 1:14… “The Word BECAME FLESH.” Boom. Word produced monumental deed.
Somehow in OUR culture we’ve given ourselves permission to separate the two, we make a promise, and we decide later on if we’re gonna keep it.
Just this week Lisa asked me if I’d be so kind to hang a new curtain rod for her. Sure babe. “I’ll get right to that.” Three days later I put up a curtain rod. Sorry Lisa.
Friends, the world is tired of getting let down. Reconnect YOUR words with YOUR actions. And speak God’s possibilities into your world. Have you ever seen a promise book that contains selections of God’s major promises…(PIC)
The Scriptures actually contain thousands of different promises made by God to you and me, all of which are being or will be fulfilled someday.
Promises like, “I will never leave you nor forsake YOU.” Or “Nothing can you do to separate me from my great love for you.” Or – “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you to be my witnesses.”
But, the promises weren’t just given for us to enjoy ourselves. They were given to us for us to represent and embody – With spunk and moxy, love and grace out into our world. Reaching out into the 937 not with hollow promises, but with live, in person demonstrations.
We are Living Incarnations. Representing Jesus by embodying and sharing the promises of God to the world.
So, how are we doing? How are YOU doing? Are you living in such a way as to convey to the world that nothing can separate them from God’s love? Sister, brother, you are loved!
Are you representing a supernatural power that helps people take on any and all situations, standing up, letting your faith be heard? Friend, you can do this! SUPERNATURAL power is released when we share the promises of God.
So today I’m challenging us all to
III. LIVE AS PEOPLE OF PROMISE in the 937
This was Jesus’ Moses Moment. He was ushering in a new world order of God’s kingdom. He kicked the prevailing view of morality and what it means to be fully human to a whole new level.
The verb tense here is emphatic. “You have heard it said, but I say…” Don’t just not commit adultery. People of promise, don’t lust at all. Don’t just not murder. People of promise check their anger with their brother or sister. Don’t swear by heaven or anything on earth, your mother’s grave. When people of promise say yes people will know you mean yes, and when you say no, people will know you mean no. Take it to another level. Be kingdom people. People of promise people.
A couple weeks ago I invited you to pick your place in the 937 where you can shine God’s light.
Right there. Love. Love your families – love your communities, the local 937 and the world.
In the midst of even the worst brokenness, speak God’s possibilities. What are the key relationships you need to re-promise yourself to?
Lisa and I will have been married 28 years this December 22. Every relationship goes through its seasons. Lisa and I just came through a 7-year period of our biggest challenge yet.
In many ways we are two totally different people. How we once connected, like this (lock fingers), doesn’t work as well anymore. We had to learn a new grip.
We first met when she lived on a dairy farm, knew how to milk cows by hand, and played a mean game of basketball. Now she coaches graduate school professors on how to find their own soul and writing voice.
I thought a beautiful wife would fix it all. But as she stepped into her own, all the issues of abandonment and insecurity that I knew as a kid dealing with divorce reared their ugly head. I had to change too.
Many begin their marriage thinking it will come easy. When you fall in love it just feels like an overwhelming, permanent euphoria. The feelings are so strong they’ll last forever. Nooooo.
Friends, we don’t keep our promises when we’re at the end of our relational rope and suddenly decide to stay together. We keep our promises by working on them a little every day and some days, A LOT.
Even when the feelings are long gone. Even when it’s messy, costly and inconvenient. At work when there is a challenging clash of personalities and viewpoints. At home when someone is offended or has had a bad day. When your family schedule gets chaotic. When your neighbor always seems to take issue with the smallest things.
What would it look like in the 937 if we committed to live and love as people of promise? Till death do us part, you got me! I’m not giving up on you even if you give up on me. Not going to write you off. Won’t let the noise of our culture and world adulterate my looking upon you with the highest of respect.
Sisters and brothers, keep your promises as you are held by the promises of God. Jesus called us to it… and he will see us through it.
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