I like the beginning of our services over the past few weeks, as Pastor Travis has led the congregation in moments of meditation. What I mean by this is, we close our eyes, and thank God for different moments where we were able to experience His love over the previous week. Today, we were thanking God for His presence, for His Grace, Healing, Promises, His strength in our weakness, for when He picked us up when we were down, gave us that extra bit so we didn’t quit, and for His faithful love that didn’t quit.
The Apostle Paul explained it to us like this, he said, “I’ve tried to be strong, it’s a waste of time. When I am weak, He is strong.”
When I release what I am weary and tired of holding on to, as scary as it is, and give it to Him, I can see that He had a plan the whole time. See, God has been waiting for you to let your burden go so He can pick it up.
When I find myself worrying, I stop and think; have I been here before?
Yes. I’ve been discouraged. Anxious? Yes. I’ve been discouraged, disappointed, upset, faced contradiction, what I saw was not in line with what I thought I knew. Now, what we need to remember is that God is not surprised at this reaction at all. He is not surprised at the situation either. He knows the end from the beginning. He already knows what is happening and what will happen.
During this time, I need to remember the scripture, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). We can also find sister scriptures in Psalm 28:7-8, and Psalm 73:26.
Pastor Tina’s Words of Practical Wisdom
God’s still on plan A
Have you been in moments of life where you felt like Plan A left town a while ago and you were now living a Plan B, C, D, or even E?
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye.
Have you faced discouragement this week? If it’s any consolation, if you have, you are not alone.
Pastor Tine told us how she received a text message that just took the wind right out of her sail.
But you know what? That same day she received 2 other messages that were encouraging ones!
There are times we feel like saying, “Just leave me alone. I want to stay in this moment. Let me process this.” You know, you just want to have a pouty day. Its not bad to want to process your thoughts, but it is bad if you let it stew, and keep you in a foul mood.
When Pastor Tina received the other two texts it was if Someone had come by to speak freedom over her and the grip of anger, sadness, and discouragement began to release her. The ones who sent the texts did not know what she was experiencing at the time, they were just obedient to the promptings of God and sent words to encourage her.
What she hopes to accomplish by relating to us this story is to remind somebody that you are loved.
Do not get stuck in that place of discouragement. Don’t get trapped in the false security of supporting the pouty day.
There is Power in the Word of God! He is Alpha and Omega. He is the beginning and the end. I know the end from the beginning.
Do you feel like you are in the middle? Do you feel like your plans started off with a bang, but as you walk along that path, you are to a point where you are walking through the sludge of life?
Believe this: God is good, and He will finish what was started.
Ephesians 3:16-18 TPT
And I pray that He would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power. Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside of you, and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life. Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences – the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding – this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!
God’s Intimate love transcends understanding and fills to overflowing with the fullness of God.
Never doubt God IN You. With this assurance You will achieve more than you expect because His love exceeds your wildest imagination. His power constantly energizes you. You are overfilled with power, overflowing with love. Walk in your calling and your purpose that He has for your life. Amen.
Did you know that you can survive but it is hard to thrive without small groups? It is there that you grow, when you can talk out and process, and laugh, and question, and pull from one another’s strengths and knowledge… In your Life Group you should be able to question and get help to stand against the attacks of the relentless enemy.
We all will face a time when we hear whispered into our ear, “Did God really say?”
The enemy still presents that thought to us. It’s the same tactic as the one he used thousands of years ago when he addressed Eve in the garden.
Pastor Travis used an illustration about seeds to explain about a harvest.
When you plant a seed, you will receive a harvest. Cause and effect.
Farmers plant seeds and say – “I will reap a harvest that is greater than the seed.” The explanation is a simple math problem. An apple seed = an apple tree. One apple tree = many apples. Each apple having many seeds will produce many more trees with many more apples. Are you beginning to see the cycle?
Jesus came in an agricultural time in history. He used what the people around Him understood to illustrate Heavenly principals. We can understand a harvest through the illustration of the apple tree, but what does that have to do with People?
The Harvest is not things … The Harvest is souls.
The #1 purpose of the church is to bring souls to a flourishing relationship with Jesus Christ. And this is not only for the House of God, but this should also be a goal in your own home. Are you treating each other with the love that would show Christ to your family and your friends?
Agape’ Love: Love one Another
Calling out vs. Covering
Jonathan Rush recently reconciled with his two older brothers. I am not going to butcher the video that was shown by trying to explain their story, but I do encourage you to
go the live sermon archives and watch the video. It is SOOOOO Gooooood!
Recapping what agape’ love is.
A choice. An act of will, it is not a feeling. To love even when I don’t feel like loving.
This sets the church apart.
1 Peter 4:8 NIV
Above all, love each other deeply. It covers sins. Above All.
God’s love is Unconditional. He tells us “The world will know you love because you love by the way I love you. I empower you to do this.”
Echo – It’s a Greek word – God’s love given to me, echoes through me into your life echoing back to the one who originally sent it.
Define Echo: Are you a Believer? If you are, then Jesus lives in you. God’s Word tells us “The love I (God) give you, echoes off of you and reverberates back to me.” Back to the origin. Back to Jesus.
Peter jumps all over in Chapter 4. While studying it, Pastor had to search for a common thread. What he found that Peter is addressing relationships. Peter is addressing how we relate to each other. How are we to relate to other people? We are commanded to Love each other and to love deeply.
Practically speaking, what does that even mean? It means that we grow in faith, serve, and suffer together. We are created to live alone. Mostly, above all else, we are to love agape style. We must choose to love.
Let me try to explain what I think I was hearing Pastor say. Love covers sins. So, we are to Love even when they mess up. Their Offenses? Their Weaknesses? Even their Bad attitudes:
No, he didn’t say those things. What He specifically said is … SIN.
Even when you sin against each other. Even in those Crazy moments when they are still figuring this out. Love Deeply.
Now, what He didn’t ask us to do was to cover someone’s sin up, in hiding, or sweeping it under the rug. He is not talking about an abusive situation, someone who’ve physically hurt you, attacked you. That is a different situation altogether. So, if someone hurts you, you can’t say, “I didn’t tell because I’m supposed to cover it…”
NO! Love protects.
If you ever have a question, you can call the church to talk to a pastor who can help you through deciphering what sort of situation you are in. The church is a safe place for you. Always remember that.
What does it look like when we are covering one another in our walk when we make bad decisions? Well, even then we cover each other. We go to them, and say, “I know what you’ve done, but you are not alone. Let’s walk you through this together and get out of this situation.”
1 Cor 13 is the notorious love chapter. In that chapter love is explained like being a canopy, shelter, safe place. The safest place to be imperfect, to admit I was weak this week, is the church. But it hasn’t always been. Unfortunately, the church has been the most dangerous place to be imperfect. Why? Because somewhere down the line, they believed the lie that those who are in the church are already perfect themselves. The truth is, we all need Jesus, that’s why we are here.
Historically, the women in the church have called each other out for wearing too much makeup, or for how their hair is done. If they do too much, they are too carnal. Too little? Not dressing up their best for God’s house. Women used to get in trouble for wearing pants. Ooooo!
The truth is, we didn’t know how to love well. We made it a dangerous, deadly place. The church was not a loving place. but a condemning one. It was not forgiving but filled with shame.
Pointing to where he was standing, and motioning around the room, Pastor Travis said, “This, for the Bride, should be the safest place to admit and be healed.”
Let me let you in on a little secret. You are never going to be perfect in your humanity.
Jesus took His righteousness and gave it to you. Because of this, God sees you through the blood of Jesus. He does not focus on your shortcomings; He focuses on His son’s sacrifice.
Love covers over a multitude of sins.
This concept is so opposite to the culture we now live in. Right now, we live in a call out, cancel culture society. It points out, reveals our failures. People seem love chomp at the bits to post or to get likes and shares about revealing insider information. It’s truly sad when the more dirt you can post about someone is the catalyst to help you in becoming more liked, that is, until it happens to you.
We, the church, are to be a place of safety. The Old law calls out. The New law covers. Christians are supposed to live in a world of Kingdom culture, not cancel culture. We are supposed to portray a Loving culture, not a condemning one.
Let me give you the example Pastor Travis gave us:
Remember earlier in the series about the woman caught in the act of adultery? The Pharisees called her out. Jesus covered her.
He didn’t deny her sin. He also didn’t fill her with condemnation and shame. No, He acknowledged her sin and extended love and grace.
Here’s another example:
Matthew was a tax collector who extorted money from his fellow Jews. They hated him. Even Jesus’s disciples did too. But what did Jesus Do? He said, “Matthew, let’s have dinner.” Jesus acknowledged the failure, and then He loved anyways.
To do this is not a denial of the sin. It is providing a covering, encouraging, protecting. It’s telling the one needing covering, “While you are making decisions, I will pray for you. I am here for you. You are not alone.”
Do we want Jesus to apply our same standards we extend to others to us?
Everyone knows there is brokenness inside of them. But we don’t know if we will be loved by others when that brokenness is exposed.
Loving others when they think they deserve it the least, shows them that there is still hope that they will not be trapped in that brokenness forever. Jesus knows us and He still loves us. How about that? He transforms our life. Even when we are in blatant sin, He still chooses to love us.
What about when we aren’t in blatant sin, what happens when it is our faith that is shaken? Does he still love us then? I think of the time John the Baptist was in prison. Even he questioned Jesus if He was the one they had been waiting for. Jesus did not condemn John for his question, He sent back a message of the good things, the loving things He was doing, and let John decide for himself.
There are days when our faith is high, and days when our faith is low, and even during those times He says, “I still choose to see the very best in you.”
The need for one another.
We are told to confess our sins one to another and we will be healed (James 5:16).
Talk to each other. We need to have an atmosphere where we can open up and be honest with our prayer partners. Only, instead of opening up, we fear. Will they call me out, or will they cover me?
Noah farmed a vineyard. He got drunk. Fell asleep uncovered. One son, Ham, saw him and told brothers. The brothers went in backwards and covered their father up. One son chose to call him out, the other two sons chose to cover him while he was still in that drunken state.
Noah made a bad decision. Ham saw him and told the other brothers. He had a decision, to cover or to call out? He chose to call out.
“Guess what guys? Dad is a mess.” Ham threw his father under the bus. Only, when the brothers heard what was happening with dad, they refused to call him out and chose to cover him instead.
Are you prepared to be a covering?
1. Be trusted.
Can you be trusted with someone else’s brokenness?
All the sons knew he messed up, but only the second two didn’t focus on their father’s brokenness. They focused on who he was to them. They didn’t need to remind him how badly he’d messed up because when you mess up, you know what ’ve gotten yourself into, and usually that will be punishment enough.
Have you ever woken up with a hangover? It’s not fun!
I need to focus on the image of God inside of you. You made a bad decision. When someone messes up, you don’t need to be reminded – Your concern is… Can I still be restored?
The answer is Yes! Because of the cross, you can!
In 1 Cor 13, God reminds us that love is a safe place of shelter. It never stops believing the best.
Failure is not defeat. The enemy tries to convince you that when you fail, you might as well give up. Just hang it up. Walk away.
Love never gives up. God always believes the best in you, and you are always provided with a way out and a way up.
We talk about behavior. We need to get to the core issue of sin = Unbelief. Bad behavior = Unbelief. Ig God who He says He is? Can He do what He says He can do? Does He love you like He claims to? Can you be forgiven?
8 And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
Holy Spirit does not condemn the world, He Convicts the world of sin because they do not believe. Conviction draws you closer to God, not push you farther away from Him.
When I stop believing, I am most tempted to stop behaving. WE treat the issue, but not the core, the root. Its like continually wiping away the cobwebs without ever killing the spider. The webs will eventually come back!
You must believe that the war is real. We have a real Enemy fires darts of doubt! When we begin to doubt who God is, we are no longer confident in who we are. If we doubt our identity, we are no longer able to fight with the boldness and confidence that we have when we know that our God is the King of Kings who already has the victory. We walk in defeat instead of power.
The curse of sin is brokenness.
If you don’t believe that Jesus is enough, you won’t believe you are enough.
On the contrary, when faith is building, right believing produces right living.
When you know you are already victorious through the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ, you are unstoppable. What are you believing about God today?
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
The law shuts up faith.
Change happens for the inside out, not the outside in.
When you focus on what you look like, you start acting. You dust the cobwebs but learn to be an award-winning actor without ever having to change the heart. The church has taught what people should do to look good, to appear sanctified, without teaching them who they are. We corrected their actions without cleaning and strengthening their inner man.
When we do that, we have taught them about a mean, unloving God, who only cares about what we Do. We place them back into bondage under the old covenant, the old law. The fault in this is, we think fear will produce change when all it produces is coverup.
The Lord does not give fear, but an old covenant preacher sure does!
We have a determined God
He who starts a good work will complete it. He never stops working on you.
When you are discouraged, tempted distracted? Stop and trace it back to the point of unbelief. When did you last have peace, and when was that peace taken from you? When you feel lost, go pack to the Prince of Peace and ask Him to show you where you stopped believing in His goodness, and started putting your eyes on your circumstances.
What is our perception of God? Is He the great clockmaker, who created the world and then left us to our desires? Is He a harsh task master, who gives you a list of things to do to become Holy?
God is not asking you to impress Him. He is asking you to trust Him. If you try to follow God by your own strength, You Will fail – miserably.
It is most likely that you will end up screaming, “I can’t!” And that’s when God responds, “That’s what I’ve been trying to show you.”
Sin – Is when I stop believing that the cross is enough.
Doubt – Is when I question if God will come through. I think, “Why bother? I start to do for myself.” Then, I fail and wonder if God is still with me.
God says, “I’m still here.”
It’s all about our thinking. The battle is in the mind.
Hatred stirs up strife’s: but love covers all sins.
When we love God, He shows us how to love ourselves and how to love others. Look at the two lists below. Which camp of thinking do you find yourself in?
Call out Covers
sin blots out sin
Like the Pharisee who asked, “Who is my neighbor?” We ask, “Who do we cover?”
This is easy. We Cover the tired, the weak, those who need forgiveness, the one who needs you to hold their arms up in the middle of the battle. God believes the best in you. He says, “I will cover you.” Every time.
When we don’t believe in Him and His promises, it feeds our own insecurity.
Some even have a vindictive side, and think, “I’ll post it, I’ll tell everyone what you did.”
How do You feel when someone talks about who You are covering?
Do you become protective?
Pastor then related a memory from his childhood.
Are you old enough to remember the Buffet at the Big Boy? I admit that I am. Well one day his family was eating at Big Boy after church and some other people from church were there too.
You may know about Spiritual gifts, you may not, but these people seemed to have the gift of nosiness, and gossip. (That’s not an actual gift. In fact, it is the opposite of what an uplifting Spiritual gift would be!) Gossip is Not a gift; it is an abomination.
Well, one of these people were in the buffet life next to dad.
They leaned over and asked Pastor’s dad, “What did you think of the message?”
His response was, “I Loved it.”
The person then made a big mistake. They mistook Pastor Travis’s dad for someone who would join in on the gossip train. They then said, “Well, I just don’t know about that pastor….”
At that moment, something in his Dad’s countenance changed. It was like a switch flipped. Suddenly, Dad had business to take care of. He straightened up, and declared, “That is My pastor, and I love him.” Then he proceeded to tell that person that if they want to talk bad about his pastor, that they would have to go somewhere else to do that. Pastor Travis’s dad was praying for and covering his pastor, so when someone wanted to talk ill of him, the fighting mode became strong, and he was going to protect his pastor in a bold and courageous way.
Have you ever been in this circumstance, when you run into someone who just left church, and they want to eat the pastor for lunch?
I want to be the person who proclaims, “Don’t you dare! Not on My watch!”
This is how it should be in our friendships too. We need to assure our friends that “I’ve got your back. We might have difficult situations, we might have private conversations, but I will always stand up for you and protect you.”
Honesty, overcomes fear, shame, and doubt. We need to make the wrong right. But I will not call you out publicly! When we are in covenant with someone, we need to nurture that intimacy.
What is that?
Intimacy is when I see you at your weakest, most vulnerable moment, and I still love you.
Married folks, marriage will not reach true levels of intimacy until you are able to cover one another in their lowest moments. Stop it – do not call each other out publicly. Cover each other, protect each other, stand with, and strengthen each other.
Jesus doesn’t put you on His InstaStory every time we mess up. Thank God our failures are not posted for the world to examine!
Noah’s sons had a choice. One son called him out in his failures. The other two sons didn’t focus on where he blew it. They chose to cover their father. Focus on who they are not what they did.
You’ll always have an accuser for everyone you wrong, and everything you do. You will always have a God who will raise up two to cover.
Remember the beginning of the service today? Remember Pastor Tina’s story? She had one person tear her down, and then God sent two to lift her back up!!!
But I really did mess up. Will God send someone to cover me even though I really did mess up?
Even when things went a different way than planned?
Satan is accuser of the brethren. He is a Liar, most of accusations are truthful. Right? We can look back and see what we did. We don’t need anyone to accuse of it, we did it. So, the question is, if he isn’t lying about what we did, what is he lying about?
He lies about what Jesus did on the cross. He gets you to doubt that what Jesus did on the cross is enough to cover your sins. It is enough to take your shame and your guilt. It is enough to set you free. He gets you to stop believing in who Jesus is, so you will stop believing in who you are. That is his only offence attack. If he can get you to doubt, he can make you believe that you are defeated. And he is mean. He will kick you when you are down and add lie upon lie upon lie.
The law vs. the prophets
When Jesus showed up, He says, “I don’t just cover you. I make you New. The accuser is accusing a version of you that died with Me!”
The new you arrived with Jesus from the grave.
Did He do for your Past sins or your Future sins? Yes!!!
He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning, and the end, the first and the last. Jesus, on the cross, when He died, He had full knowledge of any sin you would ever make. From the foundations of the world the Lamb was slain. Before He even came to earth, Jesus said, “I am committed to you.”
There doesn’t have to be sin to cover, but love covers a multitude of sins.
End with story
Have you ever heard of the situation Jim Baker got himself into?
Jim Baker. Got in trouble for embezzling lots of money from his ministry. When it broke the news, he lost everything. He went to prison. And he was at his lowest of lows. I must admit, that when I was a younger girl, I heard of this happening, and at first, I thought, “Good, he deserves to go to jail.” There was no questioning that what he did was wrong. He still had to pay the consequences of his action. Today, I heard something that made me take a look at myself.
While Jim was sweeping the gym in prison, a guard came up to him to tell him that he had a visitor.
Jim answered that he didn’t want to see anyone.
The guard said, “You will want to see this person.”
Again, he said no, but the guard persisted until finally, Jim consented.
When he went into the visitor’s room, Billy Graham was there with his arms open wide. He then said to him, “Jim, we love you.”
Jim collapsed in his arms and cried.
We are asked to love someone the most when they deserve it the least.
Jesus stretches out His arms and says, “I love you.”
Are you ready to ask Jesus into your heart?
If you aren’t going to church, let me encourage you the way Pastor did.
I cannot go back and undo what’s been done. Do you have church hurt? I stand in representation on their behalf and ask you to forgive them of what they did. And then I want to extend an invitation. You are safe here. You can heal and mature in Christ here. You can come to hear about the love of God. You can come and join a Life Group and be surrounded by others who want to cover you and lift you out of the miry clay. We want to show you the open arms of Jesus Christ. He loves you so, so, so much.