A message from the series "ROOTED - Growing Deeper." Have you ever thought of yourself as a healer? A healer is one who brings peace, joy, love, and life to others. This can be accomplished through our words, actions and in a way we don't often think about - through our generosity. In other words, there is healing power in sharing your resources with others. Generosity is a means by which we bring the kingdom of God to earth. But you and I have a strong inner struggle. You probably know where I'm heading. If generosity brings a healing power then there is a hidden power in greed. No one thinks they are greedy. No one thinks they have this idol. Jesus never said money was an idol, instead he said something much more profound: money reveals our idols. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 Jesus doesn't want your money, he wants your heart. (Remember the encounter with the rich young ruler? Jesus didn't say, "Sell what you have and give to me." He said, "give it to the poor and follow me.") In the Old Testament we read about the tithe. In the New Testament we read this: Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 This would have been Paul's chance to reinforce the Old Testament teaching of the tithe but he doesn't. Instead he says you should give as one who has been transformed because Jesus has your heart. In other words, New Testament giving finds a better motivation than law giving and therefore it leads to cheerful generosity. And herein lies the cure for greed. The gospel makes you radically generous. You see, there's a connection between the gospel and generosity. If you understand the gospel you will be radically generous. Have we forgot that Jesus made himself poor so we could become rich? For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 God already had everything so why did Jesus come to the earth? Because God was coming after his treasure, the one thing he didn't have and that was you. The gospel of grace brought us healing, it has made us rich in every way, now we take all that God has given us and bring healing to others!
A message from the series "ROOTED - Growing Deeper." Our world is in desperate need of compassion. I believe most Christians want to step into that space and deliver but I'm not sure we really know what compassion means or how to do it? For most, compassion simply means having sympathetic feelings for those who might be "less fortunate" than us. The Biblical understanding is far more rich. Compassion is not just empathy. Compassion is the tangible expression of love for those who are suffering. When thought of in this context, it makes our God even greater than we realize. The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:8-9 Jesus is the tangible expression of God's compassion toward you. Jesus' very presence in the world was the ultimate act of compassion. We did not deserve His sacrifice, but because of God's great love, we were treated with mercy and are called to live lives of compassion and mercy. So how about you? Now that you know what it is, do you know how to give it? There was a time in Jesus' public ministry when he was followed by thousands (you could say he's very busy) and while traveling he encounters two blind men on the side of the road. They scream and beg for his attention. (This is what hurting people do.) The crowd shames them by demanding silence yet Jesus is listening. Not only does he listen but he stops…and he acts. Is this not the model for us? Listen to the cries around you. Stop and pay attention. Act by giving a tangible expression of love. Jesus is no longer walking the earth but his followers are. So then His compassion towards us now flows through us. When this happens God's mercy and the world's cries collide and the result is a transformation of the heart.
A message from the series "ROOTED - Growing Deeper." I've never met a child who said he wanted to grow up to become homeless. In the Fritz house it was "professional athlete," "animal trainer," and "President." I don't think any of that is going to happen but nonetheless my kids have been setting their sights high. Isn't this what we all want? We want to make our lives count, we want to have impact but many of us are not sure how to make that happen. Well Christian, the moment you accepted Jesus Christ you obtained all you needed to make your life count. Tucked into a letter written by the apostle Paul to the church in Ephesus we read this sentence:For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 I don't want to give too much away just yet, but let me assure you there is more to this verse than just a casual reading will reveal. If Christians were to embrace its meaning the world would be a radically different place. I'm not sure where I heard it first but it's true: We will never change the world by going to church. We will only change the world by being the church. It’s crazy if you think about it; we leave Sunday service and we forget to be obedient to God’s word. We forget that God thinks we are his beautiful workmanship and that he has given us greater purpose than we can imagine. We end up like kids who dream of homelessness instead of heavenly palaces. This Sunday we will find inspiration and challenge as we ask the question: What are we doing as the church to make a difference in this world?
A message from the series "ROOTED - Growing Deeper." One of my mentors use to say, "Perhaps the most misbelieved verse in the entire Bible is this…""For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12.I think this is accurate. When it comes to spiritual warfare most people underestimate the enemy. Of course many doubt the reality of anything supernatural. On the other hand there are those who overestimate the enemy. They believe the source of every conflict and problem is a demon. The forces of darkness are satisfied with either misconception. C.S. Lewis says this in The Screwtape Letters: "There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight." Both views undermine one's ability to engage in the battle. So what do we need to know? Paul uses two revealing words to describe Satan: Devil and Schemer. The Greek word for "Devil" is diabolos which literally means liar and slanderer. He truly is the father of all lies. (John 8:44) "Schemer" is the Greek word methodia which describes a calculated tactician. In other words, Satan is a master at manipulating the truth in a way that is well suited to lead you astray. This is the realm in which he operates and disrupts because he hates God. He can't harm God but he can harm what God loves and that's you. So this Sunday we'll reveal his playbook and refute the lies and find victory!
A message from the series "ROOTED - Growing Deeper." One of the larger challenges hurled at Christianity and perhaps the most difficult is explaining the problem of suffering. If God is a God of love then how can he allow evil to continue in the world which He created? For many of us this is personal, not just philosophical. We have front row seats to the various forms of pain life has to offer. What does the Bible say about this issue? Does the Bible give us any examples of suffering and some indicators on how to deal with it? The answer is yes. In Jesus we find the model and the purpose of suffering. Have you ever noticed how two people can experience the same kind of loss and yet each responds in a different way? Some say, "I hit rock bottom and it was there that I found God." Others, "I hit rock bottom and it was there that I rejected God." What's the difference? The difference is in what you tell yourself, what you believe about suffering. Christians know that God himself is not immune from pain. His son died a torturous death at the hands of men whom he created. But why would he allow it? Because God has a purpose in suffering. St. Augustine said, "Everywhere a greater joy is preceded by a greater suffering." Sounds strange to hear that suffering leads to joy. How so? Our relationship with God is made less formal and less artificial and less distant, it becomes more personal and more real and more intimate and close and deep. A Romanian pastor who suffered torture under communist rule said this, “Christians are like nails, the harder you hit them, the deeper they go.” You are called to be a firm, straight nail and when life hammers you, you will rejoice not in the pain of the strike but in the depth of its effect - going deeper in Christ because of your suffering. Will you suffer well?
A message from the series "ROOTED - Growing Deeper." Life is full of challenging decisions. Some have fewer consequences than others but even the small ones can end up having big impact. So how can you be confident you’re taking the right action? You’ll be glad to know that God wants you to speak to him about everything in your life. He wants to speak to you too. If you are not hearing from God on a regular basis then what I can tell you is that the problem is not with God. God wants to speak to you more than you want to speak to him. He wants to listen to you more than you want to listen to him. In other words, he really cares about you. Remember, God knows the number of hairs on your head! (He also knows your natural color too :)
A message from the series "ROOTED - Growing Deeper." If there was ever a question in which I felt totally inadequate to give meaning it would be this: Who is God? In our culture if you asked ten different people this question you would probably get close to ten different answers. Everything from, "He's the big guy upstairs" to "he doesn't exist." It’s not just that understanding God is complex; it turns out that this God himself is also extremely complex. And yet he is also knowable. The story of the Bible describes a God who wants to connect with his creation in a genuine partnership to reveal the divine purpose and plan. And so when God appears to people in the Bible, it’s both understandable to them (people can see, hear, and interact with God as a person), but it also breaks their categories at the same time. The Bible calls God transcendent and the author of all reality as we know it. Any knowledge that we have about such a being will always be limited and partial because a Creator by definition is above and beyond that which is created. So as we begin to answer this question we should afford God the same treatment as we would want. If you ask, "Who is Jason Fritz?" I would like to speak for myself. So let's let God speak for himself. That's exactly what he does in Exodus 34:4-7. Read it and then breathe a sigh of relief. This is the God you want and need and he has a name - Yahweh!
A message from the series "Aligned." “What happens when I die?” At some point in life everyone asks this question. Without Jesus the answer is hopeless. With Jesus the answer is hopeful. In our culture when we speak of hope we mean to say there’s at least a small measure of uncertainty in us. “Will it finally cool down tomorrow?” “I hope so.” Biblical hope isn’t this way. Biblical hope is a joyful conviction based on compelling evidence. Last week we examined the compelling evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. This leads us to a joyful conviction – we too will be resurrected! But what exactly does the resurrection mean for you? For one thing, your resurrected body will be perfectly suited to a resurrected earth. There’s a lot to be said here but if Jesus’ resurrected body is any indication there will be relationships, laughter, conversation, travel, eating and many more good things…all in a perfect environment free from sin. Secondly, it means that death is defeated once and for all. Paul actually taunts death; he bullies it as if it was a once proud tyrant but is now an old toothless lion. For this reason Paul could face anything in life. He had an unsinkable and stubborn joy that could not be stopped. Knowing that death is defeated and resurrection is ahead; Paul gives a final exhortation to the church in Corinth: Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 You might be tired from all your labors. It’s ok to be tired. If you’re not tired you’re probably not laboring. But we don't need to waver, we don't need to change direction, we don't need to fall, and we don't need to quit. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10 God will show His remembrance of our work and labor of love at the resurrection!
A message from the series "Aligned." I love the honesty of the Scriptures. There's no doubt as to the importance of the resurrection of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 Paul lists eight results of a still dead messiah…1. Our preaching is useless.2. Your faith is useless.3. We are false witnesses.4. No dead will ever be raised.5. Your faith is futile.6. You are still in your sins.7. All who have trusted in Christ are lost.8. We are to be pitied more than all men.In other words, you can't have a living faith with a dead savior. Paul attests to a living savior when he states that several hundred people at once saw the resurrected Jesus. Many of these people were still alive when Paul wrote. A skeptic could have investigated for himself. Additionally, it was foretold in detail by the prophets in the Old Testament. The evidence is overwhelming. We understand this means Jesus has power over death and he will extend that power to us when we die. But what about now? What does the resurrection mean for our daily lives on earth? Paul tells us what it meant for him - fearlessness. Every day he put his life on the line because he was assured of the final outcome - eternal life. The overwhelming love of Jesus as demonstrated by his death, burial and resurrection made Paul fearless. Let me ask you – do you see yourself growing in fearlessness? Technology has made us safer. Luxuries and comforts make us safer. Can I encourage you to pursue little courageous victories? Overcome your fear of rejection and identify yourself as a Christian. Confront your fear of humiliation which leads you to anger or revenge. Face your fear of loneliness which leads you into unhealthy relationships. Release your fear of losing control and give your life in serving others. The resurrection of Jesus Christ absolutely slays your fears. If they are not being killed then you are not being obedient. Maybe you’re afraid to commit to a small group, to serve or to be generous. This is not all there is so you don’t have to live in fear. Jesus was resurrected and you will be too so let's live today in light of eternity!
A message from the series "Aligned." Last week I ordered a table from Amazon. When it arrived I opened the box, dug out the assembly instructions and got to work. Four legs attached to the top with metal crossbars. Super easy, right? An hour later I was losing my religion. Out of frustration I went to Amazon's reviews and discovered that every part of the instructions were completely wrong. Here's a quote from a guy who said he got drunk after figuring out the right way to do it…"Whoever wrote these instructions has never seen this $*&% table." Rules and order are important things. If you can imagine a highway without any limits, signs, or pavement markings then you get the idea of what worship was like in the Corinthian church. It was chaotic and out of control. Christians gone wild and abusing spiritual gifts. Both men and women were in need of correction. So Paul gives it. He does so in the most meaningful way by reminding them there are roles and order within the Godhead. Additionally, Paul tells us that spiritual gifts are not the most important thing; the Gospel of Jesus Christ is. In order for the Gospel to come to you Jesus had to play his role and he was faithful. So then, none of us has any excuse to ignore our roles.