1) Next week the adult Sunday School class on finances will commence. This is a six week course and Brad asked that everyone planning to attend make a commitment for the duration.
2) The Valentine's Banquet is scheduled for Saturday February 12. Leonard will again prepare a gourmet delight. Live entertainment will follow.
The quartet opened the service with a wonderful rendition of "Keep Me In Your Will." This was followed by several songs from the silver song book and then the offering.
Scripture reading: I Corinthians 1:1-9
Resolution #3 -- Jenny Craig vs. Jesus
What do you see when you wake up in the morning? Someone beautiful? Someone handsome?
Today Pastor Brad addressed a third issue that is stealing our joy. We live in a culture that is obsessed with external appearance. There is great pressure exerted on us to conform to society's notions of beauty and value.
In his usual engaging manner Brad told stories that made us laugh but also made a point. The culture we live in repeatedly tells us our value is directly proportional to our external beauty or physical perfection, a message directly at odds with God's perspective of value. The harder we try to follow the messages of our culture, the further we get from hearing God's message: "I love you as you are."
Brad then presented four principles which he called Victorious Secrets, in direct opposition to the messages of our culture.
1) Know What God Says
Henri Nouwen once said, "Even though you may not be chosen by the world you are chosen by God. Every time you listen to His voice you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply... it's like discovering a well within the desert."
In order to know what God says about us we must fill our minds with His words. Romans 12:1-2 states, "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you."
What we need to do is run all of our internal messages through the Truth Grid of Philippians 3:8. "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse."
God has been intimately involved with us from conception. As David states in Psalm 139:13-14... "Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something."
2) See What God Sees
Beauty, from God's perspective, is an inside-out thing. God looks at the heart.
Who among us has not encountered a person who was outwardly beautiful but when you got to know them even a little they were ugly inside.
Some people note that Esther in the Old Testament received praise for her beauty. Brad pointed out that her physical beauty was mentioned but once, and that the next ten verses highlighted her courage, a real value in that challenging time, because it revealed her character.
While our culture implores us to wear the hip brands, God reminds us that there is better attire to wear. "Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."
3) Love What God Loves
Audrey Hepburn once offered beauty advice. “For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
God loves people. When we love others, we forget about ourselves in a way that is quite liberating. There is so much self-loathing in our culture because even though we are supposed to wear smiling faces, we hate ourselves for not "measuring up." God loves you.
4) Reflect Who God Is
In I Corinthians 6:19-20 we're reminded that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and that we were bought with a high price... It is our privilege and responsibility to reflect God's image and reveal His heart. As Paul states it, we are God's love letter to the world.
As the moon reflects the sun, so we are to reflect the Son. The only time the moon goes dark is when the world gets in the way.