Sunday, March 23, 2014

Everyone's Issue

Third day of spring at New Life Covenant...
Hoo boy, it's another cold one. Twelve below doesn't feel like spring, but the days are getting longer and it's highly probable that the temperatures will warm our countryside the way making music warms our hearts. Pastor Brad welcomed us again with enthusiasm on this Third Sunday in Lent.

Sin is the primary issue that the human race has to deal with and today's theme will be about spiritual healing, a need we all share.

Brad stated that he will lead a New Members class for those interested in joining our family.
Mary and Irv Stauffer will be speaking here Friday, April 4, 5:30. After a ham dinner they will share her experience of being kidnapped with her daughter and held hostage. It was a time of terror but also of strength drawn from faith and trust in the Lord. It is an amazing story.

Chuck, Ken and Darlene performed Dallas Holm's Rise Again and Andrea Crouch's Through It All before leading us in a time of worship. The offering followed after which the trio sang What A Day That Will Be.

A number of prayer needs were lifted up and people remembered..

Today's Scripture reading was from Romans 3:10-18.

Everyone's Issue

...and third week of Lent.
I need to be healed, not just physical. The heart needs to be healed.

In the Old Testament there is a real connection between the forgiveness of sins and the healing of bodies. Psalm 103 makes the connection and many other verses do as well. God is good and He cares about our brokenness.

When Jesus came, healing was central to His mission. It was a sign that in Jesus, God's work to heal human brokenness has begun.

Brad shared how in the book of Matthew, the writer tells a string of stories of healings, and in the middle of this states how he was called. What is implied here is, "Hey, I got healed, too."

What does it look like for us to be healed? What does it look like for us to be a healing community?

In Matthew 9 Jesus says "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick and needy." In other words, the unrighteous, the broken, the shunned. The doctor in this parable is Jesus. Who did He come for? The sick. He did not come for the healthy ones.

What's the disease the sick people are suffering from? Jesus said "I come for sinners." The disease that the needy suffer from is sin. At the core, the disease that really threatens our souls is sin.

Part of the power of sin is that it blinds us to how sinful we are. The multitude of ways we twist the truth, we spin, we hype.

What are the greatest temptation you face with regard to sin? Now think about the list of things wrong with the world.... the hate, violence.

Here's what God says about our condition:

10 “There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Self-serving words and tones, the way we cater to people because they are wealthy or attractive, jeaousy, chronic ingratitude...

Paul wrote, "I do not understand what I do..."

Brad talked briefly about habits. Habit is neutral. Habits are what we do without thinking, second nature. Without habits we couldn't make it through a day. All of us are a collection of habits. The problem is when sin permeates the core of our habits. When bad habits become second nature, it corrupts our behavior.

Fixing the problem is not going to happen by sheer willpower. Over the long haul, your habits will always defeat your willpower. That is why our only hope is not more willpower, but a new set of habits.

We must surrender our will, die to our past habits and let God give us new habits. This is the essence of AA. We must replace sinful habits with new habits. "Offer yourselves to God."

Enter into a new way so that you may experience the freedom.

Brad closed with an explanation of original sin. Sin has bent human nature from the beginning. Paul states that there is something wrong with the world that is deeper than any logical explanation. The world is intrinsically broken. It's a complicated mess, and at the core is the problem of sin, not out there somewhere but at the core of my being.

What it takes for Jesus to work in our lives is to admit the truth, that we are in the category of the sick, not the healthy. A central feature of AA is brutal honesty. Our strength comes from this confessing our brokenness and failings.

Confession, openness and honesty are an essential part of healing.

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