“Chicken and Waffles: Love Ain’t Fair”

Love Ain’t Fair
 
Key Points:
-We are created to be better together.
-We get better together when giving our best to others.
 
Three Greek words of Love in the Bible:
Eros (sensual or erotic) – You for me. Phileo (friendship or brotherly) – You with me. Agape (sacrifical) – Me for you
I’m most blessed when I give my best to the guest.
Its easy to give my best when I know God’s got my back.
 
Further Conversation
1. What is your favorite food pairing or combo, such as PB&J? Why?
2. Read John 13:34-35 Why do we so often try to convince people about Jesus with our words when Jesus said love is the proof?
3. How would you define Eros, Phileo, and Agape love? Share where you most commonly experience each type?
4. Read 1 John 4:16 & Ephesians 5:1-2 What does it mean to you that John says God is “agape” love? How can we imitate that?
5. Read Philippians 2:5-11 How did Jesus empty himself for us? What are some ways we “empty ourselves” for others?
6. When does it get hard for you to give “agape” love? What do you want in return for your love? What does God wants for his love?
7. Give the best to the guest. Where are you tempted to keep the best? Where is it hard to trust God’s got our back? Who needs you to give your best for them today? How will you do it?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Philippians 2:1-11
Its hard to believe Jesus did what he did. He willingly went from King of Kings to criminal on cross. When everyone should have served him, he served everyone else. He emptied himself for our sake, giving his life for our benefit. Jesus says “my commandment is for you to love others like I loved you” Jesus set the bar high and defined love by how we give, not what we get. Paul challenges us to really follow Jesus’ footsteps and his example. Our unity, our better together, hinges on this sacrificial, giving not getting, attitude and action of love. How would you grade your love toward others? How Jesus-like are you? Its hard to trust God and love sacrificially. Look at how God took care of Jesus. Let that be your guide, trusting that if you empty yourself for others, God will fill (Just like Jesus).
Pray: Heavenly Father, its hard to sacrificially love, to give and give without regard to getting. Help me trust you and love like Jesus.
 
Tuesday – 1 John 4:7-21
The Beatles sang “all you need is love.” They weren’t terribly far off. God is love. And God is all we need! Love is living in God and God living in them. But we must pause a minute and get some clarity on what love means. I can’t speak for the Beatles, but this passage in 1 John clearly defines love as sacrificial, giving not getting, love. Jesus gave and gave, even giving his life. God is sacrificial love. Our better together only happens when we are loving like God. Who do you need to love today without getting anything in return? How and who can you love more like the love God is? Its what we need!
Pray: LORD Jesus, you showed God’s love perfectly as you gave all you are for our benefit. Help me love others the same way!
 
Wednesday – John 13:34-35
The world is always looking for proof of God. Scientists comb the facts, claiming evidence either for or against the existence of God. We find tiny miracles in pieces of toast that kinda look like Jesus. We are convinced we see signs in our culture. We build museums to how God created. But really, Jesus tells us we need only one thing. We need to love like Jesus. There will never be enough evidence to prove God exists. Arguments won’t work. But I can show you God exists by how I love. Jesus says our love will be the proof we are his disciples. Our love is far more convincing than any argument. Who needs to see God…in you?
Pray: God of love, the world needs to see you. The world needs to know you exist. Help me love like you, that they see you in me.
 
Thursday – Ephesians 5:21-6:9
Love is practical to every aspect of our lives. When Paul wrote these words, they would have caused controversy. They still do today. Our culture does not like the idea of ‘women submitting to their husbands.’ In Paul’s day, the challenge would have been ‘men loving wives like Jesus…sacrificially.’ The controversy is the same: no one whats to submit and serve. Paul (and Peter in 1 Peter 3:1-7) give us the secret to a great relationships, whether marriage, parenting or even employment. The secret is submission, placing the needs of others above your own. Instead of fighting for my rights, I submit my desires for your needs. What does love look like? Submission. It will make your marriage, your family, even your office a great place to be.
Pray: Almighty God, submission is such a strange idea in our world today. Help me trust you and submit myself for the benefit of others.
 
Friday – 1 Peter 3:8-12
Life is better together. We were made to live life connected with others in authentic, loving community. It sounds too good to be true, like an unattainable fairytale. We sing songs about love. We preach tolerance. But the world we live in is full of hate, brokenness, and isolation. We have 1000’s of facebook friends but no one really knows us. How is it possible to live life better together? Peter gives us the plan. Love like Jesus. Empathize. Put the needs of others above your own. Forgive. Be gentle and tender-hearted. Do good. The list is simple. Its not rocket science. And honestly, I don’t need someone else for me to obey it myself. I have a choice. Whether you hate and hurt me, I can forgive…I can love…I can empathize. We can have the authentic, loving community God offers. We just have to quit waiting on others to make it happen, and start living it ourselves.
Pray: Holy Spirit, help me choose to love like Jesus, empathize, be kind, and do good…not matter what others do to me. Begin with me.
 
Saturday – Matthew 5:23-24
Sunday worship happens tomorrow. I hope and pray God moves in a powerful way. I long to see the Holy Spirit spark a massive revival where our community changes radically as Christ is received and lived. Wow, would that be awesome if it started tomorrow. We can have great worship, powerful worship, life changing worship. But it begins when we first make it right with others. Jesus challenges us that we need to forgive and ask forgiveness before we can really worship. What is holding you back? Who do you need to make it right with before you can really worship and connect with God?
Pray: Loving God, help our church be so full of love for you and love for others that our town takes notice. We want to glorify you!

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“Chicken and Waffles: Some Things are Better Together”

Some Things Are Better Together
 
What if relationships are not supposed to be easy? Our uniqueness can make it awkward. Our past hurts can create fear. But what if our uniqueness and hurt could actually help us connect?. Could deep connection and authentic community be something we can reach? Is it worth the risk? Some things really are better together!
 
Key Points:
-We are created to be better together.
-We are incomplete as individuals
-Marriage is not required for great community or deep connection.
-Our best fit occurs at our greatest vulnerability
 
Trust God Know Myself Wisely partner with others.
 
Further Conversation
1. Who are some of your best relationship with? How did you meet? Why would you rank these relationships as your best?
2. Read Genesis 2:18-20 Why might people substitute pets or hobbies for human relationships? Why won’t those satisfy us?
3. Read Genesis 2:21-24 Do you think opposites tend to attract? Are we “incomplete as Individuals”? Why or why not?
4. Read Matthew 19:11-12 Can people can have great community outside of being married or being physically intimate? How?
5. Read Genesis 2:25 How does shame complicate relationships?
6. How does our vulnerability connect us with others? When have you experienced vulnerability creating community?
7. Trust God, Know Myself, & Wisely Partner with others. How would you rate your connection and depth with others? What do you need to do next to connect better with others?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Did you know that braiding makes a rope stronger? Fibers bundled together side by side share a load. But if those same fibers are bundled and braided together, the strength is exponentially multiplied. The braid allows the fibers to compress into each other. We humans are not much different. God made us to come together in a woven community. Many of us have acquaintances who might help us some here or there. But real, powerful community is created when our lives twist together. This type of weaving and braiding of people takes time, effort and honest vulnerability. But pity the person who lacks it. How would you rate the depth and power of your community connection? Are you simply standing beside people or have you invested the time and risk to connect?
Pray: Heavenly Father, you made us for community. Help me have the courage to be vulnerable and intentional to connect with others.
 
Tuesday – Hebrews 10:23-25
My workouts are always better when I have a partner. A partner always pushes me just a bit farther than I would go by myself. What I think I can’t do, I find I can with a partner’s encouragement. The same goes for our faith. Sure, we can have individual time in Scripture and prayer, but real faith growth takes partnering with others. We are urged to spur one another on to faith and good works. Who have you partnered with in the church? Who knows you well and you’ve given permission to push you farther in Jesus?
Pray: LORD Jesus, you call me to follow you. Part of following is partnering with others. Help me encourage others and connect.
 
Wednesday – 1 Peter 2:9-10
God doesn’t just call a person. God calls a people. God called the nations of Israel to be a light to the Gentiles. God calls the body of Christ, the Church Universal to be a light to the world. Yes, the nation was made up of individuals, and so is the church. Each individual has unique gifts and even a specific calling from God. Yet we can not understand our unique gifts nor our individual calling from God apart from our role and position within the entire community that is the people of God. We are called together, as a people for a purpose. Are you fighting against your place within the people of God, or leaning into to connect and serve others?
Pray: God of all creation, thank you that I am not alone. I am part of the body of Christ and I have a purpose within this body to serve.
 
Thursday – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
I’ve got a confession to make. There are times that I just don’t like some people. They rub me the wrong way. I know that sounds awful. When I struggle with someone, I find encouragement and wisdom from Paul’s words. As the Church, we are all part of one body. Just because the eye doesn’t like the perspective of the ear, they need each other. Just because the nose thinks the foot smells bad, they both need each other. Together, we need everyone…even those who rub us the wrong way. The challenge is to consider someone’s gift and benefit to the whole body. See their goodness. Thank God for their presence. Who do you struggle to get along with right now? How might you see their goodness and thank God?
Pray: Almighty God, you made each and everyone one of us. You died for us. Help me see each person as valuable gifts to the body!
 
Friday – Genesis 3:1-13
We all know the blame game. Our politicians are masters of spin, shifting the focus and blame to their political rivals. Siblings point the finger at the other. But where I see the most blame is always in a broken relationship. Never have I had a couples counseling session start with one spouse standing up and saying, “Its really my fault, I’ve failed as a husband. I’m sorry.” No, we always blame. Adam and Eve were no different. They shifted blame. We don’t want to be vulnerable and confess our failures, so we shift the blame. But vulnerability connects. Next time you have conflict, try this instead. Don’t blame the other. Confess your fears and failures. Ask for forgiveness. See if this openness doesn’t heal & restore connection.
Pray: Holy Spirit, I need your help. In the midst of brokenness I want to blame. Help me be open, vulnerable, and seek forgiveness.
 
Saturday – Acts 2:42-48
People took notice! This passage ends stating that every day more and more people committed themselves to Jesus and the Church. What ever the Jesus followers were doing, others wanted in. So what were they doing? They devoted themselves to growing in their faith and their fellowship. They became such an amazing community passionately loving and encouraging one another that outsides were lining up to get in. Its no different today. When people love growing in their faith and love coming together as a community to worship, those churches grow. Where there is passionate love for God and others, people want in. What about you? How can you show a passion for Jesus and others at church? Who could you invite to come with you?
Pray: Loving God, help our church be so full of love for you and love for others that our town takes notice. We want to glorify you!

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“UnBELIEVEable: Second Coming”

UNBELIEVABLE
Message 4: The Second Coming
 
Key Points:
-We BELIEVE God is present, personal, & all-powerful
-We BELIEVE God is faithful, loving, & just
-We BELIEVE Jesus is God’s grace in person
-We BELIEVE Jesus will return, renew, & reigns.
 
-Jesus is Faithful, and he will RETURN because he PROMISED.
-Jesus is Loving, and he RENEW us because we ARE NOT JUNK.
-Jesus is Just, and he REIGNS because HE WON
 
We LIVE IN VICTORY not for victory!
The GOOD NEWS is JESUS, the Alpha & Omega who reigns forever!
 
Further Conversation
1. If the world were to end tomorrow, what are a few things your would do today? Why did you chose those things?
2. Why do you think so many cultures and religions have some sort of “end times” belief? What are we saying we need or desire?
3. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 From this text, what do you think the Thessalonians are worried about?
4. Why is it important that Jesus fulfill his promise and return?
5. Why is “renewal” a big deal? What would “replace” mean?
6. How did Jesus “win”? What does that mean for the world?
7. Read Romans 8:18 What does it mean to “Live in victory, not for victory”? How can you make that truth real in your life?
8. The GOOD NEWS is JESUS! How does it feel to be known and loved by the one who reigns forever? Who else do you know that needs to know Jesus? How can you share Jesus with them?
 
Daily Devotions: Go Deeper this Week
 
Monday – Luke 19:1-10
As kids, we hated being picked last. This doesn’t change with age. We want to be wanted. The religious leaders wanted Jesus to value them. Jesus didn’t ignore them. The Gospels show several times Jesus meeting with religious leaders. But Jesus had a heart and desire for the lost, those who felt like the least. Jesus wanted to help them know that God desires them. Those who felt far from God, who because of their actions might believe God would reject them, instead Jesus chose to seek. Zacchaeus was such a person. Rejected by the community because of his sin, he hoped to only catch a glimpse of Jesus. Jesus chooses him. What does it mean to you that Jesus “came to seek and save” the lost? How are you following Jesus’ example by choosing to be friends with the lost?
Pray: LORD Jesus, I was lost and you choose me. Help me see the lost in my midst, that I may go to be with them, sharing your grace.
 
Tuesday – 2 Corinthians 7:8-10
Pain always has a purpose. If I touch something hot, it hurts. But I learn to be more careful. Suffering and shame can also serve a purpose. Though God doesn’t create our crisis, many times God will use those difficulties to speak love, grace, and truth. Many people trace their greatest spiritual awakenings to their most difficult experiences. Have you experienced struggle, fear, or a crisis? Are you in the middle of one now? How might God be speaking to you, calling you with grace and truth, that in difficulty you find new life?
Pray: Almighty God, when we listen you can take our brokenness and make it beautiful. Help me to hear you, see you, and find hope.
 
Wednesday – Psalm 34:17-18
Many of us hate to ask for help. We want to try to see if we can do it. We don’t want to appear needy. We don’t want to seem incapable. No, we want to show our power and worth. This is the core problem of pride. Pride keeps us from what we truly need. We need God’s help. We can not do life on our own. Calling out to God requires real humility. It means admitting our brokenness. It means acknowledging our real need. The Good News is God loves answering the call of the broken-hearted and the humble. God seeks to save the lost! Are you trying to prove your worth to God or are you calling our to God in humility today?
Pray: Holy Spirit, I need your help. I can not do this on my own. Help me humble myself that I might learn from you and be saved.
 
Thursday – Proverbs 20:29-30
“Youth is wasted on the young!” When I was a kid my grandpa used to say this a lot. Now that I’m older, I’m beginning to understand. What I’d give to know then what I know now. Wisdom is knowledge matched to experience. It can’t be taught, it must be lived. But really, what is experience? Aren’t our greatest learning experiences often our biggest struggles seen from the other side. In the midst of struggle, we have tunnel vision. All we know is the moment. But on the other side, we have wisdom. These two proverbs remind us that our pain, our struggle, is our opportunity to gain wisdom. Don’t lament, but look and learn. What is God trying to teach you today?
Pray: Heavenly Father, I often want cured of pain and removed from struggle. Instead, help me begin to learn and grow from it.
 
Friday – John 8:12
When I walk into a dark room, I turn on a light. Its practically reflex. Most of us only like to sleep in the dark. Jesus’ claim to be the light is incredible Good News for all people. We walk around in such darkness today. Wars, disease, hate, and death bombard us on the nightly news. This world is a scary place of darkness. Yet Jesus comes to shine His light. Following Jesus lets us really see. Yes, seeing is sometimes painful. Jesus is perfect, and a know I am not. Looking straight into the light lets me feel and know the darkness I’m so accustomed to. Yet, imagine a life lived in the full light and warmth of the Son. Do you crave light, do you yearn for hope? Come to Jesus. Repent and follow Him and you will know light!
Pray: Light of the World, you stepped down into my darkness that I might see. Open my eyes, restore me to life, fill me with your light.
 
Saturday – Luke 15:1-10
Why should you go to church? Its a fair question that many ask today. We can find great preaching on the radio, TV, or internet. We can sing along to any song any where with modern technology. We can read our bibles. We can find community in small groups. If church is about what I can get from it, we don’t need the church like we used to. But what if we took Jesus’s words in these two stories seriously. What if a church worship service wasn’t about what I got, but instead about who I brought. Imagine the celebration in your soul and in heaven if you brought an unchurched, lost, friend to church, and they chose to repent and be saved by Jesus. What if they got found because you brought them. Now thats something!
Pray: Loving God, you love to seek and save the lost. So often I make it about me. Help me know the joy of seeing someone found!

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