Core Values

Direction & Protection, 17 February 2019

Direction & Protection
Series—Back to Basics
1 Kings 3:5-14; Matthew 6:13, 31-33; Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 27:1

Series Big Idea:
Throughout this series, we will look at the mission of FAC, the four prayers I pray for it, and the one thing that makes it so challenging—sin.

Big Idea:
God will guide and protect us if we faithfully seek Him.


If you could have one wish—anything in the world—what would it be? Imagine God asking the question! Thousands of years ago, such a question was asked.

One of my favorite Bible stories is found in the book of 1 Kings.

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)

That’s it. King David’s son, Solomon, had become king. Though not perfect, Solomon loved the LORD, and so God makes this remarkable statement, grants Solomon’s request, and gives him so much more!

How would you respond if God said to you, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you?”

My name is Kirk and this morning we’re continuing our Back to Basics series, a look at our mission, the Alliance Core Values, and my prayers for First Alliance Church. We began on February 3 with the unveiling of our new mission statement:

We are a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

Our staff and elders are unanimous in their excitement over this new language. We exist not for our glory, but rather God’s. That’s the bottom line of our existence. We’re all about Jesus, we’re a family, and our mission includes not only Toledo but also the ends of the earth. We are masterpieces broken by sin in the process of becoming like Jesus and helping others become disciples or followers of Jesus—mended masterpieces.

One of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Core Value states,

Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple (Matthew 28:19).

In other words, our mission of restoring God’s masterpieces is not something done by professional Christians such as myself. We are all to be engaged in making disciples, in becoming like Jesus and helping others become like Jesus. We’re in this together, family…loving God, loving others, and making disciples.

Last Sunday, we talked about passion and unity, two of my prayers for First Alliance Church. Do you have a passion for God? Prove it! Your checkbook or bank account will show what you truly value. Your calendar, too, will demonstrate whether or not you are passionate about Jesus, about people far from God, about loving and serving others, and about knowing and obeying God.

Another Alliance Core Value states,

Knowing and obeying God’s Word is fundamental to all true success (Joshua 1:8).

Today we’re going to look at the other two prayers I pray for First Alliance Church: direction and protection. When I say direction, I’m referring to allowing Jesus Christ, our Senior Pastor, to lead us, to guide us, to teach and instruct us.

We must to always seek God’s direction for ourselves, our families, and First Alliance Church.

God speaks through a variety of ways—nature, circumstances, other believers, dreams, music, prayer—but the primary way He speaks is through His Word, the Bible. He will never contradict what is said in the Bible, which is one of the reasons we say the Bible is our authority. I have a measure of authority as your pastor, but Jesus is our Senior Pastor and God is the ultimate authority. You may not like every decision made by the elders and staff since we all have our own preferences, but if you ever find anything around here being done in violation of God’s Word, please let us know. Of course, we’re not perfect, but we desire to follow Jesus and we know the heart of God primarily through the Bible. As it says in the foyer,

"For the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ."

When I pray for direction, I’m both praying for God to both lead us into the proper understanding of the Bible and also for His mission, vision and strategy for this local church. In a word, I pray for wisdom.

Let’s go back to that story of King Solomon.

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5)

Did you think of your response?

Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. (1 Kings 3:6)

I love how Solomon doesn’t just say, “Give me lots of money or a hot wife or power” but actually worships God. As he talks with God—something we call prayer—he avoids just asking for stuff. Instead, he begins with worship and thanksgiving.

How do you pray? Do you approach God like a cosmic Santa Clause, or do you really enjoy time with God? One tool I’ve often used for prayer is ACTS:

Supplication (requests)

God says to Solomon, “Ask me for whatever you want” and he begins with adoration and thanksgiving. He continues,

“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9)

It is often said that Solomon asked for wisdom, though technically the request was for a heart of understanding, a discerning heart, which is similar. The prayer that I pray most often for myself is wisdom, and one of my four prayers for First Alliance Church is direction or wisdom, for not only myself but also our elders, staff, and leaders. There are several reasons why I seek wisdom from God. The first is that God was pleased with Solomon’s request.

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. (1 Kings 3:10-12)

I like to learn lessons from the good and bad choices of others, and since God was pleased with Solomon’s request for wisdom in leading, it stands to reason it would please God for me to seek the same.

Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” (1 Kings 3:13-14)

Let me be clear, seeking wisdom does not necessarily lead to wealth and honor. I’m not a king, the date is not around 950 BCE, and God didn’t give me one request. But the extras God gave Solomon just emphasize God’s delight in the request for wisdom.

When Heather and I arrived at First Alliance Church more than three years ago, we knew very little about this city. We knew even less about this church. We came with no agenda, no vision, no strategy…just a clear calling to move to Toledo and serve here. Ever since I began serving as your pastor, I’ve been working with the elders and staff to discern the direction, the next steps, the mission and vision and strategy. An empty baptistry is unacceptable, and simply singing songs and preaching sermons is not enough. Nowhere does Jesus say to plant churches—and I love church planting—or build buildings or start church programs. He said to make disciples.

You see, the Bible never changes, but how it is communicated is constantly changing. I love the example of Billy Graham. He’s best known for his speaking, often using microphones to deliver his sermons, a technology Jesus never had! But he also started a magazine. He wrote books. He delivered the gospel through movies, television, and the Internet. Perhaps you could say the Bible told Graham what to preach, but not how to preach it.

The same is true for First Alliance Church. We must never change the Bible—it is our authority—but how we preach it, how we communicate it must always be changing to connect with an ever-changing world. Without a website, some of you wouldn’t be here today. Without a Facebook page, some of you wouldn’t know about FAC. If it weren’t for this building and the technology of language and the signs outside, you may never have known First Alliance Church existed. At this very moment my words are being recorded for our podcast which can be heard literally around the world.

I don’t know all of the things God has planned for us in the future. We are setting aside funds for church planting. We are praying for God to raise up more International Workers to proclaim Jesus to other people groups. There are emerging technologies which we could use, creative ways to utilize our beautiful campus, and countless opportunities to serve our city and earn the right to be heard as we build relationships with unchurched people. In all of these things we need God’s direction. We need wisdom. We need discernment. Our scripture reading for today is Jesus’ response to worry.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

In other words, seek God’s glory, God’s wisdom, God’s direction, God’s agenda and you can’t go wrong. This doesn’t mean life will always be easy, but you can be confident that where God guides, He provides. Or to quote my favorite passage in the entire Bible,

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Family, if you pray one prayer for me, please pray for wisdom. If there’s one prayer for our elders and staff and leaders, please pray for wisdom. We want to be led by Jesus Christ, our Senior Pastor. We need God’s direction for His church.

While we’re on the subject, I might add another one of the core values of the Alliance:

Achieving God’s purposes means taking faith-filled risks. This always involves change (Hebrews 1).

As an entrepreneur, I love this value, but I know it is disturbing to many of you. Change can be very difficult. We never want to change for the sake of change, but we must be willing to change anything and everything for the sake of the mission (which would never violate the Bible since God’s glory is the bottom line of our mission). As Dan Rogers said two weeks ago, our church has been taking faith-filled risks for decades, and I’m honored and humbled to be able to serve a congregation so willing to trust God for great things, obediently following His call and direction.


I pray for passion, unity, direction, …and protection.

We have a very real enemy, family. His name is satan and he has some friends who—like satan—are fallen angels which we call demons. They don’t necessarily run around with horns and a pitchfork, but they are real nonetheless. Anytime you hear about a death, a theft, a divorce, a tragedy, poverty, drug overdose, suicide attempt, shooting, abuse, disrespect, hate, envy, perversion, …you hear about our enemy in action.

Some people are obsessed with spiritual warfare and the cosmic battle between good and evil, God and satan, right and wrong. They look for a demon in every Coke can and seem to blame everything on the devil. Others dismiss our enemy and ignore the reality of our opponent. C.S. Lewis famously wrote,

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve their existence. The other is to believe and feel an unhealthy interest in them.”

We can pray for God’s protection from our very real enemy.

In fact, we
should pray for God’s protection. When I pray for protection, I think of Jesus’ model prayer for his disciples:

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. ’ (Matthew 6:13)

We don’t have time to do a full examination of spiritual warfare, but I want to acknowledge the reality of it and our need for God’s power. We can’t do ministry apart from God’s power. In fact, we noted several weeks ago,

Without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, we can accomplish nothing (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).

Furthermore, Paul wrote,

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13, ESV)

Lest you think that means God wants to make us rich, famous, and powerful, consider this cartoon from Skye Jethani.

The Bible is packed with passages that affirm God’s power as far superior to those of our enemy. The prophet Isaiah declared,

…no weapon forged against you will prevail, (Isaiah 54:17b)

Earlier, we read,

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalms 27:1)

The most common command in the Bible is “fear not,” but don’t think for a moment you can attack satan and demons without God’s power. That power is unleashed through prayer. In fact,

Prayer is the primary work of God’s people (Phil. 4:6-7)

I’m so grateful for the men, women and children who pray for First Alliance Church. We have three groups that meet each week—Sunday at 9 AM, Thursday at 7 PM, and men on Tuesdays at 8:30 AM. Many of you pray in your homes, your small groups, and during your personal time with God. Thank you. We need prayer—for passion, unity, direction, and protection. Prayer is truly work. It can be difficult, especially in a world filled with distractions. But without it, we’re just a bunch of broken people trying to change ourselves, our city, and our world with no power…in the face of a real enemy with real power. But with God, he doesn’t stand a chance!

In his book
Seizing Your Divine Moment, pastor Erwin McManus talks about sending his son, Aaron, off to summer camp and wrote,

“Aaron was just a little guy, and I was kind of glad because it was a church camp. I figured he wasn’t going to hear all those ghost stories, because ghost stories can really cause a kid to have nightmares. But unfortunately, since it was a Christian camp and they didn’t tell ghost stories because we don’t believe in ghosts, they told demon and Satan stories instead. And so when Aaron got home, he was terrified.” That first night home, Aaron asked his dad to stay in the room with him. “Daddy, I’m afraid,” Aaron said. “They told all these stories about demons.” And McManus said he wanted to tell his son, “They’re not real,” but he couldn’t say that. Aaron pleaded, “Daddy, Daddy, would you pray for me that I would be safe?” In that plea, McManus said, he heard a desire for that kind of warm-blanket Christianity that too many people assume is all there is to it. So he said to his son, “Aaron, I will not pray for you to be safe. I will pray that God will make you dangerous, so dangerous that demons will flee when you enter the room.” And Aaron said, “Alright. But pray I would be really, really dangerous, Daddy.”

McManus asks, “Have you come to that place in your own life where you stop asking God to give you a safe existence and start asking him to make you a dangerous follower of Jesus Christ?”

Family, I pray that we would seek God’s direction for ourselves and First Alliance Church, that Jesus would truly be our Senior Pastor, leading us on his mission. I also pray that God would protect us from the evil one who wants to steal, kill, destroy, lie, and divide…and that we would be so dangerous to the agenda of evil—so filled with love and passion—that demons would flee and God would be glorified.

We need not fear satan or demons, but instead become more dangerous.

The first time I spoke at First Alliance Church, I had a four-word outline which some of you remember to this day:

Fear not. Fear God.

We are to fear—or give respect and reverence—to God, but we need not fear anything or anyone. God is in control. There are real battles we face, but we will win the war. The God of angels armies is on our side.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Passion & Unity, 10 February 2019

Passion and Unity
Series—Back to Basics
Romans 12:9-13; Malachi 3:10; Mark 12:30; Romans 15:1-7

Big Idea: We are discussing two of my four prayers for FAC: passion and unity and the stewardship and praise which result from them.


What do you love?
Who do you love? Really!

I know, it’s Sunday so God must be the answer, right? If you have a family, your spouse or kids or parents should probably be mentioned. But what do you really love?

I know some of you are passionate about sports. You practice, play, and watch games. Others prefer the electronic variety and devote themselves to video games. Some of you are committed to cooking, your Facebook posts, caring for your pets, traveling, fashion, reading, Netflix, coffee, charity work, entertaining people in your home, going out to eat, cars, …

To quote John Maxwell,

What do you sing about?
What do you cry about?

These are things that we are passionate about today.

What do you dream about?
This speaks to what you hope will bring you fulfillment tomorrow.

In the first part of my message today, we’re talking about passion. It has been described as fuel for the will. It motivates us. It drives us to do—or not do—things. What do you love? What’s your passion?

In our February series, we’re going Back to Basics. Last week we talked about mission, why we exist as a church. Although it is just the beginning of the process of living out God’s mission, we unveiled a mission statement for First Alliance Church.

We are a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

You are a masterpiece, God’s masterpiece. Like everyone in our city and world, we’re broken by sin and in need of restoration. We are privileged to partner with God in our own transformation into the image of Jesus as well as helping others become like Jesus. It’s all about Jesus and God’s glory, not our own, though it’s a wonderful—albeit often painful process—to be restored, redeemed, reconciled, repaired.

Last month we looked at the first eight verses of Romans chapter twelve. It continues,

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13)

Did you catch that in the middle? Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the LORD. That’s passion!

Family, one of my four prayers for First Alliance Church is passion…passion for God and the things that matter to God. In case you’re not sure what things those would be, let me draw your attention to one of our Alliance Core Values:

Lost people matter to God and He wants them found. (Luke 19:10)

This relates to our mission of restoring God’s masterpieces, loving our neighbors, caring for “the least of these,” extending hospitality to widows, strangers, and orphans.

The reason I pray for passion is because I can’t give it to you. I can model passion, I can preach about it, I can try to motivate you and challenge you, but passion is something that you have or you don’t. Either you were excited about watching the Super Bowl or you fell asleep during the big game. Either you devote yourself to politics or music or prayer or your kids or parents or neighbors or you don’t.

What’s your passion? Who’s your passion? Prove it!

One of the ways we can prove our passion is with our money. This week is Valentine’s Day, a day in which consumers will spend around $20 billion on flowers, candy, dinner, and gifts. That’s a lot of love!

If your passion is video games, you no doubt spend a lot of money—and time—on entertainment. If your passion is fitness, you probably have a gym membership in your budget and calendar. If you love shoes or pets or family, your Visa bill or bank account will reveal that passion.

See, love is a verb. It requires action. It’s more than just a word or two on a chalky candy heart (which you can’t even buy this year because of a change in manufacturer; don’t worry, they’ll be back next year!). Love requires commitment, sacrifice, cost. Show me your calendar and checkbook and I’ll instantly see your passion. Your time, talents, and treasures reveal what we truly love…and worship.

Where does God fit into your life? Most of you know Jesus stated the greatest command is to love God, but do you? Really?

Author N.T. Wright said,

“When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God. One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sex objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch.” (Surprised by Hope)
Remember, we were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory.

I want to offer a simple, practical challenge to you regarding passion. It involves your treasures. Just to be clear, we ended 2018 in the black. This is not a backdoor, passive aggressive fundraising tactic. I simply want to ask, “Does your budget reflect your passion for God?”

Some of you may be asking, “What’s a budget?” If so, I urge you to talk with me, Google search “budget,” watch some free Dave Ramsey videos on Right Now Media, or take a class on personal finances.

Like any challenge, this question is more relevant to some of you than others. To all of you who are faithful in your generosity, I want to say thank you on behalf of God. Thank you for honoring God with your finances. Thank you for declaring your allegiance to Jesus every time you write a check, put cash in the offering plate, or give online. I can think of no greater investment than in God’s Kingdom…and our family’s budget reflects that.

Everything We Have Belongs To God; We Are His Stewards (1 Chronicles 29:14)

The word “tithe” means 10% and was established in the Old Testament as a starting point for generosity and stewardship. 100% of what we have is from God and belongs to God. As this Core Value of The Alliance states, we are His stewards.

When you give with passion to your local church, three things happen:

You honor God. You put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. The only time in the Bible I know of where God says, “Test me” is with our finances. In the book of Malachi, the people were instructed to give at least a tithe—ten percent—to God. They were stingy, giving God their scraps and leftovers. Unfortunately, many do this today. When the offering plate comes by, if there’s some spare change in the pocket or purse, they’ll drop it in. If not, nothing. It’s really their loss. God told the people,

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (Malachi 3:10)

There have been many days when Heather and I could not afford to give, but we did anyway in obedience to God…and every time God provided. If you think you can’t afford to give, I’m here to say you can’t afford to not give. The dollar amount is not as important as the percentage. The city and state take 7¼% of everything we buy. Washington takes even more. And some of us give God nothing?

If ten percent—which I believe is God’s minimum—seems overwhelming, start with 5% or even 1%. If your boss came to you tomorrow and said you’d have to take a 10% pay cut, most of you would find a way to make that work. This isn’t a pay cut, though. It’s an investment in God’s Kingdom. Test Him! See how God honors your faith and obedience.

To be clear, I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll get $100 in the mail tomorrow after you put $100 in the offering plate today. But God honors those who honor Him. Don’t miss out on God’s blessing.

2. You bless our church, city, and world. God is at work in and through First Alliance Church. We are seeing broken marriages healed, the sick receiving care, the hungry fed, those in prison visited, children tutored, artists trained, youth challenged, meals delivered, and the homeless housed. Because of your generosity the gospel is proclaimed—both here and around the globe. God has used this church—His church—to send missionaries around the world, to plant churches, to launch ministries such as Cherry Street Mission and Proclaim FM, to bring hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, and peace to the troubled. We are a family on mission, God’s mission, and I can’t imagine a greater investment.

Let’s face it, our world is messed up. It needs help, and our government, schools, and businesses are not the answer, though they do good work. There’s no force on our planet like the power of God moving in and through His people.

3. Thirdly,
you experience freedom. So many people live paycheck-to-paycheck with a scarcity mentality, hoarding and living in fear. When you give to God before you pay your bills, you put your faith in action, trust God, and can truly pray for your daily bread. Remember, God says to test him. He can be trusted. In nearly 29 years of marriage, He’s never failed us (and we’ve been through some massive financial storms!).

As James K.A.Smith’s book title states,
You are what you love.

When Jesus was asked the greatest commandment, He replied,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

What’s missing? Nothing! He said if we are his friends, we’ll do what he commands (John 15:14). He wants us to love him with ALL our heart, ALL our soul, ALL our mind, ALL our strength. When you are passionate about something, you give it your time, your attention, and your money. The word “passion’ means several things, including “a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, a strong or extravagant desire, or a strong love,” but another definition is “the sufferings of Christ on the cross.” Jesus suffered because he is passionate about you and me. His love is so great that he gave everything for us—even his own life. That’s passion! That’s commitment. That’s love.

One of the primary ways we love God, one of the tools we have for surrendering to the Holy Spirit, one of the best expressions of trusting God, one of the most practical declarations of our faith is how we invest our money. I pray that your greatest passion in the world would be for God, and that your time, talents,
and your treasures would truly reflect your worship and allegiance to Him.


Before we enter a time of worship through music in this slightly unusual Sunday morning gathering, I want to talk about another prayer I pray for First Alliance Church in addition to passion. It’s unity.

Two weeks ago we saw from Romans chapter 14 how judging and condemning others can threaten unity…and even cause people to leave our church family. After all, who wants to be with people who are critical, negative, and self-righteous? Tragically, I’ve learned of several people who no longer attend First Alliance Church because of judgmental attitudes and rejection. One Connection Card from two weeks ago said a young persons, “First Alliance peers no longer come because they say they are judged and spoke to as sinful ‘lost sheep’ when they visit so they go to different churches now, or not at all. So sad.”

Family, I don’t want to “judge and condemn” you, but we’ve got work to do. Actually, the Holy Spirit has work to do…on our hearts. I want to return to the book of Romans, this time chapter 15. Some preachers have spent years going through this incredible book of the Bible. Two weeks ago, we were in chapter 14 and it continues…

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. (Romans 15:1-2)

In chapter 14, Paul tells the church in Rome to avoid quarrelling over disputable matters (14:1). Furthermore, we must be sensitive to those whose faith is weak, not causing them to stumble. Love means looking out for the best interest of another person, and for me to truly love you, I must be willing to sacrifice my freedoms for your conscience. I used the example of a person choosing not to drink a glass of wine around their friend who is an alcoholic. We’re naturally selfish creatures, but love means thinking of others.

This is radical! This is counter-cultural. This is the way of Jesus. He did not come to be served, but to serve. He did not come to save His life, but to offer it up for us. He set a perfect example for us to follow…an example that requires surrender to God, a filling of the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to die to our own selfish desires for the sake of loving God…and others.

This Saturday I’m performing a wedding ceremony in Michigan and one thing I often say to couples is marriage is not 50/50. It’s 100/100. If your attitude is to go halfway, that might be fine in some situations, but there are times in life when the other person—a spouse, child, parent, friend—simply can’t go halfway themselves. Maybe they are sick or struggling in some area of life and they need you to go the extra mile, so to speak. Jesus went all the way with his love. It was unconditional. He didn’t say, “I love you if” or “I love you because,” but “I love you. Period.” As we remembered last Sunday, he gave everything for us, even his very life on the cross.

For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Romans 15:3-4)

I’m so glad Jesus did not live a selfish life. Aren’t you? Paul continues,

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

You were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory. When we live for ourselves, any hope of unity is lost. When we humbly gather together at the foot of the cross, bowing in adoration of Almighty God, seeking to love God and one another, unity is certain.

The ultimate purpose of unity is to glorify God, to worship and praise Him.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

This doesn’t mean to accept sin, but to accept sinners…that’s all of us. We’ve been accepted by Jesus, despite our brokenness. His love is amazing, and he commands us to love one another, to accept one another, and in doing so, we praise God, in word and deed.

This is really hard. It’s easy to disagree with one another. It’s easy to gossip, slander, and judge. It feels quite natural to be critical, negative and be divisive…especially in our current culture. I’m sorry to say I’ve witnessed this repeatedly within our church family…and it must stop. Now. Our mission is not to about a donkey or an elephant. What brings us together is not having similar educational or economic backgrounds. Our purpose in gathering is not to “have our needs met” or to enjoy the music or feel good about the preaching (especially today, right?!). We are a Jesus-centered family and we exist for the glory of God. Period.

Even if you were an only child, you know family can be difficult. You won’t always agree on what restaurant to visit on vacation, what color to paint the living room, or what to name the puppy. But God uses others to shape us, teach us, and transform us. Others help us to become patient, kind, generous, loving, and selfless…to become like Jesus.

Today we’re going to close with not one song but several. We want to create space for your voice to join others. You can download sermons all day long. You can give money online. You can chat with friends on Facebook. One thing that is unique about our gatherings is corporate worship. You can sing in your car, but there’s something so beautiful about praising God together. This isn’t glee club or choir hour, but rather singing songs to God. He’s the audience. The people on stage are not the performers. We all are performers, together, for God. As a symbol of our unity, of loving God and one another, as a family, we praise God.

Worship Music

I pray for passion, expressed in our time, talents, and treasures.
I pray for unity, expressed in our love for one another, encouragement, sensitivity to one another, and lack of condemnation.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.