Good Morning New Journey!
If you were standing here in my shoes, you would have just noticed the distinct lack of response. On most Sundays there are over one-hundred-fifty people filling this sacred space, joining together in fellowship for the worship of Jesus Christ. Today, the room is empty. This doesn’t mean, however, that our task is lost. For, you see, while we aren’t filling this sacred space, where you sit right in this very moment can become holy ground. Those you are with, either physically, or digitally online, join you in fellowship. And, Jesus made clear to the Woman at the Well that the day was at hand when it was not to a mountain, or physical location that we would enter into worship of God, but anywhere we sought Him in spirit and truth.
Hear me, Dear Church, where you sit is God’s Sanctuary. Moses was tending to the herds when the Lord spoke through the burning bush. “Take off your sandals” God said, for this is holy ground. Perhaps given the fact that herds tend to fertilize the ground on which they travel, Moses wondered “how can this be holy ground?” Yet, it was, because God had prepared it to meet with Moses. And so I challenge each of you, take a look around the room. Perhaps you notice socks on the floor, toys, unfinished breakfast, or other common things. Say to each person with you, or out loud if you’re alone “This is holy ground”
That said, I did my best to design an interactive worship experience for us. You’ll be doing things at home, with the knowledge that hundreds of others are doing the same. We are still the Body of Christ, even if invisible to one another. We’ll enjoy Scripture, Songs, Prayer, Discussion Prompts, and a Short Message.
Call and Response
Psalm 119:49-56 New Living Translation (NLT)
49 Remember your promise to me;
it is my only hope.
50 Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles.
51 The proud hold me in utter contempt,
but I do not turn away from your instructions.
52 I meditate on your age-old regulations;
O Lord, they comfort me.
53 I become furious with the wicked,
because they reject your instructions.
54 Your decrees have been the theme of my songs
wherever I have lived.
55 I reflect at night on who you are, O Lord;
therefore, I obey your instructions.
56 This is how I spend my life:
obeying your commandments.
Amen. Let’s pray.
Mike and Dee will now lead us in a couple of songs. I know it may be awkward to sing out loud in your home. So, here are a couple of tips. First, look to those around you and say, “it’s okay to sing bad here” And if you’re alone, and there’s a dog, maybe warn him too. Only joking. Secondly, if you don’t want to sing, lift the words up in your heart. Because songs are really prayers.
This is what the Early Church did as they met in homes, and how many Christians worship throughout the world still today. Something else about homes you may know, is that they are full of kids! So, we want to have some fun with the kids this morning as well.
Mike and Dee are going to lead us and we need all the kids to get their family up off their seat! Let’s go!
Amen. We’re now going to take some time to pray together. What I’d like you to do in this moment is, while Mike plays quietly in the background, go around the room and share a prayer request. If there’s more than six of you, go ahead and break into groups. Just share something that you would like to see God do in your life right now. What do you need? If you’re alone, please comment your prayer request, or if it’s too personal, simply say “unspoken”
Then, after you have shared, everyone go around the room and pray for the person on your right. I know this will be difficult for some of you. So, here’s what I did with my Junior High Students—if you don’t’ think you can pray out loud, just say “God, please be with _______. Amen.” That’s it. “God, please be with Mike. Amen.” Got it? Online folks, do your best to pray for each other, maybe even typing out your prayers.
That’s it. Go share and pray, we’ll bring you back in five minutes.
[Five Minute Countdown]
Good job everyone. I hope this is meaningful for you.
Alright, get on back over to the couch, ya’ll. I’m curious, why don’t you guys describe what your worship space looks like right now on the comments. Are you in a living room? I hope nobody is in the bathroom at like Wal-Mart or something.
Okay, well, here are some announcements for you.
First, please click the link that we have provided for you to fill out a Connection Card online. We sent this out via text message, as well as included it in the Facebook Event description. But, what’s important is that you really have all of your information up to date if you are not getting texts or emails from the church. Communication is key right now. Please make that a priority to fill out. It will also help us with attendance tracking during this online meetings as there is a question about how many are meeting in your group right now. Further, please consider giving online. You can do so by downloading our app, or going to njcc.me and clicking on “Give”
Second, Elevate Student Ministries is going to MEET ONLINE at 5pm tonight. Please, go to the Elevate Youth Facebook page. Someone get a link in the comments there. Pastor Megan will have an online meeting and is getting everything worked out.
Third, we will do our best to create community and discipleship opportunities via Online platforms. One of these ideas is the Connections Department is creating conversation starters online each weekday. The first one will be tomorrow morning at 10am. So please logon to facebook tomorrow morning at 10am and be sure to join the group Official New Journey Communiy Church group.
Fourth, just to make it clear, we do not plan on having in-person service in the coming weeks, unless we are otherwise instructed. Our Spiritual Warfare weekend, as you know, was called off, and our ministry fair and lunch is also called off.
More importantly, our Local Church Conference has been postponed until further notice. We are awaiting instructions from the denomination on how to proceed, and we are told we will know very soon the plan for voting on Board members and all of that. I will tell you, though, we are working on still celebrating this past church year on Sunday.
Lastly, like to encourage you to utilize the Facebook group titled [Official] New Journey Community Church Group for any needs that you have. If you do not have Facebook, you can reach the office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we can be there for you in any way during these trying times, please do not hesitate to let someone know.
Adults: List things that are real, but difficult to observe or quantify.
Kids: How do you know the wind is real?
Our message time today talks about things that we cannot see, but are very real. First, we can not see becoming a Christian, but we know being born again is very real. We become new. Peter writes,
- New Birth
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. 1 Peter 1:3-4a NIV
Interestingly, while we cannot see new birth, for it is a spiritual thing. Many people did see Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascend into heaven. That is why He is called our living hope. Because, our hope did not die on the cross. But, even though we cannot see Jesus now, we know He lives because when we give our lives to Him through faith in His Name, we experience an inner transformation.
- God’s Power and Protection
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 1 Peter 1:4b-6 NIV
How many of you like spy shows? James Bond, 24, or even Superhero movies? Well, how often does the general public know there is a superhero saving the day? Even in real life, your everyday citizen can’t tell you how agencies of the United States government have staved off threats which could harm you and I. How much more, then, does God shield you with His power? It is invisible to you and I.
On the flip side, it isn’t a shield against grief or trials. Instead it is a shield against despair. As Paul promises in Philippians 4, our hearts and minds are guarded by the peace that comes through Christ. Throughout history, Christians have endured plagues, wars, ideologies, false gods, torture, and death. In none of these did the true believers fall away, but instead their fire burned hotter than ever, their light shined brighter, for it was the world’s darkest hour. So, still, today our God shields us, though we may not be aware of all He is doing. Yet, we can rejoice that if we put our faith and trust in Him, He will guard our joy on Earth and protect our inheritance in Heaven. We cannot lose.
- The Benefits of Suffering
These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:7 NIV
When it comes to suffering, we just want the pain to end. When we aren’t happy and comfortable, our goals in life often shift to regaining that enjoyable position. However, our goal in life ought not to be comfortable, or even to be happy, but to be obedient to the Lord which we owe our very being. When our goal is to honor Christ and to serve Him over and above ourselves, then suffering becomes but a tool.
Take a look at this video for a moment. If the kids are off running around they might want to come back and see this. It’s how gold is refined.
[ play video ]
Cupellation is a refining process in metallurgy where ores or alloyed metals are treated under very high temperatures and have controlled operations to separate noble metals, like gold and silver, from base metals, like lead, copper, zinc, arsenic, antimony, or bismuth, present in the ore. The process is based on the principle that precious metals do not oxidise or react chemically, unlike the base metals, so when they are heated at high temperatures, the precious metals remain apart, and the others react, forming slags or other compounds.
Wow. I’m sure you can understand better what Peter is saying. We go through these crucibles and the junk starts to come out. I know I’ve been more irritable at home. But, we’ve also been doing more devotionals now, praying more, pressing in more, forgiving more. God is meeting us right there at our weak points and scraping away the gunk.
- Inner Joy
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV
You know, this pandemic we are all experiencing is something that has got me thinking more about the Second Coming of Christ. When we are comfortable, we get lost in our own plans and consider all of our dreams the be-all-end-all of existence. However, the world is bigger than our plans and dreams. It is more terrible, AND more beautiful than we could imagine. And God wants to wake us up into that reality. He wants you to think for a moment that Jesus Himself is going to return. Perhaps very, very soon. I like to say that Jesus’ return is imminent. I don’t know if it is immediate but I know it is imminent meaning I live each hour and day as if He is going to come.
Church, dwelling upon the Second Coming of Christ is an important feature of our faith and I think many of us have lost it. I don’t want to go full-blown Armageddon, selling fiction novels about it. But, I do want you to think about His real, bodily return. His real, face-to-face judgement. It should put a lot of things in perspective for us.
That’s the lesson I have for you. Now, I do have a few lunch questions that I will post on the website njcc.me. Ask each other these as you eat today.
- Why do you think Jesus used the phrase “born again” to describe becoming a Christian?
- How can I know I have been born again?
- Do you think God should protect us from all harm? Why or why not?
- What kinds of things try to be more important than your faith?
- Have you ever experienced “being refined” through something difficult?
- How can we love Jesus, even if we haven’t seen Him?
- What is the different between joy and happiness?
- What is the one big takeaway for you from this message?
For now, though, join me in responding to God’s Word through song. You don’t need to stand. Just stay where you are. Maybe close your eyes. You can sing if you’d like, or just listen. I am not alone.
1 Th. 5:23-24 – Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Please fill out a Connection Card for attendance purposes. Please do engage in giving online, or snail-mailing your offering to the church. Go with God.