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.
We’ll now enter into worship by joining our hearts and voices together in Scripture. We will be reciting together Psalm 27, verses 1-5. I will lead us in the regular text, and everyone out there online and together in your homes, repeat the bold.
Call and Response
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?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
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.
Well, at this time, you may go ahead and take a quick break. Usually it would be the New Journey Five. Grab a drink, use the restroom. We’ll bring you back in 5.
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, and I don’t know if YouTube has it. 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 DO plan on having Small Groups this week. As a Board, we have talked with our District Superintendent, and have read through the Federal, State, and CDC guidelines for meetings and quarantine, and have found that as long as we do not meet as one congregation over ten people, and nobody is exhibiting any symptoms, and you do not have underlying health conditions, nor visiting those who do, you are welcome to attend small group unless we are further instructed otherwise.
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.
Okay, that was a lot to cover. Now, I’m going to turn it back to you and your group. As we enter into our Sunday Morning teaching, I want you to begin with a Discussion Question. Everyone has to answer. Same rules for solo folks, you’ve got to post your answer. Everyone else share with your group.
“What is the role of the Sheriff’s department?” If you have kids, you could ask “why do we have police?” Go ahead and take a minute.
Okay, now answer this “What is the role of your parents when you are a kid?” or maybe simpler “Why do kids need parents?” Take another minute or two.
Now that our juices are flowing, I want you to think about the various responses. I would wager you could categorize them into two or three categories.
Perhaps for police, you said “protect and serve” or more specifically for the Sheriff’s department, “police the county and also provide sentencing through the jail” There is an element of “thank goodness the police are here” when we are hurt. But, also an element of, “it’s the 5-0! Run!” Can you see it?
Maybe it’s more clear with parents. Why do kids need parents? Well, to make chicken nuggets, mac-and-cheese, and do laundry, right? But, maybe some of you out there got the other response I was hoping for—to teach, or discipline their kids.
It’s like the police, right? There is a side that is about protecting and providing, but also a side about carrying out justice. A side the requires submission.
Keep all of this in mind as we read our Scripture this morning
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.
For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Romans 13:1-5 NIV
I want to explain this important concept to you this morning: Whether it be police, your parents, your boss, or spiritual leader, the role of authorities in your life has two sides:
- To protect and provide
- To guide and discipline
Paul wrote that the “authority is God’s servant for your good.” “But if you do wrong, be afraid…”
What I have found to be true is that we often want one side without the other, don’t we? If we are in a car accident or robbed, we want the authorities to protect and provide. However, if we are speeding or engaging in some illegal activity, we have a lot of names for the police that aren’t “officer”
For the kids at home, I’m sure you are thankful that your parents cook you food, buy you clothes, help you clean up, and drive you to your friends’ houses right? But, I’m guessing you are frustrated when your parents tell you “no dessert” or discipline you for talking back.
Should we even get into bosses and supervisors?
Here’s how I look at it. And parents, feel free to get your own items to show your kids once you understand the illustration.
[Cup and Ball]
I’m the ball, and the authority I’m under is the cup. When I’m submitting to the cup’s authority, that is, I am under the cups authority, I am also under the cups protection and ability to provide for me.
However, if I leave the authority of the cup, I am now taking my life into my own hands. As Paul wrote, whoever “rebels against the authority… will bring judgment on themselves.”
How often is there a tragedy, such as a murder, involved with drugs? Or, imagine a runaway kid who becomes hungry? When you disobey, you leave the circle of protection and provision. You are liable both to discipline from the authority if you go back in, or to the consequences of living on your own.
Allow me to make one more illustration and I’ll bring all of this home.
Authority can also have authority over it. After all, Paul wrote that “The authorities that exist have been established by God.” therefore, it stands to reason that God’s authority is above the earthly authorities. This brings us to a discussion on levels of authority.
Here’s how it works.
[ ball, cup, bowl, bucket ]
the ball is me, the cup is maybe my parents, the bowl is the united states federal law, and the bucket is God’s law.
Certainly there are more authorities, and some with overlap, but you get the idea.
Now, why that is important, of course, is because if you need to always obey the big bucket first. Otherwise, you’re outside of His protection and provision. That is not where you want to be.
It reminds me of when David sinned. I mentioned that incident last week. But, look at what he prays,
“Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.”
Psalm 51:11 NIV
David is worried that he will lose his connection with God and no longer experience the good benefits of being under Yahweh’s authority. Let’s draw a couple of applications.
- Submit to the Big Bucket down
- If your work asks you to do something illegal, don’t do it
- If the government says “you cannot worship Jesus Christ”, do it anyway
- Disobedience leads to
- Suffering outside of authority
- Discipline inside of authority
Here are a couple of questions to ask at the lunch table after church today:
- Do I appreciate the protection and provision of my authorities? Or, do I just complain about the discipline?
- Am I submitting to all of my authorities? Or, am I leaving myself vulnerable to consequences?
- Am I submitting to the right authorities? Is God first?
Now, Mike and Dee will lead us in a final song. It is my hope that this song will stir within you a revived reverence for the Name, Power, and Authority of Jesus in your life.
Deuteronomy 8:5-7 NIV
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience to him and revering him.
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land
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.