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Tonight is the third week of a summer sermon series I’m sharing called “Faith Lessons for Life.” These faith lessons are designed to give practical help to common challenges that all of us face on our journey of life. We’re using the game of Life as a way to look at these faith lessons. Each week I’m sharing a Life Card that goes along with the life lesson. I encourage you to get it out. The Life Card is a little different than the devotion I’ve shared. The Life Card gives biblical teaching on the life lesson. Help me out and let me know if you’re using the Life Card. Let me know what you like about it and ways that I could use the Life Card to help you grow in your faith. My motivation for using the Life Card is to help you. Let me know how it is helping you. You can also take notes on the sermon on the sheet that is on the table. I changed the wording of tonight’s faith lesson. Originally the wording it was “Experiencing contentment in a world of expectations.” I changed it to “Experiencing Life in a world of expectations.” I changed it when I opened the bible. You know how many times the form of the word contentment is used in the Scriptures. Only six. One passage is significant. 1 Timothy 6:6 SLIDE “Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment” The apostle Paul wrote the book of Timothy to a man by the name of Timothy. In this section of Timothy he was talking about satisfaction. He was saying that we bring nothing into the world and we’ll take nothing out of the world. If we have food and clothing that’s enough to be content. But people who desire to be rich can fall into many temptations. His word in this passage is be content.
This is an important teaching, but Jesus didn’t come into the world so that you and I would experience contentment. He came into the world so that you and I would experience life.
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Look at these Scriptures. You might even want to write these Scriptures down. SLIDE I [Jesus] came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 SLIDE All things came into being through him [Jesus], and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. John 1:3-4 A passage that I’m guessing many of us have memorized SLIDE God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 Jesus came into the world so that we would experience eternal life and life here on earth. I actually believe that a fully devoted disciple, follower of Jesus Christ has more discontent than contentment. How many people in the community of Blaine would acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That is what percentage of people would identify themselves as a disciple of Jesus. If Blaine is like the rest of the world the number is decreasing. A recent Pew survey found that almost 20% of Americans have no religious affiliation and that almost one-third of people under 30 have no religious affiliation. In saying this I’m not at all being judgmental of these folks. My judgment is more at the church. We have done a poor job of teaching people about Jesus. The question that I’m asking tonight is what does this do to us. Are we going to accept this or are we going to say, “no, I think it’s very important for people to follow Jesus.” The Pew Forum recently did a survey in which they asked people their thoughts about people becoming less religious. 48% of people interviewed said it was a bad thing that people are becoming less religious. But 11 percent said it was a good thing and 39 percent said it
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doesn’t matter. That’s apathy. Over half of our population says it doesn’t matter that our population is becoming less religious. I hope this information causes us discontent. I hope that we are part of the 48 percent who says it matters. I hope that inspires us to share our message in a way that connects with people who don’t identify themselves as religious. Not only is our faith in Christ going down, but the issues that Jesus cared about are not going the way that Jesus would want. The number one issue that Jesus spoke about in the gospels was wealth and the accumulation of wealth. . SLIDE Between 2006 & 2010 the average poverty rate in the United States was 13.8% Between 2006 & 2010 the average poverty rate in the state of Minnesota was 10.6% Between 2006 & 2010 the average poverty rate in Anoka County was 6.4% We have a lot of people in our world who are poor. I hope that this high poverty rate causes us great discontent. I believe that Jesus would find discontent in this too. Jesus didn’t come to give us contentment. Jesus came to give us life. Eternal life and life for us here on earth. Close to 700 times in the Scriptures the word “life” is used. I’ve taught you before that the bible is a book that describes salvation. The Bible opens with a picture of paradise in Genesis 1 and in the last chapter of Revelation the Bible shares a vision of paradise. IN between we are taught how to live into this vision of paradise or salvation. I’ve also taught you before that the bible is a book that describes love, that much of the Bible is a love letter from God to humanity. The Bible is also a book that describes life. The word life is used almost 700 times in the Bible. The NT words for life are in forms that we would recognize. The three most common words are zoe, bios, and psyche
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Zoe is SLIDE The word bios describes God’s gift of physical life. We think of the word biology
—the study of physical life. Some of us might have received a major in biology. SLIDE The word psyche describes our soul. Psuche is the breath of life. It describes the
animation inside of us that keeps us going SLIDE The word zoe is the spiritual blessings that we receive when we love God and
when we love our neighbor as ourselves. I In the story that Amy read a lawyer stood up to challenge Jesus. He asked Jesus what he could do to inherit eternal life or eternal zoe. Jesus responded by asking the lawyer what was in the religious law. This was a logical question. The lawyer was a scholar in the law, so what did he find in the law. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. Jesus responded to the lawyer by saying, You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live. We translate the word live from the form of the word zoe. The actual word is Zasa. live the sound of that word, Zasa. Jesus taught the lawyer that when we love we will experience Zasa. Let’s push into this some more and ask the question, “what is life?” First life is salvation. The lawyer wanted to know what was eternal life? This is the life that we experience when our body stops working. It’s a mystery how this happens, and for some people it’s hard to believe that we can keep living after we die. The Scriptures are very clear that death is not the final word. Nothing not even death can separate us from the love of God. This gift of salvation is something that can have a tremendous impact on our life right now. You and I don’t need to be afraid of death. When we go to funerals we are sad for the
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people who are left behind, but we can celebrate that the person is experiencing salvation. The reality of eternal life can give us tremendous confidence as we live our life right now. If we are feeling anxious about anything we can let it go. When we experience heaven I believe that we will look back on our anxieties on earth and wonder, “how could I have let that make me anxious.” If we are feeling anxious right now we can let it go because we have such a glorious future in which to look forward. Life is eternal; it’s what we experience after death. Let me tell you what the life described in the Bible is not. It’s not the description of Life in the game of Life. First look at the cover of the game of life. SLIDE We have the nuclear family. Dad, mom and two well-adjusted kids. This picture
shares a lot of images about life. Do you think the picture intends to share that this family is wealthy or poor? Do you think the picture intends to share that the marriage is doing well? Do you think the picture intends to share that the kids are doing well in school? Do you think that picture intends to share that the family is experiencing alcoholism, or drug abuse, or the dad is addicted to pornography. It’s just one picture. Do we fit into this picture if we are poor or divorced, or our kids are not doing well, or someone in our family is experiencing alcoholism or dad is addicted to pornography? The game of life shares the American Dream. Remember the game is a journey. Start out and the first thing a person decides if they get a job or go to college. Soon after the person gets married, and has kids, and goes through the ups and downs of life. Eventually the person ends up at Millionaire acres. How does a person win the game of life. Whoever has the most money. It’s the American Dream. Let me be clear. I love the idea of the American Dream. I love the fact that in the United States that people have the opportunity to grow up and be very prosperous. That all people can
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be married and have children and we have many freedoms. Tomorrow night on July 4th I’ll be watching the fireworks and celebrating the freedoms we have in the United States. The American Dream is a dream. It doesn’t describe life for most people. We already know that 10 percent of the country is in poverty. They aren’t living the American Dream. How many of us when we retire will have a million dollars in our pension. I’m guessing not many. How many of us in our lifetime will experience divorce, or will have someone in our family go through a serious addiction. What will happens if our kids don’t turn out to be well-adjusted and willings to wear a sweater in a family picture. The title of this sermon is experiencing life in a world of expectations. You and I live with the expectations of the American Dream. It’s the undercurrent to our suburban culture. It’s wonderful. How do we feel if we don’t match up. I was talking to someone the other day. This man is retired and he feels guilty about his life because he wasn’t able to provide enough for his family. This is a wonderful and caring man who lives with this guilt—which comes from the American Dream. Remember when Jesus was asked how to experience Eternal life he didn’t say that we would be rich, have a family who was together, have no medical problems, and always be happy. Experiencing life in the Bible is far different than the experience of the American Dream. Finally experiencing life is a choice. Zoe does not automatically come to us. We have to choose it. Another story. It’s the story of the Israelites when they were about to enter the Promised Land. They had experienced quite a journey of life since they had left Egypt. They
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were almost killed at the Red Sea. Many of them died in the wilderness. They had fallen away from God and many had been killed in battle. But after 40 years they were ready to enter the Promised Land. These were life-tested people. Before they went into the Promised Land Moses received a word from God that he shared with the people. Moses told them how to experience life in their new situation. SLIDE See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Lord your God, walking in his ways, and observing his commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess. Deuteronomy 30:15-16 SLIDE Choose life so that you and your descendants may life, loving the Lord your god, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you Deuteronomy 30:19 Life is a choice. You and I can’t control the situations that come to us. But we can control how we will respond to them. Choose life. A long time ago I received an E-mail from a friend. In the E-mail my friend told me how his father was dying. He had cancer and the treatments had run their course. It was time for his father to die. He wrote that the goal of his family was to make each day of his father’s life beautiful and full of joy—even in the midst of sorrow. That’s choosing life—even in the midst of death. This idea of life won’t be found in the American Dream. This idea of life is found in people who are always willing to love. It’s found in a group of people who are confident in their salvation. It could be found in us. Communion
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