Looking Back, to Look Forward

remember-1-1152856-1600x1600So on Sunday we looked back at some of the different lessons God has really taught us in the past 4+ years here. Because I believe that what God teaches us in the past is what often prepares us for our future. The trouble is that we are so forgetful. We forget what God has taught us, we forget the lesson, and we move on.

So we wanted to halt that memory loss by remembering 4 key lessons God has taught us as a church over the past number of years.

The first was to focus on your great work. I believe that God has something that each of us are to do that is lasting and impactful. For some this great work is launching a business, writing a book, starting a ministry, or being a great dad, being an amazing wife, being the best grandmother possible. Each of us are graced for different things, the point is not to give up on what God has given us. We remembered an amazing story of Nehemiah where when a good opportunity comes along he says, “No I am doing a great work I cannot come down”. This is what we need to do, focus on the great work God has for us.

We also remembered that our lives leave a legacy that can shape generations. We looked at Jacob and Esau and how one decision by Esau changed and shaped Jospeh so that when he was in the same situation as Esau he knew how to act. And lives were changed and generations were saved. We can have the same impact if we choose our choices intentionally, if we do the hard stuff of living like Jesus.

We then looked at something hard but necessary to do: forgiveness. The truth is that forgiveness as a Christian isn’t optional – it’s kinda part of the job description. But it’s really hard to do, but that’s why it’s so life changing. So we remembered and reflected on how forgiveness, while hard to give, is necessary and challenges ourselves to give forgiveness to someone.

And last but not least, we looked at the story of Jesus and the disciples in the boat. And we reflected on a main point we had worked through earlier this year. That when difficult and darkness come that we need to always remember who is in our boat. God is always with us, and we can’t let the storms steal our focus from him.

So that’s what we learned on Sunday. The main point was really don’t forget what God has taught you. And we challenge each of us with a simple challenge: to put one of these lessons into practice. Because the way we ensure we don’t forget what God teaches us, is to live it out. Things we practice and use, we remember and don’t forget.

So we closed with a challenge. To put one of these four lessons into practice: to focus on your great work, to ensure you leave a legacy, practice forgiveness, and never forget Jesus is in your boat. Because it’s when you start to live differently that lives are changed.


Sermon Notes:

Big IdeaDon’t forget what God has taught you

Teaching Points:

  • What God prepares in us in the past, is what enables us for his future
  • If we want to find where God is leading us, it begins by remembering what he has done within us.
  • I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. – Nehemiah
  • The choices you make today can be the thing that determines someone’s life years from now.
  • Forgiveness is not a feeling. Forgiveness is a choice to end the cycle of revenge and leave justice in the hands of God. Brian Zahnd
  • Always remember who is in your boat.

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What sermons do you remember most? What lessons has God taught you that have been significant in your lifetime? Is there one of those lessons that Andrew shared that resonates? What can you do to take a next step? Who can help you with that?

Challenge for the Week: Put one of these lessons into practice.

Sermons From the Vault

safe-1240163-1280x1920Okay so here is a good question to think about:

What are the top few lessons God has taught you in the past 5 years?

Take a moment and think about it. Because I believe that often what God teaches us in the past, is what is preparing us for his future. But the truth is this: we are quick to forget the lessons we learn. I know this is true of me, and I’m sure it’s probably true for you as well. That we learn something important, or really impactful but a few months go by and we forget or stop living that important truth out.

So here is what we want to do on Sunday. We are going to be looking back in our past for some of the key lessons God has taught us, so we can look forward into the future God has for us.

But before Sunday comes why not spend some time and think and pray about what God has taught you? Because remembering the lessons God teaches isn’t a waste of time, it’s how we grow.

Broken Pasts, Limited Futures, and New Life

1310598_43430592On Sunday we explored the story of Moses but looked at it from a different angle. We looked at it from a failed past angle. Moses was surely thought to be the man to bring salvation to his people. His story from the very beginning seems  destined for greatness. He was miraculously saved in an ark, grows up in Pharaoh’s court, and seems to be a man of limitless potential whom God will use to save his people.

Fast forward to when he is older, and ready to step up and be the hero. The story in Exodus 2 jumps to his moment when we think he will save his people. But what ends up happening is that Moses makes a rash and impulsive decision and kills an Egyptian burying him in his sand. This leads to Moses fleeing from Egypt leaving behind his destiny to live in the desert.

It’s at this place that we catch up with Moses, a man whom we must assume has many regrets. He was raised in the lap of luxury, and is now a man alone watching sheep as a shepherd in the desert. My guess is that if we were to ask Moses what his future was like he would say dim. That he would assume that his past is limiting what God can do with him in the future. That even though he once had potential his failures define his future.

But what I love about God is that our past is never ever wasted with him. That our past never defines our future. Our God can even transform our pasts into new futures for us.

So God comes to Moses and says, “go to Pharaoh and speak to him and save your people.”  This is amazing because Moses is probably the only Israelite person in the world who can actually get to Pharaoh. It’s like you or me trying to get a personal audience with the President of the United States – it’s just not going to happen. But Moses grew up in the court, Moses might have even grown up with the current Pharaoh, Moses knows the ins and outs of political landscape. He can get to see Pharaoh.

And so Moses thinks that his future must limit God, but God wants to use Moses precisely because of his past. His past doesn’t limit God, but actually allows God to do something amazing through him.

And I think this is true of all of us. Our pasts with God are never wasted, instead God can use them, transform them, and build on them to accomplish something amazing through us. Through Moses and his checkered past God saves all the Israelite people. And through us no matter what our past is like, God can use us as well.

The question is this: do you believe that God can use all of you?

Do you honestly believe God can use all of you?

Because this story points to the fact that your past doesn’t limit God. Your poor decisions, awful events, hurtful encounters doesn’t stop God. In fact, God can use your past to bring about a new future for you and for others.

So the question is “do you believe that God can use all of you, no matter what you’ve done? And if so are you willing to be used?”

We ended up on Sunday with the challenge for each of us to carve out some time and go to God and give him all of ourselves. To offer to him all of us, broken pasts and everything, and invite him to use us. I think it’s the right way to start. Moses encounters God in the burning bush and everything is changed. So today why not go and encounter God and discover that he can change and transform your past and your future. Because that is how great our God really is.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Your past is never wasted

Take Aways…

  • We don’t drift into making a difference
  • One of the single biggest obstacles to finding God’s future is often our past
  • We have an assumption that God works best with perfect people
  • Moses is gifted with amazing potential
  • In Moses we see someone with unlimited potential, falter and fail
  • We end up rehearsing and regretting our failed decisions
  • For many of us decisions in the past decide and determine our future
  • Our God can change the past
  • We often feel like our past limits God’s future for us
  • God chooses Moses because of his past, not in spite of it
  • Your past is never wasted
  • Will your story be one of regret or transformation?
  • Do you believe God can use all of you?
  • Give God all of yourself

Adult / Group Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it?

Have you ever deeply regretted a decision? What happened? How come you regretted it? Have you ever felt like you were destined to do something important? In the sermon could you relate at all to Moses regretting an impulsive decision?

What in your past have you wished you could let go of? How might God be wanting to redeem and use your past for his good? How might God want to transform your past, so that you might transform others today?

Do you believe God can use all of you? Share your thoughts on this question.

Plan a time to spend with God giving him all of your past

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take sometime to talk with your kids about how with God he heals our past. Ask your kids if there has ever been a choice they regret or something that really hurt them. Talk to them about how with God he can heal our hurt pasts. Talk to them about how we can go to God with all we have in us and find peace. Spend some time with your kids praying, and bringing to God anything they have.

Challenge for this Week: Give God all of Yourself

Can God Transform Your Past?

794034_32889557I’m going to say something, that while it’s not true, many of us believe: our past limits God.

For whatever reason in Christianity we have this unwritten assumption that God does his best work with perfect people. That people who have failed less than us, made better choices than us, who are closer than God to us – have more potential than us. And while we might not ever say it that bluntly we assume that God would rather use someone who didn’t have that messy past: that affair, that moral breakdown, impulsive decision, lack of courage, whatever.

The point is that we think that somehow the wrong and regretful decisions we have made limit what God can do in and through us.

That’s the assumption I really want to honestly examine on Sunday. Does our past really limit God? Is our past something we need to overcome to be able to be useful to God?

What I think we’ll discover is something really unique, shocking, and subversive. God wants to use us, because of past not in spite of it.

But before we get there on Sunday why not spend some time honestly reflecting on your life. Are there encounters, decisions, or things that have happened to you that you feel disqualify you or limit your future? Does anything from your past have a hold on what could happen? Does that relational blowup, decision to dropout, moral failure, wrong choice, or just missed opportunity still determine some of what you believe God can do in and through you?

If so, simply start to recognize the places and things that you believe might limit God’s working in and through you. Bring them with you on Sunday, and we’ll see what God might do with them. I’ll give you a hint: even though it seems impossible…God can transform our pasts into a new future.