Author: Destiny Gonzalez

Let My People Go //
Part Two

This morning Lead Pastor Carl Gulley shared part two of our series, Let My People Go. For the next several weeks, we will be unpacking how to overcome the various “pharaohs” in our lives. Just as God made a way for the Israelites to be set free from Pharaoh, Jesus came so that we could have freedom from our modern-day pharaohs. This morning, we talked about how to overcome the pharaoh of offense.

We’re human, and relationships are a crucial part of life – whether friendships, marriages, relationships with your kids, etc. Sometimes relationships can get messy, therefore offense is inevitable. At one point or another, we’ll find ourselves on the receiving end of offense. Other times we’ll find ourselves as the one asking for forgiveness because of our actions.

“FATHER, FORGIVE THEM; FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.” LUKE 23:34

When Jesus spoke these ten words, He not only marked our lives forever, He also modeled how we can overcome offense. Throughout Scripture, we see tyrants brought down in unexpected ways. God destroys the bondage is in our lives in ways that come opposite of how we might react. Resentment and offense will only be broken in an unusual manner – through forgiveness.

THE HARDEST PERSON TO FORGIVE IS THE ONE NOT ASKING FOR IT.

Relational breakdowns occur when someone doesn’t apologize, or they are completely unaware of the offense they caused. We end up holding on to our bitterness and resentment, and allow ourselves to ensue in imaginary arguments and extend unnecessary energy. Regardless of the magnitude of offense, Jesus’ model can be applied to every situation.

Throughout our morning, we took a look at the life of Joseph on Genesis 37 and 45. He was no stranger to offense, and also gave us a model of how to respond.

MINOR OFFENSES //

These are the birthday parties we weren’t invited to, the t-shirt your roommate borrowed and never gave back or the person that keeps bumping your chair at the movie theater. If we’re honest with ourselves, we realize that these are really just minor inconveniences. Most of our offenses come at this level, but in our mind we can turn it into something so much bigger. If these situations trigger a response disproportionate to the situation, we may need to flip the prayer from, “Father forgive them,” to “Father, forgive me.” Following Jesus’ model, we have to train our mind to repeat His very words, and release the minor offenses.

MAJOR OFFENSES //

This is where there is legitimate pain. This is more than not getting invited to that dinner.
If we want to truly overcome the pharaoh of offense, we have to understand that it is more than just forgiving and forgetting. We do need to extend forgiveness, but before we can, we need to fully understand the meaning of forgiveness. Forgiveness means we fully acknowledge the wrong done to us, grieve over what has been lost and still let the other person off the hook – not for their sake only, but also for our sake and for God’s.

LIFE – ALTERING OFFENSES //

Abuse, divorce and other life-shattering injustices. There are no quick fixes for these situations. It takes a long time to get to the point where you are able to forgive someone from the heart when they’ve inflicted this level of pain on you. It isn’t an easy process. But when we are able to extend forgiveness, people see the power of Jesus.

FORGIVENESS IS NOT AN EVENT, IT IS A PROCESS.

No matter what type of offense you relate to today, Jesus has given us everything we need to overcome the pharaoh of offense. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, it is a process. But we have everything we need to begin that process today!

IN RESPONSE //

  • Last week, we declared that freedom begins with a revelation of the character of God. As a church, Carl challenged us to start by reading the book, Victory Over Darkness. We are sold out in our bookstore, but you can purchase it online.
  • Ask God how you can begin the process of overcoming offense today. It may be going to someone to ask for forgiveness or asking God for the grace to forgive yourself. Whatever it is, you have everything you need to overcome offense and bitterness.

Let My People Go //
Part One

“…but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NASB

This morning, lead pastor Carl Gulley kicked off our new freedom series, Let My People Go. Throughout our seven-week series, we will be taking a look at the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt and talk about how we can overcome the Pharaohs we face in our own lives.

In the end, Pharaoh is defeated, and the Israelites are set free. Our pharaohs, the things that keep us in bondage, have also been defeated because of Jesus. We tend to tolerate slavery and bondage, but God never intended that for us. Throughout our series, we are taking a journey to step into the freedom we were meant for.

FREEDOM IS A FIGHT.

The Israelites lived in fear of Pharaoh, but Pharaoh was terrified of what could happen if the people of God became free. So, he kept them oppressed. Our oppressors try to intimidate, demoralize and ultimately, keep us from knowing our identity. If we are unclear about our identity, we’ll believe the lies of our oppressors and never fully be who God created us to be. Freedom didn’t come easy for the Israelites, and it probably won’t come easy for us either.

EVERY TRUE WORK OF FREEDOM BEGINS WITH A REVELATION OF THE CHARACTER OF GOD.

When we focus on the thing keeping us in bondage, we’ll remain in bondage. We tend to focus on the seemingly impossible situation before us, but God wants us to focus on who He is. Our weapons are our revelations. We don’t find freedom by trying to act better, we find freedom by focusing on God and allowing Him to heal our wounds and speak truth to the lies.

Our oppressors aren’t the only things driving our bondage. The wounds left from our bondage also hold us back. If we don’t allow God to deal with our deep wounds first, we’ll end up exchanging one pharaoh for another.

OUR SALVATION DOESN’T LIBERATE US FROM THE STRUGGLE, IT EMPOWERS US FOR THE STRUGGLE.

Freedom is a fight, but it is a fight Jesus already won. Our identity isn’t based on our past or personality. Our identity is defined by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died so we could be free, so let’s claim that freedom together!

IN RESPONSE //

  • Finding freedom is going to take more than listening to a 40-minute sermon every week. Carl challenged us to read the book, Victory Over the Darkness, to help us in our journey of freedom. It is available online, or you can pick it up from our bookstore on Sunday.

5 Circles of Church

“Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18b

The Body of Christ. The fullness of Christ. The army of God. The pillar and support of truth. The hope of the world. This is the Church.

This morning Senior Pastor Jimmy Seibert reminded us of who we are called to be as the Church, and talked through the five circles of Church.

JESUS IS THE LEADER OF THE CHURCH.

We want to live completely surrendered to Jesus and with a passion for His purposes. When we are all God has called us to be, the world sees Jesus. But first, we need to be anchored to Jesus and to His people. If we are anchored deep, we are able to extend wide and reach those that God has called us to.

WHAT ARE THE FIVE CIRCLES OF CHURCH?

1.ME AND JESUS // As the Church, we want to be committed and surrendered to Jesus. Being alone with Jesus through daily devotionals, we become more like Him. We can’t get our relationship with Jesus from someone else, it’s on us to meet with Him daily.

2.TWO – THREE GATHERED // Jesus says where two or three are gathered, there He is also (Matthew 18:20). We all need two or three people in our lives that really know the ins and outs of our life. This is discipleship. We are called to both be disciples and to make disciples. Jesus uses discipleship to multiply the Kingdom through His people.

3.HOUSE TO HOUSE // Acts 2:42-27)This is Lifegroup, the house to house gatherings where we share meals, pray with one another, share resources and live missionally. As we meet house to house and see the Church that Jesus promised come alive, and we can’t help but invite others into it.

4.CHURCH GATHERED // There is something special about the whole Church gathering together. It is a place of passionate worship, a place to celebrate and declare freedom, a place for the believers to be equipped and encouraged, a place where we contend and pray for one another and a place for the broken and hurting to find home.

5.IMAPCT THE WORLD // As the Church, we are called to impact the world through every location and vocation. When we are living out the other four circles, and are anchored in Jesus and His people, we have the power to live out the mission God has set before us. It is through the Church that we are empowered to express the glory of God on the earth.

JESUS NEEDS HIS BODY TO BE AWAKE AND ALIVE.

We are the Church. With Jesus, we are the hope of the world.

Live Courageously

This morning Impact Waco director Susan Peters shared on living courageously in the midst of transition. As we prepare to transition into a new year, we have to let let go of some things in order to embrace all that is ahead. We spent most of our morning in Joshua 1:1-9; where we find Joshua stepping into transition after the death of Moses.

“BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS…”

Throughout the passage, God calls Joshua to be strong and courageous. He calls us to the very same thing. God knows we are prone to fear, and in His kindness, He encourages us and tells us not to fear.

As we transition and step into a new season, we need to process the loss of what we are transitioning from. Otherwise, we will step into the new season with fear and discouragement instead of expectancy.

IMPERFECTIONS, INTERCESSION AND INTIMACY.

Knowing that we are called to courageously step into the next season, we talked about the three I’s that will help us transition well.

  1. Imperfections // God knows our weaknesses, but they don’t cause God to pull away from us. Even with our weaknesses, God calls us up and places divine purpose within us. When we allow the enemy to amplify our imperfections, it eventually destroys us. God calls us to minimize the inner-critic so we can walk out triumphantly. Moses didn’t let his imperfections hold him back from God’s calling. Instead, he embraced humility. Humility is acknowledging our weakness, but having confidence in the God who strengthens us. Humility is not allowing ourselves to believe that we are less than. In this transition season, God is calling us to shake off the voice of our inner critic and embrace humility.
  2. Intercession // Intercession is simply praying, setting aside time to meet with God and talk with Him like a friend. Even in busyness, Moses set aside time everyday to pray and meet with God. He prayed fervently because he was confident that God would answer his prayers. What would our prayer lives look like if we believed God would actually answer us. When we fervently pray and contend for things, we can be confident that our intercession will lead to provision and miracles. This year, let’s lay aside fear and pray with courage and confidence.
  3. Intimacy // Joshua did not depend on Moses’ connection with God, he wanted his own connection with God. God is inviting us to press in and believe for more. We won’t know the new promises God has for us unless we set aside time to meet with Him and create space for Him to speak. We are not only called to intimacy with God, but also with other people. We need people around us in both victory and defeat. When we lay down our distancing maneuvers and press in, we step into deeper intimacy.

CHANGE DOES NOT EQUAL SUBTRACTION.

Stepping into something new can feel scary. It’s easy to believe that things won’t get better. But God is calling us into so much more! In Him, there is always opportunity for increase. When God asks us to let go, it’s because He wants us to embrace all that is ahead. So, as we get ready to enter 2019, let’s enter with expectancy and confidence that God has even more good in store for us!

IN RESPONSE //

  1. Imperfections: Ask God to speak fresh identity over you in this season, and allow His words to speak louder than that inner-critic.
  2. Intercession: Let’s commit to praying with confidence and faith! Ask God for one area that you can deeper pray into, and begin interceding in that place.
  3. Intimacy: What does courageous intimacy with God and others look like for you this year? Maybe it’s setting your alarm for a half our earlier so you can spend time with God every morning, or maybe it looks like committing to a Lifegroup. Ask God where He is calling you to press in this year.

The Gifts We Give // Part Four –
The Gift of A Sign

This week Vincent Carpenter concluded our series, The Gifts We Give, with a message on the gift of a sign. Just as God gave the Wise Men the star as a sign that led them to Jesus, God gives us signs to lead us. At times, the signs may seem hard to discern, but we can be confident that God is kind and desires to lead us into greater life.

Throughout our morning, we talked about things that keep us from seeing the signs God is giving us and how we can discern where God is leading us.

HOW CAN WE MISS A SIGN?

If we aren’t looking for something, it is likely that we’ll miss it. The distractions of life can keep us from all God has for us. Life at times can seem discouraging, but in His kindness, God encourages us to seek Him. If we are faithful to seek God, He will reveal Himself to us.

GOD DOESN’T JUST WANT US, HE WANTS US TO WANT HIM.

If a sign feels difficult to read, it is an invitation to pursue God. In our pursuit of God, we find so much more than direction. We also find joy, peace and love, even when our journey feels difficult.

Our own flesh and desires can also keep us from seeing what God is trying to reveal to us. We can be confident that God has the best for us, and we lay aside our own desires, we can pick up all He has for us. If we miss a sign, God is gracious and faithful to bring us back.

WHEN WE ABIDE, WE GIVE GOD AN OPPORTUNITY TO REVEAL HIMSELF.

God isn’t trying to make things difficult for us, He just wants us. When we abide in Him and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, we’ll understand what God is trying to show us.

HOW DO WE DISCERN SIGNS?

Sometimes what we should do next or what God is speaking can seem so unclear. That is why God calls us to walk in community. God uses His people to help us discern the signs He is giving us. He also uses us to be a sign to others. God can also use the things that cause our heart concern as a sign. If we feel unsettled about something, it is likely that God is trying to show us something in that situation.

IN RESPONSE //

  • Abide: Rather than focusing on what God is trying to tell you, focus on abiding in Him. As we abide in Jesus, we create space for the Holy Spirit to lead us. Take a look at this message Vincent shared earlier this year on abiding.
  • Ask God if there is any distractions that are holding you back. Be intentional about setting those things aside, and making space for God to reveal Himself even more to you.

 

The Gifts We Give //
Part Two – The Gift of Praise

Praise: to glorify, to worship and to value

This week college pastor Luke Whyte continued our series, The Gifts We Give, with a message on the gift of praise. The songs we sing typically end up becoming the soundtrack of our lives. We have a tendency to match our music to our mood, but what if we shifted things? Let’s let praise resound regardless of how we feel because ultimately praise brings the power of God in our lives.

THE MUSIC OF OUR LIFE MAGNIFIES WHAT WE GLORIFY.

Throughout our morning, we took a look at Mary’s response when her life didn’t play out as planned. Mary had reason to be moody and fearful, but instead of allowing her circumstances to define her response, she clung to faith. Take a look at her response in Luke 1:46-56.

MARY PAVED A PATHWAY OF PRAISE TO ENSURE SHE WOULD LAND IN A PLACE OF VICTORY.

Mary declared the goodness of God instead of complaining about her problems. When we magnify our problems, they tend to become a lot bigger than they actually are. Really, the promises of God are way bigger than our problems. When we choose praise, we magnify God and His promises instead of our circumstances.

THE CHORUS’ WE CONSUME BECOME THE SONGS WE SING.

We won’t find freedom from fear if we focus on the thing that is causing us to have fear. We won’t find contentment by complaining. When we turn our focus from our circumstances to God, we position ourselves to consume the goodness of God.

THE SONGS WE SING ARE CONTAGIOUS.

The songs that we sing not only get stuck in our heads, but they also get stuck in other peoples’ heads. Our demeanor plays into the lives of those around us. If we sit in our anxiety and continually complain, the people around us will do the same. When we allow praise to be our anthem, we make a way for others to also sing a new song.

THREE POINTS OF PRAISE //

1.Praise is not about emotion, it’s about sacrifice (Hebrews 13:15-16) // We may not always feel like worshiping, but we can’t let our emotions dictate our actions. We have to allow our praise to shift our mood.

2.Praise is a pathway to His presence (Psalm 100:4) // Dwelling on our problems does not lead to a move of God. Praise leads to a move of God.

3.Praise lifts us up out of the pit, and puts our feet upon a rock (Psalm 40:1-3) // We need to stop singing our old songs, and start declaring a new song. When we stop proclaiming our problems and start praising our promises, we allow our praise to lead us into the presence of God.

Stand Amazed

On Sunday Adult Pastor Weston Nichols shared a message on incredible pain being turned into incredible hope because of Jesus. The holiday season tends to magnify our pain more than any other time of the year. Regardless of what this season holds, the truth is that our painful circumstances tend to fall to the side when we set our gaze on Jesus.

Throughout our morning, we talked about Job and David. Both men had deep, scarring pain in their lives, but they found hope when they leaned into Jesus. David was in pain because of choices he made. Job’s pain was just a result of living in a broken world. The pain he was in was not his fault. It can be easy to believe that good living leads to blessing. But Job’s pain was not punishment, it was actually a promotion.

OUR BROKENNESS IS A PLATFORM FOR GOD TO BE GLORIFIED.

Whether we feel like we relate to David or Job, the reality is, we all find ourselves in pain and in need of hope. Job and David both found hope when they realized the goodness of God, and they got there through worship. They didn’t find peace with God because their circumstances were resolved, they found peace because they set their eyes on their redeemer. Anyone can worship when everything is going right, but it becomes real when we worship through trials and pain.

IF WE WAIT FOR RESOLVE TO WORSHIP, WE’LL BE WAITING FOREVER.

The purpose of our life is not self-fulfillment. The purpose of our life is to glorify God. When we worship regardless of how we feel, we give God glory because the goodness of God is not defined by our circumstances.

IN RESPONSE//

    • If you are going through pain, God wants to be your greatest comfort. Give Him all of your emotion and your pain, He wants to be there for you.
    • As you gather with friends and family this season, ask the question, “what is something you love about Jesus?” The atmosphere shifts and everything else fades away when we talk about the goodness of God.

Giving

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

This week Senior Pastor Jimmy Seibert shared a message on giving. We don’t give out of compulsion, we give because God wants to set us free in the area of finances. We need the hand of God in the middle of things. When we hold on to resources that are ultimately God’s and not ours, we invite the enemy to create chaos in our lives.

HOW DO WE GIVE?

  1. We give consistently // Proverbs 3:9 tells us to honor the Lord with our finances and give Him our first fruits. We give consistently through tithing; meaning we give our first 10 percent to the Lord by supporting the local church. When we give the best first, we are trusting that God will bless the rest. Tithing is our consistent base for provision.
  2. We give above and beyond // We want to be a part of what God is doing in the world around us, and we can do that through offerings. Consider partnering with an overseas missionary or a local non-profit. When we give consistently through offerings, we get to be a part of the inheritance in the nations.
  3. We give spontaneously // This is the fun part! We don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of the joy of giving. Without the discipline of consistency, we can’t have the spontaneity. When we submit our finances to the Lord, we can trust that He will provide for our needs and the needs of others. God doesn’t just want us to be blessed, He also wants us to be a blessing.

IF YOU’RE BORED WITH THE KINGDOM, IT’S BECAUSE YOU AREN’T ACTIVE IN THE KINGDOM.

Choosing to give is choosing to be a part of what God is doing. It is also choosing to trust God with all that we have. When we give what we have, we can trust that God will multiply it and provide above and beyond.

IN RESPONSE //

For the next six months, we want to take on the challenge of giving consistently, giving above and giving spontaneously.

  1. Tithe // Choose a local church to partner with, and commit to giving your first 10 percent to that church. It can be Antioch, or it can be another church in our city. Whatever you choose, trust that when you give your best first, the other 90 percent will be blessed. If you would like to partner with Antioch, you can do so here.
  2. Offerings // Pray and ask God for a missionary or an organization that you can partner with for the next six months.
  3. Give spontaneously // Ask the Holy Spirit how you can be a part of blessing someone else.

Trust God with your resources because He will always give you a hundred fold return.

Turn Your Ears On //
Part Three

“IT SEEMED GOOD TO THE HOLY SPIRIT AND TO US…” ACTS 15:28

This week Lead Pastor Carl Gulley concluded our series, Turn Your Ears On. Throughout our series we talked about hearing God through the Holy Spirit and through the Bible. This week we talked about hearing God through His people.

THERE IS NO FORMULA TO HEAR GOD.

The three ways we discussed are not the only ways we can hear from God, they are only handrails. God will do whatever it takes to speak to us and give us direction.

The Bible says that we see and know in part, so it is right to seek wisdom when making a decision. When stakes, emotions and the potential for confusion is high, we need community to speak into our situation. We may not always feel completely clear on what God is speaking, but there is grace and freedom to listen. God honors our faith not our accuracy.

SEEKING WISDOM FROM OTHER PEOPLE TAKES VULNERABILITY AND RISK.

It is risky to let people in to your situation, but it is so worth it! God shows up when we put ourselves in community. When we decide that we are more concerned with what God has to say than with receiving our answer, we leave space for the Holy Spirit to speak to us and to those around us. If you’re afraid to go to someone who could tell you, “no,” then you might be walking into a bad decision.

God can speak to other people through us, but we can’t casually throw out the words, “God said…” We need to humbly submit what we sense God may be speaking. Before giving a word to someone else, we need to ask ourselves if the word is Biblical. We should also give the word in a loving and humble manner.

It is not always easy to discern what God is speaking.

WE DIDN’T SIGN UP FOR EASY.

We are signing up for Jesus and Biblical, no matter the cost.

Turn Your Ears On //
Part Two

“Oh how I love Your law, it is my meditation all the day.” – Psalm 119:97

This morning Lead Pastor Carl Gulley continued our series, Turn Your Ears On. Throughout our series we are learning more about what it means to hear God and how we can respond. This week we talked about hearing God through the Bible. The Bible is the very written voice of God.

THE MOST PREDICTABLE WAY TO HEAR GOD IS TO READ, MEMORIZE AND APPLY THE WRITTEN VOICE OF GOD.

When we meditate on Scripture and memorize His word, we find intimacy with Jesus. Knowing the Bible is not about being a model christian, it is about knowing God.

GOD DOESN’T SPEAK ONLY  THROUGH HIS WORD, BUT HE’LL NEVER SPEAK CONTRARY TO HIS WORD.

When we are trying to discern what God is speaking, the Bible should be our filter. God will never tell us something that goes against His words. When we store up the Words of God in our heart, we give God vocabulary to speak to us.

God wants to speak to us. He wants to show us His ways and give us direction. We go to the Bible because the ways of God are greater than our own. God doesn’t expect us to make decisions on our own, He wants to be in the process with us because He knows what is best.

We also need the words of God engraved on our hearts in order to combat the lies of the enemy. When we have truth within us, the lies stand no chance.

IN RESPONSE //

This week, we want to focus on spending time reading the words of God.

  1. Read // Take a passage of Scripture to read and meditate on this week
  2. Memorize // Intentionally memorize that passage and let the words sink in
  3. Apply // When reading a passage of Scripture, take time to ask God these questions –
    1. How does this passage apply to my life?
    2. How can I respond?