When God’s Word says that faith without works is dead, it is telling us to combine actions with spiritual behavior. They must work together; one without the other accomplishes little.
Faith is Found – Part 1
Pastor Stephen Hayes
Sunday Oct 7, 2018
Main Idea– When God’s Word says that faith without works is dead, it is telling us to combine actions with spiritual behavior. They must work together; one without the other accomplishes little.
Faith Must Produce Actions, and Actions Must Be Accompanied by God’s Word
- We must help others in their place of need. We are not doing God’s work if we simply pray for people while we also have the ability to help them materially in their need. James 2: 14-18 – What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
- Likewise, it doesn’t accomplish anything long-term if we only give philanthropically.Our gifts should be accompanied with prayer and the expression of God’s Word.
Matthew 26:11 – For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.
Isaiah 55:11 – So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Begin Your Faith Journey Toward Your Destiny
- The Old Testament patriarch Abraham is known as the father of our faith. Abraham knew God’s promise for his life, but he did not know how he would get there. Nevertheless, he took actions based on the faith knowing that God would lead him to the destiny.
- Hebrews 11: 8-9 – By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance.And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
- Another popular phrase that says something similar is: “Faith is walking out on a limb and cutting it off and then watching the tree fall.”
- There is no short-cut to our destiny. Each step prepares us for the ultimate purpose. We usually don’t know the route the journey will take when we follow God in faith.
Be honest With Yourself Before Beginning the Journey
- It’s impossible to begin a journey toward something without knowing your present location.
- It’s impossible to begin a journey following God without being honest about your current condition.
- Studying the Bible and listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit will help you understand your current condition. Like GPS and a map, God will help you locate your current place, and will guide you as you go.
Faith as a Verb
- James 1: 23-24 – For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
- In John 15: 1-8, Jesus described himself as a vine, and we believers as branches. The fruit comes out of the branches, not the vine. Every unproductive branch gets pruned. Jesus was telling his followers they needed to produce something.
- The Greek word for abidein verse 4 is “meno”, which is a verb.
- The Greek word for faithis “pistis”, whichhas a verb form“pisteuo” – to think to be true. It is an action word.
- If faith does not have movement, it isn’t faith.
Jesus is Serious About This
- InMark 11: 12-14Jesus cursed a fig tree that did not have fruit available when he needed it. If the figs are a metaphor for works, and the leaves on the tree are a metaphor for faith, the tree was of no use to Jesus because it was not producing works and faith at the same time.
- Matthew 7: 21-23 – Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
Luke 6: 46-49 – “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
- Works and faith - working independently without each other - are not likely to bring someone to faith.
- If we are serious about following Jesus to our destiny, we should combine good works with the good Word we share.
God is the Source of Good Works
- God the Father took action. He sacrificed His Son.
- In the process of accepting Jesus as Savior, God gives us the essential faith and we then take action by confessing it. Romans 10: 9-10 – that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
- Express your faith to others while showing it by your actions.
- Do nice things for others as you express your faith.
- God is the source of both the faith and the works.
Reflective Questions for Faith is Found – Part 1
- For the past 2000 years, some Christians have been troubled by the New Testament verses in James that say “faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.” Why is this sometimes confusing for people?
- Why is it impossible for someone who has genuine faith to remain inactive from doing good things for others?
If Jesus said, “the poor you have with you always” why would He still place such a great importance on us helping them if we’re not going to solve the problem of poverty?
We all were created in God’s image. The desire to make a difference is naturally within each of us. To make a difference we have to intentionally make certain decisions, and take certain steps, on a daily basis.
Vision – Make a Difference
Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018
Main Idea– We all were created in God’s image. The desire to make a difference is naturally within each of us. To make a difference we have to intentionally make certain decisions, and take certain steps, on a daily basis.
We were created in God’s image
- Genesis 1:27 – So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
- Because God created each of us in His image, it is natural for us also to want to make a difference. Each of us wants our time on earth to mean something.
- Our dreams and hopes can become reality. We can each write our own story where we add value to others’ lives, and thereby make a difference.
The four parts of life’s journey
- I want to make a difference
- High morale happens when we make a difference.
- We make a difference when we add value to someone’s day. “Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.”
- I want to make a difference doing something that makes a difference
- We will make a difference when we do something we are passionate about andthat we are good at. Both must be present. Passion is the energy that fuels your gifts.
- When we do something for someone who is not valued by other people, we are doing something that matters to Jesus.
- When we do something for someone who is not valued by other people, we are doing something for Jesus Himself.
- Matthew 25: 34-40 – Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (NKJV)
- I want to make a difference doing something that makes a difference with people who want to make a difference
- Together we can do great things we cannot do individually.
- Start small and get big.
- Small groups make a difference.
- Small groups will enable you to identify your own gifts and purpose.
- I want to make a difference doing something that makes a difference with people who want to make a difference at a time when it makes a difference.
- The time is now.
- "Make every day your masterpiece.” – John Wooden
- The secret to success is determined by what you do on a daily basis.
- Joshua 24:15 – And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this daywhom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (NKJV)
- Esther 4:14 – For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (NKJV)
- Psalm 118: 24 – This is the daythe Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (NKJV)
- Matthew 6:34 – Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now,and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Message)
- I value people.We are all God’s creation. Connect with people and value each person.
- I think of ways to add value to people. Consider, ahead of time, ways you might add value to people.
- I look for ways to add value to people. Each day will present unique opportunities to add value to people. Be alert for those opportunities.
- I do things that add value to people.Good intentions are worthless unless they become good actions.
- I encourage othersto add value to people. Encouragement will change your life, as well as the lives of those you encourage.
It starts with Jesus
- If you want to make a difference, begin by accepting Jesus as your savior.
- Jesus will come into your life.
- Each day, the Holy Spirit will guide you as you live a life that makes a difference.
Reflective Questions for Vision – Make a Difference
- John Maxwell said you will make a difference when you do something about which you have passion and that you are good at. Why should both of those qualities be present? What might happen if only one or the other is present?
- Based on what John Maxwell said - and what the Bible says –what are the differences between what the world values and what Jesus values? How will knowing the difference keep you on track for a meaningful life?
- Why is it difficult for some people to commit to the things Jesus said are important to Him in Matthew 25:34-40?
- What happens when we anticipate, and are alert for, ways to add value to others’ lives on a daily basis?
It is essential for every believer to be involved with the local church. At Covenant Church you can know God, find freedom through relationships with other believers, discover your purpose in life, and make a difference by blessing others. Covenant Church is a place to connect, protect, and grow.
Pastor Stephen Hayes
Sunday Sept 16, 2018
Main Idea– It is essential for every believer to be involved with the local church. At Covenant Church you can know God, find freedom through relationships with other believers, discover your purpose in life, and make a difference by blessing others. Covenant Church is a place to connect, protect, and grow.
- Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)
- Proverbs 29:18 – If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. (Message)
- The word “vision” in this verse can also be understood as “revelation.”
- Anyone can have a vision of something, but not everyone receives a revelation from God.
- God will reveal a vision to those who seek His guidance.
- Covenant Church’s revealed vision is to help people:
- Know Godthrough weekend services that most any person would enjoy.
- Find freedomby developing relationships through small groups.
- Discover purposefrom realizing why God created them.
- Make a differencein the world for the Kingdom.
- When you get to know God, you will get to know who you are.
- God will not bless the you you are trying to be; He will bless the you you really are.
Steward the provision
- A good steward is someone who wisely takes care of what s/he has been given.
- Covenant Church tries to wisely steward what God has given it.
- We measure stewardship not by counting dollars, but by counting the provision.
- Thus far in 2018 Covenant Church has been steward over:
- 1888 salvations
- 238 baptisms
- 4202 graduates of our intensive freedom programs
- 428 new members who are discovering their purpose
- 2407 active volunteers who are making a difference
Do so wholeheartedly
- At whatever place we are in our walk with God, we should involve ourselves wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 29:11-13 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (NLT)
- We are better together. We need each other.
- Proverbs 13:20 – Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (NIV)
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (NKJV)
- Jesus brought the disciples together as a small group as much for their own benefits individually, as for the ministries that ultimately came through them.
The local church is:
- a place to connect
- 1 Corinthians 9:22 – When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ.Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. (NLT)
- a place to protect
- 1 John 3:16 – We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. (NLT)
- We welcome the opportunity to prove our love. John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (NKJV)
- a place to grow
- Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (NIV)
- We discover our individual purpose as we participate in all these things.
- “Free people help to free people.” God has poured into us so we can pour into others.
Accountability is key
- Being accountable to others is key to staying free.
- We all need to have others to whom we are accountable, so we can be healed and stay strong.
- James 5: 15-16 – And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (NKJV)
- The greatest defense against sin isn’t in your strength to say no, but in your commitment to what you’ve said yes.
Reflective Questions for Vision – Part 3
- Reflect on, and share, how the relationships you have in your church have been a source of protection.
- Reflect on, and share, how the relationships you have in your church have been a source of growth for you.
Do you agree with the statement, “The greatest defense against sin isn’t in your strength to say no, but in your commitment to what you’ve said yes.”? Why or why not?
The tithe God instituted in the Bible is not a payment, it is a return to Him from what He originally gave us. Covenant Church’s return is invested in the Kingdom work of the Great Commission, and in enabling believers to discover – and use - their God-given purposes.
Pastor Stephen Hayes
Sunday Sept 9, 2018
Main Idea– The tithe God instituted in the Bible is not a payment, it is a return to Him from what He originally gave us. Covenant Church’s return is invested in the Kingdom work of the Great Commission, and in enabling believers to discover – and use - their God-given purposes.
Proclaiming God’s Word
- God’s word does not change. It is a church’s responsibility to accurately proclaim that Word.
- The ways a church proclaims the Word change with time, but the message does not change.
We don’t give because of where it goes; we give because of where it came from
- Our tithe is a gift God gave us, so we can return it to Him. We do not “give” our tithes, we “return” our tithes.
- Likewise, a church should not “spend” a congregation’s tithe, it should “invest” it.
- “Spent” money may not get a return. “Invested” money in Kingdom work will receive a return that enables others to know God.
Covenant Church’s distribution of the congregation’s tithe
- 48% to general and administrative expenses
- 30% to ministry programs
- 22% to the margin (unbudgeted)
- 10% is Covenant’s “tithe” back to the Great Commission (local, national, and international (including Israel) missions)
- 12% to campus-related growth & development, planting new campuses, and new vision opportunities.
Allocating according to vision
- God provides a vision for how He wants His church to function. Proverbs 29:18 – Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJV)
Proverbs 29:18 – If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed. (Message)
- Covenant Church works to help people:
- Know Godthrough weekend services that most any person would enjoy.
- Find freedomby developing relationships through small groups.
- Discover purposefrom realizing why God created them.
- Make a differencein the world for the Kingdom.
- When you find God, He will give you opportunities.
- 2 Corinthians 6:2 – For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.”Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (NKJV)
- Now is the time to take a next step. Do not procrastinate.
Maybe it’s time now to:
- Commit your whole life to God.
- Do so wholeheartedly. Jeremiah 29:11-13 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” (NLT)
Psalm 47: 1 – Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph! (NKJV)
James 1: 6-8 – But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NKJV)
- Surround yourself with right relationships.
Proverbs 13:20 – Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. (NIV)
- Discover your God-given purpose.“Before there was a you, there was a thing for you to do.”
Psalms 139:16 - Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (NKJV)
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (NKJV)
- Live your life doing something that really matters.
Use your time wisely and profitably. You don’t have forever.
Psalms 90:12 – So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (NKJV)
From glory to glory
- God created us in His image.
- We should reflect God to the world around us in every circumstance.
- Colossians 1:17 – And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (NKJV)
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 – But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (NKJV)
Reflective Questions for Vision
- How did Pastor Stephen’s report on how Covenant Church reinvests your tithe help you better understand our church? Why is this encouraging?
- Grade yourself on how you are doing with each of the following:
- Committing your whole life to God.
- Surrounding yourself with right relationships
- Knowing your God-given purpose
- Living your life doing something that really matters
The Bible teaches to not be double-minded. We should not have doubts about where God is taking us. Satan wants to see you second-guess yourself. Draw closer to God and He will give you specific communication.
Unfollow Your Heart
Pastor Amie Dockery
Sunday Sept 2, 2018
Main Idea– The Bible teaches to not be double-minded. We should not have doubts about where God is taking us. Satan wants to see you second-guess yourself. Draw closer to God and He will give you specific communication.
Include God in your initial planning process
- Oftentimes, we only go to God in prayer when we need something.
- However, we should include God - through prayer – when we are planning and considering all things.
- If we don’t include Him in the earliest stages of our plans, we will eventually have doubts about what we are doing.
- Satan loves it when we become double-minded, and second-guess ourselves.
- It’s difficult to be intentional – to be convinced about what we are doing – when we are divided by doubt because we didn’t include God in the planning process.
- James 4:8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
- If we do not have a close relationship with God it is likely we will lack confidence about our purpose and role in life.
- James 1: 5-8 – If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; for he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
Camp around the tabernacle
- In the desert, the tribes of Israel were camped in proximity to the elements of the tabernacle for which they were responsible.
- The tribes were given very specific directions by God as to how to handle the parts of the tabernacle during times of assembling and disassembling the structure.
- In order to know how to do their jobs, the tribes had to be in close proximity to God.
- Later, the tribe of Zebulun steadfastly followed closely behind King David because it had faith David was the king, and was effectively leading.
- Close proximity to God means more specific directions.
- Leadership involves specific directions. Move closer to God and you will receive more specific guidance. You will become more useful in the Kingdom’s operations.
Proximity is determined by priorities
- To move close to God will mean you will need to move away from distractions.
- For example, the tribes camped close to the Ark of the Covenant were responsible for preserving and caring for the Ark.They could not be distracted by other things.
- God will not interrupt if you have put distractions in your life. You won’t hear from God if you are giving attention to other voices and “noise.”
Ask, seek, knock
- The voices and “noise” in life waste our time by getting us to seek after other things. Worldly voices, and our fleshly tendency, cause us to run from one thing to another in search of something just out of reach.
- God’s order is different. Matthew 7: 7-8 – “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
- God’s order is:
- Ask Him first, and you will receive from Him.
- Seek the right door to knock on.
- Knock on it until it is opened.
- Jesus is not quoted in Scripture as having said, “pray for open doors.” Rather, we are to knock on a door because we have been sent to that door with something to offer those behind the door.
- Doors that easily swing open likely represent someone who is trying to sell you something. Rarely is there true opportunity behind an open door.
Knock with persistence and confidence
- God will send you to a door of opportunity because He has already given you something to share.
- Do not become doubled-minded, doubting where God has sent you simply because the door does not immediately open.
- Doubt will cost you valuable time, effort, and worry.
- The Apostle Thomas is famous in history because he doubted what the other disciples told him about the resurrected Jesus.This doubt temporarily kept him from experiencing joy and fulfillment.
- John 20: 29 – Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
- In that verse, the word “blessed” is really the Greek word “makarios.” Makarios means “an overabundance of joy and happiness.”
Believe in what you haven’t yet seen
- In the above verse, Jesus was saying that great, sustained, joy are experienced by those who believe in what they haven’t yet seen.
- Resurrection and multiplication are what God has for us.
- Continue knocking on the door to which you have been sent, knowing that you have something valuable to give when it is finally opened.
Faith to believe is a gift
- Faith is not a feeling we conjure ourselves.Faith is a gift from God.
- Ephesians 2: 8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
- Jesus’ conversation with Thomas was a straightforward conversation between two men.
- We, today, can have the same kind of conversation with God if we have drawn close to Him in relationship.
- God has given us the essential faith by which we are able to communicate with Him.
- Intentionally invest your effort in getting to know God better.
- The best way to draw closer to God is by regularly reading the Bible and learning more about Him.
- As you learn more about God, the Holy Spirit will guide you in your conversation with Him.
- You will then be able to include God in every aspect of your life; including the early process of planning each step of your life through prayer.
Reflective Questions for Unfollow Your Heart
- Why, do you suppose, many people only go to God when they have a request?
- Can you give an example of somebody who received something because s/he was already in close relationship, or proximity, with something?
- In your own words describe the “ask, seek, knock” order of Matthew 7: 7-8. What new thing have you learned about life from Pastor Amie’s teaching of those verses?
- What is one thing you can immediately do to begin camping in closer proximity to God?