“Awake, O Sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
This past weekend, April 9th, at Azusa Now 2016, many of us were AWAKENED.
Reading this morning from Daniel Kolendas book, “Unlocking the Miraculous” he has a section about “complacency”
“Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. Good enough becomes todays watchword and tomorrows standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course- downhill. They draw false strength from look back…
I know personally I have been stirred to live a life outside complacency! I do not want to live a passive Christianity!
In Ephesians chp5, Paul is encouraging the church of Ephesus to shake off the comforts of living the same as those around them. He says earlier in the chapter, to be “imitators” of Christ. To live according the leading of his Holy Spirit. To live in way that points back to Jesus!
This much is true, the more secure we feel in our complacency, the more danger we are in. It’s in that “comfort” that we forget about our inner need for God. It’s in that apathy we slip into a cold detachment of Gods purpose and will for our lives!
When that starts slipping in, it’s time to shout out loud,
DISTURB US, LORD!!
“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” – 1 Thessalonians 5:6
-Pastor Fernando Morales
Every day, your teenagers are bombarded with hundreds of messages about sex: at school, on TV, the internet – sex is everywhere they look. There are some harmful messages and inaccurate ideas that lead people to make foolish decisions for their life. These bad decisions can result in people carrying around deep wounds, hurts and painful memories.
I wanted to share with you that we will be exploring the sensitive topic of sex over the next four weeks during our Tuesday night gatherings with the students. We will be using The Truth About Sex, featuring Biblical teaching from Doug Fields.
Doug Fields has been a pastor to teenagers and ministry leaders for over 30 years including 18 years as youth and teaching pastor at Saddleback Church with Rick Warren. He is the author of over 50 books including, Purpose Driven Youth Ministry.
The Truth About Sex is a candid and up-front study about the topic of sex. We are going to dive into the Biblical purpose of sex and purity while also tackling some of the temptations that are out there in our culture today. We feel it’s better to be straightforward and real so that students can talk honestly about this topic.
In the four video sessions, we will hear students share authentic stories about the struggles they face regarding sex. Doug Fields will offer Biblical insight into how all teens can make right decisions, live within boundaries, and seek God’s forgiveness when needed. After watching the video, we will dig into our Bibles and study Scripture together.
We have planned having several nights where our youth group will be broken up in different groups, based on gender & age. Our plan is the following;
This series IS NOT intended to take the place of conversations that should be happening between students and parents. It IS intended to come alongside conversations that we hope are taking place between students and parents. As we address this topic, there may be some valuable opportunities for dialogue to be opened between parents and students. We encourage you to use this time to ask your teenager what they’re learning in the series and to continue the discussions and honest conversations at home. We are committed to partnering with you, as parents of youth, to help your teenager grow in their faith and pursue purity. Each week we will be sending an email with interactive follow up discussion points & a guide for the parent.
Besides the “The Truth about Sex” study by Doug Fields, here are some other resources I am using for reference;
If you have any questions or would like to preview this Bible study video, please call or e-mail me. I believe this is the best start to many healthy & biblical “conversations” we will have with our youth concerning Gods plan for their lives.
Thank you for the privilege of serving your family.
Your servant in Christ,
New Life Church
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. – Ephesians 6:11
The Apostle Paul, at the end of his letter to the Ephesians, gives a final charge & reminder that we are in a battle. This reminder comes at the end of the letter – a letter that Paul has carefully established our place in Jesus, and then the basics of the Christian walk. This is his last section dealing with that walk. That in light of all those things, we must fight. That we are fully, 100% in a battle against a real enemy who hates Christians and wants nothing more than to see Christ’s Church defeated.
Paul also reminds the church (body of believers) that we are NOT ill equipped. That God has given us all the weapons and tools necessary to fight against an already defeated enemy. To withstand the attacks of the enemy, we must depend on GODS strength and use every piece of his armor (which he in detail explains in v.14-20) The Key also comes in the word “All”. The whole body needs to be armed. This armor is of God both in the sense that it is from Him, and in the sense that it is His actual armor. In the Old Testament, it is the LORD who wears the armor (Isa 59:17). He now shares that armor with us – no wonder we are more than conquerors! (Rom 8:37)
The reality is that many of us feel “ill-equipped” to fight anything. At times in our walk, we feel like we are dragging and the although we have suited up and ready for battle, the armor itself seems to be too heavy and we feel weak fighting.
Paul reminds us earlier in v.10, a key point, “Be Strong in the Lord…”
Before a soldier is given a gun or shown how to fire a missile, he goes through basic training. One great purpose for basic training is the build up the recruit’s physical strength. It is as if the army says, “Soldier, we are going to give you the best weapons and armor possible. But first we have to make sure that you are strong, and that you can use what we give you.”
Same is true with spiritual warfare. Being Strong in the Lord & Putting on the Whole Armor, go hand in hand. We relay on Gods strength (Holy Spirit in us) & His armor (His Power) to defeat the enemy.
If you feel discouraged, remember what Jesus said to Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not overpower it” -Matthew 16:18
Lord today I put on the ENTIRE Armor. I put on the Sword of the Spirit, The Shield of Faith, The Breastplate of Righteousness and the Helmet of Salvation. I put on the Belt of Truth and wear the Boots of Peace. Lead me in your Might, Strengthen me with your Power. In Jesus Name, AMEN
-Pastor Fernando M | Spring Break Devotionals
“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. – Revelation 3:20 (NLT)
“The occupant must open the door. That is, he must repent of his pride and self-sufficiency, his human wisdom, and his cowardly neutrality.” -Morris
The church in “Laodicea” had become lukewarm and complacent with its comforts. The wealthiest of the seven churches in Revelation, it had become so comfortable with its lifestyle, that Jesus had to remind them of the where true “wealth” came from. That true wealth came from Him. He later in v19 tells them, because he LOVES them, he has to keep it real and rebuke them because of it. He disciplines those whom he loves.
He then reminds them of his position. He is right outside the “door” ready to come in and dine with them. The only thing keeping him from coming in, is the persons inability or lack of response in opening the “door”
The door here represents the persons “heart” and the because the laodicean church was so busy enjoying world pleasures, they didn’t notice Christ trying to come in. Worldly pleasures can be dangerous because of their ability to only satisfy temporarily what Christ can satisfy eternally.
Jesus is knocking on the door of our hearts every time we sense we should turn to him. Jesus wants to have fellowship with us, and he wants us to open up to him! He is patient and persistent, always standing outside the door of our hearts, ready to come in when you open up. Leave the door of your heart constantly open to God, and you won’t need to worry about hearing his knock. He wants to be friends. He wants to talk to you. He wants to help you. Will you open up today?
Lord, today as I go throughout my day, will you help me to always have my door open to you? Help me be not so distracted by the things of this world, that I forget or ignore your voice. Lead me today Jesus to always position myself to be open and transparent to you. In Jesus name, AMEN
-Pastor Fernando M | Spring Break Devotionals
13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. – Galatians 5:13
Paul here is reminding “believers” (those who have given their lives to Jesus) about a foundational truth, that all followers of Jesus have been set free. Set free of Sin, Death & Sickness. Set free of a meaningless life. Set free of guilt & shame that comes with sin. Set free from the bondage of death that once enslaved all of us! He reminds us that the Christian life is a life of liberty. Jesus came to set the captives free, not to keep them in bondage or put them in bondage all over again. It’s worth asking if people see us as people of freedom and liberty. Often, Christians are seen as people more bound up and hung up than anyone else is. Sometimes the world sees followers of Jesus as uptight and religious. That couldn’t be further from the truth! He also cautions us to not take that liberty and throw it out the window and go back to our old ways of living. He says don’t do that! To live in freedom is to live empowered to make a change.
To live in freedom is to live empowered to give back to those around us. To love, to have mercy, to have compassion for the benefit of those around us. The problems come when we turn around and use our freedom for the benefit of self only. Thats when selfishness, pride and deceit come in. When that happens, we end up hurting ourselves and those around us because of the abuse of our freedom. Paul here cautions us and tells us the key against this is “to serve on another”…
Lord, today as I go on with my day, help me remember that I have been called to live in FREEDOM. Free from guilt & shame. Free from the weight of sin. Free to love. Free to have mercy on those around me. Free to give back and serve my brother & sister. Help me to live a life that speaks louder than anything I can say…In Jesus Name, Amen!
-Pastor Fernando Morales | Spring Break Devotionals
Scripture: Judges 6:12
The angel appeared and spoke to Gideon, “The LORD is helping you, and you are a strong warrior.”
Gideon is a young farmer about his own business when we find him in v. 11. He is tending to his fathers business and working when the Angel of the Lord (The special form in which God manifested himself to man) appears to him and encourages him with “you are a strong warrior”
What a timely word. The Israelites (Gideon’s people) have been ransacked and attacked many times before under the rule of the Midianites (merchants who oppressed the Israelites). Gideon was already feeling the frustration and stress of having to see his people get bullied by the Midianites. When all of a sudden this word comes in his life. Not only does the messenger bring an encouraging word, but also an assignment! To GO in the fullness of Gods authority to free Gods people.
Like many of us, Gideon is feeling the confusion, stress, fear of stepping out in faith and believing what God has said. He is torn between what he feels is true and what he sees around him. He answers nervously and hesitant both in v. 13 & 15 with honest questions. Yet he knows that God has promised him to never leave him nor forsake him on this journey he was about to embark on.
God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
God is not looking for people who have it all, but for those who are willing to GIVE it all despite fear, doubt & circumstance. Gideon was afraid. God understood his fear, but he didn’t excuse Gideon from his task. In the Bible’s descriptions of how God guided many people, we can see that often God’s call came while people were completely immersed in the challenge of the moment. Gideon’s key to success was simply trusting. It was in this step of Faith that God revealed to Gideon time & time again that he was with him. God will never send us alone to do his work. He has promised to always be with us (Matt 28:20) In spite of the little (or lack of) Faith, God used Gideon mightily for the nation of Israel.
Gideon was surprised by what God had told him to do. He had his moments of doubt and weakness. Can you relate to Gideon’s fear? Can you also see yourself pushing through that fear and going after Gods call in your life?
Lord I recognize that I too at times have heard your voice and hesitated in moving forward because of Fear. Holy Spirit I ask for boldness and the ability to fulfill your work here on earth! I know that I can’t do it by myself, but I also know I can do ALL things through you! Lead me today and give me the strength to do your work. In Jesus name, Amen!
-PASTOR FERNANDO | Spring Break Devotionals for Fusion
Spring is here and with it comes the fun! Here at Fusion we have planned an exciting spring break opportunity for our students. For the past 3 weeks we have been learning about KNOW/BE/LIVE, our church values in a youth context. We plan on spending time this spring break to act on what we have learned. We are going to BE intentional and LIVE out our faith by cleaning up graffiti on March 30th. The city has donated some graffiti clean up kits for us to use! We will then head out to the beach on March 31st and have fun in the sun!
GRAFFITI CLEAN UP
When: Wednesday, March 30th 2016 | 10:00am-Noon.
Who: All Fusion Students welcome! City Waiver must be filled out to participate. Form Here : Santa Barbara Volunteer Waiver
FUN IN THE SUN
When: Thursday, March 31st 2016 | 11:00am-2:00pm.
Where: East Beach (next to the volleyball courts)
Who: All Fusion Students welcome!