Coming soon: 2 Sunday services

Today at Awaken, we tackled Joshua 3 – an epic chapter of faith and trust in the Lord and His power to fulfill His promises.

Without knowing any details about what was ahead, Joshua told Israel to pack up camp and head to the Jordan River. It was flooding when they arrived and crossing it would be impossible…unless God did it Himself. Following God’s vague instructions to have the priests bearing the ark of the covenant step into the Jordan, they witnessed a miracle! The Jordan River parted and all 2 million Jews walked across on dry land!

In addition to challenging everyone to step into their own Jordan River (whatever that looks like in their lives), we also had a practical way to take a step of faith as a church. Like Joshua and Israel, we don’t know much about the future except that we’ve prepared and God is with us. And since we don’t know much about what’s ahead, all we can do is take the next step in front of us. For us, that means adding a second Sunday service in a few weeks.

Except for Easter, today was the biggest service we’ve ever had at Awaken. We had chairs all the way to the back wall of the sanctuary! So…

Sunday, July 31 will mark our first Sunday with a 9am & 11am service. They’ll be identical services which will double our seating capacity and our serving capacity. Here’s more info…

Bible in 90 Days 7: JUDGES

Today is Day 19 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.

Today we’ll finish up the book of Judges, read through Ruth (more on that tomorrow), and start 1 Samuel!

Judges is a fascinating book to me. Israel acts out what I’ve seen lived out in far too many lives – the downward spiral of sin.

Judges covers a period of about 400 years right after they had settled down in the Promised Land (we read about that in Joshua). It started on a high note, with the end of Joshua’s life. He had challenged them to choose who they would serve. Unanimously, they answered that they would serve God. Unfortunately, that decision didn’t last long.

Their problem began when they didn’t drive the natives out of the land like they were supposed to…

Judges 1:19 – …they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland, because they had iron chariots.

Judges 1:21 – But the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; so the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day.

Judges 1:28 – And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites under tribute (forced labor), but did not completely drive them out.

The rest of the chapter gives a list of people that they didn’t drive out of the land, like they were supposed to.

Sure, they set boundaries and put the people to forced slave labor, but they still lived there. That was the problem. That’s like going in for surgery and the doctor telling you, “Yeah, we got most of the cancer out, but what’s left shouldn’t be a big deal.”

WRONG! It’s a BIG deal!

That’s evident from the very next chapter. By the end of Judges 2, Joshua is dead, and Israel is worshiping Canaanite gods. That was quick, wasn’t it? What happened to Joshua 24:18?

Chapter 3 kicks off a series of (at least) 12 judges that God raises up to deliver His people after they screw everything up…over and over again.

Othniel was the first judge. He showed King Cushan-Rishathaim of Mesopotamia (say that 10X fast!) who was boss. There was a period of 40 years of peace after that…then Othniel died and Israel turned to idols.

Next up: Ehud. He holds a special place in my heart – he’s a lefty. He told King Eglon that he wanted to tell him a secret. His secret was… a dagger into his belly. Side note: Eglon was so fat, that the dagger went into his belly, handle and all, and was covered up by his fat. No joke. That’s good reading, right there! Ehud died 80 years later, and Israel went back to idolatry.

Next was Shamgar…

then Deborah…

then Gideon,

Tola,

Jair,

Jephthah,

Ibzan,

Elon,

Abdon,

and Samson.

4 times in the book, it mentions that there was no king, and it ends on an incredibly low note…

Judges 21:25 – In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

We’ve all been here at one time or another. Struggling with the downward spiral of sin. We allow it to remain in out lives because we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re in control. We’re obviously not. So we cry out, God rescues us, we love Him for it, but sooner or later, we’re back to the same old sin.

It’s time to break the pattern. God offers a much better life than that. Are you reaching for God’s best or settling for what the world has to offer?

Bible in 90 Days 3: LEVITICUS

Today is Day 10 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.

It only took 2 days for us to plow through the 26 chapters of Leviticus. That’s a great thing, too. Leviticus is where a lot of people die in their Through The Bible In A Year plan. Leviticus is a gruesome, gory, bloody book that can be a very challenging read, especially Leviticus 13.

The theme throughout the book is God’s holiness and our duty to sacrifice to Him. Thankfully, that looks much different today than it did for the Old Testament saints! I don’t know if I could handle inspecting people’s sores, ridding houses of mold, and stoning people! That’s some heavy (and sometimes nauseating) stuff!

Here’s the point – all the sacrifices pointed to Jesus. The feasts, the festivals, the future pilgrimages that Jews would make to Jerusalem, the blood and gore – it all pointed to the slaughter of THE Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. God is very detail-oriented and demanded the best from His people and His priests. He didn’t want leftovers – He deserves better than that. When they gave Him their best, it was “a sweet aroma to the Lord.

We have the same duty today, whether you’re a “professional” in the ministry or not. Romans 12:1-2 details the sacrifice you are to make. It doesn’t involve a lamb or a bull or a goat. It involves a choice and a willing servant. Our bodies are to be presented to God as our reasonable act of worship. In other words, in light of what God has done for us, it just makes sense that we’d give our all for Him. It’s a choice. That slaughtered bull didn’t have a choice to get off the altar, but you do. Is the holy God worth it to you?

Next up in our journey: Numbers. I know, it sounds riveting. There’s some great stuff ahead – get ready!

Power to the No-Namers

“The No-Namers.”

“The Leftovers.”

“The Extras.”

Whatever you want to call them, you know who they are (or actually, you don’t). They’re the people who contributed to the movie, but didn’t make the credits. They played a very minor role in the movie such as walking down a sidewalk in a group of people or being one of many nameless customers in a store. Half the time, they’re only partially in focus while the focus and lighting is on the main actor(s). They seem unimportant, but in reality, the movie wouldn’t be the same without them.

It’s the same with a nameless group of people in Acts 11. I mentioned them tonight in my teaching and I was really intrigued by not only their lack of credit, but the powerful way God used them.

We’re given no names, only this description:

Acts 11:19 – “those who were scattered after the persecution”

and

Acts 11:20 – “some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene”

That’s it. No bios, no historical background, not even a nickname, just a quick description and location. Yet, look what God did through these no-names:

Acts 11:21 – “And ​the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and ​turned to the Lord.”

God used a group of no-names to help bridge the gap between the Jews and Gentiles! They were used by God to reach an unreached people group. I AM A GENTILE. I am included in the story of the Gospel because of the obedience of a bunch of people of whose names I will never know! These overlooked people changed the course of Christianity through their simple obedience. Plus, their obedience wasn’t as simple as we make it sound. The whole reason they left Jerusalem was because Saul (before Christ) was fueling a Satanic persecution against the church. These people risked their lives by continuing to share the Gospel.

Their names may have never graced the pages of Scripture, but their obedience was not overlooked. Neither is yours.