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The Art of Neighboring

Today, Pastor Ed Allen began a new sermon series on "The Art of Neighboring."  We began by reading the passages Luke 9:23-25 and Philemon 6.

If we're going to grow, there are 4 key relationships:

1)  We must be healthily engaged to ourselves - but the emphasis on this relationship must decrease.

We spend an enormous amount of time on this one, but Jesus instructs us plainly:  Our relationship with ourselves must decrease in importance.  (Luke 9:23-25)

2)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged in a relationship with God.

Matthew 22:37.  It's not easy, but vitally important.  We gather because we need all the encouragement we can get.  There also needs to be individual time for reading the Bible and prayer.

3)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged in a relationship with outhers who have a relationship with God.

This is vitally important, and is not a casual thing for us.  The New Testament is full of the phrase "one another."  You can't "love one another" when you're alone.

This won't fall into our laps - we need to work at it.  Things in our culture work against community.

4)  We must be healthily and dynamically engaged with those who do not have a relationship with God.

Matthew 22:37-40.  Growing OUT toward the world in service and evangelism.

Jesus is saying, "Just tell them about me.  If they know me, tell them more.  If they don't know me, introduce them."

We don't separate those relationships from a sense of superiority or to exclude them.

Philemon 6 -- "And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ."

We can't fully know all we have in Christ without sharing.

Our Assignment:  Begin praying for your neighbors!

Pastor Ed told the story of one of the men in our church who now leads a wide ministry - and his relationship with God began when Ed's wife prayed for him for years.

Two concerns:  

"I think religion is a private thing.  I don't want to share mine."

"I don't know enough."

Neither of those objections is true.  Be authentic and talk about your life.

But we'll begin by praying for our neighbors!

Look at mygateway.life for a devotional guide this week.

This Is Us - Singleness

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermons series "This Is Us" with a message about Singleness.  We began by looking at I Corinthians 7.

As part of the introduction, he pointed out that Paul rejected the ideas from the time coming from gnosticism, that physical pleasure is evil.  Self-sacrifice is never an end in itself.

We looked at Four Important Things about Being Single:

1)  Singleness is hard.

Sometimes sexual temptation is hard to bear.  (I Cor. 7:9)

Study after study has shown that sexual exploration outside marriage doesn't help you build a healthy marriage.

Marriage is a great gift (Gen. 2:18) and readily offers the kind of community we need.

So if you're single, deliberately build connections and community.

2)  Singleness is a gift.

I Cor. 7:7 -- Paul means both a good thing in our lives and a work God is doing in us.

Sometimes it's because God has something better for us.

We tend to think it's because something is wrong with us or we're unattractive.  That's simply not true.

We need to trust God.

Maybe the work we need to do is not finding a partner, but exercising our trust muscles.

Put that energy into trusting God.

3)  We each have an assignment -- for some of us, that includes being single.

Don't rail against your assignment.  It doesn't do any good.

God is good and has our best in mind.  It does take faith to believe that, and some times it's more difficult than other times.

You can complain to God, but you don't want to stay there.

The longer you complain, the worse you'll feel.

Remember that God is good.

Remember that the single you is the married you.  Work on the single you.

4)  Singleness offers us more spiritual freedom.

I Cor. 7:25-35 -- There are advantages to singleness, and the chief one is you can be totally devoted to the Lord.

Some Applications:

1)  We need to think differently about singleness.

Honor singleness and single people the same way we honor marriage.

Honor God's assignment for each of us.

2)  Those who are single have to start taking advantage of their singleness.

3)  Our lives are about leaning into God and seeking His kingdom.

(Matthew 6:28-33)

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