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Deeper Wider: The Main Thing

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Gateway Community Church has, since October, been reading the New Testament together.  This morning Pastor Ed Allen again brought a message from this week's reading, specifically Matthew 15:1-20

First we talked about traditions.  Much of what we believe and how we worship is based on our traditions.  This isn't a bad thing unless it's a bad thing.

Jesus encourages us to let our relationship with God provide the framework instead of our traditions.

1.  Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing.

The Pharisees made a big deal out of something that's not a big deal -- and that's a big deal.

They'd assess their behavior and the behavior of others on the basis of their traditions and evaluate their relationship with God.

This was a big deal to the Pharisees.

Jesus said, "Leave them alone!"  Dismiss it!  Don't have anything to do with it!

They took a small thing -- how people washed their hands -- and made it a big thing.

For them, the collected teachings of the rabbis formed the framework for how someone's connection to God was evaluated.

Sometimes their traditions got in the way of following God.  "They worship me in vain."

2.  Keep Your Spirituality Right Side Out.

According to Jesus, a real relationship with God is always inside out.

Jesus does not give a list of regulations.

We might think we're past this, but think about the unwritten rules for being a good parent in suburban America.  It's based on Performance and Success.

Our words and actions come out of our heart -- our true inner selves.

True spirituality emanates from a good and true heart.

Where does a good and true heart come from?

John 3 -- God needs to completely re-orient the inside of your life, like being completely born again.

It's not about more effort, but more surrender.

We need to be made new inside.

As Christians, don't let the world around us drive us to the exterior of our lives.

Don't evaluate others based on exteriors, either.


Deeper Wider

Today Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon kicking off a new theme for our next year together at Gateway:  Deeper Wider.

Beginning October 1st, we've begun reading through the New Testament together, with one passage from the gospels each day and one from the epistles.  Pastor Ed chose a passage from one of those readings to go over today.

Spiritually, we're designed to go deeper and wider each year.

We want to approach this year with a renewed sense of expectation.

May God make some new stories in our lives this year.

The daily devotional time and reading the New Testament over the year is not a quick fix -- but consistent habits do make a difference.  This is one of our linchpins for going deeper and wider.

In order to go deeper and wider:

We need to entrust all that we know of ourselves to all that we know of God.

We need to commit.

When you're more invested, you do more.  We'll reap what we sow.  Let's sow generously this year to our spirit.

Looking at Romans 1:16-17 --

This might be the most important passage in the New Testament.

God's power is in the story of Jesus and in the aftermath of this story and in the effects of this story.

Paul is also saying that it's for everyone, not just for observant Jews.

The historical significance of this passage is how important they were to Martin Luther, who began the whole Protestant movement.

We looked at what Luther said about this passage.

The "righteousness of God" is about faith -- righteousness given by a merciful God.

You don't inherit faith.

The righteousness of God through faith is about what God has done, not what we do.

This is a gift.

Are you in?

Expect God to do something new this year.

Expect some brand-new stories this year.