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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.

Rightly Connecting to Key Relationships - Loving God

Today Pastor Ed preached the third sermon in a series on Rightly Connecting to Key Relationships.  This one covered the most important key relationship: Loving God.

Jesus makes three points about loving God in Matthew 11:25-30.

1)  God reveals Himself to those who are like little children.  vs. 25-26

We're the objects of this action; God is the subject.  If we love God, it's because He's revealed Himself to us.

Our attitude should be like that of a little child:

Children have humility and openness.  They are completely without guile.  Children are dependent.  They are not experts. 

Is our relationship with God becoming more simple?

Babies know who they trust!

The difficulty is in growing in independence and maturity in certain areas, but keeping our emotional dependence on God.

We come to Him with humble hearts like children.

Things that harm that relationship:

-- Hurt

We think we're more adult when we're cynical.

-- Pride

We also think we're more adult when we're experts.

-- Envy, jealousy, judgmentalism.

Babies don't compare each other.

God has hidden these things from the experts.  It pleases God to reveal Himself to those who come to Him with open, humble hearts.

So we bring humble, dependent hearts.

This is why we have a devotional life.  We're admitting our dependence on Him.

If we come like little children, it will include questions, and we won't have easy answers.

2)  God reveals Himself to those whom the Son chooses. vs. 27

This is about our belief system.

This is Jesus at His most exclusive.

This is not cultural exclusivity, but theological exclusivity.

John 14:6-8.  Jesus is one with God and came to reveal God to us.

So we trust in the Son.

If God is real, then He is what He is.  We don't get to make up what He is like.

We don't have the option of being distant admirers of Jesus.

Jesus was either God, as He claimed to be, or an exclusive, arrogant lunatic.

Jesus isn't looking for admirers but for followers.

3)  We can experience the rest of a loving relationship with God if we follow the life and practices of Jesus. vs. 28-30

If you feel burdened, you may be doing religion, not Jesus.

We love God by doing what Jesus did.

We can become like Christ by following Him and practicing the type of life He engaged in.

That life included things like solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, study of God's word, and service to others.

We must follow Jesus -- His life, His habits, His ways.

So we follow Jesus.

It's hard, but it's not complicated.

And He's promised His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

***

Don't forget!  Next week is Soup-er Bowl Sunday.  Bring donations for the Dulles South Food Pantry.

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