Looking Forward: Rooted and Engaged

Sermon Notes
Looking Forward
Rev. Mat Grover
Hebrews 10:23–25

“Looking Forward: Rooted and Engaged”

The Church is just like High School.

We need to live (make friends, hang out, be real), not only close to each other, but we must also be vulnerable with God and with our neighbors. Our relationships cannot just be horizontal, but also vertical towards God. 

Hebrews 10:23-25 (NLT)

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted
to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but
encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.”

“You teach a little by what you say. You teach most by what you are.” 
Henrietta C. Mears

Homework:

Where is God calling you to connect with Him and with others?

 

Where is God calling you to fill a need in this congregation?

 

Looking Forward: God Dreams

SERMON NOTES
Looking Forward
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
2 Samuel 7:1–13

“Looking Forward: God Dreams”

Today we start our new sermon series called Looking Forward. The hope of this sermon series is that we can look at it on parallel tracks. What does it mean for us to move forward as individuals and what does it mean for us to move forward as a church?

Theme: We are called as a church and as individuals to have God Dreams!

As a church and as individuals looking forward we have to be careful not to immediately assume that our dreams are God’s dreams.

Throughout Scripture there are stories after stories of characters like King Saul, the
Israelites, and other characters whose own dreams were more important than God’s dreams and eventually they ended up lost. But when we as individuals and as a church can sync our dreams into God’s dreams beautiful things are born.

Priority Action Learning Team Report (Kevin Oxnam)

Church Priority 1 -

Church Priority 2 -

Church Priority 3 -

What are some of your priorities/rhythms you want to chart this fall?

Spiritual life -

Family Life -

Work Life -

Exercise -

Does Jesus Procrastinate?

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 11:17-27

“Does Jesus Procrastinate?”

Today we are finishing up our sermon series on miracles. We have been looking at the seven miracles of Jesus from the Gospel of John. Today we will be looking at Jesus resurrecting Lazarus from the dead.

As we end our series, I want to make three observations about miracles and the power of God.

First, God’s timing is not always our timing.

Second observation about miracles is that we need to open our eyes and hearts to the power of God in our lives.

The third observation about miracles is that God can do the possible out of the impossible.

The reason I wanted to do a sermon series on miracles is I believe many of us can grow stagnant in our faith. Our faith becomes dormant. We assume that all we know about God is all we will ever know. We assume all we have ever experienced about God we have already experienced. But when you add the power of God to our faith lives, all bets are off. Jesus continues to make things new every morning. Jesus is about resurrecting our lives. Rebirth is not just about salvation, rebirth is about a life with Christ where we let our everyday lives intersect with the power of God.

Homework:

Where have you seen miracles in your life?

Where in your life now do you need to experience the power of God?

Light of the World

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 9:1-11

“Light of the World”

Jesus in this miracle of healing a blind man from birth is a sign that Jesus and the Kingdom of God is breaking into the darkness. Jesus is saying there will be light. I am making all things new. Maybe what Jesus is doing in our lives does not seem as spectacular as making a blind person see but what Jesus is doing in all of our lives if we are willing to open our eyes and heart is making all things new.

Theme: Jesus was claiming to be the light of the world.

The themes throughout the Gospels of Redemption and Resurrection is about Jesus bringing back to life the things that seem dead. Our circumstances can seem so overwhelming but even in the midst of the darkness God can do miracles by shining forth in spite of it all.

Goshen International Church and Community Center

Born out of the long term friendship and ministry partnership between pastors Bigimba Ngabo and Gary Stokes, a multi-cultural church and community center seeking to bridge cultures and provide ongoing support for refugees, and indeed all those who need help with life, is just beginning. 

Imagine a gathering place where many local churches can join to impact people for Christ who are in great need through a dedicated community center.

Imagine a unique place of worship catching young refugees, people of all colors and languages, of all ages and experiences who choose to be together because of the love of Jesus.

 

The Mystery of the Miraculous

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 6:16-21

“The Mystery of the Miraculous”

In a technological world we are not always comfortable with mystery. We want explanations for the unknown. The age of Enlightenment ushered in reason and science, all good things, but this quest to explain the unexplainable leads us to some gaps. I believe these gaps lead us to the beauty and mystery of God. 

Theme: When God shows up in your life, do not try to explain it. Simply embrace the mystery of the miraculous in your life.

We respond different ways when Jesus shows up in our lives unexpectedly.

First, we can just ignore it.

The second way we respond is we just intellectualize God out of our lives.

The third way we respond is the miracles of God can make us appreciate the mystery of God.

We live in a day and age where I see people going through the motions and are less lead by their faith and more led by their to do list or their email inbox. It is easy with all the distractions to go to numb to the very fullness of life that is right in front of us. What if we are developing cataracts to our soul that prevent us from seeing clearly the mystery, beauty, and power that God has created right before us.

What if Jesus is showing up in our lives walking on water but we just happen to be looking the other way?

 

Miracle Middle Manager

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 6:1-15

“Miracle Middle Manager”

As we are doing a sermon series on miracles, one of the greatest lessons we must learn through the Bible is that often God does indeed do miracles in this day in age, but his preferred way of doing them is through you and me. We are miracle middle managers. We are the right people at the right time, that if we so choose, we can allow ourselves to be part of a miracle.

So far in this sermon series we have focused on miracles primarily in relationship to our needs, but today we want to focus on us being miracles for others.

Theme: You and I can be vessels for God’s miracles.

The creator of the universe chooses you and me in all our brokenness to be his vessels, his instruments of mercy and power to a world that is in need. Today I want to say God is nudging us, sending us to be his vessels to be his miracles; but we must have our heart and eyes open to God’s nudges, large or small, that are all around us.

God is saying to you and me, “whom shall I send?”

The question is how will we respond?

But here is the catch, often the miracles God orchestrates through us at the time do not seem that spectacular. As we are just going through life being faithful to the nudges and promptings of the Holy Spirit, God takes the ordinary and turns them into the extraordinary for someone else.

We are all miracles if we so choose to be!

 

 

Get Up and Walk

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 5:1-9

“Get Up and Walk”

Over the years, as a Pastor I have encountered folks who feel like an accident, more who feel stuck, others who feel lost, and many whose dreams for themselves did not turn out like the expectation they or others had of them. Today we are going to look at an individual in John 5 who was lost and stuck almost his whole life. I believe when Jesus healed him he did not just heal him physically, but healed his heart with a sense of purpose.

6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”  (NRSV)

We often say with our lips we want more of God in our lives. But do we really? Do we want the Creator of the Universe meddling in our lives?

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives, we must first be willing for God to intervene.

8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”  (NRSV)

If we want God to do a miracle in our lives we must also take steps of trust.

Change is scary, even healing is scary because when Jesus says get up and walk, we can assume that Jesus is going to lead us somewhere. As we start to let Jesus intervene and meddle in our lives, over time we start to take small steps of trust. Many of us want external miracles! We want God’s intervention in our circumstances. But maybe, just maybe we need God to do an internal miracle first in our heart if we are to truly understand miracles and the power of God. If we want to have purpose and power in our lives we first must let God intervene and do miracles in our hearts by helping us to become willing and help us take steps of trust.

Questions:
1. Why does Jesus ask the man if he wants to be healed? What is that about?
2. Why do you think it would have been hard for the man to hear Jesus words get up and walk?
3. What prevents us from being healed?

 

Word and Spirit

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 4:46-54

“Word and Spirit”

The “Word” versus the “Spirit.” It is a great divide. Many churches and denominations are characterized by one over the other. They emphasize one and give lip service to the other. If churches could truly discover how to bring these two priorities together, the simultaneous combination would be a spontaneous combustion. That is my hope and prayer for our church, that we would be people of the Word and people of the Spirit.

People of the Word
There are times that we want to see a miracle, we want to see a sign, we want to see the power of God, and God just seems silent. It is in those times we are called to trust God’s promises, to trust our theology of God’s sovereignty, to trust God’s love for us. It is in these moments we learn to be less dependent on the spectacular and dependent on the word of God that we see in Scriptures.

People of the Spirit
We as Christians are called people of the Bible. We study and learn. But we can analyze our faith literally, at times, to death. We are called to be people of the Word, but we are also called to be people of the Spirit. Our faith and relationship with our Savior is meant to be new every morning. The Spirit allows us to discover new vitality.

So how do we be people, a church that is both dependent on Word and Spirit?
How do we become people who are tethered to God’s promises, but looking for the power of God in this world and in our lives?

Theme: It requires us to be people that trust and pray!

Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, is based on the idea that all of us can create prayer circles where we pray around an issue with boldness. Much like the Israelites who marched around Jericho praying for God’s power, we can all become circle makers. There is a deeply personal dimension to all of this. We can encircle our family, our job, our problems, and our goals in bold prayer.

 

Lift the Veil

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Miracles
John 2:1-11

“Lift the Veil”

This sermon series is less about understanding miracles and more about awakening to the power of God. In the book, The Grave Robber, Mark Batterson explores the seven miraculous signs of Jesus found in the Gospel of John. Over the next seven weeks we will do the same hoping that as we see these signs of the power of God in the Gospel of John we can also see God’s miraculous power today.

Theme: Open your eyes and heart to the power of God.

Purification Ritual Reversed with Jesus
In changing water into wine Jesus is crashing any barriers to the power of God. Purification was no longer about ritual and Jewish Law it was about Jesus. New wine: new cleansing, new intimacy, new joy, is open to all who are willing to follow Jesus.

The Veil was lifted with Jesus
There is a Hebrew concept called “Shekinah Glory” that comes from the Hebrew word, “shekinot.” It represents the miraculous dwelling of God with his people. God’s presence was manifested by the intense light that filled the Tabernacle, in the Temple in Jerusalem, “Shekinah Glory.” This “Shekinah Glory” this dwelling place of God was in the chamber of the “Holy of Holies” in the Temple that was covered with a veil that separated God’s glory and power from the people. But we know that when Jesus died on the cross and his side was pierced the veil suddenly ripped. Jesus crashed the barrier to the power of God. Jesus death on the cross represents our access to the power of God through Jesus.

My prayer for you and me is to lift the veil in our lives that separate us from fully awakening to the power of God in our lives.
Lift the veil!

Questions:
Why is there a lack of wonder and mystery in our lives today?
What barriers do we create to keep ourselves from fully embracing the power of God?
How can we access more the power of God in our lives?

 

Love To Belong

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Mat Grover
Small But Mighty
3 John

“Love To Belong”

3rd  John is the smallest book in the entire Bible. Although, 2nd John has fewer verses (13), 3rd John contains only 219 words, as compared to 2nd John at 245 words.

In each of the 3 John Letters, the author is reacting to a conflict within a number of house churches. 1st John writes to the group of churches confirming the teachings of Jesus and the truth that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah. 2nd John is a letter to a specific house church warning them about corrupt teachers that might try and infiltrate their community. 3rd John is addressed to a specific person, warning against a particular leader who is perpetuating the lies, and refusing to collaborate with John.

3rd John
I. Opening (verses 1-4)
- Greeting Gaius
- Praying for Health, Rejoicing in Truth

II.  Body (verses 5-12)
- Supporting God’s Missionaries
- Condemning Diotrephes
- Commending Demetrius

III.  Closing (verses 13-15)
- Regrets, Hopes and Greetings

“The Christian family circle should always be wide enough to have a place for strangers, wherever they come from.” – William Barclay

Homework:

What does it mean for us to walk in the light?

What are the ways that we as a church and as individuals are working towards Jesus like hospitality?

 

Forgiveness Is Everything

Sermon Notes
Small but Mighty
Rev. Mat Grover
Philemon

“Forgiveness Is Everything”

Paul’s Epistle to Philemon is the apostle’s shortest writing.  It is only 25 verses containing 335 words. There are only three books in the entire Bible that are smaller. 

Paul’s message to Philemon was a simple one: based on the work of love and forgiveness that had been wrought in Philemon’s heart by God, show the same to the escaped and now believing slave Onesimus.

Outline of Philemon:
Philemon 1-3: Opening greetings
Philemon 4-7: Philemon is commended for his faith and charity
Philemon 8-20: Paul’s request regarding Onesimus
Philemon 21-22: Paul’s expectation to visit
Philemon 23-25: Concluding words and benediction

The letter to Philemon reminds us that God’s revelation to humanity is intensely personal. Philemon stands as one piece of strong evidence revealing that lofty doctrines such as the love of God, forgiveness in Christ, or the inherent dignity of humanity have real and pertinent impact in everyday life. The book of Philemon illustrates that principles like these can and should profoundly affect the lives of believers.

Homework:
In what areas in your life do you need to ask for forgiveness?

Where do you need to seek reconciliation?

 

God Who Is Able

Sermon Notes
Small But Mighty
Rev. Mat Grover
Jude 24-25

“God Who Is Able”

The four smallest books of the New Testament are Jude, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John.  Jude contains 461 words in 25 verses. 

Jude 20-25
“24Now to God Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (NIV)

God who is able: 
Romans 16:25 — God Who is able to strengthen us.

Ephesians 3:20 — God Who is able to do more than we ask or imagine.

Jude — God Who is able to make us sure footed, blameless, bring us into His presence.

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.  “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you!”

-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

Outpost to the Kingdom

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Women in the Bible
Acts 18:1-3

“Outpost to the Kingdom”

Since I was a child I have been fascinated by all the stories in the Bible but even more than just the stories, I love the different characters in the Bible. All the great heroes were flawed people, I guess that has always given me hope. But I also love the smaller characters in scripture as well, not necessarily heroes but folks who had a significant role. Many of these characters were women. Today we are going to look at another early church leader, Priscilla.

What do we learn from this story of Priscilla and Aquila?

They took literally the commandment of Jesus to love their neighbor.

Loving our neighbor starts in our home.

Loving our neighbor starts with mentoring.

(Graphic) The Art of Neighboring – Jay Pathak & Dave Runyon

Seizing an Opportunity

SERMON NOTES  
Women in the Bible
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Acts 16: 11-15

“Seizing an Opportunity”

Since I was a child I have been fascinated by all the stories in the Bible but even more than just the stories, I love the different characters in the Bible. All the great heroes were flawed people. I guess that has always given me hope. But I also love the smaller characters in scripture as well, not necessarily heroes but folks who had a significant role. Many of these characters were women.

Today, I want to talk to you about a woman entrepreneur by the name of Lydia who became a tremendous catalyst for Paul’s Church Plant in Philippi.

What do we learn from this short story of Lydia?

First, God can use us no matter how experienced we are in faith.

God can use us no matter how experienced we are in faith, but it takes paying attention to the tugs at our heart.

Second, we might just be the fulfillment of someone else’s prayer or vision.

You could be the answer to someone else’s prayer but it takes paying attention to the tugs at our heart.

Carpe Diem – “Seize the Day”

Carpe Opportunitatem – “Seize the Opportunity”

Lydia was an entrepreneur economically and spiritually.
Lydia knew how to seize on an opportunity. I imagine she was quite successful. But she also knew how to seize on a tug from God. She saw God at work and seized upon it.

women of the bible 22.jpg

Service Worship-Foster Care in Tucson

The Word Written                                                                                                                        RuthAnn Smithrud

                                                                              Psalm 139:1-18  

 

Preaching Panel                                                                          
                                                                               “Foster Care”

Dawn Zitco from ‘Christian Family Care’

Tiffany Clauer from ‘GAP Ministries’

Kristy Deakin from ‘More Than a Bed’

 

Who Is Jesus?

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Easter 2017
Luke 24:36-47

“Who Is Jesus?”

I think this question of Who Jesus is, is a question all of us wrestle with in different seasons of our lives. Regardless if you are fervent in faith or a skeptic, I want us to wrestle with Who Jesus says He is.

Theme: When we allow our lives to encounter the power of Jesus something beyond our comprehension happens, we become transformed from the inside out.

“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering”

“While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat? They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and H e took it and ate in their presence.”

This is more than Jesus being hungry. Jesus knows before they can hear the truth they need to spend time with Him. Jesus throughout the Bible has meals with tax collectors, the poor and the rich, because He knew before they would listen to Him they had to trust Him and encounter Who He was.

So how do we encounter the power of Jesus?

We symbolically have a meal with Jesus, we crack the door to making space for Jesus in our lives. When we make space for Jesus we start to experience Jesus’ grace and mercy. Like laughter through tears, it takes over us, and suddenly we find our hearts being changed inside out.

This is the redemptive process of making something beautiful and new out of us. God can make beautiful things out of the dust. God can take what looks dead and chaotic, and somehow turn it to good. This is what we celebrate when we celebrate the resurrection.

Start having meals with Jesus. Make space to spend time alone so you can encounter your Savior afresh. Open yourself to God’s saving Grace. All you must do is surrender and respond to the voice Who is calling you by name.

 

Letting Go

SERMON NOTES  
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road with Jesus
Luke 19:28-44

“Letting Go”

The crowd had the expectation of Jesus to usher freedom from Rome but Jesus was ushering the freedom from sin. They were looking for the immediate and he wanted to give them the eternal.

We often want our lives to be a success story but God often wants to create our lives into an adventure story. Like the disciples sometimes we must start letting go of our expectations and start trusting Jesus.

Theme: For us to follow Jesus with earnest we must learn to let go.

1. We must learn to let go of our control

2. We must also learn to let go of our expectations

For us to follow the King with earnest, we must learn to let go of the control and expectations of our life and grab hold onto His.

On the earthly scheme of things if we follow Christ I can’t guarantee that everything will work out alright on this side of the Kingdom. I can’t guarantee that our health, finances, family or our dreams will work out the way we want them too. I can’t.

But from an eternal perspective if we follow Christ, God promises to be with us forever. It is about the long haul. As we grab hold of him. His love, mercy and comfort will surround us for eternity.

Life with God is an assorted collection of small leaps of trust.

What do you need to let go of?

What do you need to let go of to more fully follow Jesus?

 

What Difference Do I Make?

SERMON NOTES
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On The Road With Jesus
Luke 19:1-10

“What Difference Do I Make?”

Zacchaeus had everything according to the standards of the world yet he was still haunted by the very things we are.

· Who am I?

· Where do I fit?

· What difference do I make?

Theme: As we start to build our lives on Jesus and His teachings, we start to discover who we are, where we fit and what difference we can make.

But this requires us to make space for God. It takes intentionality!

What would it look like for you to make space for God?

What is the sycamore tree in your life that would allow you to rise above?

Creating space for God is the number one discipline of the soul, and the best place to do that is to establish a rhythm of place and time to attend to the loving embrace and tender voice of God.

And Then There Was One

Sermon Notes
Rev. Dr. Drew Hulse
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 17:11-19

“And Then There Was One”

We are on the tenth week of a sermon series based on the book of Luke where we want to go on the road with Jesus, look at what He taught, how He believed, Who He encountered so we can wrestle with Who Jesus was so we can fully embrace that Jesus is in our lives.

What does our attitude say about our relationship with God?

Jesus sees our true need when we might not even be aware of it. We can be so focused on temporary circumstances, we fail to see God’s desires for our lives.

St. Augustine wrote, “Faith is to believe what we do not see. The reward of faith is to see what we believe.”

Rather than merely walking through the steps of religion, God invites us to live with the eyes of faith.

Worship is an expression of thanksgiving that celebrates God’s work in our lives today and the promise of His fulfillment to come.

Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV)

- Keep your eyes open to see all God is doing in your life

- Take time to say thank you