Letting Go

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?

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.


Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 15:11-24


Last week I described God’s love for us no matter who we are or what we have done, but like a pipe that is clogged, there just seems at times to be something blocking us from fully accepting God’s unconditional love.

We do know that God’s love is persistent and can break through any barriers. Today, I want us to look at one of the hardest misconceptions to overcome in our lives, the misconception that we are unworthy to be forgiven by God.

Theme: God is a God who forgives us, and He wants us to forgive ourselves so we can live in freedom.

So how can we have this freedom of forgiveness?

First of all we need to come out of hiding.

Second, confession leads us to Grace.

Third, we must forgive ourselves, casting out the unforgiving inquisitor.

It is difficult to forgive ourselves because it takes courage to face our past. The very thing we need to forgive ourselves of, we have probably buried deep with no intention of digging it back up. So it puts us in a very interesting bind; we are haunted by guilt and we cannot forgive ourselves, yet to allow healing we have to face it and bring it before God.

But as we slow down, stop and bring our guilt before God, God embraces us with forgiveness and showers us with His grace.

Reflection Questions:

1. Why is forgiving ourselves the hardest part of forgiveness?


2. What are practical ways to come out of hiding?


3. How can we come face to face with our sin?


4. What does confession look like for me?


People of the Shadows

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 14:16-23

“People of the Shadows”

Theme: This parable of the banquet illustrates God’s enormous inclusive Kingdom, where He loves all of us no matter what we have done or who we are. But this parable also gives us a model on how we are to love as God loves.

The traditional interpretation of this parable of the banquet is that Jesus was referring to the religious leaders as the guests who refused to come to the feast. Jesus was saying the Kingdom of God is much wider and as the religious leaders take Jesus for granted, the New Covenant would be open to all, even the gentiles. In the first century context the poor, crippled, blind, and lame were considered the marginalized or even outcast.

This parable illustrates God’s enormous inclusive Kingdom, where He loves all of us no matter what we have done or who we are.

Jesus is saying My Grace and Mercy is for all those who are in need of a Savior. All who are weary, tired and worn out, you are invited to the Great Banquet. This is a prophetic image of Jesus’ redemptive and restorative plan for the world. Jesus on the cross paid for our sins once and for all and declared it finished. We are no longer slaves, but we are free. We are restored. We are home again to the place of love.

This parable also gives us a model on how we are to love as God loves.

The church is the representation of the movement of Jesus’ Kingdom. The “good news” isn’t enough to say that we ourselves are the people dragged in from the country lanes to enjoy God’s party. That might be true. But we as party guests are called to be party hosts and go to the streets and invite those who are generally cast aside. 

You and I are called to get dirty, to get uncomfortable, and to compel people into the Kingdom of God. We compel people by the way we love.


The Habit of Turning

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 13

“The Habit of Turning”

Sometimes when Jesus is teaching He refers to historical incidents that His listeners would be aware of but not necessarily we readers two thousand years later. That is why to understand what Jesus is saying at times we must understand Jesus’ context. Today is one of those times.

Theme: Jesus is giving a strong warning to not lose sight of Him.

Jesus is calling us to go beyond the expectations of the day and follow Him and His ways.

In the Old Testament there are numerous signs of what we call a “messianic hope.” There was an expectation of a Messiah, but the expectation was a bit more militaristic. They were hoping for a Messiah who would be like David and be a strong military leader, leading them into a revolution, so Israel could gain power and a kingdom once again. Throughout Jesus’ ministry we watch this confusion play out with the crowds and even His disciples at times.

Regardless of how lost you get, allow Jesus to be your savior.

Jesus knew He was to be a different kind of King bringing a different kind of Kingdom with a different kind of power. “The Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many.” Jesus took the projected evil of the world and drew it on Himself.

Repent, turn towards God.

Repentance recognizes that where I am is not where I am supposed to be. So I turn and move towards where I am supposed to be. It starts with the cry of our heart and ends with running toward where God wants us to be.

Our faith life is about habitually turning back to our first love.



Trust in a Time of Anxiety

Rev. Mat Grover
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 11-12

“Trust in a Time of Anxiety”

We live in an age of anxiety and instability. No matter how much material wealth we may or may not have, we all struggle to be at peace with our current situation. We might worry about health, work, family, friends, or a myriad of other things, but if we are consumed with this anxiety, we end up losing our sense of identity as one in Christ.

Jesus calls us to not be anxious and not be afraid.

Do Not Worry

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[a]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (NIV)

Anxiety, worry and fear will always be a part of our lives.  It is in our response to that we find our hope. That is why Jesus gave us this prayer:

Father, Hallowed be Your Name, Your Kingdom come.

Know that God is in charge. As the creator of the universe, He is sovereign. Because we know His name, we can and should trust in Him. But before we ask anything for ourselves, God is given glory.  Only when we give God His place will other things take their proper place. 

Give us each day our daily bread.

Trust that God will cover our present need.  This goes back to the story of the manna in the wilderness (Exodus 16:11-21).  Don’t worry about the unknown future, but trust that God will take care of us each and every day.

As we live each day and face new trials, anxiety and fear, we are called to trust the sovereignty of God and the power of the Hallowed Name, and the Creator of all things. 


Peace Makers

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole  
Luke: On the Road with Jesus
Luke 10

“Peace Makers”

As I have shared often, we, the followers of Christ, are the sent ones! We, like the seventy-two, have been chosen to go before Jesus and live out the Kingdom of God.

But the central question all of us ask from time to time is how? How do we live out the Kingdom?

Theme: We are called to be Peace Makers.

Ken Sande in his book, describes Peace Makers as people who breathe grace. They draw continually from the goodness and power of Jesus and then they bring love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom to their daily encounters in life.

“Peace” is a central theme throughout scriptures.

· Peace is part of God’s character as we often see God referred to as the God of Peace.

· Peace is one of the great blessings God gives those who follow Him.

· God regularly commands His people to seek and pursue peace.

The Hebrew word for peace is “shalom” meaning healing, wholeness, and restoration. The Greek word for peace means deep rest, freedom, and security.

As we are sent out as Peace Maker, it may come at a cost.

As we are sent out as Peace Makers, it may not be comfortable, but it is when we experience true joy.

If all of us would be willing to be sent out to breathe grace and forgiveness to whomever God puts in our path, the harvest would be completed and there would be a feast of deep rest, freedom, and restoration.


Storms and Trials

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road with Jesus
Luke 8

“Storms and Trials”

Today we are going to look at the intersection of Jesus’ power and our faith as we go through storms and trials.

The word “faith” in Greek is “pistis.” It translates into trust, confidence, fidelity.

In our passages today we are challenged to wrestle with what is the object of our trust, Jesus’ power or Who Jesus is?

Jesus has power over the natural order of the world but He also allows us to live in the brokenness of it. This is where Jesus power intersects with faith.

Theme: We are not to just trust in what Jesus can do, rather we are to trust in Who Jesus is. Jesus is the object of our trust.

We cannot put our faith in external factors, but in Jesus Himself. No matter what you are facing right now in your life, our deeper reality is that Jesus has power, Jesus is power, and we have to define ourselves on the deeper reality of Jesus never letting us go.

Jesus does not promise to calm every storm in your life, but you can allow Jesus to calm you in every storm of life, and it takes a deeper trust that only God can give you.          

Reflection Questions:         

1. What storms or trials are you facing right now?


2. Do you sense God in the middle of it?


3 How do we misplace trust on external factors? Examples?


4. How can we trust Jesus more in our lives?


The Stranger

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 7:11-17

“The Stranger”

Many of us know the story of Jesus healing Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus. That miracle of bringing a friend back to life is powerful. But this story of bringing back to life a stranger is intriguing.

Beyond just this scene, Scripture is filled with evidence that Jesus loves the estranged.

• We see this right here as Jesus is stirred by a stranger.

• We see this as Jesus spends time with Tax Collectors.

• We see this as Jesus showed compassion to prostitutes.

• We see this as Jesus healed and touched the social outcast.

Jesus loves the estranged.

But Jesus also calls us to love the Stranger.

The definition of “stranger” is a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.

As children we are taught not to talk to strangers. This is very good advice in the world we live in. But as adults our fear of the stranger has turned into apathy for the stranger in need. If people look different from us ethnically or racially, if people look different from us socioeconomically, if people act different from us we tend to stay away. But Jesus calls us to move towards, move towards the stranger, the one who is in need and love them into the community.

*Please note there is no audio for 1/29/17 as this was a Service Worship date. 

The Upside Down Kingdom

SERMON NOTES:  1-22-17
Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 6:18-26

“Upside Down Kingdom”

In the book, The Upside-Down Kingdom, author Donald Kraybill states that Jesus was announcing an inverted Kingdom. Things in the Gospel are often upside down. Jesus demonstrates radical opposition to the dominant culture by making friends with the social outcast, poor, needy, and sick.

•   The people Jesus calls blessed, the world feels sorry for.
•   The people the world sees as blessed, Jesus feels sorry for and gives warning.

Makarios (Greek for blessing)

Are you chasing after the values of the world or are you chasing after the values of the Kingdom? The values of living in Jesus’ upside down kingdom are much different than the values of the world. “But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, John 6:27

What would it look like to take this seriously?
Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. John 6:30-31

What would it look like to take this seriously?
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. John 6:36

What would it look like to take this seriously?
Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. John 6:37-38

What would it look like to take this seriously?
If we would indeed live out the radical calling of Jesus in our everyday lives we could indeed
change the world.

Infected by Grace

Rev. Dr. Jim Toole
Luke: On the Road With Jesus
Luke 5:12-14

“Infected by Grace”

We are on the second 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 behaved, Who He encountered so we can wrestle with Who Jesus was so we can fully embrace Who Jesus is in our lives.

What is the Kingdom of God that Jesus was proclaiming?

Jesus was not announcing an overthrow of Rome by force, nor the taking of the fallen world into His kingdom by might, but instead He was declaring that God’s reign, rule, and way of living is available to anyone who would “enter in” and receive it by faith.

But we often refer to the Kingdom as here and not yet. The Kingdom of God was ushered in with Jesus. Yet God’s Kingdom will not be completely fulfilled until Jesus returns where He promises a new heaven and a new earth where God will rule over the world in justice and might. Until then, the kingdom will work its way into the world in part through Jesus’ followers.

The message of the Kingdom of God is that Jesus can touch us and make us whole.

The message of the Kingdom of God calls us to touch others and bring wholeness to the world we live in.

The Kingdom “not yet” will be here some day with Jesus’ return ushering in a new heaven and a new earth. But you and I, the followers of Christ, we are the Kingdom “now.”

•   As we are healed we become healers.
•   As we encounter Jesus we then bring Jesus to others.
•   As we are touched by God, we are called to touch those who are considered the
•   As we are infected by grace, we are called to infect grace and love.

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