The Nicaragua team kicked off this Sundays’ message by giving quick examples of how the trip changed their lives and how they were positively impacted. There were many different examples given, however, two common narratives emerged. The first was how the experience opened their eyes to how much we have in terms of the material and how often it seems we lack in things like community and joy. Another theme that emerged was how fulfilling it was to help people in tangible and concrete ways.
Jon began his new series called “Taking the Land” - concerning the idea of walking in the flesh vs walking in the spirit. He introduced a diagram in which belief is separated by two halves (walking in the flesh vs. walking in the spirit). At the center of the diagram was Truth and Lies. Truth under the spirit and Lies under the flesh. Likewise faith hope and love and the reciprocal fear, dread, and selfishness.
Using the story recorded in the book of Joshua he illustrated how to move from fear to faith (opposite sides of the diagram). He gave us two key points. First, Jon suggested, we become aware of the lies that we have been given by the enemy. Then after we have identified such lies, we should leave those stones of remembrance behind and allow God to replace those with his own thoughts and stones.
1 Corinthians 13:13 says " And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." Love is the linchpin that works together with faith and hope which we've talked about in the last two weeks. The opposite of love is selfishness and the Bible tells us that faith works through love and love surpasses knowledge (Galatians 5:6 and Ephesians 3:19). Nathan Warner shared the story of how he and his wife Megan came to NorthGate and felt it was safe for them to become vulnerable and transparent with the community of people here. He talked about how that helped them to develop healthy significant relationships at a deeper level than they have ever known before. He also shared how important he believed it was that they had a loving community of people around them at NorthGate when they were going through a very difficult time of being unemployed, a miscarriage, and did not have a place to live. At one point Nathan said he figured out that "it was OK to not be OK”. It was at this point when things began to turn around. He received the job of his dreams and they are now able to look for a new home.
In Numbers 13:33 a search committee returned from Israel and said they felt like grasshoppers in the eyes of the giants they saw. In Numbers14:3 they declared that their families were going to become victims because they had followed Moses and Joshua. In Numbers 14:8 Joshua declares that "If the Lord delights in us he will bring us into this land." The people however did not believe that the Lord delighted in them. They thought they were forsaken by God. In Isaiah 62:4, Isaiah declares "you shall no longer be termed forsaken" and that "The Lord delights in you." Jon told the story of a railroad bridge in the region that used to say "Forsaken" across it. After he and a number of people prayed that God would change our city, the bridge was painted over. This was very encouraging and a sign of hope. However, some people still see our city and themselves as forsaken even though the bridge has been painted. More importantly Jesus Christ has promised to never leave us or forsake us. He has broken the curse and paid for our sins with His blood. We are now free to live rooted and grounded in His Love. The celery sticks illustrate that we will be filled with whatever truth or lies that we are rooted in. In Ephesians 3:17, Paul prays " that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you may be rooted and grounded in love”. When we accept the Love of Christ we no longer have to believe the lie that we are forsaken. This changes everything and gives us the faith to take the land.
This week Pastor Jon continued his series, “Taking the Land.” He stated that we are no longer forsaken because Christ paid the ultimate price for us on the cross. When we meet Christ and realize what He has done for us, we move from dread to hope and from fear to love. When we understand that we are righteous, we have the ability to bring the glory of Christ with us wherever we go. Joshua 5:15 was shared: “Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy. And Joshua did so” (NJKV). Pastor Jon explained to us that wherever God has commanded us to be is considered holy ground. Even when we are vulnerable, God will meet us wherever we are. We are able to accomplish God’s plans for us not by the strength of our own flesh, but by God’s grace and plans for His kingdom. He concluded by discussing Galatians 3:1-29. Galatians 3:13 states, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us…” (NJKV). Although the enemy tries to make us believe that life’s challenges are a result of our wrongdoings or a curse, this is a lie. Jesus became this curse so that we could walk in a blessing. He became sin so that we could become righteous, and whatever he has called us to do, he has already paved the way for us to do it.