I’m In

God’s desire for you is that you would never be alone — that you would never be left out. We’re created for connection, but we drift toward isolation. But isolation is not a good thing (see Genesis 2:18; Ecclesiastes 4:9–12).
 
Amazing things can happen when you choose to say, “I’m In…I’m in the community of faith…the mission of Christ…the body of Christ…the Church.” See 1 Peter 2:4–5. When you decide, “I’m In,” it doesn’t just benefit the community of believers, the church. It also benefits your life. See Hebrews 3:12–13.
 
David, King of Israel, knows all about the dangers of isolation. But David also discovered the blessing of being in community with fellow believers. See Psalm 92:12–13; Psalm 52:8–9.
 
Flourish means to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
 
These passages use very specific agricultural examples:
Cedar tree: known for their durability, pleasant to look at and also pleasing to smell.
Palm tree: symbolic of victory, triumph, peace, and eternal life.
Olive tree: a symbol of peace, friendship, longevity and usefulness.
 
Psalm 92:14-15 shows us the blessing, the benefits of those who are planted in the house of the Lord.
 
One of the greatest problems in the Christian movement today is people who don’t stay planted. Instead, they church-hop. Another great problem in the Christian movement is that people are not committed to faithful engagement in the life and ministry of the church. Going to church once or twice a month is not the same as being planted. See Hebrews 10:24-25.
 

Those who are planted are those who flourish.

We need to recognize that our life is like a seed. A seed has the potential to grow, to thrive, to multiply, to produce fruit, to be a blessing to others, but a seed that’s not planted has the potential to lie dormant, unproductive, unfruitful, and dissatisfied. Your life is a seed.
 

A seed can only grow if it’s planted.

Biblical Example: Parable of the Soils in Matthew 13.
 

Going to church isn’t the same as being planted.

Some people “go” to church like they “go” to the movies, the game, a show, the restaurant, gym, dentist, etc. Here’s something that may sound strange at first but…Church was not designed to be a place you go. Jesus never intended you to just “go to” church.
 

Church wasn’t meant to be a place to which you go, it was designed to be a community in which you grow.

 
See Ephesians 4:15–16. We gather together to honor God, to corporately hear the Word of God, to use our individual gifts, to be unified — all of this leads to growth. As we grow, as we flourish, it’s not just for our personal benefit or the benefit of the church. The church does not exist for us, we exist for the world.
 

When you’re planted your roots grow deep.

See Jeremiah 17:8. When the roots grow deep, they’re not bothered by surface problems because they’re connected to a source that is greater than any problem on the surface.
 

When you are planted you produce fruit.

What fruit? Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). It’s not our own natural fruits, it is a spiritual fruit that comes from God.
 
Now is the time because God wants you to flourish like the evergreen, stable, strong cedar, or the victorious, triumphant palm, or the productive and longstanding olive tree. Only those who are planted in the house of the Lord are those who truly can flourish in all God has for you.
 
How does it all start? It’s starts with making the commitment, by saying “I’m In.”
 

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Take A Risk

Life requires risk. We make relational risks, financial risks, physical risks, emotional risks, and social risks. But when was the last time you took a spiritual risk?
 
Choosing to take a risk is often the key to stepping into a new season of life, success, reward, maturity, etc. Generally speaking, there is no reward without risk. The same applies to your spiritual growth and development.
 
I believe that a lot of the frustration you feel concerning your faith is due to the fact that you have not taken a spiritual risk — a risk of faith.
 
This week as I was preparing for this message, I felt the Spirit speak to me saying, “Failure to take a risk of faith will put your faith at risk.”
 
“At-Risk Faith” is a state or condition of faith that is marked by a high level of vulnerability because it is not being exercised — it has not grown stronger through practice.
 
“Safe faith” is dangerous because it lulls your faith to sleep, it deprives you of faith-growing, faith-rewarding divine moments. Faith in Christ will involve risk. In nearly every aspect of your relationship with him, the Lord will bring you to the edge of a decision at which point you’ll have to decide whether to leap in the direction he’s calling you (risk) or pull back to a place that seems safe. Where there is no risk, there is no faith. See Hebrews 11:6.
 
The last thing authentic Christian faith should be is boring. I don’t see boredom falling upon Jesus, his disciples, or the Apostle Paul. Why? Because the risk of faith is a boredom buster.
 

Resolution #5: This year, I will take a risk of faith instead of submitting to the mundane life that places my faith at risk.

 
Though we tend to think the heroes of faith in the Bible were superstars with bold personalities, they usually were just like the rest of us who live life tentatively. They weren’t great because they were fearless but because they acted in faith and took a risk in spite of their fears (Examples: Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, Esther).
 
In order to reap a great reward of faith, there has to be a great risk of faith.
 
Read: Matthew 25:14-30
 
The identical statement of praise to both servants indicates that the point of the parable is not on the total amount they started with or the total amount earned but on their willingness to take a risk and demonstrate faithful responsibility.
 
We tend to avoid a risk of faith because we feel as though we are not great like other spiritual heroes that we have seen. But let me remind you, their greatness always began with risk.
 
Don’t let the reality of where you are now — and the comparison of yourself to others — keep you from acting in obedience and taking a risk with what you currently do have. You may only be a few risks of faith from where you are now to where you wish you could be as a Christ.
 
But please listen to me! We do not have the option of doing nothing with our faith. As I said earlier, if we do not take the risk of faith, we place our faith at risk. Notice what happened to the third servant. In reality, each of the servants decisions involved a risk. The first two took a risk of faith and were rewarded for it. The third servant was not willing to risk the master’s investment and because of it, he placed his life at risk.
 
If your faith in on life support, it’s time to take a risk of faith.
 
Note: risk of faith is not the same as being faithlessly risky. The risk of faith that honors God is first, and foremost, God-birthed and rooted in His Word.
 
What risk of faith do you need to take today? I challenge you to avoid the temptation to live risk-free, but instead become free take to risk of faith.
 

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Faith in Christ

Read: Colossians 1:1-8. A key theme in this opening paragraph is: “Faith in Christ.” But what does Paul mean when he talks about “faith in Christ”? Faith is placing your confidence, allegiance and identity in Christ. This is evidenced by living a life that is truly “in Christ.” Faith acts on what it believes. So what does it mean to be “In Christ”?
 
To be in Christ means to be taken in to him so that he encompasses your entire life. This means that Christ influences and infuses everything in your life.
  • To be in Christ means that you are committed to him above all others. And all other commitments fall under this primary commitment.
  • To be in Christ means that He determines your attitudes and actions.
  • To be in Christ means that you are inseparably joined to Him. This means that nothing can separate you from Him and His love.
  • To be in Christ means that you are also joined to a new family where the dividing lines that separate and categorize people have been erased.
  • To be in Christ is to have a new identity not based on your past or current status.
  • To be in Christ is to have everything you need to thrive in this life and enjoy eternal life.
Then Paul shifts from a prayer of thanksgiving for their faith and lets them know how he and Timothy are specifically praying for them so that they will, in fact, stay rooted in Christ.
 
Read: Colossians 1:9-14. Paul shares the primary things that he is praying for them that I believe equally apply to us today.
 
God fills you with the knowledge of His Will. Often in the NT, the word “filled” means to be “controlled by.” Paul’s prayer, then, is that these believers might be controlled by the full knowledge of God’s will. The good news is that we don’t have to develop this knowledge in our own strength but is something that the Spirit gives. When Paul prays that his friends may have wisdom and understanding, he is praying that they may understand the great truths of Christianity and may be able to apply them to the tasks and decisions which meet them in everyday living. In the Christian life, knowledge and obedience go together.
 
Live a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him in every way. Paul then breaks down what it looks like to please God in every way:
 
Bearing fruit in every good work. Christians need to work out their faith in the way they live. When it comes to being a Christ follower, we do not have a shortage of knowing, we have a shortage of doing. We are not saved by our good works but they should be an overflow of our faith in Christ. See 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Ephesians 2:10.
 
Growing in the knowledge of God. This is important for two reasons: 1) Knowledge of God is necessary for proper living; and 2) Knowledge of God shields us from false teaching.
 
Being strengthened with all power. Paul asks God to give his readers not only discernment of his will but also the divine power to act on it. Living out your Christian faith may lead to adversity. That’s why Paul states that we need to be strengthened will all power “so that you may have great endurance and patience.”
 
Endurance is the power to cope and be content in all circumstances. But it does not mean endurance in the sense of simply giving in or succumbing to the events around you. It is a conquering endurance. It is the ability to deal triumphantly with anything that life can do to us.
 
Patience has to do with people. It is the quality of mind and heart which enables you to bear with people and never lose patience with, belief in, and hope for them.
 
Giving joyful thanks to the Father. Since Paul commands thanksgiving, it must be something we can decide to do. Therefore it can become a discipline in which we can grow. Gratitude, as the gospel speaks about it, embraces all of life: the good and the bad, the joyful and the painful, the holy and not so holy.
 

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