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Becoming a Life-Giving Church

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Becoming a Life-Giving Church

Pastor Keith Hassell

Foundation Scripture:  Revelation 22:2

I.       Why is there a difference?

A.      Individuals that do the same thing but one thrives and the other struggles, waivers, and eventually falls away?

B.      Families that do the same things but one thrives and the other struggles and breaks apart?

C.      Churches that do the same things but one thrives and the other struggles and dies (fussing, fighting, gossiping, negative, critical)

D.      Why is it that while both do the same thing, one produces life while the other does not?

II.      What is “LIFE”?

          A.      Life speaks of that which is receiving the life of God.

          B.      Jesus came that we might have life (John 10:10)

          C.      Life flows from a relationship with Jesus (John 14:6)

D.      You can experience life by hanging around Jesus (goodness, blessings, healing, guidance, etc.)

          E.      You can experience eternal life by inviting Jesus to live inside

III.    Different Trees, Different Fruit---LIFE or DEATH (Genesis 3)

          A.      Adam and Eve were given everything they needed

          B.      They were given a choice

C.      They could eat from the Tree of Life and live (LIFE)

D.      They could eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and die (Knowledge apart from the life of God)

IV.     We are what we eat!

A.      Ted Haggard, Becoming a Life-Giving Church:  “To eat something is to ingest it, to take its qualities into yourself, to make it a part of you.  When we eat, we are taking something that is outside of ourselves, absorbing it and utilizing it for our own use.  That’s why eating is such a useful metaphor for reading, watching television, listening to teachers, or engaging in discussion.  In all those actions, we are consuming knowledge and ideas, and those ideas change the way we see the world.”

B.      Different knowledge produces different outcomes (fruit).

C.      The Tree of Life is a life of innocence.

D.      The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is choosing what is forbidden.  It destroys innocence and gives us an outlook of death.

E.      George Washington Carver:  “I will never let another man ruin my life by making me hate him.”

F.      People have the innocence of the Tree of Life when they first receive Christ.  Those who continue to eat of that tree maintain that innocence.

IV.     Victimization

A.      How do we respond when things go wrong?  Do we blame God, ourselves, or others?

B.      Evidence of eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:  People begin blaming each other

C.      The two-edged sword of victimization

1.       One edge cuts us (guilt).  We see ourselves weak, unworthy, and unable to obey God because of the choices others have made.

2.       One edge cuts those around us (pride).  People must live up to our standards or else we cut them down.

          D.      Victimization produces guilt and insists upon punishment.

                   1.       It causes us to focus on the past and to dread the future.

2.       It finds fault, places blame, and demands punishment.

          E.      Living in the Tree of Life is the opposite.

                   1.       It is virtually free from offense.

2.       It is virtuous and innocent in its response to those who offend.

V.      Responding to Sin in the Tree of Life

          A.      It’s a matter of motive and attitude:

                   1.       Two women picketing outside an abortion clinic

a.       One is motivated by an anger and defiance toward those who have abortions and those who perform abortions

b.       One is motivated by a love of the unborn, the mother, and the father.  She wants them to know that there are other options.

B.      We know if we are living in the Tree of Life or not by our response to the sins of others.

1.       If we handle others’ mistakes with a life-giving attitude, then we---and they---have the opportunity to experience greater freedom and power.

2.       If we handle others’ mistakes negatively, then we’re eating from the wrong tree and we will experience death.

C.      In every situation we have the opportunity to operate in the principle of life or in the principle of death.

D.      Living in the tree of life does not mean that we overlook the idea of good and evil or that we condone others’ mistakes.  On the contrary, those who live in the Tree of Life have a high sense of what is right and wrong.  But they have chosen to respond to people in a way that produces life rather than in a way that produces death.

VI.     Religion or relationship?

A.      Every religion operates from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They all try to attain godliness through adhering to a standard of right and wrong.  We believe that being good is the goal---its good to go to church, read our Bible, pray, picket abortion clinics, etc.  However, it is legalistic and results in a self-righteous mindset.

B.      Jesus Christ came to offer us a relationship.  Only through a relationship with Him can we experience true godliness and relationship with the Father.  Goodness, mercy, and righteousness will follow those who have a relationship with the Father.

VII.   Staying in the Tree of Life

A.      Sometimes we jump from tree to tree like a monkey, especially when we are offended, hurt, criticized, wronged, etc.

B.      When we allow our flesh to rise up to defend ourselves or fight back we begin to operate in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

C.      We can even be right---dead right!

D.      An innocent response leaves our heart clean and gives those who hurt us an opportunity to find the Tree of Life also.

E.      Going to Church

1.       Tree of Life:  We are grateful for the congregation, grateful for the staff and grateful for the leadership.  We want to make ourselves available to serve.  It’s a joy to give, a delight to worship and easy to pray and fellowship with those around us.

2.       Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:  We go because of duty or obligation.  We do not come to draw life from the gathering.  We view everyone with a critical eye.  If the pastor, the volume of the sound system, the temperature or the music isn’t quite right, a sour spirit begins to develop in our hearts.  If a need surfaces somewhere in the church, rather than manifesting a compassionate desire to help, we criticize and find reasons not to help.

          F.      Reading my Bible

1.       Tree of Life:  Joy is always a part of my reading.  I read it with a childlike heart.  I submit to the Scriptures and make them a part of my life.  I like to take notes and even make marks in my Bible!

2.       Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:  Obligation, struggle trying to get through a certain number of chapters or to read at a certain time of day.

3.       Times and seasons of life can bring change.

          G.      Prayer

1.       Tree of Life:  Joy, communion, fellowship, and an easy connection with the Spirit of God.

2.       Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil:  Pray only because you have to, no fellowship or communion, dry, no connection with the Spirit of God.

VIII.  Becoming a Life-Giving Church

          A.      Are we a life-giving church?

          B.      Is our church made up of life-giving families?

          C.      Are our families made up of life-giving individuals?

          D.      Are our leaders life-giving?

          E.      Are our workers life-giving?

          F.      Is our worship life-giving?

          G.      Are our services life-giving?

          H.      Is our ministry to others life-giving?

          I.       Is our response to the lost life-giving?

          J.       Is our response to those in sin life-giving?

K.      Are we eating from the Tree of Life or the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?

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