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Best Year Ever: Gather to Know & Connect

Best Year Ever  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:45
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A29 Prayer Team
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Pray everyone had a wonderful Christmas.
Overwhelmed with cards and food...
I had a great Christmas...
Kayak - Fishing
Hal Vaughan…the dad who flew to be with his daughter…that’s crazy. one or two flights is a lot during the holidays…but 6…WOW. But he knows the importance of relationships.
Relationships are what make life great. Now I love my wife…She would agree that without our kids home for Christmas it wouldn’t be the same. I know it will happen one day when they have families of their own…but it’s best when my kids are at home.
Why? Because being with those I love and those who love me make for a better life. I grew up in a house with lots of arguing, screaming and yelling. It didn’t seem like anyone wanted to be there…sure you might say I had a pretty good life growing up…but it certainly wasn’t the best life.
Think about it. If you are with someone who loves you…and you don’t love them back, that’s not good. You get irritated by their efforts to please you and make you happy…you just want to be free.
Or when you love someone and they don’t love you…it’s just sad. Sure you may not care how they feel, but it’s not a very fulfilling way to live. You can have a good like with these sorts of relationships, but the best life is when you are with those you love and those who love you.

Best Life > Good Life

That's how life is. And the absolute best life is lived in relationship with God our father.
You can have a good life w/o God…you might even be happy. But the best life, the fullest life is found in living in relationship with God. Because that’s how God designed it in creation.
How do I know?
Because that’s what Jesus said.
John 10:10 GNB
The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.
Can you believe him? Died and resurrected…I can believe him.
In the relationship that Jesus came to establish for me, for you, is where I get to experience life in all its fullness.
A lot of people see a relationship with God as restrictive, but in reality, it is the best thing you can do with your life…in fact it is the way to have a life.

Best Year Ever: Gather

That’s where I want to start this series of messages, our need to connect and to know God and the means we as disciples in Rock hall live these out in our GATHERING.
Growing into our relationship with God that we was wired into us at Creation
Genesis 1:26–27 NIV84
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
I used to think I wanted a girlfriend…or I wanted friends. But the reality is, it’s not something we want.

Gather to know God - Worship.

We know we are made for relationships…that’s why we love puppies, are fascinated with social media, cry during our hallmark movies and weddings. Because we love to love…and be loved. We are made for relationships.
It’s as much of you as the color of your hair…and your fingerprints.
What does this have to do with Jesus coming to give us that best …fullest life?
Ephesians 2:12–18 NLT
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
This has been done. The relationship is there…God established that in Jesus.
So we don’t gather in order for God to know us…he knows you from before you were born.

We know God by gathering.

But we gather in order to know God…we get to know God as we experience him in worship…in prayer…in song…in hearing his word…in sharing Holy Communion...that’s how we get to know God.
As we learn about him, as we experience his Goodness, as we are challenged to consider his awesome wonder.
In connecting our lives with God, we enter into the relationship Jesus made possible…the one he paid his life to purchase. This is the first step in this being the BYE
So Part of the best year ever is to gather to know God through worship....But that’s not all. Another part, I think just as important a part of gathering is.
If I told you you can have 75% of what Jesus had for you woudl that be enough? If you could have 80% would that be enough for you?
I want to encourage everyone who hears my voice to take their relationship with God to the next level this year. I don’t want you to have 80% of the life that God has planned for you…I want you to have it all.
Like Jesus came to give you life in its fullest…not life in it’s almost fullest.
This comes as we gather to connect your lives to those of other Christians.
Back in Genesis, after God had created all thiings and named them good
Genesis 2:18 NIV84
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
All things are good....But this is not good.
This may come as a shock to some of you. But I bet there are people who have been coming here, worshiping together for months maybe years....and yet you don’t know who they are....and they don’t know you. As you look around the room today, I bet there are people here you . The reality is, we can’t know everyone, but we can and should know some. We should be connected to some other Christians.
You see, the reality is we don’t gather here just to worship God. Part of our gathering is about connecting to others. This is a blessing to us and a blessing to them.

We Gather to connect

This connection is real. It’s not an emotional thing. It has a spiritual weight to it.
Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV84
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
In “us” the gathered that God lives…and in us God is made visible.
Scripture said it this way too, where 2 or more are gathered, there I am with you.
So we gather, not just in corporate worship, in small groups, in big groups, in bible studies, in mission teams, we gather to play, to serve…we gather to know God…but we also gather to show one another God.

Gather to connect to other Christians - Fellowship.

It’s not just getting together with people, it’s getting together with other Christians.
Some people come to church and wonder why it doesn’t seem real…often it’s because you haven’t connected your life to others. You're worshipping with people who you aren’t connected.
I understand this may be difficult.
How many will walk in to a room full of strangers and say WELL HELLO....My name is… and I am here to be known. Does anyone have any questions? What would you like to know?
Rat Park Study
People have real problems and when we connect our lives to one another in worship, we connect our lives to his and we share in something stronger than us individually or collectively.
You see, the church is the hope of the world because HOPE is in US. In us is the reality that God is alive.
Don’t just worship, worship together. DOn’t just pray, pray together. Don’t just serve, serve together. We are to be a connection machine. Looking for people to connect to God and other christians.
How do we do this?
We see someone in church we don’t know…we introduce ourselves…we get to know them, we introduce them to others who we know might connect with them.
Our bible studies, our small groups, sure they are a place to grow…we are going to talk about that next week…but they are also a place to connect and know GOd. Our small groups should become a place for worship, for praying for each other.l A place to share our lives.

2019…the Best Year Ever!

Or just going for a good year? The choice is yours…Jesus has made the way.
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THE GREAT THANKSGIVING FOR THE NEW YEAR

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
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Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
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Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
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It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
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Before the mountains were brought forth, or you had formed the earth, from everlasting to everlasting, you alone are God. You created light out of darkness and brought forth life on the earth.
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You formed us in your image and breathed into us the breath of life. When we turned away, and our love failed, your love remained steadfast. You delivered us from captivity, made covenant to be our sovereign God, and spoke to us through your prophets.
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And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
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Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
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Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ, in whom you have revealed yourself, our light and our salvation. You sent a star to guide wise men to where the Christ was born; and in your signs and witnesses, in every age and through all the world, you have led your people from far places to his light.
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By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection you gave birth to your Church, delivered us from slavery to sin and death, and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.
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On the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
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When the supper was over he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: "Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
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And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ's offering for us, as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
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Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
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Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here, and on these gifts of bread and wine. Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ, that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
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By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
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Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church, all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father, now and for ever. Amen.
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Now with the confidence of the children of God, let us pray the Lords prayer as we best remember it:
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Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.
Amen.
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