Sermon Reflections from Divine Connections | Joselin Hernandez | September 10, 2023
Have you visited the grocery store, coffee shop, or gas station this week? Chances are, you've stepped out of your room or bed at some point during your week. And what happens when you do? You encounter people. What if we viewed every interaction as an opportunity to share the Gospel? Millions of people haven't yet come to know Jesus, our Lord and Savior, but we can make a difference one person at a time. Maybe striking up a conversation with the barista at your favorite local café could eventually lead to a chance to share the Gospel with them. Or perhaps taking your dog on your usual route each day could provide an opening to impact someone's life.
The truth is, we can't predict the impact we might have on someone's life with just one encounter. Often, it feels easier to remain silent about our faith to avoid offending anyone. But what if the person you encounter is the one whom God has placed in your path to lead to Christ? Would you feel regretful if you missed the opportunity to bring them into God's kingdom? Perhaps the initial conversation won't immediately lead to their conversion, but you could plant a seed, offer them a starting point, and help them experience Christ's love.
Throughout the scriptures, we see ordinary individuals called by God to share His message of goodness. When they obeyed, something extraordinary often occurred: those they shared God's message with came to know Him.
Reflect on your own faith journey—did someone introduce you to Jesus? Was it a friend, family member, or perhaps a stranger who handed you a pamphlet or offered a prayer? Maybe it happened while you were on a sports team, at work, or at camp, and someone had the courage to discuss Jesus with you. The pivotal point wasn't necessarily your immediate decision to follow Jesus; it was that someone recognized your worth and importance and decided to share the most significant news in human history with you—that Jesus was a manifestation of God's love, and His love was meant for you. What could be more crucial than that? It's easy to talk about our favorite sports teams, jobs, or coffee orders, but imagine if we focused our conversations on Jesus instead. What if we shared something that could genuinely shape, mold, and transform lives?
In one Bible story, this is precisely what happened. Philip, prompted by God, approached a eunuch who was already a believer but didn't fully comprehend his faith. Philip didn't hesitate to engage in conversation, and as a result, the eunuch gained a clear understanding of his beliefs. Not every experience will mirror Philip's, but in all our interactions, we have the opportunity to make God known.
So, what will you choose to do—conceal your faith or share the greatest news ever?
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Alex Hardt The Altitude of Gratitude, Climbing the Relationship Mountain on November 13, 2022
Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: - Philippians 2:1-5
Have you ever climbed to the top of a mountain? I mean a really tall mountain. Not those rolling hills or those casual hikes that you go to get your Instagram post, but those mountains that take some sweat equity. One of my favorite places is Yosemite and one of my favorite places to hike is Yosemite falls. The main trail is about 7.4 miles round trip, but the is a bit grueling. You will climb around 3000 feet in 3 miles. The trail begins with a gradual incline then turns quickly into a steep grade. Your steps are uncertain, the rocks are slippery, you are enduring switchback after switchback, the elevation is taking your breath away, and midway through the idea of turning back is extremely tempting. You begin to wonder “Are We There Yet?” But when you get to top, your breathe is taken away.
Hiking is a lot how relationships happen. When you first meet someone, you are excited…wahoo!
My name is and it’s so great to meet you. Initially things go pretty smooth, perhaps you grab coffee together or watch the game or go shopping or just hang out. But as life carries on, relationships get harder Life gets harder, things get complicated. The things about that person that we use to love, now begin to annoy us. We can sometimes feel like we are going through switch backs. One day things are good, you’re the best in the world, then the next moment some drama breaks out, arrgh I can’t stand this person, then the next day things are good again, besties for life. It’s like we are on unstable ground, not sure where to plant our foot. At some point You may start thinking when CAN I GET A BREAK? …. instead of WHEN DO YOU WANT TO HANG OUT NEXT? In our minds we have this perfect, ideal friendship or relationship… If only the person did this or if they didn’t say that or if they actually listened. We imagine how our lives would be different if the other person lived out this picture-perfect scenario. If we could just get to the mountain top, life would be so much better.
In the Book of Philippians, Paul is witnessing a community that used to be united through there relationship in Christ, is now divided because of personal preferences, judgments, or pride. Paul calls out their hypocrisy and their foolish behavior. He calls them to recenter their lives upon Christ. In Christ we find encouragement and love, we find comfort and commonality, we find tenderness and compassion. In Christ we find Unity. Paul also acknowledges that we live in a fragmented world that seeks to divide us, hurt us, and cause us disappointment. It is not easy living in this world and maintaining a mentality of unity, but in Christ we are not alone in this pursuit. Unity comes from centering ourselves around a central idea, surrendering our pride as we engage one another in humility, and being in a mindset of serving.
Essentially what Paul is saying is that it’s not about me. We are behaving in a way that sacrifices our love for oneself and that edifies the other above me. That a life unified with Christ is one that does nothing out of selfish ambition but rather in humility value others above yourself. When I treat you well and you treat me well, then we both get our needs met in a context of love and unity. When I treat you poorly and you treat me poorly, then we experience division, pain, and disappointment. What Gods wants and Christ Models is to give you and I deep, satisfying relationships with others. God is trying to prevent us from harm and the barrenness of loneliness. Philippians 2 teaches us that the people who love humbly and unselfishly spread joy and promote unity.
I don’t know about you, but for me there is enough division in the world, and I would rather be drawing people in than pushing people away. Christ was so Good at climbing the relationship mountain that even his enemies were drawn to him. A Roman Centurion and a Pharisee, who were supposed to be enemies of Jesus, were drawn to him. The Roman Centurion asks Jesus for help and the Pharisee helps to bury Jesus after his death. If you are looking to climb the relationship mountain, mirror the one who has done it better than anyone else. Like Jesus, center yourself on the Heavenly Father, live in humility and serve in love and even your enemies won’t be able to deny you.
Let’s get real practical for a moment and what does this mean for you?
The Altitude of Gratitude | Climbing the Relationship Mountain
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Sermon series, "The Altitude of Gratitude" Today Alex teaches from Philippians 2:1-5
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A collection of thoughts from our community