“Letting God Love You” – Highlights and Sermon Notes From Gainesville

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(Facebook Graphic shared by Victory Church of Gainesville)

This past weekend my wife and I had the opportunity to minster at the church I was “raised” in. God did great things! I spoke at the morning service, then we helped with the evening Deeper Service, Christina hoping on the keys and me praying for people. We saw God move in powerful ways.

We also got to enjoy some time with my wonderful in-laws, Bill and Rebekah, who pastor the church.

For this week’s post, I thought I’d share my message notes with you, including my honoring remarks about my faithful in-laws. God bless!

Honor Pastor Bill and Rebekah:

Bill DeConna has been a mentor to me, not just in preaching, but in modeling STABILITY. I did not grow up around a lot of stability and didn’t know you could choose to be stable instead of freaking out. I always assumed if things go bad, you just flip out. Watching Bill was incredible, and set a pattern of stability for me. To me, Bill is the definition of STEADFAST FAITH. He embodies the faith and steadfastness of Abraham.

Rebekah is awesome and kind. Her devotion to God is fierce, yet there is a child-likeness and wonder about her. Rebekah is the absolute opposite of the whole “terrible mother-in-law” thing. If anything, I’ve been the one with issues in the past! LOL!

Prayer

Thank you, Lord, that you have given us an overcoming faith. We are not victims with you, we are Victors. No matter where you find us. No matter how broken and cowardly our upbringing. You can turn us into victors. You can teach us how to have COURAGE. You can teach us to be overcomers. All because you love us! We are conquerors through Him who loved us!

“Letting God Love You” 

The truth is, you are loved.

And I believe,  down on the inside of everyone of us is this need to be loved. I believe it’s a basic, human need. The need to be accepted. The need to be seen as valuable. And what I’ve found is that it’s a lot like the old country song says, “We’re looking for love in all the wrong places.”

We can run to money, success, food, drugs, alcohol, or social media. We can also run to religion, which is really sad because religion is where we are striving for something that God has already given us.

Romans 5:8 AMPLIFIED

We must have a personal revelation of His love for ourselves

Receive.

John 1:12

We must receive Him. We must receive His love.

Keep receiving.

As Christians, we must continually have an ever-increasing revelation of the love of God. And we need to learn to let God love us.

John 13:5-8

Peter is a believer. He has “received” Jesus and has boldly declared Him as Messiah. But yet he still has an attitude that says, “I am gonna do it. I am gonna strive for it. You won’t wash my feet. I won’t let you wash the parts of me that I think are too dirty.”

We give Him every part of us. We give Him the parts we think are good. We give Him the parts we don’t like.

We accept His acceptance of us.

Take off the mask.

God can only have a relationship with the real us.

We have to be real with God.

God cannot bless an ideal version of us.

God cannot pour his love into a fabricated, perfect version of us.

We gotta take off the mask with God.

Why do we wear masks?

I think we wear them to SURVIVE. The world is hard. There is so much pain. We get hurt. We smile. We suck it up. We push on. We just try to keep going.

We survive. This is an orphan’s mentality.

But God says, I don’t want you to SURVIVE, I want you to THRIVE.

How do we thrive?

By allowing Him to love us.

We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

 

 

 

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Listen to “Above The Sun” by Stovall Weems

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(Logo for “Above The Sun” series, Celebration Church)

This past Sunday, my pastor, Stovall Weems, shared part 2 of an incredible teaching series entitled “Above The Sun”.

Because my pastor admittedly suffers from a chronic case of “preacher’s disease”, he couldn’t help but deliver his life-changing revelation in the form of cool, catchy phrases like:

“Make your DISappointment a DIVINE appointment”

and

“Practice gratitude until it becomes your attitude!”

Aren’t those great? So good! Having my fair share of sermon prep, I applaud the commitment. The man must of spent extra time prepping last week, because he had TONS of great sayings like that!

But seriously, this series has been so good that I’ve dedicated this week’s post to sharing notes and links to both messages. Watch it below! Or listen to it on podcast by clicking here!

Personal impact:

For the last several months, I felt like God has been teaching me along the lines of faith and patience. Showing me what it looks like to wait well. Now, God has used this series to connect the dots for me about how CONTENTMENT plays into this whole idea of faith, patience, and waiting well.

I’m sure you can relate. I’ve never really understood, how can you be both content and in faith for greater at the same time?? It seems like people are either one or the other. But the Holy Spirit has given Stovall Weems incredible revelation on the subject of true contentment. Notes and links below!

 

Part 1- “A Shirt And A Sandwich”

 

“Above The Sun” Notes: 

By Michelle Dixon

***READ ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬***

“The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?”  Ecclesiastes‬ ‭1:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

*What can you gain for investing in this world (a life under the sun)? Nothing.

**Pastor Stovall valiantly fought anacondas on the mission field. True Story, according to him. LOL.

*Be in the world, not of the world…I don’t want to gain the whole world and lose my soul.

*Everything under the sun cannot satisfy the soul.

**Our life is under the sun, so how are we supposed to get gain from our pursuits? We have to live with an above the sun perspective.

RIGHT SIZE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

“But godliness with CONTENTMENT is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy‬ ‭6:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

*Contentment gives peace… Accept where you are.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being CONTENT in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians‬ ‭4:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

RIGHT SIZE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

*Live life with an above the sun perspective.

‭‭***Read Matthew‬ ‭7:9-11‬ ‭NIV***

Be content with a GOOD life!

RIGHT SIZE YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Learn the secret of contentment.

Be thankful where you are. God will not leave you or forsake you.

EXPECT PROBLEMS… BUT EXPECT POWER!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
Part 2- “Flip The Script”

***Read Ecclesiastes 2:1-11***

“But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

RIGHTSIZE EXPECTATIONS

***Favorite verses since I was 16 years old! – “Always be JOYful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”    1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

UPSIZE APPRECIATION!

*When my appreciation for who God is and what He has done exceeds my expectation for what I want, then the transformation happens to move me forward!

*When my appreciation for what’s “Above the Sun,” exceeds my expectation for what I want “Under the Sun,” then the transformation happens to move me forward.

“Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms‬ ‭37:4‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

**Make your DISappointment a DIVINE appointment!

**Flip the Script!

*If you can’t appreciate the things God wants you to celebrate, it will eventually frustrate!

UPSIZE APPRECIATION!

**Celebrate the small stuff!

**Practice gratitude until it becomes your attitude!

“Always be JOYful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬ ‭NLT

What is love?!

Silhouette Man Laser Show Light Jump Movement

The great 90’s poet, Haddaway, once cried out,

“What is love?!

Baby, don’t hurt me.

Don’t hurt me. No more.

What is love?!”

This poor man, hurting and distraught, was looking for answers. In his agony, he penned his lamentations to the melody of synthesizers and the thumping of a techno beat… Okay, I’m being funny. I don’t know if Haddaway would be considered a poet, but the dude asks a pretty profound question: what is love?

We hear the word tossed around all the time. From songs to movies to slogans to memes. We’re told we should love each other. We’re told to “live, laugh, love”. Others say to “eat, pray, love”. The Beatles told us that love is all we need. Well, we all know it’s important, but what is it exactly? What does it mean to love someone? Is it a certain feeling we should have? Is it some ethereal force that comes over us?

Through both study of the Bible and personal experience, my wife and I have tried to come up with a working definition:

Love is

selflessness,

guided by wisdom,

fueled by faith.

Love is a selflessness, guided by wisdom, fueled by faith.

Let’s break that down…

1. Selflessness: Ultimately, love is selflessness. Love thinks of others. Love is concerned about other people’s interests, not just it’s own. Go read the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13. “Love is patient, love is kind…” and so on. What’s the common theme to all these virtues listed? Selflessness. Love lets go of self. Love gives up its rights. Love forgives, while selfishness screams they hurt ME, and seeks to get even.

2. Guided by wisdom: Love is selflessness guided by wisdom. This is important! Because there’s a selflessness NOT guided by wisdom—it’s a people-pleasing kind of “love”; it’s a passive, pushover kind of “love”. This kind of love will eventually turn to resentment. Biblical love is grounded in wisdom. It is not out of balance. It gives what is right to give; not to the point of burn-out. Love understands boundaries and self-respect. Love doesn’t allow itself to be taken advantage of, but yet never grows resentful and is patient to all.

3. Fueled by faith: Love is fueled by faith. Or you could say, faith is the “how” behind love. How can I be truly selfless? If I am selfless, then what about me?! What about my needs?!

The truth is, we all have needs. We all have a “self” to worry about. This is not wrong. We should not be ashamed of ourselves, or our needs. But here’s the key: We give our “self” over to God. We entrust our “what about me?” to Him. By faith, we can be selfless, because we’re trusting God to take care of us. In this way, our love can be real, and not some martyrs complex. God knows we have needs. God knows we have wants. We can entrust our needs over to God.

When someone wrongs us, and our flesh screams “What about me?!”, how can we not be resentful? We allow God to be our defender, and trust him with handling our justice.

Love is selflessness, guided by wisdom, fueled by faith.

How God Loved A Cranky Club DJ

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“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles…”  – Galatians 1:15-16 

When Jesus saved me, I was a club DJ, and fully engaged in the lifestyle one might expect from a club DJ—late nights, drugs, and partying. I had a foul mouth, a sharp tongue, and a girlfriend who worked at a Hooters restaurant.

In comparison to some of the characters in the Gainesville bar scene, I was a pretty decent guy. But I was also extremely moody and emotionally unstable. I carried deep pain on the inside that made me touchy and explosive. I didn’t realize any of this, of course, but anyone close to me could tell you, I was a very cranky and irritable person.

I wasn’t a Christian-kind-of-guy, in any way. I had never owned a Bible. I hadn’t grown up in a Christian home. I can’t even remember knowing any Christian people. Actually, the thought of a “hardcore Christian” gave me the creeps.

But like Paul said about his own experience, “when it pleased GodHe revealed his Son in me that I would proclaim Him.”

In many ways, I feel like I accidentally became a Christian. At my father’s deathbed, I had this revelation of Jesus that I just couldn’t shake. Even when I wanted to go back to my old life, I had this knowledge—this inner knowing—of His goodness and His reality and His power that I couldn’t get rid of.

In the midst of all the darkness and wild living, Jesus opened my heart to Him. “He called me by His mercy and grace” alone. Thank God too, because I don’t think I would of ever visited a church. Even if a sincere friend would have invited me, I don’t think I would have gone. I was just too afraid—I was a night creature, who had not grown up with much family. So the thought of walking into a bright room, full of old people looking at me, made me nauseous.

So how did I become a Christian?

Again much like Paul, “when it pleased God , He revealed his Son in me so I could proclaim Him”.

The Events Leading Up to My Dad’s Passing

During my first semester at the University of Florida, I started to hear about “God stuff” happening to my dad, who had been diagnosed with cancer a year before. I heard about signs from God and genuine Christian people coming around him and praying for his healing. I was blown away that my dad was open to something like that.

Then about two weeks before my dad passed away, I had a brief, but powerful encounter with a Christian on a bus. He witnessed to me and offered to pray for my dad. I write about it here.

A few days later, I came home for Christmas break, and saw my dad’s genuine faith. Before I knew it, I was “proclaiming” God to my dad. I consider it my first sermon. I shared about the young man I had met on the bus, and encouraged my dad to see how this encounter confirmed everything my dad believed. I spoke to his faith— that God was real, and where he was going was real.

When my dad passed, I was in my bedroom. The hospice nurse came in to get me, and she had a testimony herself. She told me how a smile had stretched across my dad’s face, right as he slipped into eternity. I don’t know if this lady was a Christian, but she seemed to be deeply moved by what she had seen. When I walked into the room, I saw the smile for myself.

And then something happened in me.

The way I would describe it: it was like I could see the goodness of the Savior in my dad’s smile. Somehow, I knew Him. I knew this Savior who had saved my dad. And I loved Him.

In 2003, when it pleased God, I believe He granted me a measure of faith (Romans 12:3); it’s the same faith I have to this present hour. I’ve grown a lot since that day, but it’s the same grace in me. I believe there at my dad’s deathbed, God graciously revealed His Son in me.

So let me encourage you, God is no respecter of persons! What He has done in me, He’s able to do in you! “The arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear”. Jesus has died for all of us! God loved a cranky club DJ. And He loves YOU with the same everlasting love! I pray that you’d see Him for yourself, TODAY.