Watch the service and messages here:
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Here are notes from our messages:
What I love about our community here at Gateway is that on any given Sunday this space that we share is filled with people that come from all kinds of different backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems.
We all have different stories and different experiences.
Some of us enter this space as followers of Jesus while many of us aren’t even sure we believe that God exists, but here we are together with all of our brokenness, doubts, insecurities, and fears. We wonder if the mistakes we’ve made disqualify us from having a relationship with God and from experiencing His plans for our lives.
It’s easy for us to look around and to wonder, “Do I really belong here? Where do I fit in to a community like this?”
Do you ever feel that way?
In 1 Corinthians 1, we find ourselves in the beginning of a letter, written by a very unlikely hero of the faith named Paul.
He’s writing to a 1st century church a community he had visited a few years earlier in the city of Corinth.
Just like us, they’re a community that is dealing with real life stuff such as pride and skepticism and doubt and division among the people. Paul says to them:
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26
Paul starts by inviting them to take a really good look at what their lives looked like when they were called in to this life of faith community together and to remember what their lives looked like before they began to follow Jesus because it wasn’t pretty.
I want you to know that WE TOO are called just the way we are.
You may not think so, but it’s no accident that you’re here!
You’re invited by God – not into religion – but into a relationship with Him through Jesus. That relationship is calling you into life and freedom into loving and serving others and in to growing in the context of community like we have here.
For those of us who feel disqualified it is because we don’t understand where our qualification comes from!
Maybe we’ve grown up in a context where we’ve always been taught we have to work harder and achieve more in order to earn God’s Favor and His Love.
Maybe some of us are still believing that we’re disqualified because of bad things we’ve done – mistakes we’ve made in our past.
The incredible message of Scripture – a message that might sound completely obscured to many of you today because it is so counter to everything you’ve ever heard before – is that God demonstrates His Love for us in this: that while we were still in our sin Jesus died for us and that’s what grace looks like.
We don’t have to do anything to get qualified. When we trust Jesus, we are qualified.
It’s not about us and what we “can” or “can’t” do. It’s all about Jesus and what He’s already done!
So again, Paul says to the church in Corinth…
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
God chooses those we least expect he would choose.
That means, He chose us!
Even some of the greatest heroes in the faith were unlikely to make the impact they made.
Saul, the man who wrote the letter to the Corinthians was highly religious – so much so that he persecuted people who did not believe just as he did! He was there when people who followed Jesus were killed for their faith.
Even still, he has a miraculous encounter with Jesus who had died on the cross and risen from the dead. He surrenders his life to follow Jesus and begins telling people about how real Jesus is and how Jesus can transform their lives.
Even though Saul changed his name to Paul, his evil reputation followed him wherever he went. Those who followed Christ were scared of him. It took him years of serving faithfully behind the scenes before he was sent out to help start churches. It is his letters to the churches he helped start that make up half of our New Testament!
A Christian killer became the most significant Christian leader in the early church!
Even still, he wasn’t a very good speaker. Notice what Paul writes:
“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God…. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words…” – 1 Corinthians 2:1
Maybe you feel you don’t know enough or have the courage to make a difference or even know what to say or how to share with those you love about God’s love for them.
Maybe you feel you have done things that may have disqualified you from a relationship with God or from experiencing life change or even making a difference in the lives of your family and friends.
Paul shows us the way towards personal transformation and towards helping those we love find faith, hope, and love.
How could Paul be so effective?
“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spiritʼs power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on Godʼs power.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2-4
Knowing Jesus leads to wisdom, maturity, power, and understanding the mysteries of God!
Are you seeking to know Jesus?
- Do you know what He said?
- Do you know what He did?
- Are you spending time listening to Him by reading the Scriptures?
- Are you spending time talking to Him through prayer?
- Are you here on Sundays with an open heart and open mind to hear God’s message for you?
- Are you serving others with others to learn from others who may be a half step ahead of you in this walk with God?
- When we resolve to know Jesus – we experience His power! We see His power to help us make different decisions, in answering prayers, in sharing wisdom from God we didn’t know we had!
This reminds me another verse Paul wrote later in this letter to his friends in the church in Corinth.
“The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power!”
– 1 Corinthians 4:20
Maybe you’ve rejected Jesus because of what others have said. Don’t let words of people poorly representing Jesus keep you from Jesus’ power.
There are people who know alot about Jesus, but they don’t actually know Jesus and experiencing His power. They may have grown up attending church services and could win a Bible Trivia contest, but they don’t really know Jesus.
They know facts about Jesus but they don’t know Jesus the way we can experience His power! The same power that Jesus rose from the dead lives within us when we fully surrender our lives – every aspect of our lives to His leadership!
Maybe you’ve rejected Jesus because of what others have said. Don’t let the talk of people poorly representing Jesus keep you from Jesus’ power!
To experience God’s power, you just need Jesus.
To really know Jesus means we understand a mystery the ancients only dreamed they could know.
Paul continues in his letter to the Corinthians:
We declare Godʼs wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” – 1 Corinthians 2:1-10 NIV
God has prepared something beautiful for us when we love and trust Him! He has given His Spirit to us when we surrender our hearts and lives to follow Jesus! The same spirit that rose Jesus from the dead is within us! A vibrant and real relationship with God is possible through Jesus!!
If you’ve given your life to Jesus, are you aware of the power you have?
The problem is we keep living in our own strength and in our own power.
This is why some of you who are skeptical have trouble with faith. You’ve seen too many people who describe themselves as following Jesus, but you aren’t seeing Jesus’ power to transform in us or through our lives.
If you follow Jesus, open your eyes and open your ears to see what God is wanting to reveal to us through His Spirit!
You see, there is so much we cannot see. There is so much for which we are unaware. In the spiritual realm, God is at work, and when we resolve to know Jesus, we can see in ways we used to be blind!
Let me ask you: Is it possible you are missing more of what God is doing in the world around you? Is it possible you are missing more of what God wants to do in your life?
Maybe you’ve rejected faith because of what you’ve seen or heard.
Maybe you’ve struggled in your faith because you think you’ve seen it all or heard it all.
Don’t reject what God wants to do in your life because of the struggles in your past or even thinking you’ve arrived in the present. Choose to trust God for what He wants to do in your future!
When we resolve to know Jesus, to follow Jesus, His Spirit will guide us far beyond what we could ever ask or imagine.
Jesus qualifies us – not because of what we’ve done or not done but because of what He’s done for us!