Kingdom of God – The Parable of a Loving Father, Luke 15:11-32

Dear Church Family and Friends,

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This coming Sunday we continue our corporate pursuit of God in worship and prayer. Then we will focus on the parable of the Loving Father. Most often this parable about the Kingdom of God is called “The Prodigal Son” but only a portion of the story is about the relationship of a loving father and a wayward son. The last part of the parable is about the relationship of a loving father with jealous son. In any case the focus of the story is not on the son but on the character of the father in the story. From this parable we learn about WHAT the father loves and HOW the father loves. More this Sunday! God has blessed us in so many ways.  We live in a beautiful and fruitful land. All of us have enough to eat, perhaps too much! Most everyone has a supportive family and good relationships in the church. Even as I am typing this, I am enjoying a weekend family reunion in Laurelville, Pennsylvania surrounded by a wonderful group of extended family. I would like to encourage you to take some time this week to consider all the blessings that surround your life. It might be an encouraging exercise to write down every blessing that you can think of on a piece of paper. As people abundantly blessed by God it can be easy to assume that the comfort and blessing that we enjoy is due to our good behavior or is a sign of God’s love. Instead of continuous blessing, however, what God has promised something quite different! Jesus told His disciples: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Did you know that the Bible promises that you will experience trouble? This is not a Bible promise that we put to memory or even consider to be a promise – but it is! Paul described his situation; “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” 2 Cor. 4:8-11 Paul was a powerful, effective and content believer but he did not enjoy most of the comfort that we do. Most believers don’t understand that abundance is not an expression of God’s love. Believers throughout history have experienced the blessings of God in both plenty and hardship. Paul described his situationl: 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. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:12-13 In times of tribulation, believers who have come to rely on abundance as a measure of God’s love may experience disappointment. Comfortable believers often are robbed of the feeling that they need to seek purpose and meaning in God alone. I am convinced that in the days ahead that the church we will need to embrace a deeper humility. We will need to know God truly and find our contentment in His presence. Enter tribulation. The bible promises that difficult days will come. The promise is also that God will provide more  of his presence and power during this time. It will be a glorious time for the Kingdom of God. Lack of human comfort will lead many to seek out true riches of the presence of God. This is what Jesus was talking about when He said: “store up treasures in heaven.” Jesus said: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matt 6:19 As a presence based community we want to walk in the abundance of the presence of God. We want to experience God in times of difficulty and times of plenty in the same measure We are in the process of shifting our affections and God is helping us to make this shift. Making a list and being thankful to God is the first step. On Sunday, August 5th we will be having our RCC family midyear meeting and fellowship meal. Please plan to stay after the service on Sunday, August 5th for a fellowship meal and a time of sharing and vision for the remainder of the year and beyond. We also will be looking at the process that our congregation has been over the past 6 months. God is moving in our midst! We are excited about what God has been doing! We also want to continue to partner with Jesus as His church in Crozet to reveal His glory and extend His kingdom here. Street Ministry Training will be offered at on Tuesday, July 31st and Tuesday, July 7th at 7:00pm at 115 10th St. N.W. (Charlottesville House of Prayer) These Street ministry equipping sessions grew out of street ministry that C-HOP was doing weekly last year. This training is not like any other that you may have been a part of. Teams that used this training last year found that 80% of people approached on the street responded positively and received prayer from the teams ministering to them. If you would like to be equipped to do positive and effective street ministry please plan now to attend one or both of these sessions. The Charlottesville House of Prayer is inviting everyone to join them for worship and prayer at the next 24 Hour City Wide Burn Service Friday, July 27th @ 7:00pm – Saturday, July 28th at 7:00pm at Connect Church on 2080 Lambs Road, Charlottesville. This church building is located right next to Albemarle High School. Every ODD hour will be an hour of worship and every EVEN hour will be an hour of intercessory Prayer. Every revival in history started in a prayer meeting starting with Acts 2:1-ff. Our hope during this service is to encounter God and partner with Him on the earth to reveal His glory and extend His kingdom! Our “Church in the House” equipping weekend will occur on Saturday, August 4th, 9:30am – 4:00pm. Lunch will be provided on site. This four session course will include very practical teaching in how to host a life-changing small group in your home. Anyone interested in hosting a group is welcome to come. Please RSVP to this email so that I know how many house church packets to make!

See you Sunday!

Pastor Jon Quesenberry