Sermon Sunday August 11, 2019 The Word of God – The Bread of Life

The Power of the Word

We have just returned from our third Grace Point mission trip to the city of Cincinnati. It was a smaller team, but we were so blessed to have a team of passionate followers of Jesus who love the Gospel.

The trip was a combination of door-to-door evangelism and running a VBS at the 1st Baptist Church in Reading Ohio.

As we knocked on doors and met people in the community, we were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of need in the area, so many people in desperate situations who were just trying to get through another day. Sadly, as we offered to pray with people, the common response was, “no thanks, I am good.”

The same response is common even in our churches as people have a form of religion, where they pray to God, hoping He hears, but honestly, they don’t have a relationship with Him. A relationship comes from the starting point of submitting ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus and walking as we are led by the spirit.

In Revelation 10, we read about the angel who holds a scroll in his hand and instructs John to eat the scroll, and then to go and prophesy to the nations about the contents of the scroll.

In Ezekiel 3:3, we read a similar account of the Lord instructing Ezekiel to eat of the scroll and to go and speak the Word to the house of Israel.

These two men were called to prophesy by eating the scroll which represented the Word of God given to them. This is similar language to what Jesus used in John 6:25-36 as he instructs his followers that he is the bread of life given from heaven.

We read in John 1:14 that Jesus is the Word made flesh, and later in John chapter 6 Jesus explained the Lords supper to those who were questioning him and who clearly didn’t understand what he was talking about when he said, “eat my flesh and drink my blood” (John 6:54).

In the crowd following Jesus were some scribes who knew the prophecy of Jeremiah and would have understood the concept of receiving God’s Word into one’s heart.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

Jesus, when he was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread responded in Matthew 4:4 by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every WORD that comes from the mouth of God

In his letters, the apostle Paul frequently writes about being “in Christ”, and one of the crucial characteristics of being in Christ is to be filled with the Word, feeding on the Word of God as it sustains us. The Word of God is the bread of life that fuels our daily walk as followers of Jesus.

We live in what is called the post-modern culture, and we are all driven by hunger, desires and wants. Daily we seek comfort, joy, happiness, fulfilment, love and so many other pleasures, but only one thing can satisfy the hunger in man and that is the Bread of life that we feed on as people submitted to the Lordship of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit.

The adults we that we spoke to in Cincinnati were all struggling, they had spent a life feeding on other things and nothing has brought them satisfaction. But during the last night of our VBS, one of the young girls who became a follower of Jesus, really got it. As we were praying with her, we could see the joy of the Lord filling her life. This young 5th grade child was fully satisfied in Jesus and she didn’t want or need anything else. She was alive with the joy of the Lord and I know she is going to feed on the Word. Our prayer for her as she begins her Christian walk, was that she remains steadfast and true to the path that the Lord has for her as He reveals Himself to her in the Bible.

As followers of Jesus, as the Body of Christ in the 21st century, we must be people of the Word.

The secular humanistic society is constantly looking for meaning and purpose, but deny that objective truth exists, we know that the only truth that can satisfy is the glorious Gospel message.

As the church we are to know the word by feeding on the word, so that we can be the prophetic voice that God has called us to be. We cannot begin to address the problems around us, unless we are feeding on the Word.

Do you love God’s Word?

Sermon June 30, 2019 Hearing God’s voice part 2

 

Hearing God’s Voice Part 2

How does God speak?

We often use the well-known Americanism, “we must grab coffee sometime”, when we want to catchup with someone or want to get to know them better. What if I told you, God wants you to grab coffee with him every day!

if we are truly honest with ourselves, most of us want to hear from God when we need something, when we have a decision to make or we have a sick loved one. Herein lies the problem, we want to use God for our purposes, but God wants us to know Him, to worship Him and to grow in our relationship with Him. Out of that relationship, we develop the lifestyle of walking with God, being led by the Holy Spirit.

In Exodus 3:1-6 we read about God calling Moses from the middle of a burning bush. Little did Moses know that morning when he took his sheep out to pasture, that he would have such a significant encounter, one that would not only change his life, and the life of the nation of his birth. What follows in the next two chapters is one of the longest and most significant dialogues between God and man that you will find anywhere in Scripture. It was significant because it forever changed the nation of Egypt and proved the faithfulness of God in keeping the covenant that he had made with Abraham.

Moses is drawn to this strange sight of a bush that is burning but not consumed, and then suddenly God himself calls Moses out of the Fire. “Moses!; Moses!” Moses must have been scared to death being all alone on the mountain, but Moses responded, “Here I am”. Moses was available, God is still looking for people who respond when he calls today. Moses was still not sure who was speaking to him until God reveals His identity in verse 6.

As God calls Moses, he does his best to disqualify himself for the task that God was giving him, going to great lengths arguing with God about his calling. You see Moses had been in the wilderness for so long, that he had disqualified himself in his own eyes. But God knew who He was calling. When God calls you, He knows you better than you know yourself, there is no need to remind Him of your faults. But as a child of the king, when God calls you, he sees the only redeeming quality you have, he sees Jesus in you the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). The only quality that God looks for is a submitted life (Galatians 2:20).

In Exodus 19, when God gave the Law to Moses and he went up the mountain to meet with God face to face. But what a different encounter that was, Moses was a different man then, it was only a few months after Moses had met with God in the wilderness at the burning bush, but what a different man he was (Exodus 19:16-19). Moses knew the voice of God and he was bold, he was not the hesitant shepherd in the wilderness. Moses knew God and it changed him, he had become one of the greatest leaders in all of history. This is what happens when someone hears the voice of God and acts in obedience and faith; lives are transformed, and nations are changed.

Never underestimate the call of God and never dismiss the call of God on someone.

God still speaks today, but how does God speak?

God speaks primarily through His word, the Bible is our primary source for God to speak to us.

The bible is the starting point in our pursuit of a personal relationship with God, because it is His revelation of himself to mankind (2 Timothy 3:16). But for us to hear and respond to the God Word of God, we need to open it, meditate on it, and pray on it.

But God is not limited to speaking to us through the Bible, he is God after all and can speak in any way that He knows will get our attention, after all God used a rooster crowing three times, he even spoke through a donkey.

God will use other godly people in our lives to speak to us. We all need mentors and encouragers who will pray for us and then speak the truth in love (Isaiah 28:11).

God will speak through circumstances, Joseph saw this in Genesis 50:20 when he spoke to his estranged brothers.

God will use words of wisdom and knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:7-9). God will speak to us through the Holy Spirit, as he uses other members of the Body of Christ using their gifts.

God will also speak with an audible voice (1 Kings 19:11-12).

Often speaks to us in that still small voice which are the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

As I wait on the Lord spending time in prayer, I hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and here is where the journal comes in. As God speaks, I write down what I hear Him say to me. Some people suggest using two pens of different color, one color for your prayers, the other color for what you feel God is saying. As you do this you can go back years later and see how God was true to His word, you can see how your relationship has grown and how faithful He has been.

God still speaks in Dreams; the life of Daniel was one filled with dreams and interpretations. And today we are hearing stories of thousands of Muslims who are encountering Jesus in dreams and following Jesus.

However, God speaks, we must be very careful to test and make sure that it is the voice of God.

God will never contradict Scripture and God will also not ask us to do anything that does not exalt the name of Jesus.

It is not uncommon for people to struggle to hear from God, usually it is because we are not positioning ourselves to hear from Him.  Remember Psalm 46:10 and Philippians 4:8, as we are silent, meditate on Scripture and the things of the Lord we are better able to better hear His voice. In our society we have an incredible access to information and we need to limit our time dwelling on things that are not part of God’s plan and will for our lives (Proverbs 4:23).

Are you ready to develop a lifestyle of listening to God?

Sermon June 23, 2019 Hearing God’s Voice part 1

Why does God speak?

1 Samuel 3

Did God speak to you today?

As followers of Jesus, we get invited into a relationship, where our daily steps are ordered by the Lord (Proverbs 3:5 Psalm 37:23).

As a pastor I often hear from people that they wish they could hear from God regarding His will for their lives. They are really asking if God would speak to them.

This is hard to grasp, the creator and sustainer of the universe, who lives in unapproachable glory, unfathomable power and authority; does he actually speak to His children?

Incredibly, the answer is yes, God does speak to those who are called by His name and submit themselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

In 1 Samuel 3, we see the well-known story of the calling of the prophet Samuel. This is such a wonderful story of God revealing Himself to humanity. This story highlights a turning point in the nation of Israel and their history, the period of the Judges is coming to an end and the Lord begins speaking on a regular basis through prophets as the era of the kings is ushered in.

Samuel is a wonderful example to us of someone who is attentive and waiting on the Lord. He responded quickly each time the Lord called him and ran to Eli, which reveals a lot about his character and his eagerness to serve.

 Samuel was serving in the temple, doing what he was told to do, but Samuel did not know the Lord (1 Samuel 3:7). Samuel was doing everything required of him, but he had no relationship with the one he was serving. Sadly, this is not unusual today, the church is full of people who go through the motions, who serve in many capacities, even as deacons or pastors, doing everything that looks right, but there is no personal relationship with the Lord, they do not know God’s voice.

If you don’t hear from the Lord, you need to go back to the basics and establish a relationship with Him. Submitting your life to the Lordship of Jesus.

The Lord chose to reveal himself to Samuel, this young 12-year-old had the humility and perspective that God was looking for. Some might say that this is the Old Testament and that God doesn’t speak that way anymore. I believe that we should have a greater expectation of hearing from God than any of the prophets of the Bible.

We live under the New Covenant, when Jesus ascended into heaven, he sent the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, establishing the church. We as followers of Jesus have the Holy Spirit residing in us (Jeremiah 31:33). If the prophets of the Old Testament heard God speak, it was to a specific individual, but today we have the presence of God in us, we can all hear from and be directed by the Lord.

In Exodus 33, Moses and Joshua would go to the tent of meeting to speak to God. The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man meets with his friend. The people would all come out of their tents and stand in awe as they witnessed God meeting with man. What if I told you, that we are all invited into the tent. The tent of meeting is no longer a remote cloth structure in the wilderness, nor is it a building or any church structure, the tent of meeting is in us as followers of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19). So, when we say that we cannot hear from God, I can assure you that the problem is not with God. Our lives are so loud with entertainment, music and business that we struggle to hear the Shepherds voice (John 10:27).

Why does God speak? Most people, if asked, would say that God speaks primarily to direct or to give His children instructions. I believe God speaks to declare his love for us, to invite us into a relationship with Himself.

I am blessed to have two amazing children, but imagine if I only spoke to them when I wanted them to do something, are they really getting to know me? Do they know my heart and love for them? Do they know the reasons behind my instructions?

God, our heavenly father speaks to us, to grow our relationship with Him, so that when He instructs us to do something, we have no hesitation because we know and believe that all His ways are good. We know the Father behind the instructions.

Throughout the Bible we see accounts of God reaching down and connecting with men and women, God is always the proactive party. God encounters his people, even when they are not listening. God desires a relationship with you more than you can possibly imagine. We must position ourselves to listen to God.

Today we are blessed by what Jesus did on the cross and the indwelling Holy Spirit, but we need to position ourselves to hear from the Lord, being attentive and willing to respond when He does speak to us. God does not speak to us for our benefit only, but rather it is usually to instruct us to do something that will have an eternal impact in the Kingdom of God.

God reveals Himself to us and as we learn about Him and grow in our relationship with Him. In turn we have the privilege of being His witnesses and tell others of the wonderful privilege we have as followers of Jesus.

What about you? Are you growing in your relationship with God? Or are you going about your life living a dead religion like Eli, doing all the correct rituals, but have no relationship with God.

You can hear the voice of God and God is waiting to speak to you. Take some time away from the business of life and open the Bible, asking God to speak to you as the Holy Spirit reveals God’s word to you.

Sermon May 26, 2019 – The Word of God

Did you read something supernatural this morning?

DL Moody said: “The scriptures were not given for our information but our transformation.

Psalm 19 begins as the Psalmist declares the general revelation of God through nature, but then David changes from the general revelation to the special revelation of God in verses 7 to 9. In these verses we see, six different names, six attributes and six ministries of the word in the lives of those who read and obey this revelation.

 Verse 7a: The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul

 The word “Law” refers to the Torah or the instructions of God, it refers to helpful teaching and a set of instructions for life, this is the same as what we commonly call, the Word of the Lord.

The first attribute is that the Law is perfect, it doesn’t need to be revised or added to. It is the fine surgical instrument that God uses to turn people from darkness to light. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek, we must be diligent that when we read a translation of the Bible, it is the most accurate translation, conveying the original meaning of the text.

The first ministry of the Word is that it, “it revives the Soul”.

The word of God is supernatural, it is inspired by God the Holy Spirit, therefore it is supernatural in its application. Reviving the soul means to convict and bring people back to their original place. When someone is revived, they are given new life. Spiritual new life is found in the Word of God.

Verse 7b: the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;

The second part of verse 7, calls the Word, “the testimony of the Lord”. A testimony is a recalling of what God has done. All Scripture testifies to the nature and character of God, and what He wants us to be and to do.

The attribute of this testimony is that it is sure, reliable and trustworthy. The Bible is a foundation on which someone can safely build, there is no foundation as secure as the Word of God on which to build your life.

And the ministry of this testimony is that it makes wise the simple. The term for simple here is not foolish or unintelligent, rather it means inexperienced but teachable (Psalm 119:130).

Verse 8a: the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;

Precepts are the practical instructions and can also be translated as orders. These words, this book contains the instructions spoken with authority of the Almighty God.

The attribute of these precepts is that they are right and true. But the result of living according to these precepts is “rejoicing the heart”. By following the guidance and instruction of God’s Word, we will know true, deep, satisfying Joy. Our creator knows what is good for us and has given us instructions that will bring us Joy (1 John 5:3).

Verse 8b: the commandment of the LORD is pure,

enlightening the eyes;

In the second part of verse 8, the Psalmist gets more specific, from precepts to Commandments, these are rules for what to do and what not to do. The way we respond to these commandments is life or death.

But these commandments are pure in their intention, God only gives what is good for us. And these commandments will lead to purity in life as we obey them (119:11).

Pure actions come from pure thoughts, which comes from the pure instructions of God’s Word. What you put into your mind, will lead to what you do and become. Therefore, it is crucial to read God’s Word daily.

The ministry of the Commandments is that they are “enlightening the eyes”.

Scientists and Psychologists have determined that the eyes really are the window to the soul (Matthew 6:22-23). Purity of thought can be seen in the eyes.

verse 9a:  the fear of the Lord is clean,

enduring forever;

The fear of the Lord may not seem to fit as another name for the word of God, but the fear of the Lord is the reaction of the reader and the natural response of the person who meditates on God’s word. The fear of the Lord is a holy reverence for God in response to meditating on His word. God’s word does not submit to our will, we must submit ourselves to God’s word.

The attribute of this fear is cleanness and purity, as we submit ourselves to the word of God, we will be made clean (Ephesians 5:25-27). Reading aloud God’s word has a cleansing effect.

And the ministry of this is that God’s word endures forever. Satan has tried to destroy the Bible throughout history, but the Word of God is still the most published book in all history (Isaiah 40:8).

Verse 9b: the rules of the LORD are true,

and righteous altogether.

The sixth and final description of the Word of God is “rules”, a better translation is the judgments, these are God’s final pronouncements and His final authority on all things. God’s judgments reflect His righteous character. We specifically see God’s righteous judgment on our sin as Jesus took our punishment on the cross.

These judgments of God are true (John 17:17), Jesus prayed that the Apostles would be set aside for the ministry of truth, declaring God’s word.

The final ministry of the rules of God’s word is righteousness.  Our righteousness is only because of faith in Jesus as our Lord and savior and another example of why John introduced Jesus as the word in John 1.

The Psalmist closes in prayer asking that God would help him to live in purity and holiness. Purity of thought, word and action (Psalm 19:14). This is only possible as the Holy Spirit transforms us, makes us more like Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life, this book will just be a collection of words on a page.

If you find that reading the Bible is boring, maybe it is because you don’t know the author.

Have you read something supernatural today?

Sermon May 19, 2019 The Mission of the Church

 

Acts 1:1-8

The mission of the church is a foundational pillar of the church. The mission of the church, the outward focus of the church is lost in the mire of the programs of the church. In reading God’s word, I am convinced that the church that does not focus on missions and evangelism is being disobedient to the call of God.

The book of the Acts of the Apostles is the account of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the early church. This is the introduction to the church age, the time between when Jesus ascended into Heaven and when he is coming back.

In Acts 1:4 Jesus says, And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father…”

Jesus told them that even though they were eyewitnesses to the greatest events in all of history, they were unprepared for the task that lay ahead of them. Jesus told them not to do anything until they had received power. The Holy Spirit is the indispensable in the life of every believer if we are going to be in any way effective in the work that God has called us to. But sadly, too many Christians live lives that do not require the power of the Holy Spirit. Lives of mediocrity and passivity, lives that do not force us to lean into God in desperation for His power.

Jesus says in verse 5, “…but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”. The tense of the verb “baptized” is in the passive voice, which indicates that being filled with the Holy Spirit is a divine activity and comes about as we yield control of our lives to the power and lordship of Christ.

The Disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about, and we cannot blame them, how could they possibly know what Jesus was talking about. Jesus was instituting the church age and commissioning the church to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The work of the church is unfinished, there are still 3.15 billion people who have never heard the name of Jesus, that is over 41 % of the world’s population. We as followers of Jesus have to be about the work of Kingdom, and in order to do that we need the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Acts 1:8 is the verse that every missionary knows so well, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Jesus takes their focus off their desire for an earthly kingdom and says that there is work to be done. The Holy Spirit will enable them to be witnesses – evangelists, to go in ever widening circles from their home in Jerusalem all the way to the ends of the earth.

The Gospel must start at home, in the church, in our city, but then we are all to be part of taking the message further and further as the Holy Spirit gives power and direction.

This is the church, this is the design and purpose for the church that Jesus instituted.

Any church that focuses purely inward on fellowship and comfort of community, without looking beyond their four walls has already ceased to exist as a church.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will be the source of power to be witnesses. A witness is someone who testifies to what they have seen and experienced. Every Christian has had an encounter with the living God, every Christian has the power and the testimony to be a witness. But you cannot be a witness to something you have not experienced. When I hear people saying that they cannot witness, I question whether or not they have had a life changing encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. This doesn’t mean that everyone has the gift of evangelism, but every believer is called to be a witness to their personal experience with Jesus.

In the church we have turned evangelism into an academic pursuit. We do a lot of training, but very little doing. I am not against being well prepared, but we can get trained into the mindset that people are simply targets and we must get through our presentation. When we do that, we miss out on the beauty and joy of the relationship and seeing that people are not targets, they are just brothers and sisters that the Holy Spirit is inviting into a life changing encounter with Jesus.

Another concern people have is that they struggle to articulate the Gospel, the Good News.

The Gospel begins with knowing what we have been saved from. We are eternal beings, and there are only two destinations, eternal separation from God in hell, or eternal joy and peace in the presence of God in heaven. At the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden, man turned his back on God and sin entered the world. Sin has resulted in a break in relationship, a separation between God and man and all mankind suffers because of this separation (Romans 3:23).

But because of his great love for us, God has provided a way for man to be made right in His sight.

All we must do is accept this free gift from God, Romans 6:23 says; “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The Bible says that there is no other way to be saved. It is only by accepting the offer of salvation and making Jesus Christ Lord of your life.

That is the Gospel message, this is the foundation for us as Christians and we need to be able to articulate it. As Jesus instructed the disciples, it starts here at home, and then out to the nations, this is the calling on all of us as a part of the church.

Dr. Oswald Smith said, “the light that shines farthest will shine the brightest at home.”

Sunday May 12, 2019 Mothers Day

As we honor mothers on Mother’s Day, we are reminded that the tasks that a mother performs often go unnoticed, however when they are not done, everyone notices.

God gives each of us assignments in life, one of the most important is that of being a godly mother.

In his final moments Jesus gave assignments to two men, John and Peter.

In John 19: 26-30, we read the well-known account of the crucifixion, the worst and the best day in all human history as Jesus gave his life for our sins.  As he was about to die, Jesus turns to Mary and John, the disciple he loved, and says, “here is your son”, “here is your mother”.

Jesus doesn’t simply ask John to look after his mother, he connects them as family and John took Mary into his home. At this time Mary was probably in her late forties and we assume that she was already widowed and had no way of supporting herself in that culture.

For Jesus, this was not an afterthought, it was part of his plan. Jesus never did anything without a definite purpose (See John 19:28). Jesus was not finished until he had taken care of his mother, in this he displayed the importance and value of caring for our mothers.

He entrusted his mother to John and in so doing, he honored his mother (see Ephesians 6:1-3).

In Ephesians 6, Paul taught the 5th commandment to the Gentile church in Ephesus, the only commandment with a promise, “that is may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

We know that the children of Israel were the recipients of this law and it directly pointed them to the promised land that awaited them, but the principle of God is still the same, there is a blessing in honoring our parents.

This 5th commandment is not directed only to children, but to adults, honoring parents as we become adults, as we become parents and as they age.

Jesus honored his mother by ensuring that she is well cared for. Jesus gave John this assignment and the Bible tells us that he did as he was asked.

This takes us to the second assignment, the assignment that Jesus gave to the Apostle Peter in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus and his disciples are making their way to Jerusalem, and as they come into the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks this question, “who do you say that I am?”, the most important question that we all must answer.

Peter, the bold disciple, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus affirms Peter’s declaration and makes a profound statement in verse 18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

In the Greek language, Jesus uses the word “Petros” for Peter, which means small stone. And then he says, “and on this rock I will build my church”, the Greek word Jesus used for rock is “Petra”, which is a much bigger rock or a bedrock.

Jesus is saying that Peter is one of the small stones, but the foundation of the church was the message that Peter was to declare, the foundation of the church is the Gospel message, the Good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God, which make a way for us to be righteous before God.

Jesus assigned Peter to declare the Gospel, and this is also the first time in the Bible that we see the word, “Church” used in the New Testament.

In verse 19, Jesus tells Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom”. We use keys to open doors; these keys are not keys to open doors in heaven. Peter was given the keys to opening the door of faith in people by sharing the Gospel message. The key to the kingdom is the proclamation of the gospel. This is the role and responsibility of the church, to share the good news about Jesus Christ to unlock the hearts by faith as the Holy Spirit takes the message and transforms lives.

The Jewish rabbis often spoke of “binding and loosing,” meaning forbidding or permitting.

Jesus’ statement later included all the Apostles, as the representatives of their Lord, they would exercise authority according to His Word.

Verse 19 is frequently confused, and the Greek verbs for binding and loosing are crucial to our understanding. Both verbs, binding and loosing are in the perfect passive tense. This means that it is an already completed work. So, the original Greek translates as follows, “And whatever you bind on earth [forbid to be done], shall have been already bound … in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth [permit to be done], shall have already been loosed in heaven.”

Thus, Jesus is saying that Peter is to declare what God has already done in Heaven. Jesus did not say that God would obey what the Apostles declared on earth, but that the Apostles should do on earth whatever God had already willed. The church does not get man’s will done in heaven; it obeys God’s will on earth.

For Peter, this sounds like a mighty calling.

So, who got the more important role? Peter or John?

The keys to the kingdom or caring for a widow

We tend to view value or importance by the number of people influenced.

For example, don’t we view the CEO of a large company as being much more important than a CEO of a small company?

Surely, Billy Graham who preached to hundreds of thousands of people must have been more important than the unnamed preacher who walks the streets in India?

We tend to look for the impact or the influence, but God doesn’t look at influence, God looks at obedience.

We as those who have submitted ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ, daily need to be asking the Lord for direction and assignments. Sometimes the Lord asks us to do things that make a big noise in the world. Other times we are asked to do things that no-one notices, but God does!

So, who had the more important role, Peter or John? Both were equally important, both were equipped by God for the task that they had to do.

In the Kingdom of God as His children, there are no levels of importance, there is only obedience and disobedience to the calling of God on your life.

What is God inviting you to do with him?

(See Ephesians 4:11-12)

 

 

Sunday May 5, 2019 The Prescription for True Joy

click on the camera to watch the video of the message

TRUE JOY

Paul’s letter to the Philippians

Are you joyful? The letter to the Philippian church is known as Paul’s letter of Joy. In Chapter 4:4 Paul makes a command, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

So many people live joyless lives, we are surrounded things that steal our joy. Paul challenged the Philippian church to guard against things that would steal their joy.

Fear of opposition and suffering (Philippians 1:28 and 29)

In the western church, we have grown accustomed to the church being a respected part of society. The world is changing rapidly, and the true principles of Christianity are not welcomed or even tolerated. This should not surprise us if we read what Jesus taught as the signs of the end times in Matthew 24.

But we don’t need to be afraid of those who oppose Christianity, they are controlled by a different kingdom, a kingdom that tried to kill Jesus. As you live your life, being Christs ambassador, you will encounter opposition, it should not come as a surprise.

And then there is suffering; suffering is when things we desire, love and enjoy are taken away from us. We suffer when we lose a loved one, our health, our job, or we encounter a tragedy such as a natural disaster. We don’t ask for suffering, but it is a real part of our lives.

The challenge is, how do we prevent opposition and suffering from stealing our joy.

Lack of unity (Philippians 2:2-4)

Paul was joyful because the Philippian church was united. Does this mean there are never disagreements in the church? Of course not. It is quite normal to expect differences of opinion on certain subjects, but we must never compromise on the essentials of our faith and the truth of the Word.

So, when we do have differences of opinion, the governing rule must be love, “having the same love” (Philippians 2:2). This is a preferential love, a love that always seeks the highest good of others. This goes against the narcissism of the age in which we live.

Verse 2 ends with two more descriptions of unity, “being in full accord and of one mind”. This means that the church knows its God given purpose.  The purpose of the church is to, worship God, proclaim the Gospel, reach the lost and to care for the broken. The mission of the church always supersedes our personal preferences, that is Holy Spirit unity.

When the church is united around its mission and calling, the individual members of the church will experience joy. We will joyfully give, joyfully serve and joyfully fellowship with each other.

Grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14-15)

Paul is clear that all everything we do must be done without grumbling or disputing. The church is the representation of Christ on the earth and if we are characterized by grumbling and disputing, we are not going to attract people to Jesus.

Grumbling is also translated, Murmuring. This is the muttering under your breath or gossiping. This is like an undercurrent at a beach. From the surface, everything looks great, but as you get deeper into the water, the undercurrent sucks you under.

Disputing is the open arguments within the body. Normally where there is grumbling, arguments and disputes will follow. This has no place in the church.

When we argue, we are showing the world that our own personal opinions are more valuable than the name of our savior that we preach. Grumbling and disputing rob us of our joy.

False teaching (Philippians 3:2-3)

Paul rebukes the Judaizers, those false teachers who teaching that to become true Christian, you must go back to the law of Moses and begin practicing and conforming to the ancient Levitical law with all the rituals and sacrifices. These Judaizers prided themselves in their holiness and their morality, but Paul says that they were evildoers who were deceived, and deceiving others.

Today we have so many people who are trying to work for their salvation and striving to be good enough for salvation. Philippians 2:12 says “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

We cannot work for our salvation, but we must work out our salvation. When you try to do things for God to earn salvation, not only are you not saved, you will also not experience true joy and peace with God.

Bad thinking (Philippians 4:8)

Proper actions come from proper thinking. What we think about will ultimately determine our practices. What you choose what to dwell on affects your whole life. Spending hours looking at other peoples posts on facebook or Instagram will rob you of joy. Harboring resentment against someone, dwelling on past pain, thinking impure thoughts, will all rob you of joy.

Lack of contentment (Philippians 4:11-13)

Paul had learned the secret of contentment as he trusted in the Lord in every circumstance. This is knowledge he has gained because of walking with God. We all go through seasons of need and abundance and if we don’t have a God given contentment, we will never experience joy.

So, with all these warnings of things that steal our joy, how do we find true joy?

In the middle of the letter Paul makes one of the most powerful declarations in all of scripture in Chapter 2:5-11.

Paul emphasizes the centrality of Christ in his life and in the life of the Church. The example of Christ is the key. It was because of Christs humility that God exalted him.

The key to joy is humility. Humility means that I trust that Jesus is enough. Humility is the very act of submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of my life.

How have you lost your joy?

Where have you turned your focus away from the supremacy of Christ?

It doesn’t happen with one decision, it is a gradual process of neglecting spiritual disciplines. Neglecting prayer, neglecting God’s word, pulling back from fellowship with other believers.

All these things lead to a gradual turning away from the lordship of Christ and a gradual turning away from Joy.

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 4:14-20 – Sermon April 28, 2019

Philippians 4:14-20

 Are you content?

Contentment could be financial security, family security or relational security. The marketing agencies dislike content people, because they cannot sell you anything. They prey on discontentment and strive to create discontent.

But there is a big difference between worldly contentment and Christian contentment. Worldly contentment is fleeting and short lived. But Christian contentment is different, Charles Kelley said, “Christian contentment is the God-given ability to be satisfied with the loving provision of God in any and every situation.”

To be content in every situation is what Paul is referring to in these verses. He has known comfort, and has known poverty, but he could honestly say that he was content (see 2 Corinthians 3:5).

At the time of writing this letter, Paul was in prison and he was reflecting on his life and journey as a Christian and in spite of all he had gone through, he was rejoicing.

The Philippian church had sent Paul a financial gift for his ministry and Paul was expressing his gratitude. God had stirred in the hearts of the people in Philippi, Paul realizing that the Lord had used this early church to provide for his need was thanking the Lord.

Philippians 4:14, “yet it was kind of you to share in my trouble.” The word Paul uses for share means to have fellowship in, or to participate alongside. The Philippian church really were suffering with Paul, they cared deeply for him and considered his suffering to be their suffering.

This is how it should be in the body of Christ (See1 Corinthians 12:26).

Philippians 4:15-16: “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.”

Paul had no other church supporting him in ministry. Even in Thessalonica, a wealthy sea-port, had not yet experienced the blessing of supporting world evangelism. They were inward focused and missed out on the blessings that the church in Philippi was experiencing.

We can easily fall into the thinking that supporting missions is simply a horizontal transaction, the donor giving to the missionary and the missionary going out. But when we truly understand that everything we have comes from God, and that we are merely stewards of all that Has entrusted to us, it becomes a vertical transaction. The missionary asks God the Father for provision, the giver asks God the father how much he/she should give, and then in obedience, both are blessed to be a part of the Gospel ministry.

In verse 15, Paul says that they were entering into, “giving and receiving”. There is no giving without receiving. The church gave materially but received a spiritual blessing. Paul looked on their missionary gift as an investment that would pay them rich spiritual dividends. No gift we make to the Lord’s work will ever leave us poorer (see Luke 6:38). The Bible is clear, that if we give, we will receive, but we must also be clear that we do not give in order to receive, it doesn’t work that way.

Paul continues in verse 17 “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” Paul’s real joy was not in the gift that he received, rather his joy was in what the gift did for the Philippians.

We are in danger of seeing people as goers and suppliers, but the reality is that in the kingdom of God, we are all a part of the Great Commission, and no Christian is excused.

Philippians 4:18, “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

Paul could say this because his heart was pure, he was not relying on man, he knew exactly who provided his needs. Paul had the abundance mentality of the kingdom of God, knowing that God never runs out.

Paul said that this gift was a fragrant offering to God an acceptable sacrifice. Paul is not referring to tithing, the regular giving to the Lord’s work, this is giving over and above, as an offering to the Lord.

In the Old Testament, the temple tithe was 10%, but in the New Covenant we don’t have this as a law. Rather if we have submitted ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we are called to give our all to the Lord. In our giving to the work of the ministry of the church 10% is a guideline, but this is simply the beginning. Over and above that we prayerfully give to the Great Commission ministry of missions. Not only does this build us up in our walk with the Lord, it also is an invitation into a blessing.

Paul looked on their gift as a spiritual sacrifice, laid on the altar as a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord, this is true worship. Seeing this in relation to Hebrews 11:6, we must understand that faith and giving must go hand in hand.  A sacrifice that is pleasing to God, is a sacrifice that is given by faith, faith in the existence of God, faith in the provision of God and faith in the promises of God.

We have to realize that God doesn’t need our money, He is inviting us into a lifestyle of blessing.

In verse 19, we have one of the most quoted promises in the Bible, but unfortunately it is almost always taken out of context and misused. Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Many people quote this verse without meeting the condition of verse 18. Paul is saying, “You met my need, and God is going to meet your need.” But more than that, “You met one need that I have, but my God will meet all of your needs.”

The primary purpose of giving and receiving is in verse 20, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Missions and the church exist for one purpose, to declare the glory and the praises of God.

Will you ask the Lord for His invitation into the blessing of giving towards the Great Commission?

Sermon – April 21, 2019 Resurrection Sunday

He is Risen!

We were all struck by the spectacle of the fire that destroyed the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

As I was watching the coverage, somthing struck me, I began thinking about why this burning building caused so much grief and angst. One of the reasons was that we as God’s created beings, desire transcendence, we have a desire for something that endures beyond our lives. We desperately want to know that eternity is real and achievable. The thought that everything around us that we see will one day fall to decay is simply too hard for us to face (see Ecclesiastes 3:11).

We were made for so much more than the accumulation of wealth, knowledge and the pursuit of comfort and happiness, we were made for eternal glory with Jesus.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead and that he paid the price for our eternal salvation. Isaiah 53 is one of the clearest Old Testament prophetic Scriptures that points to the death and resurrection of Jesus. These words also remind us that Jesus was not a victim of a terribly botched trial, or mistaken identity. Jesus was the creator God, who took on flesh, was born and lived at a specific time in history to die on a Roman cross and then to be raised to life. Only Jesus could do what He did, only Jesus who was fully God and fully man, was the one who could pay the price for the sins of man.

In Isaiah 53:10-12 we see five key attributes of Jesus, starting at verse 10a, “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt,”
Jesus is – the Perfect Sacrifice.

Under the Law of Moses, there were multiple different offerings, the prophet Isaiah wrote that Jesus was a guilt offering. The guilt offering was to provide a way to be cleansed from unintentional sin, or a way to provide restitution when someone has been personally wronged because of a sinner’s actions. Jesus knows what sins we have committed in the past, but the guilt offering was for unintentional or yet unknown sin. On the cross, Jesus paid the price for our sins and for the sins we are yet to commit even our unintentional sins. Does this mean I sin without consequence? Absolutely not, it was our sin that drove Jesus to the cross, past present and future. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice, the only pure spotless lamb of God (see Hebrews 10:11-14).

Jesus is – the Risen Lord.

Jesus is alive! Isaiah 53:10b-11a says, “he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. 11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;”

Only living people see their offspring, only living people have extended days and prosper.

This is the line in the sand that differentiates Christianity from any other world religion. Our God is alive, the tomb where he was buried was only occupied for a few days. Paul clearly stated this in 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, this is the Good News, he is risen!

Not only that, Jesus was raised with a body that will never decay, the same kind that we will also get one day if we believe in Jesus as Lord. The resurrection of Jesus is our glorious hope of a certain eternal future.

Jesus is – our Righteousness.

Isaiah 53:11b, “by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

The word righteous means that there is no longer a need for justice or punishment. For the Christian, to be righteous means to be in right standing before God. This is the privilege that we have as those covered by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. We cannot stand before the all-holy God without the righteousness of Christ.

Without the righteousness of Christ, we have no hope of any sin being forgiven, but because of what he had done, no sin is too great for his forgiveness.

In Isaiah 64, we read that those who trust in their own righteousness or good works, are described as filthy rags in God’s sight. There is no good work that we could do that would make us righteous.  Nothing we can do will make us righteous before God, only through Jesus can we stand righteous before the all-holy God

In Jeremiah 23:6 we read that Jesus is Jehovah Tsidkenu, meaning Jehovah is our righteousness.

Our being in right standing with God is only because of us placing our faith in the completed work of Jesus on the cross. Righteousness comes through faith.

Jesus is our Inheritance

Isaiah 53:12a, “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

The Bible is full of references to the inheritance believers have in Christ (see Ephesians 1:11).

Our inheritance is the sum of all God has promised us in salvation. Our inheritance is not dependent on our works, our inheritance is based on our family, being part of the family of God, being a Christian makes us heirs along with Christ (See Romans 8:16-17).

When we understand and value the glory that awaits us, we are better able to endure whatever comes our way in this life. With an eternal perspective, we realize that this life is gone in a flash and eternity awaits us all. We can praise God during trials because we have His guarantee that we will receive all He has promised (see 2 Corinthians 4:17).

Jesus is our Advocate.

Isaiah 53:12 closes, “because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many and makes intercession for the transgressors.”

An advocate is someone who pleads the cause of another before a court or tribunal, Jesus is our advocate (see 1 John 2:1).

Jesus, the creator of the universe, gave his life for you, and now he is seated next to God the father and he is pleading and advocating for us (see Hebrews 7:23-25).

In addition to this, Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Do you know Jesus?

Sermon on Palm Sunday April 14, 2019 Matthew 21:1-17

Matthew 21:1-17

Have you ever been to an event or meeting and something happened that you didn’t expect or fully understand?

The Sunday prior to Easter is Palm Sunday, the day when we traditionally remember Jesus coming into Jerusalem one week prior to his crucifixion and resurrection.

Everything that Jesus did on that day made a statement, he was intentionally dropping hints along the way about his identity and intentions. Those witnessing the events, did not see the significance of what Jesus was doing. Jesus was following a script that had been written before the creation of the world (see John 5:19).

Jesus avoided the limelight, throughout his public ministry. Most of Jesus’ ministry happened outside of towns or in small towns, away from the center of Jerusalem. But on Palm Sunday, all of that changed. In Matthews Gospel account we see six signs that Jesus left indicating his identity and purpose.The first sign we see is that Jesus instructs his disciples to go and get a donkey and her young foal and bring them to him.

His disciples dutifully obeyed and went and got him this wild animal that had never been ridden before. Riding into the city was a public declaration that Jesus was a king (See Zechariah 9:9). In times of war a conquering king would ride on a chariot or a stallion, but Jesus rode on a colt to declare that he is a king proclaiming peace.

But aside from the obvious declaration, this animal had never been ridden before. Anyone who has worked with horses before would know that you cannot simply ride a wild foal, it needs to be broken in, unless the creator of the foal was the one riding. The people didn’t recognize the creator God, but the foal did, the animal knew who was riding on its back, and it submitted to the authority of Jesus.

The people reacted by spreading their cloaks in front of Jesus, this was a sign of honor for a king as we see in 2 Kings chapter 9. The fact that the people were waving palm branches showed that they didn’t grasp who Jesus was, and why he was coming to Jerusalem. Two generations before this time, the Maccabean revolt took place that liberated the Israelites from the Syrian oppressors, at that time the worship in the temple was re-established. By waving palm branches, the people were expecting a military ruler to free them from the oppression of Rome, they expected Jesus to be another warlord or general of the armies, one who would lead them to liberation from their oppressors. They were ready to pick up their swords and go to war if Jesus would lead them!

In verse 9 we see that the people were crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”.

We sing the word, Hosanna, and assume it is simply a declaration of worship, but it is a cry for help, it is a cry for salvation. The Aramaic word, Hosanna, comes from the Hebrew and the same word we find in Psalm 118:25, Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!”

The crowds were full of expectation that Jesus was coming to save them, but it was originally a cry for help. The people were misguided in their expectations of Jesus as the military messiah, but their declaration of Hosanna, was a prophetic declaration of the salvation that Jesus was about to bring through his death and resurrection.

Jesus enters Jerusalem and the whole city was stirred up, little did they know what was about to take place. The greatest and the darkest day in all of history. Jesus goes to the temple and begins to turn over the tables of the money changers and the traders. Jesus then quotes the Prophet Isaiah and says, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

We easily miss the significance of what Jesus was doing, he was making a public statement that the sacrificial system was not needed anymore, he was about to become the perfect and final sacrifice for all who would put their faith in him. Jesus was passing judgment on the sacrificial system. Even today we still need to be reminded that there is only one sacrifice that gains us favor with God, and it has already been completed when Jesus died and rose again.

In verse 14 we read, “And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.” During the chaos and confusion, Jesus takes time to heal the blind and the lame.

Jesus was intentionally making a declaration of his true identity. The irony is that the seeing people were the blind ones. The blind came to him, because they recognized him for who he was.

Remember at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he went to the synagogue in Nazareth and read from Isaiah chapter 61 (see Luke 4:18-19). Jesus was declaring who he was, but the seeing were blind.

And then finally in verse 15, we read that the chief priests and scribes were indignant, they were offended because of the miracles, they were offended because the children were upsetting their neat little world of religion and crying out, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

The priests were very religious, but religion – a set of rules and regulations to earn salvation – that is not for children. Christianity is a true relationship with our heavenly father through Jesus Christ and children get that much easier than adults do. Jesus quotes King David from Psalm 8:2. There is power in the praise of children, but more than that, the children hear from God much clearer than we adults do. The children are the faith and prophetic voices for the church as we get so busy “doing church”. We get so busy doing religion, that we miss the power of the praises and prayers of the children.

Jesus made statement after statement, declaring his true identity, but all the people in Jerusalem that day missed what he was saying.

Do you know who Jesus is?

Perhaps you follow Jesus because of his miracles and what you can get from him?

Do you follow Jesus because it is your tradition?

The only way of salvation is through recognizing who Jesus is and then submitting to him as Lord of your life.