Sermon, Sunday January 16 2022, What Are You Asking For?

Click on the Camera to view the full sermon video

Matthew 7:1-11

As we stand on the cusp of a New Year, what are you asking God to give you?

Matthew 7 verses 7 to 11 are amongst the most comforting verses in all of Scripture. And what makes them even more encouraging is that the one who makes the promise is the Son of God who has been given all authority.

We all face uncertainty in the year ahead, but we can face it with certainty in the promise of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus does not promise to remove our hardships and difficulties, he said so in John 16:33. But he always promises to sustain us and provide for us through the challenges.

In the early years of our marriage, Debbie and I prayed fervently for God to give us children. He didn’t give us the answer in the way we wanted. But looking back now, we are so grateful that God has given us far more than we could ever imagine in our two children.

What are you asking God for today that might not be in His perfect plan for your life? Will you have the faith to trust Him with the better gift that He has in store for you?

When we read Matthew 5,6 and 7, we are confronted by the incredibly high standard for Christian living that Jesus presents. In fact, the standard that Jesus lifts up in the sermon on the Mount, is so high it is impossible to keep without the help and grace of God.

And this is exactly what Jesus offers beginning in verse 7. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Think about this promise from Jesus in the light of living the Christian life.

This passage offers us three conditions to receiving this promise from Jesus.

Firstly, we need to recognize our need.

The fact is that we are born in sin. We are all separated from a relationship with our Creator. We all have the same desperate need, the need to be in a right relationship with God.

The Good News is that we can be reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross. However, to be a Christian is not a onetime event causing us to be perfect for the rest of our lives. We all live imperfect lives, subject to failure.

We are saved when we make Jesus Lord of our lives, but the process of sanctification takes the rest of our lives as God, by His mercy, renews us into the image of His son.

The Greek verbs that Jesus used in Matthew 7:7 are in the present active tense. Jesus is saying, keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. There is a daily persistence in prayer, asking the Lord to help us. In fact, the Greek verb conveys urgency. This is an urgent asking, seeking, and knocking, desperate for Jesus to help us.

It’s the New Year and always a time when people make resolutions and lifestyle commitments. Many believers make commitments to pray more, read their bibles more and share the Gospel more regularly. But as we all know all too well, many New Years resolutions fade and are soon forgotten. The reason is that we don’t keep on asking for God to help us, we aren’t persistent in our cry to God for His strength to help us grow in our Christian lives (see Philippians 3:13-14).

If we were honest, this is where we struggle the most. We don’t have the persistence and the endurance. We need help.

Secondly, we see in this passage is that God is our Father.

In verse 11 Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

We can get so familiar with our Christian terminology that we can easily miss how crucial this is for us. To say we believe that God is our Heavenly Father is one thing, but is it something we are conscious of on a daily/ hourly basis? Do we really get it?

What a privilege it is that we can come to the throne of God in prayer. We get invited to call on God as Father (see James 1:17).

But not everyone has the privilege to call God Father. The incredible privilege is only available to those who know Jesus Christ as Lord (see John 1:11-12).

Once we become His children, we receive all the benefits of being adopted sons and daughters. He watches over us and gives us good and perfect gifts. Your Heavenly Father is eager to bless you.

God will never give you anything that is evil, but just because God will never give us anything evil, it doesn’t mean that we will never experience anything unpleasant. There is still suffering and evil in the world.

Thirdly, God never makes a mistake.

Matthew 7:8 says, “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him.”  How much More! This is the overarching theme of the Bible; God is generous towards His children and he blesses them beyond their expectations.

But what is the best gift God can give us?

Solomon was offered anything he wanted, and he chose wisdom. But there is still a better gift.  

Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Mount gives us the answer in Luke 11:13, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In giving us the Holy Spirit, God gives us His very presence and we receive spiritual gifts. We receive everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

The need for the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is an ongoing need. Daily we are invited to ask the Father to be filled with the Spirit as we see in Ephesians 5:18. Daily asking the Father for a renewing, a fresh filling, to live the Christian life to the glory of God.

What are you asking for?

Are you asking for a fresh touch from God today?

Are you desperate for more of His presence in your life? (See Matthew 6:33).

Sermon Sunday December 19, 2021 – Why Christmas part 3

if you want to watch the full message, click on the camera

As I continue our series on the “why” of Christmas, we have two more questions today.

1: Why was he given the name of Jesus?

2: Why the Shepherds?

As Shakespeare once wrote in Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name?” We associate people or characteristics to names. Let’s face it, the reason we don’t like certain names is because we know someone by that name who by their actions or their personality, has marred the name for us.

But the name Jesus, is a name that means so much to us. Not because the letters themselves carry any sort of power in themselves, but because the man Jesus gives power to the name.

The name “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Joshua”, and means, “God Saves”. Now the name Jesus was a common name at the time of his birth. The name Jesus continued to be popular during the life of Jesus, but after he died and rose again, the name was not used much at all. Historians have found that after the 1st century, it seemed that the name “Jesus” simply vanished from use in the region. The name Jesus took on a much more controversial meaning. For early Christians, the name Jesus means so much that they felt that no child was worthy to carry the same name as the Messiah. For those who did not believe that Jesus was the promised messiah, they did not want their child to be associated with such a controversial character.

Jesus taking a common name shows us that he came to the earth as a common person. The people of Israel were looking for someone to come as a mighty warrior as their messiah, so they missed him because he came as a carpenter.

But now the name of Jesus means so much more to us. We call on the name of Jesus for our salvation and we pray in the name of Jesus (see 14:13-14 and Acts 4:12). The name of Jesus carries immeasurable power. There is no more powerful name in all the universe than Jesus, not because of the name itself, but because of the One, the Christ, who gives the name power.

Have you called on the name of Jesus?

Moving on to the next question, why did God announce the birth of Jesus to the Shepherds?

We read in Luke 2:9 that the shepherds were terrified as they encountered the glory of the Lord. It is hard for us to imagine the terror these men must have experienced as they were blinded by the light of the glory of the Lord.

While shepherds had once been held in high esteem among God’s people, they had become unwanted, left out, and pushed to the side. They smelled like sheep. They slept on the ground. Their jobs made them little or no money and as a result they came from the lower rungs of society.

So why did God choose to announce the birth of the Messiah to a group of shepherds before anyone else?

Interestingly, Jesus was born in the line of David, the shepherd boy that God made a king. In Jesus, God took a king and made him into the sacrificial lamb. God constantly turns the ideas of man upside down. He chose Bethlehem rather than a larger city. He chose Mary and Joseph rather than a wealthy, respected couple. God chose the downtrodden and small people of Israel to be the chosen nation to host the savior of the world. When God chose to announce the birth of the Christ, he didn’t choose the emperor or the governor, or even the high priest, that would be a good option. No, God chose the people that no one would listen to, the people at the bottom of the societal structure. These shepherds probably had little education and quite possibly didn’t use the best language or display acceptable morals.

It appears God was setting the tone for the life and the message of Jesus. God was reaching to the humble people of society because Jesus was born in a humble location to humble parents. God always invites humble people to a special seat at His table.

Jesus displayed this in his ministry. Jesus always had time to minister to the poor, the lepers, and other outcasts of society. Jesus taught his disciples that serving leads to greatness (Mark 10:43).

God elevated the humble shepherds and made them the first evangelists. They left their sheep and quickly went to Bethlehem. After seeing Jesus, they immediately went out and proclaimed the Good News of the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:17-18). The shepherds didn’t have a position in the synagogue or any theological training, but they met the Lord and became evangelists, they were changed forever.

One of the primary reasons people don’t share their faith is that they have not had a real encounter with Jesus. If you have a life changing encounter with Jesus, no one will be able to stop you from sharing the Good News. Maybe this Christmas season, it is time for you to make Jesus Lord of your life and begin living for him.

Another significant reason that God called the shepherds to be His messengers is that God Himself is a shepherd (see, Psalm 23, Isaiah 40:11, Ezekiel 34:11-16 and John 10:1-18). God wants us to know that He knows us and cares for us and will never abandon us. When the glory of Jesus’ birth was announced, it was announced to shepherds to remind us of our Shepherd and how much He loves us. The Christmas story is a story about God’s grace and His love for you and me.

Jesus came for the poor and the humble. Never underestimate the power of God to use those that the world has dismissed as uneducated, soft-spoken, or poor (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

You may be listening this morning and thinking that God will never use you, the world has overlooked you pr you feel downtrodden. (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).

Do you know the call of God on your life?

Sermon Sunday December 12 2021 – Why Christmas 2

Click on the camera to view the full message video

Why did God decide to intervene in History at the time he did? It was a campaign to bring freedom and salvation into the world, to provide a way to reconcile man to God, so the timing had to be perfect, the pieces had to be in place. As with any military or political campaign, timing is everything. The creator of all things was on a mission to set the captives free, Jesus came to a world enslaved by sin, to set us free. The timing of this mission had to be perfect. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4). What made this the perfect time?

Let’s look at the pieces that were in place that made this time in History perfect for Jesus to be born. The Roman Empire ushered in a time, when for the first time in history, all the nations and peoples of the known world in the Mediterranean region, were unified. This started under the Greeks as Alexander the Great brought all the nations together, and the Romans continued to expand this development by building an incredible system of roads. Transportation and sea travel linked people groups and nations that previously had no contact with each other. All these developments paved the way for the message of Jesus Christ to be easily spread by word of mouth and letters.

There was also the period in world history of unusual peace, from 27BC to 180AD, known as Pax Romana. The Roman Empire was stable and there was a relative peace across the known world, Prince of Peace came at a time of peace in the World.

Another major factor was Language. The Roman Empire was influenced by the Greek Empire, and the common language across all the empire was Greek. Language experts say that Hellenic Greek was one of the most articulate languages in history. A perfect language for the greatest story ever told.

When the time had fully come- God set the timeline, and He is still setting the timeline as we await the second coming of Christ.

So we can see why Jesus came when he did, but why Bethlehem? Why should this place be the location for the one born who was to be the savior of the world?

Bethlehem was not a major city of any importance. But when Jesus was born there, it became the most important town on the face of the earth. Looking back in the Old Testament, we see that Bethlehem has quite a legacy. One of the first pieces of history we read about Bethlehem is that Jacob’s wife Rachel was buried there, as we read in Genesis 35. She died giving birth to Benjamin, Joseph’s favorite brother.

The story of Ruth and Naomi also took place in Bethlehem. Boaz, who married Ruth was the great grandfather of King David.

In 1 Samuel 16, the prophet Samuel, anointing a young shepherd boy by the name of David, who became Israel’s greatest King. That is why Luke in his Gospel calls Bethlehem the town of David, in chapter 2. The name Bethlehem means “House of Bread”. Jesus was well aware of that when in John 6:48, he says; “I am the Bread of Life”.

We see a thread running through the Old Testament, that ties Israel to this little town. There was a preparedness and a readiness about Bethlehem at that time. It was the culmination of History.

For Christ to be born in Bethlehem at that time in history was not an accident. All the pieces were in place, Bethlehem was ready, History was ready. The fullness of time had come for the arrival of God’s Son.

So, we come to our last question today, why are you and I here at this time in History?

Time is one of the most precious commodities that we possess. But the truth is that we don’t possess time, we are given time with the purpose of stewarding it. Each of us is given a certain amount of time, that has been entrusted to us by God. He places it before us, we can choose to use it wisely, or we can simply sit back and let it run by like water running down a hillside stream. The Psalmist David writes that God gives us a certain number of days, and even writes them down before we are born as we read in Psalm 139:16.

So why are we here today; December 13, 2021? Paul writing to the church in Ephesus writes; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). If you have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life, you are a son and daughter of the King, you were created in Christ to do good works, that He prepared in advance for us to DO!

This specific day in December in 2021, is only here for a moment in history, God placed you in this moment, with a purpose, with a mission. A mission that only you can fulfill. Do you know your mission?

But there is another component to this line of questioning, why am I here? Why am I here in Kansas City? I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that I am in Kansas City, because God has called me to serve Him in this city. Along my life’s journey, I have often asked the Lord, why am I here? I believe that this is essential for us as Christians, we need to know our purpose, and know why God has called us to serve him in a particular place at a particular time.

Jesus was born at a specific time in history, at a specific place on the earth, for a specific purpose, you have been born at a specific time in history, you have been placed at a specific place on the earth, and you have a specific purpose.

Do you know the call of God on your life?

Sermon Sunday December 5, 2021 – Why Christmas part 1

Click on the camera to view the full sermon video

Isaiah 9:1-7

As I was trying to reconnect my Christmas lights yesterday and getting anxious about all that I needed to do. I began to wonder why we do this every year. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t celebrate our Lord’s birth, but all the other busyness that goes along with this season.

This must be the same question asked by millions around the world, since we live in a post-modern society that tries so hard to ignore God. So why are we celebrating Christmas? What is the point of Christmas if we leave out Jesus? I fear that in a generation to come we will still have this celebration called Christmas, because the retailers demand it, but nativity scenes might be illegal, and all references to Jesus will be taken out, people will begin to ask, why do we celebrate Christmas?

In Isaiah 9 we read about two tribal areas in the northern kingdom of Israel; Zebulun and Naphtali. It is important for us to note that in 732BC the Assyrian army attacked and overran the northern Kingdom, and the first two tribes to be routed were Zebulun and Naphtali. The area became dominated by Gentiles and was known as Galilee of the Gentiles. The northern kingdom was inhabited by many different peoples and became known as Samaria, thus the prophecy of Isaiah here calling it “Galilee of the Nations” proved to be remarkably accurate. But at the time, it must have been inconceivable to the Israelites. This part of Northern Israel was the first to be overrun by the Assyrians, the first to fall into darkness, and by God’s wonderful grace, they are also the first to see the light of the promised Messiah (Isaiah 9:2).

Jesus could have launched his ministry anywhere, it would have made sense for him to start his ministry in Jerusalem, as it was a major hub. But instead, as we read in Matthew 4:13, Jesus begins his ministry and heads to Capernaum, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. Not only is this significant because Jesus is coming to the area where the destruction of Israel began, but also I believe Jesus was demonstrating that he was coming for both Jews and gentiles. And in verse three we read; “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy”, here the prophet is speaking of God enlarging the nation. What I believe he is talking about here is that because of Jesus’ coming, the nation will grow because Jesus came for both Jew and Gentile. We who have believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are part of the Kingdom of God. This is an incredible prophecy, that Isaiah pens. The Old Testament has over three hundred prophecies directly relating to Jesus.

So, the first question is, why all the prophecies?

The role of a prophet is to preach, to declare the truth. To speak to the present the eternal truths of God. Frequently in the Old Testament the prophets spoke about a coming champion. Israel at the time of the prophets was a dying nation, and many of the people had been taken into slavery and exile. There was great confusion and loss of identity. The nation yearned back to the days of David and Solomon when the nation was at its greatest and most powerful. It was in this era that the prophets were used by God to encourage them and give a glimpse of greater days ahead.

The prophecies were necessary because when combined, they reveal that Jesus must be the Son of God, the promised Messiah. The fact is that even though we have seen the fulfillment of almost 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Gospels, we need the prophecies just as much as the ancient Jewish nation needed them.

The Israelites needed them to warn the nation and to keep them faithful and hopeful. And we need them to remind us that Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God in human form (Isaiah 7:2).

Which leads us to our next question, why did God become a man?

The answer to why God became a man starts with the creation of the universe. In the garden of Eden there was perfect communion, but then man sinned and a gulf was formed between God and man. Mankind and all of creation has suffered because of the sin of Adam and Eve. There is a separation between God and man and no matter how good man tries to be, how many laws man tries to obey, we could never be good enough to restore the relationship with God.

The problem needed a solution, and it had to come from God. The first step was for God to introduce and reveal himself to mankind. However, the infinitely holy God could not simply reveal Himself, so God had to become like man, literally be born of a woman, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  The creator became like one of his creatures to display God’s character and nature, and provide a way to reconcile man to God (John 14:9).

This leads us to our third question, why do you need to believe?

Isaiah 9:6a states; “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given…”

Jesus was born just like any other human being. But he was given to us as a gift as we read also in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son…” Almighty God, gave his only son. Why did God give His only son? The verse continues, “So that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

There is the simple answer to the question, why do we need to believe? Because if we don’t believe in Jesus Christ, and make him Lord of our lives, we will perish.

This is the miracle of Christmas, the significance of this special time of the year. God sent his son to rescue mankind.

Is he Lord of your life?

Sermon, Sunday November 28 2021, Compassion part 2

click on the camera above to view the full sermon video

This past week we celebrated Thanksgiving. Since moving to the United States in 2000, Debbie and I have so much to be thankful for. In particular, our church in Atlanta, Roswell Street Baptist church, played a significant role in helping us as immigrants. The church responded as the body of Christ and showed compassion.  

Compassion is a pillar of the church but does not stand alone. There needs to be a strong connection between compassion and mission, between compassion and worship and between compassion and the Word. James chapter 2 explains to us that faith without works is dead, rather we show our faith in God through our works of good deeds. The compassion of the church must always bring glory to the name above all names, and only his name. Acts of compassion done for the glory of God are in themselves acts of worship.

Compassion without the foundation of the Word of God, lacks true empathy and the power to change lives. only the word of God, coupled with the revelation of the Holy Spirit, has the power to change lives. Compassion is essential in the church, not because it is what good people do to help one another, but because it is the way the church points people to Jesus.

Jesus displayed compassion for the people around him as he walked the earth. Jesus’ compassion was not simply a good trait that Jesus displayed, it was the very core he is.

If we are not careful, we can easily fall into the trap of seeing Jesus as the compassionate part of the Trinity, and God the Father as the stern and judgmental one who needs to be appeased. Yes, it is true that God is perfectly holy and that we are only able to be in a right relationship with Him because of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. But that is the righteous holiness of God the Father. What does the Bible teach us about His character and His nature?

We know that the Bible is the revelation of Jesus. I think sometimes that we need to be reminded that the revelation of Jesus is a revelation of God. Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus said in John 14:9, “…Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John’s Gospel begins, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

One of the passages in the Bible that is the greatest revelation of God the Father, is the encounter the God had with Moses and the Children of Israel on mount Sinai. In Exodus 34, Moses returns to the top of the mountain with new stone tablets after he smashed the previous ones in anger at the nation’s idolatry. In Exodus 34:6-7, God reveals himself in a way that is unlike anything else prior to the incarnation. Exodus 34:6, “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

This is not simply God telling Moses some information about Himself. In the previous chapter, Moses courageously asks God to show him His glory, to which God responds by displaying and declaring His goodness. When I think about the glory of God, I always think of his incredible power and majesty. But God reveals that His glory is in His goodness. The glory of God is in his compassion. The first words that God uses to describe himself are, “merciful and gracious…

This is where we struggle to come to terms with the nature of the holiness of God. To be holy is to be set apart. The Hebrew word used for holy, means to be cut off, or separate from everything else. It means to be in a class of your own, distinct from anything that has ever existed or will ever exist.

Frequently in the Old Testament, we read that God was provoked to anger. The nation of Israel constantly provoked God to anger by their disobedience. God was provoked to anger, but here in Exodus 34, we read that God by nature is merciful and gracious, which is His character and nature. God is naturally compassionate but provoked to anger.

How about us? Depending on who you are, some of us are more prone to anger than others, but I don’t know anyone who struggles to get angry if the right set of circumstances presents themselves.

But how about compassion, love, and mercy? These attributes don’t come naturally to us, in our sinful nature. That is why the writer to the Hebrews says, And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” Hebrews 10:24. The writer encourages the readers to stir up, or provoke, love and good deeds in one another. We are sinful by nature, and we need to be provoked to be merciful.

How far we as beings created in the image of God have deviated from our original design because of the fall. When sin entered the world, our very core nature was disrupted and as a result we in turn view God through our own broken lenses. God is compassionate at His core.

The ultimate purpose of compassion is leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. True compassion is caring for someone’s eternal destination.

In Isaiah 58:6-8 God reveals that acts of compassion are true fasting, denying ourselves to focus on the will of God. Caring for the hurting, the poor, and the unlovely, with the purpose of showing and speaking the Gospel message to them. Notice the final line in verse 8, “…the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” What is the glory of God? It is his goodness on display. When we display the goodness of God, He is glorified.

The Gospel message is the ultimate display of compassion, John 3:16, “For God so loved…that He gave”. The ultimate purpose of compassion is leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. True compassion is caring for someone’s eternal destination.

Our strength and resources can at best provide some temporary relief to someone in need. However, our resources coupled with the power of the name of Jesus, will lead to life transformation and eternal salvation.

Sermon Sunday November 21, 2010 – Compassion part 1

Click on the camera to view the full sermon video

Compassion is integral to the church. Caring for the lost, caring for the hurting, caring for those who are experiencing loss and trauma. Pain is a very real part of the world around us.

Jesus entered the temple in Luke chapter 4 and began reading from the prophet Isaiah. As he finished, he declared that he was the fulfillment of this prophecy. Everything about this passage speaks to compassion. The call, and the heart of Jesus was deep compassion.

In Matthew 14 when Jesus had just been notified of John’s death, he separated from the crowds to be alone by boat. But the crowds followed his boat on foot along the shore and as soon as he landed, the crowds began to descend on his boat.

The more Jesus tried to get away, the more the crowds were drawn to him and particularly after the martyrdom of John, people were drawn to Jesus.

What does Jesus do? What would I do? If I were honest, I would get back in the boat and hope the wind was blowing in the other direction! But Jesus had compassion (Matthew 14:14). Matthew writes that Jesus was filled with compassion. It wasn’t simply an emotion that he showed once or twice, it was his character and nature to have compassion. Jesus was acting out of his true self.

We see the heart of Jesus for compassion in Matthew 2:2, Matthew 9:35-26, Matthew 15:32, Luke 7:13 and many more times recorded for us in the Gospels.

Compassion was not simply a good trait that Jesus displayed, it was his very core being. Yes, he was perfectly holy and had all authority, but he displayed his compassion most frequently.

It does not mean that Jesus overlooked sin and evil when he walked the earth. But he saw sin as the enemy and the people around him as fallen people who lived outside of their original design that he himself had given them. When Jesus saw fallen and broken people, his initial response was to be drawn to them and not repulsed by them, and he still does that today. Jesus hates sin, he died to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8b).

Our sin causes us to suffer and when we suffer Jesus wants to see us holy and pure, set free from our sin. It is in the very moment of our sin that Jesus draws near to us to prevent us from enduring more pain and suffering.

The compassion of Jesus is on display when a sinner repents and yields to the power of the holy Spirit. When Jesus walked the earth and performed so many incredible miracles, he didn’t turn things upside down, he repaired what sin had broken.

Dane Ortlund puts it this way, “Jesus walked the earth rehumanizing the dehumanized and cleansing the unclean.”

The brokenness and sin of this world robs humanity of its original design, the purpose for which we have been created, to bring glory to God.

Jesus at his very core had compassion flowing from him like a fresh stream of water. Jesus completed his earthly mission and commissioned the church to be his body here on the earth. We are the body of Christ. We are his representatives, his ambassadors wherever he has placed us.

Do you realize that the presence of Jesus is closer to you now, as his follower, than he was to the people that he spoke with and touched two-thousand years ago? Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus embraces us by his spirit, and we are able to be comforted and comfort others. The church is called to be the heart of compassion in the earth.

But do we perfectly embody the compassion of Jesus?

Do we act appropriately when we see people in need? I know I don’t.

When we see someone in pain or in need, we are moved to compassion if the music is right or if the TV images are wrenching enough. And we might be moved to send some money or donate some canned goods. But the moment the images leave our screen, or we leave the meeting, our compassion begins to fade and we quickly forget those feelings of care and desire to help. We begin to reason our way out of the guilt we feel.

But every now and then there is a Holy Spirit tug on your heart to help someone. And as we follow those impulses of the Holy Spirit, we find out the strange interaction that takes place in the spirit, as we respond with compassion, we in turn are blessed. The reason we are blessed is that we are living out our designed purpose, to be the compassion of Jesus in the world. And the more we act like Christ, the more we will feel his joy and blessing on our lives.

In Matthew 9:36, we read that Jesus had compassion on the crowd and immediately he turns to his disciples and says, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). Jesus, moved by compassion, as he sees the multitudes of people who are destined for an eternity in hell, tells his disciples to pray that God would multiply the work force.

The prayer for workers must be fueled by a heart of compassion. Immediately following this challenge, Jesus calls his disciples in Matthew 10 and empowers them to heal the sick and set people free from demonic powers. Jesus encourages his disciples to pray for workers, and then he sends them out in response to that prayer.

And as we pray that prayer, we need to realize that we are part of the solution.

A prayer of compassion does not excuse us from acts of compassion.

Will you make the most of the opportunities for compassion that come your way this week?

Sermon, Sunday November 14, 2021 – The Local Mission of the Church

click on the camera to view the full message

If you are a believer in Jesus, you are his representative in your workplace, neighborhood and community. The city in which we live is our mission field. The church has been strategically placed by Jesus to impact the community that surrounds it.  

Philip was a faithful apostle and missionary who had followed the command of Jesus and went to Samaria to proclaim the Gospel. As a result of his work, there was a powerful move of God and the region was receiving Christ Jesus as Lord.

But, right at the height of what seemed to be a very successful mission, an angel sent from God  re-directs Philip and sends him to the desert (Acts 8:26).

We can learn four things from this account in Acts chapter 8.

1: Philip obeyed immediately.

Philip was experiencing the joys of ministry success, the Holy Spirit was moving, they even called in the big-name preachers, Peter, and John (Acts 8:14).  It would be understandable that he would want to stay there, but that was not God’s plan for him. God directed him to go south to the desert.

Philip could have had a dozen excuses, but he obeyed without hesitation.  When the opportunity comes for us to share the Good News with our co-worker or neighbor, are we prepared to go without hesitation? God directed Philip to the right person at the right time.

2: Philip listened to the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:29).

This is fundamental Christianity. Being a child of God, we must wait on the Lord for direction; where to go and who to speak to. Who has the Holy Spirit prepared in advance for me to share the Gospel with?

3: Philip listened to the Ethiopian official (Acts 8:30).

As Philip ran alongside the chariot, he waited patiently and listened to what the man was reading.

The challenge that we often face is that we don’t listen to people and as a result we miss the mark in evangelism, because we aren’t paying attention to their personal situation and struggles.

Are you listening to the questions that people are asking?

4: Philip then asked a question (Acts 8:30).

Once Philip understood the situation, he was able to ask the penetrating question. One of the most important skills one needs to develop in life, is asking questions.

Questions not only show the person that we care about them, it also is a way to move the conversation towards eternal matters.

Probing questions unlock the heart. People will respond to questions and open their lives to you if you take the time to ask questions. Again, this is where listening to the Holy Spirit becomes so vital. He will give you the questions to ask, questions that will unlock the soul for the Gospel.

The question Philip asked opened the way for the man to hear the Gospel (Acts 8:31). The Ethiopian official was reading from Isaiah 53, the prophecy of the suffering servant, pointing to the ministry of Jesus. Verse 35 is the moment Philip had been waiting for; “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus.” Acts 8:35.

Isn’t this story a wonderful reminder of the amazing grace and goodness of God to reach out to the “one”. This man goes to Jerusalem to worship God, where the church is growing and thriving. Tragically he missed the greatest news of all of history.

But God pursued him, sending his best evangelist to run after him.

God still pursues the lost. And he is sending you and me to run after them.

Do you remember when God pursued you?

As Philip explained the prophecy to him, the Ethiopian began to understand the Gospel because the Spirit of God was opening his mind to God’s truth. It is not enough for the lost sinner to desire salvation; he must also understand God’s plan of salvation. It is the heart that understands the Word that eventually bears fruit, the heart that has been prepared by the Spirit of God (Romans 10:17).

The Ethiopian believed on Jesus Christ and was born again. So real was his experience that he insisted on stopping the caravan and be baptized immediately. He wanted everybody to know what the Lord had done for him. The Ethiopian was testifying to Philip and all of his travel companions. He was an important man, and you can be sure that his attendants were paying close attention. Baptism is a witness and a declaration. History tells us that the church in Ethiopia today finds its roots in this encounter.

The Gospel changes lives, the Gospel changes nations.

If you have become a follower of Jesus, you are called to be the light in the World. To shine the light of Jesus wherever God has placed you.

I have heard people say when asked about a person’s salvation, “Its none of my business”. If we are not concerned about a person’s relationship with Jesus, it means that we truly don’t believe the Gospel. We don’t believe that if you don’t know Jesus Christ as Lord, you will spend eternity separated from God in Hell. That is the tragic reality.

Sharing the Gospel is a discipline, it needs to be prioritized in our lives. Sadly, we are so focused on temporal things that we don’t prioritize the eternal things in life.

Just like Philip was sent to one person with the Good News. To whom is God sending you?

Begin today to pray for your one.

Begin listening to the Holy Spirit.

Begin listening to the person.

Begin asking questions.

Sermon, Sunday November 7 2021 – The Global Mission of the Church

Click on the Camera to view the full message

The mission of the church is a foundational pillar of the church. Now this may sound obvious, but so many churches do not have missions and evangelism as one of their foundational pillars. For many churches, the mission of the church, the outward focus of the church, is lost in the mire of the programs of the church.

Jesus left the church with a mission, we call it the Great Commission, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

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. They may have many people coming to attend and enjoy the fellowship and worship music and programs, but by definition, they are not the church.

The global population today is almost eight billion and there are seventeen thousand four hundred and ten people groups as defined by missiologists. Of these people groups, there are seven thousand three hundred and ninety-eight that are defined as unreached.

An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance.

The original Joshua Project editorial committee selected the criteria less than or equal to 2% Evangelical Christians and less than or equal to 5% Professing Christians.

“We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a vision of a just and gentle world. The quality of a whole culture may be changed when two percent of its people have a new vision.” – Robert Bellah, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University,

At this moment in history, it is estimated that there are over 3 billion people who have never heard the Gospel message.

As Jesus was teaching on the mount of Olives in Matthew 24, his disciples asked him this question, “… Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3.

Over the next ten verses, Jesus lists a series of global events that he calls birth pangs, and this is not the answer to the question that the disciples asked. But then in verse 14, Jesus gives the disciples the answer to their question, “… This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14.

Before Jesus comes, the Gospel will be proclaimed to all the remaining seven thousand three hundred and ninety-eight-people groups. There is a lot of work to be done.

Acts 1:8 is the verse that every missionary knows 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 is speaking to his disciples’ moments before he ascends into heaven. They were expecting him to establish his earthly kingdom, but Jesus takes their focus off the desire for the kingdom of heaven to come now and directs them to the work to be done. He tells his disciples that the Holy Spirit will enable them to be witnesses or evangelists, to go in ever widening circles from Jerusalem all the way to the ends of the earth.

The proclamation of 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. This is the design and purpose for the church that Jesus instituted.

In Revelation 19, we read about the great celebration for the ages, the marriage supper of the Lamb. At this feast there will be people from every people group in the world. John saw this earlier in Revelation 7:9, “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”.

John saw people from every ethnic group, every people group in Heaven. This is encouraging for us, we can have absolute faith that the Great Commission will be completed.

There is good news, globally there are an estimated 50,000 people who become Christ-followers every day. And there are 3,500 churches are being planted every week around the world.

There has also been a radical shift in the geography of the evangelical church, it is no longer a western church. For every one new Christ-follower in the US and Europe there are sixteen in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

While America has the resources to mobilize the most people, the majority of missionaries going to the hardest to reach nations, come from these rising missionary nations. These missionaries have incredible faith and are entering countries where they could lose their lives for proclaiming the Good News. The world of missions is changing, and God is at work to reach the least reached peoples of the world.  

Many ministries have used three simple words to focus the attention of believers on the task of the great commission; Pray – Give – Go.

Pray – You can join thousands in praying for the persecuted church by using the Open Doors app that can be found on www.opendoorsusa.org, or you can join a local prayer meeting or start one to begin praying for the unreached peoples.

Give – Give to the churches global mission offering or find an organization that is sending missionaries to the unreached and send them a gift.

Go – The nations are coming to our cities, right now there are thousands of people from closed countries who are emigrating to the United States, we as a church have an unprecedented opportunity to share the Gospel with people groups who have never heard the Gospel.

How will you respond to the Great Commission today?

Sermon Sunday October 31, 2021 – The Word of God – Part 2

Click on the camera to watch the full message video

Hebrews 4:12-13

Do we value the power of the Word?

The Word of God has the power to transform lives. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the Bible, takes the words and empowers them to transform hearts and minds.

AW Tozer said: “The Bible was given to us not to satisfy our curiosity, but to sanctify our personality.

The writer to the Hebrews spends the first four chapters focusing on Jesus, highlighting the supremacy of Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:1).

He does this to focus our attention to the fact that when God speaks, whether through the inspired written word or through Jesus the living word, it is different to the words of man.

The theme of Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 is the rest promised to God’s people. The promise of eternal salvation and heaven. The author writes that this eternal rest is only found by faith in the Word of God. These verses are a warning, as the author points to the Children of Israel under the leadership of Moses, who didn’t pay close attention to the Word of God and lost their promised rest. He also points to Joshua who led the nation into the promised land, but only into a temporary rest, because they didn’t adhere to the Word of God.  That is why verse 11 says, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (See also Romans 10:17).

The point of Hebrews 4:12-13 is that God’s Word has come to man with such authority, that it cannot be disregarded.

Hebrews 4:12-13 highlights four attributes of the Bible:

1 The Bible is a powerful book – “For the word of God is living and active”, – Hebrews 4:12a

The Greek word for “living” used here is Zoe. It depicts more than just living. We get the word zoology from this word. It is animated life, meaning that the Bible is alive and life giving.

It is active. The Bible is not a historical book with dead promises. It is living and brings life to the heart of every believer.

The written word of God introduces us to the living word of God (See 1 Thessalonians 2:13)

The Word of God cannot be ignored, and it will impact people with power. Everyone who hears the word of God is forced to make a conscious decision to accept or reject the Word’s offer (See John 6:63).

Throughout History, whenever people have taken God’s word seriously, it has transformed people, cities and nations. Amazing things happen when we take God’s Word and apply it.

God’s word is not a textbook to be read, memorized, or studied in Bible school. The Word of God is something to be unleashed, it is a book of action and life. The Word of God energizes people and nations, speaking life into dead situations.  

The Word of God has the energy and the power of the Holy Spirit that activates it, and always accomplishes the purposes of God (See Isaiah 55:10-11).

2. The Bible is a piercing book – Hebrews 4:12b, “…sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow,”

The Word of God cuts to the heart of sinners. It is used by the Holy Spirit and brings conviction.

The Word of God doesn’t rest passively on us. It either causes anger or joy, discomfort, or peace (see Acts 7:54). The Word of God is a litmus test of a person’s relationship with God.

Not only is the word of God a sharp word, but it also pierces and separates. The piercing word of God goes right through the outer shell of self-confidence and the façade that we put on in order to convince others that we have it all together.

The Bible addresses our intellect and our emotions, so both aspects of our person are penetrated by the piercing of God’s word. The Word of God is the scalpel that the Holy Spirit uses to cut out the cancer of sin in our lives.

The scalpel of the Word may be painful for the initial cut that exposes the cancer, but it is wielded by a surgeon who loves you more than you will ever know and is working to bring about your good and healthy growth.

3. The Bible is a probing book – Hebrews 4:12c, “…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Bible probes and analyzes the thoughts and intentions of the heart, judging and exposing our real intentions. The Bible has the ability to probe the inner recesses and bring light to the darkness of our inner being.

The outward life comes from the inner thoughts and desires, the outward manifestation of the inward problem. The solution is allowing the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God to sanctify our inner man.  

The Bible is deeply personal because the Author desires a personal relationship with us.

That pain you hide, the hidden yearning of your heart, the secret jealousy of covetous thought that you harbor, God knows them all and His word exposes them to bring us to health and peace.  

4. The Bible is personal – see Hebrews 4:13.

As you read the Bible and hear the voice of God speaking to you, you will find that the Bible is deeply personal.

The Bible is the only book where the author sits down with us when we open it and read it. Can you imagine that? As you are reading, the Holy Spirit is pointing out passages, leading us on a journey through verses.

In the searchlight of God’s Word, we are all naked and exposed, God knows our very thoughts.

Has the Bible transformed your Life?

Your Christian growth is directly linked to your time spent with Jesus, allowing his Word to search your heart.

Sermon, Sunday October 24, 2021 – The Word of God part 1

Click on the camera to view the full message video

2 Timothy 3:10-17

The Bible is the foundation and authority for our Christian lives and for discipleship. Without the bible, discipleship is merely giving advice. True discipleship is based on the Word of God. The only resource for consistent life transformation.  

Paul wrote two brief letters to Timothy a young man he had trained for ministry. Second Timothy dates during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome, just months before his execution. Paul gives his final encouragement to Timothy and reminds him of the power of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).

Paul says, “all scripture is God breathed…” we believe that this means that the whole bible, all 66 books and multiple authors written over 1500 years, is fully inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Despite the multiple authors and duration of writing, the Bible does not contradict itself. The authors all present different perspectives, but they all proclaim the same one true God, and the same way of salvation: Jesus Christ.

The Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Psalms and the prophetic books constantly point to the coming Messiah and his suffering for our salvation. The four Gospels record the life of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament speaks about the ongoing work of Jesus through the church, and the Revelation of his second coming.

2 Timothy 3:16 reads, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

  • The Word is profitable; for teaching correctly, giving clear doctrine
  • The word is used for reproof, which means conviction of sin. It is a bright light that exposes our very hearts and intentions.
  • The word of God is good for correction, for setting things right.
  • The Word is used for training in righteousness, that is discipleship.

Verse 17 continues, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”.

It enables the child of God to become a man or woman of God, matured in the things of the Lord. The word, “complete” does not mean perfect, but rather, prepared for the work that lies before us.

The Bible transforms the child of God into a mature person in Christ. The better we know the Bible, the better we are able to live and work for God.  I will always encourage people to begin the day getting equipped by taking up the Bible.

The purpose of Bible study is not just to understand doctrines or to be able to defend the faith, as important as these things are. The ultimate purpose is the equipping of the believers who read it. It is the Word of God that equips God’s people to do the work of God.

The Bible is our authority that we turn to when we face difficult decisions in life.

The Bible addresses the real issues of our lives, for example, the Bible speaks frequently into the area of our finances. Giving to the poor (Matthew 25:37-40). God takes caring for the poor seriously. Giving to the local church (Malachi 3:10). We have such a distorted view of tithing and giving to the church. We feel we have to give, out of guilt and need, but the truth is that the Lord promised to bless the giver. The Bible addresses every aspect of our finances, taxes, inheritance, investing and more.

The Bible teaches us how to resist temptation. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he went to the wilderness and fasted for forty days in preparation for his ministry. At the end of that time, Satan came and tempted him three times as we read in Matthew 4. Each time Jesus used the authority of Scripture to rebuke Satan. We need to know this weapon and use it against the enemy of our souls.

The Bible addresses every area of our relationships, from parenting to work relationships.

The Bible addresses how we treat widows and orphans (James 1:27).

The Bible addresses our career choices and what we do with the years we have been given.

The Bible addresses our physical health and care for our bodies.

The Bible also addresses the big questions that the world wrestles with: abortion, immigration and refugees, poverty, same sex marriage, transgenderism, caring for the environment and more.

The Bible says that we are to be praying for our government, our president, vice president and all our governing authorities. That means to pray for their blessing and salvation. Praying for God to bless and guide our leaders, even if we didn’t vote for them! Listen to what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Do we desire all people to be saved?

The Bible is our ultimate authority, meaning that if the government makes laws that are opposed to the word of God, we hold fast to the word of God. But to discern whether the government is ruling incorrectly, we need to know the Word of God. We must never be led by the opinions and the thoughts of someone we watched on the internet. We must not allow anything that opposes God’s Word to dictate our actions or control our thinking.

We have been given the Word of God, written by our Heavenly Father who knows us better than we know ourselves, and who knows every moment and situation of our lives. Yet we turn to people who are not invested in us at all and ask their opinion for our life decisions.

Many Christians are struggling today because they don’t know the Word of God. My simple goal as a pastor is to get people to feed on the Word of God. Study and meditate on the Word. Let God’s Spirit speak to you as you read.

The Bible is no ordinary collection of pages and ink.

It is supernatural in its authoring,

it is supernatural in its reading, and

it is supernatural in its application.

Let us be known as people of the Word, who know and apply the Word of God to all situations in our lives.