Going Farming – Planting a church part 1 August 21, 2016

Church Planting Bulletin digi-01

Ephesians 3:1-12

What is the church?

We have already determined that the church is not the building, rather it is the gathered believers in Jesus Christ who are the church. But is the church simply a gathering of believers? Or is it more?

The world sees the church as an institution, a definer of moral laws and ethics, a place of tradition, a place where you go to for Christmas or Easter maybe a location to get married or to hold a memorial service.

However, I am not sure that we really understand the significance of the church.

I believe that the church is more significant than we can ever imagine. The church is the most important institution in the world. The church is more powerful and important than any organization or even nation on the planet. John Piper once said; “the drama of international relations compares to the mission of the church like a kindergarten riddle compares to hamlet or king Lear”.

Remember what Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18; “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” The gates of hades, the power of death to destroy every man made institution cannot defeat the church. Because it is being built and sustained by the King of kings himself.

Paul writing to the church in Ephesus gives us another perspective into the church that is stunning and actually quite hard to even comprehend with our earth centered minds.

Paul writing to the young church in Ephesus in the first chapters of Ephesians explains how through the Gospel was not just for the Jews, it was for all. In fact, the Gentiles were invited in by the Gospel and even more– the Gentiles were now going to receive an inheritance alongside the Jews when Jesus comes again. The Jews and gentiles are brought into one family. In fact, the Gospel breaks down all cultural, national and racial barriers. Because of two simple words, IN CHRIST (See Ephesians 3:6). This is truly a mystery and a message that we need to declare to the World.

But as we look further down in Ephesians 3, we see something that is even harder for us to understand. Verse 10 says; “10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” What does this mean? Who are these rulers and authorities? And what is God revealing to them?

These principalities and powers are what Paul refers to in Ephesians 6:12. In Ephesians 3:10 he is writing about, angels, demons, evil forces, both good and evil. In our 21st century post-modern educated minds, we are told to dismiss these beings as myths and superstition. However, if we don’t pay attention and realize as Paul states that we are in a fight against forces we cannot see, we are already giving in to the enemy. It is to these supernatural beings that God is making his wisdom known. Satan and his demons, thought that by killing the Son of God, they could once and for all destroy God’s creation, but the wisdom of God was that by Jesus’ death, Satan was defeated.

Satan creates strife and disunity, but Christ in his Church, through the Gospel, creates a supernatural unity that makes no sense in the natural.

God is using the Church to reveal his wisdom and plans to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. The church made up of broken and frail people, is the vehicle God is using to reveal his wisdom and grace to the supernatural beings of the universe. Do you realize that angels are learning about God’s grace through the church!

God is using our weakness to reveal his grace and glory to the entire universe. Each of us has a part to play, each of us has spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit to be used by God in order for God to reveal his cosmic mission to the universe. The church is so much bigger and more significant than we can ever imagine.

We are not living for ourselves, our mission is so much bigger than just trying to get a group of people to heaven. If this text is to be truly grasped – we need to live with a much bigger vision. Our mission as the church is to demonstrate to the powers and principalities that God was wise in sending his son to die for us, in order for us to be unified in one body with one aim and ambition.

However, everytime we fail, we give the enemy a foothold. Everytime we gossip and create disunity, we give the enemy hope that God made a mistake with us. Every time we tear someone down with our words, we are giving Satan some ammunition to go to our Heavenly Father and point out that we are not worthy of his grace and love.

If we understood this we would see that, gossip, slander and disunity are so much more dangerous than we can ever imagine. Piper went on to say; “The church is the cosmic showcase of God’s mercy, and if we fail to live as joyful beneficiaries of his mercy and fail to maintain the unity of the Spirit, we bring a cosmic reproach upon the wisdom of God.”

Jesus prayed that you and I and all believers would be united. Let us make sure we don’t do anything to disrupt that unity (John 17:22-23).

As a church this week we sent out a young family to plant a church. They are not simply going to start a gathering of believers or build a building. This has been a difficult decision for us as a church, there have been concerns.

But what if this is way bigger than we could ever imagine. What if we took what Paul wrote to heart and really understood the role of the church as part of God’s universal plan.

What if God is going to use our brokenness and struggles to reveal his grace and glory on a cosmic stage. The universe is watching. Can you imagine God pointing to Grace Point Baptist Church and inviting the supernatural beings of the universe to watch what He is about to do.

My prayer is that as we watch the next year and years to come unfold, we will see a glimpse into God’s eternal plan for the Church.

Compassion – Caring for Someones eternal destiny – July 31, 2016

Compassion pt 1 Title.2

Isaiah 58:6-12

Compassion is what we are called to as a church. It is a mark of the Body of Christ, to be outward focused looking to help those in need. But why do we act in compassion? You may say that it’s the right thing to do, but the reality is that by doing kind things and acting compassionately, does not earn salvation. We know that the Bible says in Isaiah 64 that our righteous acts are like filthy rags. You cannot secure eternal life by doing good things for people, so why do we care? Why do we show compassion to the poor and the hurting?

The Bible has a lot to say to us about compassion. The Children of Israel were instructed in the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 15 to be openhanded in caring for the poor and the needy. Jesus in his time here on earth was moved with compassion and healed many people.

One of the most outstanding portions of Scripture relating to compassion, is found in Isaiah 58.

The bible is full of conditional statements, if-then statements. If we are obedient to God, then there is a promise from Him. If you include the first line of verse 6, we have 3 “IF” statements and 3 “THEN” statements.

God’s people are chosen to “loose the chains of injustice,” and to, “Untie the chords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free” The children of Israel knew slavery, they would have remembered that they were once slaves at the hands of the Egyptians. Now they were living in the promised land and they had taken the people of the land and turned them into their slaves. Today slavery is all around us, moral injustice, oppression, sex-trafficking, and the ultimate injustice, the killing of the unborn.

Not only are we to speak up and act against injustice, but as verse 7 continues, we are to be generous in our compassion. “Share your food”, Provide shelter, Clothe the naked.”

Compassion involves giving; giving of our time and money and energy.

In verse 8 we see the first “Then” statement, a beautiful word picture of the ending of the night, a new day, new blessings. The second line of verse 8 says; “your healing will quickly appear.” Some people ask why we don’t we see healing today. The truth is that healing takes place all over the world, as God’s people pray. Sometimes we don’t see healing because we are too inward focused. God looks to see the motives of our heart, as we give of ourselves to others we will see healing taking place.

The next line reads; “your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard”. Again this is a beautiful word picture that the children of Israel would have understood as being a reference to the pillar of cloud and fire that moved to the back of Israel to protect them against the attacking Egyptians in the Exodus. What a promise! If you are doing what God has called you to, he will protect you and be your rear guard.

Moving to verse 9, we see the second “Then” promise; “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

God looks at the heart, if we pray with the right motives God moves on our behalf. (see James 4:3)

Looking further we have two “if” statements – the first is inward focused; “do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
” Gossip and pointing fingers are malicious and are rooted in pride. (See Matthew 7).

The second IF statement reads; “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed.” Instead of focusing on my little world, what about spending myself for the hungry and the oppressed.

Then what follows are the wonderful blessings in verses 10-12.

As a church that is going through a revitalization, we are seeing God answer our prayers and I believe if we keep our focus on the world around us and not on our own desires, these promises are for us.

In fact, these 6 verses are the prescription for church revitalization.

If we do what God calls us to do, he will ensure that we will stay strong. One of the promises I always cling to is at the end of verse 11; “You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” If we as a church continue to seek the Lord and do what he has called us to do, he will always provide for our needs.

 As we look at compassion it is easy to care for someone when we can see they are oppressed and maybe in bondage because they were victims of abuse. But what about the unlovely? What about the drug addict who keeps making the same mistake? Do we pick and choose who to help? We need to learn how to act in obedience to God, daily ask God to give us wisdom and discernment to be doing His will on the earth.

The ultimate purpose of compassion is leading people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Point them to Jesus using words, otherwise we are simply alleviating a temporary need. True compassion is caring for someone’s eternal destination. Do you see the poor and the needy as someone Jesus died for?

The Gospel message is the ultimate display of compassion, John 3:16, For God so loved…..that He gave” Jesus gave up his position of glory in heaven so that you and I might have eternal life. Jesus set aside his glory in heaven, but sometimes we find it difficult to set aside the remote control to help someone he died for.

How will we respond today? Let us be a people of compassion, in order to see the lost saved, the church revived and our lives blessed.

Samson part 3 God gives Second Chances July 24 2016

Samson pt 3 Title.2-01 Judges 16

We serve a God who gives second chances.

Maybe you know some of the pain of living with your mistakes. The truth is that we have all made painful mistakes and we live to regret them. The most painful regret is the regret of knowing that you are not living to the fullest potential of what God has called you to.

The good news is that no sin is beyond the grace of God, you may live with the consequences of your sin, but in the midst of the consequences and the pain, God can use your life for His glory and purposes.

 Samson was a man who sinned willfully and frequently, living an immoral life. As we look at the final chapter of his life in Judges 16 we read the familiar of his fatal relationship with Delilah. When Samson finally gave in and told Delilah the secret of his strength, he was well aware of what he was doing. In verse 17 we read; “he told her everything”, he told her that he was a Nazarite and that he was specially called by God. Samson was tired of her nagging, but sadly he was also tired of the calling of God on his life. He was fighting against God’s will for his life and just wanted to be free to be like any other man. Sadly, in his attempt to be free from the calling of God on his life, he suffered a far worse imprisonment.

The same happens to us when we know the will of God for our lives, but decide to do our own thing, resulting in pain, suffering and imprisonment.

The Philistines began to celebrate and all their rulers gathered to offer a sacrifice to their pagan god Dagon.

All the while though, Samson’s hair began to grow. The Philistines were not concerned because they knew that Samson’s power was gone, they knew that Samson’s God had rejected him and left him.

They could not possibly fathom a God who would give a second or third or fourth chance. What kind of god forgives? Only the one true God full of grace and love.

Samson realizes how he has neglected to use the gift God had given him for the Lord’s purposes. Every turn of the grinding wheel must have been painful for Samson as he had time to think of his squandered life.

Samson prays in verse 28 and asks God for one more chance, one more time to have his strength back.

Sadly, even in this prayer, Samson’s motives are impure, he doesn’t ask God for strength to give glory to the one true God, he asks for strength for revenge. Revenge is a terrible thing and it is the one characteristic of Samson’s life that had plagued him. In spite of Samson’s motive, God hears his prayer and gives him back his strength.

Samson-web

In his death Samson deals a devastating blow to the Philistines, all their rulers were killed, the nation was thrown into disarray.

God heard Samson’s prayer and reinstated his power, today God still hears the prayers of the backslidden

Samson made a mess of his life and this would be a hopelessly tragic story if it just ended there – but it doesn’t. We find that over in the New Testament that Samson’s name is mentioned in Hebrews 11 verse 32 among the heroes of the faith. That’s a surprise! Samson was a man of faith and in spite of all his mistakes and the chaos of his life, he pleased God by his faith in his final hour.

This is a comforting fact, because God can take a person who made mistake after mistake and still use him or her.

If God only used people who were perfect, nothing would ever get done.

God uses ordinary people; those who have weaknesses and have failed in life. There are no perfect Christians, only broken and humble followers of Jesus.

Maybe you feel that you’ve messed up your life so badly that God will never use you again.

God never gave up on Samson and He has not given up on you. God sees your potential and He remembers why He made you, you were created for great things.

What should you do if you have made some major mistakes in life? Exactly what Samson finally did, turn your life over to the Lord. Give Him all the pieces of your brokenness and allow him to rebuild your life to be something that will be to his Glory.

Only God knows the greatness and potential in your life, but you’ll never bring it out on your own, He must do it in His strength. Allow him to have full control over your life today.

But before you think that this is a teaching on cheap grace, that you can live however you like and God will always forgive you and reinstate you to his calling on your life, Samson is a warning to us of the consequences of living a foolish life of selfishness and pride outside of God’s will. Although God gave Samson his strength back, he was still blind. The consequences of sin in our lives will remain. We suffer the effects of our past sins. Our sins are forgiven, but by God’s grace he allows the consequences to remain in order to remind us of our poor choices and our need for a Savior. (see Galatians 6:7-8)

What about God’s call on your life? Is it being fulfilled, or is it sidetracked by some sin or distraction?

Are you living with the regret of missing the mark, living in sin and avoiding the calling of God on your life?

If this is you, you need to take that first step in acknowledging that you have been trying to do things your own way, repent of your sin and commit your life completely to the perfect will of God. Ultimately this leads to a life of peace and fruitfulness.

Samson part 2 Choosing the ultimate cause July 17 2016

Samson pt 2 Title.2-01

Judges chapters 14 and 15

I am sure most of you have at some time or another been called upon to lead in your life. It goes without saying that in order to be a leader, you need to have people following. A natural leader is one who, when he/she stands up and says; “let’s go”, people follow.

Leaders lead, because they have a cause, there is something they are passionate about and rally others around that cause. Sociologists tell us that this generation – the millennial generation are attracted to causes.

Being a Christian means that you are called by Jesus to the ultimate cause, the cause of saving souls for eternity. There is no greater cause. Quite often this is the most unpopular cause, if you truly obey Jesus, and put into practice what the Word of God teaches us, you will be in the minority, you will be going against the stream of culture. Unfortunately, even in the church if you take seriously what the word of God says, you will incur opposition, people will be provoked by your passion and many will push back, because the cost is too high. Are you willing to give your life for an unpopular cause?

Sampson was unconventional, and he did not follow the rules at all. He was a judge, a tribal leader over Israel for 20 years, but we don’t read that he rallied an army, he seldom had the support of the Israelites, in fact they opposed him. He was a loner and a rebel. But for all his faults, Samson saw the real enemy. Samson saw that the people of Israel were apathetic and had lost their way. They had not taken the land as Joshua had instructed, and were comfortable living in compromise with the Canaanites and the philistines.

Samson was a one-man army using unconventional methods, as a result even his own people didn’t approve of what he was doing. You can read some of his exploits in Judges 14 and 15. Judges 16:24 indicates that he had done many more feats than those listed in these two chapters, feats that had aggravated the Philistine people.

JAWBONE LION FOXES HONEY

As we look at Samson’s life, one gets the impression that he was a fun-loving man, with a sense of humor not taking life too seriously. He certainly didn’t take his calling seriously, he paid little attention to the requirements of being a Nazarite. His strength was probably unlike anyone who has ever lived. The speed required to catch the foxes or jackals, and the strength to carry the city gate and part of the wall for miles were supernatural.

For 20 years, he fought a lone battle against the philistines and didn’t rally the children of Israel around the cause. Samson directed his attacks against the Philistines who were slowly taking over the land, infiltrating the culture, through intermarriage and trade. The Israelites did not see what was happening but Samson did and he fought against it.  God had appointed Samson to be the man to begin the process of freeing the nation from the Philistines.

Sometimes the enemy encroaches on us imperceptibly and slowly, we need to be alert to recognize the danger.

So who is our real enemy? Christians are known to fight for causes, and all of these are issues that need to be resisted, I am not advocating that we passively allow our nation to deteriorate into social atheism. However, I believe that sometimes we pick battles that God did not intend for us to pick. We need to ask God for wisdom and for direction to identify the real enemy (See Ephesians 6:12). Too often we see people as the problem, but Satan is at work, developing his schemes to steal kill and destroy.

Jesus said in the sermon on the mount; “You are the light of the world”, we need to be a people of the light, shining the light in dark places, not condemning sinners but proclaiming the Gospel in love allowing the Holy Spirit to convict people of their sin. Confront evil by shining light. What I mean by shining light, is not simply doing good things for people, we need to be presenting the Gospel message, pointing people directly to Jesus as the only way the truth and the life.

Many mission organizations and ministries I have come across have noble intentions, they are helping educate the illiterate, helping to bring fresh water to sick children, building houses for the poor and needy, all of these are necessary and we must support them (read Proverbs 19:17 and Isaiah 58:10).

But helping someone out of poverty, or giving them a new skill that will help them in life is a temporary measure if we do not lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (see Romans 10:13-14).

We need to look at the temporary pain and suffering in light of eternity. Jesus is the only way of salvation. If we help people, pat them on the back and hope that by our actions, they will find Jesus, we are doing them a great disservice.

I recognize that this is not a popular message, it is counter culture, our culture celebrates the sports star who goes and helps the African village he comes from. Our culture celebrates the movie star who takes a child out of an obscure village and gives the child a “better” lifestyle with every conceivable trinket and gadget.

This is an unpopular message it is counter culture. It is similar to what Samson did, he provoked the enemy in order to wake up his fellow countrymen. What Samson did was not popular but he highlighted what was really going on.

As Christians let’s begin to think differently about the ministries we do. Do we share the Gospel? Or do we do good things, with the hope that people will one day think kindly of the church.

The reality is that there is only one cause that is ultimately worth our lives and that is the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28:19-20. That is a cause worth dying for, that is a cause that will demand a cost from us, possibly even persecution. But this is the only cause that has eternal rewards.

Let us be a Great Commission church, a church that is shining the light of Jesus in our community.

Samson Part 1 – Do you know who you are? July 10, 2016

Sampson Title-01

Who am I?

Judges 13

Do you know who you are? In answer to that question most would answer by stating where they were born, what do you do for a living or how many children or grandchildren you have and if you were brave, you might say your age. We all have an identity, we all have identifiers that we tell people in order for them to know about us and possibly categorize us.

But the truth is, this not how I am defined in the sight of God. Christians face an identity crisis in the modern world. I believe that we struggle simply because we don’t know who we are.

Samson the Judge was one person in the Bible who did not have a clear understanding of his identity, and as a result he missed out on living to his fullest potential.

This period of time in the nation of Israel is called the period of the Judges, roughly 1375 BC to 1050 BC.

Joshua died and left the nation with two instructions, defeat the remaining Canaanites and obey the law of Moses. The children of Israel do neither. The begin to relax and integrate with the local tribes and adopt their religions. During this period there began a familiar cycle; the Israelites rebelled against God, God punishes them by sending oppressive nations to rule over them, Israel repents and cries out to God for deliverance and God sends a hero, a mighty leader who stops the oppression.

That is the period of the judges, the time between Joshua and the anointing of King Saul. Sampson was the most famous judge who was appointed by God to be a Nazarite. A Nazarite was someone who takes a vow of consecration and dedication to the Lord. The Nazarite had three requirements, never to eat or drink anything that came from a grape vine, never to cut their hair, and never to be in the presence of a dead body. The purpose of the Nazarite vow was for a period of consecration, in order to seek the Lord. Sampson on the other hand was to be a Nazirite from birth, for all his life. He didn’t have a choice in the matter, he was a special child.

Sampson’s parents were unusual in their dedication and commitment. They were godly people who prayed and understood the importance of the sacrificial system. (Read the Prayers of Manoah in Judges 13:8 and 12).

Manoah had faith that what God told him was going to happen, and he also knew that he needed to hear from God the instructions he needed to raise up this child. In a time of spiritual darkness, God found a couple who were faithful to Him. Sampson was being born into a good home.

In addition to this, the promise of the Angel of the Lord in verse 5 says that: “He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” It was a promise over his life even before he was born, he was destined for greatness.

So much potential was promised and early in his childhood we read in verse 24; “and the Spirit of the Lord began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan..” He was destined for a life of unlimited potential, unfortunately he did not keep the requirements and he failed to live up to his potential. His poor choices limited his potential.

It is the same with us, the choices we make in life either fulfill the potential we have in Christ, or they hinder the potential we have in Christ.

The truth is that when you and I became followers of Jesus Christ and we are filled with the Holy Spirit, our potential changes, we become people of unlimited potential.

Getting back to that question, do you know who you are?

The Bible is full of descriptions of our identity in Christ; 1 Peter 2:9-10 says; “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Imagine what would happen if we truly got this, if we truly grasped who we are as followers of Jesus.

Too many Christians are walking around in fear, anxious of what might happen tomorrow, this is a symptom of mistaken identity. We fear because we don’t know who we are, we fear because we simply don’t grasp the awesome power of God. We need to walk as Children of the King.

When you and I become followers of Jesus Christ, we begin a new life, we are born again. No matter how old or young we are, we begin a new life of unlimited potential. Sampson began life with unlimited potential, but as we will see next week, he made poor choices and threw away that potential. Maybe you realize that you have not lived up to your potential as a Christian, you are still living for yourself, making poor choices, not trusting God with your life and your future. You realize that you have an identity crisis, and need a fresh understanding of what it means to be a child of the King. A prince or a princess in the kingdom of God.

Pray that God will give you a fresh revelation of who you are, and read the promises found in the Word of God.

Read: Phil 3:20, Phil 4:13, Phil 4:19, Col 1:11, Col 1:22, 2 Timothy 1:7, John 17:14, 2 Peter 1:3, Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 5:1.

Sermon on July 3 2016 – The Mission is not Complete

20160621_124945 20160622_124554 20160622_163834

Matthew 24: 3-14

This past week, our small mission team returned from the town of Buea Cameroon. For most of our team, this was not the first mission trip to Africa, although it was our first mission trip to the country of Cameroon.

As the mission team comes back and shares stories it is both inspiring and challenging. But how does it affect your life? How does our church sending a mission team to Cameroon affect you in your day to day life?

Jesus speaking to his disciples on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24, makes it clear that we are all in this together. The mission that we are called to does not apply to a select few, rather we are challenged by Jesus to be involved and not to grow cold in our efforts to share the Gospel.

In Cameroon we experienced a nation that seems chaotic and one filled with corruption at all levels. Poverty is everywhere to be seen and making a living in Cameroon is exceptionally hard, requiring most people to work much harder than the average American just to bring home enough money for some rice and beans.

This past week we were once again reminded of the rise of evil in the world as we saw the news about terror attacks in Istanbul, Serbia, Bangladesh and Baghdad. The truth is that as Jesus warned us in verse 12, there will be an increase in wickedness. The world seems to be spiraling downwards as all around us we see the wickedness and the depravity of man. Verse 12 goes on to give a dire warning that the love of most will grow cold as a result of the increase of wickedness. What a sobering thought to meditate on.

As we see evil on the rise in the world, it does affect all of us, whether directly or indirectly. If we don’t know where we stand before God and we don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if you attend church simply because it is a social gathering or a place to go to because of tradition – you are in real danger. In order to avoid growing cold and falling away we need to completely give every aspect of our lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

But Jesus gives a word of encouragement in verse 13; “but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. “ I want to be one of those who stands firm, and is not given to discouragement.  God commissioned Joshua in Joshua 1:9 with those well-known words; “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Why would God warn Joshua not to be discouraged? Because God knew that he would face discouragement and we too are prone to discouragement. As we look at the world around us, we will easily be discouraged. But the truth of the promise given to Joshua is that Jesus gave us the same promise in the Great Commission in Matthew 28, where he promised to be with us to the very end of the age.

Looking to the next verse Jesus goes on to say; “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

This Gospel, this good news of Jesus coming to the earth to provide way of reconciliation with God. Must be preached in the whole world. In Cameroon there are 278 people groups, not all of them have heard the Gospel, our mission is not complete, there is still work to be done. Here in Kansas City, there are people who have never heard the Gospel message, there is still work to be done.

Our job is not done until Jesus comes back again. That should be our primary focus in life.

Over the next three weeks we have a mission teams coming to serve and share the gospel in our community. On Monday we served our community as we welcomed our neighbors to watch the fireworks from our hilltop location. Our friends from Team Xtreme and other ministries to helped to provide opportunities for people to respond to the Good News. And we had three young men who responded to the Gospel presentation.

In two weeks time, we will be holding our annual VBS, again we will intentionally be sharing the Good News with the children who come and their parents.

All these events and teams are good and energizing, but for us to be a church on mission, doing what God has called us to do, we must not simply hold events, programs, or even send international mission teams, we need to be a people who are daily on mission. Daily, individually asking God to use us. Daily pray that God will bring people to us that He wants to touch.

What a privilege we have to be part of the mission of God. Developing a lifestyle of Gospel ministry in our homes, in our workplaces, in our communities. This is how we can ensure that we will stand firm to the end. And to hear those words of Jesus that he said as he told the parable of the 3 servants in Matthew 25; “well done good and faithful servant.

The Armor of God June 15, 2016

EGITTO_(F)_0818_-_Leggi_antiterrorismoEven a brief glance at the evening news or the front page of a newspaper and one is drawn to fear and uncertainty. The world seems to be spiraling out of control and evil is on the rise.

The recent terrorist attack in Orlando is another example of the ruthless enemy that the world is facing. Paris, Brussels, Istanbul, Nairobi… the list goes on of cities that have experienced the horrors of a different kind of war in their streets and public places. It seems that the leaders of the nations are struggling to know how to respond each time another suicide mission is launched. Our own country is embroiled in a bitter presidential campaign that seems to leave the wellbeing man in the street out of the discussion. Uncertainty is everywhere, and it is true to say that we have never experienced days like these before.

King David had uncertain days, his own family turned against him and yet he trusted in the strong arm of the Lord, look at what he wrote in Psalm 62;

5Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.

As Christians we know that God is working out all of history for the Day of the Lord, when Jesus will come again in victory as the mighty warrior King. Until that time we must hold fast, trusting the Lord and not giving in to fear and uncertainty. Just like Peter as he walked on the water, we will sink if we take our eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul writing to the Ephesian church reminds us that the struggle we endure is not against flesh and blood but rather there is a darker and more sinister evil at work. Ephesians 6:10-12; “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and savior, you cannot put on the armor of God, you will be exposed and subject to all the forces of the evil one. But as Christians, we can “suit up” in prayer, being ready for what lies ahead, moving forward in faith rather than fear.

As a church we have the Gospel, the Good News, the only news that is able to save. This is the news that the world around us desperately needs and people are looking for as they see the evil all around. We must boldly proclaim the Gospel, counting the cost, but unashamedly fulfilling the calling that God has for us as a church.

The Summer of Missions is not simply a nice cliché or a fun activity to keep our young people busy, it is a rescue mission.

Playing our Part; “When are we ready to share the Gospel?” June 12, 2016

Evangelism 4 Title.2

Luke 10:1-17

Over the last three weeks we have been looking at the subject of evangelism. With all this talk about evangelism and knowing the Gospel, when is one ready to go and share the truth of the Gospel message?

As we know Jesus had his twelve disciples that he chose, but Jesus had many other followers or disciples with him, He had his inner circle, and then another group of followers, and then a much larger group of followers.

We read in the Gospels that he exposed them to ministry seemingly before they were ready. He threw them in the deep end as it were. Jesus didn’t spend hours in a classroom with his disciples, it seems that he gave them some brief instructions and then sent them out.

You may remember that just before Easter we looked at the journey that Jesus took to Jerusalem, and how he resolutely set out for Jerusalem, knowing that he would be crucified there. In Luke 10 Jesus selected seventy two disciples and sent them into all the towns on the way that he was planning to go. They were to prepare the way for him, to herald the coming of Jesus.

Before they went Jesus gave them some instructions, the instructions we have recorded in the Gospel of Luke are simple and brief. This was not a coach team talk or a pep talk to get them fired up. Jesus warns them that it is going to be tough, he says in verse 3; “ Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”  Not very encouraging!

After some practical details, Jesus gives them some ministry instructions about what to do when they are welcomed in the town. (See verse 9).  I can imagine the disciples feeling a little nervous at this point. They had seen Jesus heal many sick people, but now he was giving them the power to do what he did.

They were to go into the town and demonstrate the power of God – heal the sick – take care of the physical needs of the people. Jesus demonstrated his power and then taught, it was not just a way to get attention, and it was to prove that he had the power to back up what he was teaching. As we go and share the Gospel, we must care for the physical needs of people, praying for healing, showing compassion. Compassion without sharing the Gospel is temporary pain relief, but sharing the Gospel without compassion often is fruitless.

After healing the sick their message was very simple as we read in verse 9; “tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” They were to herald that God himself was going to visit their town. Everyone had a choice to make, either accept Jesus or reject him. Unfortunately many chose to reject him, and they crucified the Prince of Peace. Jesus lists three towns that rejected him. Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. These three towns on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee where the places where Jesus had spent most of his time in ministry. They had seen his miracles and power, they heard his words of teaching, and yet many of them rejected him.

mapgalileeregion_2

Because of their knowledge, Jesus said they would be punished more severely on that final Day of Judgment.

We need to hear this warning, we have overwhelming access to the Word of God and teaching, we must be very careful that we do not reject the Word of God.

The 72 returned with great rejoicing. I am sure they left with fear and anxiety, but then they saw the hand of GOD and they witnessed His power to change lives. They must have run back to Jesus with excitement and joy that was probably heightened by relief.

Just like these disciples, when we go out as His ambassadors, weak, fearful perhaps expectant, and then God shows up and we see lives changed.

The disciples weren’t the most equipped, they were not the Bible scholars of their day, but they were followers of Jesus and that made them qualified.

If you are a follower of Jesus you are qualified.

Never disqualify what God has qualified! Remember you and I are ready to do what God has called us to do today!

This is the foundation of a missional church. Every member on mission. That is my heart and desire for us as a church, how we can all be a part of the mission of God. Yes we are all weak and broken, we all have good days and bad. We are all weak sinners saved by the Grace of God and totally reliant on the Gospel for every single day.

In order to be a witness for Jesus Christ, there is only one pre-requisite, one qualifier that you must have – you need to be a follower of Jesus. You need to know Jesus as your Lord and savior. When Jesus becomes your Lord and you receive the Holy Spirit, you are equipped.

In the church today we have so many courses and training programs on evangelism, and these are all good, I don’t want to minimize them, but sometimes we attend course after course, but never actually do the work of going out and sharing the Good News.

Just remember, God will never ask you to do something that he hasn’t prepared you to do. You may feel completely incompetent, but with the Holy Spirit leading you, you will find that He equips you along the way.

Let us be a church on mission, seeing revival and transformation in our community to the glory of God.

Playing our Part “How we share the Gospel” June 5, 2016

Evangelism 3 Title.2

Mark 1:16-20

We all know that we live in a world that is motivated by fear, but there is a deep seated fear that drives the current generation. It is the fear that motivates social media, the reason why so many people post selfies on facebook and Instagram. It is the fear that drives people to climb high mountains, or write books.

What I am referring to is the fear of insignificance, the fear of living a life that doesn’t make an impact. Everyone wants to live a life that makes a difference in the world. This generation is driven by the fear of insignificance.

But the truth is that everyone has the potential to live a life of immeasurable significance, everyone can leave an eternal legacy.

We have a privilege, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the greatest story ever told. This Gospel message is powerful and life changing. It is the only message that we have that can have an eternal impact on the people around us. By keeping this message to ourselves, we are withholding the news of eternal salvation.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of Mark we read how Jesus began his ministry. Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, but he was not simply strolling on the beach.

Jesus was about to set in motion a ministry that would ultimately lead to his crucifixion, and change the entire world. He was selecting his disciples. God the Father led Jesus in this process, Jesus was not randomly calling people, he was not looking for a crowd, he was looking for the select few. Those who would follow him, ultimately paying with their lives for the Gospel message.

Jesus is still calling people today to follow him, to leave all behind and follow him to make a difference in the world.

Mark records that Jesus says three simple words; “Come, follow me” Jesus took the initiative as he called his disciples. This is the truth of the Gospel message. In our own fallen sinful nature, we do not seek God out, he seeks and calls us. Jesus was demonstrating the way of the Kingdom even as he called his disciples.

Jesus goes on to declare a promise over their lives. A promise that still stands for all the people that God calls. “I will make you fishers of men”. Jesus had “caught” them, now he was beginning the process of equipping them to carry the message of salvation. They did not know what they were being called to, but they followed in faith.

When we say yes to Jesus, we don’t know what that will lead to. For all of us, who know Jesus as our Lord and savior, we say yes, because we are called. Called to be people who leave an eternal legacy.

esus went on, and saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee, calling them they left everything without delay. They left everything, turned 180’ and followed him. Today Jesus calls us, and asks us to do the same, change the direction of your life. This is the essence of being born again, it is not a mere addition to your life. Being born again is a complete shift; a change of perspective, priorities and life goals.

Below are five practical applications that we all need to bear in mind as we seek to lead lives of eternal significance and be fishers of men.

1: You cannot share what you do not have; In order to lead others into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, we need to know Jesus as Lord for our own life. This is not simply attending church or attending a life group, rather asking Jesus Christ to become Lord of your life, and growing in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

2: Know your story; Every one of us has a story, but the most important story we can share is how Jesus saved us and our lives were transformed by the Gospel. We need to be able to share our story in three minutes or less in a way that clearly demonstrates the saving power of Jesus Christ.

3: Know the gospel; The central point of who we are as a church is the Gospel message, and we need to be able to clearly articulate this Gospel message. (See 1 Corinthians 15:2-5)

4: Jesus calls us to an exchange not an addition; Unfortunately modern television evangelists and many others are preaching a message that teaches how you will have a better life if you “accept” Jesus, how you will be blessed if you “add” Jesus to your life. A little addition of some Jesus to your life and you will experience blessings, you will have the husband or wife you dreamed of, you will be able to claim wealth and health. That is not the truth. In fact Jesus clearly explained that when you become a follower of his there is a cost involved (see Luke 9:23-25).

5: let the Holy Spirit lead; This is the crucial part of evangelism that we must understand. We don’t convert anyone, we don’t have the ability to bring conviction of sins. We can make people aware of their need of a savior, but we cannot do the work of changing the very soul of a person, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. As D.L. Moody once wrote; “There is not a better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit”.

So where do you start?

You start at home. Sometimes the most difficult mission field. Very few of us can say that everyone in our extended family has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And in this challenging mission field is where we are called to start.

You can live a life of significance, you can make an eternal difference, but the only way to make an eternal difference is by telling others about your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Charles Spurgeon once wrote; “Only by coming after Jesus can we obtain our heart’s desire and be really useful to our fellow men.”

Revival Part 14 – Revival

 tounge-of-fire-32if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 

2 Chronicles 7:14

So those who turn in repentance will receive this threefold promise of God. He will hear, He will forgive and He will heal! What a promise.

God will hear, do you really believe that God listens to your prayers? If you don’t then God’s word is a lie.

God is listening to every prayer, He hears from Heaven, and it is from this same heaven that true revival comes. Revival is never engineered by man, it is beyond the scope and power of mankind, true revival is only by the grace of God from Heaven.

God then promises to forgive our sin. Even though we have hindered him and quenched the Holy Spirit for years, the moment we turn to Him in true repentance, He forgives totally. As we read in the promise of 1 John 1:9; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

God then promises to heal our land. In the context of 2 Chronicles, this was clearly a promise for restoration of a physical land. And it is not inappropriate for us to pray for the healing of our land. But, the land that many of us struggle with is our own spiritual lives. Because of neglect, we are far from God and our spiritual lives are rotting from the core. Only God can restore this land.

So as we come to the end of this study, we see why revival waits.

  • We struggle with pride – we don’t know how to humble ourselves.
  • We don’t pray enough, passionately enough and sincerely enough – we don’t know the power of prayer.
  • We are reluctant to turn from our wicked ways, our comfortable sin and to genuinely repent.

This is not a light burden, to pray for revival, but we must put our every effort into it. We must humble ourselves, repent and turn away from everything that displeases God.

Revival is possible, although it is dependent on the sovereignty of God, God would not call us to pray for revival if our situation was beyond hope.

Are you called to pray for revival? Will you pay the price for what it takes to see God move in power in revival in our land?