Sermon October 16, 2016 – The Word Part 1

word-pt-1-title-2Psalm 119 v9-16

As Christians we often hear about the importance of setting time aside to read the Bible. This is not simply a religious observance or tradition, the daily reading the Word of God is absolutely critical in our lives, especially in the 21st century.

Roy Peterson, president and CEO of American Bible Society.

It’s not getting any easier. As we look at modern-day America, we see a country moving away—for decades now—from the foundational, biblical values so cherished by those who have come before us, but as America is shaken by skepticism, this is the time to renew hope in the promises of God’s Word. When people are battling extreme violence, poverty and oppression, this is our time to open the healing words of Scripture.”

Psalm 119, is the longest chapter in the Bible and one of the most outstanding features of Psalm 119, is that it uses ten different terms for the Word of God in almost every verse. In fact, all but 5 verses mention the Word of God in some way.

It is believed that this Psalm was anonymously written around the time of Nehemiah and Ezra, when the Israelites were coming back out of captivity and Ezra the Priest led a revival as people once again heard the Word of God after decades of not being taught the scriptures (see Nehemiah 8:5 and 6). Nehemiah records that as Ezra read the scriptures for almost 6 hours, the people were shaken and wept upon hearing the Word of God. Can you imagine that? How I wish we would regain just some of the sense of awe and respect for the Word of God.

In the second stanza of Psalm 119 and verse 9, the Psalmist poses the question; “how can a young person stay on the path of purity?” This is a verse that we often give to young teenagers in order to encourage them to read and study the Bible. But the reality is that this is a truth that applies to all of us. One of the most basic needs of sinful man is the need to walk in the pathway of purity.

The answer given by the Psalmist is seemingly straightforward and simple; “By living according to your word”.

So it would seem that a life of purity is quite simply, following a set of rules. However, if life was simply about following a set of rules, why do we still struggle with sin in our personal lives? Jesus explained this in Matthew 15:18-19, we all have a heart problem. The Psalmist realized this too and in verse 10 and 11 we hear his cry of desperation;

“I will seek you with all my heart” – v10

“I have hidden your word in my heart” – v11

The Psalmist knew that the way to a life of purity is found when the heart and mind are filled with the powerful word of God.

The outward life comes from our inner thoughts and desires. We see the outward manifestation of the inward problem. The solution is not outward, but rather inward. The solution to the problem of sin is reading, meditating and memorizing the Word of God.

The Psalmist sees the problem, identifies the solution, but then realizes that he needs help. You see if the Bible was simply another self-help manual, then we could read it without any outside help and gain wisdom and understanding from it. But the Bible is like no other book.


As a born again believer, you have the Holy Spirit within you and he reveals truths of scripture to you. The Psalmist understood he could not master the word of God without supernatural help. And so in verse 12 he cries out; “teach me your decrees”.

And finally; in verses 14-16 we see the fruit of meditating and allowing the Word of God to permeate his life. He rejoices in verse 14 and delights in verse 16. These are not the emotions of someone who is trying his or her utmost to follow a set of rules and regulations.

When the Word of God is in your heart, it comes out as an expression of joy and delight. There is a peace that comes from allowing the Word of God to permeate and infiltrate every aspect of your life.

We live busy and stressful lives, we desperately need time to pull away from the busyness and useless information and steward our time reading and meditating on God’s word. The result will be the same as the Psalmist – we will rejoice as we allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Bible and we will delight in the truths of God’s word.

This Bible contains your Heavenly Father’s love letter to you, He wrote it for you. It is your daily bread, your sword of the spirit and the truth that gives light to your path.

Love this book, treasure this book, it is no ordinary collection of pages and ink. As we apply the words of truth to our lives, we will see supernatural transformation taking place.

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.

Your ability to overcome temptation and to live a victorious Christian life, is directly proportional to the time you spend reading God’s word.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, and chapter 6, he writes about the armor of God that every Christian must put on. The only offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

We need to know how to use this weapon effectively or else we will always be weak and ineffective as Christians (see Hebrews 4:12).

The Bible is no ordinary book, and we don’t simply pick it up like we would a novel or a textbook. When you open the Bible, you must come with expectation that what you are going to read has the ability to transform you.

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

Sermon series on Stewardship Part 3 – Relationships, October 9, 2016


Stewarding our relationships

1 John 4:7-21

Each of us is placed in a specific home environment, workplace or community exactly where God wants us to be. If we believe that God is in control of all things, then there is no one in your life who is there by chance. Everyone in your life is there because God knew you needed to be in a relationship with them. Sometimes those relationships are not easy, sometimes they lead to angry words and frustration, but when you look back on your life, you will see that they are there for a reason. I want to challenge you to think about why God has placed the people in your life that He has.

In the book of 1 John, the Apostle John focuses on our relationship with God and our relationships with each other. In 1 John 4:7-21, we see the word “love” repeated 27 times. John starts this section in verse 7 by writing; “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. The Greek language is much more descriptive than our English language and Greek has a number of different words for Love. The Greek word that John uses here for love is Agape. The type of love that characterizes God is not a sappy, sentimental feeling that we think of with our limited vocabulary.

God loves because that is His nature and the expression of His being. Agape love does not come naturally to us, because of our fallen nature, we are incapable of producing such a love. If we are to love as God loves, that agape love can only come from God. This is the love that we receive by the Holy Spirit as we read in Romans 5:5; “…because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Agape love as modeled by Jesus, is not based on a feeling. Rather, it is a determined act of the will, a joyful resolve to put the welfare of others above our own. Jesus went to Jerusalem that final time, determined to go to the cross, he knew what lay ahead and he followed through on the will of his father, because of his love for us. In in this short passage in 1 John 4, we see the Gospel message referred to three times (see verses 9,10 and 14).

This Gospel message is a message of agape love, a love that is always shown by what it does.

So why is this so important?   We get a hint in verse 12 and 17; Christians are to be the demonstration of the Love of Christ to the world around us. The JB Phillips New Testament paraphrase explains verse 17 this way; “for we realise that our life in this world is actually his life lived in us.” We are Christs ambassadors in this world, we are to love with an unconditional determined love. That is what it means to be a Christian.

Our love for our fellow man flows out of our love for God. A vertical relationship enables us to love those around us. If we are struggling to love those around us, it is probably because we are struggling in our personal walk with the Lord.

What relationships has God placed around you? Each of us have spheres of influence, people that are impacted by our lives.

Our families are the first and most important relationships that we are to steward. God has placed you in your family. If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior you are called to love your family unconditionally in order that those who are not saved might see Jesus through you.

Another sphere is our Church family, our fellowship with other believers. Sometimes in our church family we find it hard to love each other because we have differing opinions and passions. But the truth is that God has called you and placed you in the church you are in for His glory.

In his book, The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer gives this interesting illustration: “Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.”

True unity comes from being in tune with God through Jesus Christ. At the root of disunity is one or more have taken their tune from another master. Whether that is their own preferences, desires, traditions or opinions. For any church to experience unity, we need to all be focusing on Jesus Christ and him alone. As we do we will find that our disagreements will melt away as we begin to experience God’s love for each other. If two Christians do not love each other, they have taken their eyes off the cross of Jesus Christ.

Paul writing in Romans 12, speaks about love in action and sets the bar high for us in verse 10: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” How many of our family arguments would simply cease to exist if we would take that verse seriously – how many of our church disagreements would dissolve if we honored one another above ourselves.

Then we have our other spheres of influence, our workplaces, community and places of recreation. The people that you encounter on a weekly basis in your favorite restaurant or at the bank or the convenience store. These are all relationships that we are called to steward. Do we see people as a means to get what we want? Or do we see them as people that Jesus died for?

God has entrusted the people in your circles to your care. He has placed you in their lives to love them, to care for them and to show them the love of the Father.

Our families and communities would be transformed if we took what the apostle Paul wrote to heart in Romans 12:10, do we honor our loved ones?

Sermon series on Stewardship Part 2 – Finances, October 2, 2016


stewardship-pt-2-title-2-01There are 2350 verses on finances in the Bible, and 15% of all the recorded words of Jesus were on money. Finances are obviously an important topic in the Word of God, and stewarding our finances well is vital to our Christian walk.

The foundation of everything relating to a discussion on finances is that God owns everything. He is the creator and sustainer of all things (see Psalm 24:1). Everything we have comes from God, we are not owners of it, we are stewards of God’s wealth. That is such an important paradigm shift we need to make in our lives.

The second reality is that we cannot take any of our material possessions with us into eternity. When we die, all our accumulation of wealth stays behind and gets divided up according to our estate. This sounds obvious, but so few live according to this reality. The Bible clearly states that what we do with our time and resources here on earth will store up for us riches in heaven. In a currency that we know nothing about.

We use the term tithe or tithing when we talk about giving money to the Lord’s work. This is not simply a modern Church word, rather tithing has been a part of many different cultures and religions throughout history. And in fact it pre-dates the law of Moses. A tithe is ten percent of one’s earnings or crops, set aside and given to God. In the OT book of the Prophet Malachi, we read how God rebukes the nation of Israel for their lack of tithing (see Malachi 3:6-12). You may argue that Malachi is in the Old Testament and it doesn’t apply to us today, we are under the new covenant and we are under grace. It is true that Jesus ushered in the New Covenant by his death and resurrection, but he also said in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to abolish the Law, but rather to fulfill the Law.

People who view tithing as simply an Old Testament law whereby one is paying a debt back to God, miss the point entirely. The early church in the book of Acts understood this and were an extremely generous people.  Tithing was never meant to pay a debt to God, in the Old or the New Testament, rather tithing builds our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Notice verse 10 of Malachi 3; “Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty….” God challenges the people to test him, this is the only time in the Bible where testing God is seen as a positive action. God encourages us to test our faith in the giving process.

When one gives a tithe to the local church it is never simply to meet a church budget. Rather, you are tithing to the ministry of reaching the lost, sharing the Gospel and bring the light of Jesus to our community. Not simply meeting a budget, who wants to give to that? No as we seek to diligently steward the gifts and tithes, we seek to make an eternal difference for the kingdom of God. Eternal souls are at stake. Give to that.

Looking at one of the lessons Jesus taught on money we read of the rich young man in Mark 10:17-25.

Notice the posture of this man as he runs up to Jesus and falls down, begging Jesus for an answer. There is a desperation. He knows that there must be more to this life and he wants to have eternal security. But notice the question he asks; “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”. This man is looking for a set of rules, a checkbox that he can tick off to say that his eternal salvation is secure.

Jesus knowing his heart lists some of the ten commandments, to which the man responds that he has kept these laws since he was a boy. But notice the commandments that Jesus mentions. Jesus only focuses on the Commandments that relate to our relationship with our fellow man. Jesus saw deep into the heart of this man and saw that he was trying to follow a set of rules rather than seeking a relationship with God.

This is a trap we so easily fall into, we want a set of rules, but God wants a relationship and then out of that relationship we seek to do the will of God. Again it is reinforced that we cannot possibly earn our way into heaven.

Jesus looks at the man and the Bible says, “he loved him”, and then Jesus raised the bar and told him to sell everything he had and give it to the poor and then come and follow him. Jesus loved him, but let him go, because Jesus knew that he loved his money more than he loved God. His money was his idol. It doesn’t mean that all of us are required to sell everything we have. But if we hold on to our money as our security, as our peace rather than Jesus, it has become an idol and we need to rearrange our priorities.

Again, the kingdom of God is not about a set of rules, it is about a relationship with our Heavenly Father.

We don’t give in order to get something from God, even though there is tremendous blessing in a life of disciplined tithing, no we give because he first gave everything for us.

So Jesus raised the bar and made it clear that our response to the Gospel is much more than 10% of our income or following a set of rules. This man lost everything because of his wealth. His wealth robbed him of the greatest wealth of all, eternal life. Today people are still being robbed by wealth, by letting their finances become and idol and it is preventing them from a relationship with the provider of all wealth.

The truth is that God doesn’t need your money, He wants your heart.

God wants you and I to understand that a closed hand is unable to receive his blessing, but a generous hand is open to receive from God.

The challenge for us as followers of Jesus is not if we should be giving 10% of our income, the real challenge is what about the other 90%?

One may argue that after tithing 10% the rest of the money is yours to use as you wish. But is that really true?

As we look at our spending habits, how much of the 90% do we waste? You may not be wasting money on lottery tickets or cigarettes, but what about things like cable TV or high interest rates on debt.

This is vital for us as Christians, we need to do everything we can to get out and stay out of debt.

Live according to a budget. Living according to and within a strict budget is the very definition of what it means to be a good steward.

When we meet people who have a close walk with God and those who have strong faith in God, if you dig a little and find out their story, you will discover that 95% of their faith lessons were lessons on finances.

If you want to grow your faith, it starts with realizing that everything we have belongs to our Father in heaven, and then trust him for the future.

Sermon series on Stewardship part 1 September 25, 2016


Redeeming the time.

We all know that life is short and that it is a constant struggle to prioritize our lives. Daily we are faced with more and more distractions from entertainment to the rise of social media.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stewardship as; “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:16; “making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” The King James version says; “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

The Greek word for redeem used here literally means to “purchase out of”. This particular word is only used four times in the Bible and all of those times by Paul. Here in Ephesians, in Colossians 4:5, and twice in Galatians, 3:13 and 4:5. The references in Galatians refers to what Christ has done for us, Galatians 3:13; “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” KJV.

The Greek word literally means to purchase freedom, the act of paying the price to free a slave. We are redeemed from our slavery to sin by Jesus Christ. So Paul is saying, that by redeeming the time you are set free from the slavery to time.

The Greek word Paul uses for time is Kairos. Kairos does not refer to the passing of time or a duration of time, but rather it means the appointed time. For example, lunch time is a Kairos time – it the appointed time for lunch. Kairos means the appointed time for a task or event. Kairos could be a short window of time or a longer duration, but it is the set and appointed time. Kairos denotes a significant time.

Paul says that we are to redeem the Kairos moments in life, or as the NIV translates it; “Making the most of every opportunity.”

So why does Paul use this imagery of redeeming the time? Looking again at verse 16; ““Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” We need to be redeeming the time, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil and our opportunities to do good will slip away. We will miss the Kairos moments if we do not redeem the time and act now.

I do not need to remind you, that life is short, and our opportunities to serve the Lord when He calls come and go. Sometimes we miss the opportunities, we get busy, we are tired, or worse – we get lazy.

We are redeemed by Christ for the work of the Lord – redeemed to serve Him (see Ephesians 2:10)

In these three verses Paul is in essence saying “wake up and make the most of the day” It is sad to see so many Christians going about their lives simply drifting through life, like sleepwalkers who never really make the most of every opportunity to live for Christ and serve him. As Christians we need to be masters of planning our schedules, taking every day by the scruff of the neck and making wise use of our time. It has been said that “a planned life can better deal with unexpected events

Life consists of millions of decisions that relate to how we spend our time. If you want to do something that is not urgent, you need to plan for it. Many of the activities that we do that have the most long-term benefit, require a steady ongoing effort. They are seldom urgent activities.

How many of us, when we are facing our last days, will look back on our lives and regret that we didn’t spend more time on facebook, or more time watching TV, or more time playing video games. We would never do that, but we would wish we spent more time building meaningful relationships, telling others about Jesus or discipling a person who is younger than us.

Time is our most valuable commodity in life, after all, why do we use the term “spend time” if it is not a valuable commodity.

I want to challenge you to really take a good look at your personal time management. Time is a gift from God, we need to realize that just like the parable of the talents that Jesus told in Matthew 25, time is given to us as our talent. This valuable talent given to us by God is intended to be used for His glory. How are we spending the talent that God has given us?

As believers in Jesus Christ, we no longer live for ourselves, we live a life of purpose, a life dedicated to serving the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what it means to be a Christian, daily asking the Lord for his direction, daily asking Him how we can live for him.

That is a life of purpose that is a life that redeems the time.

Worship – Part 3 September 18, 2016

worship-pt-3-title-2Psalm 8

I recently read an article written by an atheist scientist who was proposing a radical end to life as we know it. His premise is that the earth will not be able to sustain the population within the next 30 years.

We have probably all heard this kind of argument.  Everywhere we hear the news that man is the problem. I want to make the Biblical case today to prove that man is not the problem, there is another cause driving mankind to destruction.

Reading Psalm 8 we will see that this particular Psalm speaks directly to us today in the 21st century and the moral challenges we face as a society.

This Psalm is known as one of the nature Psalms, David praises God’s greatness as he views all of creation. God’s glory is revealed in majesty throughout the universe. But David continues in this Psalm to state that mankind is the pinnacle and crowning glory of God’s creation, this is where the Bible clearly differs from those who view mankind as the problem on the earth.

David “bookends” this Psalm with the same magnificent line of praise; “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth!” The Lord’s name is majestic, and the attributes of God are part of His name (see Exodus 34). It is the name of God that carries power, majesty, glory and justice. In our generation it seems we have forgotten the third commandment (see Exodus 20:7). Oh that we would get back to the reverence and awe of the name of God in our society.

The second verse of Psalm 8, doesn’t seem to fit in the Psalm. David is writes about the vast universe, all the animals and the creatures of the sea; and then we have this verse about infants and nursing babies. The weakest and most dependent of society. It is through the weakest of the weak that God shows His power and majesty. Satan has convinced humanity that the unborn child is a mere piece of tissue, a collection of cells, but not a human being. If you ever needed another reason why abortion is evil, just read the rest of this verse; “to make the enemy and the revengeful cease”. Satan is determined to kill as many babies as possible through abortion, because each of them is a threat to him.

David continues by looking at the awesome vastness of God’s creation, he looked up at the stars and saw how small and seemingly insignificant man is. And then he begins to ask God, “what is man that you care for him?”

This is where the psalm begins to offend the post-modern mind, verse 5 says; “yet you have made him a little lower than God, and you crowned him with glory and majesty!”

Post-modern thought hates the truth of the Bible that says that mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation. But the Bible clearly teaches that man is created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26). Modern teaching has reduced mankind to an animal and rejected God completely, as a result the world is in chaos. The created order of God is out of alignment and sin reigns. This is all as a result of sin. When Adam sinned, he relinquished his authority over the created order and became a slave to sin. In the world today, we don’t have a mankind problem, we have a sin problem!

But that is not the end of the story! God sent his son, Jesus to come to the earth as a poor defenseless baby, weak and vulnerable. As Jesus lived among us, he exercised dominion over creation. He calmed the seas and the storms, he commanded fish and wild animals to obey him. No human has ever had such dominion over nature. Jesus was fully God and fully man, and he demonstrated to us all what it means to take dominion over creation. Jesus was God in the flesh, visiting his creation and by his death and resurrection he purchased the salvation for all who call on his name (See Hebrews 2:9).

Praise God for the cross, praise God for the Gospel message, the good news of salvation that is only through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There you have the truth. We have looked at eight short verses in Psalm 8 and I have made three points that are considered offensive to the thinking of post-modern man;

  1. Abortion is wrong and contrary to the will of God
  2. Mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation, created in His image
  3. Salvation is only available through Jesus Christ.

And as we continue along the path of humanism, these statements will only become more and more offensive to the world around us. But the truth is that the Kingdom of God is not like the kingdom that is currently reigning in the world. The kingdom of God takes everything and turns it upside down.

In the kingdom of God:

  • The weak become strong.
  • The poor become rich.
  • The unborn are immeasurably valuable.
  • The last shall be first.
  • Humility and meekness is power.
  • By dying to ourselves we gain eternal life.
  • By the cross, we have freedom.

These are a few of the attributes of the kingdom of God, and our response can only be; “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

The truth is that we only begin to worship when we realize our absolute dependence on God.

We are only able to Worship God with the breath he gives us in the first place. We are only able to worship God because he places the desire for worship in our hearts.

Worship is not about having the right sound or the right songs, it is about a personal heart posture before the Lord. Remember Moses when God proclaimed his name; he simply bowed down and worshipped (Exodus 34:8). We need to live a lifestyle of worship. Worshiping God when we drive to work, worshiping God when we are resting at home, worshiping God as we go about our daily tasks. Worship is from the heart first and foremost and it all stems from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

As we meditate on that we have to simply fall to our knees and say, Father, what is mankind that you are mindful of them? Who am I that you are care for me?

Worship – part 2 September 11, 2016


This past Sunday we remembered the tragic events of 9/11/2001. It is a sad reality of our world today that sometimes it takes a disaster for us to realize what is really important and valuable to us.

Imagine that you were told that your house is about to be sucked into a sinkhole and you have two hours to get your most valuable belongings out of the house. What would you find that is your most precious possession? Assuming all people and animals were safe, some people might grab their passports, personal documents or maybe a family Bible.

In an instant our lives could be changed and we are forced to think hard about what is most important to us. In this series on worship we discovered that we worship what we give value to. We are by nature worshipers, we all give value to different things, and when we give priority to anything above God, we are worshiping that thing and that is the definition of idol worship.

King David the King of Israel was known as the man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22). As we know David wasn’t perfect, but he had his priorities right. David found his satisfaction in God, he was a true worshiper of God.

Looking at David’s Psalm 16, we find some of his secrets to true worship. This Psalm is a beautiful picture of someone who has a warm and close relationship with God

This Psalm can be divided into 4 sections.

Verses 1-2  In the first section, David sets the correct perspective. The Hebrew word for God used here is “strong one”. David declares that God is well able to protect and keep him. David declares that God is his highest treasure, his primary joy and delight.

Verses 3-4  Then in the next two verses, David turns his attention to the people around him and divides them into two classes. The first are the saints in the land, the followers of the one true God. David loves to be in fellowship with them. The second group are those who have other things in their life more important than God. Who value other things more than God. David says he will not participate in their worship. David loves the fellowship of those who put God first, but will not even name the names of the idols that people worship.

Verses 5-6  The next two verses begin with the line; “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;” As David looks at his life he sees how God has blessed him, and he is able to say; “God you are all I need” David understood that all things come from God and that God is enough. By saying that you are my cup, David is saying that God satisfies, invigorates and refreshes him. Remember what Jesus said in John 4:13-14. Is Jesus your cup? Do you still look to other things to refresh you? If you do, you will always be thirsty again.

Verses 7-8  In these verses David takes a more introspective tone, as he praises God for counseling him.  When all the noise is gone, and he is alone with his thoughts, he praises God because he knows without a doubt that God is always with him and he will not be shaken. In the 21st century, where man has rejected God, one of the greatest fear of man is silence and being alone with one’s thoughts, it should not be this way.

Verses 9-11  In these last three verses David looks forward; he has reflected on the past, praised God for the present and now he looks ahead, and he looks to the future with joy and peace. If you are anxious about the future, and many in our nation are, it is vital to spend time in prayer alone with God’s word. As you do, you get God’s perspective on your life, and like David, you can rest secure.

The final verse is a triumphant declaration; David knows that while he is still alive, he can experience the joy of the Lord by coming into his presence, and for eternity he is going to experience the pleasures of the goodness of God.

As we see from this Psalm, God is everything to David. He looks to the past, his present situation and the future and boldly states that God is enough.

As you look at your life, can you make the same statement? Is God more important to you than anything else? Worship has to be completely God-centered. The danger is that we as a culture are so performance oriented, that we define worship in terms of songs and practices, things that we do. Our focus shifts away from God as the center and we focus on things like singing quality, instruments or worship leaders. And little by little our attention goes away from the Lord and our absolute dependence on him, and we begin to focus on the quality of our worship performances. That is idolatry.

In Exodus 34, we have an example of pure worship, as Moses is alone with God. God speaks to Moses and proclaims His name; the majestic, all consuming name of God. Moses’ response is to fall to his face and worship God. (Exodus 34:8). That is Worship, when nothing else matters and we are consumed by the presence of God.

When worship becomes more about us and our preferences then it is no longer worship at all. Worship has to be all about God and Him alone.

King David lived a lifestyle of worship, he lived everyday glorifying God through his life.

“God is most Glorified when we are most satisfied in him”

John Piper

How about you? Are you able to look at your life and give glory to God because you are satisfied that He is all you need?

Worship – Part 1; September 4, 2016

Worship pt 1 Title.2

John 4:4-26

Through my mission’s travels, I have experienced many different styles and experiences of worship. Some worship style involves really loud music, some no instruments at all and others include a lot of dancing. From a western church background, sometimes it can be unnerving and unusual, but still the same it is worship to God, and we can enter into worship along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is God’s plan that worship to Him will be lifted up from all corners of the earth, in all languages, and in many different styles. God is bringing about the completion of the Great Commission in order that the world will worship Him. What we are seeing is a beautiful tapestry of praise to God, across the nations, all for the Glory of God.

The well noted quote from John Piper reads; “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the Church, Worship is. Missions exist because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate and not man.”

As we begin this series, we need to ask the question; what is worship?

Recently I was emailed the results of a survey that was taken amongst people looking for a new church to attend. Amazingly 74% of the respondents say they look for “style of service”. What does that mean? We use terms like; contemporary, traditional, seeker friendly, attractional and even orthodox. Obviously two of the major “style” considerations are preaching and singing. Does the preacher wear jeans or a suit? Does the preacher use relevant applications to the text? Does he use the text at all? Do we sing from hymnals or screens? Is there a choir, band, orchestra, and in many large churches today, you have to have laser lights and smoke machines?

Sadly; what it shows is that the worship service seems to be more about our preferences than what it really is about – worshipping God

Worship is by definition what we give worth to. We are all by nature worshippers, we all give value to something. We give value to many things; bank accounts, houses, land, family and much more. All of these things are not bad, but when we give these things more value than we give to our Heavenly Father, then we are guilty of idolatry.

Take some time to think about that, what would someone who knows you well say that you give worth to?

What would an outside observer of our church say that we give worth to?

The essence of the Christian life is giving worth to God above everything else. God is to be valued and worshipped above all else in our lives.

Jesus broke so many structures when he came to live here on earth. By his death on the cross and his resurrection he removed the Old Testament methods and rituals of worship. The veil to the Holy of Holies was torn and all people now have access to God through Jesus the spotless Lamb of God. Jesus spoke about this shift that was to come in the account of the woman at the well that we read in John 4:4-26.

Jesus was explaining to this woman that a new era of worship was being ushered in. In the Old Testament we know that there were strict instructions given in the Law that Moses received from God about the style and the format of worship. But as we read the New Testament, you will notice that there is a remarkable lack of instruction and format prescribed for the worship service of the church. In fact, the translated Hebrew word for worship is virtually absent from the New Testament. Why is that? The New Testament church that began in Jerusalem did not have a set of rules or Order of Service that we are instructed to follow.

The key to answering that question is in what Jesus said to this woman, in verses 23 and 24; “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Remember the words of Jesus in Mark 11:17; when he is chasing away the temple traders; “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations”, quoting the prophet Isaiah.

Jesus was turning the focus and attention away from the outward acts of the Jewish sacrificial system and directing their focus towards a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. Worship doesn’t have to have a building or a temple and a series of sacrifices, it has to have faith in the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

True worship takes place within; the Bible says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). We do not go to worship, but we are to live lives that are constantly worshipping God. That means that worship must be happening before we go to church on a Sunday morning.

 Sometimes we go about our day to day lives, we get so busy running the rat race, we drift further and further in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our lives grow cold to the things of the Spirit, then we come to church expecting to experience God and it feels dull and lifeless. My friends, the problem is not the church, the problem is that we are not worshipping God every day. The experience of the heart is the indispensable essence of worship.

Vaughan Roberts wrote; “Are you gripped by the mercy of God? If not, you will never worship Him. An understanding of God’s mercy to us is the fuel that energizes and empowers our worship in all parts of life.”

It is all about a relationship with God that fuels our worship, that relationship is only available through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ the risen lord.

Do you know and worship God this way?

Going Farming – Planting a church part 2 August 28, 2016

Church Planting Bulletin 2 digi-01

2 Thessalonians chapter 1

Healthy churches plant other churches”, is an often repeated statement, but the question must be asked; why do we plant churches?

Last week as we looked at Ephesians 3:10 we began to understand that the church is more significant than we can ever imagine.

2 Thessalonians is a brief letter that is closely linked to Paul’s first Epistle to the early church in Thessalonica. It was written within three or four months after the first letter, and intended to clear up confusion about the future. In the first letter and chapter 5, Paul wrote about the Day of the Lord – the day when Jesus will come again. The persecution that the early church was going through led some in the city to believe that the “Day of the Lord” had arrived. The early church was struggling under persecution and naturally concluded that Jesus was coming and the Day of the Lord was imminent.  Paul’s focus of the second letter was to teach the young church that trials are a part of the Christian life.

Paul commends them that their faith is growing in verse 3, but then he addresses the trials they are going through in verse 4. Paul tells them that he is proud of them for persevering and not giving in. Paul understood the secret that James wrote about in James 1:2-4.

God’s wisdom is that we go through trials not as punishment, but rather to cause us to lean into God and trust in His grace. Trials deepen our faith and through trials we grow in our Christian walk.

Not only that, trials and hardships are one of the most powerful tools to show unbelievers that your faith is real. It is really easy to say that Jesus is my all and sing; “all I need is you Lord!” when things are going well. But when the challenges mount up, people are watching to see if you really live what you say you believe.

The reality is that church planting is hard and there is a lot of sacrifice and trials along the way. It requires perseverance.

So why do we plant churches?

Firstly, plant churches not because the city needs a church like another convenience store or a bowling alley. No, the city needs a church because Jesus is coming back.

If the first century church in Thessalonica were awaiting the imminent return of Christ, how much more can we see the Day and the hour approaching. All we have to do is read Matthew 24, where Jesus explains the signs of the end times, where he talks about nations fighting against nation, famine, earthquakes, terrible global events and then He will come again in glory (See Matthew 24:19-20).

Jesus is coming back soon and we plant churches in dark places because it is the most effective way to reach the lost and disciple them, drawing people out of darkness into the family of God. I really believe that there is not much time. We need to be reaching the lost.

And then secondly, we plant churches for His Glory. Look at 2 Thessalonians 1:2. Remember that God is revealing his wisdom, his grace, and his glory to the universe through the church. Are we revealing the Glory of God here at Grace Point? Does your church reflect the glory of God?  Look at the powerful benediction that Paul penned in Ephesians 3:20-21; “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

We plant churches, for the Glory of God.

We need to be a church that displays the glory of God, not because of anything special that we have or do, absolutely not. We reveal the Glory of God when we lift the name of Jesus high. When we are known for being followers of the King of Kings and not merely a gathering of the community.

So what is our expectation in planting a church? For some it is simply a financial decision of sending a family with money to support them, and all we see is the drop in our bank balance.

But my prayer is that we could have a bigger vision. Are we planting with the dream of a harvest? Are we planting for the glory of God, for the name of Jesus?

My prayer is that by planting a seed in the city of Cincinnati, we could stand before Jesus on judgment day and say; “Lord, this is what we did with the talent you gave us.”

It is all about the glory of God and that Jesus is coming again soon. Let us pray for our city and the city of Cincinnati as we pray for our nation.

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.