“Do this in Remembrance of Me” January 24, 2016

The Lord's Supper Title.2

1 Corinthians 11:23-34

We all struggle to remember things from time to time, some are better than others at remembering names and dates. Jesus knows that we have a tendency to forget, in fact Jesus spoke in parables so frequently because he knew it was the best way for people to remember. Strange – the creator of the universe knowing what is the best way to communicate to his creation!

But the bible is largely narrative, in fact 24 books of the bible are almost completely narrative. Why? Because we remember stories, we remember pictures, we remember illustrations. Jesus often used word pictures and practical illustrations to teach, and he left us with two ordinances in the church. Two practical things to do that when we understand them, we know all we need to know about the Gospel and our salvation. The two ordinances are Baptism and the Lords supper.

Today we will be joining together in remembering the Lords supper, as we do every month. Unfortunately it can become a routine, and along with a routine, we can lose significance. These symbols and this practice is a remembrance of the very foundation of our Christianity. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good news proclaimed. Jesus instituted the Lords supper during his last supper with the disciples (see Luke 22).


The church in Corinth to whom Paul was writing in 1 Corinthians 11, was established around AD 50 as Paul went there on one of his missionary Journeys. Corinth was a wealth trading city in ancient Greece, as a result of being in a key position in a trading route between the mainland of Greece and the area called the Peloponnese. Paul become very familiar with the area and the people as he spent 18 months there on his second missionary journey.

But the young church in Corinth was not doing well. They gathered together frequently but as we read from the letters of Paul to the church, they had a lot of problems. One of the problems he had to address was the abuse of the Lords supper. Instead of a solemn reminder of the Lords Death, it had become a feast, a glorified pot-luck. People were bringing food and then gathering in corners of the room and feasting, even getting drunk, while others were left out, without food and going hungry. As a result of being in a wealthy region of trade, there was a large gap between the wealthy and the poor, and the meal that they shared together highlighted the fact of these differences, people were forming cliques with other wealthy people and ignoring the needs of others.

Paul was drawing them back to the real reason for the ordinance, the Lords supper is intended to show the selfless act of Jesus in sacrificing his own body. The remembrance of the overwhelmingly generous act of Jesus on the cross, was now being corrupted by the selfish attitudes of the wealthy, what a contrast.

The body of Christ, the church is supposed to be the one place where we are all on the same footing. This is the level playing field, where no-one is better than another. No matter how much money or how little money one has, we are all equal before the cross of Jesus Christ. We are all sinners in need of a savior, we are all desperately poor until we come to the cross and make Jesus Christ Lord of our lives.

Paul goes on in verses 28-32 to warn them that the consequences of eating and drinking the elements in an unworthy manner will result in sickness and even death. Today when we remember the Lords supper, we always give a time to allow us to reflect and allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin in our lives. Particularly of sins between members of the Body of Christ. This is what Paul us talking about here. If you and I have anything against someone else, we need to make that right, don’t simply go on and take the elements as if nothing is wrong. It is better for us not to take the elements than to receive punishment from God.

There are two types of people who should not participate in the Lords supper. The first is unbelievers, those who do not know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. The symbols mean nothing to them. The second group is people who are Christians, but for whatever reason, they are not right with the Lord. There is sin in their lives, or there is a relationship with another believer in the church that is not right.

We need to eliminate the stigma of not taking the elements. As you pray, if the Holy Spirit convicts you of something that is not right, do not participate, it is much better for you not to.

As Paul stressed that the Lords supper was intended to build up unity and a common bond between believers, because it reminds us of the selfless act of Jesus, this time before the table of the Lord should always bring greater unity in the church.

The unique aspect about the Lords supper is that it incorporates all the senses, thus we have no excuse for forgetting. Jesus knows that we are prone to forget him in our busy daily schedules.

But these symbols will mean nothing to you if you don’t know Jesus as your personal savior. They serve as a reminder, but you cannot remember what you do have not experienced personally. Do you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior?

Remembering what Jesus has done for you on the cross must affect every aspect of your life.

By remembering what Jesus has done for you, you will be able to face challenges of life, you will be able to withstand temptation and overcome the plans that Satan has for your life and you will be able to stand before a gravestone of a loved one and celebrate because you know that there is a glorious hope beyond the grave.

This table reminds us that Satan has been defeated, and that Jesus is coming again!

A discussion on Revival – Part 1

What is Revival?

This is a short study on the topic of revival. This is based on the book written by Selwyn Hughes called; “Why Revival Waits”

Praying for revival is what we do every Tuesday morning here at Grace Point. It is a powerful time with the Lord and we will faithfully continue to pray each week as the Lord directs us.

We do this because we believe that this is the greatest need of the church today and it is also the greatest need of the Christian church at large.

When we think about revival and prayer, the one verse that we always turn to is 2 Chronicles 7:14; “if 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.”

Most of us can recite this verse, and it was the theme verse for the great Welsh revivals and the theme verse for the Global day of prayer movement, that grew to encompass every nation in the world between 2000 and 2010.

It is God’s formula for revival.

Defining revival is difficult because it is a word so frequently used and thrown around. Some call a revival a weekend where more people than usual come to know the Lord as their savior.

But a true revival is an unusual and extraordinary movement of the spirit of God. Very different from anything previously experienced. Not just a trickle but a flood.

What revival is not.

Revival is not an evangelistic campaign – Billy graham was used by God as a tremendous evangelist, but evangelism and revival are very different.

Evangelism is the expression of the church – it is what we do – or should do.

Revival is an experience in the church.

In an evangelistic appeal, the preacher calls for people to repent and be saved.

In a true revival, the people come to the preacher and ask how they can be saved.

Throughout history there have been many revivals in the Body of Christ; in America there was the First and Second Great Awakening in the 18th century. In South Africa in 1860 there was a revival that started in a small town in the church of Andrew Murray. There was the great Welsh revival in 1904, and there have been others throughout history. All of these revivals have one thing in common; people interrupted the preacher to beg him to tell them how to be saved.

During evangelistic preaching, people come under the conviction of sin and this conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit.

In a true revival the power and presence of the Holy Spirit it so strong that people are crying out in the streets for salvation, as they are made aware of their own personal sin.

Revival is not a large number of backslidden believers coming to repentance.

Revival is not a wonderful meeting, where we felt the presence of God and enjoyed the music.

Rather revivals are often accompanied by great sorrow, crying, and grief.

So as we continue to look at this subject over the next few weeks, let’s be very sure that we know what we are praying for.

Be Still and Know – Psalm 46 Part 3 1/17/16

Be Still and Know that I AM God.

Psalm 46  Title part 3.2

Psalm 46


Over the last two weeks we have looked at this Psalm and seen that we are commanded not to fear, and we are challenged to be still before God. But there is a bigger question that we need to be asking, why? Why should we not be afraid? Why should we be still? What is the motivation? Looking again at verse 10; “Be still and know that I AM God.”

If we don’t know God, we have no reason to be still before him. If we don’t know God we can try as much as we like not to fear, we will always live in fear. Without the knowledge of God, life is a futile treadmill of fear and uncertainty.

Some of you may be asking; can we know God? Can we really know God? After all he is Spirit and we are limited by our flesh. He is so awesome, indescribable, all powerful, and all holy. The answer is simply yes, He is knowable. Our God is all of these attributes and much much more, but he is also knowable and approachable.

In Jesus, God became flesh and lived with us. Jesus came to die for your sins and mine, Jesus came to overcome death and conquer sin forever, he came to restore our relationship with God, providing for us a way to be able to pray directly to the Father and show us who the Father is. (See Colossians 1:15 & Hebrews 1:3)

As we look at Psalm 46, we see four attributes of God;

The first attribute we see is found in verse 4; “4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” Water is essential for life, every living thing needs water, and throughout the Bible, rivers are depicted as a blessing of God’s provision.

So the first attribute of God that we can know, is that he is our provider. There is nothing that we have that we did not get from God. He created all things, all things belong to him we are blessed by his daily provision. Jesus spent a lot of time in teaching his disciples about the provision of God, In Matthew 6, Jesus tells his disciples not to worry about food and clothing, and that our Heavenly Father knows what we need and He will provide.

The next attribute of God that we find referenced in this Psalm is found in verse 5 which reads; “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” And verse one reads; “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Not only is God our help in times of trouble, but we need to rely on God at all times to help us. When God calls on us to do something, he doesn’t give us the instructions and then sit back and see if we are able to do what he is calling us to do, He promises to be our helper (see Psalm 20:7).

God doesn’t call you to do something because of your own natural ability.

God may tell you to stand up against injustice, such as abortion or child trafficking, or He may tell you to stop taking drugs, smoking, or an addiction to pornography, God knows you cannot do this in your own strength, but He can help you overcome any challenge (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). God is looking for people who trust him, who rely on him. What is God asking you to do today that seems impossible?

Thirdly we see another attribute of God in verse 7 and verse 11; “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress”. God is always with us, and he knows exactly what is going on in our lives. God knows what you are going through in your most private times, when the fears of the world seem to come crashing down on you. But notice this, not only is God with us, but the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord Almighty is with us (see 1 John 4:4). If you truly know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, you have the Holy Spirit residing in you. You have the presence of God with you all the time. Sometimes you may feel alone, but that is where faith steps up and you declare the promises of God. Remember God promises to be with you, he is faithful to that promise. Your feelings must not govern your relationship with God. He calls us to live by faith.

The final attribute of God we see is portrayed in verse 8, which starts with the statement; “Come and see what the LORD has done”. Again we have the picture we have of a soldier on the walls of Jerusalem calling all the people to come and see the destruction that the angel of the Lord had done to the Assyrian Army. 185000 enemy soldiers killed. We see a picture of a God who is able. The Lord God almighty is able to get the job done, he is not weak, but swiftly acts on behalf of his people.

There is absolutely nothing that God calls you to do, that He is not able to accomplish through you.

God cannot use us if we come to him with our credentials, and present them to him as if he will find that he needs us.

God blesses us by calling us to be his vehicles to bless those around us.

Remember the hopeless situation that Hezekiah faced, the next day he would be killed by King Sennacherib. But he went into the temple, laid the letter from Sennacherib before the Lord, he laid the problem before the throne of God and asked God to move on his behalf. Why? Because he knew that God was able.

What is it that you are facing? What is the letter that you have from the enemy, asking you to surrender to fear and stop moving forward? God wants to use that letter from the enemy as a testimony to His Glory.

Be Still and Know – Psalm 46 Part 2 1/10/16

Be Still and Know that I AM God.

Psalm 46  Title part 2.2

Part 2- Psalm 46

Continuing with our series on Psalm 46, and specifically looking at the first part of verse 10. “Be still and know that I AM God.” I want to look at two words in this verse “Be Still”. There are two different translations that we find, and two ways to look at these words.

The first one is translated in the NASB, which says; “cease striving and know that I am God” The dictionary defines to strive as; “to contend in opposition, battle, or to struggle vigorously, as in opposition or resistance:”

Literally what this text is saying is that we must not strive against God. We obviously know that this is stupidity and we would never directly oppose God Almighty. But what about murmuring against God? We have all been guilty at one time or another of complaining or murmuring against God. We don’t have to look further than the children of Israel during the Exodus to see how much their murmuring cost them.

Who are we to complain or murmur to God about what He is doing? We would never call it murmuring, but when we gossip about His church, the Body of Christ, we are murmuring against God. We don’t like what God is doing, but we blame it on someone else, we complain about the younger or older generation, we complain about the Deacons or the Pastor, but what if we are complaining about God’s servants, when in reality, God is answering our prayers for revival but we just don’t like the way in which he is going about it. When you are tempted to complain and gossip, why don’t you stop and pray, and ask God what He is doing? You may find that He says to you, stop striving.

The Prophet Habakkuk complained against God, and God put the world in perspective for him; “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk 2:20.

The fact that He is God, is sufficient reason why we should be still before Him. Not complaining or murmuring in any way, but calmly acknowledging who He is and submitting to Him.

But there is another way of interpreting this verse and that is the way the NIV puts it; “Be still and know that I AM God”. Literally we need to be still.

Last week we dealt with the way in which we so easily get trapped in fear as we look at our television news or the world around us. The world we live in is a crazy place. Never before in all of history have we had so much information available to us at the push of a button. But this leads to a situation of information overload and a short attention span. We live in the digital age, whether we like it or not. And the result is a tremendous increase in stress related ailments. Our news is often boiled down to 140 character headlines in twitter, or poorly written text messages.

A recent study by Microsoft Corporation has found that the human attention span has shortened from 12 seconds to 8 seconds in the last decade. The average goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds, so much for evolution! The study said; “Heavy multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli — they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,”

 This digital age has had a dramatic effect on our personal spiritual lives. The shortening of the ability to focus, has made it increasingly difficult for people to pray. As a result many Christians are weak and easily distracted. We are unable to focus on what is really important, because we struggle to filter out that which is mindless noise. If we were honest with ourselves, we would realize that we have some kind of noise in our lives all the time. Whether it is the radio on, or the TV going all day. We have become a people who are afraid of silence. Silence terrifies us because it is in the silence that we have to confront ourselves. We are so inundated by bad news and mostly irrelevant news that we forget about the good news of the Gospel, we forget that Jesus came to set us free from the world and its treadmill.

Don Whitney said; “As sleep and rest are needed for the body, so silence and solitude is needed each day for the soul.”

If you do not have a daily time with the Lord, you are probably not growing as a Christian. You come to church on a Sunday for a boost and a word of encouragement to keep you going, but then you slowly slide back as the week progresses. I cannot stress enough the importance of spending time alone with God in silence. Oswald Chambers wrote in 1936; “Solitude with God repairs the damage done by the fret and noise and clamor of the world.” If he felt that in 1936, how much more do we have to contend for that solitude with God?

What I am talking about here is discipline. The discipline to slow down and hit the off button. This is a fight for our survival, the church is filled with weak Christians because we do not take the discipline of prayer and solitude seriously. This is not for the few, this is for all who identify themselves as followers of Christ.

Read what Jesus said in Matthew 6:6; Jesus doesn’t say, if you pray, but when you pray. It is imperative that prayer be a part of your daily life. Then Jesus said, go into your room – we need to establish a place for prayer. Find a regular place where you can meet with God each day, Jesus goes on to say, close the door. Close the door on the world, that also means for us, don’t take your digital devices into your prayer room. Take a bible, a journal and a pen. Leave the world outside and spend time with God.

When Moses came down off the Mount Sinai after receiving the law from God, we read that his face shone, because he had been in the presence of the Lord. When you leave your home in the morning, do the people you meet know that you have been with Jesus? They should..

Let us learn what it is to once again be still and know that He is God.

Be Still and Know – Psalm 46 part 1 1/3/16

Be Still and Know that I AM God.

Psalm 46 Title part 1.2

Thoughts on Psalm 46 Part 1

Here we are once again at the brink of a new year, a year that will be filled with unexpected things. We don’t know what lies ahead, what joys, sorrows, victories, defeats, good days and bad days.

Looking at Psalm 46, it is clear that this Psalm was inspired by some event that took place at that time and the general consensus is that the Psalmist was writing about an event that took place around 700 BC. The Assyrian army under Sennacherib had marched on Jerusalem, to attack and destroy the city. This took place under the reign of King Hezekiah (see 2 Kings 18 and 19).

The situation looked terrible, the greatest army in the world was laying siege to Jerusalem, Sennacherib was breathing threats of terrible things, and the people were in fear. There was no hope for deliverance, all would surely be lost. But the Lord had raised up this man Hezekiah as a man of faith. When Hezekiah received a letter of ultimatum from the invading Assyrians he did something only a man of faith would do, we read in 2 Kings 19:14; “Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.” And few nights later, the angel of the Lord attacked the Assyrian camp and killed 185000 soldiers. When the people woke up the next morning they witnessed the incredible devastation inflicted by the angel of the Lord.

Psalm 46 starts out with that wonderful line; “God is our refuge and our Strength”. God is on our side. He is for us. Refuge indicates a safe place, a place of peace and comfort. God is a mighty fortress, and we can run to him for protection and safety (see Proverbs 18:10). And God is our strength. God is all powerful – our feeble minds have no real grasp of what that means. God is on our side, and will fight for us. The psalmist goes on to say; “an ever present help in trouble”. Literally meaning that God is able to win the victory, and he is ever present, even when the clouds seem the darkest, God is our ever present help.

We live in a day and age that is controlled by fear. Every day we encounter something that we are told we need to fear. But as we look at this Psalm, it seems that in light of all the evident things that one has to fear, the Psalmist wants to make a big statement (see v2 &3), we have a picture here of cataclysmic events; mountains breaking apart and falling into the sea, the sea raging as a tsunami results from the earthquake, no one is safe, no amount of financial security can protect one from this kind of natural disaster. The Psalmist intentionally raises the fear hype to a ridiculous level in order to show that no matter what we fear, no matter how bad things seem to be, God is still on the throne, He is still our refuge and strength.

Jesus had the final word on fear, he made a statement that puts all fear in perspective; Matthew 10:28;”Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Note this is a command; “do not be afraid!” Proverbs 1:7 states; “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

We have this crescendo of dramatic destruction in verse 2 and 3, and then there is a shift in the Psalm, verse 4 and 5, explain why those listening to this Psalm can have refuge. The Psalmist goes from crashing waves to a calm stream, we have a picture of Jerusalem, with God in her midst. God living in the midst of the people, giving them peace and calm. The Assyrians, were outside the city, building siege ramps, but there was peace in the city of God. The same goes for us, we who have made Jesus Christ Lord of our lives have the Holy Spirit living in us, the same God who calmed the fears of King Hezekiah, the same God who calmed the stormy sea of Galilee, is the God who is able to bring peace into your life in the midst of the raging storm.

But then the victory comes in verse 8 and 9, the sudden destruction of the Assyrian army by the angel of the Lord. Smoke coming up from where the camp of the enemy once stood, and bodies everywhere. Can you imagine the relief, the wonder and praise for God. There must have been a celebration going on. Then there is verse 10; “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” God reminds the people, the Great I AM has one the victory.

The Psalm ends with a reminder that God is with us! We see this echoed in the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:20.

These are such exciting times to be living in, not times of fear. We need to have an eternal perspective as we look at 2016, what is God doing in the nations, what is God doing in America, what is God doing in our city. If you watch and pray and ask God to give you His perspective, you will see many miracles taking place all the time. Our God reigns.

So what is your fear today?

Paul writing to Timothy says; “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The same God who destroyed the Assyrian army, the same God who inspired this wonderful Psalm, is your Heavenly Father, and he wants to calm your fears today and give you peace.

Why Christmas Part 4 12/27/15


Why Christmas Part 4 Title.2

Acts 1:1-11

So we come to the final questions for our series, and the first is, why must Jesus come again? Acts 1:1-11 is about the ascension of Jesus, it seems to be out of place for us to read at this time of the year.

When we look at the prophets that I mentioned in the first part of the series, I said that there were some prophecies about Jesus that are still to be fulfilled. For example Isaiah 9:6-7 is a scripture that we read every Christmas, but verse 7 is still not fully realized, we wait for the day when justice and righteousness will be established and continue forever.

This is not unusual in the writings of the Old Testament prophets. It is much like looking at a mountain range from great distance, this is how the prophets saw what God was giving them. All the mountains look the same distance away, but as you get closer you see that there are valleys and great distances between the mountains. The Old Testament prophets saw from a distance, but the disciples who walked with Jesus saw the first “mountain” being fulfilled in the presence of Jesus. They believed Jesus when he said that he must go and that he will return again one day. From their vantage point, they looked to another distant mountain, the great Day of the Lord, when Jesus would come as a warrior king, to judge the world and establish his rule and reign.

The first coming of Jesus was a mission of humility and sacrifice, he came to deal with the problem of sin and he came to conquer death. But the next time Jesus comes, he will come on a mission of triumph and justice.

When Jesus comes again, it will be with a loud trumpet blast and fantastic Glory, far different from his humble birth in a manger (see 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Jesus must come in order to receive his Bride the church, and to judge the World. Both the living and the dead, both believers and unbelievers, everyone will stand before the judgment throne. At this time, Jesus will separate his faithful children from those who refused to believe in him. One to eternal reward, the other to eternal punishment. At this time Jesus will establish the New Heaven and the New Earth, all things will be made new. God’s people will live together in perfect fellowship with one another and with our creator. No more sin, no more pain, no more tears. That is why Jesus has to come again, and we eagerly await that day.

We come to our next question, why do you and I need to believe in Jesus? As we look at the Bible’s account of the birth of Jesus in Matthew and Luke, we see many facts, we see the account of Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, the wise men, and even Herod. All of these people were real people, but only people who witnessed the greatest miracle of all time. The story of Jesus that we remember this week is not simply a story of a life two thousand years ago. The story of Jesus affects all of history and all of mankind. The disciples were given the privilege of seeing Jesus in person, they believed in him because they saw his miracles, and they witnessed his resurrection from the dead. But we have something even more wonderful than that, when Jesus ascended into heaven, he promised the Holy Spirit would come and live within us. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity actually resides in all who believe in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, our counsellor, and our guide in life, we are not left as orphans, we have become Children of the living God. We must believe in Jesus, he is our only hope. When Jesus comes again, it will be too late to then decide to believe in Him.

But I want to challenge you today to consider that believing in Jesus is not enough. In James 2:19 we see that belief in God is not enough unless it is accompanied by a life of faith and action. Merely giving mental agreement to the virgin birth, accepting that Jesus is the Son of God even believing that he came to be a sacrifice for our sins is not enough. Someone who is truly saved is someone who takes the truth of the Gospel, believes it and then acts accordingly, the Gospel message must change our lives. So the third question is why do you need to make Jesus Christ Lord of your life?

In Acts 1:10-11, we see the disciples standing on the Mount of Olives gazing up at the sky. They were staring in a stunned silence, paralyzed in a mixture of confusion, wonder, fear and anxiety. Jesus has just left, what will they do now?

Then almost as if to wake them up, two angels appear in human form, and give them some comfort that Jesus is coming back again. But the truth is that they had a job to do, Jesus had just given them his final instructions (Acts 1:8), and there was work to be done. The disciples needed to be reminded that they were not called by Jesus to sit on top of the Mount of Olives, stargazing and waiting for his return. They were called to go and change the World with a message that was life changing and revolutionary.

And that is our calling too. We are not saved in order to sit back and continue life as normal. How can we continue as normal, when we have received the Holy Spirit? We have the presence of the Living God within us, we have been called with a purpose to give our lives to Christ as living sacrifices. That is what it means to be a Christian, the most incredible privilege and calling any human being can have, to be the representatives of the Living God. As we wait for Jesus to come again let us be about His business, let us be found faithful, doing what God has called us to do.

Why Christmas Part 3 12/20/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

Read: LUKE 2:1-21

As I continue our series on the why of Christmas, today I have three more questions. Why was he given the name of Jesus? Why did the son of God, come to earth as a baby? And finally, I want to pose the question, are you born again?

  • Why is his name Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

  • Why did he come as a baby

Why didn’t he simply appear as a full-grown man, and begin to perform miraculous signs and wonders. Why did Jesus go through all the difficulties and challenges of youth, and then only begin his ministry when he was thirty? The teachers of the day when speaking of the promised Messiah, must have described someone who had the Wisdom of Solomon, the charisma and authority of David, the leadership ability of Moses and the military genius of Joshua. But instead, Jesus comes into the world as a little baby, weak, needy, and humble, just like any other baby.

But Jesus was both God and man, virgin birth is proof that he was divine, he was not a product of this world, he was God, but being born as an infant, shows that he was also human in every way. Jesus went through trials and testing of; childhood, adolescence and being a young man (see Hebrews 4:15).

If Jesus did not take on the form of a man, his sacrifice would have been unconvincing, because he would have been aloof and separated from the common man. If Jesus had been a mere man and not God also, he would have died a martyr’s death, just like thousands of others. We are able to trust this same Jesus with our lives, because he knows what we are going through and he overcame the world and all its temptations.

  • Why you need to be born again

So we come to our last question today, why you need to be born again. Jesus came as a baby, he took on flesh, he took on a new name and he came in order to be the savior of all who would put their trust in him.

Jesus in speaking to the Pharisee named Nicodemus made this profound statement; “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” John 3:3. The term Jesus used; “Born again”, can be translated in the Greek to say Born from Above. This means there is a spiritual dynamic to this new birth (Read John 1:12-13). So what does it mean to be born of God? We call this transition by many different names, we say, “I was saved”, “I became a Christian”, “I decided to follow Christ” and “I became a believer”. And for many people what this translates to is a decision to raise your hand in a meeting or walk down the aisle at a service for prayer. But the truth is that there are many people who claim to be Christians, who show no evidence of a transformed life, they show no evidence of being born from above.

Jesus made it clear that to follow him was not a simple decision or a raising of the hand; to follow Jesus means to die to your old self, to take on a new name, to completely give everything you have to God. When we are born again, we take on the name of Jesus, we become so closely identified with him, that we are his ambassadors for Christ, as Paul says in  2 Corinthians 5:20. Do we understand what this means?

He who gave up everything for you and I, asks us to give up everything for him.

Is he Lord of your life? Are you living every day as His ambassador? This is what it means to be a Christian.

Why Christmas Part 2 12/13/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

Galatians 4:1-7

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

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

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

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

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

So we can see why Jesus came when he did, but why Bethlehem?

Why should this place be the location for the one born who was to be the savior of the world?

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

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

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

These are just a few examples, but we see a thread running through the Old Testament, that ties Israel to this little town.

So why Bethlehem? It would seem that for most of History past, up until Jesus was born, God had been preparing this place. There was a preparedness and a readiness about Bethlehem at that time. It was the culmination of History.

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

From www.untilallarereached.com

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

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

So why are we here today; December 13 2015? Paul writing to the church in Ephesus writes; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). If you are have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life, you are a son and daughter of the King, and you were created in Christ, to do good works, that He prepared in advance for us to DO!

This specific day in December in 2015, is only here for a moment in history, God placed you in that moment, with a purpose, with a mission. A mission that only you could fulfill. Do you know that mission?

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

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

Do you know the call of God on your life?

Why Christmas Part 1 12/5/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

Isaiah 9:1-7

Recently I was putting up some Christmas lights along the gutters of our house, it was cold, I was frustrated, and getting more miserable as the afternoon wore on. I don’t like the cold, the lights weren’t working and I determined that next year we would make it much simpler and have only a few lights on the house. Why was I doing this? My family was rapidly losing interest, they were sitting inside drinking hot chocolate. Why was I doing this?

This must be the same question asked by millions around the world. Since we live in a society that tries to ignore God, saying that we are post-modern and the natural evolution of man means that we don’t need to believe in a God who created all things. So why are we celebrating Christmas? What is the point of Christmas if we leave out Jesus? I fear that in a generation to come we will still have this celebration called Christmas, because the retailers demand it, but because nativity scenes will be illegal, and all reference to Jesus will be taken out, people will begin to ask, why do we celebrate Christmas?

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

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

  •         Why prophecies

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

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

They needed them to warn the nation and to keep them faithful and hopeful.

We need them to remind us that Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God’s Son, coming to live amongst mankind.

Every year we read those familiar words in Isaiah 7:2; “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Immanuel, means; “God with us”, literally God in human form, which leads us to our next question.

  • Why God became a man

The answer to why God became a man starts with the creation of the universe. God created all things, in fact Jesus spoke all things into existence as we see in John 1:1-4. In the garden of Eden there was perfect communion, but then man sinned and a gulf was formed between God and man. Mankind and all of creation has suffered as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. The gulf that was the separation between God and man was so great that mankind could never cross over back to God, no matter how good man tries to be, how many laws man tries to obey, we could never be good enough to restore the relationship with God.

The problem needed a solution, and it had to come from God as mankind could do nothing. The first step was for God to introduce himself to mankind. We could not connect with God, but he could connect with us and reveal himself to mankind.

But an infinitely holy God could not simply reveal himself to man, so God had to become like man, take on flesh, and literally be born of a woman. The creator became like one of his creatures in order to display God’s character and nature to mankind and provide a way to reconcile man to God (John 14:9).

This leads us to our third question.

  •         Why you need to believe?

What is our response to this? Isaiah 9:6 states; “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given..”

“For to us a child is born” shows that Jesus was born just like any other person, he was fully human.

Then we have the phrase, “to us a son is given”; and we compare it with John 3:16; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son…” Almighty God, gave his only son, why? Why did God give His only son? The Bible tells us in John 3:16; “So that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

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

This is the miracle of Christmas, the significance of this special time of the year. God sent his son, to dwell with man, is he Lord of your life?

The Church Part 4 Compassion 11/30/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

Acts 3:1-10

As Peter and John were walking towards the temple in Jerusalem, they encountered this lame beggar. It was likely that there were many people begging along the way towards the steps of the temple, so why did Peter and John stop for this one? It is clear to see that the Holy Spirit led Peter and John to stop and look straight at this lame man, they were acting under the direction of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John looked beyond the cries of the man, beyond his temporal need and they addressed his bigger need. He did not need money, he needed to walk. This miracle provides for us a perfect illustration of what salvation is like.

From www.untilallarereached.com

He was born lame; we also are born in sin, we are unable to walk in a way that pleases God, our sinful nature is in rebellion to God.

The man was poor; without Jesus Christ we are completely bankrupt before God.

But then God intervened in his life and he was healed. He was not only healed physically, but he was healed spiritually, as he believed in Jesus Christ as his savior. And what was his response? He immediately recognized the grace of God on his life and leapt around praising God for his changed life.

You see what has happened here? The miracle of healing, led to the proclamation of the Gospel, which led to repentance and salvation.

Focusing on compassion as the fourth pillar of the church, we can all agree that it is vital for the church to be involved in caring for the poor, the hurting, the sick, the disabled, the unborn and other issues, but we must be involved in them for the right reason.

In this day and age when we are surrounded by so much pain and injustice, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormous needs all around us. And if we are not careful we will quickly become a church that is so focused on meeting social needs that we stop telling people about the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Whenever the church has become focused on a social gospel rather than the true gospel message, they have declined and become nothing more than just another social organization.

We need to be discerning, we cannot simply ignore the social issues of our day, Jesus certainly did not, he healed many people, confronted injustice and cared for the downtrodden. How do we make sure that our concern for social issues does not overwhelm us and diminish our calling to share the gospel and to make disciples? As a church and as individuals, how do we determine who to help? The key is found in Acts 3. This scene took place right after Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the early church. Peter and John were walking with new eyes, they were seeing things differently. They had the Holy Spirit directing them and leading them. Peter and John were probably asked by many beggars for help as they walked towards the temple, but they were led to this one.

Not only that, but they were directed to the real need of the man, sure he needed money, but he needed a savior more desperately. God met that poor lame beggar that day, and his life changed along with thousands of others by the power of the name of Jesus.

Compassion under the guidance of the Holy Spirit leads to eternal results, not temporal relief. In our own strength and resources, we can at best provide some temporary relief to someone in need, but our resources coupled with the power in the name of Jesus, will lead to a life transformed and souls saved.

So we have identified that we are called to help those in need, to be compassionate and as that we are to be discerning in who we help, we must be led by the Holy Spirit – we must pray and ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment in each and every opportunity that comes our way to help.

But there are also dangers and snares along the way, because we are human we have some pitfalls we can easily encounter in the area of compassion.

1. Trying to earn the favor of God.

Many people think that by doing good things for people, by helping the poor, by giving to good causes, we in some way can be good enough for God. The truth is that we can never be good enough, we are all sinners and deserving of eternal punishment. But the wonderful news of the Gospel is that we are not saved by works, we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9.) Then our serving the Lord is out of appreciation and gratitude for all that the Lord has done for us.

the child of God works not for life, but from life; he does not work to be saved, but because he is saved.”  Charles Spurgeon

2. Conditional Compassion

This is a major pitfall that we face in our lives, the danger of conditional compassion. We help someone out, but then we expect them to make wise choices and we will continue to help them unless they blow it and don’t live up to our expectations. We determine the rules – we determine when the person we are helping doesn’t deserve it anymore and we turn our backs on them.

3. Limited by our perceived resources.

We so readily make excuses when the Holy Spirit nudges us to be compassionate; we can’t afford it, we don’t have time or maybe it is inconvenient. The real lesson to us from this is that when we come to Christ and make him Lord of our lives, we give up any rights to our own possessions. We don’t own anything anymore. All we have belongs to our Lord – that is what it means to be a Christian (see Luke 18:18-24).

But as we give it all to him, we find that he will guide us to use our resources to help those in need for the Kingdom of God, for His names sake.

“Service that costs nothing accomplishes nothing”

Don Whitney

We have an extravagant God, let us be extravagant in our compassion

As we continue to be a missional church, caring for our community and assisting in missionary activity around the world, we need to constantly ask the question, what is the real need here? Just like Peter and Paul, we need to be led by the Holy Spirit to help where we can, but look beyond the temporal needs and see the eternal need.