He is Alive – Resurrection Sunday March 27 2016

Easter Slide Title.2

Matthew 28:1-10

Have you ever been witness to a very important event? Something that when you saw it unfold, you somehow knew that this was history being made. For many of us in America the closest we came to this was witnessing the events of 9/11 unfold on our TV screens.

The course of history changes in a moment. Sometimes we can see the change coming like a building storm, and sometimes history changes in a moment of terror or a natural disaster.

For the disciples that first Easter morning started out as another sad day, just like the day before. They probably woke up and then as the fog of the night cleared their minds, they were faced with the reality that Jesus was dead.  Their Rabbi and master was dead, and they had left everything for him, what would they do now?

And as they slowly begin to wake up on that first day of the week, another earthquake occurs. Can you imagine their fear and anxiety?

Mary Magdelene and Mary the mother of Joses, who we read about in Matthew 26, were boldly walking to the tomb early in the morning. Unlike the rest of the disciples, they wanted to see Jesus’ body one last time. When they saw the angel, they were scared, but the angel quickly calms their fears and tells them not to be afraid, but to come and see the empty tomb.

The angel gives them instructions, and the Bible tells us that they left the tomb quickly “with fear and great joy” (v8). What a strange combination of emotions, but their faith overcame their fear. They had faith that Jesus was alive, their faith that took them to the open tomb that morning. The other disciples who were overcome with fear and anguish had missed out, but the Lord rewarded the faith of the two women.

But as they hurry back to the other disciples, Jesus met them on the way. They see the risen Lord, what a reward for their faith. Imagine being the first person in recorded history to see Jesus in his resurrected form.

As they see him and hear his voice. Jesus simply greets them, and that one word must have brought immeasurable peace to them. They heard the voice of the risen Lord. It was a familiar voice. It was the same voice that called them out of darkness into light.

As soon as they heard his voice, they came to him and clasped his feet and worshipped him. These two women were the first to see the resurrected Lord, and their immediate response was to fall down and worship him.

Note also that they clasped his feet, they weren’t gripping a ghost, or a mere apparition.

Then Jesus begins to speak to them and immediately calms their fears. Then he begins to give them instructions, he gives them the responsibility of spreading the word. Don’t miss this, God is a missionary God, he uses people to spread the good news. We know Matthew 28 for the Great Commission which Jesus gives his disciples just 8 verses later on in this chapter. But this is the first commissioning. Jesus takes these two women, women of faith and he commissions them with the Good news that he is alive

We read in verse 11, that the women went on their way, they obeyed Jesus.

So we have a progression;

  • They saw Jesus
  • They heard his voice
  • They worshipped him
  • They obeyed him.

This is also a description of what takes place when we meet Jesus the risen Lord.

Firstly we see Jesus by seeing his body. People see Jesus by encountering the true church of Jesus Christ, people who have died to themselves and are living wholeheartedly for the Glory of Jesus Christ. The question we need to ask ourselves, are we representing Jesus in such a way that when people look at us they see Jesus?

Secondly, as we encounter Jesus, we hear his voice by the Holy Spirit and we respond to him. The first response is to declare him as Lord, to recognize that Jesus is the Son of God.

Thirdly, the natural response to making Jesus Lord of our lives, is to worship him. Just like those ladies on the first resurrection Sunday, we will fall at his feet and worship him. We worship by singing praises, we worship by reading and meditating on his word, we worship by giving to his work and we worship by giving our time to serve him. Are you worshipping him today?

Finally after we have encountered the risen Lord, and heard his voice, out of a lifestyle of worship will come a response of obedience to his call. Jesus is calling each and every one of us to obey him. Some are called to a life of being a marketplace missionary, others are called to being an evangelist in their neighborhood introducing people to Jesus the risen Lord, others are called to being a missionary in a foreign country and some are called to train up children in the ways of the Lord, raising up the next generation of followers of Jesus.

Do you know what Jesus is telling you to do? If not, maybe you need to return to the place of true worship, not simply singing songs. Falling on your face before him and gripping his feet in desperation.

If you don’t know what it is to truly worship him, the risen Lord, then maybe you haven’t heard his voice. Maybe you need to see Jesus. Maybe you encountered Jesus a long time ago, but your relationship with him has grown cold. Come back to him today, listen to his voice, he is calling you, bow down and worship him.

Jesus is alive. Our human response is the same as the two women, we are afraid, and it seems overwhelming, but Jesus goes on to give a promise (Matthew 28:20b).

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we have nothing to hold on to. The Bible is an empty document and cannot be the living word of God. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is what determines our salvation, it is our hope of glory. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that he has conquered death and that by placing our trust and faith in him we are assured of salvation and eternal life. Because of the resurrection, all the promises of God’s word are true! And we can stand on those promises.

Why Jesus was not a martyr – March 20 2016


Palm Sunday

Jesus was not a martyr

Luke 19:28-44

Not a Martyr newsletter

This past Sunday we celebrated what is known as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before resurrection Sunday. The day when Jesus completed his final journey to Jerusalem. And through all this journey we have seen one thing in common, Jesus had his eyes fixed on eternity. Jerusalem was not his destination, it was a stop on the journey, the journey that led to him being seated at the right hand of the Father.

In Luke 19:28 we see Jesus walking on ahead once again, he was walking on ahead and focused on the prize, he was not being distracted. As the crowd around him sees what is happening, their excitement begins to boil over, some of them probably have memorized the prophet Zechariah, and they would immediately see what is going on as Jesus begins to ride on the colt into Jerusalem. 500 years before these were the words of the Lord given to the prophet Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Can you imagine the excitement, here they were seeing prophecy fulfilled, Jesus was coming to establish his kingdom in Jerusalem, the promised messiah was here and he was going to throw off the oppressive Roman rulers. They spread their cloaks on the roadway as a sign of homage and respect. We must remember the context here, this was the beginning of Passover week, the time when the ancient Israelites were liberated from the slavery of the Egyptians. The beginning of the Exodus. For them the enemy was Rome, but Jesus was focused on defeating Satan, sin and death. Their vision was too small, Jesus had a much bigger mission in mind.

As Jesus was riding into Jerusalem he knew what lay ahead, he knew that within a few short days, these same people would be part of a crowd that would be screaming for him to be crucified. But how could they possible understand that the messiah of Zachariah 9:9 was the same person as the suffering servant that the Lord spoke to the prophet Isaiah about in Isaiah 53.

Many unbelievers look at the death of Jesus as an awful tragedy, as a terrible mistake that a great man made. Those who don’t know Jesus as the messiah, will see the death of Jesus as a result of the betrayal of one of his close followers, or maybe the envy of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious leaders. Maybe Jesus’ death was a result of the weak leadership of Pilate. It all seems such a terrible mistake, a tragedy.

But look back at Luke 9:51; Jesus was not caught up as a victim of a web of deceit. This was not some kind of an afterthought by God. God planned this out from before time began, because of his love for sinners like me and you. Jesus knew what was about to take place, he kept silent as they cheered him and worshipped him.

Jesus willingly entered Jerusalem, and endured the cross without resistance, he willingly allowed himself to be nailed to the cross, not because of some cause he was trying to defend. (read John 10:18)

The definition of a martyr is someone who is killed for their religious beliefs, they become victims

But Jesus died as the sacrificial lamb. He died on purpose in order to atone for our sins as an offering to God the Father, so that we can be made right with God (see 1 John 1:9).

This past Sunday we witnessed four people being baptized, it is always a wonderful celebration as we see people giving a public witness and a testimony of what God has done in their lives. Each of these four candidates for Baptism have shared their testimony of how God the Holy Spirit worked in their lives to firstly convict them of sin, and then to lead them to repentance and finally to give their lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior.

The reality is that Jesus is not an add-on to our lives. He is not simply a check box on a list that we need to get done in order to get into heaven. The Bible makes it clear that when you become a Christian, it is all or nothing. Unfortunately in our western culture of ease and convenience, we have removed the deep significance of what it means to become a follower of Jesus.

Baptism is a beautiful symbol of what happens when we become a Christian. When the person goes under the water, they are saying; “I am identifying with Christ, I am dying and being buried to my old life” It is a symbol of dying and giving up the past. Then as the person comes up out of the water, it is symbolizing that they are being raised to a new life in Christ.

Just as Jesus went to Jerusalem, to die on purpose, not as a victim or a martyr, he calls us to die as well.

Dying to our old way of life, dying to our selfish desires and beginning to live a new life, a life that is committed to living for Jesus Christ.

Only by Dying can you truly live.

Only by dying can you begin to bring life to those around you.

See what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26. That raises the bar a bit doesn’t it? Jesus is saying that this is the norm. This is the only way to become his disciple.

Today as you look at your life, do you qualify as a disciple of Jesus? You may have been baptized many years ago, you may have prayed the prayer of salvation many years ago, but are you truly living a new life in Christ.

Does your life reflect the life of Jesus, not the life of a martyr, but the life of a person who is dying on purpose?

Journey to Jerusalem Part 2. March 13 2016

Journey to Jerusalem part 2 newsletter

Read: Luke 9:51-56

Here we have an account that only Luke records. At first glance, this seems like a strange passage of scripture, why would Luke record this detail of the travel plans that didn’t work out.


In 722 BC, the Assyrians invaded the northern Kingdom of which Samaria was the capital. The Assyrians left some of the Jews in the region but allowed other foreigners to inhabit the land. The end result was a mixed race, and many of them worshipped the foreign gods of the Assyrians. The Jews who lived in the region did not believe that you had to go to Jerusalem to worship God and set up their own temples. The rest of the Jewish nation regarded the Samaritans as ethnically and religiously impure, and there was a lot of prejudice and animosity between them.

James and John

So with that history in mind, we have the passionate James and John, the sons of Thunder as Jesus called them, being so offended by this Samaritan rejection that they want to call down fire and destroy the city.

In order to better understand their reaction, we need to look a few verses back in Luke 9, where the transfiguration of Jesus is recorded for us. Jesus takes Peter, James and John, up onto a mountain to pray, and suddenly Moses and Elijah appear and begin talking to Jesus.

James and John must have remembered their encounter with Elijah and the fact that Elijah had called down fire from heaven to destroy the two captains and their 50 as recorded in 2 Kings 1.

But the disciples were misguided. In their minds, they were marching into Jerusalem with the King of the Jews, who would establish a mighty kingdom, and yet these mindless Samaritans had the audacity to reject Jesus! Their attitude and request reflects their racism and their prejudice. What they had to learn, and what we also have to learn is that the journey Jesus was taking to Jerusalem was not to judge the world, but it was to save the lost.

They certainly displayed passion, but their passion was misguided. They were influenced by their culture and their prejudice. Jesus was using the situation to challenge their prejudice, to remind them that the Son of God, didn’t come for the Jews only, but for all peoples and that the real enemy is Satan, not the lost people who don’t think or act in a way that they were comfortable with.

As we encounter people who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus, how do we respond to the drug addict, the adulterer, the alcoholic, the homosexual, the murderer, and the thief? (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Do we call down judgement on them? Do we confront them with the law and a superior attitude?

As Jesus rebuked his disciples, he rebukes us today. Jesus came to save the lost, not to call down fire on them. Ultimately Jesus will judge all mankind, but we are called to reach the lost as Jesus did, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to release the captives, to restore sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18).

Samaritan Rejection

From the perspective of the Samaritan village there is a legitimate reason why they rejected Jesus.

The Key phrase is found in verse 53; “…he was heading for Jerusalem.” It upset them that he still wanted to go to the temple in Jerusalem rather than to worship at their place of worship. But apart from that, along with Jesus came a large crowd of people. Most of them were probably social outcasts, the poor, and the unclean according to their laws. It was going to be noisy, messy and probably inconvenient. And therein lay the problem, for Jesus to come to town was inconvenient.

The truth is that when Jesus enters a person’s life it is never convenient. When Jesus comes into your life, he asks you to care for the widows and the orphans, to love the downtrodden and the poor. He calls you to give your time, your money and your energy in order to tell others the Good News.

Jesus coming to town is seldom convenient, but if you do not receive him, you miss out. This Samaritan town missed the opportunity of hosting the King of Kings, the creator of the universe.

Jesus’ Response.

What took place here was a serious cultural and social offence.

No wonder the disciples wanted to immediately call down fire and destroy the city. How dare they!!

Yet, we read how Jesus responded (Luke 9:55-56). Jesus is rejected, he doesn’t try to plead his case or convince them that they are going to miss out, he simply moves on.

Jesus wasn’t surprised by this rejection, he knew exactly what would happen. He sent his disciples ahead on purpose, knowing that they would be rejected. He was using this as a teaching moment for his disciples, preparing them for what was about to happen to them and setting an example for all believers to follow. When you are rejected for being a follower of Jesus, don’t fight for your rights, simply move on (see Luke 10:10-11).

In our post-modern culture of self-importance and pride, this is a tough lesson to learn. Fortunately we get many opportunities to learn this lesson!

But Jesus had his eyes fixed on a bigger goal (see Luke 9:51). Jesus is focused on the ascension. He is looking forward to going home. He knows where he is going and nothing is going to detract from that. Not the cross, not the grave, not even his rising from the dead, he is looking forward to the day when he ascends into heaven to sit next to His Father.

We also must have a heavenly focus, viewing every day in the light of eternity. Sadly we are so focused on trying to make this life as comfortable as possible, that we forget where we are going.

  • If we would focus on eternity, we would stop trying to call down judgment from God on those who reject him.
  • If we would focus on eternity, we would not miss an opportunity to be used by God to help those around us and set the captives free.
  • If we would focus on eternity, we would be able to look past all the trials and sufferings of this world and look forward to the day when Jesus comes again or calls us home.

Revival Part 7 – Called by His Name


Last week we looked at the phrase; “my people”, and we saw that revival begins in the church, with the people of God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 starts with: “If my people….”.

Previously we touched on the question; who are the people of God? And the next phrase in the verse clarifies that further: “who are called by my name”.

To be someone who is called by His name, we need to have first called on the name of Jesus for salvation. Acts 2:21 states: “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The Bible is clear that only those who have called on the name of Jesus, in a personal way, making Jesus Lord of their lives, are the children of God. We can go to church, sing the songs, give an offering even take communion, but none of these things makes one a Christian. As Jesus said to the Pharisee named Nicodemus in John chapter 3: “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

So when it comes to revival and a fresh move of God, God chooses to begin with His church, the people who are called by His name. As a result of this we carry a tremendous responsibility, we need to ensure that we are truly following Jesus, and then realize that we are here to reflect and honor the name of God in our daily lives.

The world does not judge Christians the way we do, when one Christian falls in sin, the world points to the whole church and declares them hypocrites. We are all sinners saved by grace, and are prone to sin, but the world holds those who claim the name of Jesus to a higher standard and rightly so. As Christians it is important to allow the Holy Spirit to use us to reflect who Jesus is to the lost and dying world around us. Not standing in judgment and condemning everyone, but rather pointing them to the glorious Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

So the responsibility of all true believers in Jesus Christ is this, we are to point and direct people to Jesus, not push them away by our lifestyle or critical nature.

That is what it means to be a people who are called by His name.

Revival Part 6 – “If My People”


As we continue to look at 2 Chronicles 7:14, we look at the next two words: “my people”.

Last week we looked at the conditional preposition “if”, and the responsibility we have in revival. But the “if” applies to “my people”.

Revival is not for everyone in the world, it is specifically aimed at the people of God.

The verse offers a challenge, not to people outside the church, but to people inside the church who are believing Christians with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We as the church have a tendency to point to the desperate spiritual situation in the world around us. The spiritual state of the nation and the immorality that we see every day, but do we see and pray for the desperate spiritual state of the church.

It is important that as Christians we are concerned about the moral condition of our nation and the world. As we look around we see that abortion kills millions of babies every year, morality is being dictated by the Supreme court, pornography is destroying lives and families, there is corruption in business and politics, daily children and young women are sold into sex slavery, and all this is happening in our own city. We live in a society that screams the question: “what’s in it for me?” And sadly many pastors perpetuate that thinking, by teaching that God is there to serve man and to give us what we want, rather than the other way around.

But before we get carried away with pointing out all the wrong in the world, we need to be reminded that when it comes to revival, it starts with the church, the Body of Christ.

We need to have the most critical eye focused on ourselves. God is concerned for the state of the nations, but He has an equal if not greater concern for those who are His people.

We are very quick to point out the sins of non-Christians, but we overlook our own sinfulness.

Revival starts with the people of God, but not just those who call themselves Christians, those who perhaps have attended church since they were a child. Those who are Christian by tradition but who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

It may come as a surprise to you, but in every church there are people who are members, leaders, committee members and even deacons, who do not have a personal growing relationship with Jesus Christ. And we would be foolish to think that it is any different at Grace Point. My prayer is that the day will come when God will look at Grace Point, He will truly say, “these are my people.” So as we pray for revival, let us focus on ourselves first.

Journey to Jerusalem part 1 March 6, 2016

Journey to Jerusalem part 1 newsletter

Mark 10:32-34

This account we read in Mark’s Gospel describes the journey that Jesus began towards Jerusalem. Jesus had spent most of his time in and around Galilee, but at a certain time, he set out for Jerusalem. He and his disciples and usually a large crowd, went from Galilee to Samaria, then through the area called Perea, and then finally on to Judea and Jerusalem. Up until this point, the disciples had enjoyed their time with Jesus, it was good to be walking with the amazing miracle worker. I am sure if they had facebook back then, they would have posted pictures and selfies of their time with him. They were on an emotional high, things were going well, but then the mood shifted. Jesus got serious and began to stride a little more purposefully. Is seems like Jesus changed gears and began to lock in on a goal that was over the horizon.


Luke 12:51 says; “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” Jesus was on a timeline, history was about to change. The creator was about to sacrifice himself for the creation.

Up until this time we see many occasions when Jesus had held back because the timing was not yet right.

The Gospel of John frequently refers to the fact that Jesus was on a timeline. (see, John 7:6, John 7:30 and John 8:20). Jesus was listening to His Father and the schedule was to be kept.

So the time was now, Jesus knew his purpose and he set his face to Jerusalem. In Isaiah 50:7 we see the remarkably accurate picture of Jesus at this moment; “Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.” Jesus is the one who sets his face like a flint, knowing that he will not be put to shame, knowing that he has a task to perform.

Flint is a very hard sedimentary rock, that when it is hit against steel it produces a spark. The picture of setting one’s face like a flint is focusing on the goal, knowing that you are going to encounter opposition. Taking the adversity and challenges in stride, knowing that there is a bigger purpose and goal. Jesus knew that he was going to Jerusalem to encounter incredible suffering and shame, so he literally steeled himself and with eyes on the horizon, he gritted his teeth and moved forward.

In Mark 10:32 we see one moment they are walking through the hills of Galilee and Samaria, and the next Jesus begins walking out in front. The disciples were “astonished” as they observed Jesus. And the crowd following were “afraid”. The Greek words used here seem to indicate a fear that something bad was about to happen. The disciples who had walked with Jesus for three years, had never seen him like this before. Jesus seemed different, his demeanor had changed, and he became extremely serious and focused.

And the crowd was afraid, they began to fear that something bad was about to happen in Jerusalem. Why was Jesus suddenly so solemn? Suddenly it must have dawned on the crowd, that there was a cost involved in following Jesus – it might cost them their lives.

And today there is a cost involved in following Jesus, and it does involve you losing your life. You have to be prepared to give up everything for him. Dying to ourselves and our own selfish ambitions is the only way to live as a Christian.

The crowd and the disciples were faced with a choice; “am I in or out?” We too are faced with that decision, there is no middle ground – either we follow Jesus to the cross or we may as well turn around and go back home.

But this is not the walk of a man who is walking to his death, it is not the walk of a man who is consigned to the fact that he has to go and suffer a cruel death. Not at all, this was the march of a warrior heading into battle, it was the march of our warrior King about to head into the decisive battle in all of history. Jesus knew that this was his purpose, he was going to destroy death and sin by going to Jerusalem.

When Jesus turned his face like a flint towards Jerusalem, he knew that it meant his death was coming soon. He knew that he was about to have his flesh torn off his back by whips, he knew that he was going to be mocked, spat on, treated shamefully, and then die on the cross, the most cruel form of execution. Jesus also knew that he would face the wrath of God, his father as he paid the price for your sin and mine.

The disciples noticed the shift in the atmosphere, the crowd sensed something big was about to happen, and yet they followed. Some followed out of curiosity, some followed out of love for Jesus, some followed because Jesus had healed them.

Are you following? Have you made a decision to follow Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior? Jesus took this journey for you, so that you and I would not have to face an eternity in hell being separated from God. When Jesus began this journey, he was thinking about you.

You may have made a decision to follow Jesus a long time ago, but the distractions and temptations of the world have slowed you down. Jesus calls us to daily take that walk to Jerusalem with him, to walk with purpose and determination. Is your mind set like a flint on following Jesus? Or are you wavering?

Are you following at a distance, not sure if you are going to be able to continue the journey? Maybe the cost seems to be too high. Maybe the challenges and temptations of this world are becoming too strong.

I want to encourage you today to recommit to walking with determination.

O you redeemed ones, on whose behalf this strong resolve was made—you who have been bought by the precious blood of this steadfast, resolute Redeemer—come and think awhile of Him, that your hearts may burn within you and that your faces may be set like flints to live and die for Him who lived and died for you!”

— C.H. Spurgeon

Revival Part 5 The Conditional Preposition


There are two all-encompassing verses in the Bible that relate to salvation and revival.

  • John 3:16 tells us all we need to know about the way to salvation.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 practically tells us all we need to know about the way to revival.

For the next few weeks we are going to look at this verse in Detail – 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.

The verse starts with that powerful conditional preposition – “if”.

It has been said that a preposition can alter a proposition, and that is very clear from this powerful promise of God.

Whatever part God plays in a spiritual re-awakening, we have a part to play too. As we have already stated, a revival is the work of God and no-one can take credit for it, however as we see throughout scripture, there is a responsibility that is ours in every move of God.

On the one side we have the sovereignty of God, it is the almighty God who decides when and how to move in revival. However the divine sovereignty of God does not relieve us of our responsibility. There are things that we can and need to do in order to bring revival closer. A famous Welsh revivalist once said; “Revival comes from God but it is borne to earth on the wings of fervent, believing prayer.”

The Word “IF” is a conditional word and the Bible has many examples of the conditional nature of the blessings of God. Here are just two examples.

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37

But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:15

The Bible has many verses that encourage that when we need a spiritual re-awakening, we must start with our own sinful condition and come to God in repentance.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2

Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to You; For You are the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:22

 “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” Revelation 2:4-5

Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.”” Hosea 14:2