The Armor of God June 15, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Luke 10:1-17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

If you are a follower of Jesus you are qualified.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mark 1:16-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So where do you start?

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

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

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

Revival Part 14 – Revival

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

2 Chronicles 7:14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revival Part 13 – Repentance


Last time we looked at the phrase, “turn from their wicked ways” and we saw that we all are confronted daily by evil desires and wicked ways.

God says we must turn from these ways. The Biblical word for turn is repent. Some Christians feel that it is good enough to decide to stop doing the wrong sinful activity.

But the reality is that this is not enough. There needs to be a time of deep repentance. We have three “R’s” in correcting sinful behavior. We firstly need to remember what we have done, the Holy Spirit helps us by convicting us of our sin. Secondly, we have to repent of that sin, and finally we need to return to God with humility of heart.

There are many portions of the Bible that speak to this process, for example;

Jeremiah 15:19a; “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me….”

Mark 6:12; “They went out and preached that people should repent.”

Acts 2:38; “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Repentance is one of the most misunderstood words in the Christian terminology. Most people think it is a feeling of sorry for the wrong things we have done. But the Greek word for repentance is “metanoia”, which means a complete change of mind. It is good to feel regret and sorry for our sins, but that is the result and outcome of repentance and not the source of it.

Repentance is best described as turning in the opposite direction, a complete change in behavior and speech.

We must not wait to feel sorry for our wrong actions in order to repent. Sometimes we are simply sorry we got caught!

Rather, repentance must come first and then our emotions and feelings are impacted.

Our emotions are not to be our guide. There are many things that affect our emotions and we need to be careful to not let our emotions and feelings drive our decisions.