We Need to Talk!

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We need to talk!

Those four words have a way of causing increased levels of anxiety.

It usually means, there is an issue we need to discuss, something that is out of line that needs to be addressed. We need to have a difficult conversation.

As followers of Jesus, we have the responsibility to be the salt of the earth. We have an obligation to speak the truth in love.  This could mean having difficult conversations with our friends, family and especially in the church.

We live in an age where to disagree with someone is regarded as hateful and unloving. However, to confront someone with the truth is the most loving thing we could do.

We live in an age where truth is suppressed and even the most fundamental human truths are no longer definable if you want to be accepted. But this is nothing new, Satan questioned the truth of God in Genesis 3:1 when he tempted Eve.

When talking about truth and God’s word as the authority for our conversations, we must establish what the Bible says and begin there. We don’t have the option to discard selected truths in the Bible because we find them hard to accept in our post-modern culture.

So, at the outset of this series, we must look at the foundation of truth. Without the foundation of the Word, we cannot speak truth in our culture. We have no authority and no basis for the truth.

Psalm 19 begins as the Psalmist declares the general revelation of God through nature, but then David changes from the general revelation to the special revelation of God in verses 7 to 9. In these verses we see six different names, six attributes, and six ministries of the word in the lives of those who read and obey this revelation.

 Verse 7a: The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul.

The word “Law” refers to the Torah or the instructions of God.  It refers to helpful teaching and a set of instructions for life.

The first attribute is that this Law is perfect, it doesn’t need to be edited. It is the fine surgical instrument that God uses to turn people from darkness to light.

The first ministry of the Word is that it, “it revives the Soul.” The word of God is supernatural in its application. Reviving the soul means to convict and bring people back to their original place. Spiritual new life is found in the Word of God.

Verse 7b: The testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple.

A testimony is a recalling of what God has done. All Scripture testifies to the nature and character of God as it is the revelation of Jesus.

The attribute of this testimony is that it is sure, reliable and trustworthy. The Bible is a foundation on which we can safely build.  There is no foundation as secure as the Word of God on which to build your life.

And the ministry of this testimony is that it makes wise the simple. The term for simple here means inexperienced but teachable (Psalm 119:130).

Verse 8a: The precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart.

Precepts are the practical instructions and can also be translated as orders. The Bible contains the instructions spoken with the authority of Almighty God.

The attribute of these precepts is that they are right and true.

And the result of living according to these precepts is “rejoicing the heart”. By following the instruction of God’s Word, we will know true joy (1 John 5:3).

Verse 8b: The commandment of the LORD is pure,

enlightening the eyes.

Now the Psalmist gets more specific, from precepts to Commandments, these are rules for life. The way we respond to these commandments is life or death.

But these commandments are pure and will lead to purity (Psalm 119:11).  God only gives what is good for us.

The ministry of the Commandments is that they are “enlightening the eyes”. The eyes are the window to the soul (Matthew 6:22-23). What we meditate on determines our purity.

verse 9a:The fear of the Lord is clean,

enduring forever.

The fear of the Lord may not seem to fit, but the fear of the Lord is the natural response of the person who meditates on God’s word. The fear of the Lord is a holy reverence. God’s word does not submit to our will, we must submit ourselves to God’s word.

The attribute of this fear is cleanness and purity, as we submit ourselves to the word of God, we will be made clean (Ephesians 5:25-27). Reading aloud God’s word has a cleansing effect.

And the ministry is that God’s word endures forever (Isaiah 40:8).

Verse 9b: The rules of the LORD are true,

and righteous altogether.

The sixth and final description of the Word of God is rules or judgments. These are God’s final pronouncements and His final authority on all things. God’s judgments reflect His righteous character. We see God’s righteous judgment on our sin as Jesus took our punishment on the cross.

These judgments of God are true (John 17:17), Jesus prayed that the Apostles would be set aside for the ministry of truth, declaring God’s word.

The final ministry of the rules of God’s word is righteousness.  Our righteousness is only because of faith in Jesus as our Lord and savior and another example of why John introduced Jesus as the word in John 1.

The Psalmist closes in prayer asking that God would help him to live in purity and holiness (Psalm 19:14). This is only possible as the Holy Spirit transforms us and makes us more like Jesus.

Without the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life, this book will just be a collection of words on a page.

As we apply the words of truth to our lives, we will see supernatural transformation taking place, we will see lives transformed as we have life giving conversations.

We need to talk!

Are you a Disciple of Jesus Christ?

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Luke 14:25-35

The word “disciple” means a learner. A disciple of Jesus means someone who follows Jesus, learns from Jesus and becomes like Jesus.

In Luke 14, we find Jesus teaching a large crowd, and he challenged them on what it means to be a disciple. People started leaving because the cost was too high, his words were too convicting.

Being a disciple of Jesus costs. There is always a cost involved in being a committed Christian.

Salvation is free, but discipleship costs.

In the church today, we have made discipleship too easy and the commitment of being a follower of Jesus is pretty low.  We have lowered the bar in Christianity so much that people think they are doing God a favor by coming to church. The truth is that you will never find that kind of faith in the Bible. Discipleship costs, but it is worth it.  

This passage calls out four characteristics of a follower of Jesus.

1. True Disciples must Worship at any cost.

Worship is not just singing, that is an aspect of it, but worship is all about values and priorities. We value what we worship, and we prioritize what we worship.

Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

To worship God above all else, there is a cost involved in personal relationships. The Greek word Jesus used here for “hate”, means to love less than. To worship God means that we must not love anyone or anything else more than we love God (See Matthew 6:24). Your love for Jesus, your worship must come before any human relationship. Often our following Jesus will cost us relationships and reputation, but our lives are no longer our own.

What are your plans for 2023?

To be a true disciple who worships at any cost we must take ourselves off the throne of our lives and put Jesus on the throne. This applies to every decision we make.

Adrian Rogers said, “when you come to the Lord Jesus Christ, that’s the last personal private decision you will ever make, your last independent decision. From then on, you have to ask, “Jesus, what do you want me to do?”

Do you want to be a disciple of Jesus? You must worship at any cost.

2. True Disciples must work at any cost

Luke 14:28-30, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

Being a disciple of Jesus, not only involves dying to self, but it also involves building. Our lives are to be towers that are constructed where the Lord places us, according to his design. As disciples of Jesus, we are to submit to the architect of our lives for his building plan. Like any building project, there is planning, sacrifice and diligence required.

Some of you began building your spiritual lives, but then the cost and the sacrifice became too high.

You used to be faithful in the place of prayer, but you got distracted and stopped building.

You used to have a daily rich time in the Word, but then you got busy and stopped building.

You started tithing monthly, but then you had a financial challenge and stopped building.

You were attending church weekly and even joined a life group, but somehow slowly pulled back, and stopped building.

Maybe you volunteered in the children’s ministry, but it began to cost more than you expected in time, and you stopped building.

Today, I want to challenge you to get back to building the tower of your spiritual life.

3. True Disciples must war at any cost.

Luke 14:31-33, “Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

When you become a disciple of Jesus Christ, you will be at war with this world. The good news is that, he has already won the final victory. And even if it seems that the whole world is opposed to you being a follower of Jesus, with God, you are in the majority and you cannot be defeated.

But as soldiers, we must not compromise, lowering the standards in order to keep the peace. God’s word is our first and final authority, there is no compromise or reducing the word of God to make it acceptable to the world around us. There is no compromising with Satan and his demons, he has one agenda, and that is to kill you.

4. True disciples must witness at any cost.

Luke 14:34-35, “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Jesus addresses the commission of a disciple; we are to be witnesses for the Gospel.

Salt is a preservative; we are to be salt that preserves and prevent our families and communities from spoiling.

Today, the church has lost its salt and we are seeing the devastating effects in our society of a church that does not act as an influence in society.

The problems we face in the world, pornography, drugs, crooked politicians, broken marriages, and the likes, are not because Satan and his demons have gotten more powerful or eviler. The problem is that the Church has compromised and lost the preserving power of the Gospel.

Are you ready to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in 2023? (See Matthew 16:24).

Sunday May 1, 2022 Volunteering in the Church

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Today we recognized volunteers, the people that make everything run smoothly. As we called each volunteer forward, we asked them to put a crayon in a vase. Each one of the crayons represents a task that needs to be done in the church. It was evident that it took a lot of people to do all that needs to be done in the church.  

But let’s think about the church, why do we come to church?

I think one of the failures of the church in the past fifty years is the advent of the mega church and the multiple campus church models. One of the primary motivators of the seeker friendly church is to make the church as welcoming and inviting as possible in order to get people through the doors.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to be welcoming and inviting. And there is nothing wrong with large numbers. But what has happened is that the church has gone from being a sending agent and become a Christian entertainment venue.

Feeding peoples wants and desires by programs, features, and entertainment. Instead of people coming to church to be equipped for the work of the ministry, people are coming to church to be entertained, and they are dictating to the leadership what they want in order to stay.

If we are honest, who has become the object of attention? It is the attendees, and if we are focusing on the attendees, who are we worshipping?

The church is not a professional organization, it is a body. We are all members of the body and as such we all serve alongside one another, for one purpose – for the glory of God.

We are saved for more than simply getting a ticket to heaven – there is so much more for us.

God delivered us so that we would have a relationship with him, through which He calls us to be a part of His mission to bring the Gospel message to the lost. What a privilege. Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 2:8-10.

We are saved in order to do good works. Now, the church is not the only place where we can do these works, but it is an essential part of serving the Lord. Every volunteer that we recognized this morning has a motivation to serve.

As I was thinking about it, there are many different reasons why people serve as a volunteer, but only one right reason.

Some people serve for recognition, others for the applause of man or to earn favor with God, and some serve out of guilt. But the true motivation to serve the Lord comes from a genuine experience of joy. When you genuinely serve the Lord out of love for the Lord and understanding the call of God on your life, you experience joy, deep seated contentment, and it is not a burden or hardship at all.

One of the keys to contentment is serving in the place of obscurity. Doing things that no one sees other than the Lord. Genuine contentment and joy is knowing that the only person who really notices is the only one who really matters.

The truth is that the church would not exist without volunteers, so how do we get people to volunteer? The normal way is to make a good promo video and beg people to sign up to serve. Failing that we could offer them free donuts and coffee!

But I propose that there is a purer motivation that comes from a move of God. We don’t need more manipulation; we need more of the power of God. As God begins to move on peoples’ hearts, they are compelled by a sense of calling and purpose. Doing what God has called them to do. In Psalm 110:3 we read, “Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.”

This Psalm is speaking about Jesus coming in glory and his followers offering themselves to serve him. What we need in the church is not more calls for volunteers or pleading videos, what we need is revival. Throughout the history of revivals, there has never been a shortage of workers who give themselves to the work of the Lord.

Henry Blackaby wrote, “Only the power of God can free us from our natural self-centeredness and reorient us toward the mission of God”

And finally, we have the privilege to serve the Lord because we gain an eternal reward. Revelation 19:7-8 reads, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

At the marriage feast, the church, the Bride of Christ, will be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure, but the linen is made up of the righteous deeds that we do. Now we know that we are not made righteous by what we do. Rather, we work from a position of righteousness because of the blood of Jesus.

The good works that we do, are righteous deeds that have an eternal value. Christ will reward us for our faithfulness. And the rewards we receive will make up the wedding gown.

Dr. Lehman Strauss writes, “Has it ever occurred to you … that at the marriage of the Bride to the Lamb, each of us will be wearing the wedding garment of our own making?”

That is a tremendous paradigm shift; we don’t serve out of duty, we serve as an act of worship.

How is your heart? What is the response of your heart today? Is your heart so filled with gratitude and worship that you are waiting for the opportunity to say like Isaiah, “here I am, send me.”

Sermon, Sunday April 10 2022 – Jesus is the True Vine

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Have you ever formed a relationship with someone or with an organization that you regretted? We have all had relationships with people or organizations that have not been good for us. Unhealthy connections lead to unhealthy fruit in our lives.

But healthy connections are good for us. Healthy families, healthy institutions of learning, healthy churches, healthy relationships and more. However, no matter how good these connections are for us, people will let us down, organizations will change, and time will change us and our needs.

However, Jesus offers us a relationship that has the power to give us everything we need or ever will need, and a relationship that will never change. Sadly, so few people fully understand the total dependency that we have in our relationship with Jesus.

In John 15 verse 1, Jesus said, “I am the true vine…” Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine and branches, but it wasn’t a new picture for the Children of Israel (see Psalm 80:8-9). The vine metaphor was understood by Jews in the First Century as referring to Israel. Jesus takes the metaphor and applies it to himself, referring to himself as the “true” vine, and not just any vine.  

Jesus uses the Greek word for “abide” or “remain” ten times in these few verses. The Greek word means to stay and commit to a specific relationship or location. In this context, it means to remain in fellowship with Christ, so that his life can work in and through us to produce fruit (See John 15:4). Jesus said, “abide in me…” commit to remaining in my presence.

But then Jesus makes a commitment to abide in us. Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you…” What a wonderful promise. As we commit to remain in Jesus, making him lord of our lives, he commits to remaining with us. A promise that he will never break.

In Genesis 3, there was a separation caused by the first sin that removed mankind from abiding with God. Jesus repairs the separation, but more than that, he promises to give us his Spirit. The fellowship and intimacy we are offered is closer than we could ever imagine.

The apostle Paul frequently used the words, “In Christ” in his letters. What does that mean, and how do we experience the fullness of being in Christ?

The most crucial part of understanding this is knowing where we are. As followers of Jesus, we need to know where we are positionally. Paul makes this clear in Romans 6 where he writes about the reality and the necessity of being dead to sin, and alive in Christ. (See Romans 6:1-5).

Being in Christ, is positional. We are, as followers of Jesus, positioned in Christ by his righteousness. So that when God the Father looks at us, he sees us covered by the righteousness of Christ.

So how do we live from that position? How do we abide in Christ?

John 15 gives us two critical ways of abiding in Christ.

The first way is found in John 15 verse 3 and 7, in verse 7 Jesus said, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Here we have an instruction and a promise. The instruction is to abide in the word (See Psalm 119:11). His words are to remain in us. We are to keep them in our lives, to build our lives upon them, to be obedient to them. When we take time to meditate on God’s word, to listen to God, to reflect on it and allow it to instruct us, we strengthen our ‘abiding’ with Jesus. As we do this, we become more aware of our position, who we really are as children of God.

As we meditate and feed on the the written word of God, the Holy Spirit in us, takes the word and makes it come alive and active, making it the Rhema word of God to us. As Hebrews 4:12 says, “… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”

Secondly, we abide by obeying His Commands (John 15:10).

Jesus says in these verses that through obedience we remain in his love. This is not obedience out of duty or law, rather as we grow in our love and knowledge of Jesus, we desire to do what he wants us to do, and we naturally find Joy in obedience. Jesus wants us to experience the fullness of his joy in this life, and an essential part of this is found in keeping his commandments.

So how can we know that we are abiding in Christ? What is the fruit that Jesus talks about in John 15:5?

There are several different kinds of spiritual fruit named in the Bible.

We bear fruit when we win others to Christ. As we grow in holiness and obedience, we bear fruit of the evidence of the presence of God. We have the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–23). The kind of Christian character that glorifies God and makes Christ real to others.

Along with producing healthy fruit there is the pruning (See John 15:1-2).

Jesus is the true vine, and the Father is the Vinedresser. The Vinedresser must prune the branches to keep the vineyard healthy. We don’t like that, and when we are pruned, we sometimes get angry at God. He may remove things from our lives that we like, things that we think are essential, but God knows they are holding us back from producing more fruit. Any sin (dead branches) in our lives will be dealt with by God because of His love for us.

Sometimes God removes seemingly good things in our lives for us to become more fruitful.

What is God pruning in your life today?

What is the fruit that Jesus is producing in your life as you are abiding in him?

Sermon Sunday August 15, 2021 – The Fellowship of the Church part 1

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Why do you go to church?

There are various reasons why people attend a worship service; tradition, routine, to meet friends or because they are hungry for the truth. There is tremendous richness in the fellowship we enjoy as we worship with other followers of Jesus.

In the Apostle John’s first letter he begins with the foundation of the church. In chapter 1, there are three keys to a healthy church community.

John begins with, “That which was from the beginning,” (1 John 1:1a). He began his Gospel in a similar way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1).  Both echoing Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

John begins his letter with the declaration of our foundation in the risen Lord Jesus. John was a living witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He begins by saying that Jesus was more than a mere man, but that he was in fact the son of God and that at the beginning of creation, Jesus was there. John confirms that he heard Jesus speak, he saw him with his own eyes, and he touched him with his own hands. And in verse 2 and 3 he writes that this Jesus is the eternal son of God who became flesh.

John was declaring the Gospel message. The son of God who was born of a virgin and lived a perfect sinless life in order to become the spotless lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This Gospel message is the foundational truth on which the church stands.

Sadly, it is possible to know this truth, without this truth transforming your life. It is possible to profess faith in Jesus, without expressing faith by living a consistent life of following Jesus, dying to our own sinful flesh. Believing the truth of the Gospel brings us into fellowship with God and his son Jesus, John ties this to the church in verse 7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Fellowship with one another in the church begins with the foundation of individual fellowship with God through Jesus. We cannot be in true fellowship as the church if we are not followers of Jesus.  

In verse 5, John writes, one of the greatest theological statements in the whole Bible is, “God is light”. He is the source of light and truth (John 8:12).

God began creation by stating, “let there be light” genesis 1:3. Light is the source of life and the beginning point of creation. Light is a symbol of God’s presence in the Bible and a picture of His perfect holiness and righteousness. Light reveals reality.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “We believe that the sun has risen, not because we see it, but because by it we see everything else”.

Verses 6 to 10 are a repetitive back and forth of walking in the light and walking in darkness.

Each of the verses begin with the word “if”, and John seems to play one against the other for 5 verses. Verses 6, 8 and 10 all depict the danger and the damage caused by walking and living in sin.

Notice that each of these verses begin with the statement, “if we say…”. This is pride, the essence of sin, where I try to convince myself and those around me that I am walking in truth and light, whereas I know in my heart that I am walking in sin and darkness. That there is a separation in my relationship with God and others in the body of Christ.

When we give in to temptation and sin, we are uncomfortable in the light and the natural reaction is to separate from the body of Christ. Slowly we begin to attend church less frequently, we slowly start pulling back and pretty soon we are not in fellowship anymore.

If sin pulls us away from fellowship, what do we need to do? This is where the wonderful promises of 1 John 1:7 and 9 are so incredibly encouraging.

As the light of God reveals our sin, and we are prompted by the Holy Spirit, we repent of our sins, 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God promises to forgive your sin, because of what Jesus has done on the cross.

When we sin, we damage our relationship with God. We struggle to pray and read His word. We experience to loss of Joy and peace as we are outside of the will of God. As a result of this, we also experience a loss of fellowship with each other.

But the wonderful promise is that repentance restores fellowship. I love to pray the prayer of David in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” The cleansing of our sin is a creative miracle of God, and it is something that we need to do daily.

As we daily repent of our sins, we walk in the light, enjoying fellowship with God and we walk in fellowship with other believers.

One aspect of the church has become so clear in the last eighteen months, we need to walk in fellowship with each other. Hebrews 10:23-25 has taken on a renewed meaning to us all.  

When we are separated from the body of Christ, it is easy to be overwhelmed by fear as we see the world around us. It is a world controlled by fear.

Fear comes when we misplace our trust.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke to the nation of Judah when they were in a downward spiral of sin and idolatry. They were blindly heading towards judgment, much the same as our nation today (See Jeremiah 17:5-8). Jeremiah said that trusting in man results in a curse!

How many of us are trusting in man before we trust in God?

God calls us to be a part of the fellowship of believers so that we can encourage one another to keep trusting in the Lord our God.

Keeping the foundation of the Word of God and the Gospel as our starting point.

Sermon, Sunday August 1, 2021, The Holiness of God

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Have you discovered the purpose for your existence?

That’s a deep question, but the answer is very simple and yet infinitely complex.

I am reminded of a frequently used phrase, “God loves you and has a plan for your life”.

While that sounds good and it is true, it is not the overarching truth. If we really think about it, the subject of the sentence is, “you” and ultimately that comes from our humanistic focus on self.

God is about God. It really is all about His glory being displayed in all the universe. That sounds harsh to our western ears, because we are so consumed with our own glory and achievements. But the reality is that God is the only uncreated One, from whom all other beings owe their existence, and He is infinitely holy.

Instead of, “God loves you and has a plan for your life”, I propose that, “God’s plan for your life is the display of His glory.”

I want to try to answer two questions:

  1. What is the glory of God?
  2. How do we display the glory of God?

In Romans 11 we see a chapter that some scholars say sums up the entire narrative of the Bible. It is all about God’s plan and purpose for the people of Israel. As Paul writes verses 33 to 36 of chapter 11, it is as if he is reaching the crescendo of a symphony and flows into praise of God.

Verse 36 is the cymbal crash of the chapter, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen”.

God is the source, the means, and the goal of all things. That is so contrary to what we see portrayed in the world around us and sadly in many churches, where we ultimately see that the god that many people worship is created in their own image.   

  1. But what is the glory of God?

John Piper said, “The glory of God is the manifest beauty of his holiness. It is the going-public of his holiness.”

The word Holy means to be separate, a distinctly different being, in a class all by Himself. The holiness of God is the foundational quality of His character.

In Isaiah 6:3, the prophet has a vision of heaven where he sees the Seraphim calling to one another above the throne of God, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

The heavenly creatures, declare the holiness of God and then say that His glory is over the whole earth, not His holiness. The Glory of God is the public display of His holiness (see Psalm 19:1 and Psalm 8:1).

2. So how do we display the glory of God?

Verse 36 tells us that every believer has their source in God. So, as we live on this earth in this church age, we are part of the glory of God being displayed. We get to reflect His glory. We are designed to make the glory of God shine, making it visible to others (see Matthew 5:16 and 2 Corinthians 4:6-7). People seeing your life on display, should declare, “God is glorious!”.

Once again, we run into the idol of self and our culture of humanism. We must realize that God does not need us, but He chose to create us in His image for His glory (see Isaiah 43:7).

The Westminster Catechism begins with the question, “What is the chief end of man?”. To which they answered, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” If we really grasped this, we would realize that we have been created for so much more than we can ever imagine.

But our flesh rises up and says, “hey, what’s in it for me?” If we are honest, we might believe that God is not concerned about us, He is using us for His glory. However, when we live as God intends us to live, we are most satisfied. The answer to the first question of the Westminster Catechism is two-fold, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

As we glorify God, we experience joy, the joy of living out our original design (see Psalm 73:25-26)

So, the question is, am I satisfied in God? Is He enough? Do I have full satisfaction in God, or do I chase after the things of this world? We chase after good things; friends, health, careers, family and also not good things; wealth, sex, fame, to name a few.

We chase after things, because we don’t find full satisfaction in God.

John Piper writes, “He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

We struggle to grasp this, because we are so easily satisfied with the things of this world.

C.S. Lewis described it perfectly, “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

  • We display the Glory of God, when we serve gladly and give sacrificially of our time and our resources.
  • We display the glory of God, when we put our agenda on hold to help someone or stop to pray for them.
  • We display the glory of God when we share the Gospel with someone.
  • We display the glory of God when we care for the widows and the orphans and stand up for the unborn.
  • We display the glory of God when we boldly take a stand against the immoral mainstream of our culture.

These are just some of the many examples of what it means to be living for the glory of God.

What if we woke up every morning with the prayer, “Lord display Your glory through my life today?”

Sermon Sunday July 11, 2021 – Activation

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Have you ever been a part of a miracle?

What if we were to have the expectation of God working through us for the benefit of others? We can be used as a conduit of the grace of God for others.

Our mission team to Montana leaves this week, and we go with the expectation that God is going to use us to bless people, as we meet felt needs and share the Gospel. But this expectation should not be reserved for mission teams, this can and should be the way that we live on a daily basis.

How would you like to be used by God in a supernatural way during your everyday routine?

In Acts 3, we read about a miraculous encounter that Peter and John had with a crippled man. The early church was just getting going and they were learning to live as followers of Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit. They were living activated by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

We can learn Four Keys from this passage to living an activated lifestyle.

The early church was vibrant as people were meeting daily for prayer and fellowship (Acts 2:46-47). But they were still attached to the traditions and disciplines of the temple as they adhered to the times of daily prayer and teaching. Peter, John, and the other disciples were people of discipline. And I believe the first key to activation is the key of discipline.

Key #1 – Discipline

How we despise the word discipline, but nothing of value is ever achieved without it.  

In a few weeks the Olympics will be starting in Tokyo, the athletes are people who have achieved the top of their sport because of their discipline. It is the same with the Christian walk. To be used by God, we need to be disciplined in prayer, Bible reading, evangelism, giving, worship, and fellowship. Discipline is key to activation.

In Acts 3 we read that Peter and John were walking towards the temple and passed a crippled man begging for alms.  They probably would have walked right by him, but he called out to them asking for help. In verse 4, we find the second key to activation, “And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:4). Some translations say, “Peter Fixed his gaze on him.”

There were probably many other people begging at that gate, but Peter saw this man and looked intently at him. We have a pandemic in the world right now, and it’s not COVID. There is a pandemic of people who just want to be seen. Not for fame or fortune, but just to be noticed and valued. I believe that the second key to activation is to really see people.

Key #2 – Seeing People

Seeing people through the lens of the Holy Spirit. Seeing people as human beings that Jesus died and shed his blood for. One of the most dangerous prayers you can pray, is to ask God to give you His heart for people. If He really did that, you would be overwhelmed with love mixed with grief for the pain in peoples lives. Let’s start seeing people.

Peter saw past the lame man’s plea for alms and saw his primary need. His primary need, and the primary need of every human being on the planet is to be reconciled to God.

In verse 6, Peter boldly acts, and God performs a miracle in the power of the name of Jesus. Through the power of the name of Jesus, the beggar was completely healed. Peter did not have the power to heal the man, the power was in the name of Jesus, Peter was the conduit. I believe this is the 3rd key to activation, believing in the power of the name of Jesus.

Key #3 – Believing in the Power of the Name of Jesus.

We cannot perform miracles or repair the brokenness in people, only Jesus can do that. Just like Peter, we need courage to boldly step in, as the Holy Spirit leads us, to be the conduit for a miracle in someone’s life. Bold prayers come from believing who Jesus is and what he has done for us.

Bold prayers come from abiding in Jesus (John 15:7). If you are walking in the will of God, being led by the Holy Spirit, you will be praying the will of God. Peter knew it was the will of God to heal that man, and he boldly called on the power of the name of Jesus.

Prayer is not an escape from responsibility; it is our response to God’s ability.” Warren Wiersbe

The fourth key to activation is very practical, it is simply whatever God has placed in your hand.

Key #4 – Whatever is in Your Hand

Peter said to the lame man in verse 6, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…”

For many of us, God has put “silver and gold” in our hands. We have material possessions or skills that can be used by God to be someone’s miracle.

When you give your life to the Lordship of Jesus, he controls all your skills, your energy and your possessions. Being activated by God, means that whatever he has blessed you with can be used for His glory to help someone else.

So, what are the results of being activated?

In Acts 3, we read that a large crowd gathered around Peter and John and the formerly lame man. Peter jumped on the opportunity to preach to the crowd and many people began to accept Jesus as Lord and give glory to God.

However, before the day was over, Peter and John found themselves in jail. For Peter and John, being activated didn’t seem to work out that well. And often when we follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, it doesn’t always work out as we visualize it. Sometimes it gets messy, sometimes we wonder what on earth we are doing.

But in Acts 4:4 we see that the church grew rapidly to well over five thousand. We don’t always see the fruit of what God is doing. We see the mess around us, but God is transforming lives and people are being saved.

It is all about the glory of God. When we are activated for the kingdom of God, He gets the glory.

Sermon Sunday June 13, 2021 – The Value of Prayer

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Luke 22:39-46 

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot make time.

But you can invest time. What if I said that you could invest your time in something that is infinitely valuable and has eternal rewards?

I am talking about prayer.

This week we come to Luke 22 and the prayer that Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

This is a pivotal moment in human history. Jesus has just celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples, and he was on his way to be arrested and crucified. Jesus knew the battle that lay ahead of him, and he needed to be alone with the Father.

In Luke 22:39, we read that Jesus had a custom of going to this mountain to pray. Jesus was a man of discipline. When it comes to prayer, people often say, “well I am not that disciplined”. The truth is that every person has the capacity to be disciplined; we just are not motivated.

Motivation comes from what we value. What we value we elevate in importance, which becomes the thing that we worship. Ultimately, we are motivated by what we worship, what we give value to. When people say they cannot discipline themselves to pray and to feed on God’s Word, it is simply evident that they do not place a value on prayer and the Word.

In verse 41, we see that Jesus separated himself from his disciples and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Jesus prayed fervently that God would remove this trial from him. Jesus knew that he was about to take on the sins of the world and the Father would have to turn His back on him. I am so grateful that Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. Jesus had a yes in his heart, he knew that this was the moment he had come to the earth for.

When we approach the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are right to focus on the cross where the price was paid for our salvation. But we must not overlook the Garden, this is where Jesus was tempted by Satan to turn away from the cross. This is where Satan threw everything at Jesus to persuade him not to go through with the crucifixion. I believe that this was the last attempt by Satan. Satan knew that if Jesus was going to submit to the will of the Father, he was defeated.

It was fitting that the battle for our salvation took place in a garden. In the beginning the first Adam rebelled against God in the garden of Eden and ushered sin and death to the world. The second Adam came to fight in the garden on the mount of Olives for you and me, to defeat the power of sin and death.

Jesus knew the plan; he knew that he would be raised from the dead, but his soul experienced agony as he faced what lay ahead of him and was tempted to turn back. This was not a normal quiet time of prayer; Jesus was in agony (Luke 22:43). But the victory was won. The victory for our salvation was won by Jesus on his knees in prayer. Let us always remember that prayer is the most powerful use of our time.

As we compare Luke’s account with the other Gospels, we see that Jesus prayed three times for the cup to be removed and three times he came back to his disciples and found them sleeping. The disciples had no idea of the pain and the trial that would lie ahead of them. Isn’t it incredibly comforting to know that this same Jesus, who was so disciplined in his prayers on earth is now praying for us (see Hebrews 7:25)?

In verse 46, and verse 40, Jesus said “pray that you may not enter into temptation”. As Jesus was being led to the cross, all his disciples eventually fled or disowned him. Notice this, don’t miss this. The only person who remained strong during this terrible day was the one who had stayed awake and prayed. The disciples who didn’t pray, fled, and abandoned Jesus.

Looking at the phrase “that you may not enter into temptation”. This is the same phrase the Jesus used in the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:13, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

We know from James 1:13-14 that God does not tempt us. But the Greek word used in Luke and Matthew’s Gospel account is πειρασμός (pronounced – peirasmos), which is a word used throughout the New Testament and can mean to be tested, or to undertake an examination, or to be tempted to sin. This is the same word that we find in Matthew 4:1, right after the baptism of Jesus, as he was led to be tempted in the wilderness.

God the Father allows trials and testing in our lives. These are the works of Satan, but God allows it for our growth, faith, maturing and for our sanctification (see James 1:2-4).

The Bible teaches that testing is good for us, but we are also encouraged to pray to avoid testing if it is the Father’s will. We have an example in Luke 22:31-32a as Jesus is speaking to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.”

Satan the accuser (Revelation 12:10), accuses the saint’s day and night before God. Satan demanded to test Peter, but Jesus, our great High priest, stepped in and prayed for him. Jesus knows the power of prayer before the throne of God!

We know from 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God will not test us beyond our ability in Christ to bear it and will always provide a way out. If the wording of the Lord’s prayer refers to trials, then the meaning of Matthew 6:13 is, “do not test us, do not afflict us”. King David understood this (see Psalm 141:4).

How is your prayer life?

Sermon, Sunday March 7, 2021 – Chosen!

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In 2014 there was an article in the news about a boy by the name of Davion in Florida, who at the age of 15 had been in the foster care system all his life. Davion desperately wanted to be adopted into a loving family and he knew that because of his age, this was highly unlikely.

He decided to be proactive and he worked hard to improve his physical appearance and his grades at school. On his own initiative, Davion boldly stood before the congregation of his local church and asked if anyone would choose him to be their son.

Davion was crying out to be chosen, to be a part of a family. Can you imagine your children having to market themselves and be on their best behavior and get all “A’s” in school to be accepted and loved?

The point is that we all have a deep desire to belong, to be chosen and to be a part of a family. This is the invitation that Jesus introduced when he walked the earth, and the same invitation stands today. We get invited into the family of God, where we are accepted just as we are, and our Father will never give up on us. It’s a family that wants the best for you. It’s a family that offers real hope for today and for your future.

In Mark 3:13 to 6:29, we catch a glimpse of the life and ministry of Jesus as he is at his most popular. Everywhere he goes crowds follow him in hopes of seeing a miracle or being healed themselves.

In Chapter 3 from verse 13, Jesus chooses the disciples to be in his family. Jesus didn’t pick the best theological minds and esteemed leaders, rather he chose ordinary fishermen, tradesmen, a politician, and a tax collector to be part of his family. Jesus chose them and used them to start a global movement that changed the world.

At the same time, Jesus was rejected by his own family (Mark 3:20-21). When his family heard about his ministry they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Jesus knew what it was like to be rejected, abandoned, and betrayed by your own family.

Jesus identifies with the many people whose family abandon and disown them when they place their faith in him as Lord.

Jesus identifies with Davion’s pain. Jesus identifies with your pain and Jesus chooses you to be in his family. Just a few minutes later Jesus said regarding his family, “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35). Whoever is willing, has faith and believes becomes a member of this new family.

Faith Comes by Hearing is an organization committed to producing the audio Bible for every language in the world. One of the recordings is for a tribal group of Indians in Bolivia called Quechua. When the Quechuas first heard the Bible in their heart language, the response was amazing. Whole villages came to faith in Christ, families were healed, and churches were planted throughout the region. As the FCBH leadership began asking questions of the Quechua people, they found out that the most impactful Bible story was the healing of the women with the issue of blood found in Mark 5:21-34.

The woman had a chronic bleeding issue that had gone on for twelve years, and like many people with chronic illnesses, she emptied her bank account paying her medical bills. In addition, this medical problem made her ceremonially unclean in the community as per the law of Moses, which meant she was shunned, alone and broken. Out of a place of desperation she takes a huge risk and works her way through the crowd on her hands and knees to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. As she reaches out and touches the edge of Jesus’ cloak, she is immediately healed.

The reason why this particular story impacted the Quechua people was because they could identify with being rejected and shunned by society. It wasn’t until as recently as 1965 that there was a government ruling to declare that the Quechuan’s had a soul. Up until that time, they were regarded as nothing more than primitive animals.

When the Quechua’s hear the story in Mark chapter 5, they identify with the women considered unclean. They join with that woman and when she touched Jesus, they reached out and touched Jesus. Something happened in their souls and their spirits at that moment.

They were set free from their pain when they grasped what Jesus said in Mark 5:34, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

The Quechua at that moment would begin to sob and break down. Their heart hurt because Jesus saw this woman as a human being, he healed her and invited her into his family. He freed her from her suffering. Their hearts hurt because Jesus, who now speaks their language, turns to them, and offers them that same invitation.

Jesus is now turning to you and offering you the same invitation.

After Davion spoke in the church, his story went viral and today he has a forever family.

Someone chose to adopt him into their family.

Imagine yourself standing in front of a church and pleading for someone to welcome you into their family, and even before you finish your speech, Jesus stands up and shouts out, “I chose you!”.  This is what Jesus does every-day, he says, “I love you and choose you just as you are (see Hebrews 2:11).

Jesus is the only one who has the power to set us free from our shame and to present us as righteous before God the Father. Those who believe in Jesus and receive him are the ones who are made holy.

Have you made the decision to make Jesus Christ Lord of your life?

January 17, 2021 The Power in Weakness

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2 Corinthians 12:1-10

How easily do you admit to weakness?

If you ever want to have me do something, just tell me I cannot do it.

If I am struggling to complete a household project, Debbie knows that I will be annoyed if she says, “why don’t you hire a professional to do that?” What? Now you have just thrown down the gauntlet.

Our culture despises weakness and values people based on their physical and intellectual strength. As we read the scriptures, we see a paradox. In the kingdom of God, there is power in weakness (Psalm 8:2).

The Apostle Paul was arguably the greatest theologian, church planter and missionary in history. Yet, he understood the power in weakness.  In 2 Corinthians 11:30 he wrote, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” This is not false humility, the apostle understood something we do not.

As Paul goes to great lengths to diminish his own stature, he is aware of the power of God working through him.

To keep him from being conceited, Paul wrote that God gave him a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). There is good reason why we do not know the specific nature of this thorn, because whatever ailments and challenges we experience, Paul’s thorn becomes our thorn, and we can identify with his struggles.

We do not know what the thorn in the flesh was, but we must never forget that God allowed it. Satan would never do something to keep someone from being prideful, that is the opposite of what he does. God is in control and allowing your thorn in the flesh for his purposes and his glory.

CS Lewis wrote, “we can ignore even pleasure, but pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

God used Paul’s thorn in the flesh to focus his attention on Christ and to draw him into a place of greater dependence. Paul prayed for the thorn to be removed but Jesus responded by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Jesus gave Paul the key, power is found in weakness. The perfect power of Jesus is experienced when the grace of God is able to minister to us in our weakness. Our inability is the beginning of the manifest power of God.

Notice the two nouns, “Grace” and “Power”. We agree that the definition of grace is unmerited favor, that is the true message of the Gospel. But we do not often see grace as power. There is power in the Grace of God. Grace is more than a noun; it is a powerful verb.

Grace is not something we receive at salvation and then put on the shelf as a memorial. The Grace of God is active and powerful in our lives. The key to this power is our weakness.  

The Gospel is a picture of power in weakness. Jesus the all-powerful creator God, took on the form of a weak baby, and lived a life of humility setting aside his glory for a season.

The cross of our salvation, where Jesus paid the price for our sins, was where Jesus submitted himself in a picture of weakness and hopelessness. God’s plan of redemption was that there was to be weakness, on the cross, before there was power at the resurrection. God displayed His power when he raised Jesus from the dead. This same power is at work in us as we read in Ephesians 1:19-20. This gift of salvation is available to anyone who truly admits how weak they are. Only then can we experience and begin to live out the immeasurable power of God.

Doing what we cannot do, that is Christ in me. As you submit your life to the will of God, there will be times when God calls you to do something that is impossible to do…in your own strength. God calls you to take a stand against corruption, start a non-profit to help orphans and widows, stand in front of a crowd and preach the Gospel, witness to your family, or any other mission that seems impossible or impractical. The purpose of God is that we step out in faith, relying on Christ to do the impossible through us.

God needs our weakness more than He needs our strength. Our strength is often His rival. Our weakness is His servant as we rely on His resources to accomplish His purposes, to bring Him glory (Galatians 2:20).

We have a wonderful example of this in the life of Jesus in John chapter 6. Here we read the account of the feeding of the 5000 from just five barley loaves and two fish.

Before the miracle, Jesus asked Philip how they were going to be able to buy enough food to feed all the people.  Jesus was testing Philip; he was asking him to do the impossible. We know that Andrew, in faith brought the little that they could find to Jesus. The five loaves and the two fish represented our weakness, that must be brought to Jesus as an offering in faith. And Jesus used what little was offered and miraculously fed a multitude.

At the beginning of 2021, give God what you have, your talents, your finances, your gifts and see what He can do with them.

What vision has God given you that you cannot do in your own strength?