Hearing God’s Voice Part 1 5/31/15

Why does God speak?

Text: 1 Samuel 3:1-21

Sometime in their lives every Christian asks the question; “how can I know the will of God for my life?” or “does God speak to me?” The answer is yes!

From www.untilallarereached.com

So we begin the series with the question; why does God speak? And our text is the well known story of the calling of the prophet Samuel.

This is such a wonderful story of God revealing Himself to humanity. This story highlights a turning point in the nation of Israel and their history. The period of the Judges was coming to an end, roughly 350 years around 1000 years before Christ, and the Lord began speaking on a regular basis through prophets as the era of the kings was ushered in. Samuel is a wonderful example to us of someone who was attentive and waiting on the Lord. He responded quickly each time the Lord called him and ran to Eli. It reveals a lot about his character and his eagerness to serve.

According to the ancient Historian Josephus, Samuel was about 12 yrs old at the time and he had been in the temple for 9 or 10 years.

The first verse of our text says that the word of the Lord was rare in those days. During the period of the Judges we only have recorded 2 prophets and 5 revelations. But all that was to change with this young boy Samuel, a young man who was eager to serve the Lord.

The part of the account in Samuel that is left out when we tell children this story is the fact of the sin of eli’s sons, Phinehas and Hophni, they had abused the privilege and responsibility of serving in the house of the Lord, and the Lord had rejected them as we read in chapter 2. They did not recognize the word of the Lord and rejected the correction of their father. But the Lord chose to reveal himself to Samuel, this young 12 year old had the humility and perspective that God was looking for, someone who could be used by God in a mighty way.

There are two primary reasons why God spoke to Samuel and these same reasons apply to us today;

  1. God speaks so that we can develop a relationship with him and know him as our heavenly father. Up until this point in time, Samuel did not know God, he did not recognize the voice of God, but as he became aware of the voice of God he grew in his relationship with him. The same applies to us, as we begin to recognize the voice of God, we learn more about his character and nature and we grow in our relationship with him.
  1. To call people respond to him in obedience and to commit their lives to serving him” This account in the life of Samuel was his commissioning into the ministry of being a prophet, a spokesman for God to the people.

God is personally calling people today who are waiting on Him to proclaim His word. God is calling people from all walks of life and all spheres of society to be his spokesman in their area of influence.

Today we are blessed by what Jesus did on the cross and the indwelling Holy Spirit. God speaks to each one of us individually. We need to position ourselves to hear from the Lord, being attentive and willing to respond when He does speak to us. It is important to note that God does not speak to us for our benefit only, but rather it is usually in order to instruct us to do something that will have an eternal impact in the Kingdom of God.

So how do we hear the voice of God? Today God primarily speaks to us through His word; the inspired word of God. As we read the Bible and meditate on the message of the Bible, the Holy Spirit reveals it to us. God also speaks to us through His Spirit in what we often refer to as the “Still small voice”, as mentioned last week, as a believer you have the Holy Spirit in you and is the promised Parakletos, the Counselor, or Advocate, or Helper.

It is always so interesting to remember that we tell children that prayer is a conversation with God and then we somehow forget that somewhere along the way. Prayer is a conversation, and in order for a conversation to take place, you need to be silent as the Psalmist reminds us; “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

I always have a journal during my early morning times with the Lord and I write down what He says to me, this is the developing of the relationship with God, he speaks through his word and through the Holy Spirit. Other examples of God speaking to us are through circumstances, through other Christians, or through nature. God is not limited by our understanding of Him and we need to be constantly attentive to hear His voice.

Remember the two reasons why God speaks to us;

1) To reveal God, his character and nature.

2) To give council and instruct us to do something.

Jesus speaking to his disciples in John 15:26 and 27 said; “26When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 27and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning.”

There we have it in the words of Jesus, “He will testify about me” and then “you will testify also” because you have been with me – we can know God, God is knowable because of what Jesus did on the cross. God reveals himself to us and as we learn about him, trust him and grow in our love for him, we then begin to testify about him and tell others of the wonderful privilege we have in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

What about you? Are you growing in your relationship with God? Or are you going about your life living a dead religion like Eli did, doing all the correct rituals, but have no relationship with God.

The Gift of the Holy Spirit 5/26/15

Be filled with the Spirit – Our Counselor and Guide

From www.untilallarereached.com

Text: Acts 2:29-39

Life is made up of a series of decisions, in order to make the best decisions you need a guide, a counselor. What if I told you that you have available to you someone who knows you better than anyone else, someone who knows the future, someone who actually has a plan for your life, a plan to prosper you in all spheres of life and not to harm you.

I am talking about the Holy Spirit, our promised counselor and guide. When Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure he promised them that he would send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).

The departure of Jesus was necessary—though painful and difficult—for the disciples.

Before he ascended, Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem, to stay and wait for the gift that the Father has promised (Acts 1:4). Can you imagine the fear and uncertainty of this group? The only thing holding them together was the promise of Jesus that a Counselor and advocate would come to them, and that they must simply wait. What faith that must have taken.

The tenth day after the ascension was the celebration on the Jewish calendar called the day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23). But for the disciples and the followers of Jesus the day started out just like the other nine that had gone before it. It was not their normal Pentecost celebration.

As they were all gathered together in that place suddenly the sound of a mighty wind came from heaven and filled the whole house. Then what seemed to be tongues of fire came and rested on each of their heads. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages. This is what Jesus had promised this is what John the Baptist had prophesied about. In an instant the church was born.

Suddenly they are filled with incredible boldness and began to declare the glories of God to those who were in the streets around them. They were so excited and filled with the presence of God that they worshipped God, told of his greatness, declared his praises. They were not preaching the Gospel, it was not a message of repentance rather it was a message declaring who God is to the people who had gathered in Jerusalem from all around the known world in order to celebrate the Pentecost festival. It is important to note that when the Holy Spirit came, he brought glory and honor to God the Father. Today when the Holy Spirit comes in a tangible and powerful way in meetings or a gathering of believers, it is not to bring glory to man or to emphasize the presence of the Holy Spirit, rather it is to bring Glory to God. The first indication of a true move of the Holy Spirit is the praise and worship of God.

From www.untilallarereached.com

But in Jerusalem on this day, there were people from 15 different regions as mentioned in Acts 2:9-11, and they each heard the praises of God in their own language. No doubt it created confusion and certainly some mocking as the Word says, but then Peter stands up and as he had already stood out as the group’s leader, he began to address the crowd. The account by Luke in the book of Acts goes on to say that the believers grew by about 3000 people that day. The church was born, the church of well over a billion people today and one that is still continuing to grow at an ever increasingly rapid rate as the day of our Lords return comes nearer. What a remarkable display of the power of God.

One of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict people of their sins (Acts 2:37). In all the great revivals in history and the great moves of the Holy Spirit, it starts with worship and acknowledging who God is, in all his glory and power, but then the Holy Spirit begins to convict of sin, because the Holiness of God cannot be found in the presence of sin. Repentance is the natural and following step leading to revival.

The remarkable thing to notice about the work of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was the unity of the believers. There was an unusual unity there that time, the church was founded on different nations, languages and cultures coming together in unity (see 1 Corinthians 12:13).

Today we like labels, it helps us understand the bias or viewpoint of others; Liberal, Conservative, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Charismatic, Reformed, Orthodox, protestant, Spirit filled, etc, the list goes on and unfortunately these classifications do not bring unity rather they have brought division and even incredibly bloody wars over the centuries.

The good news is that in heaven we won’t be known as Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostal or any other name we will simply be known as children of the living God. We as a church must become focused on the Word of God bringing unity in the greater body of Christ and getting about the task that Jesus gave us to do, that is to preach the Gospel to all the people groups of the world, starting with our community.

The Holy Spirit is a special gift from God. When you believe in Jesus Christ and you make him Lord of your life, you receive the Holy Spirit; a deposit and a seal of the promises of God (Ephesians 1:13). The Holy Spirit is a wonderful supernatural gift. In Matthew 13 Jesus speaking about the Kingdom, mentions a man who discovered a pearl of great price, he gave everything he had to buy this precious jewel. In the same way in order for us to gain the full benefit and blessing of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we need to give up everything in order to attain the prize. Every moment of our lives, every possession, every thought, the love of the world and the love of pleasure; we need to forsake all in order to allow the Holy Spirit to completely work in and through our lives.

In order to be completely led by the spirit as your counselor and guide, you need to release control of your life to God. Allowing him full access to your life, you will see and experience more of the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit does not simply invade your life and force you to become a super spiritual warrior who never sins. We will only feel and know the presence of the Holy Spirit as much as we submit to him in our lives.

The best life is one led by the Holy Spirit, abandoned to his will and plans for your life. You will find that as you live by the Holy Spirit, you will experience a life of adventure, peace and fulfillment unlike anything you could ever imagine.


Raising up a fearless generation 5/17/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

 Text 2 Timothy 1:1-10

Timothy was a young man from Lystra which is in modern day Turkey. Timothy’s father was a Greek, but his mother was a Jewish Christian. It is likely that Paul led Timothy to faith in Jesus Christ when he visited Lystra on his missionary Journeys, and on his second visit to the town, he asked Timothy to join him on his missionary journeys. This is true discipleship; Paul takes Timothy along with him, showing him the good and the bad times. It is one thing to allow a young person into your life and say you will nurture them in their Christian walk, but it is a totally different scenario when you invite them to walk beside you and see how you respond in both the good and the bad times. Real Discipleship does not happen in the Sunday school class, it happens in the streets and in the community.

Paul was encouraging Timothy to endure hardship and not run away from it (verse 8). Paul was not asking Timothy to do something that he was not prepared to do himself. We need to be careful not to encourage younger believers to do things that we are not prepared to do ourselves.

Let us ensure that our lives are the testimony that others want to emulate as they follow our example.

Paul obviously knew Timothy really well and knew that he had a tendency to be timid and fearful. Paul had seen Timothy in ministry and knew that he had been given a pastoral gift by God; he was concerned that Timothy was not using and cultivating this gift.

When we become a true follower of Jesus Christ and make him Lord of our lives the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us, and gives us spiritual gifts, we each have them. But we need to put them into practice and exercise these gifts, cultivating them for the glory of God. We need to cultivate our spiritual gifts by serving and being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

How we need this today, not just in our own lives but this needs to be something that we intentionally speak about and cultivate in the next generation of believers. The Christian life is not easy; it is the narrow road and one that has many challenges. If we are telling people about Jesus and promising them that he will solve all their problems then we are being misleading. Jesus himself said in Matthew 16:24; “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

This is the life that Paul was speaking about when he was encouraging Timothy to not be timid or fearful.

There are many intimidating things in this world but do not have to be timid or fearful, because we know that Jesus Christ won the victory on the cross and as a result we don’t have to fear what man could do, we are even delivered from the very fear of death.

One of the most powerful and effective weapons that Satan has in his arsenal is the weapon of fear, but if we are secure in Jesus Christ as our foundation, fear does not have to have any hold on us.

Fear has prevented many Christians from experiencing all that God intends for you in your life. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of financial loss, fear of tomorrow – and the list goes on and on. Fear’s goal is to create a cowardly, joyless soul. He wants you to take your eyes off the mountain peak and settle for the dull existence of the flat lands. We need to live fearless as we live by faith. Satan has been overcome and Jesus won the victory on the cross (Hebrews 13:6).

Many of us have a wonderful heritage of faith that we have received from our parents and grandparents, much like Timothy who received his example from his mother and grandmother. But the role of parents is to shelter and protect, make sure that our children are not hurt or exposed to anything that might create pain.

But Paul here as the spiritual father of Timothy, sees things from a different perspective he sees things in the light of eternity, and the fact that risking it all now for the sake of the Gospel is the best way to spend our lives in order to receive an eternal reward.

A recent pew report showed that many of the younger generations are leaving the church. Why is this we ask ourselves? The truth is that young people today want to be challenged and want to have a cause worth dying for. They are bored with the neatly packaged professional church Christianity. That holds no appeal to them because they don’t see how it impacts and changes lives. They read about the great missionaries of the past, Hudson Taylor, William Carey, Adoniram Judson and others and they want that life, a cause worth dying for. The church needs to become a risk taking movement and relies on God for direction and power.

Who is your timothy? Who are you setting example for?

Remember two things;

Firstly: that the person you are training and encouraging, needs to see in your life the example of faith and reckless abandon. Not fearing man or anything that man could say or do. Then your “Timothy” will take to heart quickly everything you say and do.

Secondly: make sure that you do not become overprotective, trust the Lord for the development of that person; you cannot do what only God can do. Your role is to expose that person to the truth in word and deed and then allow them to go and try out their wings.

You may feel inadequate; you can quickly point to all your own failings and weaknesses. Well I have good news for you; “God only uses weak and broken people” He can use you to as long as you are willing.

Ask God to bring someone into your life that you can nurture and disciple.

Mothers Day 2015

From www.untilallarereached.com

Text John 19:25-27

The role of a mother is not an easy road, and one filled with sleepless nights and tough conversations. It is very draining to be a mother. Mother’s Day is also a very difficult day for many women. There are many women who long to be a mother but for whatever circumstance are not able to be a biological mother. There are others who have had children pass away, and this is a particularly difficult time for them. Then there is the mother of the prodigal, the child who has rejected the love and nurturing of a mother. All of these and more make this day a very difficult day for so many people.

While not everyone is blessed to be able to carry a child and bring a new life into the world, all women can be a mother to someone. You may be called to be an adoptive mother, or a foster mother, but the mother who sees the blessing of eternal rewards is a spiritual mother. Who are you being called to nurture and care for as a spiritual mother?

What a remarkable scene this is, Jesus dying on the cross, there must have been so many mixed emotions in the crowd of people looking on. The soldiers were cruelly going about their job of crucifying and making sure the execution was successful, many people who were standing there giving approval to the death of Jesus. And then we have this very personal and intimate exchange with Jesus, his mother and the beloved disciple John.

From www.untilallarereached.com

Mary was standing near the cross along with three other women and John the beloved disciple of Jesus and the writer of this Gospel account. It took courage to stand there in the midst of such hatred and ridicule, but their being there must have been a significant encouragement to Jesus.

The first time we meet Mary in the Gospel of John, she is attending a wedding (John 2:1–11), remember how Mary simply told the servants at the wedding to do whatever he tells you. She knew Jesus was the son of God, now she is preparing for a burial. The hour had come! She was experiencing “the sword” that had been predicted by Simeon years before when she and Joseph presented Jesus to the temple (Luke 2:35).

Her silence is significant; for if anyone could have rescued Jesus, it was His mother. All she had to do was announce that His claims were false—but she said nothing! What a testimony to the deity of Christ.

Mary must have been in agony at this time, Joseph her husband was probably dead already and as Jesus was the carpenter, he probably provided for her. What was she going to do? Who would take care of her? The rest of her family was in Galilee, a long way from Jerusalem. In the midst of his darkest hour, Jesus turns to his mother and provides for her again. He assigns her to the care of john the apostle. But not simply as a caregiver, he gives her the assignment of being john’s mother, and to john he assigns the role of son. As Jesus is providing for the salvation of all who would put their faith in him, he provides for his mother. Have you noticed that God is all about adoption? Jesus tells Mary to adopt john as her son, while at the same time he is providing the way for you and I to be adopted into the family of God.

One has to admire Mary as she faces the most difficult trial of her life, her soul being pierced by a sword. Yet she is not what you would expect, John does not say that she is wailing or crying out, or perhaps wringing her hands in distress. She seems to have a steadfast peace about her, a confidence that God is good and he will work this seemingly dreadful situation out. She had faith. Mary was a woman of faith. Not just the faith of a mother in her beloved son, but faith in the living God and his son Jesus. As a mother, she knew her role had been reassigned and things would be different, but she had faith that this was not the end of Jesus.

All mothers know that you need faith, faith to believe that God will take care of your children. Being a spiritual mother takes faith. Being called to invest in someone’s life and teach them the word of God, trusting God for the outcome. That investment takes faith, and doesn’t always pan out the way you expect it to be.

The truth is that there is a huge need for spiritual mothers, in our church and in our community. Mothers of all ages. Mothers to come alongside young people, the single moms, young moms or young married couples. In our church and in our community we reflect a changing world, a world where young people are much more mobile and tend to stay in one place for shorter lengths of time. Rapid transportation and the Internet has made the opportunities available to young people much wider. As a result we may have young people away from the own parents and away from their primary guidance.

I know it may seem intimidating to relate to a different generation, but God has called us to be an inter-generational church.

We are a multi-generational church, because the Body of Christ is a family, not an age category.

But maybe you are called to simply get to know and walk with a younger in your neighborhood, or at the office. If you know and love Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior, you are to be compelled by the truth of the gospel and the great commission to nurture younger believers.

Jesus is the way the truth and the life Part 3 4/19/15

From www.untilallarereached.com
Text: Ephesians 2:1-10

 In our churches today, unfortunately we have Christians who do not fully realize this life. The degree to which we as the church are fully alive, determines our effectiveness of bringing life and salvation to our community.

Being led by the spirit we will be truly alive and as a result our community will be changed for the glory of God.

Are you truly alive? Are you truly living your life? Or are you going through life as one who is just getting by, getting through this life, but numbed by the cares and entertainment of the world.

Jesus said in John 10:10 that Satan wants to kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life, true life now, and the ultimate promise of life after death.

 The Bible talks constantly about truly living, being alive in Christ. (See; Romans 6:1) He is the life! Jesus is the resurrection and the life.

When we allow Jesus to be the Lord of our life, he comes in by the Holy Spirit and brings truth to the way, and abundant life.

 “without the way there is no going; without the truth there is no knowing; without the life there is no living” 

Thomas A Kempis;

 Today the world is full of people who have no spiritual life; they have natural life and eat regularly to keep that in order; people have intellectual life, reading and learning new information; people have emotional life, and love others as a result; people have social lives and struggle to keep their social status in line with their neighbors. People have a business life, and keep their work and business with diligence. But yet in everyone there is a spiritual void that yearns for true spiritual life and this can only be found in the giver of life Jesus Christ. Are you truly alive?

 We think and talk of Christianity as a changed life, or a series of changes that we must make in order to become a better Christian. But we cannot earn our salvation; there is nothing we can do to earn the love and forgiveness of God. God does not offer us a changed life, he offers us the exchanged life, the life of Jesus substituted for our own. We don’t have to produce the perfect Christian life, it is the life of Christ that he produces in us, our role is to release the control that we are trying to have on our life and allow God to transform us.

 You may know about the life of William Borden, a Yale graduate and heir to great wealth, he rejected a life of ease in order to bring the gospel to Muslims. Refusing even to buy himself a car, Borden gave away hundreds of thousands of dollars to missions. He felt called to the Muslim people of northern China, and after attending Yale he stopped at Egypt in order to learn Arabic. After only four months of zealous ministry in Egypt, he con­tracted spinal meningitis and died at the age of twenty-five on April 9, 1913.

The inscription on his grave in Cairo ended with a phrase: “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation for such a life.”

After his death, Borden’s Bible was found and given to his parents. In it they found in one place the words “No Reserve” and a date placing the note shortly after he renounced his fortune in favor of missions. At a later point, he had written “No Retreat”, dated shortly after his father told him that he would never let him work in the company ever again. Shortly before he died in Egypt, he added the phrase “No Regrets.”No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets. And I would add; but truly alive!

From www.untilallarereached.com

 I can talk all day about the need to live in new life and to be fully alive but how do we live this way?

Paul writes in Galatians 5 about the “life by the Spirit”. Paul explains the difference between living according to the flesh and living according to the spirit. We know verses22 and 23 very well; “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Note Paul says fruit – singular. This fruit is the byproduct of a life that is submitted to God and one that is dead to self.

 We often pray for individual aspects of the fruit of the spirit, we pray for patience and peace and we pray for self control, when all the time God is offering us a life where the fruit of the spirit is complete as we live by the Spirit of God. Look at the common theme here – verse 16 says; “walk by the Spirit” and verse 18 says; “Led by the Spirit” We need to live lives attuned to the Holy Spirit and alive to Christ. Paul clarifies this in verse 24 and 25 of Galatians 5; “24 those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” As we are led by the Spirit in our lives, the process of becoming more like Christ takes place and we are transformed into living beings who display the fruit of the Spirit.

 They key here is to stop trying to be better Christians or better people, working harder at being good. We are trying rather than trusting. Trying to be a good Christian, rather than trusting Jesus for our new life in Christ. Watchman Nee wrote that the difference between trusting and trying is the difference between heaven and hell.

 Without faith it is impossible to please God, we need to live a life of faith that is completely given over to Christ for him to be our way, our Truth and our life. Sadly Christianity has been known for a list of rules and things that we should not do, rather than the abundant life that Jesus offers to rich and free. Romans 6:23 states that our salvation is a free gift from God that we can do nothing to earn. When we lay down our own efforts that in many ways are driven by pride, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to become more like Christ in our everyday life, we will truly experience life and life to the full.

William Wallace the Scottish hero once said; “every man dies, but not every man really lives

Are you really living?

Jesus is the way the truth and the life Part 2 4/19/15


From www.untilallarereached.com

Text: John 14:1-7

Last week we discussed how Jesus is the way. He is the way for us to walk in. Not simply directions to Heaven, but the very way we are to walk in as we live in Jesus, he becomes our way. But the second statement that Jesus is the truth sheds light on the first. If Jesus is not the truth, then the way would not be worth walking in. If Jesus is not the truth then why would we even consider pursuing the WAY.

We have looked at the resurrection of Jesus Christ in recent weeks, and it is objective truth that Jesus rose from the dead; he appeared to the disciples and to over 500 people. It is a historic proven fact that Jesus rose from the dead. If that were not so, we would not have any hope. I certainly would not be standing here preaching to you about the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. If this is not truth then we are hopelessly lost as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19.

But we serve a risen savior, as we develop a personal relationship with Jesus, we discover the way to God that puts our entire existence into perspective. This truth, gives our lives a purpose both here and now, and for eternity.

When Jesus said that he is the truth, he was not simply stating that he was speaking the truth, but much like we saw last week, Jesus is the truth. He does not simply point the way to truth, but he personifies it (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises of the Old Testament and the truth regarding the future salvation of all those who trust in him.

Later in the Gospel of John we have a wonderful picture of what the truth is and does. Jesus praying for his disciples in John 17:16 -17; “16They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.17Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

Now we know from John 1:1 -2 that John refers to Jesus as the Word, so Jesus is praying to the Father, asking for him to sanctify them by the truth, and then he goes on to pray “your word is truth” Jesus is the truth – God incarnate.

It is also interesting to note that John does not use the adjective, “your word is true”, but rather he uses the noun form of the word, “your word is truth” Making it clear that God’s word is not simply true, it is truth itself.

But Jesus prays for God the father to sanctify the disciples by the word which is truth. To be sanctified is to be holy and completely separated unto Christ. Done with the things of sin and the flesh. But sanctification will only be perfected when we are united with Christ when he returns. We are not instantly transformed into perfectly holy people when we make a decision to follow Jesus as our Lord and savior. I wish that was the case, but we are all painfully aware that we are still prone to sin, we are not perfect people by any means. But as we walk with Jesus as the way, and allow the Word of truth to wash over our lives we become more like Christ. The process of sanctification is easy to gauge. Are you more like Jesus today than you were this time last year? If not, you probably need to get back on the path that God has for you.

Another example of this is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church in ch 5 and verse 25-26;

What Paul is talking about here is the process of sanctification of the church. How is the church to be sanctified. The church is the bride of Christ and as such, it is being prepared and sanctified. Paul is clear that the process of sanctification takes place by the declaration or preaching of the word of God. The Bible is the Word of God and as we hear through preaching, reading and meditating on the word of God, we are sanctified (Hebrews 4:12).

In order to build a brick construction building, builders use a plumb line in order to ensure that the wall goes up straight and true. A true wall is not prone to fall over or buckle. It is the same with our individual lives, if we are building on the Word of God, allowing God to sanctify us by the washing of the word, we become strong in our faith and not prone to buckling or falling. The word is our plumb line – are we reading it?

From www.untilallarereached.comHow often are you reading the word of God? Are you making a point every day to be reading and meditating on the word of God? Allowing the word of God to wash over you and sanctify you with the truth.

Or are you rather reading books about the Bible, Christians in the 21st century have such a plethora of written material about the Word of God, they love to read and discuss these books, but many of them are not reading the word of God for themselves. This leads to the danger of false teaching and deviating from the truth. If we don’t know the word of God, we are very vulnerable to those who want to manipulate the Bible for their own gain.

But don’t simply know the word of God, apply the Word of God. Be students of the text, but ensure that the text penetrates your heart and transforms your life by allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of the text to you.

Let us become people of the Word who walk in the WAY.

Jesus is the way the truth and the life Part 1 4/13/15

Part 1 – Jesus is the Way

Text: John 14:1-7

From www.untilallarereached.com

By nature we are people who look ahead, what does tomorrow bring? Where are we going? How do I prepare for the unknown?

Are you living a life that follows Jesus as the way? Or are you making your own way, and hoping for the best.

This statement from Jesus is one of seven “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John. The focus of the Gospel of John is to reveal Jesus as the Son of God, to reveal that Jesus is in fact God himself the great I AM (See Exodus 3).

John 14 is part of the discussion that Jesus has with his disciples during the last supper. As Jesus is talking and explaining to them the things that must take place, he is preparing them for his betrayal and death. But in chapter 14 Jesus begins by encouraging the disciples and that chapter starts by Jesus saying; “Do not let your hearts be troubled” and then Jesus goes on to explain to them that he must go, because he is going ahead to prepare a place for them. It fell to Thomas to ask the question that everyone else was probably thinking; “where are you going? How can we know the way?

For the disciples who were still looking for a literal re-establishment of an earthly kingdom, they were looking for a temporary Kingdom that was to be the final overthrowing of the Roman Empire. Even though Jesus had countered this time and time again, it was so hard for them to understand. They were thinking that maybe Jesus was going to a famous city to setup his throne there, maybe Bethlehem, or Capernaum or maybe a well known Gentile city.

The thought of Jesus leaving was too much for Thomas to bear, he wanted to go along; he wanted to know how to get there.

Hebrews 10:19-20 states; “19Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,” When Jesus died and rose again he provided the way.

Jesus does not simply teach about the way to go, he does not point us to the way like some giant billboard, no; Jesus is the way.

Jesus makes it clear in the statement that follows in verse 6 of our text; “No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus isclear that he is the way, but he is also the only way, there is no other way. I know that this is not very Politically Correct today, but Jesus makes it clear as the only resurrected living Savior, who is the only way to be restored to a right relationship with God. Wealth will not get us to heaven, good works or being a good person will not get us to heaven. Religious ceremonies will not get us to heaven. Money, power or fame, none of these things matter – the only thing that ultimately matters is our relationship with the living Savior Jesus Christ, who is the only way (Acts 4:12).

As we all know life is a journey with many twists and turns. Jesus isn’t simply saying that he will be our way when we die to direct us to heaven. No, the way starts when we make Jesus our Lord and savior. The way is our day to day walk with him, following him and allowing him to lead and direct our lives. But that takes faith; faith that Knowing Jesus is enough and that he will take care of the journey.

Isaiah 35:8 states; “8And a highwaywill be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness, it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it”.

We are warned throughout scriptures of taking our own path and trying to make it on our own. Proverbs 14:12 puts it this way; “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

As I said earlier, Jesus is the only way to a life of peace. By what Jesus did on the cross we are able to be assured that God and man can meet in a loving relationship. Jesus made a way for us to be able to speak directly to the creator God of the universe, we have the awesome privilege of coming being able to kneel before the throne of God and we can call him, “our Father”.

The way is our journey with Jesus; he is with us on the journey that we take while in this brief life. We wrestle on this journey, because we don’t trust him. But Jesus can be trusted; he is faithful and will never let you down.

You may have made the decision to follow Jesus as your savior many years ago, but somewhere along the road of life, you have wandered off of the path that God has for you. You began well, but then the cares of the world and the troubles of life overwhelmed you and you are not walking the path that you know God has planned for you. Your wrestle because you do not have peace, something is missing. Paul wrote about this as he encouraged the Galatian church to get back to the path that they once were on (see Galatians 5:7).

Jesus is the way; it is not simply punching your ticket to get into heaven. It is the way to a life that has direction and purpose beyond our carefully structured and educated plans. Our lives should be a testimony of God’s faithfulness as we embark on a journey of radical risk taking, by being obedient to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. If we ignore the prompting of God to step out of our comfort zones of life, we will seldom have the opportunity to see the hand of God working in miraculous ways.

Let Jesus be the WAY for your life starting today.


Easter series Part 3 4/6/15

He is Risen – the power of the resurrection

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

From www.untilallarereached.com

I love resurrection Sunday, spring is evident everywhere, the trees are blooming and new life is all around. It is as if nature celebrates our risen Lord along with us.

 “Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in spring-time.”

Martin Luther

 But two thousand years ago the followers of Jesus must have been emotionally destroyed; their best friend and their hope for future glory had been humiliated and killed like a common criminal. Jesus had done so many powerful miracles, but he simply did not respond to any of the questioning or the beatings. Why did he not perform a miracle? They must have watched him on the cross and hoped against hope that he would finally do something. Maybe they thought that Jesus was waiting for the right moment to get down off the cross and begin to conquer the might of the Roman Empire. But that was not to be. They heard Jesus cry; “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me. They went home that Friday night devastated and hopeless.

From www.untilallarereached.com

But then Sunday comes! Slowly the news is spread. First Mary, then the disciples saw for themselves that the stone had been rolled away and the body was missing. The angel appeared and told them that they were looking in the wrong place, Jesus was not amongst the dead, but alive. Jesus appears to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and then Jesus meets with the disciples in Galilee and after that to over 500 people.

In this text, Paul was writing to the Corinthian Church and needed to set some things straight. Corinth was a Greek city and the Greeks did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. The Greek philosophers considered the human body to be a prison and that nothing good is to be found in the flesh. Thus when you die, you were delivered from bondage, there was no resurrection. This attitude had invaded the church and still does today in the form of Gnostic heresies.

In the first 8 verses of chapter 15 Paul reminds the reader that this is the Gospel that he has been preaching all along, and they had believed him. What he received he passed on to them, not as a suggested way of life, but as of first importance! This was vital truth, Jesus Died, he was crucified and buried, but on the third day God raised him back to life and he lived on the earth for another 40 days appearing to many people, eating with them, touching him it was their reality and not a temporary dream.

Jesus is alive; this was not some mystical event or made up story. Paul highlights 3 proofs of the resurrection.

  • Firstly their own salvation. The people believed in the gospel message and their lives were changed, a dead savior cannot save anyone. The fact that they were standing firm in their faith was proof that Jesus was alive.
  • Secondly Paul refers to the Old Testament scriptures, but note he clarifies that Christ died for our sins in verse 3. Many historians will recount the fact that Jesus died, but his death was different, he died for our sins. Many people were crucified, but only the pure spotless son of God could die for the sins of the world. When Paul referred to the Old Testament scriptures, he was also looking at scriptures such as Leviticus 16 where the law stipulated the requirement of a sacrifice for sins, and also he would be referring to the great Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant, pointing to Jesus as the fulfillment of these scriptures in incredible accuracy.
  • And finally Paul points to the witnesses; the disciples, James, over 500 people and finally Paul himself all saw Jesus in his risen form. Every encounter with the risen Lord led to a transformed life.

Since then resurrection is so important, it is no wonder it is the focus of attacks by Satan to cover it up and deceive people regarding the truth of the resurrection. Notice that the chief priests and the Pharisees wanted to make sure that the tomb was sealed and that Jesus was not removed from the tomb by his followers (Matthew 27:64). When the soldiers came and reported to the chief priests that the tomb had been opened, with a bright light and an earthquake that the body of Jesus was not in the tomb, the chief priests hurriedly paid them to change their story and fabricated a rumor that became widely told.

If Satan had been able to produce the body of Jesus then the story of Jesus and Christianity would have remained a dead religion and stayed in the tomb. But Jesus is alive and every sermon that the early church preached was about the resurrection- and that should be the theme and cry from every street corner and pulpit today. Jesus is alive! Jesus never said I am the cross, I am the dead sacrificial lamb, no; he said I am the way, the truth and the life. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the determining factor in our salvation; it is our hope of glory.

The reason there is so little faith in the church today, the reason there is so little power in the church today is because we have forgotten the power and the promise of the resurrection. The power of the resurrection is available to all those who are the children of God. But we have to lay aside our own lives; we need to realize that to gain the power and the benefit of the resurrection we need to die to our own abilities and our own prideful self (Matthew 16:25).

Our lives are so wrapped up with the temporal, we struggle to make ends meet, or we struggle to pay off the debt we got into because we just had to have that new car or the latest cell phone, why? Just so that we can be noticed or have the latest gadgets. On this side of the resurrection everything is temporary; everything that we are striving to have will not be around in eternity. Only the things that we cannot see are eternal. An encounter with Jesus makes all the difference, our perspective changes; we begin to see things from an eternal perspective. The resurrection makes all the difference. Have you encountered Jesus?

From www.untilallarereached.com

The Praising and Weeping on Palm Sunday 3/29/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

Text: Luke 19:28-44

 Today we celebrate what is commonly known as Palm Sunday, it is a wonderful part of scripture as our Lord is exalted and worshipped, we love this part of the Gospel account. Jesus even tells the Pharisees that if the people keep quiet then the very stones on the ground will cry out. Nature itself recognizes its creator. Up until this point in his 3 years of ministry Jesus had tried to keep his identity somewhat hidden.

Every spring, hundreds of Hollywood “stars” gather for the Academy Awards. Very few “slip in the back door:” instead, they make an entrance. They walk down the long red carpet, smiling at the cameras and waving to the people in the, showing off their clothing, chatting with the reporters. Some will go to great, great lengths just to be noticed.

Contrast that with Jesus: to the man healed of leprosy in Matt. 8, He said: “See that you don’t tell anyone.” To the two blind men He healed in Matt. 9, He, “warned them sternly, ‘See that no one knows about this.’” And in Mark 1, a demon possessing man in Capernaum yelled out “I know who you are – the Holy One of God!”, to which Jesus replied “Be quiet!” Jesus often chose not to be in the limelight. In fact, most of Jesus ministry happened outside of the capital city of Jerusalem, away from the big pomp and ceremony of the Temple, in small towns and villages along the way. Until today. Until the event we know as “The Triumphal Entry,” the day we remember each year as Palm Sunday. This day all of that changes. Now, we see Jesus entering the city of Jerusalem being proclaimed as Messiah and King.

But I want to draw your attention today to verse 41; “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it” Why did Jesus weep on such a joyous occasion? And what does this mean for us today?

From www.untilallarereached.com We see in the preceding verses the fascinating account of how Jesus obtained a young colt to ride on, His disciples dutifully obeyed and went and got him this wild animal that had never been ridden before. It must have been strange for them, because we are not told anywhere else that Jesus ever rode a donkey. But riding into the city was a public declaration that Jesus was a king coming in peace – The Prince of Peace. Five hundred years earlier, the prophet Zechariah prophesied about this moment in history (Zech 9:9).

But then the mood shifts, something dramatic takes place. Jesus abruptly stops and begins to cry out loud.

The mood in the crowd changed the person they were praising and celebrating suddenly begins wailing. There must have been an awkward silence, but why was Jesus crying?

As Jesus looked at Jerusalem and he saw the eager faces of those around him, he was overcome by the awareness of their emptiness. They were empty because they had not heard the truth of his message; they did not understand the true purpose of his coming to earth. They had eyes, but they did not see, and ears but they did not hear.

As Jesus looked at Jerusalem, he wept because it had destroyed itself. Wherever Jesus looked he found a reason to weep.

  • As he looked back; he saw a nation that had missed his coming, and had wasted its opportunities.
  • As he looked within the hearts of the people he saw spiritual blindness and a hardness of their hearts, they had all the signs and the prophets to convince them, but they still rejected him.
  • As Jesus looked around he saw a lot of dead religious activity that was not accomplishing anything. The temple, which he was about to clean out, had become a den of thieves, and the city was full of people celebrating Passover with little understanding of its true meaning.
  • As Jesus looked ahead, he saw the City of David that was shortly about to come under attack and judgment. Jesus knew that in 70 years time the city would be under siege by the Romans for 143 days. The end result of the siege was destruction of the city and the Temple leaving about 600 000 Jews dead.

And all this because the people did not recognize the time of Jesus’ coming. The tragedy of the national disaster could have been averted. But Jesus knew that judgment must come and that rejection of the Word of God, who is Jesus, ultimately leads to punishment. It grieved Jesus because of his great love for the lost, the people he came to save.

Today as we sit here what does Jesus see as he looks at the hearts and minds of all of us sitting here? Is he grieved because we are going about the motions of church? Is he grieved because we are so encumbered by the weight of the problems of the world that we have no faith or time for a relationship with him?

Does He see people concerned about so many things; worried about income taxes, worried about job security worried about their health, or lack of it? Does He see people who are so busy doing things, so busy that they never bother to consider those things that are eternally important?

As Jesus looks out over us, does he see a people who acknowledge and receive the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the living God? …. Or does he weep, because of the lost opportunities for a deeper relationship with him.

Jesus calls out to us today just the same was as he did over the city of Jerusalem; we read again in verse 42; ““If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace..”

From www.untilallarereached.com

If Only! If only you would see and acknowledge the true risen Lord, and stop living a life of performance and religion. If only you would stop trying to be good enough for God, you cannot be good enough, you don’t have to be, Jesus Died so that you are forgiven and nothing you can do is good enough to earn the grace of God. If Jesus was to walk in here in the flesh, would he stop next to your chair and weep over you and say; “if only”.

Do you just follow Jesus because of his miracles and what you can get from him? Or do you truly have a relationship with the King of Kings and it brings you peace that is beyond understanding. Do you follow Jesus because it is your tradition? Do you follow Jesus because that is what you have always been taught to do? Do you truly recognize him for who he is?

You know, the last book in the Bible tells us that Jesus is coming back again, and this time he will be coming back as the warrior King on a white horse (Revelation 19), and on that day there will be no doubt who is Lord, every knee will bow before him and every tongue confess that he is God.

You don’t want to wait till that day before you acknowledge him as Lord of your life. Make the choice today, you may be a long time attendee and member here at Grace Point, but you know that you do not have the relationship with Jesus that he offers to you, something is missing, you are dry in your spirit. Make that decision today, Jesus is weeping for you.

Prayer – A Hunger for God 3/16/15

Hunger for God – Fasting and Prayer

Isaiah 58

From www.untilallarereached.com

We have to be so careful that we don’t fall into the trap of making fasting a religious activity, it was never intended to be that. Remember the story in Luke 12 of the Pharisee and the humble tax collector; the humble tax collector was declared righteous before God and not the Pharisee.

It is vital right at the outset that we understand that fasting is not a way for us to persuade God to do what we want. It is not a special technique to ensure that we get what we want in prayer. Rather just as prayer is the way in which God aligns our hearts with his as we spend time with him, so to, as we fast, our hunger for God increases, and we are able to focus more on him as the distractions of the world are forcibly removed from our bodies.

As John Piper frequently says; “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in him” The truth is that the thing or things that we hunger for most, are the very things that we worship.

And herein lies the problem, we are so incredibly blessed, we live in the wealthiest country in all of history, God has truly blessed this nation. The danger is that we focus on the gifts and blessings of God and forget the giver. We can all agree that this country has forgotten the giver of the gifts. Another great quote from John Piper says; “The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. Fasting is not the forfeit of evil, but of good.”

Richard Foster in his great book called “Celebration of Discipline” say’s; “more than any other discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us. “

The prophet Isaiah is the foremost prophet in the Bible, in a ministry that spanned some 60 years from 739 to about 681 B.C. The people of Judah to whom he was talking were fearful of their future, the Northern Kingdom had been destroyed and now they looked like they would be next. The people were going about the tradition of fasting, a religious tradition that had begun with the Day of Atonement. In fact, that was the only official fast set aside according to the Law of Moses. This was instituted in Leviticus 16:31, and is still celebrated today as Yom Kippur by orthodox Jews.

But the people of Judah had a heart problem, they were going about the outward expressions of worshiping God, but in their day to day lives they were not obeying the Sabbath, they were not taking care of the elderly and the poor, they were proud and arrogant. Yet they were expecting God to notice their outward acts of religion and grant them favor (Isaiah 58:3 &4).

Isaiah told them that proper fasting must be accompanied by a life of obedience and commitment to God. Accompanied with their one day of fasting there must be the taking care of the poor and needy, freeing the slaves and the oppressed and clothing the naked. (see James 1:27 )

Jesus gave instructions to his disciples on the topic of fasting, again he harshly criticized the Pharisees for their outward displays and attention seeking.

Jesus taught by example and in the final act of his preparation for his ministry on earth, he went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days.

In Matthew 9 we have probably the most important word on fasting by the Lord Jesus, some of the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and enquired about fasting (see Matthew 9:14-15). Jesus clearly teaches that fasting is appropriate and a good way to remind ourselves of the fact that Jesus is coming back again to claim his bride, the true church. We are mourning, waiting watching. Jesus is coming back, but until that time we discipline ourselves in order to keep our eyes fixed on the horizon, waiting for his appearing.

Fasting played a vital role in the foundation of the early church, individually and corporately. When faced with difficult decisions, or a decision regarding direction, we would do well to fast individually and corporately. In our nation, there have been numerous times when the leaders have called for a national/ corporate day of prayer and fasting. Since 1952, the President of the United States has, by law, annually issued a proclamation recommending a National Day of Prayer. This seeks to revive a similar practice that emerged in Revolutionary times, and again in the Civil War. The modern proclamations, however, differ in important ways from the earlier ones. The main difference is evident in the change of titles — from the earlier ‘Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer’ to the modern ‘National Day of Prayer.’ The earlier proclamations emphasized humiliation — understood as including a deep conviction of God’s providence and sovereignty in all things, unfortunately today it is so often seen as a political event or an opportunity to be seen and heard.

From www.untilallarereached.com

We need to get back to the true humility and recognition of God as our source and our creator.

Fasting is refraining from something in order to focus our attention and worship on God. Here is another warning, If you are refraining from watching soap operas, but in that time you are reading junk novels, then you are just substituting one vice for the other, you are not fasting, you are merely abstaining from something you like to do. You need to replace the time spent on worldly pleasures with time spent in prayer and seeking God’s face.

Are you hungry for God? Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and see what is God asking you to do in the way of humbling yourself before him. And in so doing allow him to create a hunger for himself in your life.

From www.untilallarereached.com