What Happens Next Part 3 The Judgment

 

Revelation 20:11-15

From www.untilallarereached.com

So we have two places, two eternal destinies. Everyone who is alive today and everyone who has ever lived will spend eternity in either Heaven or Hell.

I want to briefly look at the judgment day, the time assigned by God where everyone is judged and their eternal destinies are assigned.

But you may say, well- that is a long way off, it doesn’t really apply to my day to day reality. I want to try to give you some thoughts on why the final judgment does affect the way in which you live today and how you will plan to live tomorrow.

Revelation 20:11 is also called the Great White Throne Judgment.  In this chapter we read about Jesus coming again and ruling for a thousand years while Satan is locked away. After that time, Satan is released for a short time before the final and great battle between God and Satan along with his armies of people who he deceived.

God decisively defeats Satan in this Battle and after that the final judgment follows, where Jesus himself sits on the throne and judges everyone both believers and unbelievers. (2 Timothy 4:1; Acts 10:42)

We read that unbelievers and believers will both be judged. Remember Matthew 25 and Jesus’ teaching on the sheep and the goats and that he would separate; one to eternal punishment and the sheep to eternal blessing of the presence of God. So the question is; why a judgment? Why not just send each person to where they are going to go? Why does Jesus need to judge both believers and unbelievers individually?

Judgment of sinners

So it is clear that unbelievers will stand before Christ. (Romans 2:5-6) It is also evident in the Scriptures that there will be degrees of punishment for unbelievers and likewise degrees of rewards for believers. (Rev 20:12; Luke 12:47&48 and Luke 20:47)

Jesus implies that there will be degrees of punishment and this appeals to our innate sense of Justice. Every thought, deed and word spoken will be brought to light, on the day of Judgment the secrets of people’s hearts will be made public (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

Judgment of saints

This makes sense to us that the unbelievers will be judged, but what about the believers? They will also be judged. (Romans 14:10 & 2 Corinthians 5:10);

This is the judgment of all who have made Jesus Christ Lord and savior of their lives; this is the judgment of all true believers. But here is the good news; it is not a judgment of condemnation or punishment, because we know that the blood of Jesus has washed away all our sins and as Paul wrote in Romans 8:1.

So what is this judgment about?

The Bible tells us that believers will receive rewards for their work and faithfulness here on the earth. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 6 to store up for themselves treasures in heaven. (Also see 1 Corinthians 3:12-15)

So it is clear that we will receive different rewards for how we live our lives as Christians here today.

We need to be aware of the fact that the Bible teaches that there will be different rewards in heaven not so that we will enter into some kind of competition with each other, but rather that we would encourage one another and spur one another on in our Christian walk. God has infinite capacity to reward us. There is not a limited amount of blessings to be given out, or a “salary cap” on the rewards from God. No my friends we should all be encouraging one another as the writer to the Hebrews states in Hebrews 10:24-25.

I want to make one thing absolutely clear; this is not a salvation by works. We are saved because of our faith in Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross. Rather, this is what it means to live the Christian life. We are all called to do certain things by God, whether big or small, our eternal reward is not based on the size or measurable success of our work, but rather on our faithfulness to do what God calls us to do.

I think we are going to be startled on the Day of Judgment; we simply cannot use the measures of man to understand the judgment of God.

The question remains, why is there going to be a judgment? Why not simply send the unbelievers to hell and the believers to Heaven? Because, the final judgment will be public for all to see, it will be a declaration of the Glory of God which, on the one hand we will see his holiness and righteousness and on the other hand we will see his grace and mercy.

The scriptures tell us that God is completely just and that no one will be able to complain his judgments. God does not show partiality, he will weigh up the thoughts and intents of every man, because God is all knowing. The Bible says that on that Day, every mouth will be stopped. Can you imagine a more perfect judge? He knows all things, knows all thought and is absolutely pure and holy in every respect. He will judge perfectly.

But as we look at the coming judgment there are also applications for us today.

Firstly – our desire for justice. We will see the end of God’s plan for mankind and the righting of the injustices that we see and hear all around us. We see in verse 12 of our text, that the books will be opened and all the deeds of all of humanity are recorded. This may be symbolic or literal, but the truth is that a record is being kept of every deed and ultimately all accounts will be settled and all wrongs made right.

Secondly – As we view the doctrine of a final judgment day it enables us to forgive others. We quickly realize that it is not up to us to take revenge, which is the realm of God. (Romans 12:19) My friends this is a wonderful promise that is incredibly freeing. We must be careful to let things go, not to harbor grudges and grievances. We can be assured that God will set things right on that day, and he will judge perfectly.

Thirdly – the doctrine of a final judgment should be a strong motivation for making good choices in life. It should serve as an incentive to strive for those eternal rewards. This is not selfish, Jesus told us to do this. (Matthew 6:20)

Finally the doctrine of a final judgment must produce in us a motive to tell others about Jesus Christ and the Gospel message. The decisions that we make today affects our eternal destiny. Jesus left us the commission to go and tell, we need to be motivated by the fact that so many people are going to a certain eternity in hell.

So as I wrap up this sermon and this series, where do we stand? The 21st century in the western culture has become a source of unending distractions and entertainment. We are so busy trying to make more money, or trying to get that promotion, or sadly – to make sure we don’t miss that episode of our favorite TV show. We focus on movies, food, sport, hobbies, while all the time our perspective of eternity is being whittled away and we seldom think of the fact that our lives are so very brief.

Let us wake up! Wake up those around us. Live your life in the light of eternity – but what does that mean?

Every pleasure you could have here on earth ultimately passes away, it is fleeting, but if we live for eternity, storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven, we will experience pleasure that is lasting, eternally lasting and absolutely unshakeable.

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past.

Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

C.T. Studd

What Happens Next? Part 2 Hell

Matthew 25:31-46

From www.untilallarereached.comThe doctrine of hell seems to be outmoded in these days, we don’t like to talk about it , and contrary to a few decades ago where it was preached regularly and taught clearly, today it seems to be viewed as old fashioned and irrelevant. Part of the problem I believe, is that in the past 20 years or so the evangelical world has focused so much on the love of God, which is a primary characteristic of his nature, that we find tension when we wish to discuss the judgment of God and eternal consequence for sin.

But the doctrine of eternal punishment is clearly taught in scripture. In fact Jesus spoke more about Hell than he did about Heaven. Matthew 8:12; Matthew 25; Mark 9:48; Matthew 22:13; Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 13 are some examples of Jesus’ teachings on Hell.

This is not an easy subject and it is weighty, we need to grasp what the Bible says about hell, and if we do, it will change the way in which we view the world around us. Unfortunately we are in a church age where preachers are reluctant to talk about this, because it is going to offend someone or our own innate sense of justice, as flawed as that is, seems to go against the truths of the scriptures.

The descriptions that Jesus uses for Hell involve fire and a place of torment. Mark 9:48, Jesus calls it a fire that is not quenched. Revelation 20:15 calls hell a lake of fire. Some argue that the term “fire” may be symbolic, and even if we say that then it must represent something that is worse than we can imagine. Even if we try to take the lake of fire and the fiery furnace as symbolic we must be confronted with the terrible thought that these symbols are not overstatements, but rather understatements of a reality that we would otherwise not be able to grasp. Jesus did not choose these pictures to tell us that hell is easier than burning.

Jesus also taught that Hell is a place of conscious torment Luke 16 and in Matthew 22:13 he said it is a place of outer darkness. Hell is real; it is eternal as we read in Matthew 25:46. Not only is hell eternal it is also conscious, all the images that we read of hell in the Bible point to the fact that it is going to be an experiential eternity. This is the experiencing of the wrath of God – it is the reality of our sins before an infinitely holy God.

But the wonderful news that we have today is that Hell is escapable. No-one has to spend eternity in torment, anyone can be saved. Jesus took our punishment on the cross and as a result, those who place their trust in him as their personal Lord and savior will escape the fire of hell.

Jesus often taught in magnificent parables. But in those very same parables the theme is re-iterated that the kingdom of God means that some will be brought into the glory of the fellowship of God’s people and, on the other hand, there will be those who remain outside.

For example

  • The parable of the wheat and the tares, in which the tares in the parable are bound and burned (Matthew 13).
  • The parable of the net that catches the fish in which the bad fish are then cast away (Matthew 13).
  • In Matthew 25, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, in which the foolish virgins are shut out and have no access to the place where the wise virgins rejoice and flourish;
  • Also in Matthew 25 we read the parable of the unprofitable servant, where the servant who did nothing with his bag of Gold is cast out into the outer darkness;
  • And we read of the story of the sheep and the goats in the same chapter, in which the great final division takes place among mankind. And over there on the left hand of the Savior is a place destined for the devil and his angels into which men are sent by Jesus himself because of the way they have responded to the message of the Gospel.

If we take all these word pictures from Jesus and the Apostles we see a common description of what hell includes;

  1. It involves separation from God, being cast away from His presence. This is the most awful part of hell, because we are made by God to experience his presence, it is part of our very nature
  2. It involves depravation of light. It will be a place of utter darkness.
  3. It will be a place of intense and pain.
  4. And it is eternal

Hell is the outpouring of the wrath of God on sinners. When Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane when and asked that this cup be taken from him in Matthew 26:39, he was not simply asking for the occasion to be taken away.

He was looking to the prophetic revelation John received in Revelation 14: 10, in describing the punishment of those who worshipped the beast in the last days. Jesus experienced the cup of God’s wrath. The Beloved Son became sin for us and experienced the full amount of the wrath of God. As we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

Jesus took the full punishment of the wrath of God, Jesus the eternal son of God, always in the presence of God, was separated from God as God had to turn away from him when he took on the sins of the world. That is the suffering of Jesus on the cross, the physical pain was real but the cup of the wrath of God was infinitely more painful and excruciating.

The future judgment of unbelievers will not only be final and irreversible, it will also be eternal. On the basis of Scripture we have to reject the doctrine of universalism which is so popular today, which says that all people will eventually be saved.

God designed mankind as eternal beings. We are destined to live forever, he wants to spend eternity with us in fellowship, so in order to do that we had to be designed and fashioned in such a way as to live for eternity. Thus if man decides to reject God’s offer of salvation we are in essence deciding to live for eternity apart from God. But the fact that we are eternal beings cannot be done away with.

It is important to note that God does not send anyone to hell (1 Peter 3:9). It is not God’s choice to have man spend eternity in hell, but the sin of the individual sends them there. As C.S. Lewis puts it; “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.” Ever since Adam and Eve sinned and rebelled against God mankind has been saying to God; “go away and leave me alone” Hell is God’s way of granting that wish.

Hell is not an easy subject to talk about, but we must, it is imperative that we are provoked to share the wonderful message of the Gospel with others because we are driven with compassion for them. The reason we are driven by compassion is that we know that we too are sinners saved only by the grace of God.

John Piper wrote; “When the heart not longer feels the truth of hell, the Gospel passes from good news to simply news.”

The saving Gospel is good news!

What Happens Next part 1- Heaven 7/12/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

John 14:1-4

For many eternity is something we don’t often talk about or think about. The bottom line is that we are eternal beings created by God to live for eternity. And the future condition of every human being is determined by the decisions you make here on earth today. Moral decisions and ultimately the decision to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life or to reject his offer of salvation will determines our eternal destiny. Since heaven or hell are the eternal place for everyone on earth, it is surprising that so little is said about it from our pulpits.

Because of the fear of the unknown, we avoid talking about Heaven. This is also one of Satan’s primary goals, to make little of heaven and our eternal home with our Heavenly Father. Satan firstly wants to convince us that Heaven does not exist, then if he fails in that he will try to convince us that Heaven is a boring and unattractive place that we go to after our “real life” here on earth is done. The truth is that Satan hates the New Heaven and the New Earth that we read about in the Revelation to the apostle John.

“Grasping what the Bible teaches about Heaven shifts our center of gravity and radically alters our perspective on life”. Alcorn

In John 14 we see Jesus’ final remarks during the last supper as he was preparing his disciples for his death. Then Jesus made the statement; “Trust in God; trust also in me.”He was not suggesting that they should or could trust in him to make good on his promises. He was probably giving them a command to trust in him to have faith, because Jesus knows that he is faithful and that all the promises of God are true and trustworthy. God is able to make good on any promise he makes. We too can and must trust him.

Jesus goes on to tell his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them, his disciples must have had a hundred questions; What is this place? Where is it? What is it going to be like? How do we get there?

Today we also have many questions regarding Heaven. The first issue that is questioned about heaven is whether or not it is an actual place or a state. Since God is spirit and we are to be in close communion with him, some say Heaven is only a state of mind and not a real place. However, Jesus ascended to heaven in a resurrected body and we too will receive resurrected bodies to live in heaven (1 Corinthians 15). Thus it must be a place where we can live in a real existence. While it is probable that heaven is in another dimension, we still can be assured that heaven is both a place and a state.

So if heaven is a real place, can we look at anything here around us and say, that this is what heaven will be like? Just like it is impossible for us to describe God using our vocabulary and things we can identify with, so to it is impossible to fully describe heaven. We also want to understand heaven through the lens of what brings us pleasure here on earth, and we simply cannot do that, because we live in a world tainted by the effects of sin. Heaven will be filled with pleasures that are infinitely more real and lasting than anything we know here in this lifetime.

From www.untilallarereached.com

But the primary joy of heaven will not be the state of our being, or the weather or the experiences we will taste. Far superior to all of that will be the fact that we will be in the presence of God.

We were made to have communion with God, God created man in his own image way back in the book of Genesis to have fellowship with him. But when sin entered the world, that relationship was broken and there was a separation that took place. Inside every human being is a longing and an unfulfilled desire that can only be met by the perfect presence of God himself (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Being in the presence of God for eternity is heaven and being separated from God for eternity is hell. Our selfish and humanistic mindset cannot even begin to grasp what it will be like to be in the presence of God and to worship him, in his presence. My friends, it will not be boring, that is a lie from Satan. In our “what’s in it for me” culture, we have no idea of what it will be like to be in the presence of the creator of the universe. Heaven will be primarily a place filled with the glory of God (Revelation 21:23).

So heaven will be a place of rest, peace and worship of God, but heaven will also be a place of service and work. We will not be idly sitting on clouds playing harps. God is a creative God and he designed us to be creative beings along with him. We see in Genesis 1, that God created man to rule and take care of the creatures of the earth. God is still creating, he will continue to create and we will work in various capacities and roles of authority in the new heaven and the new earth (See the parable of the Bags of Gold in Matthew 25:14-30).

The final question we must face is how do we get there?

If heaven is real, and our lives here on earth are very temporary, we need to know how to get to Heaven, our eternal resting place, with God. Thomas asked the same question (John 14:5)

Jesus is the way, and the Bible is clear that he is the only way. I know that this is not politically correct in our modern society, but it is not a popular message. Only those who have committed their lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior will enter into Heaven (Matthew 7:13 & 14).

Life on earth is temporary, but eternity is forever. You and I will all live forever somewhere.

In God we Trust 7/5/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

Text: Psalm 25:1-15

In life there are many things we trust, we can trust in our position in life, our families, the power of the military and defense force of our nation, we can trust in our education and experience to get us through situations, many people also trust in money, in particular we trust in money for our ability to care for ourselves in retirement or ill health. To me the great irony is that on our currency it states; “in God we Trust” but most people trust in the dollar more than they trust in God.

From www.untilallarereached.com

I want to challenge you afresh to trust in God, to look at the situations in your life and see what you need to place in the hands of God. Maybe you face an insurmountable challenge and you are in fear today, not sure what the future looks like, today I want to encourage you that you can put your trust in God, He is able, and he is faithful.

As we focus on Psalm 25 we notice that the Psalm has three distinct features or sections.

As David cries out to God he asks the Lord for direction and guidance. Then as David enters into the presence of God, he is drawn to repentance. And then David asks the Lord for protection against his enemies.

So we have three aspects, Protection, Pardon and Guidance.

I want to focus on the guidance of God today as we look at what it means to trust in him. (see Proverbs 3:5 and 6)

As we look at verse 4 and 5 of the Psalm we see that David is acknowledging that he doesn’t have the ability to move forward, he is coming and pleading with the Lord for direction; how often do we cry out to God like this for our future? “For You I wait all the day.” Do we know what it is to wait on the Lord? Or do we offer a 30 second prayer and then rush out and make our own plans?

But as David goes on we read in verse 9; “ He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.”

At first this sounds good and right, we know that in order to trust God we need to humbly come before him and acknowledge our weakness, but as I was studying this verse I found that the Hebrew Language here for the term humble can also mean afflicted or broken. So in that respect we can read verse 9 as; “He leads the humbled in Justice and He teaches the humbled His way”. We tend to think of being humble as a posture that we present to God in the way of our attitude, but rather David here gives us a picture of being afflicted and humbled by God. We don’t like the sound of that. But remember verse 4 and 5; “Make me know your ways… and lead me in your truth” David was pleading with God to teach him and the humbling process was the way God taught David dependence on him. And by God’s grace he does that to all of us, when we are brought to the place where we realize we have nothing to offer and are humbled in the presence of the almighty God.

Looking at verses 12 and 14 we see the familiar theme of the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom as we read in Proverbs 111:10. A respect and acknowledgment for who God is, will bring us into a position us understanding and wisdom, which is knowledge given by God. Acknowledging who God is, must be first and foremost in our lives as we seek to know his will for our lives and begin to trust him for the future.

It is very simple, if we are able to grasp just a tiny fragment of the Glory and Majesty of God and then compare it to the problem that we face, we will see how insignificant our problem is in comparison. God is awesome, fear God.

What Jesus did on the cross 2000 years ago paid the penalty. God raised him from the dead and in that earth shattering event, the hold of sin on mankind was broken. We have a risen savior that rules today at the right hand of the Father. Our struggles today are temporary and fleeting in the light of eternity. We look around and we see a nation that is very different to the one we knew 20 years ago, but let me give you a wonderful piece of news. Nothing that is happening today or will happen tomorrow will ever shake God or catch him off guard. And along with that, the church, the body of Christ that is built on the foundation of the Word of God and with Jesus as the cornerstone will never be shaken. I pray that we at Grace Point will be a church that is so grounded in the word of God as our foundation that we will never be shaken. Isaiah 40 is a wonderful prophecy about Jesus which John the Baptist quoted in Matthew 3, but these words are still applicable and a wonderful promise to us today. (see Isaiah 40:5-8)

Note, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah wrote; “the word of our God stands forever”, we can trust in the Word of God. In order to put our trust in the word of God, we need to know the word of God and meditate on the word of God. Every one of us is to be a student of the Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truths to us and allowing us to have a sure foundation that will not be shaken in an ever changing world.

When we see the changes taking place around us, we need to be drawn to our knees as we are to pray for our country. We weep and mourn as we see changes that seem to be out of our control, but we are not a people without hope. If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are part of another Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. This kingdom will endure forever. (see Psalm 145:13)

The Lord is Trustworthy! As children of the Kingdom of God we know two things for certain, it is an everlasting Kingdom and The Lord our God is trustworthy.

AW Tozer in his book “the dangers of a shallow faith” wrote; “Either God is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.”

Is he Lord of all for your life today?

Hearing God’s Voice Part 3 6/14/15

From www.untilallarereached.com

Text: Jeremiah 17:5-8

As we have seen for the past two weeks, God speaks to us today in order to give us instructions for our lives and we need to learn obedience to the voice of God. But for many it is so hard to know the will of God for their lives. My friends that is simply not true. You and I were saved for a purpose, saved to bring Glory to God, not to simply try in our own abilities to get by and hope for the best. That is a meaningless and fruitless existence. God has a plan for your life and he communicates that plan to you, as you position yourself to hear from him.

Jeremiah was a prophet who was born in 648 B.C.; he grew up in the time of King Josiah and lived about two miles outside Jerusalem. He actually came from a family of priests and was familiar with the inner workings of the political arena in Israel at the time.

At the age of 20, God called Jeremiah to be his spokesman to the people of Judah. But Jeremiah protested, saying that he was too young. Last week we saw how Moses argued with God, trying to explain to God that he was not equipped to handle the task and responsibility that God had for him. Remember, when God calls you, he knows exactly who he is calling, he calls weak and broken people to be his greatest warriors.

Jeremiah’s ministry spanned 40 years, and he was the prophet who declared and saw the final days of Judah’s existence as an independent nation. He is often called the weeping prophet because of the personal anguish he knew in his ministry.

The book of Jeremiah is a collection of short sermons delivered during the rule of various different kings’ of Judah. Chapter 17 is a short poem contrasting the way of the wicked and sinful and the way of the righteous.

Judah had been relying on false gods, the idols of the nations in and around their land. They had also become reliant on foreign alliances that they had made and felt secure in their own abilities. They trusted in man and not in God, the one true God. Jeremiah then contrasts this with the person who trusts in God as their only hope and confidence. This person will flourish like a tree planted by the water, who when trials and dangers come, they will prosper and bear fruit. This is much like the psalm of David, when preparing to go to battle; Psalm 20:7:” 7Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.”

But Jeremiah saw the connection between putting faith in foreign alliances and lack of faith in God. The Lord revealed to him that the Babylonian empire was coming from the north and would be used by God to punish the idolatry and sins of the people of Judah. Now, it is not wrong to make alliances with foreign nations, but for Judah it was a clear sign that they did not trust God to take care of them; it was a lack of faith. As a result of their lack of faith, God was going to turn the Promised Land into a wasteland and the city of Jerusalem into a heap of rubble.

God has done everything to make a way for you to be in a relationship with him by sending his son, Jesus Christ to be our savior. God wants us to know him, to grow in our relationship with him. In order to grow in our relationship with God we need to get into the habit of asking questions, and then be quiet and let God speak to you. Always remember that God wants a relationship with you more than you want one with him. But if you truly seek him, he will reveal himself to you (see Jeremiah 29:13). God wants you to seek him more than anything else.

As you begin the practice of regularly listening to the voice of God in prayer and meditating on scripture, it is important that when you feel that God has given you an instruction that you write it down. We so easily forget, writing it down not only solidifies it in our minds, but it enables us to refer back to it in days and years to come. After you have written down test it, make sure that what you feel God is saying to you is not in contradiction to scripture and the revealed character and nature of God.

But then the final and most crucial aspect of all, you must move in obedience and action. We must be obedient; Jesus said in John 14:23; “if anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” and the writer to the Hebrews writes; “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7b).

You and I were saved for a purpose, if you know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, you have a responsibility to Love God and to Love others. We are called to live lives that make a difference and make an impact in our communities and work places. In order to be fruitful and make a difference we need to receive our marching orders- our plan of action from God. Do you know the voice of God? Do you receive your orders from God or are you like the People that Jeremiah was dealing with who were listening to those around them and making their plans trusting in the strength of mortal man.

From www.untilallarereached.com

Today you can begin to live a life of fruitfulness and trusting in the Lord for the harvest. Be like the tree planted by the river, that never fails to produce fruit. You will know what God wants you to do; you will know the will of God for your life. This is not some unreal promise that seems too good to be true. It is available to all of us, not only that, it is required of us as followers of Jesus.

Hearing God’s Voice Part 2 6/7/15

How does God speak?

 Text: Exodus 3:1-6

From www.untilallarereached.com

Exodus 3 describes the commissioning and call of Moses. Little did Moses know that morning when he took his sheep out to pasture, that he would have such a significant encounter, one that would not only change his life, but would also change the lives of millions and the entire nation of Israel. But he was ready, not that he was ready to lead the Children of Israel, but he was ready for the voice of God. He was paying attention to the signs; he noticed the bush that was burning, but not being consumed. He was going about his business, being diligent and alert. God is still today looking for people who are alert, seeing the signs and being ready to respond.

What follows in the next two chapters of Exodus is one of the longest and most significant dialogues between God and man that you will find anywhere in Scripture.

From www.untilallarereached.com

After 40 years of being trained in the courts of Pharaoh in Egypt, Moses goes into a self imposed exile after murdering an Egyptian, and now at the age of 80, he is leading his father in laws flock of sheep in the desert or wilderness searching for good grazing. As he roams around he comes to a place that is known as Horeb. The name Horeb means “dry and I am sure Moses was walking around this region, he wondered if he would ever again see the wealth and fertile lands of Egypt. He was in a dry place, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

But then God spoke!

God himself calls Moses out of the Fire. “Moses! Moses!” Moses must have been scared to death, he had never heard the audible voice of God before, and he was all alone on the mountain. But Moses responds the same way as his forefathers Abraham and Jacob did before him and also the same way in which Samuel responded.

He simply said; “Here I am”. Moses was available – God is looking for people who respond when he calls still today.

What follows is the long dialogue between God and Moses. During this discourse with God, Moses is doing his best to disqualify himself for the task that God was giving him; Moses goes to great lengths arguing with God about his calling. You see Moses had been in the wilderness for so long, that he had disqualified himself in his own eyes. But God knows who he is calling, God knew exactly who Moses was, and that is the reason why he called him. Moses was suffering from a false humility that so is not uncommon today.

When God calls you, he knows you better than you know yourself, no need to remind him of your faults. But as a child of the King, when God calls you, he sees the only redeeming quality you have, he sees Jesus in you the hope of glory. Let me assure you none of us have any quality in and of ourselves that can impress God. If God calls you, do not resort to false humility, it is offensive to God, he knows what you can do. In fact false humility is the ugliest form of pride.

God still speaks today. So how does God speak? For Moses it was a fire in a bush, but what about us?

God speaks in a variety of ways:

Just because he used them in the past it doesn’t mean that he will use them again, also, he may speak in ways that he has never used before. We cannot place the omniscient God in a box, be wary of the reason given – “God has never done that before!!”

God desires and wants to communicate with people. And will not be limited to how.

  • God speaks through scripture – This is our primary source for God to speak to us.

The bible is the starting point in our pursuit of a personal relationship with God, because it is His revelation of himself to mankind. God’s particular revelation of himself is in the Holy Spirit inspired word of God.

(See; Ephesians 6:17 & 2 timothy 3:16)

Having said that, God is not limited to speaking to us through the Bible, he is God after all and can speak in any way he wishes. After all God used a rooster crowing three times to speak to Peter at Jesus’ trial. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God has limited himself to speaking through scripture. As we study the scriptures we learn about God, we grow in our relationship with him.

  • God speaks through others: God will use other godly people in our lives to speak to us, we all need mentors and encouragers who will pray for us and then speak the truth in love. Isaiah 28:11.
  • God speaks through circumstances – Gen 50:20. Joseph saw how God used the seemingly impossible circumstances and redeem them to his glory.
  • God speaks through words of wisdom and knowledge – 1 Corinthians 12:7-9.
  • The audible voice of God – 1 Kings 19:11-12 we read how God spoke to Elijah the prophet.
  • God also speaks to us in that still small voice, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, Just as we discussed a few weeks ago on Pentecost Sunday. Knowing and being sensitive to that inner voice of God. That is living by the Spirit of God.
  • God still speaks in Dreams; the life of Daniel was one filled with dreams and interpretation. But today we are hearing stories of thousands of Muslims who are encountering Jesus in a dream and being converted.
  • Sermons- my prayer every week is that you don’t come here to hear the words of a somewhat educated man, but that you would be moved into action by the words of God as He speaks to you Sunday by Sunday.

But with all these and many more ways in which God speaks we must be very careful to test and make sure that it is the voice of God. Remember God will never contradict Scripture; the Word of God is still our standard. God will also not ask us to do anything that does not exalt the name of Jesus.

You may say, “well I don’t hear god speaking – he doesn’t speak to me – “

You are not alone in feeling this way, but the truth is that God does speak to you – you are just not listening – Remember PSALM 46:10:” Be still and know that I am God.” Just be quiet and let him speak!

But we find another piece of valuable guidance from Paul in Philippians 4:8. Think on these things – again as we meditate on scripture, and the things of the Lord, we are able to better hear his voice. The truth is that we tend to think about things that we focus on. Sometimes this is not always bad – but for example if you constantly listen to talk radio you will probably become depressed and make plans to move to Argentina. In our society we have an incredible access to information – not all bad – but not all edifying and up building. I am not saying that you need to become a monk – but rather limit your time dwelling on things that are not part of God’s plan and will for your life.

Proverbs 4:23 states; “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

If the goal of our lives is to become more like Christ we need to take this seriously. How do we know the will of God for our lives? Paul makes it very clear in Romans 12:2.

So I encourage you this morning to develop a lifestyle of listening to God, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you. Start a prayer journal and write down what you feel God is saying, test it and be obedient to God.

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.