Sermon Sunday June 26, 2022 – Who is Jesus?

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What is the most important question you will ever have to answer? Life is all about questions, asking and answering questions.

The most important question you will ever have to answer is, “Who is Jesus?” There is no other question that comes close.

In 1 John 2, John warns his readers that we are in the last hour and that the world has many Antichrists.

The word, “antichrist”, has a way of stirring up fear and wild speculation. What are these antichrists, and what do they do?

In the text today, John gives us three keys to help us recognize and defeat these enemies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  1. Antichrists Attack Christ (1 John 2:18).

The word “antichrist” means “against Christ” or “in the place of Christ.”

John writes at the beginning and the end of verse 18, “it is the last hour.” This means the entire period of time between when Jesus walked the earth and when he comes back again (See Acts 2:16-17 and Hebrews 1:1-2).

The phrase, “the last hour”, creates a sense of urgency that this world is temporary. We live in the age when the antichrists are active. This activity opposing Christ will increase until the Antichrist comes; the primary representative of Satan himself. Jesus spoke about the time we live in in Matthew 24:4-5.  

As we see the Gospel going out to the nations, we are seeing incredible things happening on the mission field as millions are coming to know Christ as Lord, at the same time Satan has his missionaries, these antichrists, and they are also going out into the world and into churches.

In 1 John 2:22, he makes plain what the spirit of antichrist is all about: “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.”

The strategy of Satan and his demons is deception. They don’t directly oppose Jesus, they redefine him.

  • They will say, “he is good, but he is not God”.
  • They will say, “He may be a son of God, but He is not the Son of God.”
  • They will say, “He may have died on the cross as a martyr, but He did not die as a Savior.”

The spirit of antichrist always diminishes the person and work of Jesus. If Jesus wasn’t God, then his death and resurrection would have no power over sin. The core of Christianity is Jesus, his person and his work as the eternal son of God. If we get this wrong, then everything else in our faith falls apart.

The apostle John makes it clear that there is a difference between the many antichrists who are already here and have been around for centuries, and the one Antichrist who is coming at the very end of the age. This man will have such power and charisma that the whole world will follow him (Revelation 13:2-4).

2: Antichrists Abandon the Church (1 John 2:19).

The greatest threat to the church comes from within the church. Satan plants antichrists in the church and uses them to subtly persuade the church that Jesus is not really who he claims to be. When these antichrists leave the church, they leave a trail of pain and sometimes even take captives with them who have been deceived.

There are some who share [for a while] our earthly company who do not share our heavenly birth” Alistair Begg.

Now let me be clear, not everyone who leaves a church is an antichrist, there are many different reasons why people come and go in the modern church.

But sometimes when people leave it is because they were never really saved. They never had a personal relationship with Jesus as Lord. Breaking fellowship could indicate a defective faith (see 1 John 3:9).

3: Antichrists Assault the Christian

We can easily get discouraged and confused about who to believe. The antichrists, people who teach against the person and work of Jesus are all around us. These people have influence, they are intellectually very strong, and it is hard to even wrap our minds around some of their deceptive arguments. John makes it clear that these antichrists are committed to defeating the church. But we have the promise of 1 John 4:4.

John reminds his readers that we have a two-pronged weapon to defeat Satan’s plans. We have the anointing and the indwelling Holy Spirit, and we have the Word of God (1 John 2:20-21 and 27).

The apostle Paul calls this the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God in Ephesians 6:17.

In verse 20, John emphatically says, “…you have been anointed by the Holy One…”  it is a promise and refers to the promised Holy Spirit.

As followers of Jesus, we are consecrated and set apart by God and for God by the Holy Spirit, we now have an internal and abiding Teacher who will guide us in all knowledge and truth. As we abide in him, we will not be misled by false teaching.

The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit does not involve revelation of new truth. Rather, it is the revelation of the written Word of God to us. In verse 24, John challenges the believer to simply remain in the teaching of Christ. To abide and remain in this teaching is to abide and remain in both the Son and the Father.

There is not any additional thing you need. Jesus plus something extra equals heresy and the teachings of the antichrist.

Jesus is the center of Christianity. He does not stand and point to a way; he is the way!

This is what the Bible teaches and what the holy spirit affirms.

Do you know the Word? Are you abiding in the Word by the Holy Spirit? If not, you are at risk of being deceived.

Who do you say Jesus is?  Is he Lord of your life?

Sermon Sunday May 15, 2022 To Know and Obey Jesus.

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Is it possible to know God and to live like the Devil? Is it possible to truly know God and have no life change?

Obedience follows relationship. If there is no obedience – is there relationship at all?

Adrian Rogers wrote, “Study the Bible to know about God. Obey the Bible to really know God.”

This is the theme of 1 John 2. John’s goal is for the reader to know God rightly and have assurance of salvation, which leads to a life of joy in Jesus. To know God is to love God and to love God is to obey God.

Obedience to God reveals the genuineness of our faith. There is a huge difference between saying and doing. The true Gospel transforms us and leads to obedience. 1 John 2:3 reads, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”.

The word “Keep”, means to guard, or protect like we would treat a precious treasure. And as we keep this treasure, our assurance in our salvation grows and we enjoy Jesus more. To obey His commands is never a burden, it is a blessing and a natural response to what He has done for me.

However we see in verse 4 that if we do not guard or keep the commands of the Lord, we are spiritual deceivers. We really don’t have a relationship with God.

Verse 5 gives is such a great promise, “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.”

Keeping the commands of God is not a condition of knowing God, but it is a clear sign and indication that we do know God.

The phrase, “the love of God”, refers to our love for God, and it is true that the more I know Him, the more I love Him, and the more I love Him, the more I know Him.

The same thing happens in a godly marriage. It should be that the more a husband and wife grow to know one another, the more they love one another. And the more love they share with each other, the more they will desire to know each other.

There is a tradition that on one occasion the apostle John, near the end of his life, was brought to the church on a pallet. All he said to the believing community was, “Love one another.” When he was asked why that was all he had to say, he responded, “Because it is enough.” (Matthew 22:37-40).

So how do we walk in the love of Christ? When we were saved it was so that we might be conformed in the image of His son (Romans 8:29). He saved us that we might “walk just as He walked.”

We have a moral obligation for our walk to match our talk. To truly abide in Christ means I will walk like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1, 1 Peter 2:21).

Like Father, like Son. Like Savior, like saint. Christ’s life becomes my life, my example, my goal, and my pattern. And we must note that it is abiding in Him that enables me to live like Him. I don’t do it in my strength. I do it in His!

Looking back to verse 3, how can we tell if we “know” him?

What then does it mean to “know” Jesus? The Greek word used here, “ginosko”, means basically “grasping the full reality and nature of an object under consideration.”

John was writing to people who knew about Jesus but didn’t really know him personally. Today there are millions of people who know about Jesus, but don’t know him as Lord of their lives.

Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me”. Those who belong to Jesus are responsive to His voice.

John does not suggest that relationship with God is established by obedience; rather, that relationship is demonstrated by obedience.

Sometimes people claim to know God but are unresponsive to His Word and His way of life. Such a person may possess accurate information about God and may be able to debate the finer points of theology. I have met people who have a deep grasp of the Bible and doctrine, but their lives do not match their words. Relationship is demonstrated by walking “as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Jesus addressed this as he was speaking to the Jews, the scribes and the pharisees in John 8:44a, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

The religious leaders, knew about God, they knew the Torah, they knew a lot of theology, but they didn’t know God Himself or else they would have recognized His son, Jesus. They were worshipping the law of Moses, but they weren’t hearing the word of God. Jesus continued in verse 47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

So, my question today is, who are you listening to?

I always get discouraged when I talk to people who have not been in church for a long time and they say, “well, I am not in church, but I listen to Charles Stanley (or their favorite radio or TV teacher) each Sunday morning.” What they fail to realize is that they are neglecting to gather with his body, disobeying the word of God that calls us to commit to a fellowship of believers to grow together in love and unity.

Listening to good teaching is excellent, but the question is, are you listening to the words of God? Why do we run after the words of the created being, when we can sit at the feet of the creator?

Many Christians wrestle with decisions and they often say the same thing. “I am not getting a clear word from God.” My friends, it’s not that God doesn’t speak clearly, it’s that we don’t listen. It’s time to turn off the TV, YouTube, the cell phone and all the other noise surrounding us and open the Word of God. Make time to listen to the God who created you with the ability to hear His voice.

Are you abiding in Him, keeping his commandments?

Do you know Jesus?

Sermon, Sunday April 24, 2022 – A Life Like No Other

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Jonathan Haidt recently wrote, “Artificial intelligence is close to enabling the limitless spread of highly believable disinformation.”

We live in a world where truth is almost unbelievable because of the saturation of lies and false narratives that are being promoted globally. Objective truth has been denied and sadly many Christians do not turn to the Word of God for truth and discernment. We should not be surprised by the ever-increasing volume of lies and misinformation in a world where Satan has his domain (John 8:44)

In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. Jesus embodies truth. He is truth. John the Beloved disciple of Jesus wrote three short letters to the church in and around Ephesus. The primary purpose of the letters was to counter false teaching, causing confusion in the early church. The primary lie that was being promoted in the early church in Asia Minor was that Jesus was not God.

The fact the Jesus is the creator God himself is the foundational truth of the church. If that is not true, then his death and resurrection have no redemptive purpose.

Looking at the first four verses of 1 John, the author focuses our gaze on the Word of Life, the Son of God. In these verses we will see three aspects of how we relate to the truth that is Jesus. It is essential that we get the correct understanding of this man who is fully God and fully man at the same time.

1: A passion to know Jesus.

John wants us to know Jesus, the Word of Life who came down from heaven, and by his life, death, and resurrection provided a way for us to have fellowship with God the Father, now and for eternity. In the first 2 verses, John highlights two key truths about the uniqueness of Jesus.

A: He Is Divine

He begins with, “that which was from the beginning.” And in verse 2, “the eternal life that was with the Father…”

Jesus has always eternally existed with the Father as God. There has never been a time when the Son did not exist (John 8:58 and John 10:30). There never was a time when the Son was not fully God.

B: He Is Human

In these same verses John makes a clear case for the humanity of Jesus. He speaks as an eyewitness of the life and ministry of Jesus. He speaks about hearing Jesus, seeing Jesus and touching Jesus. He was a real person.

At the time, there was a false teaching that John was countering, an early form of what is called “Gnosticism,” a term based on the Greek word that means knowledge. They believed that all matter was evil and that salvation is by a mystical spiritual knowledge. Some of the Gnostics taught that Jesus only appeared to be human.

It is essential that we believe that, Jesus really became a human being in the flesh (John 1:14).

John Piper wrote, “When God becomes a man, man ceases to be the measure of all things, and this man becomes the measure of all things. This is simply intolerable to the rebellious heart of men and women. The incarnation is a violation of the bill of human rights written by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is totalitarian. It’s authoritarian! Imperialism! Despotism! Usurpation! Absolutism! Who does he think he is! GOD!”

2: Once we know Jesus, we will have a passion to Share Jesus.

“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you…” 1 John 1:3a.

Jesus chose twelve men, and they were so impacted by following him that the world was turned upside down (Acts 17:6). They were ordinary uneducated men who were compelled to take this Gospel message to the entire world. What they had experienced in Jesus they wanted others to experience too.

Everyone in the Bible who encountered Jesus, was compelled to share Jesus with others. Many believers today excuse themselves from sharing the Gospel because they feel that they don’t have the gift of evangelism. But it is not about a spiritual gift, it is about encountering Jesus. Simply put, encountering Jesus leads to speaking about Jesus.

If you are not sharing Jesus, you are not encountering Jesus. Which begs the question, do you know Jesus?

And what is the purpose of this sharing? Verse 3 continues, “…so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

This sharing is an invitation to relationship with Jesus, and an added blessing is the family that we get introduced to as a result. The invitation is open to everyone.

This fellowship that we enjoy as the body of Christ is far deeper than a gathering of like-minded people, or a social club or a fraternity. We are invited into a family that transcends all earthly barriers. Christianity is all about relationships being restored, firstly our relationship with God, and then we get millions of brothers and sisters all around the world.

3: We will enjoy Jesus.

And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete” 1 John 1:4. John wrote this letter so that we might know the fulness of Joy. Jesus also said this in John 15:11.

That fullness of joy is ours through our friendship with one another and with God, who is now our Father. And all of it made possible by the gospel of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

As we walk this earth daily confronted by sin and pain, how can we experience joy?

The real issue is the difference between Joy and happiness. Happiness is short lived and dependent on external factors. Joy is peace based on security. We have Joy because we are in Christ and we have a certainty of his love for us, displayed on the cross and promised in his return.

To enjoy Jesus, we must receive him as he is; the eternal son of God, crucified, and raised back to life for our sins and coming back again. And as we submit to him as Lord, we will fully enjoy him.

Do you know this Jesus?

Are you sharing this Jesus?

Are you enjoying this Jesus?

Sermon Sunday October 31, 2021 – The Word of God – Part 2

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Hebrews 4:12-13

Do we value the power of the Word?

The Word of God has the power to transform lives. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the Bible, takes the words and empowers them to transform hearts and minds.

AW Tozer said: “The Bible was given to us not to satisfy our curiosity, but to sanctify our personality.

The writer to the Hebrews spends the first four chapters focusing on Jesus, highlighting the supremacy of Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:1).

He does this to focus our attention to the fact that when God speaks, whether through the inspired written word or through Jesus the living word, it is different to the words of man.

The theme of Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 is the rest promised to God’s people. The promise of eternal salvation and heaven. The author writes that this eternal rest is only found by faith in the Word of God. These verses are a warning, as the author points to the Children of Israel under the leadership of Moses, who didn’t pay close attention to the Word of God and lost their promised rest. He also points to Joshua who led the nation into the promised land, but only into a temporary rest, because they didn’t adhere to the Word of God.  That is why verse 11 says, “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (See also Romans 10:17).

The point of Hebrews 4:12-13 is that God’s Word has come to man with such authority, that it cannot be disregarded.

Hebrews 4:12-13 highlights four attributes of the Bible:

1 The Bible is a powerful book – “For the word of God is living and active”, – Hebrews 4:12a

The Greek word for “living” used here is Zoe. It depicts more than just living. We get the word zoology from this word. It is animated life, meaning that the Bible is alive and life giving.

It is active. The Bible is not a historical book with dead promises. It is living and brings life to the heart of every believer.

The written word of God introduces us to the living word of God (See 1 Thessalonians 2:13)

The Word of God cannot be ignored, and it will impact people with power. Everyone who hears the word of God is forced to make a conscious decision to accept or reject the Word’s offer (See John 6:63).

Throughout History, whenever people have taken God’s word seriously, it has transformed people, cities and nations. Amazing things happen when we take God’s Word and apply it.

God’s word is not a textbook to be read, memorized, or studied in Bible school. The Word of God is something to be unleashed, it is a book of action and life. The Word of God energizes people and nations, speaking life into dead situations.  

The Word of God has the energy and the power of the Holy Spirit that activates it, and always accomplishes the purposes of God (See Isaiah 55:10-11).

2. The Bible is a piercing book – Hebrews 4:12b, “…sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow,”

The Word of God cuts to the heart of sinners. It is used by the Holy Spirit and brings conviction.

The Word of God doesn’t rest passively on us. It either causes anger or joy, discomfort, or peace (see Acts 7:54). The Word of God is a litmus test of a person’s relationship with God.

Not only is the word of God a sharp word, but it also pierces and separates. The piercing word of God goes right through the outer shell of self-confidence and the façade that we put on in order to convince others that we have it all together.

The Bible addresses our intellect and our emotions, so both aspects of our person are penetrated by the piercing of God’s word. The Word of God is the scalpel that the Holy Spirit uses to cut out the cancer of sin in our lives.

The scalpel of the Word may be painful for the initial cut that exposes the cancer, but it is wielded by a surgeon who loves you more than you will ever know and is working to bring about your good and healthy growth.

3. The Bible is a probing book – Hebrews 4:12c, “…and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Bible probes and analyzes the thoughts and intentions of the heart, judging and exposing our real intentions. The Bible has the ability to probe the inner recesses and bring light to the darkness of our inner being.

The outward life comes from the inner thoughts and desires, the outward manifestation of the inward problem. The solution is allowing the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God to sanctify our inner man.  

The Bible is deeply personal because the Author desires a personal relationship with us.

That pain you hide, the hidden yearning of your heart, the secret jealousy of covetous thought that you harbor, God knows them all and His word exposes them to bring us to health and peace.  

4. The Bible is personal – see Hebrews 4:13.

As you read the Bible and hear the voice of God speaking to you, you will find that the Bible is deeply personal.

The Bible is the only book where the author sits down with us when we open it and read it. Can you imagine that? As you are reading, the Holy Spirit is pointing out passages, leading us on a journey through verses.

In the searchlight of God’s Word, we are all naked and exposed, God knows our very thoughts.

Has the Bible transformed your Life?

Your Christian growth is directly linked to your time spent with Jesus, allowing his Word to search your heart.

Sermon, Sunday October 24, 2021 – The Word of God part 1

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2 Timothy 3:10-17

The Bible is the foundation and authority for our Christian lives and for discipleship. Without the bible, discipleship is merely giving advice. True discipleship is based on the Word of God. The only resource for consistent life transformation.  

Paul wrote two brief letters to Timothy a young man he had trained for ministry. Second Timothy dates during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome, just months before his execution. Paul gives his final encouragement to Timothy and reminds him of the power of the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).

Paul says, “all scripture is God breathed…” we believe that this means that the whole bible, all 66 books and multiple authors written over 1500 years, is fully inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Despite the multiple authors and duration of writing, the Bible does not contradict itself. The authors all present different perspectives, but they all proclaim the same one true God, and the same way of salvation: Jesus Christ.

The Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Psalms and the prophetic books constantly point to the coming Messiah and his suffering for our salvation. The four Gospels record the life of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament speaks about the ongoing work of Jesus through the church, and the Revelation of his second coming.

2 Timothy 3:16 reads, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

  • The Word is profitable; for teaching correctly, giving clear doctrine
  • The word is used for reproof, which means conviction of sin. It is a bright light that exposes our very hearts and intentions.
  • The word of God is good for correction, for setting things right.
  • The Word is used for training in righteousness, that is discipleship.

Verse 17 continues, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”.

It enables the child of God to become a man or woman of God, matured in the things of the Lord. The word, “complete” does not mean perfect, but rather, prepared for the work that lies before us.

The Bible transforms the child of God into a mature person in Christ. The better we know the Bible, the better we are able to live and work for God.  I will always encourage people to begin the day getting equipped by taking up the Bible.

The purpose of Bible study is not just to understand doctrines or to be able to defend the faith, as important as these things are. The ultimate purpose is the equipping of the believers who read it. It is the Word of God that equips God’s people to do the work of God.

The Bible is our authority that we turn to when we face difficult decisions in life.

The Bible addresses the real issues of our lives, for example, the Bible speaks frequently into the area of our finances. Giving to the poor (Matthew 25:37-40). God takes caring for the poor seriously. Giving to the local church (Malachi 3:10). We have such a distorted view of tithing and giving to the church. We feel we have to give, out of guilt and need, but the truth is that the Lord promised to bless the giver. The Bible addresses every aspect of our finances, taxes, inheritance, investing and more.

The Bible teaches us how to resist temptation. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he went to the wilderness and fasted for forty days in preparation for his ministry. At the end of that time, Satan came and tempted him three times as we read in Matthew 4. Each time Jesus used the authority of Scripture to rebuke Satan. We need to know this weapon and use it against the enemy of our souls.

The Bible addresses every area of our relationships, from parenting to work relationships.

The Bible addresses how we treat widows and orphans (James 1:27).

The Bible addresses our career choices and what we do with the years we have been given.

The Bible addresses our physical health and care for our bodies.

The Bible also addresses the big questions that the world wrestles with: abortion, immigration and refugees, poverty, same sex marriage, transgenderism, caring for the environment and more.

The Bible says that we are to be praying for our government, our president, vice president and all our governing authorities. That means to pray for their blessing and salvation. Praying for God to bless and guide our leaders, even if we didn’t vote for them! Listen to what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-4. Do we desire all people to be saved?

The Bible is our ultimate authority, meaning that if the government makes laws that are opposed to the word of God, we hold fast to the word of God. But to discern whether the government is ruling incorrectly, we need to know the Word of God. We must never be led by the opinions and the thoughts of someone we watched on the internet. We must not allow anything that opposes God’s Word to dictate our actions or control our thinking.

We have been given the Word of God, written by our Heavenly Father who knows us better than we know ourselves, and who knows every moment and situation of our lives. Yet we turn to people who are not invested in us at all and ask their opinion for our life decisions.

Many Christians are struggling today because they don’t know the Word of God. My simple goal as a pastor is to get people to feed on the Word of God. Study and meditate on the Word. Let God’s Spirit speak to you as you read.

The Bible is no ordinary collection of pages and ink.

It is supernatural in its authoring,

it is supernatural in its reading, and

it is supernatural in its application.

Let us be known as people of the Word, who know and apply the Word of God to all situations in our lives.

Sermon Sunday September 5, 2021 – Hearing God’s Voice

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The sad truth about Christian discipleship today is that we teach people about God, but we don’t teach people to experience God.

As followers of Jesus, we are invited into a relationship, having our daily steps ordered by the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6 and Psalm 37:23).

I often hear from people who wish they could hear from God regarding His will for their lives.

The incredible news is that God does still speak to His children, and Jesus made this clear in John 10.

The sheepfold of the first century was usually an enclosure made of rocks, and the shepherd would guard the flock at night by lying across the opening. It was not unusual for several flocks to be sheltered together in the same fold. In the morning, the shepherds would come, call their sheep, and assemble their own flocks. This is what Jesus was referring to in John 10:3-4.

Jesus calls himself two different things in this passage, firstly he is the door (John 10:9). He is the Door of salvation for all who put their faith in him.
Then Jesus declares himself to be the Good Shepherd and in verse 11 he says, “the Good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”. Those hearing these words must have struggled to understand what he was saying. Jesus willingly went to the cross to die for our sins so that we could have a relationship with God the Father.

We miss the point when we get so focused on the plan of salvation as a means to get out of hell and into heaven. There is so much more. We are invited into a relationship with Jesus, in verse 10 he says, I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

In verse 16 Jesus speaks to the Gentiles who were outside of the Jewish “fold”. He uses the key phrase, “they will listen to my voice.” Are you listening to the voice of The Good Shepherd?

Prayer is not a monologue where you recite all your needs to God, and He responds like a vending machine. It is a two-way fellowship, where we speak to God, and He speaks to us.

Henry Blackaby wrote, “what God says to you in prayer, is far more important than what you say to Him. After all, God already knows what you are going to tell Him.”

How does God speak to us?

1. Primarily God speaks to us through His word, the Bible.
The bible is the starting point in our pursuit of a personal relationship with God because it is His special revelation of Jesus to mankind (2 Timothy 3:16). However, for us to hear and respond to the God breathed Word, we need to open it and meditate on it.
Having said that, God is not limited to speaking to us through the Bible. God can speak in any way that He knows will get our attention.

2. God speaks through other Christians. God will use other godly people in our lives to speak to us, and we all need mentors and encouragers who will pray for us and then speak the truth in love. God will speak to us through the Holy Spirit, as fellow believers use their spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7-9).   

3. God will speak through Circumstances. In Genesis 50 Joseph saw how God used the seemingly impossible circumstances and redeem them to his glory. Be aware of God leading through circumstances.

4. God speaks audibly. In 1 Kings 19:11-12 God spoke to Elijah. The voice of God was a gentle whisper, and he knew that God was speaking to him.  God also speaks to us in that still small voice, the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
It is so important to be quiet before the Lord and to listen for His voice.

This is where the value of a journal comes in. When you sit down with your Bible each day, come with an expectation that He is going to speak to you. Sometimes through the words on the page, sometimes through the inner voice of the Holy Spirit, and as that happens, write down your dialogue with God. Write out your prayers and write down what you hear from the Lord. I am always encouraged as I look back at my journals from years gone by and see how the Lord was speaking and directing me.

5. God still speaks in dreams.  The life of Daniel was one filled with dreams and interpretation. Today we are hearing stories of thousands of Muslims who are encountering Jesus in dreams and are being converted.

There is no doubt that God speaks today, but we must be careful to test every word. To test to discern if God is speaking, use these five simple tests.

1. Does it Exalt Christ?(John 16:13-14) If what you think you heard does not exalt Christ but exalts something or someone else instead, you can be certain that the leading is not from God.

2. Is it Scriptural? (Proverbs 30:5-6) God will never contradict His Word. If the person presenting the word to you takes the Bible out of context, you can reject it. Always go back to God’s primary revelation, His Word the Bible.

3. Do Other Christians Confirm it?(1 Corinthians 14:29) If you feel that God is speaking to you on a certain issue, but you are not sure. Take it to wise people in the church who can guide you and join in prayer with you.

4. Does it Produce Good Fruit?(John 15:5) Compare what you hear with the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. God’s word will always produce the fruit of the Spirit.  

5. Does God Bring it to Pass?  (Isaiah 55:10-11) If it never comes to pass, you can be sure God was not in it.

It is essential that you learn to test the word, whether it is something you read or something someone tells you. God is not intimidated by our questions, but He does expect our obedience when His word is confirmed.

The most important part of your day is the time spent waiting on the Lord.

Sermon, Sunday February 7, 2021

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What is the greatest thing you can do for your neighborhood?

We and the global Church, have been praying faithfully for revival, but what if we were praying for revival for the wrong motives? What if our prayers were only focused on church growth?

The real motive for revival should be our community transformed by a move of the Holy Spirit. Praying for revival must be bigger than our church. We must focus on praying for our community.

In Nehemiah chapter 8, we read the account of a revival that took place in Jerusalem in the fifth century before Christ. Under the governorship of Nehemiah, the walls of the city had been rebuilt and now all the people have gathered at the Water gate and request that Ezra, the priest, reads the book of the law of Moses. These are the first five books of our Bible.

 The water gate was an open public place that was large enough for all the people to gather. Scholars estimate that the crowd was around 50 000 people. As Ezra opened the scrolls and began reading from the Law of Moses, all the people stood in reverence and listened attentively. Ezra read aloud from daybreak until noon with 13 men assisting in the reading and 13 Levites mixing amongst the crowd to help with translation and understanding.

It is significant that this reading took place at the water gate. This place was chosen because the temple court was too small, but it is also significant that Gods Word was proclaimed in the marketplace, in the public square.

The Word of God is meant to be proclaimed in the public places, in the marketplace, and as we do that whole communities will be transformed. All too often the only place that the Word of God is proclaimed is in church buildings. We are doing such a disservice to our community by not proclaiming the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in our communities.

This public proclamation of the Law led to an immediate revival, the people were overcome with remorse and wept as Ezra expounded on the Law of God. Their sins were being exposed by the Holy Spirit and they repented.

What is revival? Firstly, it is not is a church meeting. Revival can start in a meeting, but a meeting itself is not revival. The dictionary states that revival is “restoration to life, consciousness, vigor. An awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion

Revival is personal. It starts when individuals repent of their sins and openly proclaim Jesus as Lord. The Israelites were overcome with grief as their sins were exposed. This is what happens when we get a glimpse of the Glory of God and of His awesome purity compared to the sin in our lives.

Revival results in changed lives as people live in holiness and walk-in evangelism and social justice. People are no longer satisfied with the entertainment of the world.  Revival breaks the power of the charm of this world and gives us a heavenly perspective.

There have been some incredible revivals throughout history on every continent. All these revivals had one thing in common, an unusual experience with the presence of God and the overwhelming sense of remorse and repentance from the people (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Our churches, our city, our nation, needs revival. By God’s mercy, we will see a move of God that leads nations to repentance and an overwhelming sense of His Glory and majesty.

But every revival seems to have been relatively short lived. We just must look at the North Eastern United States today, it seems to be so dark and far from recognizing Jesus as Lord. But just a few hundred years ago, it was the center of the Great Awakening under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.

As we see in Nehemiah chapter 13, this occurred in Jerusalem as well. Less than one year after the revival, it seemed that the people had backslidden, and Nehemiah had to take drastic action to bring them back to observing the Sabbath and worshipping God.

Why did they backslide so quickly?

As we cry out to God for revival, how do we ensure that we do not falter in our faith, but rather continue to grow and experience more of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

Our Christian lives should be constantly growing, becoming more like Jesus. If you are not more like Jesus today, than you were a year ago, something is wrong, and you need to re-evaluate your walk with the Lord.

Many Christians go from conference to conference or meeting to meeting and experience amazing encounters with God, but between those experiences they barely live a life that represents a relationship with the living God. After every mountain top experience, we must learn to encounter God in the everyday, mundane life.

How do you grow in your walk with the Lord in the mundane?

Here are four Keys to a growing relationship with God.

  • The first is reading and meditating on the Word of God. There is no substitute for prioritizing time immersed in the Bible.  As we feed on God’s word, it teaches us, rebukes us, and trains us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Are you allowing the Word of God to align your life with His?
  • Secondly, repenting of our sins. Unconfessed sin will prevent you from experience revival and it will also ensure that you remain a spiritual infant. 1 John 1:9, is a promise from God!
  • Thirdly, living in community. Today we are hearing a lot about community, but true community is rare. Even in our churches, community is a goal that is seldom achieved. Community is more than simply attending a weekly life group, community is living life together, encouraging and challenging each other.  
  • Finally, we pray.  Personal prayer and corporate prayer must be the hallmark of every believer. Prayer is a discipline and a treasure that sadly only a few seem to hold dear.

Prayer is the greatest thing that you can do for your neighborhood.

Sermon, Sunday October 25 2020 Faith and the Elections.

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1 Samuel 8

Over the last few decades there has been a lot of discussion about the separation of the church and the state. While I don’t believe a pastor should direct the congregation to vote for a specific candidate, I also don’t think that the church should stand idly by and allow corruption and immorality to govern our nation.

DR. Adrian Rogers once said, “the church and state should remain separate institutionally, but the church should be the conscience of the state.

The church is supposed to be the moral compass of the nation, unfortunately the church has largely compromised with culture to gain acceptance and numbers. As a result, the church has lost the authority to be the voice of morality. Churches and Christians see themselves as poor victims, a weak and victimized minority. But Jesus said in Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world…” As Christians and as the church, we are Christs ambassadors and when we sit idly by, Satan will continue to destroy this nation.

Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.” (Alexander Tytler 1747 to 1813)

In 1 Samuel 8 the nation of Israel was going through a leadership transition. The great prophet Samuel was old and the people began asking for a King. Under Samuel’s leadership, the nation had expanded, their enemies had been subdued and the nation’s surrounding Israel were at peace. But the people were not satisfied, they wanted a king and God gave them what they desired.

Israel saw the nations around them and asked for a king to be like those nations (1 Samuel 8:5). The people were crying out for a savior, they thought that Samuel would give them a King and he would solve all their problems. On the surface to ask for a king seemed like a reasonable request, it seemed like Israel was coming of age as a nation and needed to fit the mold of a successful nation. But this request upset Samuel because he realized that the nation had rejected God as their King and were looking for an earthly leader (verse 7).

Israel was once again turning their back on God. God’s chosen people, the people of the promise to Abraham, the same people of the covenant that God made with Moses on Mt Sinai, they wanted to settle for an earthly king to rule over them.

Sadly, in America today we are not much different, we look to a president or the leaders in Washington to solve our problems, instead of turning to the only one who can solve the problems of this nation and the world – Jesus Christ.

Israel had forgotten who they were, they had lost their moral compass. In response God tells Samuel to warn the nation that a king will require from them a heavy burden of taxes, their sons and daughters will be required to serve in his army and in his courts. The burden on the people will be heavy, but yet they demanded a king. God gave the children of Israel what they wanted, God in his great mercy and sovereignty gives nations what they ask for because ultimately God uses the leaders of nations for his purposes.

God chose Saul, a Benjamite, to be the first King of Israel. We read in chapter 9 and 10 of 1 Samuel, how God chose Saul, who seemed to have amazing leadership skills and potential to be a powerful King. Unfortunately, Saul became a bad king and just as God had said he would, the nation became his slaves. Bad leaders enslave their people, and that is what Saul did.

We need to prayerfully consider the choice of the election ballot, as a nation God will give us the president we ask for. As believers we have a divine voting guide, it is the Word of God. Don’t be misled for one minute into thinking that the Word of God does not apply to your choice on Tuesday November 3, it has everything to do with it (see Psalm 119:105 and Proverbs 29:2).

Our nation is facing some incredible challenges. As Christians, who are we looking to? If we place our hope in the next president, whomever that may be, we will be disappointed. The day after the election, God will still be on the throne, ruling and managing the worlds affairs. God has never needed a king or a president, he raises them up and he puts them down for his purposes.

There are so many issues that we can identify in the world that need fixing, there is no human leader who can possibly solve all of the nation’s problems. Our only hope is in Jesus Christ, the King of Kings.

There is nothing wrong with being involved in politics or voicing our frustrations with the leaders of our country, but we must view everything from an eternal perspective. As followers of Jesus Christ this world is not our home, we must put our trust in Jesus Christ and in no one else.

Do you have an eternal perspective?

Some Christian’s are more afraid of their political party losing the election than they are afraid of their friends and loved ones spending eternity in hell.

Sometimes we get so anxious about the temporal kingdoms here on earth that we forget about God’s eternal Kingdom (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Join with me in praying with repentance for God to heal our nation.

Thoughts on the Unexpected June 28, 2020

Unexpected things happen all the time and how we respond sometimes has significant implications. This past Thursday, I received a call from Lynn and the first words out of her mouth were not the words a pastor or any leader likes to hear, “Athol, we have a huge problem…”

Usually when I hear those words, I downplay them and try to minimize my stress response. But something about her tone of voice, indicated that this really was a “huge problem”.

I was on my way down the hill from the church, and I rushed back as quickly as my 2008 Kia could get me up the hill. On my arrival I was greeted by many anxious faces and saw water all down the hallway and flooding into the sanctuary. I headed to the back of the church and found that the backflow valve was expelling as much water as a four-inch line would allow.

I was able to shut it off and then the process of cleanup and calling companies to help began. As usual, Nicole was on top of it and had people there to begin the cleanup within the hour.

It is going to take a few days until we can get the water on, and unfortunately as a result we were unable to hold services today. But in spite of all the drama, God is still in control. We see a setback, but God is following His eternal and perfect plan.

We decided not to use Zoom, or stream a service this morning, but rather we encouraged everyone to spend time alone or in your families with the Word of God, allowing God to speak to you.

Last week, as I was preaching through Ephesians 4:13-16, I spoke on the four attributes of spiritual maturity. The second one was, “spiritual maturity involves doctrinal stability”.

That sounds very much like, “seminary speak”, but the bottom line is that we need to feed on God’s word for ourselves in order to mature. And as we mature we will be able to discern between false doctrine and the truth found in God’s word.

So, on this day, you and I have the wonderful opportunity to feed on the glorious riches of the Word. Allowing the author, the Holy Spirit to give us a feast.

This morning I was reading Deuteronomy 30. Moses is giving his final instructions of the Law of God to the children of Israel. Moses was encouraging them to choose life, to choose to worship God alone and not to be distracted by the false gods and idols of the nations around them.

In Deuteronomy 30:11-15 we read, “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.”

Notice the emphasis I underlined. If the truth of God’s word was close during the time of Moses, how much more for us under the New Covenant. We have the blessing of the 3rd person of the Trinity, living in us as true followers of Jesus.

Jesus prepared his disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit and in John 14:26-27 we read, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

In June of 2020, we certainly have a lot going on in the world around us. It would be easy for us to be so consumed by the events of the world that we become fearful and lacking peace.

Whether it be a sudden flood in a building, the Corona virus, political chaos or an earthquake in Mexico, our God is still the one who gives us peace. Our Heavenly Father does not react to the events of the world, rather, He is perfectly orchestrating all of the worlds events in preparation for His son, Jesus, to come again in glory.

In this season, if you are not spending time in God’s word, allowing the Holy Spirit to bring you peace and comfort, you will be easily swayed. Let us be a people who discern the season through the lens of God’s word.

Who are you listening to?

Sermon December 8, 2019 – The King is Coming

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 Malachi 4:1-6

We all love warm sunny days, and we know that the sun provides what we need to sustain life on the planet. We are so dependent on the sun for life, but the Bible speaks of another giver of life, another source of light.

In Malachi 3, we see God addressing two groups of people; those that merely go through the routine of religion and those who truly fear the Lord. We see those who fear the Lord crying out to God for justice because they see that the arrogant and the wicked are being allowed to prosper. And we see the same happening all around us in the 21st century.

In Malachi 4 verses 1 and 3 we see that a day is coming when the Lord will bring judgment on all the wicked who have rejected Him. In the Bible, whenever we read the term “the day”, we are aware this is speaking of when Jesus returns and everyone who has ever lived is judged. The arrogant, wicked and all who do not worship Jesus as Lord will be punished for eternity.

When the apostle Peter preached his sermon in Jerusalem in Acts 2, he spoke about “the day” in verses 20 and 21.

The first century church lived for that day, they spoke primarily about the resurrection of Jesus and his imminent return. The early church lived daily with an expectation of Jesus coming again. If they had that expectation, how much more should we. We must live with a preparedness, we must be about His business, working for the Kingdom of God and not building kingdoms that will soon be burnt up and the ashes scattered.

In verse 2, God addresses those who fear His name, “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall”. Malachi 4:2

I love the sunrise, it is a powerful reminder that God is watching over His creation. But this sunrise that Malachi speaks about is the ending of a period of time, the ending of the reign of darkness in the world, a new day of righteousness when Jesus will come and restore all things.

The picture that Malachi paints of calves leaping in joy, would have been a familiar sight to the Israelites. During the dark cold months of winter, the young animals would be kept in stalls for protection and warmth, but after the winter as these calves were released and they would jump and leap for joy, running into the pastures. This is a picture of the joy that the followers of Jesus will experience when he comes again.

In Malachi 4:4, God reminds the children of Israel that the Law was not a set of rules to be followed out of routine or tradition, rather the Law was given to bring them into relationship with God.

You cannot separate God’s word from a relationship with God, in that case it simply becomes an academic pursuit. God gave us His word to point us to Christ and the way to salvation through him. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:17-18 that all of God’s word is relevant for us today until he comes again. The Bible contains many prophesies that will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again, and that is what these last few verses of Malachi speak about.

God’s word is our daily bread, inspired by the Holy Spirit. We need to be a people who meditate and live by the light of God’s word daily.

Verse 5 speaks about the prophet Elijah who will come before Jesus comes again to bring judgment on the whole earth. In Matthew 17, we read about the time when Jesus took Peter, James and John up a high mountain and there they saw Jesus with Elijah and Moses. The appearance of Jesus was transfigured, and his face shone like the sun.

Interestingly, if we read Revelation 11, we read about two witnesses who will prophecy and do mighty works on the earth before Jesus comes again. If you read the account in Revelation 11, you will see that the signs and wonders the two witnesses do are the same kinds of miraculous signs that God allowed Moses and Elijah to do when they lived on the earth.  

This forerunner will have an important role to play, in verse 6 we read, “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” Malachi 4:6

This prophet would turn the hearts of the people back to the faith of their fathers. Reminding the people of the Faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is a revival! A time of great repentance. God says, repent and listen to the prophet or I will come and destroy the land.

The same applies to us, repent while you still can, turn away from your sins, turn to Jesus as Lord of your life and you will avoid the punishment that is coming for all who reject Jesus.

The Old Testament ends with a call to repent and a warning in the same way the New Testament closes with a call to repentance in Revelation 22:12-13.

The rays of the sun take about 8 minutes to reach us. If the sun was to stop shinning, life on earth would come to an end. That day is coming as we read in Joel 2:31-32. In verse 2 of Malachi 4 we read, “for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”  The Hebrew word for wings here is “כָּנָף” “kanaph”, which could mean wings of a bird or the hem of a garment. In Matthew 9, when Jesus was walking through the crowd and a woman who had suffered from bleeding for 12 years, reached out and in faith simply touched the hem (Kanaph) of Jesus’ garment. She was instantly healed. God did this miracle to point to a time when Jesus would come again with healing in his wings for the whole earth. Jesus is the sun of righteousness, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the light of the world.

Has the light of Jesus shone in your life?