Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy Part 1 Sermon September 30, 2018

Philippians 1:1-6

Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi was written around A.D. 61, while Paul was in house arrest in Rome. Paul was writing to the church that he planted while in Macedonia about ten years earlier.

This letter is mostly a letter of thankfulness and joy, in these four short chapters, Paul mentions Joy or rejoicing nineteen times. Paul begins the Letter by introducing himself and Timothy as servants of Christ, the Greek word he used is Doulos, which means bond-slave. Picture this, Paul, the accomplished church planter, missionary, Roman citizen, premier theologian in all of history and he introduces himself as a bond-slave.  Paul understood that by becoming a follower of Jesus, he surrendered all his rights, as he wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Hudson Taylor the missionary to China, once said, “Let us give up our work, our thoughts, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into God’s hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about or to make trouble about.”

This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

Paul goes on to address the recipients of the letter and says, “to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi…”

The term Holy People is usually translated as “saints”, the Greek meaning is to be set apart, separate from the rest of the people. The church is made up of people who are different and separate by being in Christ.

To be in Christ, is a positional statement of being set apart unto God and exclusively belonging to Christ.

In verse two Paul proclaims a blessing on them. “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Grace and peace are promises from God for believers in Jesus Christ. Grace is unmerited favor, getting something that we don’t deserve.

Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is not getting what you deserve and grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Additionaly, term used for peace here is more than just peace with God, it can best be described by the Hebrew word Shalom. Shalom is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility and can be used like the term Aloha in Hawaiian to mean both hello and goodbye. Paul is reminding his beloved readers that in Christ they have received grace, and experience peace.

Are you experiencing peace? True peace is not a life without trouble, rather it is knowing God’s peace in the midst of troubles (see Philippians 4:7). Maybe today you need to repent of your sins and allow the grace of God to refresh you by the blood of Jesus so that you can know the peace of God in your life.

Paul continues, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Paul must have been looking back to what took place in Acts 16 some eleven years earlier. He must have remembered Lydia, the cloth trader, the demon possessed slave girl and the jailer, all who became miraculous followers of Jesus.  Paul loves these people, he has great memories of spending time with them and he is thankful to God for them (verse 4).

Notice Paul’s prayers are not simply generic prayers, he remembers them and prays diligently for them because they were true partners with him in the ministry (verse 5). Paul was financially supported by churches that he planted. This letter was to his financial supporters and he thanked them for their partnership. But this partnership was not simply a one-way transaction, Paul gave of himself for the church and prayed diligently for the church that sent him finances and encouraged him.

As we look at the ancient church in Philippi, we will see that we are very similar to the Philippian church, and what Paul wrote to them applies to us today in the 21st century. They were a missionary sending and supporting church.

This is what healthy churches do, we must never see sending missionaries as a financial transaction, rather sending and receiving is all part of the Grace and Peace of God in the church.

Looking at verse 6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Paul is confident, he has faith that what was begun ten years earlier will continue to grow and be fruitful until Jesus comes again. Paul was confident that Jesus will build His church, just as he promised in Matthew 16:18. Sometimes we need to be reminded, that this is not our church, this church belongs to Jesus and he is continuing to work out his plans and build his church until he comes again to receive his bride.

I hope you see that the church is something so much greater and more glorious than a social gathering on a Sunday morning. Even this small church, is a part of the bigger church, the universal Body of Christ, and we feel those connections through the missionaries we pray for and other Christians we meet from other churches, and as we remember and pray for the persecuted church.

Growing individually and corporately as the church, is not a matter of making ourselves better people, rather it is the power of God working in us, as we lay down our preferences and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us for God’s glory.

Are you daily being changed by the Gospel?

If someone was to write a letter to your church, would they see the three characteristics that Paul saw in the church in Philippi.

  1. Would they see a true partnership? Are you all in? Or are you just attending church.
  2. Would they see that you are motivated by the Gospel? The Good News must be the driving force of the church.
  3. Would they see that we are looking towards Jesus coming again? This world does not offer hope, our only hope is found in Jesus Christ.

Sermon September 2, 2018 – Re-Up part 3, The Gospel

Re-Up to the Gospel

We talk a lot about the Gospel, but are we really able to articulate the Gospel message?

The word, “Gospel” is translated from the Greek word “euangelion” from which we get our word, Evangelism. The Gospel means the Good News and it all starts and ends with God.

The most succinct text we have for the Gospel is 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. God created the heavens and the Earth, and it was good. But, sin entered into the world as Satan tempted eve, she and Adam sinned by eating the fruit that God told them not to eat. Satan tempted Eve by making asking the question, “did God really say?” And that is the same question he tempts us with every day, if we don’t know and stand firmly on the authority of God’s word.

As a result of their sin, we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).  Sin has resulted in a break in relationship, a separation between God and man. All of creation suffers as a result of this separation. In order to provide for the restoration of the broken relationship between God and man, God required a perfect sacrifice, Jesus was that sacrifice. He came to earth as a baby, born of a virgin and he lived a perfect sinless life. Jesus was persecuted and crucified on the cruel Roman Cross where he died. But Jesus was raised to life on the 3rd day, by the power of God, overcoming death. After forty days of teaching and appearing to many people, Jesus ascended to heaven and today he is at the right hand of God the father. But Jesus didn’t leave us alone, he sent the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to live in us, to empower us to do what he calls us to do. The Holy Spirit is the power and the fuel of the church.

This sacrifice that Jesus made was for all who would put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. Paul tells us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We did nothing to deserve his love and sacrifice. All we have to do is accept this free gift from God (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that there is no other way to be saved, this makes the Gospel a message of offence and one that causes division, just as Jesus said in Luke 12. The Gospel is offensive in our culture mostly because of its exclusivity. Our age of political correctness hates the exclusivity of the Gospel (John 14:6).

In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul was commissioning Timothy to Gospel ministry. In the first verse, Paul reminded Timothy that this commissioning is before God and Jesus Christ who is also going to judge all people when he comes again. If Timothy wasn’t aware of the weight of his commission he certainly got it there in the first sentence. Paul charges Timothy to be an evangelist, a Gospel proclaimer (2 Timothy 4:2). In the end of the previous chapter, Paul told Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed and the he needs to preach all of scripture and not simply his favorite texts, or the texts that he knows people will enjoy hearing (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Paul writes and tells Timothy to be ready, “in season and out of season”, to preach the word. Naturally, we understand that Timothy is to be ready to preach the word when he is in front of a crowd or simply when he is sharing a meal with a family, being ready to speak about the Gospel at all times. But I suggest that there is more to this statement. Let us never forget that if we call ourselves Christians, the world is watching, and we preach a “form” of Gospel with our actions. How we respond to immorality in our workplaces, how we respond to financial and family challenges, how we respond to these and other challenges preaches a form of Gospel to the watching world.

But what about the bigger issues of life, the cultural issues that demand a response from the church?

What Gospel are we as a church preaching to the world when it comes to our response to the plight of the unborn in our nation? What Gospel are we preaching in our response to caring for those caught in sex slavery and trafficking?

What Gospel are we preaching in our response to the re-definition of marriage in our society? What Gospel are we preaching to those around us in our care for the widows and the orphans in our communities?

We have the opportunity everyday to declare the truth of God’s Word to those around us as they see our response to the challenges of everyday life.

Paul continues in his encouragement to Timothy and writes about a future time where there will be false teachers (2 Timothy 4: 3-4). Over the course of the past 2000 years, cultures have come and gone that have rejected the truth of God’s word, but it really sounds like Paul was talking about the era in which we now live.

There are primarily two kinds of false teachers today; firstly, those who intentionally teach a false Gospel in order to attract crowds and make people feel good about themselves. Many large churches have built enormous buildings and have incurred huge debts, now the pastors feel compelled to preach what the people want to hear in order to keep them coming to pay for the buildings.

Secondly, there are those who are too afraid of the cultural resistance to the Gospel, this is the preacher who doesn’t want to offend.

The truth is that the days of unquestioned respect for the church are gone. In our 21st century culture, if you truly believe and hold fast to this Gospel message, you could be risking your reputation, your social status and possibly you will face legal threats as we have already seen in our country.

But here is the wonderful good news, God himself by the Holy Spirit is committed to the results of the proclamation of the Gospel. You are not alone in this task, Jesus ended the Great Commission in Matthew 28 by promising, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What is the Gospel that you are declaring to the world?

May 20, 2018 Saul part 2 – The Church Multiplies

Acts 9:26-31

The early church in the book of Acts grew rapidly, as we think about this, there are two methods of church growth. Firstly, a church can grow as more people come into the immediate fellowship, but secondly the church grows as we multiply by planting other churches and meeting in homes around the city.

As we look at these two options, the one that you prefer will tell you a lot about your motivation for being a part of the local body of believers.

In Acts 9:26, we find Saul trying to join the disciples in Jerusalem, and just like the Christians in Damascus, they are afraid of him because of his reputation. But Saul is introduced by Barnabas, the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). Barnabas is the bridge-builder, the encourager and he brings Saul to Peter. Every church needs these bridge builders, someone who welcomes people in and connects them.

As we get back to Saul, we read in verse 27 and 28, that he first preached boldly in Damascus, and then when he came to Jerusalem, he preached boldly in the name of the Lord. Where did this boldness come from? He was not in the slightest bit ashamed of the fact that a few years earlier he was persecuting believers in Jesus, now he was defending the resurrection of Jesus. In verse 17, when Saul was healed by the prayer of Ananias, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. And then in verse 22, we read, “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.”

Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit, and then in the next few days we read that he increased in strength, he increased in spiritual authority as he prayed, as God prepared him for the work that lay ahead. We need to understand that it is important to spend time with God in order to be prepared and strengthened for the task ahead. It is crucial that every day we spend time reading and praying over God’s word, so that we may be strengthened.

In verse 29, we read, “And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists. But they were seeking to kill him”

These Hellenists were Greek’s who followed Judaism, and as a result they carried with them the reasoning, the passion for Rhetoric, and the culture of the Greeks. They would not have simply taken Saul’s word for it, they wanted to test him and debate with him. And they eventually realized that there was going to be only one way to deal with Saul, and that was to kill him. The disciples sent Saul out of town for his own safety, he is sent back to Tarsus where he stays for the next seven or eight years. We don’t know much of what he did in Tarsus, but he was probably, studying, writing and teaching, I doubt he simply went into hiding.

At the beginning of Acts 9, Saul first leaves Jerusalem as a man of power with authority from the High Priest to capture and persecute Christians, then he meets Jesus on the way to Damascus and finally he has to leave Jerusalem as one who himself is being persecuted. In the rest of the book of Acts we read that he suffered much as he obeyed the call of God on his life. He was stoned in Lystra and left for dead. He was beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, he caused a riot in Ephesus, he was shipwrecked, imprisoned in Jerusalem and imprisoned in Rome.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “suffering then, is the badge of true discipleship”.

As Luke closes the Chapter, he gives us a snapshot of what is happening to the early church, “So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” (Acts 9:31).

The Roman Emperor seems to ignore the growth of Christianity, and the church spreads and grows throughout the region. Looking at this verse we see four factors that contributed to the growth of the church.

Firstly, they had peace, they were free from external persecution and influence. God gave the church time to settle.

Secondly, the church was being built up, it was in this time that the early church began to determine their fundamental core beliefs such as believer’s baptism and celebrating the Lords supper. A strong church, a healthy church is one that has the core beliefs firmly in place.

Thirdly, the early believers were walking in the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is walking in holiness. This doesn’t mean that we never sin, but that when we do sin, we quickly repent, and ask Jesus to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. The fear of the Lord is what drives us to want to please God, to honor and respect Him so much that we don’t want to be out of His perfect will for our lives.

And then finally they walked in the comfort of the Holy Spirit. This is the special ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church, the Greek word is Paraklesis used here by Luke the writer of Acts.

Paraklesis is a multi-faceted word, just like the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church. Amongst other definitions it means; appealing, comforting, encouraging, urging, inviting, imploring and exhorting.

The Holy Spirit is the fuel of the church, the Holy Spirit is the energy and the driving force of the church.

And then the last two words of Acts 9 say that the church multiplied.

And as the church multiplies, by nature, it becomes healthy and grows. Healthy churches plant other churches. Healthy churches trust the Lord to send their best people away, into the mission field.

A healthy church is not a perfect church, a healthy church is one where we identify our brokenness, and humbly encourage one another to walk in the light. A healthy church is where we obey the Great Commission that Jesus left us in Matthew 28.

A healthy church is a praying church, if we want to be led and built up in the comfort of the Holy Spirt, we need to be gathering to pray.

The early church didn’t simply grow, it multiplied, there is a significant difference. Multiplication is the result of active discipleship.

We can grow without multiplication, but it is impossible to multiply and not grow.

Church in the Park – July 16, 2016

We have just celebrated a wonderful service together as a church. We held our church service at John Anderson Park in Grandview. It was well attended and the weather was amazing, although admittedly it was a bit warm for some.

When we promoted the idea of having a church service in the park, it was a bit of a stretch for some, I admit that I had some doubt as to the wisdom of the event.

But the Church met last Sunday, we didn’t meet in our normal building and in our usual seats, but the church still met. The Church, the followers of Jesus Christ, those who have submitted themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A healthy church understands that we are to be the church in our community and whenever and wherever we gather, the Church gathers.

There are churches that Satan does not have a problem with people going to. Unfortunately, there are many of these churches, who do not proclaim the Gospel and do not challenge their members to focus on the Great Commission that Jesus left the Church to do in Matthew 28.

However, if the church gets out from behind their four walls and begins to make an impact on the community, then the kingdom of darkness is threatened. I am always reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 10 when the 72 early missionaries returned, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”.

The basis of the church, our foundational statement is the Gospel message.

In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 we read the Gospel in a nutshell, “”Now I make known to you brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures . . .

The Bible says that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23). This means that we have all offended God and have all broken His law. Therefore, we are guilty of having sinned. Because of this, we are separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), are dead in our sins (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:3), cannot please God (Rom. 3:10-11), and will face an eternity of suffering separated from the presence of God (2 Thess. 1:9).

The only way to escape this judgment is by placing our faith in what Jesus did on the cross (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Pet. 2:24). We can only be saved from Hell by submitting our lives to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ as our savior, we cannot save ourselves by our own efforts (Galatians 2:21).

We have to rely on God to remove our sins. Jesus, who is God in flesh (John 1:1), bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). He died in our place. He paid the penalty of breaking the Law of God that should have fallen upon us. He satisfied the law of God the Father by dying on the cross.

It did not end there, God raised Jesus from the dead and he appeared to many people in his resurrected body over a period of forty days (1 Corinthians 15). Jesus then ascended into Heaven where he lives today interceding for us (Romans 8:34). Jesus is our advocate with our Heavenly Father and he is coming again one day to take the church to be with him and to rule over the earth with justice restoring all things according to God’s perfect plan.

That is the Gospel message.

Without the Gospel, we have no church

Without the Gospel, we have no hope of salvation

Without the Gospel, we have no testimony

Without the Gospel, we cannot pray for healing

Our mission statement as a church is as follows: “to be a loving church family, worshipping God and transforming our community with the message of the Gospel.”

Our community, our city, our nation desperately needs the Good news. Every day on the evening news we see that violence is everywhere. Kansas City is ranked as one of the most violent cities in the nation.

Our city needs the Church to be the Church and share the Gospel. We cannot change a city by being nice people, only God can change a city and a nation, and that is only by the power of God as the Gospel message is understood and revealed to the world.

So, what does the Gospel mean to you?

Sermon June 18 2017 What time is it? Part 2

Across the world we are seeing that God is on the move. Millions of people are becoming followers of Jesus, many of them at the risk of losing their lives.

For information on what is happening in the middle east read this article: https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/muslims-turn-to-christ-in-unprecedented-numbers-pt-1/

In Asia, Africa and South America we are seeing millions coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and savior.

So you may say, what does all this have to do with our local church here in South Kansas City?

It is important to realize that we as a small church on the hill here in Kansas City, are a part of something glorious, something far bigger and more powerful than we can ever imagine.

Paul writing the churches in the region of Ephesus wrote to people that he had not met personally but he had heard about their faith and their love for the Lord. Reading Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul lets them know that he is praying for them to have the eyes of their hearts enlightened (v 18). He wants them to know that they are not simply a small insignificant group of believers in Asia minor, he wants them to understand that they are a holy people called by God, and that they are precious to God. Sometimes we need that reminder too, do you know how precious the church is to God? Do you know how precious Grace Point is to God?

But not only that, Paul reminds them of the power of God that is for them. He continues in verse 19 and 20 by encouraging them that no matter what forces are opposing them, the power of God is greater and He is able to sustain His church. Paul continues to elaborate that Jesus is far more powerful than any authority, power and dominion; not only in this age, but also in the age to come.

This same Jesus who is God himself, the all-powerful creator God, has been appointed as the head of the church. God placed all things under Jesus’ feet as we see in verse 22.

Finally, in verse 23 Paul says that the church is the body of Christ. We often say that as the church, we are the body of Christ, but do we really understand that? I doubt we can even begin to fathom what that means for us.

Jesus so identifies with his church, he is so committed to his church, that he calls us to be his ambassadors, his holy representatives in the world, having the fulness of Christ in us (see Colossians 1:24-27).

We as Grace Point Baptist church are part of something so much bigger and so much more powerful than we can ever imagine. And the best part of it is that if we simply remain faithful to what God has called us to do, he is responsible for the results as Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, the he will build his church. We need to simply ask him for the plan and do what he says.

There was a conversation that was common at Grace Point a few years ago, it was the conversation of when we are going to have to close the doors, sell the building and find another church.

I am so glad that we don’t have those conversations anymore, not because of any plan or strategy that we have implemented, but because of what Jesus is doing in his church. Jesus, our head is changing the conversation, he is bringing about new life.

The truth is that any talk about closing or running out of money is not grounded in an understanding of our true identity. Our identity as the body of Christ, this is his church and if we grasp, as Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus that we would have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, in order to see who we are in Christ. Knowing our true identity, we will quickly see that he alone is responsible for the results, our responsibility is to be fervent in prayer and quick to obey what he tells us to do.

I recently read a book by Andrew Davis and in it he writes that every church exists for one purpose alone, to bring Glory to God by making progress on two spiritual journeys.

The first is the internal journey of discipleship and growth towards maturity in Christ. Peter commands this in his second letter, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18. That is the journey that we are on as individuals, we will never complete this journey of spiritual maturity until Jesus comes again.

The second journey is the external journey of evangelism and missions.

The Great Commission that Jesus left the church in Matthew 28:19-20 still applies to us today.

A healthy church, as Davis writes has both journeys in balance; being committed to discipleship while at the same time being committed to missions and evangelism.

As we ask the question, what is the time on God’s calendar for Grace Point? This church that has over 106 years of fruitful ministry, what is the season we are in right now? What does the Lord have for us to be and to do in our ever-changing society?

In our culture, our traditional programs, simply don’t reach the community the way they once did. But a healthy church, functioning as the body of Christ will reach our community.

Programs are not the sign of a healthy church. Rather, relationships, community and being centered on the Gospel message are signs of a healthy church.

I loved the message that Bob Michaels shared three years ago, as he spoke about the transformational church he said; “the transformational church innovates to advance the Gospel.”

This is definitely an exciting time for us as a church as we see what God is doing in our midst and what He is doing all over the earth.

The Inter-generational Church Part 1 – March 26, 2017

The Inter-generational Church Part 1

Titus 2

A fascinating subject is the study of generations, how we classify people according to their age. If you have a certain amount of gray hair then our assumption is that you process decisions a certain way, if you are under a certain age, you may fit into a certain category of people. Because of these assumptions, we divide ourselves and others into generations.

Sociologists study these categories, and due to the incredible information age in which we live, the generations are changing quicker and becoming more segregated than ever before. Today in our churches we have the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, the Millennial Generation and finally the Generation Z. Each generation has characteristics that identify them and how they relate to leadership and culture in general.

For the church to be divided by those characteristics as the world has been, is not reflecting the true Body of Christ . As a church, we are meant to grow together, serve together and love together. Fulfilling the Great Commission will take all generations.

Most churches in America today tend to fall into two camps; the first is those who have decided to reach people over the age of fifty, and the truth is that these churches are declining in membership and many are closing their doors. The second camp has decided to primarily reach the younger generation, these churches are often growing in numbers but they are struggling to meet their budgets.

Neither of these models of church is correct, we need to be churches that keep the Gospel message as our central theme. As we do that, we will experience a unity that is uncommon, a unity that will break down any man-made barriers.

The 1st century church also faced challenges in the area of unity. When the Gentiles began to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christian Jews were faced with a real challenge, whether to accept them or to let them form their own churches and continue to be separated. However, God called them together into an example of unity that we follow to this day, admittedly some days better than others. As Paul wrote in Romans 12:3, humility is the key, realizing that each of us are only saved by the grace of God.

The Apostle Paul also wrote a letter to a man by the name of Titus in AD 66, who was overseeing the growth and planting of new churches in the island of Crete. The church in Crete was probably founded by people from Crete who heard Peter preach at Pentecost. These churches were multi-generational, however the churches in Crete were struggling because of false teaching that had crept in from people seeking to profit from the churches. Paul instructed Titus to teach the truth, to train up elders or pastors and to firmly establish the church on the truth of the Gospel. Paul gives Titus some very practical advice. He begins the second chapter with the statement, “teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine”. Paul encourages Titus to teach the truth, without truth, the church will not be healthy.

Paul tells Titus to teach four categories of people, the older men, the older women, the young women and the young men.

Starting with the older men, those over the age of 50, Paul says teach them to be “temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.” The senior men in the congregation are to exhibit a depth of character and self-control that comes with seniority and maturity. Paul is saying that the young people are looking to you; they want to see that you control your temper, that you are not impulsive and easily swayed, which is the stability that has marked the Silent Generation.

In addition to character, the senior men are to exhibit a sound faith. Demonstrating a faith that has been tested for some years, it is faith with some battle scars. Paul lists three cardinal Christian virtues – Faith, Love and endurance.
Faith – believing God, trusting Him for the future because you have seen that He has been faithful in your past.
Love – serving others, the silent generation is characterized by people who desire to serve others before they expect to be served.
Endurance – seniors know that it takes discipline and endurance to live the Christian life.

As Paul focuses on the older women he tells Titus to teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live. Paul is saying that the older women are to practice the presence of God in their lives, by allowing the presence of God to permeate every aspect of their lives (V3).

Then Paul tells Timothy to teach the older women to avoid moral failure by sitting around drinking wine and gossiping amongst themselves. The real problem is not the slander or the drinking; the real problem is the misuse of time. Rather than waste time doing what is wrong, “Teach what is good” (v 3b). The older women are to set an example, not only teachimg by verbal instruction, but by being a living example.

Paul tells Titus to instruct the older women to teach the younger women. Older women can relate and teach the younger women far better than Titus could. This is sound advice even for today because it builds up the family. Older ladies, we as a church need you; we need you to teach the younger ladies what God has shown you in your life.

If you are one of our senior citizens, what are you doing to sow into the next generation? The best way is to come alongside a young believer and disciple them. The younger generation of believers is passionate and hungry for reality, and they also want to be challenged. But they want to see the truth of the Gospel lived out in those who go before them.  Unfortunately, many of our churches are full of good traditions but weak on passion. Many people have the misconception that attending church is enough. People go to church, attend Sunday School and even serve in the church for decades, yet they are not growing in their relationship with the Lord (see Hebrews 5:12).

My prayer is that our young people look to our seniors because they see in their lives a hunger and passion for the Lord. Are you growing in your walk with the Lord? Because those coming behind you are watching to see if it is real for you, if you practice what you have learned (see Psalm 145:4).

We have an extraordinary opportunity to be a part of something that is uncommon in the world today, a world that draws deep dividing lines between the generations. We have the opportunity, because of the power of the Gospel to be united in vision and passion as the Body of Christ. We must not to be satisfied by being multi-generational, with multiple generations in one room; rather we are to become inter-generational, working together for the Gospel.

The Four Pillars of the Church Part V March 12, 2017

Two Words that Change Everything

As we close the series on the 4 pillars of the church, it is easy to see that when all the components of the church work together, there are times when it can look messy and disordered.

However, there are two words found in the book of Ephesians that turn this disorder into a masterpiece of God’s creation. Two words that bring together everything that we do, two words that transform the way we view each other, two words that transform the way in which we view the world around us.

There is a difference between the church as we see it, and the church as God sees it. God sees through our masks and our pretensions. Martin Luther was the first to make the distinction between the visible church and the invisible church. It is possible for people to be members of the visible church that are not actually part of the Body of Christ. A person is not automatically saved by being a long-time member of any church.

Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 25:31-46. We have already established that the church is the people of God, not a building or a weekly event. If we want to contain the church to nice orderly meetings, and social events, our church paradigm is too small.

Paul writing to the early church in Ephesus prays that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened (Ephesians 1:17-18). He prays that they would have their spiritual eyes opened, that they would grasp the extent and the implications of what God has called them to as the church.

Jesus is the head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23), he is the head of the church universal and invisible. This is a profound mystery (Ephesians 5:32).

At the beginning of chapter 2, Paul reminds the Ephesian church of their condition before Christ, they were dead. Paul is not referring to a particularly bad segment of society, he is referring to all humanity. The universal human condition is that we are all dead in our sins. This is not being physically dead, but it is a spiritual death, not being aware of the things of the Spirit.

Before we become Christians, we are dull to the Word of God, we are deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we have no love for God and we have no personal relationship with Jesus.

Without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ everything is meaningless. All debates and discussions on worship style and format is meaningless, giving of your finances to the church is meaningless, attending prayer meetings is meaningless, you may frequently volunteer, or you may be a deacon, a Sunday School teacher or a Life Group leader – if you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you may be a registered member of the church, but you are not a member of the church invisible, and you are not going to spend eternity with Jesus Christ, the head of the church.

Paul clarifies what it means to be dead in sin, and in verse 2 he writes; “when you followed the ways of this world.” Who are you following? Are you more interested in the outcome of a ball game, or the latest news on a TV personality than in knowing and following the will of God for your life? We live in exceptional times, never in the history of humanity has any generation been subjected to so much information. I recent survey revealed that only 19 percent of those who call themselves Christians read the Bible on a regular basis. Of that 19 percent, the average person reads the Bible 30 to 40 minutes a day, assuming they read the Bible about 5 days a week, that would be a total of three hours per week.

Now compare that to the amount of time you and I are subjected to the media; TV, newspaper, smartphones, radio, magazines, billboards and other mass media. One survey combining all the media available to us, listed that we are exposed to the media on average 12 hours per day. That is a stunning 84 hours a week. Now compare that to 3 hours reading God’s Word, no wonder the average church member struggles with temptation and sin.

Then thankfully the chapter makes a huge turn, and Paul goes from pointing out the depths of sin and God’s wrath and begins to focus on the grace of God. God’s wrath and God’s grace must be held together when we view God’s character. When we have a clear perspective on God’s hatred of sin, it makes his grace a richer treasure than we can ever imagine.

Verse 4 begins with a sentence that changes everything; “But because of his great love for us, God…”

our human minds cannot begin to comprehend how much God loves us.

Verses 5 and 6 are some of the most incredible verses in the Bible, in verse 5 we read; “God, made us alive with Christ…”. Then verse 6; “God raised us up with Christ…” and finally in verse 6; “and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ”

These three phrases are how we describe Jesus being raised from the dead, ascending into heaven and being seated on the throne. But Paul says that we were with Christ as believers. The two words I referred to earlier; “IN CHRIST”, change everything. It is impossible for us to comprehend all that this means for us, and we will only begin to fully understand what it means to be “in Christ” in the age to come as verse 7 states

Those two words, “in Christ” are incredibly important for our daily Christian walk, we need to pray and ask God for understanding, that is why Paul began this passage by praying for wisdom and revelation.

Paul goes on in verses 8 and 9, to make the statement that we are only saved by the grace of God, through faith. This faith is not a simple rational belief, no this is supernatural faith that comes from God.

Our salvation is not a transaction, we cannot do anything in order to be saved, even the faith that we need to believe in Jesus Christ, comes from God.

Paul concludes this section by stating; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works…” (v10). The Greek translated here handiwork, means a masterpiece or a work of art. We are created, we are not improved on or whitewashed over. We have become new creations in Christ Jesus.

Looking at a masterpiece of art, people want to know who the artist was. And so it must be with a Christian, our lives need to reflect the work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Do we see ourselves like that? Do we see our fellow Christians like that? Sometimes it is hard to see ourselves and other Christians as masterpieces but because we are “IN CHRIST”, God the Father sees the new creation and not the old broken vessel that we were. That is why Paul prays in verse 18; “that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened

The 4 Pillars of the Church – Part IV March 5, 2017

Joshua 21:43 to Joshua 22:9

If you are in business, you probably know the terms “mission statement” and “vision statement”.

A mission statement is the practical steps or short term goals, that we commit to do on a daily or weekly basis in order to fulfill the vision of the organization.

For the church, the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) is our vision statement, it does not change and it guides our decision making towards short term goals of our mission statement. As a church grows and the community around the church changes, it is not uncommon for the church mission statement to change to reflect the growth of the church. However, the vision statement never changes.

As the church, here at Grace Point our mission is to equip the saints for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4). A healthy church always looks beyond the four walls of the church.

But as individuals it is beneficial to have a personal mission statement. Do you have a mission statement? Have you stopped and written down some commitments that you would serve as a guide for your daily decision making?

From time to time I have written a personal mission statement. Usually I take some time on New Year’s Day to pray and write down a personal mission statement in a bullet point format, and these points help me to stay on track for the year ahead.

The Children of Israel had a mission. Their mission was to conquer and take possession of the Promised Land.

Joshua their leader had taken the directives of Moses and led the nation well, and as the nation obeyed God, He was faithful and blessed them with the land.

Looking at Joshua 21:43 to 22:9 we see that this was a good day in the history of the nation of Israel, all the battles were over and they occupied all the cities in the Promised land. This was a day of celebration. Notice verse 45; “Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled.”

As we read in chapter 22, Joshua calls together the forty thousand warriors from the 2 ½ tribes of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh. These were true heroes, looking back to Numbers 32, Moses had allowed them to inhabit the territory on the eastern side of the Jordan, but with one condition, that they help the rest of the nation fight and claim the Promised Land. They remained faithful to the cause of claiming the promised land for 7 ½ years. For 7 ½ years they left their families, their homes and livestock and fought on a mission on behalf of the rest of the tribes of Israel.

Why were they so loyal to their fellow Israelites? It wasn’t because of national allegiance, it was because they were loyal to the Lord God. It was His mission they were carrying out and they were fighting to glorify His name. This too should be the motivation for our lives (see Colossians 3:23).

Now their mission is over and Joshua sends them off with rewards and great wealth for their efforts. As he sends them he issues a warning in verse 5. This short charge that Joshua gave to these men was because Joshua was fearful that they would become separated from the rest of the tribes and drift away from the Lord God. Joshua knew that they would be tempted to fall into complacency and forget all that God had done for them. This is an all too common occurrence in the history of the nation of Israel, the history of other nations and even the church. Whenever the victory is secured and the promised land, whatever that might be, is achieved, we forget the mission and the purpose of God. We forget the faithfulness of God, the miracles of provision and direction.

Why has God placed Grace Point here on this hill in Kansas City, what is our mission?

As we step in obedience to the call of God on this church, the specific mission that God has for us in South Kansas City, we will be amazed how he blesses us with people who will be called to the mission of God here. Some will give six months to the mission, some will give a few years, others will give their whole lives. But we must understand that Jesus is the builder and not us (Matthew 16:18).

A legacy to live for will be a church that; reaches the lost, disciples and equips the saints and sends out the workers. If we focus on that God will take care of the rest.

But what about your personal mission?

Your personal mission is living your life with a very clear purpose and passion, being who God made you to be.

Having a personal mission keeps you accountable to God for every day that He gives you.

If you want a starting point to define your own mission – start with Luke 10:27: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Then look at how God has gifted you; what are your passions? How has God wired you?

It doesn’t mean that everything God calls you to will be comfortable or easy, most of the time it won’t be. But because he loves you so much, he is stretching you so that you make the very most of the days that he has given you.

Use your mission statement as a filter and when opportunities come your way, use the mission God has given you to see if that is what He would have you do. Our lives can so quickly become filled with doing good things, that we lose sight of the best that God has for us. This applies to the church as well, we can be so busy doing things, that we forget our primary calling as a church. A good mission statement is a filter.

Jesus is our perfect example of living a life on mission, he finished what he set out to do (see John 17:4).

Our goal for life must be that when Jesus returns, he will say; “Well done good and faithful servant, you completed the mission I gave you.”

Going Farming – Planting a church part 2 August 28, 2016

Church Planting Bulletin 2 digi-01

2 Thessalonians chapter 1

Healthy churches plant other churches”, is an often repeated statement, but the question must be asked; why do we plant churches?

Last week as we looked at Ephesians 3:10 we began to understand that the church is more significant than we can ever imagine.

2 Thessalonians is a brief letter that is closely linked to Paul’s first Epistle to the early church in Thessalonica. It was written within three or four months after the first letter, and intended to clear up confusion about the future. In the first letter and chapter 5, Paul wrote about the Day of the Lord – the day when Jesus will come again. The persecution that the early church was going through led some in the city to believe that the “Day of the Lord” had arrived. The early church was struggling under persecution and naturally concluded that Jesus was coming and the Day of the Lord was imminent.  Paul’s focus of the second letter was to teach the young church that trials are a part of the Christian life.

Paul commends them that their faith is growing in verse 3, but then he addresses the trials they are going through in verse 4. Paul tells them that he is proud of them for persevering and not giving in. Paul understood the secret that James wrote about in James 1:2-4.

God’s wisdom is that we go through trials not as punishment, but rather to cause us to lean into God and trust in His grace. Trials deepen our faith and through trials we grow in our Christian walk.

Not only that, trials and hardships are one of the most powerful tools to show unbelievers that your faith is real. It is really easy to say that Jesus is my all and sing; “all I need is you Lord!” when things are going well. But when the challenges mount up, people are watching to see if you really live what you say you believe.

The reality is that church planting is hard and there is a lot of sacrifice and trials along the way. It requires perseverance.

So why do we plant churches?

Firstly, plant churches not because the city needs a church like another convenience store or a bowling alley. No, the city needs a church because Jesus is coming back.

If the first century church in Thessalonica were awaiting the imminent return of Christ, how much more can we see the Day and the hour approaching. All we have to do is read Matthew 24, where Jesus explains the signs of the end times, where he talks about nations fighting against nation, famine, earthquakes, terrible global events and then He will come again in glory (See Matthew 24:19-20).

Jesus is coming back soon and we plant churches in dark places because it is the most effective way to reach the lost and disciple them, drawing people out of darkness into the family of God. I really believe that there is not much time. We need to be reaching the lost.

And then secondly, we plant churches for His Glory. Look at 2 Thessalonians 1:2. Remember that God is revealing his wisdom, his grace, and his glory to the universe through the church. Are we revealing the Glory of God here at Grace Point? Does your church reflect the glory of God?  Look at the powerful benediction that Paul penned in Ephesians 3:20-21; “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

We plant churches, for the Glory of God.

We need to be a church that displays the glory of God, not because of anything special that we have or do, absolutely not. We reveal the Glory of God when we lift the name of Jesus high. When we are known for being followers of the King of Kings and not merely a gathering of the community.

So what is our expectation in planting a church? For some it is simply a financial decision of sending a family with money to support them, and all we see is the drop in our bank balance.

But my prayer is that we could have a bigger vision. Are we planting with the dream of a harvest? Are we planting for the glory of God, for the name of Jesus?

My prayer is that by planting a seed in the city of Cincinnati, we could stand before Jesus on judgment day and say; “Lord, this is what we did with the talent you gave us.”

It is all about the glory of God and that Jesus is coming again soon. Let us pray for our city and the city of Cincinnati as we pray for our nation.

Revival Part 4 – Why we need Revival.

tounge-of-fire-32

As we look through church history and even in the first century church, we see that the church does not always experience and uninterrupted and sustained move of God. There seems to be a waxing and a waning in the spiritual zeal of the church. As we look at the seven churches in the book of Revelation, we see that six out of seven had quenched the Spirit of God and were reprimanded for that.

As we look at the church in the USA today, we see many churches in a state of decline. This has been going on for decades. The Gen X and the Millennial Generation have abandoned the call to attend traditional church. They are not interested in simply attending a church that looks like a social club or a lodge. Particularly Millennials are looking for meaning in life, their generation is marked by people who deeply desire to sacrificially participate in something that makes a difference. In essence they are looking for reality and a fresh move of the Spirit of God.

As we see the decline in the church, we see a rise in Muslim fundamentalism, again, it is young people who want a cause to fight for and a cause to die for.

The world is hungry for truth, new cults seem to appear each week, why? Because people have a God shaped vacuum in their lives that only the Holy Spirit will fill. We as human beings were designed to be in communion with God, we will never be satisfied with anything less.

The church needs revival in order to reawaken the power of God in His church. To point people to the one true God. The Holy Spirit will move in power and we will see millions of people drawn to Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior.

This is not a competition to see who gets the most followers, it is not a battle to see if we can get more converts than the Islam. In the end only the Christians will win. There is only one way to Heaven and only one true God. Our purpose is to be a church that points people to the truth. As we saw revival takes place when people are so moved by the Holy Spirit that they will run to the Christians and ask how they can be saved. That is why we need a revival.