Sermon Sunday May 23, 2021 – Mountain Top Experiences part 5

Click on the camera to view the full message video

1 Kings 19:1-18

Psychologists talk about the “fight or flight” response to fear, how we respond when afraid. Fear itself is not a bad thing, it depends on where it leads us.

In 1 Kings 18, the prophet Elijah was used by God to challenge the prophets of Baal. He won a decisive victory as he stood courageously against the 850 false prophets of the pagan gods. Elijah was bold and aggressive, but within a matter of hours this brave prophet was running for his life in fear. Elijah fled from the threats of the wicked queen Jezebel. He began by running to Beersheba in Judah and then on to the wilderness, where it seems he intended to die.

He quickly went from victory to intense depression. It is not uncommon for people serving the Lord to experience an intense struggle after a powerful time of being used by God. Immediately following a mission trip or a time of ministry, is when a believer is most vulnerable to discouragement. Satan loves to come in and attack when we are spiritually spent, that is when we need to be on our guard for the temptations and lies of the enemy.

Elijah was discouraged, focusing on the fact that his life was threatened and that all he had done at Mt Carmel had been for nothing. But, in his weakness, at his most vulnerable, God meets Elijah and sends an angel to feed him. He eats heavenly food in the same wilderness where God fed the children of Israel many years before. As Elijah eats and recovers, the Lord gives him direction and a plan to move forward. One of the best ways to defeat discouragement is to have a fresh vision, something new on which to focus our attention.

In verse 8 we read that the food he ate gave him the strength to walk for 40 days, covering two-hundred miles to Mount Sinai. The mountain where God gave the Law to the nation of Israel.

At Sinai, Elijah has one of the most incredible mountain top encounters in the Bible.

The Word of the Lord comes to Elijah and asks him a rhetorical question, “what are you doing here Elijah?”, 1 Kings 19:9. Elijah twists the truth and distances himself from the nation of Israel blaming the people for the action and threats of Jezebel. He continues to say that he is the only prophet left who follows the Lord, however, we know from chapter 18 that this is not true.  

But God seems to ignore this deviation from the truth and tells him to stand at the entrance of the cave. God causes three powerful displays of His control over nature, a powerful wind, a strong earthquake and a consuming fire. All three of these natural events are attributed to the presence of God in the Bible, but at this time, they are just the preceding the Word of the Lord.  

Then Elijah hears a low whisper, a sound that he was waiting for. God speaks and the dialogue from 9 and 10 are repeated. There are so many similarities to the encounter that Moses had with God on the same mountain, when God gave Moses the Law. God told him to come up the mountain and the Lord spoke to him one to one. When God brought Moses up the mountain, it was to receive the Law. Now when God brought Elijah up the mountain, it was to revive the Law.

God again seems to ignore the complaints of Elijah, and gives him what seems to be a confusing mission in verses 15 and 16. He must go and anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as king over Israel and he must anoint Elisha to take his place as a prophet. However, as we read further in the Bible, God uses these three leaders to bring punishment on the nation of Israel (see 2 Kings 10:32). Elijah was given the commission to go back and continue the work of seeing the nation of Israel coming back to the one true God. God used Elijah’s fear to bring him to this point of revelation.

One of the most repeated commands in the Bible is, “do not fear”. And a case can be made that in certain circumstances, it is sinful to fear. But simply to say, “do not be afraid”, does not automatically take the fear away. Fear can paralyze us, and it can even become an idol. There are real practical things to fear, like falling off a tall building, or encountering a wild predator in the forest. Fear is a gift from God as it preserves our lives.

Elijah was overcome by fear in his weakened state, but his fear became the very thing that drove him to being restored and totally dependent on God. This account in Elijah’s life is not a story of weakness or burnout, as it is often taught. Rather, it is an account of the Gospel demonstrated in the Old Testament. Elijah was driven to the end of himself and into the arms of God to be cared for like a weak, dependent child.

Our culture honors and respects strength, courage, and independence. But the kingdom of God is about dependence not independence. We cannot be saved by our strength, our good works, or by anything that we might have to offer. Jesus said of the children around him in Matthew 19:14, “…the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to these little ones”. We need to learn what it is to be crucified with Christ, coming to him in our weakness and brokenness.

When fear drives us to Jesus and to the Gospel, it is not a reaction to the situation, it is a revelation. Elijah had to be brought to the end of himself, to become totally dependent on God. Only then did the Lord commission him and give him the next assignment.

Jesus died on the cross so that we do not have to fear the wrath of God. Jesus rose from the dead so that we do not have to fear death.  

What are you afraid of today?

Bring it to the cross.

Sermon, Sunday March 7, 2021 – Chosen!

click on the camera to watch the full sermon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Someone chose to adopt him into their family.

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

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

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

January 17, 2021 The Power in Weakness

Click on the camera to view the full message video

2 Corinthians 12:1-10

How easily do you admit to weakness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gate of the Year – January 4, 2021

New Year 2021

At the dawn of a new year, it is customary for news commentators and talk show hosts to throw out their pearls of wisdom with respect to what we have to look forward to in the new year.

Many take time to look back and then look forward. However, so few take the time to look up.

If we have learned anything from the past ten months, it must be that the future is uncertain.

Over the past ten months, we have seen a dramatic shaking taking place in the Church. Many, who for decades attended religiously, have fallen away from the church and we may never see them again. However, others who did not formerly see the value in gathering together as a body of believers, have committed themselves wholeheartedly to the fellowship of likeminded followers of Jesus.  

Is it possible that God is pruning His church? (John 15). If God is indeed pruning His church, we need to be aware that how we spend our personal time is critical. What I am talking about is our personal walk with the Lord, our personal spiritual disciplines. The disciplines of prayer, reading the Bible, fasting, giving, serving and worship, to name a few.

Here is a good article on personal spiritual disciplines; “Spiritual Disciplines – Don Whitney”

The purpose of spiritual disciplines is godliness as we see from 1 Timothy 4:7and 8.

The purpose of the pruning by the Vinedresser is to produce fruit, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”. John 15:7-8.

As we look ahead in 2021, we certainly don’t know what the future holds. However if we abide in Christ, we can be assured that our Heavenly Father will hold us.

At this time every year, I am drawn to read a short poem by Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957), called “God Knows”. I think that it is more meaningful this year. Will you join with me and place your uncompromising faith in the hand of God in 2021? I believe that we will see much fruit and growth in the Body of Christ.

God Knows

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart be still:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.

God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.

Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill.

Sermon Sunday December 27, 2020 The Hope of Christmas Part 2

click on the camera to view the full sermon video

Have you ever had someone come to you and tell you about something that would happen to you in your future that was impossible to know or predict? We call this prophecy, a special word of knowledge from God, given for encouragement.  

It is about that time when people begin to predict what will happen in 2021. However, if we have learnt anything in the last twelve months, we know this is an exercise in futility.

And yet, there are many so-called prophetic voices, people sharing their musings on social media. We need to pray for wisdom and discernment being careful not to place our hope in mere man.  

We see time from a singular perspective. We can look a few days or weeks ahead clearly. But God is not bound by time, He not only sees the road from a different vantage point, but he also sees the entire universe and all of time in one sweep of his perspective.

The Old testament itself points to the coming Messiah. The Old Testament has over three hundred prophecies by multiple authors pointing towards Jesus. Most of these were completely fulfilled during the life of Jesus on the earth. But some of them refer to the great Day of the Lord when Jesus will come again in judgement.

The overall message of these Old Testament prophets is that the people must wait for one more King. He will be the greatest of all and he will bring an end to all struggles and wars.

This time of the year we will often read Micah 5:2, but the verses that surround this verse seem to be disconnected. In Micah 5 verse 1, the prophet begins with a call to arms. He mentions the city of troops, which is probably Jerusalem as the seat of power and the place where most of the military were staying at the time. Micah predicts that the city will come under attack.  He predicts that this attack will succeed and that the enemy will strike the king of Israel on the cheek with a rod. Most scholars believe that this was foretelling the attack on Jerusalem by the Babylonians and the capture and torture of King Zedekiah. Thus, the first verse is a prophecy of the impending defeat of Jerusalem and the exile of the tribe of Judah which took place around 586BC, pointing to something that would take place around 100 years after Micah.

Then we have the very familiar verse 2. We know this verse refers to Jesus, the promised Messiah who will be born in Bethlehem in the region of Ephrathah. The name Bethlehem means, “house of bread”. Interestingly, Jesus called himself the Bread of Life and it is no mistake that he was born in the “house of bread”. This King will be born in the same town that David came from, he would be in the line of David. The people were hoping for another king like David.

But then Micah mentions that this rulers’ origins will be from old, from ancient times. The literal translation says, “days of antiquity”. The origins of this king will be before the beginning of time. This king will be one who transcends time. As we know from history, the second verse points to the first century, almost 700 years after Micah’s prophecy.

Looking at verse 3, it would seem that this verse refers to Mary and the birth of Jesus, however there are two other clues that point to the fact that this might be another time in history.  Verse 3 begins with, “Therefore Israel will be abandoned until…”.  Israel ceased to be a nation until 1948, when the Jewish nation was restored. And the last part of the verse; “and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites”, is something that we have seen taking place for the last 72 years.  Many scholars feel that this birth that is predicted is the birth of the nation of Israel that was witnessed in the 20th century, some 2700 years after the prophecy.

As we turn to verse 4, we see that this ruler will be one who stands, meaning that he will be established and unmovable as the King, and that his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. Micah is not prophesying about the first time Jesus came to the earth, he is writing about the second coming of Jesus. When Jesus will establish his throne on the earth, and he will reign over all the earth There will be no doubt of his majesty and authority.

Looking at the prophecy of Micah from this perspective, we see that it is relevant for us today, because it points to our future as well as he was inspired to write by the Holy Spirit.

These are the words of God to us, as they were to the people of the tribe of Judah, who were about to be invaded by the Babylonians, and to the remnant looking for and awaiting the Messiah who came in the form of a little baby born in a stable in Bethlehem. These were the words of God that confirmed the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. And these are the words of God to us as believers all over the world, to encourage us to keep looking ahead and keep looking down the road because Jesus is coming back again.

As we see with the prophetic writing of the past, people missed it. Jesus came after 400 years of silence from God, and even the most respected scholars of the day missed it. Those who studied the prophetic writings did not recognize the Messiah when he came in the form of a Baby in Bethlehem.

But I can assure you that when Jesus comes back again there will be no doubt as to who he is, the Lion of the tribe of Judah is coming back to rule and reign in glory.

The only question we need to be concerned about is whether or not we are ready.

Only by making Jesus Christ lord of your life, will prepare you for the second coming of Jesus.

Are you ready?   It could be today.

Sermon, Sunday November 15, 2020 Spirit Filled Families

To view the full sermon, click on the camera

As a church we can proclaim to be fiercely pro-life, from conception to the grave, but sometimes we can be guilty of categorizing the value of people based on their productive ability.

And this is never more prevalent in the area of our children. Our children can be noisy and messy, but they are of inestimable value in the Kingdom of God (see Mark 10:13-14).

We are so blessed to have so many children in our church family and I believe that they are our greatest responsibility. The training up of children in the ways of the Lord is the primary responsibility of the parents, but it is all of our responsibility. The community of believers all bear the responsibility of caring for and setting examples for our children.

In the first century Roman Empire, children were not valued at all. It was legal for a father to discard a newborn onto the trash heap if he decided not to keep the child. But the early church was radically different to their culture and had a high regard for children, as should we. There is no greater responsibility than to be entrusted with the short time that we must teach and mold these children in the ways of the Lord.

Paul begins by addressing children and telling them to obey their parents, “…for this is right”, Ephesians 6:1.

This seems obvious, but sadly our post-modern culture would re-write this verse to say, “Parents, obey your children, for this will keep them happy and bring peace to the home.

When Paul says, “for this is right”, he is simply stating that this is the ordained order of nature. It is part of the natural law of God written on every human heart. If you study history, virtually every civilization in history has regarded this natural law as indispensable for a stable society.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church he adds the phrase, “…for this pleases the Lord” Colossians 3:20.

Now, this must not be a blanket statement that parents use for abuse. Our foremost authority is to Jesus, and if parents instruct their children to do things that are obviously contrary to the Word of God, then the child’s first line of obedience is to the Lord.

Paul writes in verse 2 that children must honor their parents. To honor means to show respect and love. Children do not honor when they talk back to their parents or mock them. This is not simply wrong; it is dishonoring to God Himself who has given you those parents.

Paul was referring to the fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12 and in Exodus 21 anyone who cursed their parent or hit them, was to be put to death!

This commandment does not only apply to a certain age group, God requires all of us to honor our parents. 

Verse 4 has a particular challenge to parents, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4. The word translated as fathers, is translated in other passages as “parents”, so it is safe to assume that Paul is referring to both parents in the role of raising their children.

This verse is more than simply an instruction not to make children angry, it is an instruction to parents to directly teach children and to disciple them in the ways of God. Our society has abdicated the responsibility of raising our children to the public-school systems and we wonder why society is failing in so many areas.

Parents taking the responsibility for the training of their children is the way God intends society to function (Proverbs 6:20).

In the ancient world, fathers had absolute control, they could abuse and even kill their children without any repercussions. We don’t have that challenge in our culture; however, we can be guilty of causing anger and discouragement in our children. Our children are often neglected and fail to receive the love and approval that will cause them to thrive in society. We can easily discourage our children by comparing them to other children or by using sarcasm and ridicule. Conversely, nothing causes a child to thrive like positive encouragement and unconditional love.

The Apostle Paul writes that parents are to, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4b.

Contemporary parent counsellors and sociologists teach that we are to be more hands-off in the training of children. We are told to be non-directive and let them, “find their own way”.

Let me assure you, someone has an agenda for your children. Satan and his demons love to find children who have been left to, “find their own way”. Parents, it is our primary responsibility to train and instruct our children in the ways of the Lord. Danny Akin says about parenting, “have fun and talk about Jesus a lot”

We must teach our children that Jesus is Lord, and he is the ultimate and highest good. We must teach our children faith by living it in front of them. Involve our children in the process of praying through important life decisions. Parents, we can talk all day about living under the lordship of Jesus Christ, but unless our children see it in our lives, they will never make it their own.

Sadly, so many young people have left the church the moment they graduated from high school. I believe the primary reason is that they see the church as a social construct or a social club that their parents belong to. They do not see the power of the Gospel on display and the lifestyle of faith that the Bible talks about.

Parents lead your homes by faith and involve your children in the journey.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.

Psalm 127:1a

Parenting is only possible with God and it is a daily walk by faith. We need to learn to commit our children to the Lord daily in prayer as we look to Him for grace and wisdom.

Sermon, Sunday November 8, 2020 – Spirit Filled Marriage.

Click on the camera to view the sermon video

Ephesians 5:22-33

The starting point for discussing any relationship is found in Ephesians 5:18-21. Living a Spirit-filled life leads to healthy relationships and communities.  

Ephesians 5:22 to 24 has been challenged, thrown out, and ignored, because it doesn’t seem to sit well with our 21st century, post-modern, post-sexual revolution era. However, I believe it is extremely relevant to our culture. This passage gives us instruction in Spirit-filled marriages and the eternal purpose of God in marriage.

Sadly, in the 21st century, we must define marriage as it has been torn apart and challenged by our secular society. Marriage is ordained by God for an eternal purpose; thus, Satan hates marriage and has a specific purpose in destroying marriage.

John Stott wrote a definition of marriage: “Marriage is an exclusive heterosexual covenant between one man and one woman, ordained and sealed by God preceded by the leaving of parents, consummated in sexual union, issuing in a permanent mutually supportive partnership, and normally crowned with the gift of children

In Ephesians 5:22-24 Paul addresses wives:Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Our culture struggles with this language of submission, but this is not about subjection or controlling power. Rather, as followers of Jesus, every aspect of our life is about submission.  

The key is in verse 25; a wife is called to submit to her husband who in turn is willing to die for her.  

While some may view submitting to one’s husband’s authority as something negative, a more accurate way of looking at marital roles is to understand that wives are called to follow their husband’s loving leadership.” – Andreas Kostenberger.

Husbands and wives have equal value, but different roles within marriage. When both are fulfilling their roles, marriage is a beautiful thing to observe. If we struggle with these verses, we have to go back to the basics, this is God’s authoritative word to us and He does not instruct us to do anything that is outside of His perfect nature and for our good.

We must be careful to reject any teaching that says that women are subservient to men, or that the husband is a form of a CEO in the marriage. Submission must be voluntary and follows sacrificial love. Christian wives freely follow the loving leadership of a faithful husband, they should not be forced to do so for a tyrannical husband.

What does it mean to submit? To put the will of the other person ahead of your own, to prefer the other person.

What does it mean to love? To put the needs of the other person ahead of your own needs, to prefer one another.

Love and submission are two sides of the same coin.

In Ephesians 5:25-33 Paul addresses husbands.

The first instruction we find is that Husbands are to display Christ-like love. Christlike love is a sacrificial love, it is the love that took Jesus to the cross to give his own life for the church.

Men, marriage is a call to die to self. It is daily giving yourself away for the good of your bride. It is sacrificial and preferential love.

You cannot love your wife like Christ loved the church and be passive. This is loving by serving and giving of your time and energy.

It is also a sanctifying love, as we see in verse 26. This does not mean that a husband can atone for sins, only Jesus can do that. But men are to be the spiritual leader in the home. Encouraging their wife and children to read and to allow the word of God to bring transformation.

Married men, are our wives more like Christ because she’s married to us?

Or is she more like Christ in spite of us?

Husbands are instructed to prefer their wives and care for her emotional and physical needs as we read in verse 28 and 29. The husbands’ role is not to simply occupy the couch and expect to be waited on. Our role is to care for the health and the needs of our spouse as we would care for our own bodies.

So that is the passage as it is traditionally taught, but there is a greater and more important message in this text. There is an eternal purpose in marriage.

The key is found in verse 32, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Paul writes that this mystery is profound and beyond our understanding. When God created the world, and the covenant of marriage, he had Christ and the church in mind. Not the other way round.

Christ loves the church (v25), he gave his life for the church (v25), he sanctifies the church (v26), he cleanses the church (v26), he will present the church in splendor (v27), he provides and cares for the church (v29).

Marriage is not the ultimate, Christ is. If, the starting point for marriage is my own selfish desires, then I am starting at the wrong place. Marriage exists for the glory of Christ.

Marriage in this life is a shadow of the ultimate marriage of Christ and his bride the church. Christ is ultimate, not our husbands or our wives, our primary loyalty must be to Jesus.

Marriage is ordained by God for the glory of God. Therefore, He is the source of love and the only one who can cause a marriage to flourish and proclaim Christ to the World. The eternal purpose of marriage is to point us to the Gospel message. The church submitting to the headship of Christ, and Christ who already gave his life for the church. Christ is now sanctifying the church, his bride and preparing her for his return and the great marriage feast (Revelation 19).

As followers of Jesus, we need to celebrate marriage, we must pray for marriages, we must fight for marriages, because they have eternal significance.

Sermon, Sunday November 1 2020 A Case for Faith

Click on the Camera to watch the full sermon

In November of 2020, we have no shortage of issues that can cause anxiety and fear. But Psalm 46 gives us a clear case for faith.

This Psalm was written around 700 years before Christ, by the sons of Korah to commemorate a tremendous victory that God won for the city of Jerusalem.

The Assyrian army under King Sennacherib, had surrounded the city, threatening total destruction. This took place under the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah.

The Assyrians had already destroyed the northern Kingdom of Israel and now they continued their march southwards towards Judah and Jerusalem. You can read this fascinating account in 2 Kings 18 and 19.

The situation looked terrible, the greatest army in the world was laying siege to Jerusalem and the people were in fear. There was no hope for deliverance, all would surely be lost.

But the Lord had raised up Hezekiah as a man of faith.

A letter was written by Sennacherib instructing Hezekiah to surrender, because his god was no different than the other gods of the nations the Assyrians had already destroyed. Sennacherib was taunting the one true God. When Hezekiah received the letter, he went to the temple and prayed, laying the letter before God. A few nights later, the angel of the Lord attacked the Assyrian camp and killed 185000 Assyrian soldiers. The victory was the Lords, the city of Jerusalem was saved (Psalm 46:8-9).

Hezekiah the King faced an impossible situation, but he submitted the letter from Sennacherib to the Lord.

What “letter” have you received that is causing you anxiety? It might be a doctors’ diagnosis, a foreclosure letter, a medical bill, or an unexpected layoff from your work. Whatever it is, lay it before the Lord and leave it there allowing the Lord to work a miracle.

This is taking fear and submitting it in faith to God. When we looked at Scripture, we see that it is a command of God that we must not fear. Jesus taught in Matthew 6 that we must not be anxious over anything.  

Fear is a subtle form of idolatry because when we put fear of the unknown over the power of God, fear becomes an idol.

King David knew how to do this, he had many situations that he took to the Lord and left them there. Psalm 131 is a wonderful picture of how David feels after he has taken his problem to the Lord. The key to this peace is a lifestyle of prayer.

Prayer that comes from a relationship with our Heavenly father. God is not limited by us; however, He chooses to orchestrate the events of the world in response to the prayers of His children. This is a mystery that we cannot begin to fathom. Why the eternal Creator invites His creation into the process of governing the universe, but He does!

I have been blessed to travel to many different countries during extraordinary seasons of transition, most of the time I was not aware of what was going on. I was simply there, joining with other believers in prayer. Looking back, I have been amazed at seeing what God did in those situations.

There is much anxiety in America right now, we see it on the streets of our cities. As followers of Jesus Christ how do we navigate these turbulent times? What it really boils down to is where do we place our hope? What is God calling the church to do in this time in America? We are called to pray.  

God can do more in answer to one simple prayer in faith than one-hundred years of political campaigning.

Psalm 46:1 is a powerful declaration of the fact that God is a proven source of help and He will never fail. Is God your refuge and strength?

King Hezekiah prayed to God for help and God responded in power.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.

Psalm 46:6

God imply utters His voice and the earth melts. The power of the Creator over His creation!

The world is still before God as we see in verse 10.

Be still and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

Being still before the Lord is a good place to start fighting our fear. However, if we do not know God, we will always live lives in fear. Without the knowledge of God, life is a futile treadmill of fear and uncertainty.

God promises to be exalted across the whole earth. Here is the amazing mystery, we are invited to participate in God’s name being exalted in the whole earth. As we pray and as we go and tell others about Jesus, God is being exalted.

What will it take to get you to be a person of prayer?

The most powerful and significant way to spend our time is prayer and so often we use it as a last resort.

Stop trying to win political arguments or post things on social media that make no difference to peoples’ eternal wellbeing.

Pray for repentance and healing in our land

Pray for a powerful move of God and an awakening in the land.

Sermon, Sunday October 25 2020 Faith and the Elections.

Click on the Camera icon to view the sermon video

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.

Sermon, Sunday May 31, 2020 Are You Healthy?

Click on the camera to watch a video of the full message.

Ephesians 4:1-6

Is your church healthy?

The first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians address our position as followers of Jesus. The next three chapters speak about the very practical aspects of our Christian walk. We need to know our position before we can look at our walk.

Paul urges the church in verse one to walk worthy of their calling. Being a follower of Jesus is not a religion or becoming a nice person who follows a set of rules, becoming a Christian is about becoming a new person. Walking a different walk.

The term Christian literally means, “little Christs”. The more we walk with him, the more we look like him, daily being changed into his image.

Paul knew who he was. In verse 1 of chapter 4 he begins, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord…”

Paul didn’t say, “I therefore a prisoner of Rome”. He didn’t let his temporary situation define his position. Paul was a prisoner for Jesus and he surrendered his life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. His position with Christ had led him to be temporarily imprisoned in Rome.

Paul was not defined by His temporary situation. Are you defined by your current work situation, relationships, or financial status?

If you are defined by your temporary situation, you will never know what it means to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.

As followers of Jesus we have a common call, we are all saved by grace alone in Christ alone. We share a common experience of grace. And this is what unites us.

A healthy church is marked by unity.

When a church struggles with a lack of unity, it is often because they have taken their eyes off their common call and identity.

In verses 2 and 3, Paul explains how to practically walk worthy of the calling by listing five characteristics of the follower of Jesus: humility, gentleness, patience, love, and unity.

Jesus exemplified these 5 characteristics in his life on the earth:

Humility (Philippians 2:5-8); Gentleness (Matthew 11:28-29); Patience (1 Timothy 1:16); Love (Romans 5:8); and Unity (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus is our example of how to walk as Christians. The more we look like Jesus individually, the more we live like Jesus relationally, and the more united the church will be.

Looking at each of these individually:

Humility

Paul constantly refers to humility as an essential characteristic of being a Christian in his letters. Humility was not common in the first century, Greek literature shows us that pride was highly valued and admired. We live in such a similar time. If people a thousand years from now look at our culture, they would see a culture obsessed with our own self-image.  

Our culture screams, “exalt yourself, pamper yourself, think about yourself first”. But being a follower of Jesus calls us to walk in the opposite spirit (Philippians 2:3).

Tim Keller wrote, “the essence of gospel-humility is not thinking more of myself or thinking less of myself, it is thinking of myself less”.

Gentleness:

This does not mean weakness or timidity, rather it is self-control.

Moses, arguably the greatest leader in the whole Bible, was the role model of meekness and gentleness (Numbers 12:3).

Moses had a special relationship with the Lord. He knew that God would defend him, and God was the source of his strength.

Galatians 5 tells us that gentleness is a fruit of the spirit and it is the way we are to live as believers.

Patience:

For some of us, no matter how fast the microwave heats up the milk, it will never be fast enough. A lack of patience is a display of a lack of humility and a lack of love. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible says that love is patient.

So how do we cultivate patience? By relying on the Holy Spirit and meditating on the patience that Christ has shown us (2 Peter 3:9).

Accepting one another in love:

Out of relationship comes grace. Unity in the church is impossible without loving acceptance of our differences. The Bible says in 1 Peter 4:8, “Love covers a multitude of sins”

Diligently keeping unity.

Verse 3 says, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Notice Paul doesn’t write, “work towards unity”. This is an active maintaining, not a passive resting in unity.

We don’t create unity. We have unity because of the Holy Spirit. God unites us as the body of Christ, our role is to keep the unity.

How do we keep unity?

  • By walking in humility and preferring others.
  • By renouncing harshness and walking in gentleness towards others
  • By setting aside our own agenda and walking in patience.
  • By setting aside our own expectations and walking in love.

Anytime the church lacks unity, it is because we have stopped living in Christlike humility, patience, gentleness, and love.

Then in verses 4 to 6, we have what was possibly an early church creed, which includes seven “one” statements.

One body: the church is the body of Christ.

One Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the one who creates unity and then empowers us to maintain it.

One hope: We share a common hope in Jesus Christ. This hope is not wishful thinking, and the Greek word used here is one of trusting in a certain outcome. Jesus is coming again and those who put their trust in him will be saved.

One Lord: The early believers, by stating that Jesus is Lord, they were proclaiming that Caesar is not Lord. This could mean the death penalty. By declaring Jesus is Lord, we are giving him authority and lordship over every decision of our lives.

One faith: These are the essential truths of our faith.

One baptism: This may refer to the act of being baptized in water, but it probably means what John the Baptist was referring to in Luke 3:16.

One God and Father: We have been adopted into the family of God. Regardless of our ethnicity, we are all part of one body.

This creed includes the doctrine of the trinity. The three in one, Father son and Holy Spirit are in perfect unity. The trinity not only creates unity but serves as the ultimate picture of unity.

A healthy church maintains unity.