Sermon September 16, 2018 – Re-Up part 5 – Fellowship

1 John 1

Over the last four weeks, we have been looking at various spiritual disciplines, and making personal commitments to Re-Up in the areas of Bible reading, prayer and evangelism. However, to make these commitments without support and encouragement will lead to discouragement. What we need is to re-up to fellowship to encourage one another in our personal lives. Fellowship is so much more than a handshake, a hug, or a pat on the back, fellowship in the church is doing life together, challenging one another and picking one another up when we stumble.

John starts this letter and it sounds very much like the Luke 24, where Jesus revealed himself to the disciples, he spoke to them, ate with them and allowed them to touch him in order to reveal his full and complete resurrection.

John begins this letter by making an overwhelming statement of the fact that he was a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He makes the strongest possible case for the fact that he is a credible witness and what he is about to write, needs to be taken seriously.

He takes the first two verses to lay his foundation and then in verse three he explains why, “so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ”.

One of the primary reasons for John’s letter was to emphasize fellowship, the importance and the value of fellowship in the life of the church.

John writes that fellowship with each other is interconnected with our fellowship with God. As we walk in fellowship with each other, we have fellowship with God the Father and the Son. As we walk in fellowship with God, we grow in fellowship with each other. If either of those connections begins to fail, it affects the other.

In verses six to ten, John bounces back between and forth between walking in darkness and sin, and walking in repentance, light and freedom. 1 John 1:6, says that you are lying to yourself and to those around you if you claim to be in fellowship with God, yet you are allowing sin in your life. And in verse 8 and 10, the Apostle John is blunt and direct. If you say you are currently without sin, then you are deceiving yourself, because we all sin and we are all prone to sin. Daily we must repent of our sins and ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins. Our sin doesn’t only affect our fellowship with God, it affects our fellowship with each other. Our relational fellowship is hurt when we give in to sin in our lives. It may be imperceptible at the start, but eventually our relationships in the body of Christ will be destroyed by our sin.

Verses 7 and 9 give the beautiful contrast, as we walk in the light, allowing the light of the Holy Spirit to destroy the darkness of sin in our lives, our fellowship is restored with God and with each other and the blood of Jesus purifies us from our sins. Please note the order of this verse, walking in fellowship or walking in the light comes first and then the blood of Jesus purifies us. We have this crazy notion that we have to be sinless to be a part of the church. John responds to this in verse 8 by saying that we are deceived, and the truth is not in us.

We don’t have to be pure to walk in fellowship, but we do have to walk in the light, admitting our struggles and our weaknesses. The church is a place for sinners in need of grace, not perfect people. If you are waiting to be good enough to get connected to a group or a fellowship, you never will, and when you finally do, you will find that we are all sinners moving forward by the grace of God. Because we have a wonderful promise from God, found in verse 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This is one of the greatest verses in the Bible.

The blood of Jesus is what provides the way for fellowship with God and fellowship with each other. There are no higher levels of Christian, or lower-class Christians, we are all sinners desperate for a savior and saved by the blood (see 1 Corinthians 10:12).

God has put us in community, so that we can build one another up and walk together through the challenges of life. Fellowship is one of the keys to the effectiveness of the church. A church will never be able to grow beyond its fellowship. If the fellowship is healthy in the church, it will continue to minister and grow in maturity and in number.

The Greek word for fellowship is Koinonia, it is a beautiful word that means the sharing of common life. Not just the sitting next to each other on a Sunday morning, social gatherings or drinking coffee together, fellowship is standing with someone through the tough times in life. Fellowship is also staying in community even after a disagreement. True fellowship is fighting for restoration and unity even after a disagreement.

It all stems from our fellowship with God. As children of God we have two dimensions to our standing with God, we have a relationship which is based on the righteousness of Jesus. The blood of Jesus in faith brings us into a right standing with God. Romans 8 says we are adopted as His children (see Romans 8:15-16). Our relationship as adopted sons and daughters of God the Father never changes, that is fixed.

But, our fellowship can change. Our fellowship with God is damaged by our disobedience. As we allow sin into our lives, we pull away from God and our fellowship with God is disrupted, and at the same time our fellowship with other Christians is disrupted.

But confession restores fellowship. Confession is when we agree with God as to the nature of what we have done, and we apply the promise of 1 John 1:9 to our lives. Sin is not a simple, “slip up”, sin is terrifying. Our sin is what took Jesus to the cross, sin must never be taken lightly.

One of the first signs of drifting away from fellowship with God is a tendency to pull away from fellowship with each other. We need to be sensitive to each other, when you see another Christian struggling, gently reach out to them, pray for them and encourage them. This is what the Body of Christ is all about. (see Hebrews 10:24-25).

Sermon Sunday April 22, 2018 – The Reality of Hell

Luke 16:19-31

There was a day when all one seemed to hear was “fire and brimstone” sermons, we’ve now gone to the opposite extreme. There is so much preaching on love, grace, and forgiveness, but little or nothing is said about hell. The undeniable truth is that no one in the Bible places more stress on hell as the final consequence of God’s judgment of condemnation than Jesus. Jesus compared hell to the burning trash dump outside of Jerusalem called the valley of Hinnom or Gehenna, he also compared hell to a prison and outer darkness. Jesus likened hell to “a fire” at least twenty separate times.

In Luke 16 we read that Jesus told the Pharisees a story of a poor man called Lazarus and an unnamed rich man. Jesus doesn’t say that this was a parable. It may have been a true account of which only Jesus knew the truth. Or it was a parable that Jesus used to teach the Pharisees the truth of their own lostness.

The rich man was extravagant in his lifestyle, dressing in fine linen, Jesus even said that he feasted every day. And then as if a divinely arranged contrast, we have Lazarus, a poor beggar sitting at his gate, who was possibly a cripple. The name Lazarus means “God is my help”, in contrast, the rich man trusts in his wealth.

Both these men died, and Lazarus taken by the angels to Abraham’s side. He was given special treatment for a man who was never treated well in this life. In contrast, the rich man, “died and was buried”, no angels, no special treatment. His friends probably began fighting over his estate and soon forgot that he even existed.

The rich man may have had a prestigious funeral with many dignitaries, in contrast the poor Lazarus, probably didn’t have a funeral at all, in fact the body of Lazarus might have been thrown on the burning rubbish dump, Gehenna, the place where unclaimed bodies would have been disposed. But even though his body was burned and discarded, he was taken by angels to Abraham’s side.

The rich man is sent to Hades, a place of torment and utter loneliness, where he begins to cry out for mercy. First, he asks that Abraham sends Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water to cool his tongue. The rich man was experiencing torment and real flames, it was a very genuine experience, so much so, that a little cool water on his tongue would bring some relief. Abraham responds and explains to the rich man that he has already received his good things in his life, but by rejecting God, he is never going to experience anything good ever again.

But aside from that, Abraham says it is impossible for Lazarus to come to him, there is a great divide between heaven and hell.

Jesus taught that Hell is a real place of eternal suffering, but the worst part of hell is not the physical pain, it is the absence of the presence of God. We have all heard someone say, “Well, I don’t mind if I go to hell. I’ll have a lot of company!” But there is no friendship or “company” in hell! Hell is a place of total loneliness and abandonment.

So how can a loving God permit such a place to exist, let alone send people there?” In asking that question, we reveal that we don’t understand the love of God or the wickedness of sin. God’s love is a perfect holy love, not a shallow sentiment, and sin is rebellion against an all holy and loving God (1 John 1:5).

God does not send people to hell, they send themselves there by refusing to believe on His Son. Hell, ultimately is the absence of God and sin is what separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). Hell is the natural response of the all-holy God to the wickedness of sin, and unbelief in Jesus as the son of God is the primary source of that wickedness.

God hates sin and evil so much, that he sent his only son Jesus to suffer and die on the cross as the perfect sacrifice, atoning for our sins. Jesus went to the cross as our substitute because he does not want anyone to go to Hell (2 Peter 3:8-10).

The rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his five brothers about their eternal destination. But Abraham tells him that they have the words of Moses and the prophets, the Old Testament Scriptures, the word of God. But the rich man argues that this is not enough, they need miracle. We are no different, we struggle to believe in the power of the word of God to transform lives. We must never underestimate the power of the word of God, under the direction and conviction of the Holy Spirit to transform lives (Romans 1:16).

Jesus loved us so much that he spoke about hell a lot. He did not hold back in describing the consequences of sin.

Do we believe in Hell enough to care for our friends and neighbors? If we really believed in Hell, we would not hesitate to share the Gospel, we would give our lives to praying for the lost. We would re-organize our lives in such a way that we would maximize our time on this earth to be able to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.

Sadly, the way our churches operate, the way we struggle to pray for our neighbors, the way our evangelism and mission efforts are so weak and small, we give evidence to the fact that we do not believe in hell.

In the 21st century in the western culture has become a source of unending distractions and entertainment. We focus on our careers, movies, food, sport or hobbies, while all the time our perspective of eternity is being whittled away and we seldom think of the fact that our lives are so very brief.

Live your life in the light of eternity. Every pleasure you could have here on earth ultimately passes away, it is fleeting, but if we live for eternity, storing up for ourselves treasures in heaven, we will experience pleasure that is lasting.

“The safest road to hell, is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” C.S Lewis.

Lessons from Jonah – part 4, May 21 2017

Jonah Chapter 4

Is it right for you to be angry?

It seems that our world is getting angrier and angrier. The last election cycle gave an indication to us that our nation is on the verge of rage. And so often we hear the statement; “well, I have a right to be angry!”

But do you really have a right to be angry?”

In Chapter three of the book of Jonah, he finally obeyed the Lord and preached the word of the Lord to the city of Nineveh, the entire city repented and God relented from his punishment.

Now one would think that Jonah would head back home, happy to have been the single most successful preacher in the Bible and tell his friends of his amazing mission trip to Assyria. But no, Jonah surprises us once more and in verse one of chapter four we read, “to Jonah, this seemed very wrong…” Jonah got angry because of his prejudice.

In this short chapter, Jonah gets angry with God’s withholding judgment, and he wants to die, then he gets angry about the plant dying, as if he deserved it, and he wants to die.

The Hebrew word used for Jonah’s anger reveals that Jonah was absolutely furious. In Jonah’s worldview, the city of Nineveh deserved the same fate as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. And both times God responds to his anger by asking Jonah a simple Question; “Is it right for you to be angry?”

The irony is that Jonah is angry because God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love (Ch. 4:2). Jonah was the beneficiary of these attributes of God, but now when they are applied to a city that he hates, he gets angry. It sounds laughable, but, we are not much different to Jonah.

Jonah was angry because he perceived God as being soft on sin and weak on justice.

But Jonah did not have a healthy understanding of who God is, and neither do we.

Jonah gets angry at God, the uncreated creator of the universe. There is no concept or attribute of God that is more important for us to grasp than His holiness.

In the Prophet Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6, we read that the seraphim around the throne of God are constantly calling to each other in verse 3 saying; “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is filled with His glory”. The Hebrew language uses repetition for emphasis and there is no other attribute of God that is repeated three times. God’s holiness is the foundation of his being.

The holiness of God has two primary attributes:

Firstly, God is infinitely separate from all of creation, he is the creator and everything else is the creation.

AW Tozer put it this way: “Forever God stands apart, in light unapproachable. He is as high above an archangel as above a caterpillar, for the gulf that separates the archangel from the caterpillar is but finite, while the gulf between God and the archangel is infinite. The caterpillar and the archangel, though far removed from each other in the scale of created things, nonetheless one in that they are alike created. They both belong in the category of that which is not God and are separated from God by infinitude itself.”

Secondly, God is infinitely separate from Evil, because of his holiness he hates sin with a perfect hatred. The darkest hour in human history was when God the father had to turn his back on Jesus, because Jesus became sin for us at that moment. Your sins and mine were placed on Jesus and God the father could not even look on him.

The Bible calls followers of Jesus to a life of Holiness (see 1 Peter 1:16). God is not soft on sin, he gave his only son to reconcile us to Himself. God hates sin more than we could ever imagine.

Jonah was angry, because he felt that the Ninevites deserved to be punished, and they did deserve punishment.

However, Jonah also deserved punishment because he disobeyed God. And we too also deserve to be punished because of our sins (see Romans 3:23).

So, is it right for you to be angry?

The truth is that the root of our anger is primarily pride. We get angry because we deserve better, because we didn’t get our way, because our rights were challenged or because we feel we deserve respect.

What about righteous anger, you may ask? Righteous anger is rooted in a deep understanding of the holiness of God. One writer states, “Righteous Anger Focuses on God and His Kingdom, Rights, and Concerns, Not on Me and My Kingdom, Rights and Concerns.” When we compare our perceived right to become angry, and we compare it to the word of God, we see that we really don’t have the right to get angry (See James 1:19-20).

Often, we get angry before we know all the facts or before we speak to the person we feel has offended us.

If we would be quick to listen and slow to speak, we would gain more understanding, we would grow in our relationships and we would be angry less. The reality is that out of relationship comes grace.

Oh, that we would see people the way God sees them. There is a difference between wanting God to deal with sin and wanting God to destroy the sinner. God loves the sinner so much that he sent his son to die on the cross for their sins.

We as followers of Jesus Christ, those who have been forgiven of our sins have a responsibility to lead the way in forgiveness. It will require much from us to see the grace of God applied to some people and to forgive those that God has already forgiven.

When it comes to anger and unforgiveness in relationships, What about anger and unforgiveness in the church?

There are very few instances in a church where there is true righteous anger, rather we get angry because somebody moved our favorite chair, or somebody didn’t tell us that the meeting was cancelled, or we get angry because we weren’t invited to that dinner party. All these offenses are rooted in pride.

Paul writing to the Philippian church gives them some encouragement in this area, encouraging them to imitate the humility of Christ (Philippians 2:3-4). How I wish we could take this scripture to heart in our self-absorbed culture.

The Power of Forgiveness.

forgiveness

While Jesus was teaching in Matthew 18, Peter came to Jesus and asked him the following question; “…Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Jesus went on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant in verses 23 to 34. We sometimes read only as far as verse 34 and neglect to read what Jesus said in verse 35; ““This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” What a remarkable cautionary word from Jesus. We have been forgiven so much because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and yet we are often reluctant to forgive those who wrong us.

But not only are we told to forgive each other, Jesus said that we must forgive from the heart. Our forgiveness must be complete which includes letting go of the offense. The offense of sin hurts, and sometimes the scars run deep, but when someone sins against us, we are called to forgive.

Boyd Bailey puts it this way; “When their sin assaults your character, you are to forgive them. When

their sin berates your work, you are to forgive them. When their sin violates your trust, you are to forgive them. When their sin steals your joy, you are to forgive them. When someone’s sin crushes your dreams, you are to forgive them. When their sin steals from you, you are to forgive them. This level of

forgiveness is counterintuitive and countercultural, but it is the way of Christ. Forgiveness is God’s game plan. You will lose if you don’t forgive. Un-forgiveness is torturous to the soul. It is unhealthy for the

body and emotions. Un-forgiveness fills prescriptions and leaves hollow lives in its wake.”

Forgiveness is a precious gift that only has value when you give it away. Forgiveness that is not granted is un-forgiveness, and it will become a festering wound in your heart.

Most of us have had the experience of being hurt or offended by someone who has no idea that they have wronged us, perhaps they were unthinking, perhaps they were uncaring. We lie awake at night with thoughts running through our mind of an imaginary conflict that we will have when we confront them. We are the ones suffering while the other person is probably sleeping soundly. By choosing to forgive, we set ourselves free. We are to forgive those who do not even ask for forgiveness. We are called to forgive those who intentionally hurt us and offend us.

Jesus teaching on prayer and faith said this; “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25. Our standing before God, is tied to our forgiveness of others. A Christian who has accepted God’s forgiveness is expected to forgive others just as God has forgiven us. If we don’t forgive others, we forfeit God’s forgiveness in our daily lives.

Let us be a people who forgive often and forgive quickly. As a result we will experience peace and freedom in our own lives.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32.

Samson part 3 God gives Second Chances July 24 2016

Samson pt 3 Title.2-01 Judges 16

We serve a God who gives second chances.

Maybe you know some of the pain of living with your mistakes. The truth is that we have all made painful mistakes and we live to regret them. The most painful regret is the regret of knowing that you are not living to the fullest potential of what God has called you to.

The good news is that no sin is beyond the grace of God, you may live with the consequences of your sin, but in the midst of the consequences and the pain, God can use your life for His glory and purposes.

 Samson was a man who sinned willfully and frequently, living an immoral life. As we look at the final chapter of his life in Judges 16 we read the familiar of his fatal relationship with Delilah. When Samson finally gave in and told Delilah the secret of his strength, he was well aware of what he was doing. In verse 17 we read; “he told her everything”, he told her that he was a Nazarite and that he was specially called by God. Samson was tired of her nagging, but sadly he was also tired of the calling of God on his life. He was fighting against God’s will for his life and just wanted to be free to be like any other man. Sadly, in his attempt to be free from the calling of God on his life, he suffered a far worse imprisonment.

The same happens to us when we know the will of God for our lives, but decide to do our own thing, resulting in pain, suffering and imprisonment.

The Philistines began to celebrate and all their rulers gathered to offer a sacrifice to their pagan god Dagon.

All the while though, Samson’s hair began to grow. The Philistines were not concerned because they knew that Samson’s power was gone, they knew that Samson’s God had rejected him and left him.

They could not possibly fathom a God who would give a second or third or fourth chance. What kind of god forgives? Only the one true God full of grace and love.

Samson realizes how he has neglected to use the gift God had given him for the Lord’s purposes. Every turn of the grinding wheel must have been painful for Samson as he had time to think of his squandered life.

Samson prays in verse 28 and asks God for one more chance, one more time to have his strength back.

Sadly, even in this prayer, Samson’s motives are impure, he doesn’t ask God for strength to give glory to the one true God, he asks for strength for revenge. Revenge is a terrible thing and it is the one characteristic of Samson’s life that had plagued him. In spite of Samson’s motive, God hears his prayer and gives him back his strength.

Samson-web

In his death Samson deals a devastating blow to the Philistines, all their rulers were killed, the nation was thrown into disarray.

God heard Samson’s prayer and reinstated his power, today God still hears the prayers of the backslidden

Samson made a mess of his life and this would be a hopelessly tragic story if it just ended there – but it doesn’t. We find that over in the New Testament that Samson’s name is mentioned in Hebrews 11 verse 32 among the heroes of the faith. That’s a surprise! Samson was a man of faith and in spite of all his mistakes and the chaos of his life, he pleased God by his faith in his final hour.

This is a comforting fact, because God can take a person who made mistake after mistake and still use him or her.

If God only used people who were perfect, nothing would ever get done.

God uses ordinary people; those who have weaknesses and have failed in life. There are no perfect Christians, only broken and humble followers of Jesus.

Maybe you feel that you’ve messed up your life so badly that God will never use you again.

God never gave up on Samson and He has not given up on you. God sees your potential and He remembers why He made you, you were created for great things.

What should you do if you have made some major mistakes in life? Exactly what Samson finally did, turn your life over to the Lord. Give Him all the pieces of your brokenness and allow him to rebuild your life to be something that will be to his Glory.

Only God knows the greatness and potential in your life, but you’ll never bring it out on your own, He must do it in His strength. Allow him to have full control over your life today.

But before you think that this is a teaching on cheap grace, that you can live however you like and God will always forgive you and reinstate you to his calling on your life, Samson is a warning to us of the consequences of living a foolish life of selfishness and pride outside of God’s will. Although God gave Samson his strength back, he was still blind. The consequences of sin in our lives will remain. We suffer the effects of our past sins. Our sins are forgiven, but by God’s grace he allows the consequences to remain in order to remind us of our poor choices and our need for a Savior. (see Galatians 6:7-8)

What about God’s call on your life? Is it being fulfilled, or is it sidetracked by some sin or distraction?

Are you living with the regret of missing the mark, living in sin and avoiding the calling of God on your life?

If this is you, you need to take that first step in acknowledging that you have been trying to do things your own way, repent of your sin and commit your life completely to the perfect will of God. Ultimately this leads to a life of peace and fruitfulness.

Lessons from the life of David Part 4, April, 24 2016

King David 4 Title.2-01

2 Samuel 12

Repentance

Have you experienced the annoyance and frustration of having your check engine light come on in your car?Check-Engine-Light-Portland

When your check engine light comes on you have two options. Take the car to the shop and get it seen to, or ignore it and hope the problem will resolve by itself. Ultimately you have to do something about the check engine light. It is after all there for a reason.

In the story of David in 2 Samuel 11, things were looking good in Israel, the nation was united. David was a good and wise King. The nation was expanding, and it looked like everything that God had promised Abraham, Moses and Joshua was all about to come to fruition. But David began to rest on his laurels, and he began to enjoy the ease of his success. He took a break from going out with the armies in the springtime, he was probably about fifty years old at this time. David lapses into complacency and that is when he falls into sin. 2 Samuel 11 relates the well-known account of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and the murderous plot to cover up his sins.

After about a year, God sends his prophet Nathan to David to pronounce God’s judgment on him. On the surface it seems that he has gotten away with his sins, but he is being eaten away inside (see Psalm 32:3-4).

Nathan tells a simple parable, and then Nathan says those crashing words; “You are that man!”

Nathan continues by listing all that God has done for David, each line must have been like sharp darts piercing the heart of David; we read in verse 7 and 8

  • “I anointed you King over Israel”
  • “I delivered you from the hand of Saul”
  • “I gave you your master’s house and wives”
  • “I gave you all of Israel and Judah”
  • “And I would have given you more

And in verse 10, the judgment is read out: The sword will never depart from David’s house. Out of his own household, the Lord is going to bring Calamity. God will take his wives away mocking David in broad daylight.  And the son born to David & Bathsheba will die.

The weight of the judgment must have sent David to his knees, he was being punished severely for his sins. God still punishes sins today. This does not mean that everytime we experience a tragedy it is because of God’s punishment, but sometimes it might be. The immediate punishment that we all feel when we sin is the loss of peace, that broken fellowship with God as we silence the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Broken fellowship with God and broken fellowship with other believers. The truth is that private sins have public consequences.

But looking carefully at the verses we read you will notice a common thread in the judgment of God. God points out David’s physical wrongdoings, but there was a greater sin that David committed.

  • Verse 9; “Why did you despise the word of the Lord’
  • Verse 10; “…because you despised me…”
  • Verse 14; “…you have shown utter contempt for the Lord,”

David’s sins were in effect saying to God that His blessings were not enough. All that God had given him was not good enough, he was tempted and craved for more.

This is the underlying cause of much of our sin if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we sin because we want more than what he has blessed us with. We sin because we are not fully satisfied in Jesus.

God took the sins of David very personally, “David…you despised ME!” “You have shown utter contempt ME!”

If we think our sins are simply bad things that we do, and that God does not feel our sins, we are horribly mistaken. All of our sins are a personal affront to God. Because of our sin, Jesus went to the cross. He was punished because of our sins. It is personal, everytime we sin we show contempt for God.

David responds immediately and confesses his sins. He understands that his actions were an affront to God and he repents. It was at this time that David wrote Psalm 51, that great repentance Psalm, and he acknowledges that his sin is against God (see Psalm 51:3-4).

True repentance has 4 parts.

  1. Open unguarded admission – A full disclosure of our sins.
  2. Desire to make a complete break from the sin – Repentance means walking in the opposite direction.
  3. A humble and broken spirit. (see Psalm 51:17) Humility is a key to revival.
  4. Receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance (see 1 John 1:9).

Getting back to that check engine light in your car. Our lives also have a check engine light, he is called the Holy Spirit. It is a lie from Satan to think that our personal sins are something that will not affect anyone else, and that we can handle our secret sins. The secret sins of; cheating on your taxes, not being completely truthful in our workplace, addiction to pornography (a “secret” sin that is destroying families), envy, pride, slander or gossip. Every time we sin, the check engine light in our lives comes on, and we try to ignore it, but it keeps getting brighter.

David felt the pain of unconfessed sin as we see in Psalm 32:3-4, but this Psalm ends with a shout of joy and praise to God as David experiences the relief and freedom as God forgives his sins. “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”

However God did not take away the consequences of David’s sin, but we don’t hear David complaining about that. Every sin has consequences. Sin leads to loss of privilege and status, those are real life consequences for sin. But by the grace of God, He is able to restore the sinner.

Look at the restoration that God accomplished in David’s life, Solomon was a son born later to David and Bathsheba. The Bible tells us that God loved Solomon and gave him supernatural wisdom. The child who should never have been born, became arguably the greatest king of Israel until Jesus himself. Praise God that even in the midst of the messiness of sin and repentance, there is redemption and grace.

It all starts with repentance. True repentance, acknowledging our sin before an all Holy God, turning the other way, humbling ourselves and accepting the forgiveness of our sins before the cross.

Repentance leads to freedom and health, but covering up our sins leads to further brokenness. Today we all have a choice, to choose life and freedom or to not repent of our sins before God and in so doing we choose death.

Revival Part 5 The Conditional Preposition

tounge-of-fire-32

There are two all-encompassing verses in the Bible that relate to salvation and revival.

  • John 3:16 tells us all we need to know about the way to salvation.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 practically tells us all we need to know about the way to revival.

For the next few weeks we are going to look at this verse in Detail – 2 Chronicles 7:14; “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

The verse starts with that powerful conditional preposition – “if”.

It has been said that a preposition can alter a proposition, and that is very clear from this powerful promise of God.

Whatever part God plays in a spiritual re-awakening, we have a part to play too. As we have already stated, a revival is the work of God and no-one can take credit for it, however as we see throughout scripture, there is a responsibility that is ours in every move of God.

On the one side we have the sovereignty of God, it is the almighty God who decides when and how to move in revival. However the divine sovereignty of God does not relieve us of our responsibility. There are things that we can and need to do in order to bring revival closer. A famous Welsh revivalist once said; “Revival comes from God but it is borne to earth on the wings of fervent, believing prayer.”

The Word “IF” is a conditional word and the Bible has many examples of the conditional nature of the blessings of God. Here are just two examples.

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37

But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:15

The Bible has many verses that encourage that when we need a spiritual re-awakening, we must start with our own sinful condition and come to God in repentance.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2

Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to You; For You are the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:22

 “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” Revelation 2:4-5

Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.”” Hosea 14:2