The Power of God for Us March 22, 2020

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Ephesians 1:19-23

We live in tumultuous times. But we can take comfort, in trusting that our loving heavenly Father holds each of us in the palm of His hand.

As Followers of Jesus, we are not encouraged not to be fearful or anxious, we are commanded to not be afraid. In Matthew 6:25 Jesus is not suggesting that try not to worry, he is emphatically stating it.

But how do we avoid being anxious in a 24/7 news cycle of constant coverage of a pandemic that is threatening everything that we have become accustomed to.

Therein lies the problem, we are so accustomed to our lives being predictable and seeming to be under control. We trust the healthcare systems and the government, both of which will ultimately fail us.

Jesus at the end of Matthew 6 gives the antidote to fear and anxiety, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

In this season of uncertainty, are we going to lean into God and meditate on the truths of His Word, or are we going to look to man for the answers that only God can give?

As true followers of Jesus, we belong to Him and are in His care. Therefore, we can remain at perfect peace in any circumstance (see Isaiah 26:3–4).


I believe that this is a wonderful opportunity for the church to proclaim the Good News, to serve our neighbors and our community, not giving in to fear, but boldly walking in the fact that we know our trust is in the one who created the universe,  who still holds all things together.  

We have always said that the church is not the building; now we get to display that truth.

Today I want to continue to move through Ephesians 1, and only God could have set this up, because these next few verses are exactly what we need to hear today in our season of uncertainty.

Looking at Ephesians 1:19-23

In verse 19, Paul continues to pray for revelation that the eyes of their hearts would be opened, that they would understand, “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might”.

God is all-powerful, He is not simply more powerful, He is the source and the sum of all power. There is nothing in all creation that does not derive its power from God in the first place. And here is the incredible news, His power is for us and is given to all who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.

The power of God is available to us to overcome temptation, fear, anxiety and the plans of Satan. This is even more relevant in March 2020, where we are suddenly faced with uncertainty and the realization of our inability to control our own destiny.

We have an overinflated opinion of our own strength, and a low view of God.

We don’t fully grasp the fact that Satan hates followers of Jesus, and his plan is to destroy us and our families.

We as Christians, need to lean into Christ, rely on the power of God. This immeasurable power that is for us and more than that, it is in us through the Holy Spirit. We must pray for His resurrection power to strengthen us and empower us to live victoriously for Him in our day to day lives. How relevant this is for us today!

In verse 20, Paul writes that this immeasurable power is the power that God raised Jesus from the dead is living in us and for us (see Romans 8:11).

The challenge we face in the church today is that we have a power problem.  Too many people are trying to live the Christian life without leaning into the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do you know the power of God in your life?

Starting today, you can know by experience the power of God that is for you and in you as a follower of Jesus.

JB Philipps wrote a short book called, “Your God is too small”, in it he challenges us to look beyond the religious god that we have created and are able to quantify and understand. The reason we lack faith, is because our god is too small. This is also why we struggle with passages in the Bible, because we reason with limited minds and think that God is in some way limited to our understanding of Him.

The Apostle Paul then goes on a powerful flowing explanation of who Christ is now in his resurrected form (Ephesians 1:20-23). Wow! That is our savior and Lord who is in all and overall.  

God raised Jesus from the dead, a miracle that we will celebrate in a few weeks at Easter, but more than that, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, a position of power and might above everything that has ever been created. Not only is every power inferior to Jesus, they are also subject to him. And when he comes again to take his bride, the church, to be with him, Jesus will simply speak and all of creation will melt at his voice (see Psalm 46).

In these challenging times, we must remember that God is for us. The church is not simply a gathering at a place and time, rather the church is the true followers of Jesus.  Jesus has promised to build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matt 16:18).

So, we as the church are faced with a challenge, how do we function? I believe that problems are opportunities wrapped in a challenge.

For the next few weeks we will not meet as a large group, but my prayer is that we will meet in small groups or via video. We will encourage, care and pray for one another, meeting one another’s needs like the first century church did.

I believe we will emerge from this as a stronger church with stronger ties of fellowship and community. More than that, our community needs us to be the church. Reaching out in love and care, with the deep knowledge that God has promised that His immeasurable power is still for those who love Him.

Do You Know God? Sunday March 15, 2020

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Ephesians 1:15-23

The letter to the Ephesian church speaks a lot about our identity, but the more important question is, do we know God?  

The apostle Paul desired the Ephesian Christians to understand what great wealth they had in Christ.

Notice that Paul is not praying for them to receive something from God that they do not have, rather he is praying that God will reveal to them what they already have.

Paul writes in verse 15-16, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

Paul heard that they were people of faith and love. The Christian life has two dimensions: faith toward God, and love toward men, and you cannot separate the two (see John 13:35).

Paul writes that he is praying continuously for the believers in Ephesus (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

As followers of Jesus we are to be a people of prayer, speaking to God, hearing from Him and practicing a lifestyle of prayer.

In verses 17-19, Paul turns to petition. As he writes out his prayer, he uses three phrases that refer to illumination or understanding. In verse 17: Spirit of Wisdom and of revelation and verse 18: having the eyes of your heart enlightened.

Paul prayed that they would have spiritual eyes to see who God is and what He has done for them.

This is essential when we approach the Bible as we need the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us (see Luke 24:45).

Charles Spurgeon said, “apart from the Spirit, it is easier to teach a tiger vegetarianism than an unregenerate person the Gospel.”

We will never fully grasp the Word of God if we approach it like a textbook. Sadly, so much of our passion for discipleship is not pointing people to a relationship fed by the word of life, rather, we are trying to teach people a book.

This is also why there is so much false teaching and confusion in Christian circles today. People are not feeding on God’s word for themselves. As a result, there is a self-imposed starvation in the body of Christ.

In Psalm 119, David frequently asks God for revelation and understanding (see Psalm 119:18, 34, 135).

One of the reasons we don’t pray for God to speak to us through the Bible is because we have an over-inflated opinion of our own abilities. We come with our educated opinions and intellect and think that we have it all figured out.

The first step of hearing from God in His word is to approach the Bible with humility.  

Along with our lack of humility, we also have a low view of God. Paul had a healthy view of God, in verse 17 he describes God as “the Father of Glory”.

Paul often related the glory of God with the power of God. Paul was confident that God has the power to open the eyes of our hearts and give us understanding.

Verse 17 ends with the words, “the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him”.

As followers of Jesus, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in our knowledge of Him. The Christian walk is daily discovering more about God for the rest of eternity (see John 17:3). The beginning, the middle and the end of the Christian life is about knowing God.

The Christian life is about knowing God and making him known, this is the normal Christian life.

J.I. Packer in his book “knowing God”, says that those who know God have 4 characteristics:

  1. Great energy for God
  2. Great thoughts of God
  3. Great boldness for God
  4. Great contentment in God

Verse 18 continues, “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints”.

What is the hope to which He has called us?

Paul wants the readers to know that they were called by God and as a result there is a hope of eternal life. The Greek word for “hope” means to look forward with the expectation of a certain outcome. As followers of Jesus, we don’t have a distant hope in an uncertain future, we have a certain glorious anticipation in Jesus coming again and the kingdom of Heaven being established for eternity. We have a living hope (see 1 Peter 1:3).

Paul then writes again about an inheritance in verse 18, “…what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” We are God’s inheritance! God looks on the redeemed as a part of His great wealth. God gets the glory from the church and when Jesus comes again, we will be to the praise of His glorious grace as we saw in verse 6.

God the father sees us today as who we are in Christ. God always looks at a person’s destiny rather than their present situation.

Back in Judges 6, the angel of the Lord met with Gideon who was cowering from the Midianites and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:12b

Gideon didn’t know who he was, but God knew who he was called to be. As followers of Jesus, God sees us as who we are in Christ. We are called out and covered by the righteousness and Glory of the risen Lord Jesus. Our lives are controlled by what we shall be when Christ returns. We are Gods inheritance, and we live to bring Him glory.

We are designed and created to know God and to make Him known, to bring Him glory.

Do you know that today?

Do you hunger to know God more?

Do You Know Your Net Worth? Sermon, Sunday March 8, 2020

Ephesians 1:7-14

Do you know your net worth?

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are infinitely more valuable than Jeff Bezos who is currently the wealthiest man on the planet.

Ephesians 1:11 says, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.”

Romans 8:17 says that as adopted children, we are co-heirs with Christ. The inheritance that Jesus is one day going to receive is infinite and we are co-heirs. There is real net-worth in being a child of God.

This is a reality that we see in Ephesians 1:7-14. It all begins with Jesus, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.

The word redemption is a word that means to set free by paying a price. In the Roman empire, slaves were often bought and sold like pieces of furniture. It was possible under Roman law for someone to purchase a slave and then set him free. This is exactly what Jesus has done for us. We were once slaves to sin, and Jesus paid the price for our freedom (see Galatians 1:3-4).

But more than simply being freed slaves, we have been adopted by God, with full rights of inheritance as His children.

The word forgive means “to carry away”, as we see in the picture of the scapegoat in Leviticus 16.

Christ died to carry away our sins so they might never again be seen. When John the Baptist saw Jesus in John 1:29 he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

No written accusation stands against us because our sins have been taken away!

Verse 7 and 8 continue that all this is, “according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight”

God’s grace has been defined as “God’s favor toward the unworthy or the undeserving.”

In His grace, God is willing to forgive us and bless us abundantly, even though we don’t deserve to be dealt with so generously.

More than that, this grace is lavished on us. God pours out His amazing grace with abundance, more than we ever need or could ask for. Our Heavenly Father is generous, He gives freely and abundantly.

But it gets better. Not only are we redeemed, forgiven and blessed with abundant grace, we are also given wisdom and insight.

It is one thing to set someone free, but what if they have never been free before?

When we are set free from Satan’s grasp, we have no idea how to walk in the light. This is where God blesses us with wisdom and insight by the Holy Spirit, to be able to walk as His child.

Paul continues this long sentence in Ephesians 1:9-10, “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”

All of history is controlled and purposed by God, and as His children God lets us in to the secrets of His plan of redemption for the world. We get to see first-hand that God’s plan centers around a redeemer – Jesus (see Ephesians 1:10). Jesus is the redeemer that the whole earth is waiting for (see Romans 8:22-23).

In Ephesians 1:11 and 14, we read about an inheritance, “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” (see also 1 Peter 1:3-4).

Then we come to the final verses in this section and in verse 13 we have the complete plan of salvation, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,”

  1. The first step is hearing the Gospel, the news about what Jesus has done on the cross and the power of his resurrection.
  2. Then there is the belief component, this is where the mystery of predestination and faith collide as we read in Romans 10:9-10.
  3. And the third component of salvation is that those who believe are sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit, who was promised by Jesus and by the Old Testament prophets. The Holy Spirit is not an optional extra for living the Christian life. If you don’t have the presence of the Holy Spirit, you do not have the seal of ownership of God on your life. When you are saved God puts His mark on you; the Holy Spirit is God’s seal of ownership and the fulfillment of His promise.

But the Holy Spirit is way more than a seal of God’s ownership, in verse 14 we see, “who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

We know that the Holy Spirit is our counsellor, the revealer of truth and so much more, but he is also a guarantee, a down payment of what is to come. God doesn’t only promise us an amazing future, He has brought the future into the present, so that we might have a foretaste of what is to come.

Here is the bottom line, we need all the Trinity for our salvation.

  • The adoption by the Father
  • The redemption by the Son
  • The seal of the Holy Spirit

Do you know your net worth?

Something is only as valuable as the price someone is willing to pay for it.

Jesus paid the price for our redemption. The creator of the universe redeemed us by His own precious blood. He sacrificed everything, gave up his position in heaven to ultimately suffer and die on a cruel Roman cross. The price that Jesus paid for your salvation was infinite (See Romans 5:8), therefore God places an infinite value on your life.

Do you know what you have been saved from?

Do you really know how much God values your life?

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

Sunday February 2, 2020 – The Value and Qualifications of Deacons

Acts 6:1-7

This past weekend we had the joy of praying for three new deacons as they were installed into the role of deacon. But, is the role of a deacon still relevant in the twenty-first century?

The first deacons were appointed in Jerusalem as we read in Acts chapter 6. In the book of Acts, we get a glimpse of the first century church. The church was growing rapidly and due to the work of the Holy Spirit it is estimated that the church had grown to somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 disciples.

The Church was a radical movement of people gathering daily for prayer and teaching. The believers sold their belongings and gave to anyone who had a need. The early church was a healthy and thriving community as the Gospel message was being told from person to person all over the region.

But then a complaint arose. There was a disagreement that some of the people were being overlooked as food was being distributed to the poor and the widows.  This imbalance may have arisen due to the logistical challenge caused by the rapid addition of Hellenistic Jewish Christians.

The church was initially made up of Aramaic and Hebrew speaking Jews who believed in Jesus, but as the church grew into the region, more and more Greek speaking Jews came to faith in Christ.

The church had two distinct groups, Hebrews and the Hellenists. It was sadly a form of racism that was being practiced as the needs of the widows and the poor among the Greek speaking believers were overlooked.

The Apostles called a meeting and said in verse 2, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables” Acts 6:2b.

Does this mean that the original disciples who were trained by Jesus himself were above helping the poor? Not at all, but they had a primary purpose and calling to preach the word and to pray.

This is the primary calling on pastors in the church, to primarily focus on the clear and correct teaching and preaching of the Word and to prayer. For the health of the church and the continued growth of the Gospel message in our community, I must give attention to prayer and preparation for preaching, constantly hearing from God the word that he would have for us as a church. It doesn’t mean that I as the pastor do not care about people, I do very much. I love to visit and share life with people, but I need to prioritize my time and remember my primary calling.

Research has shown that if a pastor would be the only one in the church doing the ministry of visitation, care and prayer for the congregation, that pastor could only put his arms around seventy people. Hence the average size of churches in America is around seventy-five.

The number of our current active members and adherents at Grace Point is a little over 260.

That is impossible for one or two pastors to stay in touch with. The role of the deacon in our church is the same as it was in the first century; to assist in member care, to minister and love the people of God.

In the first church in the book of Acts, the people chose seven and brought them to the Apostles. These men had particular requirements, they were “men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). These were men of godly Character.

As we held our deacon meeting on Thursday night, I shared with the men from 1 Timothy 3:8-13 what the Apostle Paul wrote about the qualifications of a deacon.  It is a very intimidating and demanding list of qualifications. Can anyone meet those requirements? And in verse 10 we read that they must prove themselves blameless! Well that excludes all of us, because we all fall short, we are all sinners saved by Grace. But there is a key verse of hope in what Paul wrote, 1 Timothy 3:9, “They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”

What is the mystery of the faith? It is the mystery of the age in which we live, the current church age, between when Jesus came to the earth to die for our sins and when Jesus is coming back again to make all things new.

The mystery is that we who have placed our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord, are covered by his righteousness, we have died to our old way of life and have literally put on Christ like a garment. When God the Father looks down on His children, He sees us covered with the righteousness of Christ. We are not perfect; we will never be perfect until Jesus comes again, but by God’s grace we are being made more like Christ every day. This is the mystery of the Gospel; this is the only hope we have of being able to stand before our Heavenly Father in prayer.

Getting back to the first century church, the result of the deacon ministry was healthy growth. Notice that verse 7 says that the number of disciples multiplied, these were disciples, not believers, adherents or attendees. No, these were followers of Jesus, people who looked like and spoke like Jesus – disciples. This is the result of effective church ministry; this is a sign of a healthy church.

You may wonder if we have deacons in the church helping with visitation, discipleship and member care, does that mean the rest of the church is not involved in the caring ministry?

Absolutely not, in 1 Peter 2:9, the Bible clearly states that we all are royal priests in the kingdom of God. We are all in ministry and we all carry the responsibility to do the work of the ministry as we read in Ephesians 4:15-16.

As we grow as a church we will continue to see an increase in opportunities to serve one another, the deacons are to spearhead the care for the needy, but the entire church is to be a part of the care and the visible demonstration of the Gospel being lived out.

Let us continue to pray for the leaders in our church as they serve the Lord.

Sermon, Sunday January 5, 2020 – Three Types of People in the Church

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Ephesians 4:1-16

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, he describes the church as the body of Christ.  Have you really thought about that? The Creator of the universe has empowered the church with the Holy Spirit and we are His representation, His hands and feet in the world today. The mobilized church is the most powerful force on the earth. Nothing can stand in the way of the power of the Creator when He inhabits the praises and answers the prayers of His people.

We have often talked about being a missional church, but this should be normal for any church. A missional church is one which equips and sends. Equipping the believers and then sending them out on a weekly basis.

We are guilty in the western world of being so focused on church growth that we have set aside the purpose of the church. There are many books and seminars on the topic of church growth, with strategies and ideas that include, environment, music, style and even coffee. Sadly, this all sounds very much like what the business world calls “customer service”.

We become so concerned with filling seats, making budgets and building buildings that we must treat attendees as paying customers and not as chosen members of the body of Christ.

In Ephesians 4:1-16, the Apostle Paul focuses the attention of the reader on the theme of unity in the church. The church is not the building or the institution, the church is the gathering of believers, those who have committed their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:3-6).

The church may be one body, but we also have an individual responsibility and part to play in this body. As Ephesians 4:7 says, we have been given spiritual gifts to be exercised in the church. There are no passengers, we are all called to be active and participate in the call of God for His church.

As I have been thinking about the church, I have identified three types of people who attend a worship service. Where do you fit in?

  1. The first group is the sick.

This includes the hurting and the broken. The church is for hurting and broken people (see Mark 2:17).  The church is not for people who have it all together, it is for those who desperately know that they need the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit in their lives. As we walk and serve together, healing comes as the power of the word of God is applied to our lives.

We can experience freedom as we focus on what God has in store for us as a church.  

The lie of the enemy is that when you struggle with sin, you must withdraw from community, but isolation is a powerful tool of the enemy (see John 8:31-32).

What Jesus did on the cross is sufficient to heal all your pain and sickness, the Bible makes this clear. The church is a place for spiritually and physically sick people.  

2: The second group is the satisfied.

This is the typical 21st century church goer who finds a church that they like after shopping around for a long time. They will stay until they are dissatisfied with the pastor or the music or what someone said.

Or, a satisfied person is someone who has been in the church since birth and everything is just the way they like it, please do not rock the boat, they are quite comfortable just the way it is.

This is the person who thrives on the customer service of the church and feels that they are paying for a quality “service”.  Another word for this person is complacent.

This churchgoer possibly made a decision for Christ years ago, they were baptized, but they are quite happy with being a Sunday Christian as long as it is convenient.

A missional church is not a comfortable church, it will be challenging for the “satisfied” church goer. A missional church grows in depth and number, but this growth comes out of stretching (Ephesians 4:15 and Galatians 2:20).  

Are you satisfied? I hope not! I hope that you will be provoked this year as we seek God’s will and purpose as a church

3. The third type of person is the searching person.

These are those people who want more out of life, who want to live a life of significance. Those who believe that they were saved for more and desire to be used by God for His eternal purposes.

Do you want to live a life of significance for the kingdom of God?

This is not living a life to be noticed or recognized by those around you. This is living for the audience of one,  our Heavenly Father. This is living a life that focuses on eternity rather than the temporal. Are you living for eternal rewards?

Deep down everyone wants significance, to live a life that makes a difference. People try to find significance in so many different ways; money, career, titles, degrees even Instagram followers, but all of these are fleeting and have no eternal value. They will not satisfy and will not lead to a life of significance.

Jesus said in Matthew 20:26 that significance comes in serving. When we prefer others and sacrificially give of our time and talents and energy to serve the body of Christ, we are living a life of significance.

So, we have three categories if people in the church.

My prayer for Grace Point is that in 2020;

  • The sick will be healed.
  • The satisfied will be provoked.
  • The searching will find significance.

It all comes down to the purpose of the church as Paul writes in Ephesians 4:12 and 16. This is a healthy church, a missional church.

What’s the Big Deal about Christmas? Part 1. Sermon Sunday December 15, 2019

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It is the Christmas season and almost everyone is talking about shopping and gifts. Society views Christmas as a big deal, it’s time off work, celebrations and family time. However, a lot of the big deal is driven by greed and commercialism. I wonder if Christmas would be celebrated the same way if we didn’t give gifts? If there was no commercial benefit in Christmas, would the malls and stores promote it so widely, if at all? Sadly, the modern-day Christmas celebration is a distraction of the Big deal that really took place 2000 years ago.

The first few verses of Paul’s letter to the Roman church is not your typical Christmas sermon text, but it is a concise record of why Christmas is such a big deal for us.

Paul introduces himself in verse 1, and in the original Greek, he used ten words to describe all that the Roman church needed to know about him. In English it is around eighteen words, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” Romans 1:1

Paul begins by calling himself a servant. The Greek word is Doulos, which means a humble slave or servant. Paul never exalted himself because he realized that he was a sinner saved by grace (see 1 Timothy 1:15). As followers of Jesus, we are all undeserving sinners, saved by grace, called to be servants of the King of Kings.

Next, Paul says that he was “called to be an apostle”.  Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and called him, changing his life completely (see Acts 9). He was called to be an apostle, which means an ambassador or messenger sent by God. Paul was sent by Jesus as his messenger to proclaim the Gospel to the world.

Paul then says that he was consecrated, “Set apart for the Gospel of God”. Paul was completely transformed from his old way of life and he was set on a new path. This is what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, to be set apart and placed on a new pathway, one that leads to eternal life for the glory of God. If you don’t know that you are set apart, you are probably not saved.

Paul was set apart for the Gospel. We sing carols at Christmas that speak about “glad tidings”, which means the good news. The good news that God reached down into this broken world. He lived amongst us, dying for our sins in order to provide the perfect sacrifice so that we could be set free from the burden of sin. Jesus was raised back to life on the third day and through him we can live an abundant life, a life of meaning and purpose for the glory of God (see Isaiah 9:2).

After Paul uses the first verse to introduce himself, he steps out of the way and introduces Jesus, the reason for his letter. He begins with the fact that the Old Testament has hundreds of prophecies declaring the arrival of Jesus, the messiah.

Jesus Christ coming into this world to live and die for our sins was not an afterthought or a “plan b” by God. This gospel message was planned and originated before the foundation of the world.  Jesus came with a primary purpose, to live a perfect sinless life so that he could offer his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus, the creator God, who spoke all of creation into existence, stooped down, and humbled himself for the sake of his creation.

Donald Grey Barnhouse said, “love that gives upward is worship, love that goes outward is affection, love that stoops is grace.”

This is overwhelming because we have no concept of the greatness of God. We speak about it, we sing “How Great is our God”, but we really have no idea. Moses had a unique relationship with God and in Exodus 33, we read how Moses asked God to show him His glory. God knew it would be too much for Moses, so he sheltered Moses inside the cleft of a rock and then covered him with His hand while God let His goodness pass by Moses.

In the next chapter we read that Moses came down the mountain with the stone tablets of the law and the people are terrified of him because his face is shining. Moses spent time with God, and he radiated the glory of God.

Because of Christmas, the cross and the empty tomb, we can come into the presence of God and speak to God, coming into His presence through Jesus Christ. This is prayer and this is why prayer is such an amazing privilege and source of power. Do you radiate the presence of God because you spend time daily in the presence of the most Holy God? Those around us should see the effects on our lives as a result of our prayer life.

Jesus came down from Heaven to be born in a manger in Bethlehem. This amazing God stoops down and provides a way for us to be saved and then in verse 5 Paul continues, “through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,”

We are not saved to simply sit back and live our “best lives now”. We are saved by God in order to be a witness for him, to proclaim this good news to all the world. When you are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, you are equipped with power from Heaven, and a new purpose in life (see Ephesians 2:10).

The final phrase of verse 5 is the purpose of it all, for the sake of His name, for the glory of God. All the redemptive story of Christmas and the Gospel focuses on the glory of God.

Christmas is a big deal, but the big deal is that God came down to His creation so that we could be saved from an eternity separated from God and that when we are saved, we are called to share this good news to a lost and dying world.

Oswald Chambers wrote: “There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfil His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purpose, and yours may be that life.”

Christmas is a bid deal, and it is the time of the year when everyone around us is celebrating the birth of our savior. What a tremendous opportunity we have to introduce people to a personal relationship with him.

Who are you going to tell this week about your relationship with the King of Kings?

Sermon December 8, 2019 – The King is Coming

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 Malachi 4:1-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has the light of Jesus shone in your life?

Sermon November 24, 2019 – The Blessing of Giving

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How many times a day do you think about money?

Whether it is the lack thereof, or the abundance of money, both can be a snare.

In Malachi 3:6-12, God rebukes the nation of Israel because of their lack of faith with their finances. God had blessed the nation and things were going well, but there was a problem. The people had become complacent and their true devotion and worship of God had become mere religious activity.

In verse 6, God declares his immutability. The Immutability of God means that God is unchanging in his character, will, and covenant promises

God then pleads with the people to repent (see Malachi 3:7). The biggest problem was not that the people were needing to repent, but that they didn’t even know they were outside of the will of God. This is sadly the state of much of the church in the 21st century. It is exceedingly difficult to convince someone that they need to repent when they think that what they are doing is okay with God.

People can even do good things “for God”, but without a personal and growing relationship with Jesus Christ, they are destined to spend eternity separated from God in Hell.

Being a Christian is not about the things that we do for God. It is everything about what Jesus has already done for us when he died and rose again.

The key issue that God is dealing with in the nation of Israel in these verses is their finances. As we see in verse 8, “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.”

Our finances are a big deal to God. Of all that we have recorded of what Jesus taught, 15% of  was related to money. The foundation of our understanding is that God owns everything (see Psalm 24:1). Everything we have comes from God and we are called to be stewards of God’s wealth. The dictionary defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”

In verse 9 of Malachi 3, God not only rebukes the nation, He actually says that they are under a curse because of their lack of stewardship.  

You may argue that we are under the New Covenant and we are under grace, so this principle does not apply to us today. You would be right that we are under the New Covenant, but remember the words of Jesus in Mathew 5:17 where he says that he did not come to abolish the Law, but rather to fulfill the Law. Jesus took the law and raised the bar. He made what was a legal system of rules and regulations and turned it into something so much more significant, a personal relationship.

In verse 10 God challenges the people to test him. This is the only time in the Bible where testing God is seen as a positive action. God is challenging the people to step out in faith.  

As a church we rely on the gifts and tithes of attendees to maintain the budget. But what if we didn’t focus on meeting a budget, rather we were giving so that the church could advance the Kingdom of God, reaching the lost and setting the captives free.

One of the lessons Jesus taught on money is recorded in Mark 10:17-25. As Jesus was walking a man ran up to him and fell on his knees, crying out, “what must I do to inherit eternal life”. This man claimed that he had kept all the commandments, he was living a holy life, the Bible even says Jesus looked at him and loved him. But then Jesus pressed to the heart and told him to, “go and sell everything he had and give it to the poor, then you will have treasure in heaven.”

Sadly, the man couldn’t do it, he was tied to his wealth and he got up and walked away broken. Jesus went on to teach how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

The rich man was looking for a set of rules. He was looking for a checkbox that he could tick off to say that his eternal salvation is secure, but Jesus saw deep into his heart and knew that he was seeking rules rather than a relationship. This is still the situation that so many people find themselves in today. We don’t give to God because the law requires it, we give because He has already given us His only Son. Jesus Christ gave everything to purchase our salvation.

When Jesus taught, he always raised the bar of the law, and made it clear that our response to the Gospel is much more than 10% of our income or following a set of rules. The truth is that God doesn’t need your money, He already owns it, He wants your heart.

The challenge for us today is not if we should be giving 10% of our income, that is a given, the real challenge is what about the other 90%? How do we steward the money that God has given us? You may not be wasting money on lottery tickets or cigarettes, but what about things like cable tv or high interest rates on debt. Living according to and within a strict budget is the very definition of what it means to be a good steward.

During the year, I frequently challenge the church to give over and above their regular giving to the church. Right now, we are raising money for the end of the year mission offering, going to support international missionaries. From time to time we have a visiting missionary or a team heading on a mission trip. All these special offerings are times when we pray and ask the Lord how much we should give, but this is not out of the 10%, this is out of the 90%, this is trusting God for the supply. Giving in faith deepens our walk with the Lord and we are blessed as we do.

This is not a prosperity gospel teaching. God doesn’t promise wealth, he promises a blessing and a lack of need (see Malachi 3:10). God promises to meet our every need, and that is a blessing.

This Thanksgiving week, demonstrate your faith in God by giving, testing the goodness and faithfulness of God.  

Sunday November 17, 2019 Balkan Call Report Back

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Intimacy and the power of Prayer

This past week our small team arrived back from Macedonia, so much happened that it is impossible to cover in a short article. But as I look back it seems that there is one theme that God seems to be impressing on the global church.  

The Sunday before we left, we prayed for the persecuted church. Little did we know that we were going to meet some of those we were praying for in person. The three-day conference, the Balkan Call, was closed to photography because a number of the attendees were labelled as terrorists by the places where they were serving the Lord.  We met missionaries who had been imprisoned, some had been kicked out of their countries and others had been threatened or intimidated. All these heroes have one thing in common, they are people of prayer.

God is raising up people all over the world who are starting prayer meetings in churches or homes. Across the globe, people are gathering together to pray for the kingdom of God to come, for His will to be done.

Our dear friend B is a missionary from Germany who lives in Gilane, Kosovo, and is helping people start prayer rooms all over the region. She planned and coordinated the prayer room that our team helped with during the conference. The little prayer room upstairs from the main conference venue, had continuous prayer and worship for 75 hours, covering the conference in prayer. Our Airbnb apartment was constantly busy as people were coming and going all hours of the night, to and from times of prayer.  

One of the speakers was Pastor Andrew Brunson and his wife Norine. The Brunson’s were missionaries in Turkey for over 20 years, but the government only began to take notice and persecute them when they began to pray and mobilize others to pray. We heard how Andrew was imprisoned for two years, until he was released last year. He firmly believes that God chose him to be imprisoned in order to focus millions of people around the world to pray for the Gospel to be proclaimed in Turkey. Many of us were aware of his imprisonment and it is true that millions prayed, not only for his release, but also for the persecuted church in Turkey.

When we begin to pray, the world takes notice, Satan and his demons take notice. In Exodus 33 we read about the Tent of Meeting, the place where Moses met with God face to face (Exodus 33:11). When Moses met with God, the entire nation of Israel came and watched. They came and worshipped and stood at the entrances to their tents.

Today, people notice when we pray. When we pray together as the church, the neighborhood notices. It is as if the neighborhood stands and looks at the church because something is happening, God is meeting with His people. When we pray for our community, the community changes, there is a shifting that takes place.

Satan will do anything to prevent a church from praying, really praying. The governments of this world are afraid of a praying church. Whenever a dictator begins to take power, the first thing they do is attempt to squash the praying church, because there is power in prayer.

Our team met with Maurice, a believer from Egypt, who told us of a miracle that has recently taken place in Egypt. Since the Ottoman empire, there has been a law on the restriction of building churches or even repairing churches in Egypt. This law has stood for over five-hundred years. But this law was finally removed last year by the Egyptian president. The church in Egypt had been faithfully praying for this and God heard their prayers.  

It is important for us to pray together as a church, but we will never have a passion for praying together if we don’t pray alone. If we don’t have a personal, intimate walk with the Lord, we will have no desire to pray with others for revival in our world. The desire to pray for revival and national healing, comes from a deep personal devotional walk with the Lord.

During the final day of the conference, I spent some time with a man from Germany by the name of Heinrich. He was radically saved a number of years ago from a life of drugs and wild living. As a result of his radical conversion he felt that he needed to serve God wholeheartedly and he began doing lots of things for God. He began to get involved with missions, community service, street evangelism and helping the poor.  As I spoke with him, I felt the Lord reminding me of John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

As I began sharing that with him, he began to weep, he broke down and told me that this is exactly what he was told by his pastor back in Germany. You see, Heinrich was serving God out of guilt, but our heavenly Father wants a relationship with us first and foremost and then out of that relationship flows the acts of ministry.

We get it wrong all the time, Jesus calls us to abide in him, to spend time with him. A healthy Christian is one who prioritizes time alone with God. A healthy church is one that prioritizes prayer and dependency on the power of God.

Our natural tendency is to work for God, but that becomes a burden as we see with the priests in Malachi 1. If we do things for God in our own strength, eventually we will grow weary and drift away from God and the joy of serving Him. The truth is that God does not need anything from us, He wants a relationship with us.

God wants to speak to you and show you His love for you. Prayer is critical to our walk with the Lord. How is your personal prayer life?

Sermon Sunday November 03, 2019 – Where is God?

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Malachi 2:17 to 3:5

Where is God?

We live in a very significant time in history. The world is shaking, and most people are living in fear and anxiety. Fear of the unknown, that something terrible might happen at any moment. Many people are turning to the church and asking, where is your God? Why doesn’t God stop the suffering? Why does God allow the terrible natural disasters and the genocides that seem to be increasing around the world? Even regular church attendees are asking the same questions.

This is the same question the people of Judah were asking, 2500 years ago. Where is God? Why does he not seem to answer our prayers? In Malachi 2:17 to 3:5 God responds and promises to bring justice to the people of Israel. His response applies equally to us today.

In verse 17 we read that the people were excusing sinful behavior, but not simply excusing it, they were celebrating it. They were calling evil good by saying that something that God had clearly condemned, is something to be celebrated and embraced. We see this so evident in our world today and in so many churches who celebrate what God has clearly called sinful and saying that it is not sin, it is diversity and an expression of love, therefore it must be good. God says to us as He said to the people of Judah – I am getting tired of this.

But not only that, the people were crying out, “where is the God of justice?”

The people were complaining that the wicked were prospering by oppressing the poor? But, Proverbs 11:18 says, “The wicked earns deceptive wages,”

Today, many followers of Jesus are also asking, “where is the God of Justice?”, why does he allow the celebration of sin, why does he allow the oppressor to go unpunished, why does He allow persecution of Christians?

After God spoke to the prophet Malachi, God was silent for four-hundred years. This cry of “where is the God of justice?” was uttered for generations. But then in verse 1, there is a promise that the Lord will come suddenly to his temple. The messenger of the covenant was Jesus himself, God incarnate, and he entered the temple as a fulfilment of this prophecy one week before his crucifixion.

John the Baptist was the messenger first mentioned in verse 1, he was the one who prepared the way of the Lord. But then the Lord suddenly or unexpectedly comes to the temple.

In Matthew 21 we read about when Jesus came into the temple, the Jews were not ready for him, and with a voice of authority that they have never heard before Jesus says, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13

400 years after Malachi, Jesus walks into the temple, and he cleanses it from the corruption and injustice.

That was 2000 years ago, this same Jesus is coming back again, and he is not only going to cleanse the temple, he is going to cleanse the whole world of injustice and sin. Verse 1 speaks of Jesus coming as the messenger of the covenant to redeem mankind by paying the price for our sins, so that we could have a restored relationship with God the Father.

But verse 2 and 3 speak about the second coming of Jesus.  Jesus is coming back again, and when he comes again, it won’t be as a baby in a manger.  Verse 2 begins with, “who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” These verses speak about The Day of the Lord, the day when Jesus will come to make everything right, to bring justice and the vengeance of God as we read in Revelation 19:11-16. Malachi describes Jesus as a refiner’s fire and a fullers soap, he is coming to burn off sin and make all things pure.

Verse 4 continues, “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord…” Jesus, the lion of the tribe of Judah, and the spotless lamb, is the only perfect and eternal offering that is pleasing to the Father. It is only because of the perfect offering of Jesus that we can stand before the all Holy God without being consumed.

But there is more good news; verse 5 proclaims the justice the people were crying out for, this is the good news.

There is no oppression, injustice or abuse that God does not see. God is a God of justice and He will punish the wicked. God is faithful and He will not delay in bringing salvation to His people.

As we read the scriptures, we can easily get wrapped up in endless debates and opinions on the timeline and nature of the end-times. But there is a significantly more important question we need to ask; Are you ready?

As followers of Jesus we need be ready by daily examining our walk and the spiritual condition of our soul (see 2 Corinthians 13:5).

We will all one day stand before Jesus and if we are Christians, we will get rewards and the Bible says that he will judge us based on what we have done. How we have used the gifts he has given us (see 2 Corinthians 5:10).

Robby Gallaty said, “Examination of your works today is better than elimination of blessings tomorrow”

For every true Christian, God is working in us to make us more like Christ. We should not be surprised when God allows us to experience trials, challenges, suffering and even persecution as we read in James 1:2-4. As we go through trials, God uses them to purify us as a refiner’s fire and a fullers soap with the purpose of making us more like Christ (see Romans 8:29).

Let us encourage one another and pray for one another as we grow together in unity and community, because the Day is approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

Are you prepared?