Sermon Sunday September 6, 2020 – Walking as Light

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Ephesians 5:7-14

A few days ago, I was boldly walking through my living room in the dark, certain that I knew the position of every item of furniture. However, I didn’t consider the possibility that Joshua might have left the vacuum cleaner in the middle of my path. I walked straight into the side of the machine and nearly broke my small toe, severely testing my sanctified vocabulary.

The lesson is obvious, don’t walk in the dark!

The Bible is full of references to darkness and light. But how do we walk in the light? What are some practical applications for the Biblical exhortation to walk in the light?

In Ephesians 5 verses 1 to 6, Paul points out three specific types of darkness, sexual immorality, greed, and foolish talk. These are examples of darkness that we are tempted to walk in and will result in experiencing the wrath of God (Ephesians 5:6).

In the next few verses of Ephesians 5, the Apostle gives four instructions to followers of Jesus to exhibit the fruit of light, by walking in the light.

The clear lesson is that as Christians we must avoid partnering with unbelievers in marriage or in business.

However, as followers of Jesus, those called to be the salt and the light in the world (Matthew 5:13-16), we are to live alongside, to love and to befriend those who are not believers. We are to live where God has placed us, while not participating in the sins of those around us.

  • you were once darkness, but now you are light!” Live out, who you are. We are called to reflect the light of Jesus by pursuing holiness and purity to the glory of God who made us new creations.

Paul continues to encourage the readers that by walking in the light, separate from the works of darkness, we will expose the works darkness (Ephesians 5:11). How does this happen? Verse 13 is the key, “But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible.” We as the church, the followers of Jesus are called to expose the works of darkness by shining the light of Jesus as we go about our lives.

The side effect of living as the light is that as we expose the works of darkness, they actually are transformed into light (Ephesians 5:14). This is the miracle of the Gospel being proclaimed and the mission of the church. As the church, we must be careful not to attack and belittle sinners, rather we are called to shine the light of Jesus on the sin and allow the Holy Spirit to bring about the conviction and transformation in the person (John 16:8).

Transformation takes place in the soul of the unbeliever as the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus as the light of life and truth. As we expose darkness, those who practice darkness will wake up to their sins and become followers of Jesus (Ephesians 5:14).

As followers of Jesus, as the reflectors of his light, we are called to expose sin. We are called to shine light on racism, modern slavery, sexual immorality, corruption, and greed.

We do this by living holy lives and standing up against injustice.

Sadly, too many believers have become passive, being too afraid to take a stand because of the anxiety of being “on the wrong side of history”. How tragic it is when the bearers of the light are afraid to shine and expose darkness.

So, what do we do? The wonderful news is that we have the Holy Spirit, the Counsellor and revealer of truth (John 16:13).  

We must develop the lifestyle that relies on the Holy Spirit. As we spend time listening to the Lord, he will direct our actions, he is the source of light and he will tell us where to shine the light to expose the works of darkness. Our job is not to pick a battle, our job is to shine the light.

Jesus won the victory.

Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you
.”

Sermon, Sunday June 21, 2020. Are You Grown Up?

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Ephesians 4:13-16

Maturity is not measured in years, rather maturity is a measure of emotional and spiritual health. Maturity is being self-aware and comfortable with who God has made you to be.

Immature people always try to be something they see in someone else.

Depending on our life experiences and trauma, we all have some aspects of our emotions that are not mature and that have not developed the way God intended them to develop and mature.

For the Christian, maturity is Christ likeness. To grow more like Jesus and to die to our flesh daily. Maturity is finding satisfaction in the approval of our heavenly Father alone.

In Ephesians 4, the Apostle Paul encourages the church to be unified, to use their gifts and to mature as a body. We see in verse 12 that maturity comes from doing the work of the ministry.

We make a mistake when we think that we cannot do the work until we are spiritually mature. The truth is that we grow and mature as we exercise our gifts in the body.

In verses 13-16, we see four traits of a spiritually mature person.

1: Mature people are Christlike.

In verse 13, we read that Jesus is our example of spiritual maturity. The fullness of Christ is the expression of completion of our Christian walk, exhibiting the character traits we find in Ephesians 4:2-3.

Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus, as our old way of thinking and acting is replaced by Christ’s through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We will only attain Christlikeness when Jesus comes again, but we need to be moving forward. If you are not more like Jesus today than you were a year ago, something is wrong with your walk with the Lord. We grow more like Jesus as we walk with Jesus.

2: Maturity involves doctrinal stability.

Spiritual maturity involves the intellect. We must not think that Christian growth is purely an emotional and spiritual exercise and that we need to check our reasoning skills at the door. Verse 13 encourages us towards knowledge of the Son of God. And in verse 14 he uses the example of children as the opposite end of the spectrum. Children can be gullible and easily swayed by false teaching.

We all begin our relationship with Jesus as children, with childlike faith. But we must not stay as children, we need to grow and be able to feed ourselves as we read and meditate on the Word of God.

The world is full of false teachers and false doctrines, we need to think, pray, and ask God for discernment. We have a very real enemy who will use every tool available to sidetrack us on our spiritual journey of becoming more like Jesus.

Knowing the Word is the best way to avoid being distracted by false doctrines and unbiblical teaching. We can only know God’s word by spending time reading and meditating on it.

Sadly, the statistics show that most churchgoers do not read their Bibles, and this is why the church is prey for false teachers (see Hebrews 5:11-14).

3: Maturity involves Truth Joined with Love

Verse 15 has the often-misquoted text, “speaking the truth in love…” This verse has often been taken out of context and used as a “baseball bat of brotherly love”. One of those Christianese phrases that we like to use before or after we have said something harsh.

This is more than simply speaking; the Greek word is complex here and John Stott describes it as “truthing”. Speaking the truth in love is truthing in love. This includes maintaining, living, and doing the truth. We live out the truth as an example to those around us. It is the equivalent of the phrase; “actions speak louder than words.”

Mature people do not avoid tough conversations, but they speak from of a firm foundation of love and not for selfish gain.

 “Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love, love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth” John Stott

4: Maturity involves Contribution

In verse 16, Paul goes back to the analogy of the body when speaking about the church.

The church is like a body with many different parts and connections, it is not a social club or a convenience. The church is the body of Christ, where each part has an important part to play.

As the church, we are dependent on Christ as the head of the church and we are dependent on each other as working members of the same body. As we grow in Christ individually, we exercise our gifts and the body becomes healthy.

Sadly, many churches in the world have a static view of the church. The members of the body are satisfied if the congregation stays about the same size, with the same familiar faces. They are happy if the programs can all be maintained, and the budget is enough to keep all the familiar programs running. In these churches there is no vision for growth through evangelism or missional engagement. This church has already died.

This is a tragedy and not God’s design for the church. God’s design for the church is to be the salt and the light in our communities, and to be the cultural influence for the glory of God.

As we focus on being a healthy church, the natural by-product is growth. But what is church growth? Is it numeric growth?

I believe church growth is first and foremost spiritual maturity, sacrificial living, healthy evangelistic relationships, and people feeding on the Word of God for themselves. Thereafter the numeric growth will follow.

If you have been a Christian for any length of time, who are you feeding?

If you have been in the church for five, ten, or fifty years and you are not feeding others the Word of God, something is wrong, you have not matured.

 “Are you growing?”

Sermon, Sunday May 24, 2020 Do You Know How Much God Loves You?

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Ephesians 3:14-21
Do you know how much you are loved?

Truthfully, we simply have no ability to grasp the love of God for us.

The Apostle Paul prays two prayers in the first three chapters of the letter to the church in Ephesus. In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul prays for the church to live out the knowledge of their position in Christ.

The church has incredible amounts of knowledge and teaching available to us, yet we don’t live from the position of that knowledge, and our position as followers of Jesus and citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

There are three key things we can learn from this prayer by the apostle for the early church.

1: Paul Prays with Humility.
He begins with, “for this reason”. Paul is referring to chapters 1 and 2, and the facts that we are chosen by God, saved by grace, and all called as the body of Christ, being built up as members of the church.

It is crucial that prayer is always from a posture of worship and humility. Prayer begins and ends in worship (See Psalm 95:6-7).
Prayer must begin with worship. If you launch into prayer requests, you are treating God like a vending machine, while He wants a relationship.

But more than humility, Paul approached God with desperation, because he recognized that only God could act on his behalf. Paul knew that believers needed something that only God could give, His power. I don’t think we are aware of how helpless and powerless we are without God. Jesus himself said this in John 15:5.
This should make us humble and desperate, but not only that, it should encourage us, because we are called to be Christ’s ambassadors, to be used by him for his glory by His power.

We can pray with confidence in our position before the throne of God as beloved children (Ephesians 2:18).
In Christ, we have unlimited access to the Father. We can call Him Father and He is unimaginably rich and powerful.

2: Praying for the Fullness of God’s Power and Love.
Paul presents his requests to God in these verses. They seem to flow together and we lose some of the impact of them, but they are like a staircase that climbs to a crescendo, each one separated by the conjunction, “that” (See Ephesians 3:16-19)
Paul begins by praying for strength in the inner man. Strength to stand firm against temptation, strength to courageously proclaim the Gospel, strength to love our neighbor the way Jesus loves them, and strength for many more areas of our life.

Our culture places so much emphasis on the outer man, whether it is Instagram filters, or a supplement to develop ripped muscles overnight. In our culture, image is such an idol.
But the inner person, the soul, is the only eternal part of our being. Everything else is fading away (Proverbs 31:30).

Paul prays in verse 17, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…”
When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, he is transforming us to reflect the character of Jesus Christ. This is the process of sanctification that we are all living out.

In the next verses, Paul moves from praying for power, to praying for them to know how much they are loved by God. How much we need this revelation of God’s love today.

When we understand the love of God for us, we easily submit to his perfect will and our lives will become lives of radical obedience, because we know that whatever He asks us to do, He is asking out of love (Galatians 2:20).

There is a huge difference between knowledge of love and experience of love.
I can tell Debbie and my children that I love them all day long, but if I never show affection or care, it will be knowledge that remains intellectual.
This is more than simply reading about the love of Jesus, but experiencing it because of the Gospel and the power of God living in us and through us as we submit to his perfect plan for our lives.

Have you moved from intellectual knowledge of the love of God to the experiential knowledge of God’s love? (See Romans 8:31-39).
Paul knew his readers wouldn’t get it. He knew this understanding of God’s love only comes by a supernatural revelation of God.

Try as we might to comprehend the love of God, we need God to show us how much He loves us and I contend that even then, we still only have scratched the surface of understanding how much we are loved by the creator of the universe.
We are never meant to experience and grow in this knowledge on our own. We need to share stories of His love. We need to encourage one another with miracles and experiences that we share together. God intends us to live in community with other believers as we reflect on the love of Christ in and through the Gospel message.

Paul ends this long sentence in verse 19, with the why of God’s love, “…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Simply stated, being filed with the fullness of God is to be all that God has called us to be to be spiritually mature. We become spiritually mature, as we know and experience the love of God for us.

Do you know how much you are loved? (see Romans 5:8).

3: Praying with Expectation.
Finally, we come to the doxology in the middle of the letter. But it is a dividing section in the letter and it is an overflow of praise and worship.

This revelation of God’s love is the most important bedrock and foundation for all our Christian life. It begins with God’s love, and if God doesn’t reveal His love to us, everything else is striving to please God.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

Sermon, Sunday May 17, 2020 – You are Being Watched.

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Ephesians 3:1-13  

Do you know that you are being watched?

In 1984, there was a hit song, “I always feel like, somebodies watching me” by Rockwell, and as the church, this is true of us today. We as the church are being watched all the time.

In our society, we have a consumer mindset when it come to the church. The church is there for us, right? We view the church as a place where we gather to encourage, challenge, disciple and mobilize people for missions. These are all good purposes for the church, but they are not the most important function of the church.

Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, lets them know that he has been entrusted to bring them the Gospel message by the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2).

Grace is a gift of God, and an essential key for being a follower of Jesus. We are all called to fulltime ministry in whatever role in society God has given us. But we must remember that we cannot serve the Lord in our own strength. Our very best is never good enough, we need to operate In Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Serving God in your own strength will lead to burnout and disappointment.

Paul was given grace from God to proclaim the mystery that gentiles are now adopted into the family of God to share in the promises of God that were previously only for the Israelites (Ephesians 3:6). Gentiles are all people groups around the world who are not Jews (Romans 9:24-25). Aren’t you glad for the mystery?

In verse 7, Paul writes that he is a minister of the Gospel, but the Greek word also means servant. He doesn’t see being a servant as a negative thing. He sees it as an incredible privilege. Paul was humble and knew that he was not operating in his own strength (Ephesians 3:8).

To be a servant of the Lord, we cannot do what God calls us to do in our own strength. This is not just for pastors and missionaries. We all need God’s grace, because we are all called to serve the Lord in the role He has placed us in life.

If you are able to do what God calls you to do in your own strength, it might not be the call of God on your life.

The call of god on your life will always stretch you beyond your own abilities.

Verses 10 and 11 of Ephesians 3 take the mystery of the church and the call of God to a completely different level. God’s intent, from before the creation of the universe, was that the church would be used to teach the manifold wisdom of God to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.

Theologians agree that these “rulers and authorities”, are all spiritual beings outside of our visible realm: angels, demons, good and bad heavenly beings. The angels look on and marvel at the grace and wisdom of God (1 Peter 1:12).  Demons look at the church and know that their rule on the earth is coming to an end once and for all.

We know God knows all things and that He is all wise. Wisdom is found in God. God is teaching the universe by taking people from all nations, all ethnic people groups from all backgrounds and bringing them together into one body, the church, the body of Christ.

The church is preaching a cosmic sermon to the universe.

Kent Hughes writes, “the inescapable conclusion is that the angels watch us because we are part of the mystery!… We have a far bigger and more observant audience than any of us realize!”

Never underestimate the glory of God in the church!

The church is not the teacher. God is the revealer of His wisdom, God is the teacher and we are the whiteboard. God uses the church to reveal his wisdom and glory.

The global church is so much more essential than we could ever imagine. there are cosmic realities that we know nothing about.

The church is so much more than meeting together and enjoying each-other’s company.

Getting back to the initial question; do you know that you are being watched?

Does the fact of knowing that you are being watched, change the way you think about being part of the church?

Before you decide not to be a part of a community outreach, remember, you are being watched.

Before you think about gossiping, saying some negative word about a fellow member of the church, remember you are being watched.

Before you dismiss the value of gathering-together, sleeping in rather than preparing your heart to receive from the Lord in worship and hearing His word, remember you are being watched.

This is all said as part of the mystery.

I don’t want to make you feel manipulated or guilted into coming to church rather I want to impress on you the privilege, the absolute honor we have to be used by God to declare His wisdom to the watching universe.

In these uncertain times, God’s mystery is being revealed through the church. You are part of God revealing His wisdom to the universe of heavenly powers.

Be encouraged. Lift your eyes and see the glory of God being revealed as the church gathers to worship.

Mother’s Day May 10, 2020

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THE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE OF GOD

By: Debbie Barnes

Motherhood looks different for everyone. Different seasons, different roles, difficult seasons, difficult roles, less challenging seasons, less challenging roles…

Let me start at the beginning of motherhood for me.  Athol and I had tried to fall pregnant for many years, and this was a difficult and painful season for both of us.  Then the Lord blessed us with 2 children through adoption, and with Christie, we were literally thrust into parenthood overnight!

In the business of trying to be the perfect wife and mother, of trying to prove that I had this motherhood thing under control, I began to neglect my personal walk with the Lord.  I was so consumed with the gift of the child, that I neglected the giver of the child, the giver of that life itself.  I was looking for something, yearning for something in my relationship with my children.  And no matter how hard I tried, that sense of complete and utter fulfillment was always just beyond my reach.  I didn’t understand it.  And then one morning it dawned on me.  Motherhood is completely selfless.  My children were not there to meet my needs, I was there to meet theirs.    

This brings me to my first point: 

  1. God is enough, He is sufficient to meet all my needs. (Philippians 4:19)

God was there to meet my needs, and I had walked away from Him.  It was only after I rekindled my relationship with the Lord that I found that true fulfillment. 

And only once I found all I needed in my relationship with God did I stop looking for God in my relationship with my children! How liberating! 

Only then did I find my joy in motherhood and could enjoy my children for who they were.  This not only applies to motherhood, but to all relationships, whether it be between a husband and wife, siblings, other family members and friends.  It is only once you find everything you need in your relationship with God that will you stop looking for God in all your relationships with others.

2)    God’s love is unconditional. (1 John 4: 19 and Ephesians 3: 17-19).

As most of you know, Athol and I became licensed foster parents in 2016, and this opened our eyes to a whole new world.  With Joshie’s autism and other special needs, we feel that the Lord has equipped us and called us to fostering children with autism and other special needs. 

Now it’s easy to love your own children but not so easy to love someone else’s, especially when they come from a background of trauma, abuse, and neglect.   BUT GOD!  He gives us a supernatural love for every child that comes into our home.  He gives us the ability to put aside the bruises from kicking, biting, scratching, screaming etc.,  and the ability to tuck this child into bed, kiss him or her on the cheek, and say “I love you.”  To see each child through His lens, as His beautiful creation.

I get really frustrated when I share that I am a foster mom, and people respond with “Oh, I could never do that, I would become too attached.”  Does that mean they assume that I don’t get attached?  If, as a foster parent, you don’t get attached, then there is something seriously wrong. When we have a foster child in our home, we love them as deeply as our own children, with the supernatural love that comes from the Father Himself. 

How much does God love us?  So much so that he gave us His only begotten Son so that we may enjoy an eternity with Him if we believe in Him as our Lord and Savior.

3)    God equips us when He calls us.

When God calls you, He will equip and prepare you to effectively complete that which He is calling you to do. He knows us and will use everything about us to bring Glory to his name. ( see Hebrews 13: 21  and 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The first day of our first foster placement did not go well.  We were this child’s 4th foster home in 6 weeks, and he was severely autistic, non-verbal, and aggressive. By that evening, I was full of bruises and bite marks.  I remember crying after getting everyone in bed that night, and Athol put his arms around me and kept saying that things would get better.  I turned to Athol and remember saying, ” I’m not crying for me, I’m crying for him. How can we expect him to change when no-one is prepared to invest in his life or give him the tools to change?”

 We decided that night to stand in the gap for this child, to fight for him and his needs, just as Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us.  Athol and I went to weekly therapy with him, and reinforced positive behavior daily.  Slowly but surely, we started to notice change.  He didn’t like being touched, but by the end of his time with us before he was reunified with his biological mom, he was crawling onto my lap, putting my hand on top of his head to ruffle his hair, and putting my hand on his back for me to tickle his back whenever he could.  Christie was even able to teach him to say, “I love you”. His aggressive behavior decreased the more he saw us as a family model loving behavior toward one another and underwent a total transformation as he started to mimic the same loving behavior at home and at school.

4)  It’s not about us. 

Everything we do should point right back to Jesus and glorify the Father. I have not shared these stories with you to get a pat on the back.  I share them because I am nothing without God.  He doesn’t need me, yet I get to walk with Him and follow His leading every day.  And every time I am with Him, He fills me and equips me for the day ahead.  He is the source of the unconditional love I can pour out daily, and He can do the same for you.

Just as being a mother and foster mom is not about me, it’s about my children, and it’s my relationship with the Lord that enables me to pour into my children out of the abundance of love and joy that the Father pours into me through my relationship with Him.  So too, Christianity is not about us either.  It is about bringing glory to the Father through everything we say and do.

Sermon, Sunday April 26, 2020 What are You Wearing?

By Grace Alone – Ephesians 2:8-10

What are you wearing? Rather, what are you wearing spiritually?

More about that later.

In Ephesians 2:8 Paul writing to the church in Ephesus says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—”

You may have heard this said:

Justice is getting what you deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
And Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Paul says that this saving grace comes to us through faith, and faith is the instrument that allows us to grab hold of the truth of the Gospel and be saved. But faith itself is a gift from God, we cannot muster up faith. Faith comes from God, for us to believe in God.

Everything is a gift; grace is a gift, faith is a gift and salvation is a gift.

We must never ever think of our salvation as a transaction, whereby I give my life to Jesus and he saves me. Rather God gives me grace, then He gives me faith to believe and He saves me.

Because grace, faith and salvation are divine gifts, we cannot earn them, nor do we deserve them. Every human being is equally lost before God grants them grace. We were dead in our sins, dead people cannot have faith in God.

Ephesians 2:9 continues, “not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Salvation can only be attributed to Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, and he deserves all the glory.

God sent Jesus to live the life we couldn’t live, to die the death we should have died, and rise from the dead on our behalf.

We really struggle with this in our culture, we as a culture loves accolades for doing something noteworthy. But in our salvation the glory goes to God (see 1 Corinthians 1:31).

Paul continues in verse 10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

After saying clearly that we are not saved by anything we do, Paul notes the importance of works. Works are not the root of our salvation, but they are the fruit of our salvation.

The Greek word for handiwork here is poiema, which is where we get the word Poem from. The word refers to a work of art or masterpiece, a piece of art created by a master craftsman.

This word is only used one other time in the New Testament, in Romans 1, referring to the glory of God’s creation.

We, as saved believers in Jesus, are God’s new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:21)

But God does not create a masterpiece to hide it away, we were created to display the work and the glory of God.

As God’s workmanship people around us should see our works and say, “That is a work of God!” (see Matthew 5:16).

We should never be working out of duty or guilt. We do good works because we are walking in a new nature, and as a result we cannot help ourselves from being used by God to do good works.

But not only are we to do good works, we are told that God has prepared these works for us to do. God, in His sovereignty, had tasks in mind for us when He saved us.

We are not saved by faith plus good works, but by a faith that works

The believer has God working in him, and therefore his works are good. His works are not good because he himself is good, but because he has a new nature and the Holy Spirit works in him and through him to produce these good works.

We do not perform good works to glorify ourselves, but to glorify God. Paul wrote that we should “abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8), and to be “fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10).

Back to the question, what are you wearing?

In John 11 we read the account where Jesus raised Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for four days. Jesus stood in front of the tomb and in a loud voice commanded Lazarus to come out. Notice what Lazarus was wearing, he was wearing grave clothes, the embalming material that was wrapped tightly around his body.

As Lazarus comes out of the tomb, Jesus instructs those standing around to… “Take off the grave clothes and let him go” (John 11:44).

So, what are you wearing?

Are you wearing “grave clothes” or “grace clothes”?

Are you enjoying the liberty you have in Christ, or are you still bound by the habits of the old life of sin?

Lazarus was freed from the restrictions of the grave clothes and freed to do what he had been raised to do.

We were dead in our sins when God raised us up with Jesus, sadly many of us are wrapped in the grave clothes. Some of us are so comfortable in the grave clothes that we don’t know how to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do.

They are the grave clothes of addiction, anger, jealousy, lust, pride, fear, self-sufficiency and many more. All of these hold us back and restrict us from being and doing what we are created for. All these are clothes that were your grave clothes, and Jesus commands them to be taken off, for you to be set free. Why are you holding on to your grave clothes?

As a Christian, you have been raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly places, you have been clothed in righteousness.

Practice your position in Christ!

You are clothed in righteousness in Christ Jesus.

Resurrection Sunday, April 12 2020 – The Power of God Displayed

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Matthew 27:62-28:10

He is Risen….!

Last week was Easter, normally a joyous time, but what an unusual and sad season. We celebrate our risen Lord Jesus, with a large shadow over our celebration in 2020.

This year everything is different. The familiar traditions have been set aside, because there is something more pressing. I am not saying that traditions are necessarily bad, but it is good for us to stop and pause and look at the real reason for the celebration, the resurrection of our Lord and savior.

Jesus disrupted traditions all the time, even good ones. The time and season of his crucifixion was the Passover week, one of the most important festivals and traditions on the Jewish calendar. It was a busy time in Jerusalem, as people were gathering and feasting to remember the time when God delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt.

The fact that Jesus was crucified during Passover is obvious and crucial. Jesus the spotless lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the world, so that we who place our faith in him, will be saved for eternity.

The Passover was a huge celebration, and Jesus disrupted it. On Palm Sunday, he came into Jerusalem with tremendous fanfare. The following day he turned over tables in the temple and disrupted the festivities. The trial and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus caused a major disruption to life in Jerusalem.  Then there were the earthquakes, the temple veil being torn, sudden darkness and even dead people coming alive and walking through the streets (Matthew 27).

Jesus was disrupting traditions; he was establishing the New Covenant.

Jesus is still upsetting traditions and challenging authority today.

The chief priests and the pharisees wanted Jesus dead because he was a threat to their power.

Satan wanted Jesus dead because he was a threat to his domain and influence on the earth.

But Jesus did the unexpected. He rose from the dead and defeated Satan’s plan!

The primary message of the early church was the resurrection, which became the hope and foundation for the church.

A few weeks ago we looked at Ephesians 1:18-21, and the Apostle Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus:  “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, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

Someone being raised from the dead is pretty significant,  and there is certainly a lot of power involved in raising someone from the dead. But Jesus raised people from the dead and it didn’t seem like a tremendous display of cosmic power. He raised Jairus’ daughter by speaking two words, “Talitha koumi”, which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” (Mark 5).  

Jesus raised Lazarus by calling into the tomb for him to come out (John 11).

But Jesus was no ordinary resurrection, if there is such a thing. When Jesus died, Satan and his demonic legions, celebrated their assumed victory. The messiah, the second person of the Trinity had failed in his quest to come and establish the kingdom of God on the earth.

Satan thought he had won the victory and he was going to use every ounce of power at his disposal to ensure that Jesus remained in that tomb. Satan planned to hold Jesus captive.

This was the battle for the ages, the culmination of all of Satan’s evil plans and God’s redemptive plan.

God destroyed Satan’s plans with a never before seen display of His matchless power. Jesus was raised back to life by the greatest display of power in all of History. And all of creation felt the impact. There was an earthquake when Jesus died and an earthquake when Jesus rose from the dead. All of creation participated in the war that took place in the spiritual realm when Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead.

More than that, everyone who has ever been raised from the dead, has died again. But Jesus was raised in an imperishable and eternal body, the eternal body that we will all get one day

Jesus was raised to life; he took on a resurrected body and has been given all authority as he said in Matthew 28:18.

Ephesians 1 says that this power is working in us, do we fully grasp and experience this power?

As followers of Jesus, we have aligned ourselves with Christ, we have been born again, into a new life with new power as we read in Colossians 2:12, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

In 1 Peter 1:3-5, we read that this salvation power is also the power that keeps us until Jesus comes again. This is the power of the resurrection working in those who follow Jesus.

Do you know the power of the resurrection in your life?

I am not asking if you are a Christian. I want to know, if you know the power of the resurrection in your life, the saving power of God in your life on a daily basis.

In these unprecedented days, you cannot go about life as usual. As followers of Jesus we need to know and experience the power of the resurrected Lord in our lives.

This is the kind of power that will enable you to thrive in this season, overcoming fear and doubt. Power to help you make the right decisions, and to display God’s glory to those you encounter.

Do you know the power of the resurrection in your life?

Spend time in prayer asking God to reveal Ephesians 1:18-21 in your life.

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