Church in the Park – July 16, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is the Gospel message.

Without the Gospel, we have no church

Without the Gospel, we have no hope of salvation

Without the Gospel, we have no testimony

Without the Gospel, we cannot pray for healing

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

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

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

So, what does the Gospel mean to you?

Sermon June 25, 2017 – What Time is it? Part 3

John 7:1-13

This past week we noted on the calendar the summer solstice the longest day of the year, marking the beginning of the summer season. However, it is also a sad day as it marks the fact that our days are now getting progressively shorter and shorter.

Think about the season of life that you are in right now. We are all pretty good at categorizing our season of life, but try to set aside those man-made categories and start to dream a bit. Start to think that no matter what age you are, God has something unique and special for you to do. Do you know the time in your own personal life? What is the season that you are in? Rather what is the season that God has set for your life right now.

In the Gospels, we frequently are reminded that Jesus was on a timeline, one that would ultimately lead him to the cross. Jesus was occasionally encouraged by those close to him to adjust the timeline, to speed things up. They did not know the complete picture, but they thought they could help Jesus become the ruler, they wanted him to be.

In chapter 7 of John’s Gospel, we read an interesting exchange between Jesus and his brothers, one of the only recorded dialogues between Jesus and his half-brothers. It seems that Jesus’ brothers want to become his promoters. They witnessed the miracles he did, and they thought that now is the time to take Jesus to the big time, taking his fame to the streets of Jerusalem.

Jesus was staying in the region of Galilee and had been teaching and performing miracles for about six months. Galilee was safer for Jesus, than the region of Judea in the south. The religious leaders in Judea wanted to kill Jesus, but Jesus was on a divine timeline and he knew that his time had not yet come. Throughout the Gospel of John, we see references to this divine timetable that Jesus was on. (see John 2:4; John 7:30, John 8:20 and John 12:23).

In John 7:6 Jesus said, “my time is not yet here” the Greek word for time used here is Kairos. Kairos, is more than a tick on a clock or a day on the calendar, it is a deeper word that means the right time, the most effectual time, or the opportune time.

Jesus was being pushed by his brothers to seize the moment, they thought this was the opportune time for Jesus to be introduced to the world. But Jesus was not interested in worldly fame, he was on a much more important mission. A mission that the creator of the universe was orchestrating, Jesus was on a divine timeline.

We as followers of Jesus Christ, who have the Holy Spirit in us, are not living for ourselves, rather we are on a divine timeline as well. Daily asking God for His plan and direction for our lives.

When we are young we may feel that we have all the time in the world particularly in the summer. However, before we know it, 30 years has flown by and many hours have been wasted.

When we are in the season of parenting Children at home, we have no time there are so many demands on our time. The demands are so great that we don’t realize the season that we are in that is so fleeting. The tremendous blessing of holding and nurturing a child. Being entrusted by God to train up a child in the ways of the Lord, those days pass by quickly.

When you are old and your children are out of the home, the temptation is to feel that you have done your share, you deserve to take it easy and enjoy your final years. What did Jesus say about the man who said exactly that in the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:19-20?

We have this crazy modern notion that we need to work as hard as we can, amass as much wealth as we can, then we can retire early and then we go to Florida and play golf until we die. What a miserable existence! What if you grasped that God has so much more for you. There is so much more joy in living out our days, whatever season of life we are in, totally committed to the will and plan of God for our lives.

When we are young, we miss the sense of urgency to ask the Lord for His plan, and when we are old, we seem to think that God cannot use us because we are past our prime.

I want to tell you that you are in the perfect season for God to use you. He has prepared you, through your past experiences and trials, He has prepared you for today, for the Kairos moment that he has for you today.

The opportune time that God has you in right at this moment. God does not give us breath to breathe and not give us Kairos moments to fill our days.

Moses was 80 years old and as he led the sheep toward the mountain of God, God called him and changed the course of history through the life of Moses.

Abraham and Sarah were promised a child when Abraham was 100 years old, Sarah was ninety when she gave birth to Isaac.

In the book of 1 Chronicles we see a group of men who did understand the times, who did understand the season and they were ready for action. We read in 1 Chronicles 12:32 about the sons of Issachar, men who observed, reasoned and stepped out in faith.

Today we need men and women who understand what is happening in society from God’s perspective, to step out in faith leading the church into action. People who will be on their knees before God asking Him for direction and wisdom to discern the times (see Romans 13:11-14).

What plan does God have for you? Are you willing to pray and make yourself available to God?

We have incredible opportunities presented to us now in history, but we have plenty of excuses. We are too old, we are too young, we don’t have the money, our health is not optimal, we don’t have the right education…… any number of excuses for not recognizing the season that God has placed us here in Kansas City now in history.

I challenge you to pray and ask God for the direction and plan that is perfect for your life, the reason he created you and placed you here right now.

Sermon June 18 2017 What time is it? Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Resurrection – Sermon on April 16, 2017 Easter Sunday

He is Risen – the Hope of the Resurrection

Text:  Luke 24:1-12 and 36-49

I love science fiction, especially time travel and movies about alternate dimensions. In our entertainment immersed culture, we sometimes struggle with what is real and what is not. The reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is something that is extremely hard for us to grasp, but yet it is absolutely real – this is not science fiction.

 Death is a very real part of our existence and funerals are often a time when people are confronted by their own mortality, it is a somber time of realization that we all will die someday.

This past weekend we celebrated the fact that Jesus is alive and that by his resurrection from the dead, we do not have to fear death. The Apostle Paul quoted the prophet Hosea in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”

Jesus is alive! Throughout the pages of the Bible, we see prophecies and fulfilment of those prophecies that were written hundreds of years apart. Notice that when Jesus revealed himself to his disciples, he referred to the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms containing information about himself (Luke 24:44). The entire Bible points to Jesus (see Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22).

The message of the early church was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And before his ascension, Jesus spoke to over five hundred people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:1-6).

The resurrection was common knowledge at the time and it is also recorded in secular history. Apart from that, if Jesus had remained in the tomb, how did that band of fearful broken disciples start a church that exploded across the world and continues to expand today?

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, we have nothing to hold on to. The Bible is an empty document and cannot be the living word of God. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is what determines our salvation, it is our hope of glory. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we know that he has conquered death. By placing our trust and faith in him we are assured of salvation and eternal life. Because of the resurrection, all the promises of God’s word are true, and we can stand on those promises.

When we talk about the resurrection, we must understand that Jesus didn’t simply rise from the dead. Many people have been miraculously raised from the dead, but they ultimately died again.

Here is the difference: Jesus was raised with a new body, a body that was not subject to aging, or sickness or weakness. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:20 and Colossians 1, Jesus is the firstborn from among the dead, the first of a new kind of body.

The resurrected body of Jesus was a physical body, Jesus ate with his disciples, walked and talked with them; he was flesh and blood but different. His new body was a perfect eternal body, one that he still has today, and the same body he will have when he returns as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, as we read in Revelation 19.

The cross is where Jesus willingly offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins, Jesus being perfectly sinless died in our place. But when Jesus rose from the dead, it was a declaration by God, that the price had been paid and that we now can be made right with God. By raising Jesus from the dead, God was in effect saying that he approved of the work Christ had done and that there was no more penalty needed for sin.

Does that mean we never sin? No, we are still subject to temptation and sin, we are all well aware of the fact that no Christian is perfect. But it does mean that when we do sin, we can come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness of our sins (1 John 1:9).

The cross is where the price was paid for our sins; the resurrection is where we obtain power to live the Christian life.
What does the resurrection of Jesus mean for us?

  • The resurrection meant Satan and death itself was defeated. Since Jesus rose from the dead, we do not have to fear death.
  • Through the resurrection, we are made right with God because of the blood of Jesus shed for us.
  • With the resurrection, we can live victorious Christian lives because Jesus ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit, the third person of the trinity to live inside all who believe in him, to give us power to live a life that brings glory to God (see Acts 1:8).
  • With the resurrection of Jesus, we have hope of a glorious future. Jesus said in John chapter 14; “I am going to prepare a place for you… and if I go, I will come back and take you to be with me…”

    Unless Jesus returns soon, we will all face death one day. For those who die having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we will be receiving a new body someday. We who have given our lives to the Lordship of Jesus will get new bodies, just like the one Jesus has. 1 John 3:2 says; “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

    This is not science fiction my friends, this is reality. Jesus is coming back again; his word promises it. Maybe some of us or all of us will die before he comes again, but that does not mean we need to fear death. Because of resurrection Sunday, we no longer fear the uncertainty of death. Those who have made the decision to live for Jesus in this life will live with him for eternity.

    John 11:25-26, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

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

The Inter-generational Church Part 1

Titus 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 4 Pillars of the Church – Part III February 26, 2017

The church by nature must be compassionate; caring for the poor, the emotionally hurt, the abused, the destitute and the unborn. In our efforts to show compassion we can easily become overwhelmed. After all, how can we possibly make a dent amongst all the pain and the suffering we see around us every day? As we begin to attempt to show compassion, we can sometimes lose focus of our purpose as the church. Our commission is to go into all the world and preach the Gospel (Matthew 28).

Throughout the Bible, we see God described as a compassionate Father (Psalm 103:13). The ministry of Jesus always demonstrated compassion, through his teaching, miracles of healing and the ultimate display of compassion was when he allowed himself to be crucified to atone for our sins.

Whenever we see compassion demonstrated in the Bible, it is shown as an emotion that is followed up by action. As compassionate people, we are stirred by emotion at the sight of pain or injustice and thus we are moved to action (Colossians 3:12).

The Gospel of Matthew gives us a clear picture of the compassion of Jesus. In chapter 8, the Apostle lists for us a series of miracles, then in chapter 9 we read the account of Jesus healing the paralyzed man (Matthew 9:1-8).

Jesus had been healing many people, but this time he did something different, he said “your sins are forgiven”.

The religious leaders were offended because Jesus was claiming to do something that only God can do, and that was blasphemy. Jesus confronts them and proceeds to heal the man after challenging the teachers.

To the bystander, it seems easier to walk up to a sick person and say “your sins are forgiven”, because no proof is required, there is no way of knowing. But when Jesus heals the man, the demonstration of his power gives credibility and proof to the fact that he can forgive sins.

Jesus saw the greater need of the man, and still the greater need of all humanity, the problem of sin. The greatest need of every human being, whether they are sick or healthy, rich or poor; is the need for forgiveness of sins. By Jesus forgiving this man’s sins, he is showing real compassion, meeting the man’s real need, not only his temporal need.

As Jesus goes through the towns, teaching, and performing miracles, we read further in verse 36 that Jesus is moved by compassion. He turns to his disciples and makes the statement that is frequently quotes in missionary circles; “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Jesus, moved by compassion as he sees the multitudes of people who are destined for an eternity in hell, tells his disciples to pray that God would multiply the work force.

The prayer to pray for workers must be fueled by a heart of compassion.

But Jesus doesn’t stop there with his disciples, in the very next verse in chapter 10, Jesus calls his disciples, he empowers them and he sends them out. As Jesus sends them out, notice that their title changes from disciple to apostle. An apostle means someone who is sent out as an official representative.

This is an important transition that takes place; Jesus encourages his followers to pray for workers, and then he sends them out in response to that prayer. And as we pray that prayer, we need to realize that we are part of the solution.

A prayer of compassion does not excuse us from acts of compassion.

 That is true compassion, the same compassion that Jesus has for us when he stepped down from his throne in glory and became as one of us to save us.

There are two extremes of compassion in modern day Christianity:

The one is what has become known as the social gospel, where so much focus is on meeting felt needs that the presentation of the Gospel is neglected. The danger in this is that we are helping people for a short term, but neglecting their eternal condition. Sometimes the motivation behind this compassion is the desire to earn our salvation, desperately trying to do enough good things to justify our salvation. Or maybe we serve out of guilt for our past sins, and in some way, we are trying to make things right.

However, the Bible is clear; we are all desperate sinners and no amount of good works will ever earn us salvation, we are saved only by the grace of God through the cross of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Charles Spurgeon once said; “the child of God works not for life, but from life; he does not work to be saved, but because he is.”

The other extreme is the church that is so inwardly focused on their own fellowship that they ignore the needs and the desperate situations of their community. There are many possible reasons for this; one possible reason is simply that the church is overwhelmed by the needs around them and simply chose to look the other way.

Another possibility is a church that has served the community for years and helped so much out of their own strength, that they have become fatigued and burnt out in serving and trying to meet all the needs.

Neither of these two extremes are healthy, nor do they bring Glory to God. As we endeavor to be compassionate and missional, we must pray that we would have discernment in knowing what needs God would have us meet as a church. The answer to that dilemma is found by asking the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and direction.

Compassion under the Guidance of the Holy Spirit provides Temporal Relief but yields Eternal Results.

Our own strength and resources can at best provide some temporary relief to someone in need, but our resources coupled with the power of the name of Jesus, will lead to life transformation and eternal salvation. Every human being on the planet has a desperate need, a need that can only be met by Jesus Christ.

The 4 Pillars of the Church – Part 1 – February 12, 2017

word

John 14:1-7

The Bible is no ordinary collection of ancient writings, the Apostle Paul wrote; “all scripture is God breathed…” we believe that all scripture, all 66 books by multiple authors, is fully inspired by the Holy Spirit.

At the core of our foundation is the understanding that for the Bible to be relevant and to be a pillar of the church, it must contain the absolute truth. And therein lies the point of contention with our society and culture. However, without a certain foundation built on the foundation of truth, cultures fall into chaos. Without the firm foundation of the word of God and the knowledge of absolute truth, churches dissolve into weak and irrelevant institutions.

Jesus in speaking to his disciples is in John 14 begins by addressing their fears and uncertainty, Jesus begins by saying; “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me”. Notice the order of that statement; Jesus knew that the disciples believed in the God of creation, but now their belief must be the foundation of their faith in him.  Jesus knew that the disciples were about to go through the most traumatic time of their lives, it would shake their faith, they would question everything they had learned from Jesus.

Our culture is wrapped in fear. Fear literally drives the economy as products are sold to protect against a yet unrealized danger. This fear unfortunately has paralyzed Christians all over the world. It seems that Christians are no different than the rest of the world in relation to fear. But just like Jesus told his disciples not to let their hearts be troubled, and makes the same statement to us today. As we look at this verse, it becomes clear, that it is not that we have a problem with fear, rather we have a problem with unbelief. We fear the unknown, simply because we do not believe that Jesus is Lord and that our Heavenly Father does indeed hold all things in his almighty hand.

Looking further in verse 6, Jesus makes one of the most profound statements, one that causes the most offence in the post-modern world; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the way, because he is the truth and the life.

As the modern church, we have been guilty of trying to make the church so palatable and user friendly to attract people to the church, that we have lowered the bar and in some cases, denied the truth. The truth of God’s word is an offence to the world because it is exclusive and not all inclusive.

So how do we discern the truth in a world full of so many opinions? The first step is to read the Word, plant the word of God in your heart, let it permeate your life so that when you hear or read something that is slightly out of line with the Bible, the Holy Spirit will reveal the false teaching to you. Every true Christian should know and love the truth. Jesus said in John 8:32; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (see 1 Timothy 3:15)

History is filled with accounts of people who chose to accept death rather than to deny the truth. These martyrs believed the truth of this book, it was not some theoretical choice of a religion. However, the modern Christian is so concerned about trying to get everyone to like them that they seem willing to lay aside the truth. But precisely because of the truth of the Bible, Christians ought to be the most willing to sacrifice and take a stand for the Gospel.

God and truth are inseparable. God is the foundation of all truth, that is why Jesus, God incarnate, calls himself “the truth”. It should come as no surprise that when people reject God, they reject truth as well. In our colleges and universities, many philosophy teachers deny that truth is a reality or even knowable, unbelief in God is at the root of that teaching (see Romans 8:7).

Truth is the revelation of God himself. The truths of the laws of nature and science are truths leading to the revelation of God (see Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1 and 2). With all the revelation of God, we can say with the Psalmist; “the fool says in his heart, “there is no God”” Psalm 14:1.

Sermon – Starting Over Part 3 – January 29 2017

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Commitment to Serving the Lord

We read John 13:1-17 the account of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet, in which Jesus makes a loud statement in a simple act of service. It is important to note that Jesus was secure in his authority (verse 3), he did not have any doubt as to who he was. This makes the first word of verse 4 so powerful; “So”, in light of his knowledge of his status he got up from the meal and began to serve his disciples. Often people don’t serve others because they feel that it will diminish their position and authority, they feel that it will somehow reduce their power or status. But Jesus did not need to be recognized, and he shows us that servanthood comes out of being secure in who you are. If you have ever felt that a particular act of service was below you, then you really don’t know who you are, as a Christian you already have a title that is far superior to any title given by man; you are a child of God.

Jesus continues to teach, and verses 16 and 17 are the key verses here. “Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him”. Jesus makes it clear, that he as the ultimate example of a leader was willing to serve in such a humble capacity, if we call ourselves his followers, then we better not think any act of service is below our title or position. Verse 17 contains the promise of the blessing; “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Now that you have learnt this lesson, and if you do them, if you serve others sacrificially, you will be blessed. We will be blessed as we serve others.

Jesus in teaching his disciples frequently challenged the leadership paradigms of the day (see Matthew 20:26-28).

Jesus taught that genuine service ignores the usual arguments about greatness. There is no place for selfish motives and self-promotion when you are serving the Lord (see John 13:13-14).

A healthy church is one where everyone serves the Lord, serves each other and serves the lost. An unhealthy church, and unfortunately this is the typical Western church, is where 10% of the people do all the work of serving, and the rest treat the church as a convenience store where they come to once a week to get what they feel they need.

As we focus on becoming a healthy church this year, I want to challenge you to recommit to serving the Lord right here at Grace Point. We are the body of Christ and our calling is to be the salt and light to our community. Sharing the wonderful gospel message, giving freely of our time and resources in order to invite as many people as possible into the Kingdom of God. Would you re-commit to serving the Lord in 2017 here at Grace Point?

The truth is that you are not going to be always serving grateful or even deserving people, and when we are tempted to question whether or not the person or persons we are serving are deserving of our time and effort, we just need to be reminded of the fact that Jesus washed Judas’ feet. Jesus washed the feet of the one who had already made the decision to betray him, and Jesus knew it! We are not serving each other, we are serving the Lord.

Many of you already serve in so many capacities, and I don’t want you to sign up for more work and more activities, but I want to challenge you to think about your area of service, are you serving out of routine? Are you serving because you figure no-one else will do it? Maybe you are serving out of your own expectations, rather than serving the Lord.

As Christians, every act of service that we perform, points beyond itself and ultimately focuses attention on the cross of Jesus Christ.

There is joy and freedom in serving the LORD, his yolk is easy and his burden is light is what Jesus said in Matthew 11. When our service is to the Lord, it is life giving and it brings joy. If your service to the Lord is not bringing you joy, you need to stop and ask the Lord to realign your motivation and your passion. I know what I am talking about. I sometimes find that in ministry, I get tired and lose my zeal and enthusiasm, I lead between 9 and 11 ministry meetings each week. From prayer meetings to Sunday morning service, each one needs a different amount of preparation. I have found that every now and then, I need to stop, take some time with the Lord and remember why I am doing what I am doing, the tremendous privilege I have, the joy of serving the Lord and seeing lives transformed for the Kingdom of heaven. There is no greater privilege.

We live in a hurting world, all around us there is an abundance of pain and suffering, most the people you will encounter this week as you go about your daily life, do not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Everyone of those people are destined to spend eternity in Hell. All around us the need is great. We have the Gospel message, we have the good news, and we also have a towel in our hands, something that the Lord has blessed us with to serve others. Serving your community in what may seem to be a small way, has unlimited potential to change the world for Christ. No act of service is too small.

When we develop a servant mindset in our community, it spills over beyond the four walls of this church and to the check-out counter at the grocery store, or the waiter at your favorite restaurant, or your neighbor who lost their dog. Every exchange with others is an opportunity for us to be a servant, and an opportunity for us to share the Gospel message. Let us be people who serve like Jesus did.

Sermon – Starting Over part 2 – January 22 2017

startingover-image1Prayer is a discipline and the most incredible privilege we have.

Jesus displayed a disciplined prayer life throughout his time on earth. He would rise early in the morning or retreat from the crowd to be alone in prayer. As His disciples witnessed this, one of them came and asked him to teach them to pray, so Jesus taught them what we know as the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11. These few lines carry all we need to know about prayer. Jesus begins the prayer with a statement that must have shaken their religious traditions; “Father, hallowed be your name.” We are invited to address God as our heavenly father, but we must never forget that he is the all holy, uncreated creator of the universe, hallowed be His name.

Then in verse 3 the prayer continues; “give us each day our daily bread”. Jesus said that we are to pray to our heavenly father asking him to the provision we need for each day and then trusting him for the day thereafter. Can you imagine your child coming to you and asking for food, and then asking for a weeks’ worth of food so that they can store it up in their room, just in case you don’t happen to be there tomorrow? Jesus encourages us to pray with faith and confidence that our heavenly father knows our every need for each day.

Looking further in chapter 11 and to verse 5, we read another parable that Jesus taught his disciples (read Luke 11:5-8).

As always, Jesus uses an example that the people would clearly follow. The friend who had the unexpected visitor is unashamed in his asking, he persists in his request and Jesus said that because of his shameless audacity the friend will get up and give him what he needs. The key is the boldness of the friend outside the door, he is bold in his ask because he is secure in his relationship with his friend.

This is the way we can come before the throne of God. We can and must be bold in our coming before our Heavenly Father (Read; Ephesians 3:12, Hebrews 4:16, Hebrews 10:19). We can only be bold because of the cross. God opened the way for us to come directly to his throne and he invited us to come boldly before him, without reservation.

As Jesus concludes the short parable, he continues to teach in Luke 11 verse 9.The Greek verb tense literally means;  keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking. There is an invitation by Jesus to persistence in prayer, but there is also a difference between these three verbs.

Asking is face to face communication; we can come directly, with no intermediary, petitioning God.

Seeking is taking time to find something. Spending time in prayer. Prayer is very often a searching and discovering of the will of God.

Knocking is persistence; not giving up even when we feel our prayers aren’t being heard.

We must keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking, not because God is hard of hearing but because in the process God is transforming us as we discover the plans and purposes of God.

In our efforts to become people of prayer we can easily become defeated because of the false teaching that everything in the universe is already set, and things cannot be changed (the ancient philosophy of Stoicism).

If things cannot be changed, why pray? But the Bible teaches that we work together with God through our prayers in changing the future of people and nations. The truth is that we have a tremendous responsibility to pray. Prayer changes things and we are called to change the world through prayer. Erwin Lutzer the pastor emeritus of the Moody Church wrote; “The sovereign purposes of God are uniquely connected to the extraordinary and united prayer of God’s people”.

Jesus said in John 15:7; “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” But Jesus doesn’t end there, he goes on to say; “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Answered prayer is always to the Fathers glory. God delights to answer our prayers because it is for His glory!

Children know more about prayer than we do, Children do not get confused with reasoning and theology, they simply ask their Heavenly Father for what they need. Childlike faith is the foundation of a healthy prayer life.

What are you asking God for specifically today? Do you believe that God is going to give you above and beyond what you are asking for? In your praying, are you praying persistently? If we understood the power and privilege that we have in prayer, our prayer meetings would be full and our times of prayer would be extended.

Developing the Discipline of daily prayer must be a priority for us. Prayer is a privilege bought for us by the blood of Jesus.  Through prayer marriages are healed, through prayer physical bodies are healed, through prayer the lost are saved, through prayer financial needs are met, and so much more.

4 keys to prayer,

  • Pray specifically; What is the miracle that you need from God today?
  • Pray persistently; Keep knocking, keep seeking, keep asking; persistent prayer makes a difference
  • Pray expectantly; expect God to answer your prayer because He delights to answer your prayers.
  • Pray thankfully; Sometimes part of the step of faith is to thank God for his answer even before we see the miracle. Be thankful when God answers your prayers.

Let us become a people of prayer for the glory of God.

Sermon – Starting Over part 1 – January 8 2017

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Beginning the year well.

Every day is an opportunity to start over.

We all have our stories of starting over, maybe it has been after a bankruptcy, the loss of a spouse, a divorce or some other life change. Starting over has a certain appeal to it, leaving behind the past and beginning again. Starting over is not simply a reboot, as when you hit the reboot button on your computer, because after you reboot your computer it may start-up again and work well for a time, but the reality is that the problem caused by the virus or the spyware is still there, and your computer is going to crash again sooner or later.

The same principle applies to our lives, there is no point in simply trying to hit the reset button in our lives if we don’t address the root cause of the problem, the deep down issues that are causing our pain and the lack of victory in our Christian walk.

The writer of Hebrews uses a number of metaphors in chapter 12 pointing to the fact that the Christian life is a race, it is not a life of ease, rather it requires discipline. And the first discipline we have is the discipline of repentance and turning away from sin (Heb 12:1). Confession of sin is a discipline that needs to be done on a regular basis. As the writer to the Hebrews says, sin so easily entangles, and we get the picture that sin is like a creeping vine that wraps around a person’s legs and prevents them from walking and eventually chokes the life out of them. At the outset of the new year, have you spent time, confessing your sins, repenting and recommitting your life to following Jesus?

So as we throw off the sin, verse 1 continues; “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9, the Christian life is not a meandering in the forest, or a life of ease, it is a race that requires strict discipline. The reason is that there are eternal consequences for your daily life. The decisions you make today about how you spend your time, your money, the people you talk to, the places you go, all of these have eternal consequences.

So how do we run this race? Verse 2 starts with the crucial phrase for every Christian; “fixing our eyes on Jesus”. There is simply no other way to live the Christian life. A great picture we have in the Bible is when Peter walked on the water to Jesus. The moment Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. Taking your eyes off of Jesus is the moment your faith begins to waiver. Who or what are you looking to in life? Where is your faith? Jesus is the only security that we can trust for 2017 and beyond.

Verse 3 goes on; “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Jesus is not someone who is aloof and unfamiliar with our suffering and difficulties. The ESV version of the Bible says, “don’t become fainthearted”. In the last year did you feel weary or fainthearted? It is something that we all struggle with at one time or another, but the Bible says that the reason we grow weary and fainthearted is because we take our eyes off of Jesus, we begin to look at the storm clouds on the horizon. We get fainthearted when we look at the uncertain future for our children, we see the number of murders in our city, we look at the unstable financial markets, we get fainthearted because we take our eyes off of Jesus.

Going back to verse 2 again we read; “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith “. Jesus is not only our guide he is also the perfecter of faith. It is all about faith; believing that the blood of Jesus covers our sins, believing that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us, believing that all our earthly struggles are temporary because this is not our home.

But then Hebrews 12 goes on to talk about discipline (Hebrews 12:5-6). We need to have a clear understanding of the difference between discipline and punishment, there is so much confusion between these two words in the church today.

Punishment is a consequence of sin, whereas Discipline is preventative. If you study your Bible, everytime God punishes someone, there is an eternal consequence for sin. But discipline is a training or a correction in order to fulfill the promise of a better future. Discipline has nothing to do with retribution and everything to do with redemption.

If you have made Jesus Christ Lord of your life, you will experience the discipline of the Lord, simply because he loves you so much that he does not want you to struggle with the same sins day after day, week after week and year after year.

Then there is the fruit of this discipline (see Hebrews 12:11).  Do you want to have peace in your life this year? Allow yourself to be under the discipline of God, don’t resist the corrections that God brings into your life. He is your perfect Heavenly Father and he will only do things in your life that will be for your good. (see also; Jeremiah 29:11, Luke 12:7, Romans 8:28).

 Not only are we disciplined by God, but we are also taught to discipline ourselves. We need to practice disciplines in order to run the race God has planned for us. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some of these spiritual disciplines that will help us in the running the Christian race in 2017.

Are you ready to commit to run the race that God has for us, throwing off all that hinders you in your personal life?