Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020 Do You Know the Season?

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Luke 19:28-44

What a season to be living in this world! Who would have thought that the world would be so different four short months ago.

This Sunday we remember Palm Sunday and a week that began like any other week, but within seven days the world was completely changed forever.

In Luke 19, we read the account of the disciples who “stole” a colt for Jesus. Not only did Jesus know exactly what was going to happen, he even tells them the conversation that they were about to have with the owner of the colt.

But I know that the colt recognized his creator, and the reason for his existence. Jesus the creator God put all the pieces together for this moment. Jesus grew the thorn tree that was used to make his crown, and he nurtured the tree that was used to make his cross. Jesus had prepared for this moment.

If Jesus knew that a donkey was waiting for him in the next town, he certainly knows what’s down the road for you and me. Jesus knows how this global pandemic is going to play out. Jesus knows how you are going to be provided for. Though Satan would have us believe otherwise, living by Jesus’ words will never send you on a fool’s errand.

We as followers of Jesus can take tremendous encouragement in this. Do not let doubt and fear paralyze you today.  

As the crowd saw what is happening, their excitement began to boil over. Some of them had probably memorized the prophet Zechariah and what was prophesied in Zechariah 9:9.

Can you imagine the excitement? They were seeing prophecy fulfilled and Jesus was coming to establish his kingdom in Jerusalem. The promised messiah was here, and he was going to throw off the oppressive Roman rulers. But Jesus was focused on a much bigger battle, he was focused on defeating Satan, sin and death.

Jesus was surrounded by a crowd of people praising him, and many of them had been healed and touched by this amazing man. Initially Herod and Pilate did not take him seriously, otherwise they would have sent a garrison of troops to prevent him from entering the city.

The fact that the people were waving palm branches showed that they didn’t grasp who Jesus was, and why he was coming to Jerusalem. Waving palm branches was symbolic of the Maccabean rebellion that took place two generations before, against the Syrian oppressors. They were showing that they expected Jesus to be another warlord who would lead them to overthrow the Romans.

There are many times in our lives when we don’t accurately perceive the moment. We miss what is going on for lack of knowledge, understanding or simply because we have an unmet expectation.

But then the mood shifts, Jesus abruptly stops and bursts into tears.

As Jesus looks at Jerusalem and sees the eager faces of those around him, he was overcome by the awareness of their emptiness. They were empty because they had not heard the truth of his message and they did not understand the true purpose of his coming to earth.

Wherever Jesus looked he found a reason to weep.

As he looked back; he saw a nation that had missed his coming and had wasted its opportunities.

As he looked within the hearts of the people, he saw spiritual blindness and a hardness in their hearts. They had all the signs and the prophets to convince them, yet they still rejected him.

As Jesus looked around, he saw a lot of dead religious activity that was not accomplishing anything. The city was full of people celebrating the Passover but with little understanding of its true meaning.

As Jesus looks at our churches today, he sees a lot of dead religion. People going through the motions with no real knowledge of our savior. People who are content with going to a building once a week, when in fact Jesus offers a relationship and eternal life.

Finally, as Jesus looks ahead, he sees the City of David that was soon about to come under attack and judgment. Jesus knew that in 40 years, the city would be under siege by the Romans, and the total destruction of the city and the Temple, leaving about 600 000 Jews dead.

And all of this because the people did not recognize the time of Jesus’ coming. The tragedy of the national disaster could have been averted. But Jesus knew that judgment must come and that rejection of the Word of God, who is Jesus, ultimately leads to punishment.

But it grieved Jesus because of his great love for the lost, the people he came to save (see John 1:11).

God’s chosen nation did not recognize the messiah when he came into their lives, and because of that Jesus wept and mourned.

Jesus did not simply come to set the nation of Israel free from the Roman oppression. He came to die on a Roman cross, seemingly defeated by Satan. But God’s plan was to raise Jesus from the dead and in so doing, defeat Satan, defeat death, and provide a way for eternal life for all who would place their faith and trust in Jesus.

What about us today? Do we know the season?

We are living in a season that is unprecedented. There are predictions from every corner about the infection rates, death tolls and eventual end of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

But only God knows the end, and the purpose of this season.

The role of the Body of Christ is extremely significant in this season.  

This is the time for the church to rise up boldly and to be a place of prayer, truth and compassion.

How we respond in this season will determine the eternal destination of the people all around us. If we act as people who have no hope, then people will not listen to us when we tell them about our faith in Jesus.

To discern the season, we need to pray and ask God for wisdom and insight.

Through the Holy Spirit we will be able to see this season through spiritual eyes, with the lens (perspective) of Christ.  

The Key to Defeating Anxiety – Sermon March 29, 2020

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Philippians 4:4-7

Some have asked, “what do we do now that church has been cancelled? Well, it depends how you define church. Yes, we have cancelled the meeting together at Sunday morning at 10:30 in a building, but you cannot cancel a movement.

The dictionary defines a movement as, “a series of organized activities by people working concertedly toward some goal”.

That is the church, we focus the attention of a group of people on a specific goal. And that specific goal has not changed for 2000 years.

Many churches have temporary goals; building buildings, alleviating poverty, or focusing on some social injustice, but the primary goal of the church remains the Great Commission.

This terrible virus is forcing us to look at everything we do and our religious practices to determine and I believe to refine our goals. As we evaluate the church, I am reminded of the early church in Acts 2, they met in small groups in homes and in the temple courts daily. So, when people say, “I watched a sermon online, I attended church”, I must disagree, you took in some information, but the body of Christ must be together. There is a family aspect that is vital to us functioning as the church.

The important point is that isolation is not the designed posture of the church, we need to be in community, and we need to be caring for one another and praying for one another during this time of anxiety and worry.

Fear has prevented many Christians from experiencing all that God intends for you in your life. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of a virus that seems to be rapidly affecting everything we know.

The key to victory over worry and anxiety, is found in Philippians 4:4-7.

Anxiety is the most pervasive psychological problem in our society. And we have no shortage of fuel for the fire of anxiety in March 2020.

In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul addresses anxiety and it is very practical and transformational as we apply the principles of God’s word. The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to experience hardship, he was in chains as he wrote this letter, and yet he was full of joy and encouragement.

What was Paul’s secret?

Paul starts verse 4 by making an imperative statement, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice.”

There is a huge difference between joy and happiness; joy flows out of security in a relationship.

There is a direct connection between joy and love.

Gaining a greater understanding of the love that God, your Heavenly Father, has for you, will give you peace and joy. The Prophet Habakkuk understood this as he wrote in Habakkuk 3:17-18,

Paul had the same confidence as the prophet Habakkuk, Paul was convinced that God was in control and that God would fulfill the promises of His word (see Romans 8:28).

Do we have that same confidence? Or am I anxious because deep down, I am not fully convinced that God is able, or that God is truly good.

When we search our hearts, the root of anxiety can be traced to unbelief in the all-powerful Creator of the universe.

Verse 5 continues, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand”

We as followers of Jesus are to be known as people who are reasonable. But not just reasonable, some translations will say, gentleness or patience, the Greek word incorporates all the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).

As we live the Spirit-filled life we will exhibit these qualities to those around us.

Philippians 4:6 is the key to overcoming anxiety; it is prayer. Paul makes an imperative statement, “do not be anxious about anything”. Prayer is the Biblical prescription for the illness of anxiety.

There are three aspects to this prescription for anxiety found in verse 6; Prayer, supplication and thanksgiving.

1: Prayer – Is the attitude of the person coming before the all-holy, all-powerful Creator. Prayer is by nature humility, a recognition of who we are communicating with. Prayer never begins with words; it begins in the heart and a humble attitude towards God.

Prayer is admitting our weakness and submitting with dependence and recognition to the Creator of the universe. But more than that, we as believers in Jesus Christ can call the Creator, Father! We as children of God, come into His throne room, He is delighted to speak to us.  

2: Supplication – This is the act of sharing our needs and problems with God. Not because He doesn’t know what we need, but rather because as we verbalize our needs, God works in our own hearts and prepares us for the answer to our prayers. God doesn’t need our prayers, but He responds when we pray, because that is the way He has ordered the universe.

3: Thanksgiving – It is crucial to thank God even before we have received the answer to our prayers. All prayer is to be accompanied by thanksgiving. We are to be thankful because God is going to give us exactly what we need in response to our prayers.

And then finally verse 7: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Through prayer, we can experience the peace of God, a miraculous work of God bringing peace to the heart and mind of the believer. This does not mean the absence of trials, Jesus said we would still have that in John 16:33, but the peace of God is the ability to handle the trials without them stealing our joy.

This is too much for us to grasp, “it surpasses all understanding” as verse 7 says.  

This peace is the result of the person who has taken everything to God in prayer, with thanksgiving.

The peace of God is a protection against anxiety, stress and against bitterness towards those who have wronged us.

Verse 7 ends with the key, the key to this peace and joy is found “in Christ Jesus”. Only in the completed work of what Jesus did on the Cross and by his resurrection power are we able to experience the peace of God.

Did you speak with the Prince of Peace today?

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 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

Sermon February 16, 2020 A life Well Lived

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“A Life Well Lived” – A phrase we often hear at funerals to refer to someone who has made a remarkable impact on the lives of those around them. In our culture we tend to think about greatness as a descriptor that is reserved for those who speak in front of thousands, who’s books make it onto the bestseller list, or who’s faces are on T.V. But how does the Bible define greatness?

Jesus said in Matthew 20:26, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,”

How do we define a life well lived?

Andrew was the first disciple of Jesus to discover that Jesus was the Messiah, but one who was always in the background.

In John 1:35-42, we see that Andrew was the person who invited his brother, Peter, to come and see the Messiah. He may have lived in obscurity, but he was used by our Lord to touch one who touched thousands. His eagerness to follow Christ, combined with his zeal for introducing others to Christ, typifies Andrew’s character.

Scripture doesn’t tell us a lot about Andrew. He appears in the New Testament only nine times and most references simply mention him in passing.

Andrew lived his life in the shadows of his better-known brother, Peter. He is even mentioned in the text as Simon Peter’s brother.

Andrew’s personal encounter with Jesus took place a few months after Jesus’ baptism (see John 1:36). Andrew and John became Jesus’ first disciples. The news Andrew heard was too good to keep to himself, so he went and found the one person in the world he whom he most wanted to know Jesus and led him to Christ (see John 1:42).

We can learn three things from the Apostle Andrew.  

I. HE SAW THE VALUE OF INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE.

Andrew appreciated the value of a single soul and he was known for bringing individuals, not crowds, to Jesus. Almost every time we see him in the gospel accounts, he is bringing someone to Jesus.

He brought Peter to Jesus and we know the impact the Apostle Peter has had on the world.

In John 6, we have the miracle of Jesus feeding the five-thousand, and it was Andrew who brought the boy with his lunch to Jesus. We don’t know the age of the boy, but he was someone that Andrew had noticed. Andrew was the kind of person who would notice a little boy in a crowd of thousands, where Jesus was the focal point. Andrew was not interested in being noticed himself, rather he went out of his way to notice others. This is such a valuable trait and gift that we neglect in our busy self-absorbed society today. Because Andrew brings this young boy to Jesus, one of the greatest Biblical miracles occurs.  

Most people do not come to Christ as an immediate response to a sermon they hear in a crowded setting. They come to Christ because of the influence of an individual. Andrew brought Peter, and Peter’s ministry impacted thousands. All the fruit of Peter’s min­istry is ultimately also the fruit of Andrew’s faithful individual witness. Few people have ever heard of Edward Kimball, but he was the Sunday School teacher who led D.L. Moody to Christ. D.L. Moody lived around 1860 and during his ministry he addressed more than 100

million people in person and personally prayed for and pleaded with seven-hundred and fifty thousand people. He started the Moody Bible college for training pastors and started two printing companies. Millions know the name of Moody, but few remember Kimball. Kimball brought Moody to Jesus.

Many Christians are intimidated by the lie that they cannot share the good news about Jesus because they won’t get it right. But, it’s really not that complicated, it could be simply inviting someone to church, introducing them to Jesus. Step out in faith and you will be amazed what God can do through you.

II. HE SAW THE VALUE OF INSIGNIFICANT GIFTS.

Andrew noticed the small things. Some people see the big picture more clearly just because they appreciate the value of small things. In the Gospel account of the feeding of the five thousand,

Philip’s vision was overwhelmed by the size of the need. But Andrew noticed the five loaves and the two fishes. No gift is insignificant in the hands of Jesus (see Luke 21:1-4).

God’s ability to use a gift is in no way hindered or enhanced by the size of that gift. It is the sacrificial faithfulness of the giver, not the size of the gift, that is the true measure of the gift’s significance. It’s not the greatness of the gift that counts, but rather the greatness of the God to whom it is given.

We dismiss the value of the little things. The phone call or a card to a neighbor who has recently lost a loved one or suffered some other kind of loss. In our fast-paced culture, your little gift of time and care is the very thing that can change someone’s life forever as you bring them to Jesus.

III. HE SAW THE VALUE OF INCONSPICUOUS SERVICE.

Andrew is the picture of all those who labor quietly in humble places (see Ephesians 6:6).

Andrew did not mind being hidden as long as the work was being done. We have lost the capacity to grasp the importance of serving without recognition. Not because recognition is wrong, but we have been duped into thinking that the only effective people in the kingdom of God are the one’s speaking to thousands or writing books as mentioned earlier. But we forget that we are serving an audience of One.

It is infinitely better to be recognized and approved by the Creator of the universe than to receive the temporal applause from man that is forgotten the next day.

Andrew the Apostle never stopped working behind the scenes. He never stopped bringing people to Jesus from as far afield as Russia, and it was this passion that ultimately led to him to be crucified himself by the Roman authorities.  

How has God gifted you? God has placed you where you are to reach the one person that He has called you to.

 “Never allow this thought—’I am of no use where I am,’ because you certainly can be of no use where you are not!” Oswald Chambers:

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

Acts 6:1-7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sermon Sunday January 26, 2020 The Importance of One

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The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God created man for His glory (see Isaiah 43:7), therefore, the ultimate purpose of man is simply to glorify God.

We must always remember, that our evangelism will be fueled and sustained by recognizing who God is, and bringing glory to His name.

In his book, “Let the Nations be Glad” John Piper wrote, “when the flame of worship burns with the heat of God’s true worth the light of missions will shine to the darkest peoples on the earth.”

As we grow in our worship for the Lord, we will see an awakening in Kansas City and across the world.

We’re prone to think of “one” as small and insignificant. Afterall, who wants just one cookie?

But the Bible consistently speaks of one: one pearl of great price, one lost sheep, one wayward son. We as followers of Jesus, often overlook the value of one. One invitation to church, one message of hope, one neighbor, one coworker, one friend.

Billy Graham said that the Great commission will only be accomplished by one-on-one evangelism and not stadium events. This is the way Jesus taught and modelled for his disciples, one person inviting another.

Jesus emphasized the value of one in the parable of the lost sheep, which Jesus closed by making this statement in Luke 15:7, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

The Gospel makes this all possible. You see, our role is simply to begin to pray for the person that the Lord lays on our heart and then to start the conversation, but the real work is done as the Holy Spirit takes the words of the Gospel and empowers them (see Romans 1:16).

In Matthew 13:45-46, we read of the parable of the pearl of great price. Jesus is the pearl of great price, and when the man found Jesus, he sold everything he had. One man found one pearl, our salvation is deeply personal. I was not saved because my father and mother were Christians, I had to find the pearl of great value for myself. I had to have a personal encounter with the living God. Only through a personal relationship with Jesus can we find peace of mind, freedom from addictions, security, identity, and rest for our souls.

If you are a Christian, you have found the pearl of great price. There is nothing more important in your life than your eternal home, and the Bible says that, “there is no other name among heaven whereby we may be saved” (see Acts 4:12).

The call of Philip and Nathanael to discipleship is recorded in the first chapter of John verses 43 to 49. Jesus went to Galilee and found Philip first, who then went to Nathanael, his friend and told him that he had found the Messiah. Initially, Nathanael was skeptical and said, “…Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  (see John 1:46a). This response was understandable; at that time Nazareth was an obscure little hill town, remote and of no consequence. It was not a place that anyone expected the Messiah to come from. Remember, the people of Israel were looking for a mighty king, the messiah, who would free them from the Romans.

Philip doesn’t try to convince Nathanael, he simply says “Come and see.” That is the key, in our sharing the Good news, we are simply introducing people to Jesus. When you are inviting people to come to church, you are asking them to simply, “come and see”. Our role is simply to bring people to Jesus and then let the power of God transform their lives. We have the joy of walking alongside them and seeing what God does.

Despite his skepticism, Nathanael followed Philip to meet Jesus. When the Lord saw Nathanael coming toward Him, He said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (John 1: 47).

Notice that Nathanael didn’t argue, but wondered how Jesus knew his character, having never met him before. But Jesus astounds Nathanael by saying, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you” (John 1:48).

Nathanael then immediately recognized Jesus as the Christ, calling him “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49). We don’t know what Nathanael was thinking about while sitting under the fig tree, but Jesus did, and his statement cut to the heart of Nathanael and he had no doubt that Jesus was the Messiah.

This is an amazing promise for us as we reach out to our one. Before we even speak to them, God has seen them and has been preparing their heart. You see, God is always at work preparing people for the Good News, before we even open our mouths to tell them.

But our role is to be intentional as those God conversations will not simply happen. It all begins with prayer, the most challenging and effective tool that we have for evangelism. Prayer is the most powerful activity you and I can do for the spread of the Gospel. Prayer aligns our heart with the Heart of God. As we pray, God will miraculously open the door for opportunities for us to share the message of salvation with that one person.

As we pray and focus on the one, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of people who don’t know Jesus as Lord and savior.  Someone said, “We can’t see the forest for the trees.” The problem is, we can’t see a tree for the forest, just one!

Would you join with me in beginning to pray for the salvation of one?

Sermon, Sunday January 12, 2019 – Are you a Disciple?

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Are you a Disciple?

Matthew 4:18-22

What comes to mind when you hear the word Christian? The culture we live in has a very wide spectrum of descriptions of the term “Christian”.

The first followers of Jesus didn’t call themselves Christians. It was a derogatory term used by people outside of the faith. In Acts 11:26, we see that the first Christians were known as “disciples”.

The word Christian is used 3 times in the whole Bible, whereas the word disciple is used 281 times. Disciple is a far more accurate description of what it means to follow Jesus. In fact, the concept of a disciple exposes the fact that many who claim to be Christians today are not actually disciples of Jesus.

A brief look at Hebrew history shows us that all young boys at the age of five went to school to learn the Torah, the first five books of our Bible. By the age of ten, all young boys knew the Torah and the best students went on to study the remainder of the Old Testament, while the rest returned home to work in their families’ businesses.

At the age of seventeen, the brightest of these students, who wanted to pursue a life of religious studies, would find a rabbi that they admired and then they would go and sit at his feet.

The rabbi would then scrutinize the student to see if he was worthy of being his disciple.

The rabbis could choose the smartest, most talented boys to be their disciples, because they were choosing whom they believed could become just like them—to not just know what they knew, but to do what they did. The goal of a disciple was to be like the rabbi.

I. JESUS DOESN’T CHOOSE THE BEST, HE CHOOSES THE WILLING.

In Matthew chapter four, Jesus, this new rabbi, chooses Peter and Andrew, who are fishermen. The fact that they are fishermen shows that they were not among the group that at the age of ten were selected to be a future rabbi. These guys did not make the cut, they weren’t the best of the best.

When Jesus chose his team to build His movement, he chose the B-team! So, naturally when Jesus called them, they jumped at the opportunity. Jesus chose the B-team because his work in the world wouldn’t come from their abilities for him, but from what he would do through them.

People with a lot of talent and ability would only get in the way because they would never learn to lean on his power.

JD Greer said, “Jesus taught that His power in the weakest vessel was infinitely greater than the greatest talent without Him.

God wants to use you in your family, school and workplace. Stop making excuses that you are not able. He doesn’t need your ability; He requires only your availability.

II. HE CHOSE US, NOT WE HIM.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.  Matthew 4:19

This was very unusual for a rabbi to come and ask men to follow him, they didn’t even come to sit at his feet. He came seeking them when they weren’t even looking for Him.

But his selection gave them a great deal of confidence. If they were struggling, they could say, “Ah, but my rabbi believed in me! he chose me.” If and when you find yourself struggling with your calling as a Christian, remember that Jesus chose you (see John 15:16).

III. OUR PRIMARY CALLING IS TO BE WITH HIM.

“Follow me,” he told them …

He didn’t tell them where they were going or what assignment he had for them. And this is critical for us to understand, his primary call is not to do something; it is to become like Him. And to become like him, you must know him. To know him, you have to know his Word.

In order to be a follower of Jesus you need to meditate and feed on God’s word so that it dominates all your thinking and all your behavior. Spending time reading and praying God’s word is the what Jesus calls us to and it is essential to us knowing him.

IV. TO FOLLOW HIM, WE HAVE TO LEAVE ALL.

 “Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him” Matthew 4:22

Matthew mentioned that the fishermen left their boat and their father.

The boat represents our career, our livelihood, the way we take care of ourselves.

The father represents the most significant relationship in our lives.

To follow Jesus, he must take precedence over both. Most people will not lose their family as a result of following Jesus, but for people in other parts of the world, it is a real concern.

For some, God may tell you to change careers. Maybe God will tell you transfer your job to be part of a church plant. Or leave your job and carry the gospel overseas. For many of you, it probably won’t be that dramatic. But you’ll have moments where you decide which holds greater sway over your life.

V. HE COMMANDS US TO SPIRITUALLY REPRODUCE.

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.  Matthew 4:19

Following Jesus means you subject everything in your life to his lordship. You forsake all that he has forbidden and pursue all that he has prescribed. Just like he was a fisher of men, His followers would become fishers of men. This is an essential part of being a disciple. It’s not something that only a few of us do; it’s something that each of us does. There is no such thing as a non-reproducing Christian.

How do you prove you are a disciple? By bearing fruit. And if you are not bearing fruit, you have reason to question whether you are a disciple at all (see John 15:8).

Jesus summarized his ministry, Luke 19, by saying, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” If we are His disciples, that’s how we’ll summarize our lives, too.

You are God’s method. Disciple making is simply teaching someone to follow Jesus as you follow Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. And Jesus has promised to help you. So, identify your one. Ask God to help you identify one person you can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, bring to faith in Christ this year.

Who’s your One?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sermon December 8, 2019 – The King is Coming

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 Malachi 4:1-6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has the light of Jesus shone in your life?