Sermon Sunday May 15, 2022 To Know and Obey Jesus.

Click on the Camera to view the full message video

Is it possible to know God and to live like the Devil? Is it possible to truly know God and have no life change?

Obedience follows relationship. If there is no obedience – is there relationship at all?

Adrian Rogers wrote, “Study the Bible to know about God. Obey the Bible to really know God.”

This is the theme of 1 John 2. John’s goal is for the reader to know God rightly and have assurance of salvation, which leads to a life of joy in Jesus. To know God is to love God and to love God is to obey God.

Obedience to God reveals the genuineness of our faith. There is a huge difference between saying and doing. The true Gospel transforms us and leads to obedience. 1 John 2:3 reads, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments”.

The word “Keep”, means to guard, or protect like we would treat a precious treasure. And as we keep this treasure, our assurance in our salvation grows and we enjoy Jesus more. To obey His commands is never a burden, it is a blessing and a natural response to what He has done for me.

However we see in verse 4 that if we do not guard or keep the commands of the Lord, we are spiritual deceivers. We really don’t have a relationship with God.

Verse 5 gives is such a great promise, “but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him.”

Keeping the commands of God is not a condition of knowing God, but it is a clear sign and indication that we do know God.

The phrase, “the love of God”, refers to our love for God, and it is true that the more I know Him, the more I love Him, and the more I love Him, the more I know Him.

The same thing happens in a godly marriage. It should be that the more a husband and wife grow to know one another, the more they love one another. And the more love they share with each other, the more they will desire to know each other.

There is a tradition that on one occasion the apostle John, near the end of his life, was brought to the church on a pallet. All he said to the believing community was, “Love one another.” When he was asked why that was all he had to say, he responded, “Because it is enough.” (Matthew 22:37-40).

So how do we walk in the love of Christ? When we were saved it was so that we might be conformed in the image of His son (Romans 8:29). He saved us that we might “walk just as He walked.”

We have a moral obligation for our walk to match our talk. To truly abide in Christ means I will walk like Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 5:1, 1 Peter 2:21).

Like Father, like Son. Like Savior, like saint. Christ’s life becomes my life, my example, my goal, and my pattern. And we must note that it is abiding in Him that enables me to live like Him. I don’t do it in my strength. I do it in His!

Looking back to verse 3, how can we tell if we “know” him?

What then does it mean to “know” Jesus? The Greek word used here, “ginosko”, means basically “grasping the full reality and nature of an object under consideration.”

John was writing to people who knew about Jesus but didn’t really know him personally. Today there are millions of people who know about Jesus, but don’t know him as Lord of their lives.

Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me”. Those who belong to Jesus are responsive to His voice.

John does not suggest that relationship with God is established by obedience; rather, that relationship is demonstrated by obedience.

Sometimes people claim to know God but are unresponsive to His Word and His way of life. Such a person may possess accurate information about God and may be able to debate the finer points of theology. I have met people who have a deep grasp of the Bible and doctrine, but their lives do not match their words. Relationship is demonstrated by walking “as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Jesus addressed this as he was speaking to the Jews, the scribes and the pharisees in John 8:44a, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

The religious leaders, knew about God, they knew the Torah, they knew a lot of theology, but they didn’t know God Himself or else they would have recognized His son, Jesus. They were worshipping the law of Moses, but they weren’t hearing the word of God. Jesus continued in verse 47, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

So, my question today is, who are you listening to?

I always get discouraged when I talk to people who have not been in church for a long time and they say, “well, I am not in church, but I listen to Charles Stanley (or their favorite radio or TV teacher) each Sunday morning.” What they fail to realize is that they are neglecting to gather with his body, disobeying the word of God that calls us to commit to a fellowship of believers to grow together in love and unity.

Listening to good teaching is excellent, but the question is, are you listening to the words of God? Why do we run after the words of the created being, when we can sit at the feet of the creator?

Many Christians wrestle with decisions and they often say the same thing. “I am not getting a clear word from God.” My friends, it’s not that God doesn’t speak clearly, it’s that we don’t listen. It’s time to turn off the TV, YouTube, the cell phone and all the other noise surrounding us and open the Word of God. Make time to listen to the God who created you with the ability to hear His voice.

Are you abiding in Him, keeping his commandments?

Do you know Jesus?

Sunday May 1, 2022 Volunteering in the Church

Click on the camera to view the full message

Today we recognized volunteers, the people that make everything run smoothly. As we called each volunteer forward, we asked them to put a crayon in a vase. Each one of the crayons represents a task that needs to be done in the church. It was evident that it took a lot of people to do all that needs to be done in the church.  

But let’s think about the church, why do we come to church?

I think one of the failures of the church in the past fifty years is the advent of the mega church and the multiple campus church models. One of the primary motivators of the seeker friendly church is to make the church as welcoming and inviting as possible in order to get people through the doors.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we absolutely need to be welcoming and inviting. And there is nothing wrong with large numbers. But what has happened is that the church has gone from being a sending agent and become a Christian entertainment venue.

Feeding peoples wants and desires by programs, features, and entertainment. Instead of people coming to church to be equipped for the work of the ministry, people are coming to church to be entertained, and they are dictating to the leadership what they want in order to stay.

If we are honest, who has become the object of attention? It is the attendees, and if we are focusing on the attendees, who are we worshipping?

The church is not a professional organization, it is a body. We are all members of the body and as such we all serve alongside one another, for one purpose – for the glory of God.

We are saved for more than simply getting a ticket to heaven – there is so much more for us.

God delivered us so that we would have a relationship with him, through which He calls us to be a part of His mission to bring the Gospel message to the lost. What a privilege. Paul makes this clear in Ephesians 2:8-10.

We are saved in order to do good works. Now, the church is not the only place where we can do these works, but it is an essential part of serving the Lord. Every volunteer that we recognized this morning has a motivation to serve.

As I was thinking about it, there are many different reasons why people serve as a volunteer, but only one right reason.

Some people serve for recognition, others for the applause of man or to earn favor with God, and some serve out of guilt. But the true motivation to serve the Lord comes from a genuine experience of joy. When you genuinely serve the Lord out of love for the Lord and understanding the call of God on your life, you experience joy, deep seated contentment, and it is not a burden or hardship at all.

One of the keys to contentment is serving in the place of obscurity. Doing things that no one sees other than the Lord. Genuine contentment and joy is knowing that the only person who really notices is the only one who really matters.

The truth is that the church would not exist without volunteers, so how do we get people to volunteer? The normal way is to make a good promo video and beg people to sign up to serve. Failing that we could offer them free donuts and coffee!

But I propose that there is a purer motivation that comes from a move of God. We don’t need more manipulation; we need more of the power of God. As God begins to move on peoples’ hearts, they are compelled by a sense of calling and purpose. Doing what God has called them to do. In Psalm 110:3 we read, “Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours.”

This Psalm is speaking about Jesus coming in glory and his followers offering themselves to serve him. What we need in the church is not more calls for volunteers or pleading videos, what we need is revival. Throughout the history of revivals, there has never been a shortage of workers who give themselves to the work of the Lord.

Henry Blackaby wrote, “Only the power of God can free us from our natural self-centeredness and reorient us toward the mission of God”

And finally, we have the privilege to serve the Lord because we gain an eternal reward. Revelation 19:7-8 reads, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

At the marriage feast, the church, the Bride of Christ, will be clothed in fine linen, bright and pure, but the linen is made up of the righteous deeds that we do. Now we know that we are not made righteous by what we do. Rather, we work from a position of righteousness because of the blood of Jesus.

The good works that we do, are righteous deeds that have an eternal value. Christ will reward us for our faithfulness. And the rewards we receive will make up the wedding gown.

Dr. Lehman Strauss writes, “Has it ever occurred to you … that at the marriage of the Bride to the Lamb, each of us will be wearing the wedding garment of our own making?”

That is a tremendous paradigm shift; we don’t serve out of duty, we serve as an act of worship.

How is your heart? What is the response of your heart today? Is your heart so filled with gratitude and worship that you are waiting for the opportunity to say like Isaiah, “here I am, send me.”

Sermon, Sunday February 13, 2022 – The Question of Suffering

Click on the Camera to View the Full Sermon Video

2 Corinthians 12:1-7

How do you handle pain?

How do you respond when God doesn’t answer your prayers and remove painful situations in your life?

In the last few chapters of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul makes a case for his apostleship. In chapter 12 he outlines some of the incredible experiences he has had with the Lord. As a result of these incredible confirmations from God, Paul could easily have become proud. But God was gracious to him, keeping his life in balance.

God allowed Paul a thorn in the flesh, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited” 2 Corinthians 12:7.

God allowed Paul to experience a form of suffering, something that caused him physical pain to keep him weak and humble. We don’t know what the thorn in the flesh was, and we don’t need to know. The mystery of suffering will not be understood by us in this life.

We see throughout the scriptures that while we don’t fully understand the origins of evil, we do know that Satan and his demons do not have free reign, they can only act with the permission of God. This is not easy for us to grasp, or to counsel someone with when they have been a victim of some horrible trauma. But I firmly believe that the Bible teaches us that God is in control.

Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove the “thorn” on three occasions, and probably with extended seasons of prayer and fasting. But the Lord allowed Paul to model for us how to suffer well, how to endure when God doesn’t give us the answer that we want.

As Paul prayed, God was not silent, and in verse 9 we read the Lord’s response, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

God promised Paul something better than instant healing, it was God’s power in Paul’s life. What we see is that the grace of God is a gift that enabled Paul to endure well, it was strengthening grace.

The paradox is that the weaker Paul became, the stronger the power of Christ would rest on him. That is something that we must wrestle with in our first world culture where strength is celebrated, and weakness is demeaned. The Kingdom of Heaven is very different to the kingdom of the world where the overarching theme is pride and self-sufficiency.

Paul’s suffering doesn’t go away, but he is changed through it.

Warren Wiersbe wrote, “In the Christian life, we get many of our blessings through transformation, not substitution.”

We ask God to substitute the pain, to make it go away, but sometimes God gives us transformation, changing us by His grace.

It is a greater thing to pray for pain’s conversion than its removal,” wrote P.T. Forsyth

When God answered Paul, He gave Paul a promise,” My Grace is sufficient for you.”

As Christians, we are not people who live on explanations from God. Rather we live on the promises of His word. As we meditate on the promises, our faith grows and so does our hope.

As we are transformed by the grace of God, we can display peace and joy during suffering to the world around us. At the end of verse 9, Paul writes, “so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The Greek word used for “rest” is a complex word that means to shelter or to cover over like spreading a tent over someone. What a beautiful picture of the power of Christ resting over you when you are going through the trial of suffering.  

On January 25, 1736, John Wesley was sailing in a wooden vessel across the Atlantic, and they sailed into what can best be described as a hurricane. The vessel was being torn to shreds by the vicious winds and the huge waves. If you don’t know John Wesley’s story, at this point he didn’t know that salvation was by grace through faith in Jesus. He was terrified of dying and along with him, everyone else onboard including the captain and the sailors.

However, on the ship at the time was a small group of Moravian Christians, and they displayed a supernatural calm. In fact, they were singing praises in the bottom of the ship. Wesley quizzed them because he was so puzzled by their calm demeanor.

After speaking to them Wesley wrote this, “from them I went to the crying, trembling sailors, and pointed out to them the difference in the hour of trial, between him that feareth God and him that feareth him not.”

Wesley was so moved by their peace that eventually he was led to true faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

How we respond during suffering can be the most powerful testimony of our lives.

One of the greatest promises in the Bible is Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” We long for that day, but the same one who will wipe away every tear said these words in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

If you are going through a trial of pain right now, you know that the pain and the tears are very real. Our Heavenly Father is not removed from the pain, He hears the cries, and he feels the pain. God is deeply moved by the pain an suffering in this world. When the Father turned his back on His son on the cross, it cost Him everything.

But we have the incredible promises of God that nothing He brings us through will ever destroy us, rather it is preparing us for glory! (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Sermon, Sunday February 6, 2022 – ASK specifically

Click on the camera to view the full sermon video

“Lord bless everyone”, “Lord please heal all the sick people”. How often have we prayed similar broad and general prayers? Is it possible that we pray generally because we don’t have the faith that God will actually do what we ask if we pray a specific prayer?

I believe that a specific prayer request is something that draws God in. As we get specific in our prayers, our relationship with our Heavenly Father grows more personal.

God will answer specific prayers directed to His throne, linked with the authority of the name of Jesus. It has been said that “Prayer is the key to unlocking God’s prevailing power in your life”.

In James 5:13-16, we see four categories of people who are encouraged to pray.

1: The first person is the person in trouble, “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray” James 5:13a.

The word “trouble” used here could also mean suffering or hardship. Any form of emotional, mental, spiritual, or physical hardship.

James tells the troubled person to pray. We must realize that this is not a promise of immediate relief from the suffering, but there is a promise of strength and peace from the Lord during suffering. When we choose not to pray, we are compounding the problem and heading towards even further distress. Prayerless people cut themselves off from God’s power, and this leads to emotional defeat and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

The key is persisting in prayer even when we don’t see a solution or outcome.

2: The second person is the happy person, “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” James 5:13b.

Singing worship songs with lyrics that declare the attributes and glory of God, is singing a prayer.  When we are happy and at peace, we want to thank God for His blessing and goodness. What better way to do this than to sing out His attributes, praising Him for who He is.

Sadly, there are too many modern songs and old hymns that speak about the emotions and feelings of the singer. These songs are not bad, but simply are not worship songs, because the Lord is not the object of our focus. The sad reality is that we live in a church culture that thinks that the worship service must be designed to cater to our needs and desires. However the Lord needs to be the object of our focus and our affection (Mark 12:29-30).  

It doesn’t matter if we have plenty or are struggling, whether we are doing well or just getting by, whether we are emotionally drained or emotionally strong; we have the privilege to declare the praises of the One who is sovereign over all.  

What if we had a paradigm shift and worshipped because it blesses God. Who cares if we don’t sound good or don’t feel like it, it’s a privilege to bless our Father in Heaven.

3: The third person is the desperately sick person, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord” James 5:14.

The Greek word used here for sick, is a debilitating illness, leading to death. James gives a prescription for how to pray for the sick person.

  • Call the elders. The church elders are spiritual leaders in the church.
  • Pray with faith. This is the faith of the one (s) offering the prayer. Remembering that faith is not something we muster up in our own will. Faith comes from God. 

Prayer offered in faith is circular, beginning and ending in Heaven.

I have prayed for many people; some have been healed and some have not.  We cannot muster up faith and expect God to heal when a certain level has been reached. He gives us faith and we return that faith in the form of prayer for the sick person, God then uses the faith we have, to heal the person.

  • Anoint with oil. In the first century, anointing oil was widely regarded as best medical practice at the time (Luke 10:34). The practice of anointing with oil today during prayer is different, but no less powerful in its application. It is a symbolic act, much like washing each other’s feet.
  • Pray in the name of Jesus. Or praying with the will of the Lord” (1 John 5:14-15). This is where the asking specifically is key.

We have all prayed the prayer that goes something like, “Lord if it is your will then please…” While this sounds good and Biblical, we are forgetting that the Lord has invited us to ask for what we need.

Why don’t we pray specifically, and ask the Lord for what is on our heart? If you have a sick loved one, or any other need, we have the permission to come before the throne of the almighty God and ask. Why not ask specifically for what we want and leave the results up to Him.

4: The fourth category is the person who is sinning, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” James 5:16

As followers of Jesus, we are called to a lifestyle of holiness (James 4:1-10). Righteousness is a free gift from God, when we confess our sins and are washed by the blood of Jesus. There is power and healing in the confession of our sins to one another, and this is a necessary discipline in the Body of Christ. However, confessing to each other does not bring righteousness, only Jesus can do that (1 John 1:9).

Righteousness is not something we do, it’s something we receive. That is why, when we pray in the name of Jesus, and we are covered in his righteousness, our prayers are powerful and effective.

How is your prayer life? Is it effective?

As your prayer life goes, so goes your spiritual life, as your spiritual life goes, so goes the rest of your life.” Ronnie Floyd.

Sermon, Sunday January 30 2021, Ask Big

Click on the camera to view the full message

2 Kings 4:1-7

What are you asking God for today? Is it big?

Are you boldly asking for a miracle from God? Many people don’t ask big, because they simply don’t believe that God can or will answer their prayers.

In 2 Kings 4, we read the account of a widow in desperate need, who reaches out to the prophet Elisha for help, knowing that he will have the answer. This poor widow had great confidence that reaching out to Elisha would save her family. She had no backup plan, she knew that she needed to speak to Elisha, he was the man of God who could help.

When you have a need, who do you turn to? Do you try to ask your social media “friends”? How quick are you to turn to prayer?

I have noticed that strangely many Christians ask for prayer, but they themselves are not praying for a miracle. Maybe the feeling is that God hears others who are perhaps more “holy” than me. We must remember that we all have equal access to the throne of grace.

Elisha asks the widow, “what shall I do for you?”  in verse 2.The need is obvious, but she must articulate it, and there is an act of faith in speaking out the need. Jesus required the same from Bartimaeus in Mark 10:51, “what do you want me to do for you?” Bartimaeus asked big, and he received his sight because he believed in the one who was standing in front of him.

Sometimes we are praying for crumbs when Jesus is inviting us to ask for a feast. Do you believe in the one who can supply all your needs?

Our needs are more than physical, our greatest need is spiritual. How desperate are you for God to intervene in power in your life? Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

We don’t thirst for righteousness because we are lulled into comfort by the entertainment of the world, and we don’t realize our deepest need. Remember in all this, God is for you, and He is generous.

Elisha continues and asks the widow, “What have you in the house?” She had nothing left, only a small amount of oil, and she was ready to give that to the Lord.

What do you have that you can bring to Jesus? Sometimes all we have is a little faith. God can use that.

Elisha then gives her an unusual instruction, but it was the step of faith that she needed to take, “Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few.”

This was another test of her faith because the size of the miracle was dependent on the size of her faith; how many vessels she borrowed. There are times when we have to take a step in faith even before we see the miracle we are praying for.

I am certain if the family had known what would happen, they would have rented the local warehouse and brought in vessels from every city in the nation, but how could they have known. They acted in faith.  

In verse 6 we read how the miraculous flow of the oil ended when the vessels were all full. The miracle ended, not because God could not provide anymore, but because the capacity to receive had been exceeded.

The limiting factor is never God’s ability to give, it is our capacity to receive. What it boils down to, is how much of our lives are we willing to give over to the control of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:13).

Another lesson we can learn from this is that the oil was multiplied in the pouring out from the little she had. The way to increase what we have is to use it, sometimes to give it away.  It is not hoarding the talents, but trading with them, that doubles them (see Luke 19).

It takes faith to use what God has given you, especially when the world says, “hold on to what you have, you never know when a rainy day will come”. What talent is God inviting you to invest in the kingdom today?

Finally, notice that this miracle took place in the private place, the prophet told the widow to go into her room and close the door. Her need was met when she met certain conditions. One of the acts of obedience was to close the door, to be alone with her sons and the presence of God.

It was a personal miracle and she had to be the one doing the pouring, not Elisha or anyone else. When God tells you to do something, don’t look over your shoulder and see who might be a more qualified person to do it. What God has blessed you with will increase best in your own hands as you are obedient to God.

This miracle not only meets the widow’s needs, but she was blessed with abundance. God performed a powerful creative miracle and it all started with the level of expectation of the widow. She sent for Elisha because she had absolute confidence that a miracle would happen.

What are you praying for today? What is the level of your expectation?

Maybe if your heart was fully exposed, you don’t believe that God is going to give you what you are asking for? Deep down, you don’t believe he is able or that he is generous.

Another word for expectation is faith. Do you pray, believing in the God of the impossible? We read about men and women of faith in Hebrews 11, they all had an expectation in the power of God.

Duncan Campbell wrote, “there is a place beyond consecration, there is a place beyond sanctification, and that is the place of implicit confidence in God”

The level of your confidence in the power of God determines the size of your ask.

What are you asking for?

Sermon Sunday November 21, 2010 – Compassion part 1

Click on the camera to view the full sermon video

Compassion is integral to the church. Caring for the lost, caring for the hurting, caring for those who are experiencing loss and trauma. Pain is a very real part of the world around us.

Jesus entered the temple in Luke chapter 4 and began reading from the prophet Isaiah. As he finished, he declared that he was the fulfillment of this prophecy. Everything about this passage speaks to compassion. The call, and the heart of Jesus was deep compassion.

In Matthew 14 when Jesus had just been notified of John’s death, he separated from the crowds to be alone by boat. But the crowds followed his boat on foot along the shore and as soon as he landed, the crowds began to descend on his boat.

The more Jesus tried to get away, the more the crowds were drawn to him and particularly after the martyrdom of John, people were drawn to Jesus.

What does Jesus do? What would I do? If I were honest, I would get back in the boat and hope the wind was blowing in the other direction! But Jesus had compassion (Matthew 14:14). Matthew writes that Jesus was filled with compassion. It wasn’t simply an emotion that he showed once or twice, it was his character and nature to have compassion. Jesus was acting out of his true self.

We see the heart of Jesus for compassion in Matthew 2:2, Matthew 9:35-26, Matthew 15:32, Luke 7:13 and many more times recorded for us in the Gospels.

Compassion was not simply a good trait that Jesus displayed, it was his very core being. Yes, he was perfectly holy and had all authority, but he displayed his compassion most frequently.

It does not mean that Jesus overlooked sin and evil when he walked the earth. But he saw sin as the enemy and the people around him as fallen people who lived outside of their original design that he himself had given them. When Jesus saw fallen and broken people, his initial response was to be drawn to them and not repulsed by them, and he still does that today. Jesus hates sin, he died to destroy the works of Satan (1 John 3:8b).

Our sin causes us to suffer and when we suffer Jesus wants to see us holy and pure, set free from our sin. It is in the very moment of our sin that Jesus draws near to us to prevent us from enduring more pain and suffering.

The compassion of Jesus is on display when a sinner repents and yields to the power of the holy Spirit. When Jesus walked the earth and performed so many incredible miracles, he didn’t turn things upside down, he repaired what sin had broken.

Dane Ortlund puts it this way, “Jesus walked the earth rehumanizing the dehumanized and cleansing the unclean.”

The brokenness and sin of this world robs humanity of its original design, the purpose for which we have been created, to bring glory to God.

Jesus at his very core had compassion flowing from him like a fresh stream of water. Jesus completed his earthly mission and commissioned the church to be his body here on the earth. We are the body of Christ. We are his representatives, his ambassadors wherever he has placed us.

Do you realize that the presence of Jesus is closer to you now, as his follower, than he was to the people that he spoke with and touched two-thousand years ago? Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus embraces us by his spirit, and we are able to be comforted and comfort others. The church is called to be the heart of compassion in the earth.

But do we perfectly embody the compassion of Jesus?

Do we act appropriately when we see people in need? I know I don’t.

When we see someone in pain or in need, we are moved to compassion if the music is right or if the TV images are wrenching enough. And we might be moved to send some money or donate some canned goods. But the moment the images leave our screen, or we leave the meeting, our compassion begins to fade and we quickly forget those feelings of care and desire to help. We begin to reason our way out of the guilt we feel.

But every now and then there is a Holy Spirit tug on your heart to help someone. And as we follow those impulses of the Holy Spirit, we find out the strange interaction that takes place in the spirit, as we respond with compassion, we in turn are blessed. The reason we are blessed is that we are living out our designed purpose, to be the compassion of Jesus in the world. And the more we act like Christ, the more we will feel his joy and blessing on our lives.

In Matthew 9:36, we read that Jesus had compassion on the crowd and immediately he turns to his disciples and says, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37-38). 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 for workers must be fueled by a heart of compassion. Immediately following this challenge, Jesus calls his disciples in Matthew 10 and empowers them to heal the sick and set people free from demonic powers. Jesus encourages his disciples 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.

Will you make the most of the opportunities for compassion that come your way this week?

Sermon, Sunday March 7, 2021 – Chosen!

click on the camera to watch the full sermon

In 2014 there was an article in the news about a boy by the name of Davion in Florida, who at the age of 15 had been in the foster care system all his life. Davion desperately wanted to be adopted into a loving family and he knew that because of his age, this was highly unlikely.

He decided to be proactive and he worked hard to improve his physical appearance and his grades at school. On his own initiative, Davion boldly stood before the congregation of his local church and asked if anyone would choose him to be their son.

Davion was crying out to be chosen, to be a part of a family. Can you imagine your children having to market themselves and be on their best behavior and get all “A’s” in school to be accepted and loved?

The point is that we all have a deep desire to belong, to be chosen and to be a part of a family. This is the invitation that Jesus introduced when he walked the earth, and the same invitation stands today. We get invited into the family of God, where we are accepted just as we are, and our Father will never give up on us. It’s a family that wants the best for you. It’s a family that offers real hope for today and for your future.

In Mark 3:13 to 6:29, we catch a glimpse of the life and ministry of Jesus as he is at his most popular. Everywhere he goes crowds follow him in hopes of seeing a miracle or being healed themselves.

In Chapter 3 from verse 13, Jesus chooses the disciples to be in his family. Jesus didn’t pick the best theological minds and esteemed leaders, rather he chose ordinary fishermen, tradesmen, a politician, and a tax collector to be part of his family. Jesus chose them and used them to start a global movement that changed the world.

At the same time, Jesus was rejected by his own family (Mark 3:20-21). When his family heard about his ministry they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Jesus knew what it was like to be rejected, abandoned, and betrayed by your own family.

Jesus identifies with the many people whose family abandon and disown them when they place their faith in him as Lord.

Jesus identifies with Davion’s pain. Jesus identifies with your pain and Jesus chooses you to be in his family. Just a few minutes later Jesus said regarding his family, “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35). Whoever is willing, has faith and believes becomes a member of this new family.

Faith Comes by Hearing is an organization committed to producing the audio Bible for every language in the world. One of the recordings is for a tribal group of Indians in Bolivia called Quechua. When the Quechuas first heard the Bible in their heart language, the response was amazing. Whole villages came to faith in Christ, families were healed, and churches were planted throughout the region. As the FCBH leadership began asking questions of the Quechua people, they found out that the most impactful Bible story was the healing of the women with the issue of blood found in Mark 5:21-34.

The woman had a chronic bleeding issue that had gone on for twelve years, and like many people with chronic illnesses, she emptied her bank account paying her medical bills. In addition, this medical problem made her ceremonially unclean in the community as per the law of Moses, which meant she was shunned, alone and broken. Out of a place of desperation she takes a huge risk and works her way through the crowd on her hands and knees to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment. As she reaches out and touches the edge of Jesus’ cloak, she is immediately healed.

The reason why this particular story impacted the Quechua people was because they could identify with being rejected and shunned by society. It wasn’t until as recently as 1965 that there was a government ruling to declare that the Quechuan’s had a soul. Up until that time, they were regarded as nothing more than primitive animals.

When the Quechua’s hear the story in Mark chapter 5, they identify with the women considered unclean. They join with that woman and when she touched Jesus, they reached out and touched Jesus. Something happened in their souls and their spirits at that moment.

They were set free from their pain when they grasped what Jesus said in Mark 5:34, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

The Quechua at that moment would begin to sob and break down. Their heart hurt because Jesus saw this woman as a human being, he healed her and invited her into his family. He freed her from her suffering. Their hearts hurt because Jesus, who now speaks their language, turns to them, and offers them that same invitation.

Jesus is now turning to you and offering you the same invitation.

After Davion spoke in the church, his story went viral and today he has a forever family.

Someone chose to adopt him into their family.

Imagine yourself standing in front of a church and pleading for someone to welcome you into their family, and even before you finish your speech, Jesus stands up and shouts out, “I chose you!”.  This is what Jesus does every-day, he says, “I love you and choose you just as you are (see Hebrews 2:11).

Jesus is the only one who has the power to set us free from our shame and to present us as righteous before God the Father. Those who believe in Jesus and receive him are the ones who are made holy.

Have you made the decision to make Jesus Christ Lord of your life?

Sermon, Sunday February 7, 2021

Click on the camera to view the full sermon

What is the greatest thing you can do for your neighborhood?

We and the global Church, have been praying faithfully for revival, but what if we were praying for revival for the wrong motives? What if our prayers were only focused on church growth?

The real motive for revival should be our community transformed by a move of the Holy Spirit. Praying for revival must be bigger than our church. We must focus on praying for our community.

In Nehemiah chapter 8, we read the account of a revival that took place in Jerusalem in the fifth century before Christ. Under the governorship of Nehemiah, the walls of the city had been rebuilt and now all the people have gathered at the Water gate and request that Ezra, the priest, reads the book of the law of Moses. These are the first five books of our Bible.

 The water gate was an open public place that was large enough for all the people to gather. Scholars estimate that the crowd was around 50 000 people. As Ezra opened the scrolls and began reading from the Law of Moses, all the people stood in reverence and listened attentively. Ezra read aloud from daybreak until noon with 13 men assisting in the reading and 13 Levites mixing amongst the crowd to help with translation and understanding.

It is significant that this reading took place at the water gate. This place was chosen because the temple court was too small, but it is also significant that Gods Word was proclaimed in the marketplace, in the public square.

The Word of God is meant to be proclaimed in the public places, in the marketplace, and as we do that whole communities will be transformed. All too often the only place that the Word of God is proclaimed is in church buildings. We are doing such a disservice to our community by not proclaiming the Gospel message of Jesus Christ in our communities.

This public proclamation of the Law led to an immediate revival, the people were overcome with remorse and wept as Ezra expounded on the Law of God. Their sins were being exposed by the Holy Spirit and they repented.

What is revival? Firstly, it is not is a church meeting. Revival can start in a meeting, but a meeting itself is not revival. The dictionary states that revival is “restoration to life, consciousness, vigor. An awakening, in a church or community, of interest in and care for matters relating to personal religion

Revival is personal. It starts when individuals repent of their sins and openly proclaim Jesus as Lord. The Israelites were overcome with grief as their sins were exposed. This is what happens when we get a glimpse of the Glory of God and of His awesome purity compared to the sin in our lives.

Revival results in changed lives as people live in holiness and walk-in evangelism and social justice. People are no longer satisfied with the entertainment of the world.  Revival breaks the power of the charm of this world and gives us a heavenly perspective.

There have been some incredible revivals throughout history on every continent. All these revivals had one thing in common, an unusual experience with the presence of God and the overwhelming sense of remorse and repentance from the people (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Our churches, our city, our nation, needs revival. By God’s mercy, we will see a move of God that leads nations to repentance and an overwhelming sense of His Glory and majesty.

But every revival seems to have been relatively short lived. We just must look at the North Eastern United States today, it seems to be so dark and far from recognizing Jesus as Lord. But just a few hundred years ago, it was the center of the Great Awakening under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield.

As we see in Nehemiah chapter 13, this occurred in Jerusalem as well. Less than one year after the revival, it seemed that the people had backslidden, and Nehemiah had to take drastic action to bring them back to observing the Sabbath and worshipping God.

Why did they backslide so quickly?

As we cry out to God for revival, how do we ensure that we do not falter in our faith, but rather continue to grow and experience more of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?

Our Christian lives should be constantly growing, becoming more like Jesus. If you are not more like Jesus today, than you were a year ago, something is wrong, and you need to re-evaluate your walk with the Lord.

Many Christians go from conference to conference or meeting to meeting and experience amazing encounters with God, but between those experiences they barely live a life that represents a relationship with the living God. After every mountain top experience, we must learn to encounter God in the everyday, mundane life.

How do you grow in your walk with the Lord in the mundane?

Here are four Keys to a growing relationship with God.

  • The first is reading and meditating on the Word of God. There is no substitute for prioritizing time immersed in the Bible.  As we feed on God’s word, it teaches us, rebukes us, and trains us (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Are you allowing the Word of God to align your life with His?
  • Secondly, repenting of our sins. Unconfessed sin will prevent you from experience revival and it will also ensure that you remain a spiritual infant. 1 John 1:9, is a promise from God!
  • Thirdly, living in community. Today we are hearing a lot about community, but true community is rare. Even in our churches, community is a goal that is seldom achieved. Community is more than simply attending a weekly life group, community is living life together, encouraging and challenging each other.  
  • Finally, we pray.  Personal prayer and corporate prayer must be the hallmark of every believer. Prayer is a discipline and a treasure that sadly only a few seem to hold dear.

Prayer is the greatest thing that you can do for your neighborhood.

Sermon, Sunday December 13, 2020 Prayer is Essential

Click on the image above to view the full sermon

As Paul closes this letter, its as if he is saying to his readers, “the most important thing is prayer”. Followers of Jesus must be constantly in prayer.

Verse 18 is a continuation of verse 17, putting on the armor of God. But the armor is useless without prayer, much like a military vehicle is useless without fuel.

We put on the armor of God, we take up the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, prayerfully. Prayer is not simply something that we do, prayer is the fuel that is essential for us to stand firm in Christ.

Ephesians 6:18 reads, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”

As Christians, we are engaged in a daily spiritual battle, and prayer is the essential means that God has given us to win the battles we face. Prayer is a gift from God and one that is grossly underutilized in our churches.

As we look at the phrase, “praying at all times in the Spirit”, Paul wants us to realize the fact that all true prayer is empowered by the Holy Spirit. We come to the Father, through Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Spirit is interceding for us when we don’t know how to pray. Only in the power of the Spirit can we pray the will of God. Otherwise, we will always pray with selfish motives.

The Holy Spirit takes our prayers and ignites them so that they become a holy offering before God. It is the Holy Spirit who takes our prayers and presents them in the will of God before the Father. Do you see the importance of prayer?

Now it is possible to pray in the flesh, and not in the spirit, not praying in the will of God. We need to learn how to pray the will of God in the Spirit. As we pick up the sword of the Spirit and we pray the Word of God back to Him, it is infused with power from the Holy Spirit.  

Each piece of armor must be carefully put on with prayer, drawing upon divine resources.

This prayer is Spirit-energized, Spirit-enabled, and Spirit-directed. Prayer is the energy that enables the follower of Jesus to stand firm in the armor and to wield the sword effectively.

In verse 18 we see the word “all” used four times.

  • We are to pray all the time. (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17).

This does not mean we are always on our knees in prayer. Rather it means living with the continuous realization that we have an open line to God. We are always in His presence because His spirit is within us.

God hears and sees everything you say and do. Every curse and every blessing that you speak is heard by God.  We don’t have to let God know that we are coming into His presence, because He is already with us and we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Are you aware of your continuous prayers?

  • Pray with all prayer and supplication

There is so much more to prayer than simply asking God for things. Prayer is a mixture of worship, thanksgiving, repentance and supplication. The Christian who jumps straight into asking God for things, misses out on the relationship that comes from worship and thanksgiving.

We have one rule at our Tuesday morning prayer times in the chapel. The first thirty minutes is only praise and worship, we don’t ask God for anything. It is amazing how that first thirty minutes aligns our hearts with the heart of God and then we pray with insight and direction for the remaining thirty minutes.

  • Pray with all perseverance:

Like good soldiers, we must stay alert and be disciplined. Jesus encouraged his disciples in his most crucial hour to stay alert and pray (see Mark 4:38).  We need to teach and develop spiritual disciplines today!

It is frightening to learn how few people pray, read their Bibles, fast, or tithe. These are all basic spiritual disciplines that come with a blessing.

If we look at the lack of spiritual discipline in the church, it is no wonder the church has such a weak witness. No wonder people no longer view the church as essential.

Perseverance in prayer does not mean we are trying to twist God’s arm, but rather that we are deeply concerned and burdened and cannot rest until we get God’s answer.

The early church prayed without ceasing when Peter was in prison in Acts 12, and they persevered until the angel set him free. Keep on praying until the Spirit stops you or the Father answers you.

  • Pray for all the saints.

The Lords’ Prayer begins with our Father, not my father. When we become followers of Jesus, we become part of the family. You have a responsibility to look out for and to pray for all your new family.

Unity in the body of Christ is a major focus of this letter and unity grows as we intercede for one another. Even Paul asked for the prayer support of the Ephesians in verses 19 and 20. If Paul needed the prayers of the saints, how much more do we need them.

Note that Paul did not ask them to pray for his comfort or safety, but for the effectiveness of his witness and ministry. Paul is arguably the greatest theologian and missionary in history, and he knows that he is dependent on the prayers of the saints.

Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of the sharp edges of the Sword of the Spirit, however it means nothing if you do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do you know who you are…in Christ?

Sermon, Sunday November 15, 2020 Spirit Filled Families

To view the full sermon, click on the camera

As a church we can proclaim to be fiercely pro-life, from conception to the grave, but sometimes we can be guilty of categorizing the value of people based on their productive ability.

And this is never more prevalent in the area of our children. Our children can be noisy and messy, but they are of inestimable value in the Kingdom of God (see Mark 10:13-14).

We are so blessed to have so many children in our church family and I believe that they are our greatest responsibility. The training up of children in the ways of the Lord is the primary responsibility of the parents, but it is all of our responsibility. The community of believers all bear the responsibility of caring for and setting examples for our children.

In the first century Roman Empire, children were not valued at all. It was legal for a father to discard a newborn onto the trash heap if he decided not to keep the child. But the early church was radically different to their culture and had a high regard for children, as should we. There is no greater responsibility than to be entrusted with the short time that we must teach and mold these children in the ways of the Lord.

Paul begins by addressing children and telling them to obey their parents, “…for this is right”, Ephesians 6:1.

This seems obvious, but sadly our post-modern culture would re-write this verse to say, “Parents, obey your children, for this will keep them happy and bring peace to the home.

When Paul says, “for this is right”, he is simply stating that this is the ordained order of nature. It is part of the natural law of God written on every human heart. If you study history, virtually every civilization in history has regarded this natural law as indispensable for a stable society.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church he adds the phrase, “…for this pleases the Lord” Colossians 3:20.

Now, this must not be a blanket statement that parents use for abuse. Our foremost authority is to Jesus, and if parents instruct their children to do things that are obviously contrary to the Word of God, then the child’s first line of obedience is to the Lord.

Paul writes in verse 2 that children must honor their parents. To honor means to show respect and love. Children do not honor when they talk back to their parents or mock them. This is not simply wrong; it is dishonoring to God Himself who has given you those parents.

Paul was referring to the fifth commandment in Exodus 20:12 and in Exodus 21 anyone who cursed their parent or hit them, was to be put to death!

This commandment does not only apply to a certain age group, God requires all of us to honor our parents. 

Verse 4 has a particular challenge to parents, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4. The word translated as fathers, is translated in other passages as “parents”, so it is safe to assume that Paul is referring to both parents in the role of raising their children.

This verse is more than simply an instruction not to make children angry, it is an instruction to parents to directly teach children and to disciple them in the ways of God. Our society has abdicated the responsibility of raising our children to the public-school systems and we wonder why society is failing in so many areas.

Parents taking the responsibility for the training of their children is the way God intends society to function (Proverbs 6:20).

In the ancient world, fathers had absolute control, they could abuse and even kill their children without any repercussions. We don’t have that challenge in our culture; however, we can be guilty of causing anger and discouragement in our children. Our children are often neglected and fail to receive the love and approval that will cause them to thrive in society. We can easily discourage our children by comparing them to other children or by using sarcasm and ridicule. Conversely, nothing causes a child to thrive like positive encouragement and unconditional love.

The Apostle Paul writes that parents are to, “but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” Ephesians 6:4b.

Contemporary parent counsellors and sociologists teach that we are to be more hands-off in the training of children. We are told to be non-directive and let them, “find their own way”.

Let me assure you, someone has an agenda for your children. Satan and his demons love to find children who have been left to, “find their own way”. Parents, it is our primary responsibility to train and instruct our children in the ways of the Lord. Danny Akin says about parenting, “have fun and talk about Jesus a lot”

We must teach our children that Jesus is Lord, and he is the ultimate and highest good. We must teach our children faith by living it in front of them. Involve our children in the process of praying through important life decisions. Parents, we can talk all day about living under the lordship of Jesus Christ, but unless our children see it in our lives, they will never make it their own.

Sadly, so many young people have left the church the moment they graduated from high school. I believe the primary reason is that they see the church as a social construct or a social club that their parents belong to. They do not see the power of the Gospel on display and the lifestyle of faith that the Bible talks about.

Parents lead your homes by faith and involve your children in the journey.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.

Psalm 127:1a

Parenting is only possible with God and it is a daily walk by faith. We need to learn to commit our children to the Lord daily in prayer as we look to Him for grace and wisdom.