Sermon Sunday May 8, 2022 – Let God be True and Every Man a Liar

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The number one problem in the world today is that humanity has a sin problem, and it affects everyone. But not everyone agrees with this assertion.

Today, we don’t hear people call sin for what it is. Sin is labelled an error of judgment, a mistake, a bad decision, etc. In fact people go to great lengths to rationalize or hide their sin.

But we must understand this basic truth, to deny sin is to call God a liar and question His character. In this passage, John uses the word “sin” nine times, and two times he will use the word “darkness.” To think correctly about Jesus, we must think correctly about sin.

In verse 5 we are reminded that we have good news, and it is a message that the world needs. This message concerns Jesus Christ, “the Word of life”. When we meet Jesus as our savior, our assignment is to take this message to the whole world. According to the JoshuaProject.net there are 7,418 unreached people groups who are yet to hear the Gospel.

A key component of the Gospel message is to convey an understanding of the nature and character of God. This is a constant theme of John’s writing.For example, he teaches us that; God is light (1:5), God is love (4:8, 16), and God is true (5:20).

In 1 John the statement “God is light” means God has as His very nature and being the source of life. Martin Luther said, “There is no darkness in Him, not even the slightest”.

This is a message that we must passionately share with the world.

But our message must also include what God says about sin. The essence of sin is our attempting to take the place of God. We want to be in charge. And we want to provide our own definitions of what is right and wrong.

John is not interested in human opinions on the matter of sin. He uses three “if we say” statements to lead his readers to understand sin. He says we are prone to lie to others, lie to ourselves and ultimately call God a liar.

1: Do Not Lie to Others (1 John 1:6–7)

John writes in 1 John 1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”.

If we say we have fellowship with God, but are walking in spiritual darkness, we are lying. We say to others, “I know God,” but our beliefs and behavior contradict our words. We lie to others about who we are.

In contrast, verse 7 says that if we live our lives in the realm of light, as God is in the light, our fellowship with one another is authentic and the blood of Jesus, His Son, keeps on cleansing us from all sin.

2: Do Not Lie to Yourself (1 John 1:8–9)

 Verse 8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Those who live in death and darkness do not just lie to others, and eventually they lie to themselves. They lose their moral compass, and their conscience is seared (1 Timothy 4:2).  

If we claim to be sinless, a declaration that we are free from the guilt and penalty of sin, we are deceived, and the truth is not in us.  The truth is a person, if we say we have no sin, we really have no relationship with Jesus.

John then follows up with one of the greatest verses in the Bible, verse 9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

John writes that there are two kinds of people

  • There are some who cover and conceal their sin. They are liars.
  • There are also confessors who acknowledge and admit their sin. They are forgiven.

John is not saying that we need to be perfectly sinless as that is impossible. We need an advocate who can forgive us.

3: Do Not Lie about God (1 John 1:10)

John makes the case that we can lie to others about our sin, we will then lie to ourselves and ultimately, we will actually call God a liar. Verse 10, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

Moving on to 1 John 2 verses 1 and 2, the world must know what God says about Jesus.

Jesus Is Our Advocate (1 John 2:1)

John has made it clear that in this life we cannot be sinless. However, he does believe we can sin less because we are now in intimate fellowship with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

We all still sin, but we have the amazing promise of 1 John 1:9. In verse 1, John tells his readers to run to our savior, our advocate to the Father. This advocate is sinless, undefiled, and spotless in his nature and in all his actions. There is no one else like him.

The word “advocate” means helper, who comes alongside in a time of need. This helper is the cleanser of sin (1:7), the forgiver of sin (1:9), and the helper when we do sin.

We have this misconception that when we sin, Jesus turns away from us and leaves us because we have disappointed him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus is drawn to us when we sin, he cares for us and knows that our sin leads to pain. He comes near to prevent us hurting ourselves further.

Jesus Is Our Atonement(1 John 2:2)

Jesus can be our advocate, because he has made propitiation, an atonement for our sins.

The word “propitiation” is a very important word that carries the idea of satisfaction. Jesus Christ, by His sacrifice on the cross, satisfied God’s holiness and turned away His righteous wrath from sinners.

The work of atonement accomplished by Christ on the cross is where God’s holiness and God’s love meet. (See Isaiah 53:10 and Philippians 2:9).

How do you stand before God today? Are you lying to those around you? Are you lying to yourself? Are you calling God a liar?

Jesus offers right standing before God, his forgiveness is instant and paid for.

Sermon, Sunday January 23 2022 – ASK Part 2

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Before You Ask

James 4:1-10

When my son Joshua wants to ask me for something that he knows I might not want to give him, he uses a lot of strategy and downright emotional manipulation. He is a master of the ask. He prepares me for the question, softens me up and then when he thinks the moment is right, he makes his case.

Sometimes as children of God, we think we must prepare God for our ask. But I would propose rather that we need to prepare ourselves before we ask God for what we want.

God is not a mean vindictive father who withholds blessings until we get our act together. Matthew 7:11 says, “…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

But, what does it mean to prepare ourselves to ask God? I am talking about the personal pursuit of holiness and purity that we are all called to as followers of Jesus.

James was dealing with conflict in the church as a result of the people embracing sinful lifestyles (see James 4:1). Some of the members of the church in Jerusalem were seeking pleasure by running after things which they thought would bring them joy. Things that were contrary to the perfect will of God.

God designed us to enjoy things and to find pleasure in things, so that is not wrong, but the driving desire for pleasure that is selfish is the problem. Looking to the world to satisfy what only God can, leads to dissatisfaction, pain, and broken lives. This is the result of a prayerless and selfish lifestyle.

The battle for holiness is fought in the mind. How healthy are the thoughts you entertain?

In verse 4, James exposes that as Christians, we have a singular allegiance, and that is to Christ alone. He calls our friendship with the world as spiritual adultery.

What are the affections of your heart? Do you find yourself thinking about; sexually immoral things, the accumulation of possessions, a certain addiction you entertain, how to manipulate people or situations for your own personal gain? Do you entertain sin by the movies you watch, the music you listen to or the places you go to?

Some may say that I am being old fashioned and that we need to stay away from challenging people’s moral decisions. But God’s requirement for holiness has never changed, and as James tells us, by accommodating these things, we are making ourselves enemies of God. You are making yourself the enemy of the one who gave His son for your salvation. It is time that we challenged each other in the area of purity.

We pray for revival, and historically a revival is a move of God that is characterized by repentance and people crying out to God for mercy as they were made aware their sins.

The question is, do we want this? Or are we comfortable and satisfied with weak and ineffectual Christian lives? We are no different to the world, we don’t take holiness seriously, we don’t take sin seriously. We fear man more than we fear God.

When we entertain sin in our lives and in the lives of the people around us, we are making ourselves the enemy of God. Sin is never personal; it affects all those around us. There are no private sins. When we entertain sin, we cheapen the grace of God, and we grieve the Holy Spirit.

But there is good news! As followers of Jesus filled with His spirit, when we fall and run after the pleasures that are contrary to the will of God for our lives, we are still greatly loved by our Heavenly Father. He is jealous for us, and He yearns for us to return to him.

When we sin, God does not stop loving us as that would be contrary to His nature. When we sin, God’s love for us is on full display. He reaches towards us to prevent us from hurting ourselves.

The root of all sin is pride, and that is where we need to start. We need to be humble and repent of our sins. Here is the amazingly good news of the Gospel, God offers us salvation freely and he offers his grace freely to grow in humility (James 4:6).

With humility as our starting point, we see a list of remedies for our sin in the following verses. James gives a prescription for our struggle with sin. It is only by the grace of God, but as we follow this prescription, we will know joy, peace, power, and freedom in our Christian lives.

The prescription is found in verses 7 -10, Submit yourself to God, resist the devil, draw near to God (meditating on His word and time in prayer and worship), cleanse your hands (repent of your sins), purify your heart (Psalm 51:10), mourn and weep, humble yourself.

Finally, we come to the closing phrase of verse 10, “and He will exalt you”

We must be careful; this is not an exalting in the way we would exalt a hero or a sports star. James means that after you have humbled yourself, repented and mourned over your sin, then He will lift you up. He will restore your identity. He will restore your standing before the throne of grace. Then you will live and thrive, living from your identity of who you are in Christ.

When we are not humble and in a right relationship with God, we are not going to ask for things that are on God’s heart, the things that are good for us.

Once we prepare our hearts and minds, once we humble ourselves and repent, only then will we know the perfect will of God and we will want what He wants.

What area of your life is God inviting you to deal with today?

Lessons from Jonah – Part 2 May 7, 2017

Jonah Chapter 2

Have you ever been in a hopeless situation? A time when you were in a place in life where there was no human way for you to get relief or find a way out of the situation?

Jonah was in a desperate situation. He had hoped to die, because his prejudice towards the Assyrian people in Nineveh was so great the he would rather die than preach God’s word to them. I think that in Jonah’s mind, there was a sense of relief when they threw him overboard, now it was over, there was no more tension between being obedient to the Lord or not. But, God was not done with Jonah.

The Lord provided a large sea creature and commanded the fish to swallow Jonah. God is sovereign over all of creation, He made it and he controls it.

This was not a “plan B” by God. Jonah, as we saw last week was a prophetic picture of Jesus, that Jesus used to rebuke the Pharisees who were asking for a sign from Jesus to convince them that he was the Messiah (Matthew 12:40).

Jonah finds himself in the belly of a large sea creature, feeling the digestive acids beginning to eat at his skin, in the pitch dark he remembers the Lord. In the first chapter, Jonah does not pray or address the Lord at all, rather the sailors cry out to God and are saved. But now, Jonah realizes that this is no ordinary fish, God has his attention and he is beginning to re-evaluate his priorities.

God is disciplining Jonah. Just as God is sovereign over all of creation, so too he has the right to discipline and correct his children (see Proverbs 3:11-12). When God disciplines us, it isn’t evidence of his lack of care, it is proof of His love for us.

Jonah begins to repent and recognizes the hand of God in his situation. As we read Jonah’s prayer we see glimpses of hope, he begins to take his focus off the situation he finds himself in and begins to hope in God (Jonah 2:4 &6).

Notice the second part of verse 6. “But you Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit” Jonah realized that he did nothing to deserve his salvation, he realized that he was at the mercy of God and that he had nothing in himself that was good. His salvation was only by the Grace of God. If we ever think that we are saved because of our good life, how much money we have given to the church, how many people we have helped, even how many people we have told about Jesus – we are horribly mistaken. We are saved by Grace alone through Christ alone, Jonah understood this.

In verse 8 it seems that Jonah changes his line of thinking, as he goes from repentance and remorse to condemning people who worship idols. But I think Jonah understood that an idol is not necessarily a block of wood or stone carved into a shape. But rather an idol is anything that takes the place of the pre-eminence of God in one’s life. Jonah realized that his idol was his own patriotism and his own self-righteous prejudice against the people of Nineveh. He realized that his idol had turned him away from God’s love for him.

Anytime we have anything in our own lives that takes the place of God, that is more important to us than God, it is an idol and because of that idol we turn away from God’s love for us, and we miss out on the best that God has for us. An Idol may be the love of money, or a relationship that you know is not right for you, or maybe the love of your own comfort, the list could go on. These things are examples of idols in our lives.

As Jonah repents, he begins to realize his position with God, he begins to rejoice in his love for the Lord (Jonah 2:9). Remember that he is still in the belly of the whale. Jonah’s position has not changed, but his heart has changed. He begins to worship the Lord and praise the Lord in his darkest hour, literally – I don’t think the large fish had any internal lighting.

What we see here is the offering of a sacrifice of praise. The Psalmists often speak of offering a sacrifice of praise to God, and Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”

When we praise God, it pleases Him, our singing and praise is an offering to God.

When you are going through the tough times in life, the loss of a loved one, or financial struggles, your marriage is in a difficult place; when you are going through those tough times, that is when it is the hardest to stand up and sing praises to God. That is the sacrifice of praise, it is white knuckle praise. Praising God in the midst of your darkest hour because even though you don’t see it now, he is faithful and he will always remain true to his promises.

Those are the praises that please God. The same writer to the Hebrews writes in Hebrews 11:6, “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

When you are going through tough times, that is when it takes faith to praise and sing to God, that is a sacrifice of praise that pleases God.

Jonah repents and rededicates himself to his ministry (Verse 9). As we read further in the book of Jonah, he becomes one of the most successful evangelists in the Bible. Talk about a turnaround. Being in the digestive juices of a whale will do that to you.

The Lord knew Jonah’s heart and knew that Jonah’s repentance was genuine, and commands the fish to spit him out on the shore.

What are you struggling with? It doesn’t matter what we are struggling with, it may be because of our disobedience or even our obedience, we must praise God in all circumstances.

God never takes us through difficult times just to see how we will respond, he carries us through the tough times, in order for us to learn to trust him more, in order for us to grow in our relationship with him.

Will you offer a sacrifice of praise to God today?

Lessons from Jonah – Part 1 April 30, 2017

Jonah lived sometime around 760 BC, in one of the best times for the nation of Israel. Under the leadership of Jeroboam II, the northern Kingdom had a significant recovery, you can read about this in 2nd Kings 14.

Some forty years before the Assyrians destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the prophet Jonah was sent from Israel to preach in the enemy capital of Nineveh. The Assyrian nation was a regional superpower at the time, and for decades the Assyrians were threatening and terrorizing the Israelites. Jonah probably enjoyed being a prophet to the Hebrews, but when God asked him to preach against the enemy nation, he began to run into some problems.

As we read Jonah ran away from God and goes to Joppa which is near modern day Tel a Viv in Israel. Jonah pre-pays for his ticket, making certain that he can get a place on the ship heading to Tarshish. The port of Tarshish was at the southern end of Spain and at that time it was the furthest west any ship would venture.

Jonah had a one-way ticket, it was a journey to the ends of the earth, such was his fear of the task that God had called him to.

The Lord caused a great wind to blow on the Mediterranean Ocean, the hardened sailors are terrified and they begin to cry out to their own gods. They had probably been in storms before, but this one was different and they were convinced they would all perish, so they were looking for a way out, they were looking for salvation.

It is no different today when people encounter the storms of life, they look for relief and help any way they can. People today try to fix spiritual problems with medication, counselling or drugs, but only God can heal the brokenness of the human heart.

In the middle of the storm, Jonah slept. Just like we read that Jesus was asleep in the bottom of the boat in Mark 4 as the storm is raging around the disciples in the boat.

But there is a difference between the sleep of Jonah and the sleep of Jesus.

Jonah had given up on life, he had left all behind and had a one-way ticket to oblivion, he did not care if he lived or died. But Jesus slept in absolute security and peace, knowing that God the Father was going to protect and keep him from all harm. If you know that you are doing what God has called you to do, you can sleep in absolute peace, because He will keep you from all harm.

The sailors cast lots, they roll a dice to see who caused this unprecedented storm, the lot falls on Jonah and they begin to interrogate him. We read in verse 8 that they ask him 5 short but very direct questions. Jonah’s answer is clear and to the point (see Jonah 1:9).

Notice something about Jonah’s response, even though he is hiding from God and he is hoping to die, he still says; “I worship the Lord…”. Deep in his heart, Jonah knew the truth and it came out in his time of desperation.

The Bible says that His answer terrified the other sailors. They knew he was running away from God, but now they saw the terrible consequences of his actions, and they began to realize that Jonah’s God was the one true God. Notice again another similarity between Jonah and the account of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:41.

It took a raging storm for the sailors to be terrified of the one true God in Jonah 1, but it took the calming of the storm to terrify the disciples in Mark 4. When anyone encounters the undeniable presence of the all Holy God, it changes you. These sailors were being changed as they encountered God.

Jonah takes responsibility for his actions and one would think he would repent and ask God for a second chance. But he is so determined not to preach to the Ninevites, that he would rather die – “Throw me into the sea” he says.

The sailors on the other hand, do everything they can to save Jonah, in their compassion they try to row back to shore. Soon they realize that Jonah is the problem, but before they throw him overboard, they cry out to the Lord. Notice that the sailors cry out to the Lord, nowhere in this chapter do we read that Jonah cries out to the Lord, he would rather not talk to God because he knows the answer and he doesn’t want to hear it.

The heathen sailors start praying to God and ask for forgiveness for what they are about to do, then they pick the prophet up and toss him into the sea. Immediately the sea is calm. The sailors feared the Lord and in repentance they offered sacrifices and make vows to God. These sailors were converted to worshipping the one true God.

What was the real sin that Jonah committed? We always assume that the sin was rebellion, but I believe it was more than that.

It wasn’t his fear of the Ninevites, that made Jonah go in the opposite direction, it was the Character of God that made him run away. Jonah knew Psalm 103:8, he wasn’t afraid the Ninevites would hurt him, he was afraid that God would remain true to His character and forgive them. The real sin of Jonah was not rebellion, but rather prejudice.

Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), reflecting the character of God. The Great Commission still applies to us today, we have been given a message and so often our prejudice towards other people stops us from being obedient to God.

We all have prejudice, we shy away from people who are not like us. Those neighbors who are maybe a different skin color, or speak a different language, or maybe they don’t fit our social circle.

Sometimes the Lord must bring a storm into our lives in order to reveal the prejudice in our lives.

When we read the account of Jonah, who do we identify with? Most of us identify with Jonah, the disobedient messenger. But the story of Jonah is not our story, our story is that of the Ninevites. We were once alienated from God, we were enemies of God (see Romans 5).

Jesus is the greater Jonah, Jesus was obedient to the Father, he came to us, those who were his enemies. Jesus was obedient to God to the point of death. Jesus, the greater messenger, the one who paid the ultimate price, so that we can be reconciled to God.

Sermon – Starting Over part 1 – January 8 2017

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Beginning the year well.

Every day is an opportunity to start over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Revival Part 13 – Repentance

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Last time we looked at the phrase, “turn from their wicked ways” and we saw that we all are confronted daily by evil desires and wicked ways.

God says we must turn from these ways. The Biblical word for turn is repent. Some Christians feel that it is good enough to decide to stop doing the wrong sinful activity.

But the reality is that this is not enough. There needs to be a time of deep repentance. We have three “R’s” in correcting sinful behavior. We firstly need to remember what we have done, the Holy Spirit helps us by convicting us of our sin. Secondly, we have to repent of that sin, and finally we need to return to God with humility of heart.

There are many portions of the Bible that speak to this process, for example;

Jeremiah 15:19a; “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me….”

Mark 6:12; “They went out and preached that people should repent.”

Acts 2:38; “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Repentance is one of the most misunderstood words in the Christian terminology. Most people think it is a feeling of sorry for the wrong things we have done. But the Greek word for repentance is “metanoia”, which means a complete change of mind. It is good to feel regret and sorry for our sins, but that is the result and outcome of repentance and not the source of it.

Repentance is best described as turning in the opposite direction, a complete change in behavior and speech.

We must not wait to feel sorry for our wrong actions in order to repent. Sometimes we are simply sorry we got caught!

Rather, repentance must come first and then our emotions and feelings are impacted.

Our emotions are not to be our guide. There are many things that affect our emotions and we need to be careful to not let our emotions and feelings drive our decisions.

Revival Part 12

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2 Chronicles 7:14; “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

We have seen that revival is God’s sovereignty on display in response to our prayers. He decides when and provides for revival. But, there is a part we have to play, we need to humble ourselves and pray, but we also need to turn from our wicked ways.

We don’t like that word, it seems very harsh in our 21st century politically correct world. Wicked means sinful and ways refers to a behavior that we have settled into and become comfortable with.

So what are these wicked ways? The Bible gives us some clear guidelines.

  • In Revelation 3:15-16 we see that the Laodicean church was wicked because of their spiritual luke-warmness. Are we neither hot nor cold for the things of God?
  • In Matthew 6:14, Jesus makes it clear that we are not to hold unforgiveness against anyone. After all we have been forgiven, it is wicked not to do the same for others.
  • In John 17, Jesus prays for unity. We fall into sin, when we create division and disunity in the church through gossip and slander.
  • By not reading the Word of God and applying it to our lives, that is a wicked way. We are neglecting the Holy Word of God to us.
  • In Malachi 3:8, we see that withholding our tithes and offerings is a wicked way, we are literally guilty of robbing from God, by not giving back to him what he has first given to us.
  • Then we have the list of moral failures, lying, indifference to evangelism, losing our tempers and idolatry (putting something before God).

Looking at this list, it makes us wonder if we will ever see revival.

We need to strive for purity and holiness, not so set anything unholy before our eyes and not to speak any unwholesome words.

The verse says that we are to turn from these wicked ways, and we will look at this in more detail in the next posting. But the key is repentance. We need to repent and ask God to forgive us of all our sin. True revival always starts with repentance.

Lessons from the life of David Part 4, April, 24 2016

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2 Samuel 12

Repentance

Have you experienced the annoyance and frustration of having your check engine light come on in your car?Check-Engine-Light-Portland

When your check engine light comes on you have two options. Take the car to the shop and get it seen to, or ignore it and hope the problem will resolve by itself. Ultimately you have to do something about the check engine light. It is after all there for a reason.

In the story of David in 2 Samuel 11, things were looking good in Israel, the nation was united. David was a good and wise King. The nation was expanding, and it looked like everything that God had promised Abraham, Moses and Joshua was all about to come to fruition. But David began to rest on his laurels, and he began to enjoy the ease of his success. He took a break from going out with the armies in the springtime, he was probably about fifty years old at this time. David lapses into complacency and that is when he falls into sin. 2 Samuel 11 relates the well-known account of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba and the murderous plot to cover up his sins.

After about a year, God sends his prophet Nathan to David to pronounce God’s judgment on him. On the surface it seems that he has gotten away with his sins, but he is being eaten away inside (see Psalm 32:3-4).

Nathan tells a simple parable, and then Nathan says those crashing words; “You are that man!”

Nathan continues by listing all that God has done for David, each line must have been like sharp darts piercing the heart of David; we read in verse 7 and 8

  • “I anointed you King over Israel”
  • “I delivered you from the hand of Saul”
  • “I gave you your master’s house and wives”
  • “I gave you all of Israel and Judah”
  • “And I would have given you more

And in verse 10, the judgment is read out: The sword will never depart from David’s house. Out of his own household, the Lord is going to bring Calamity. God will take his wives away mocking David in broad daylight.  And the son born to David & Bathsheba will die.

The weight of the judgment must have sent David to his knees, he was being punished severely for his sins. God still punishes sins today. This does not mean that everytime we experience a tragedy it is because of God’s punishment, but sometimes it might be. The immediate punishment that we all feel when we sin is the loss of peace, that broken fellowship with God as we silence the voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Broken fellowship with God and broken fellowship with other believers. The truth is that private sins have public consequences.

But looking carefully at the verses we read you will notice a common thread in the judgment of God. God points out David’s physical wrongdoings, but there was a greater sin that David committed.

  • Verse 9; “Why did you despise the word of the Lord’
  • Verse 10; “…because you despised me…”
  • Verse 14; “…you have shown utter contempt for the Lord,”

David’s sins were in effect saying to God that His blessings were not enough. All that God had given him was not good enough, he was tempted and craved for more.

This is the underlying cause of much of our sin if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we sin because we want more than what he has blessed us with. We sin because we are not fully satisfied in Jesus.

God took the sins of David very personally, “David…you despised ME!” “You have shown utter contempt ME!”

If we think our sins are simply bad things that we do, and that God does not feel our sins, we are horribly mistaken. All of our sins are a personal affront to God. Because of our sin, Jesus went to the cross. He was punished because of our sins. It is personal, everytime we sin we show contempt for God.

David responds immediately and confesses his sins. He understands that his actions were an affront to God and he repents. It was at this time that David wrote Psalm 51, that great repentance Psalm, and he acknowledges that his sin is against God (see Psalm 51:3-4).

True repentance has 4 parts.

  1. Open unguarded admission – A full disclosure of our sins.
  2. Desire to make a complete break from the sin – Repentance means walking in the opposite direction.
  3. A humble and broken spirit. (see Psalm 51:17) Humility is a key to revival.
  4. Receiving God’s forgiveness and acceptance (see 1 John 1:9).

Getting back to that check engine light in your car. Our lives also have a check engine light, he is called the Holy Spirit. It is a lie from Satan to think that our personal sins are something that will not affect anyone else, and that we can handle our secret sins. The secret sins of; cheating on your taxes, not being completely truthful in our workplace, addiction to pornography (a “secret” sin that is destroying families), envy, pride, slander or gossip. Every time we sin, the check engine light in our lives comes on, and we try to ignore it, but it keeps getting brighter.

David felt the pain of unconfessed sin as we see in Psalm 32:3-4, but this Psalm ends with a shout of joy and praise to God as David experiences the relief and freedom as God forgives his sins. “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!”

However God did not take away the consequences of David’s sin, but we don’t hear David complaining about that. Every sin has consequences. Sin leads to loss of privilege and status, those are real life consequences for sin. But by the grace of God, He is able to restore the sinner.

Look at the restoration that God accomplished in David’s life, Solomon was a son born later to David and Bathsheba. The Bible tells us that God loved Solomon and gave him supernatural wisdom. The child who should never have been born, became arguably the greatest king of Israel until Jesus himself. Praise God that even in the midst of the messiness of sin and repentance, there is redemption and grace.

It all starts with repentance. True repentance, acknowledging our sin before an all Holy God, turning the other way, humbling ourselves and accepting the forgiveness of our sins before the cross.

Repentance leads to freedom and health, but covering up our sins leads to further brokenness. Today we all have a choice, to choose life and freedom or to not repent of our sins before God and in so doing we choose death.

Revival Part 5 The Conditional Preposition

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There are two all-encompassing verses in the Bible that relate to salvation and revival.

  • John 3:16 tells us all we need to know about the way to salvation.
  • 2 Chronicles 7:14 practically tells us all we need to know about the way to revival.

For the next few weeks we are going to look at this verse in Detail – 2 Chronicles 7:14; “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

The verse starts with that powerful conditional preposition – “if”.

It has been said that a preposition can alter a proposition, and that is very clear from this powerful promise of God.

Whatever part God plays in a spiritual re-awakening, we have a part to play too. As we have already stated, a revival is the work of God and no-one can take credit for it, however as we see throughout scripture, there is a responsibility that is ours in every move of God.

On the one side we have the sovereignty of God, it is the almighty God who decides when and how to move in revival. However the divine sovereignty of God does not relieve us of our responsibility. There are things that we can and need to do in order to bring revival closer. A famous Welsh revivalist once said; “Revival comes from God but it is borne to earth on the wings of fervent, believing prayer.”

The Word “IF” is a conditional word and the Bible has many examples of the conditional nature of the blessings of God. Here are just two examples.

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” John 7:37

But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:15

The Bible has many verses that encourage that when we need a spiritual re-awakening, we must start with our own sinful condition and come to God in repentance.

Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2

Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness.” “Behold, we come to You; For You are the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 3:22

 “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.” Revelation 2:4-5

Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips.”” Hosea 14:2