Sunday, November 28, 2004

Turn & Embrace

Turn & Embrace


Today’s text will come from the book of Galatians

Key Scriptures: Mark 1:14-15 (NLT)

14 ¶ Later on, after John was arrested by Herod Antipas, Jesus went to Galilee to preach God’s Good News.

15 "At last the time has come!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!"

Once again I stand before you with one simple goal:

To take us from the place in life where ever we are to a place of prayer.

There will be no surprises this morning, no great revelation, no new doctrine or witty sayings.

All I have is simple truth. Truth which I hope will challenge us and bring us to the place of prayer.

As we begin, allow me to pose this question:

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be - and what does that say about you?

Would it deal with:

Self discipline; anger management; critical remarks; lustful thinking; bad habits; insecurities; pride or perhaps lack of patience?

You see, in order for us to change we must first Identify the problem.

Next we must See change possible.

Finally, we must Take the necessary steps to correct the problem.

See change necessary; See change possible; See change

There is a difference between having a problem and being a problem.

Being A Problem is when we or others know that we have a problem and we won’t do anything to correct it.

If we don’t do something about the problem we have, the problem we have will one day have us, and then we will be the problem.

I. Let’s Look At The Source Of Most Of Our Problems

Galatians 5 (NLT)

17 The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.

A. If we allow our old sinful nature to influence our choices

B. We get predictable results:

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure,

20 idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group,

21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

C. What is the Kingdom of God? What would one be missing?

Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

D. That’s The Problem

Allowing our old sinful nature to influence our decisions robs us of the comfort and security which comes from being right with God, at peace with God and man and filled with the joy of just being alive.

E. Are you right with God? At Peace with God & man - including yourself? Filled with joy, the joy of just being alive? If not - why not?

E. Perhaps you are following the wrong influences. The Remedy?

II. Turn And Embrace

A. Turn is another way of saying, Repent or Change

Note: Many times people try to change but find out that they can’t do it on their own. Good News! You don’t have to do it on your own.

When you turn to God, you are no longer on your own.

Turn to God, from your old ways and Embrace His way.

As soon as Peter turned from his problem of sinking in the troubled waters and turned to Jesus, crying out to Him for help, Jesus immediately reached out His hand and lifted Peter up.

Jesus will help us put the Holy Spirit in control of our life.

When we embrace the Holy Spirit’s influence, we:

B. Embrace True Change

Galatians 5

22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23 gentleness, and self-control …

III. Making The Change

A. Have you identified at least one thing in your life which you would like to change?

B. Now we have a chance to do something about it this morning:

* Remember, if we don’t take this opportunity, we may cease to have a problem and we may start to be the problem.

Galatians 5

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

C. How do I nail my problem to the cross?

1. Through prayer

2. We ask God to forgive us for allowing the old nature to influence the way we think, act, feel and speak.

3. There is no other way for us to be free except to:

* Identify ourselves with God

* Confess our sin to Him

* Accept His forgiveness and continual help

D. After we pray and have turned, we must then embrace a new way of handling these pressures and the worldly & carnal influences.

E. We must choose to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Galatians 5

25 If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

IV. Conclusion

1. We are going to pray now and confess our need to God.

* We will ask Him to forgive us

* We will ask Him to help us

2. We are going to pledge to resist the old ways, the old influences and the old habits of life

3. Then we’re going to commit to following the leading of the Holy Spirit in every part of our life.

Forgive Me God

Help Me Change God

I Turn From My Way & I Embrace Your Way God

Pray With Me Now.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Vision Beyond Series

Vision Beyond Series


Are you getting ready for your greatest adventure?

Your greatest day is yet ahead and the journey is your friend.

Our text today will come from the last chapter in the book of Genesis

Key Scripture: Genesis 49:22 ¶ "Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.

I. Sunday, November 7, 2004

Vision Beyond The Moment

II. Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Vision Beyond An Adventure

III. Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Vision Beyond All Ability

IV. Today

Vision Beyond A Lifetime

Let me fill you in on what has happened leading up to Genesis 50 …

* Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Joseph, Jacob’s 1st son by Rachael.

* The Pit Genesis 37

* Days of Slavery Genesis 39

* The Prison Genesis 40

* The Palace Genesis 41

* The Reuniting Genesis 42 - 44

* The Restoration Genesis 45

* The Results Genesis 46 - 49

> Jacob is 147 years old and prophesies to all his sons

Key Scripture: Genesis 49:22 ¶ "Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall.

* The Rest of the story:

> Joseph is now 110 years old himself and about to die

Genesis 50 (NKJV)

24 And Joseph said to his brethren, "I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."

25 Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here."

26 So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

One might say, “Well, that’s the end of the story of Joseph.” Boy would they be wrong.

Joseph is just about to begin his greatest adventure thus far … and it won’t be his last … in fact, I don‘t think we have seen his last yet!

V. Vision Beyond A Lifetime

A. Our key scripture, Genesis 49:22, foretold that Joseph was a fruitful vine, near a spring, and that he would reach over the wall.

1. This wall … one meaning is definitely speaking of:

2. The veil of death - but death only to the mortal body …

B. Joseph made the children of Israel swear to take his bones with them when they left Egypt.

C. It happened:

Exodus 13:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you."

D. Every step the Israelites made, Joseph was with them.


From the parting of the Red Sea to the bitter waters of Mara, from the giving of the Ten Commandments to the building of the Tabernacle, from Balaam’s prophecies to the ten spies with a bad report at Kadesh Barnea … Joseph’s bones were there.

He was there for the manna and there for the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. This was a man with a vision, living a dream and participating beyond his lifetime.

Joseph’s body was carried across the Jordan River to the walls of Jericho and to all the battles for the Promised Land. It was not just Joshua and Caleb that survived the journey by faith, but Joshua, Caleb and Joseph.

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

What a great adventure for a dead man to have, but not his greatest!

VI. Joseph Buried (this is at the end of the book & life of Joshua)

Joshua 24:32 The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph.

If we weren’t careful, we might think that this was the end of Joseph’s journeys. But, don’t count him out yet! He had only been dead for about 200 years here. Surely he has one, at least one more adventure, left in him.

Never underestimate a man with a vision. When he arrives at one destination, he understands, it’s just my next departure point for a greater adventure of faith.

VII. What Was The Vision Beyond His Lifetime?

Allow me to offer to you what was perhaps Joseph’s next greatest adventure: It took place about 1475 years later or about 2000 years ago.

Matthew 27 (NAS)

50 ¶ And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.

52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;

53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

It is quite possible although scholars differ on this point, that just as many believe, Joseph was in this crowd of saints. That’s not hard to imagine or even that he now serves as one of the 24 Elders seen in Revelation 4, we cannot now know for sure.

Shechem is just North of Jerusalem whereas Hebron, the burial place of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, is just South of the holy city, Jerusalem.

As recorded, when Jesus died, saints arose and when Jesus was resurrected and appeared to His followers for 40 days, many of the risen holy saints also spent time appearing and ministering to those in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas testifying that this Jesus is Messiah. Jesus appeared to more than 500 people Himself.

It is most considered that these saints were caught up into heaven either at some point before or at the ascension of Christ.

It’s easy for me to believe that Joseph was there and that I will see him again, living his dream. And like Joseph,

Perhaps your greatest day is yet ahead.

What are you doing that will outlast you?

This is the urge many have to have children

To give care to grandchildren

Or involve themselves in the lives of others, making an investment in the future, the future of others.

Are you planning to participate in the Kingdom beyond your lifetime?

Your dream can still come true.

Get a vision for the greatest adventure of your life.

Ask God how you can be a part of the greatest days this world has ever seen and then beyond.

Prepare yourself, a greater day is just ahead.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Vision Beyond Our Ability

Vision Beyond Our Ability


In the times when you are doing all you can do, God is still doing nothing.

God enables us to do more than we can do. He supplies all of our need according to His riches.

Many people never allow themselves to be moved into the place of need. An adventure beyond their own ability.

Many never attempt the impossible.

Key Scripture: Luke 18:27 But He said, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God."

We all face pressured moments. Moments which can test our resolve and skew our vision of the future. Moments which rob a person of peace, joy and hope if were it not for the fact that God gives us Vision Beyond Our Moment.

Although there are moments of great difficulty in life, most of life is good and profitable, pleasant and secure. The routine we find most comfortable in the varying seasons of life can, however, lead us to forget that life changes.

Change is coming to each one, and in order for us to make the most out of seasonal transitions God gives us Vision Beyond Our Current Adventure.

God gives us vision beyond our moment and vision beyond our current adventure and, when life assigns us to a task that calls for extraordinary strength, more knowledge and greater wisdom than we could possibly possess, God will then give us vision beyond our own abilities.

God is not intimidated by our enemies nor by our desire to serve Him supernaturally.

Think about:

Samson and his great feats of strength

David facing Goliath as a little shepherd boy

As good as he was, he wasn’t that good.

The prophet’s widow of 2 Kings 4 with a vision to pour the oil

Noah getting all of those animals to come into the ark

These all faced circumstances which could not be remedied without God’s intervention.

God gave each one of them a vision to proceed beyond their own abilities.

One other bible character we will focus on tonight is Peter, the young fisherman turned follower of Christ.

Matthew 14 (NKJV)

22 ¶ Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away.

23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.

26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear.

27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid."

28 And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

29 So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

* The disciples were on a mission for Jesus, following His command when they found their boat tossed by the waves and the winds were contrary to them.

* They are 4 or 5 miles from shore and it is between 3 and 6 o’clock in the morning when they see what they think is a ghost.

* The disciples start screaming like little girlie boys in a haunted hotel on Halloween.

* Jesus speaks and comforts the disciples

* Peter then asks of Jesus: “If this is really You …; If you are really with me; If you are really out there … then … command me to do something which I cannot possibly do without You.”

* “Give me a vision, a task, an adventure beyond my own ability.”

There Are Two Unchanging Facts About Us Christians

* Without Him We Can Do Nothing

John 15:5

* With Him We Can Do All Things

Philippians 4:13

When God inspires us to get involved in something which we know is way beyond our own abilities, whether:

* In our marriage (to give or forgive, to lead or follow)

* In our ministry ( to go or to stay put, to get involved again)

* With our finances, our family or our future (whatever the task)

When God inspires us to get involved in something which we know is way beyond our own abilities, have no fear …

Where God points, He always provides.

He never gives vision beyond His provision. God, however, does demand that we participate in our miracles.

This is the confidence we have when we approach God’s word for direction in our lives. Where He points, He will provide.

God never gives His counsel or His command without His commitment.

What is impossible with man is possible with God. Luke 18:27

Mark 10:27 “With God all things are possible.”

In 1988 many of us committed to making our church important to God.

At that time we began praying a constant prayer:

God, give us a loud voice so that we may proclaim Your gospel message.”

In the middle of October of this year, 2004, I was praying early one morning, well before daylight. There on my knees I once again lifted my prayer and asked God to give us a loud voice so that we might proclaim His word.

I heard God speak to my inner man and say to me:

“Your whisper can now be heard around the world.”

I realized that even though we had asked for the impossible, God had given it to us.

In 1988 God gave us a vision beyond our own ability. As we faithfully prayed and participated, following His leadership even when at times it moved us out of our comfort zone and into need, He watched over the vision and brought it to pass.

Now, in 2004, 16 years later, our whisper can be heard around the world.

I am now committed to a new vision which is way beyond my own ability and could move us deeper into need.

This vision and prayer is powerful and will come to pass, just like the last one. The vision:

“Lord, give the whole world ears to hear.”

If you currently don’t have something better and more important to do:

Won’t you join with me in this vision.

Make it your prayer.

Let it move you out of your comfort zone and into what will perhaps be the greatest adventure of your lifetime.

What can you do to participate in this vision beyond your own ability?

Become a player on the COTR Vision Team.

Write or e-mail me and let me know that you are partnering with me to give the whole world ears to hear the word of the Living God.

Together we can accomplish this task. God is with us and He is committed.

What will it take? We will find out along the way as we are faithful to pursue this vision, even beyond our own abilities.

This coming Sunday morning, November 21, 2004, don’t miss,

“Vision Beyond Our Lifetime”

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Vision Beyond Our Adventure

Vision Beyond Our Adventure


Many believe there is no reality beyond what they now see.

They are limited by their current station or situation of life.

* The cast system in India for example - the untouchables

The Israelites believed there was no future beyond their Egypt experience or beyond their wilderness experience.

Joseph was not stuck in his pit, his prison, his palace, his death or his grave.

And there is a future for you beyond your current adventure

Beyond your living at home with your parents adventure

Beyond your school and education adventure

Current workplace, hourly wage or annual salary

Situation of life

Child raising years

Beyond the current challenges and the current joys of life

There is a new day coming for you! Will you embrace it?

There Is A Future Beyond Your Current Adventure, Catch The Vision

We study the bible and read the stories of great men and women of faith. People like: Abraham, Rebecca, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Ruth, David, Gideon, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ester, Mary, Peter, Paul, Mark and Timothy.

Each one of these has something in common with all of the others. They were all people with vision beyond.

* Vision beyond their moment and

* Vision beyond their adventure

I. Vision Beyond Our Moment

A. This past Sunday we talked about having a vision beyond the moment.

1. Like Joseph who pressed through the hard moments of life

* Betrayal

* False Accusation

* Difficult Confrontations

2. Like Jesus who endured His moment on the Cross

* Although He despised the shame

* He pressed through the moment with strength and joy

B. Because of a vision - A Vision Beyond The Moment

C. Jesus saw through the fog of the moment and saw the other side of His moment.

There are defining moments, molten moments of life which test us, refine us and prepare us for a greater day.

Fear cannot hold us captive, stop us short or rob us of joy when we have a vision beyond the moment.

For the most part, these moments of life are tough moments. Moments we would rather not encounter and could really do without.

Although we do have trying moments in life, much of life is not so tough, it’s simply going from one season of life to another, one adventure in life to another.

These seasons don’t have to be unpleasant experiences, in fact, most of them are quite good, profitable and comfortable. Nonetheless, to get the most out of life, get to our greatest day and offer God our best, heaven demands that we not only have Vision Beyond Our Moment, but also we must have Vision Beyond Our Current Adventure.

Some people settle for far less than God’s best for them and their best for God because they do not have a vision beyond their current adventure.

II. Vision Beyond Our Adventure

The bible character I want to use for our example is found in:

Joshua 2 (NLT)

1 ¶ Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia. He instructed them, "Spy out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho." So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.

2 But someone told the king of Jericho, "Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land."

3 So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: "Bring out the men who have come into your house. They are spies sent here to discover the best way to attack us."

4 Rahab, who had hidden the two men, replied, "The men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from.

5 They left the city at dusk, as the city gates were about to close, and I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them."

6 (But she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath piles of flax.)

7 So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossing places of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the city gate was shut.

8 ¶ Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them.

9 "I know the LORD has given you this land," she told them. "We are all afraid of you. Everyone is living in terror.

10 For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed.

11 No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.

12 Now swear to me by the LORD that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that

13 when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families."

14 "We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety," the men agreed. "If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise when the LORD gives us the land."

15 Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the city wall, she let them down by a rope through the window.

16 "Escape to the hill country," she told them. "Hide there for three days until the men who are searching for you have returned; then go on your way."

17 Before they left, the men told her, "We can guarantee your safety

18 only if you leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house.

19 If they go out into the street, they will be killed, and we cannot be held to our oath. But we swear that no one inside this house will be killed—not a hand will be laid on any of them.

20 If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way."

21 "I accept your terms," she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.

A. Rahab was a business woman

1. Most likely a hard worker, who enjoyed her work

2. She had her own house with a rooftop, outer wall view

3. She had provisions stored on her roof

4. She must have been well known to have been recommended

5. She was most likely fairly comfortable in her situation

B. Rahab had credibility

1. Her word was not disputed by the soldiers

2. Something about her even made the spies trust her

3. She evidently convinced her family to come to her house

4. She kept the secret that saved her family

C. Rahab was living her dream

1. She was evidently successful in her chosen profession

2. Most likely her current situation was all she knew

3. But she knew, Change Was Coming, she would either go with it or it would consume her and leave her in the dust of yesterday.

D. Change Is Inevitable In Every Situation Of Life

1. Change Was Coming To Jericho … Coming To Rahab

2. Like It Or Not Change Is Coming

3. There is a future beyond the change, get a vision for it.

E. No Vision Beyond What She Had Always Known Meant:

1. She had been to her greatest day

2. Perhaps her last day (happy, prosperous, joyful day)

3. Without a vision, a purpose, a plan, a pursuit, life would go downhill from here, life would never be the same, she would perish.

E. Instead, however, Rahab got a vision beyond her last adventure, a vision beyond the last season of her life, a vision for a new season, a new adventure, a vision for her future … as a result:

1. Rahab and all her family and all that belonged to her was spared. Joshua 6:23-25

2. Rahab married Salmon, a prince of the tribe of Judah. Ruth 4

3. Rahab’s new adventure unfolded to make Rahab become:

* The mother of Boaz

* The grandmother of Jesse

* The great grandmother of David, the King

* The Great, Great, Great … Grandmother of Jesus

Matthew 1

5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse

6 and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, (Bathsheba).

4. Rahab is remembered

* By the Apostle Paul for her faith

Hebrews 11:31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.

* By Pastor James for her works

James 2:25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

* And by us tonight for her vision beyond her adventure

III. Conclusion

Ask God to give you a vision beyond the uncomfortable moments as well as the most comfortable seasons in life.

Embrace a greater day mentality because ‘Change Is Coming’.