Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Up To You


My goal for us during this time we have together is to meet you wherever you are in life and take you to the place of prayer.

2 Peter 3:8 ¶ But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Since 2 Peter 3 tells us that 1 day with God is like 1000 years with man, we don’t really have much time from eternity’s perspective to accomplish what God has planned for us.

In fact, if taken literally, I am told that every minute with God would roughly equal a little less than a year of life for you. That means that you have 57 or 58 minutes to every 40 years. If you live to be 100 you still only have about the time it takes to sit through one movie in heaven’s time in which to be born, live a full natural life and die. Think about that one while you are wasting time sitting in line at the fast food place.

Every generation has only one generation and we are the only people God has right now.

He has brought us to this moment to hear His Word. So, let’s not tune Him out or turn Him off. He loves us and He is going to take some of the precious time we have to better equip us for life.

These next few minutes will be your chance to get better prepared to live the life God designed you to live. So, listen and determine that you are not going to waste these moments or this opportunity but rather that you are going to get something from this time with Him.

Now, without further ado let's get started, time waits for no one.

We are going to use a familiar story in the life and ministry of Jesus to discover three abiding truths:

1. Our future will make new demands on our life.

2. One moment of favor is worth a thousand days of labor.

3. What we are going through may not be punishment for our past but rather positioning for our future.

John 8 NKJV

2 Now early in the morning Jesus came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.

3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst,

4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.

5 "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"

6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first."

8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?"

11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

Jesus told this woman that her future would make some new demands on her life. She could not afford to leave His presence forgiven and yet unchanged.

What would it take? It would take her commitment and her continual participation. You see:

* God demands that we participate in our miracles.

Also notice here that what this woman most likely feared the most actually became her salvation. It was not the fear of getting caught, but rather getting condemned, and getting condemned all alone.

There were two people caught in that adulterous situation, one was brought to Christ and one was not. Only the one brought to Jesus was forgiven and set free.

Believe me when I tell you that one moment of favor from Jesus is worth a thousand days of labor.

In this story the woman was caught and accused, not by her enemies but by the enemies of Jesus. However, like the prodigal son’s brother was told by their father: “… anytime you had wanted anything from me you could have had it, all that I have is yours anytime you want.”

* All we ever have to do is come to Jesus.

Finally, I want to share with you the importance to understanding that God has a plan, He will succeed and you have been chosen to participate.

God’s heart aches for the lost and hurting people of the world. Each one, every individual, He sees their need, He knows their desperation, He understands their pain and He longs to reach them.

Circumstances of life can make a person feel alone, trapped in life, given no choices, dealt a bad hand and yet God has a better future for them than they know. Both Jesus and this woman had been waiting all of her life to come to this day of opportunity.

Perhaps she did not realize that, as John 3:17 puts it:

John 3:17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

It’s not only the fact that Jesus loves you, but it is also that He loves others that He can use you to affect. What you are going through may not be punishment for your past, but positioning for your future.

Jesus did not come to punish us, but to position us.

The facts are:

* Your future will make new demands on your life.

* One moment of favor is worth a thousand days of labor.

* What you are going through does not have to be punishment for your past but positioning for your future.

It’s all up to you!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Spirit Filled


God has a problem and it’s not what you might think it is. God has a problem ... what’s God’s problem … it’s His kids.

Mankind has a problem. What is the problem with man? The problem with man is that there is too much man in man and not enough God in man.

Man is basically full of himself. This presented a problem to God early on. Even with good men and good women, still there were problems.

Man alone could never defeat his own fleshly appetites and the effects of mortal sin. Yet it was necessary, or man was never going to be all God wanted him to be. You see, if man could not defeat his own human appetites, how could he ever defeat the devil?

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

This is why God sent His Son, born of a woman: Son of God and Son of Man … all man and all God. It took the fullness of God, fully in man’s likeness, to defeat sin and the carnal nature of man.

Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem near 2000 years ago, Messiah of the Jews, Savior of the world, was a man filled with God.

This was God’s remedy for the world … a Spirit Filled Man.

Today the age old answer to every problem we face in life is the same answer as it always has been: to become Spirit-Filled … to be full of the Spirit of God.

Listen to me for a moment. I am not talking about salvation or being born again, neither am I referring to being baptized in the Holy Spirit and prophesying or speaking in tongues.

No – When you hear me use the term ‘Spirit Filled’ in this message I will be talking about being continually full of God’s Spirit on a day to day basis so that you respond to life’s situations and aggravations from a fresh well of God’s life springing up within you instead of reacting from the cesspool of man’s fallen carnal nature in you … living life a brand new way instead of the same old way.

Through the years I have had occasion to counsel several people who have misread my attempt to share a Bible truth with them by using my own experience as an example. A few times I have heard people exempt themselves from embracing the truth by saying, “I don’t have to be more like you to please God.” My response to that statement is, “Your right …”

“You do not have to be more like me in order to please Jesus, but it is certain that you will have to be a whole lot less like you!”

In a day and age when many in the church and certainly most in the world, are wondering what difference it makes to be a Christian, we cannot afford to make the answer to that question cloudy, ambiguous or confusing. So let me be clear:

* Salvation is your ticket to heaven.

> Go to hell without it!

* Water Baptism is your circumcision of identification.

> The haunting memories of past sins cannot cross those waters to pursue you and oppress you any longer.

* The Baptism of the Holy Spirit gives you power to be a witness.

> This power is the dynamite of God at your disposal.

However, both you and I know people who have been born again, water baptized and who have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and yet continue to exhibit traits of their carnal nature by lying, cheating, robbing God and man, lusting, fornicating, coveting, gossiping, cussing … they fuss and they fight, they get divorces, they get drunk, the do drugs, have abortions and talk bad about the preacher … they don’t pray, don’t give, don’t work a steady job, don’t clean their houses, don’t pay attention to their kids, don’t pay their bills and don’t go to church or love their neighbors … and yet they call themselves Believers and Followers of Jesus – Christians!

No wonder the whole world is confused!

What’s missing in the Believer’s life? God! God is what’s missing in the life of a Christian who is still living in or struggling with these common sins and attitudes of life.

Like I said earlier, the problem is that there is too much man in man and not enough God in man. How can we fix it! What can you do about it? I’m so glad you asked! In fact, that’s why we are here today … to teach you how you can defeat your biggest problem, yourself. Now:

Let’s look in the book of Ephesians, Chapter 4. I will be reading from the New Living Translation.

Ephesians 4

17 With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused.

18 Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him.

19 They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed.

20 But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ.

21 Since you have heard all about him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus,

22 throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception.

23 Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.

24 You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true.

25 So put away all falsehood and "tell your neighbor the truth" because we belong to each other.

26 And "don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you." Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,

27 for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.

28 If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need.

29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.

32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Did you notice verse:

23 Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.

This is the answer you have been waiting for. Every born again believer in Jesus, even those who have been water baptized and those who have been baptized with the power to be a witness, must go through a spiritual renewal of their thoughts and attitudes to line them up with Christ. This is basic discipleship 101.

You will never be a real Christian unless you act like Jesus once you have been saved.

Today there are people who are born again and yet they are justly sitting in jail for crimes they have committed since they came to Christ. My dear friends, these things ought not to be so.

I am convinced that many Believers sit today in need of a miracle. But just what kind of miracle are you looking for?

Perhaps the greatest miracle in today’s world might well be:

* Joy in your heart

* Peace in your home

* Love in your family

* Patience on your job

* Gentleness with your children

* Goodness to your neighbor

* Faithfulness to Christ

* Kindness to your enemies

* Self Control when facing aggravation or adversity

Perhaps the greatest miracle in today’s world is to have a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.

* To put off the old man and put on the new

* To be so filled with the Spirit of God that you begin producing a new kind of fruit in your life.

> The fruit of the Spirit!

Galatians 5 NLT

22/23a But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

How can you accomplish this? How can you put the Holy Spirit in control of your life? How can you experience a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes? How can you be Spirit Filled?

Here are three things it will take for you to be Spirit Filled.

1. Prayer

2. The Word of God

3. Commitment to Change

Sunday, July 20, 2008

You're It!


God has a habit of calling greatness out of obscurity.

Key Scripture: Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

I have heard it said that every man will die but not every man will truly live … tell me – what is keeping you from truly living your life today?

Approximately one thousand years ago Sir Robert, the Duke of Normandy, fathered a son. This little boy was born to a woman who was not married to Sir Robert. In that day there was no future for an illegitimate child, not even one of noble blood.

This same little boy grew to be known as William the Conqueror, Ruler of Normandy and, from 1066 to 1087, King of England.

The story of his life is one of intrigue and adventure. Although continually faced with opposition, William managed to maintain law and order, he fortified the country by making alliances, building castles in strategic cities, dividing the land into districts with overlords and regional armies and he still had time to reorganize the church by placing well educated men of known good character to all important positions.

From his death bed in September of 1087, William gave orders as to who should succeed him on the thrones of Normandy and England and then he did something which perplexed many in his close circle … He gave orders that all of his wealth should be distributed between the poor and the Church.

A thousand years ago there truly lived a man named William the Conqueror … His legacy lives on today!

Two thousand years ago lived a man named Saul. He was born in Tarsus, a wealthy Roman city of the times known as a seat of higher learning with its University top ranked among the education centers of the day in comparison to both Athens and Alexandria. Saul’s parents were Jews who had obtained Roman citizenship. This made Saul a very privileged little boy.

Saul learned a trade as a young man which was a necessity of the customs and traditions of the time. He learned tent making, a common trade in Tarsus, and then at age 13 was sent to Jerusalem to enter the school of a well known teacher of Jewish law and culture, Gamaliel. It was decided that Saul would become a Rabbi, that is, a minister, a teacher and a lawyer, all rolled into one.

Later in life Saul’s convictions and zeal gained him work with the Jewish High Council in their efforts to seek out and imprison those Jews who practiced a belief in Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah. It seemed he was very good at his duties and was sent even to foreign lands to arrest and deport ‘Christians’ to Jerusalem for trial before the High Council. Some would no doubt be executed for their faith.

On one of these trips Saul had a spiritual encounter with Jesus, was converted to Christianity and forever changed. Saul’s soon became known as the Apostle Paul and following his conversion experience the Holy Spirit led him on many new and exciting adventures.

In defense of his ministry Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth:

2 Corinthians 11 NKJV
23 … I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;
26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness—
28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

WOW! Now there’s an adventurous life … this man truly lived life to the fullest accepting every challenge with faith in His call.

However, the Apostle Paul was not finished yet, he went on to write two-thirds of the New Testament before appearing for a second time before the bar of Nero in AD66 in Rome. At the end of this trial Paul was turned over to the executioner, led out of the city with to worst sort of rabble at his heals, brought to a certain place and be-headed for his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Savior of the World.

Two thousand years ago there truly lived a man called Paul the Apostle … his legacy lives on today!

Three Thousand years ago God looked down upon the earth and found a man whom He could trust to do all His will … a man after God’s own heart. The only thing was, this man God found was not a man yet, but a boy … a young red headed, fair faced shepherd boy named David from the town of Bethlehem in Judea.

David was the youngest son of Jesse, a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through the tribe of Judah. David’s family saw nothing special in him and so David was kept out in the fields tending a few sheep along with the hired hands. It was in those shepherd fields around the town of Bethlehem that David learned to play the harp, sing songs to his God and protect the sheep with only a rock and his courage as defense.

One day the Prophet Samuel came to Jesse’s house for a visit and through a divine encounter anointed young David to be King over all Israel. From that point it would be years of running and hiding, praying and fighting before David would actually sit on the throne as King. In the end however, David, although he made many mistakes along the way, had this testimony from God:

Acts 13:22 And when God had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’

It is believed that near the end of David’s life he wrote his longest Psalms as both a testimony for himself and as a reminder and guide for his son Solomon who would reign as King after him. The Psalms I speak of is Psalms 119.

Psalms 119 is an alphabetical Psalms which means that the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet are used each in succession to begin a new verse or group of verses, 8 verses in each group in this case, 176 verses in all.

Besides being an alphabetical Psalms and the longest Psalms in the Bible, Psalms 119 gives an insightful glimpse into King David’s heart and mind as he is in deed at this time in his life, an old man, King of Israel, a wise old King after God’s own heart.

In all 176 verses there are only two verses which do not contain a direct reference to the importance of God’s Word. This, David had come to know and trust in, was the key to everything, especially to pleasing God.

What do I hear David saying in Psalms 119? More than anything else I hear him saying that when it’s all said and done and when we have fully lived our lives with all the challenges, the victories, the failures, the recoveries and the rewards, we learn --- it’s the word, the word, the word!

It’s the Word of God which is able to save you, secure you, build you up, give you hope, forgive you sins, strengthen your resolve, grant you courage, protect your children, grant you a future, take you home and leave you a legacy.

1000 years ago lived a man named William the Conqueror …
2000 years ago lived a man named The Apostle Paul …
3000 years ago lived a man named David the King …

But … Who is living today? Who is living today? You are! It’s Your Turn! What is keeping you from being that one who truly lives life to its fullest and in doing so leaves a legacy behind for others to follow?

Heroes are not only those who die, but those who live for Christ …

Those who die for Christ may leave a memory but it’s those who live for Christ who leave a legacy.

Its those who live their life to the fullest, unselfishly giving of themselves for others, not claiming hardship nor privilege but rather claiming Christ and salvation in none other, those who lay down their life, take up their cross and follow Him. And guess what … You’re It!

God has a habit of calling greatness out of obscurity and He just may be calling you. What is the answer? The answer is YES! Here I am Lord, use me! You may as well agree because … You’re It!

Without respect to whether you have been born into poverty or privilege, celebrated or forgotten, are in your youth or among the elderly … you can give your all to Christ today. He will take you, mould you, fill you and use you for His glory.

Won’t you say yes to him right now? Right where you are … say yes to Jesus and yes to His Word … Start living a life pleasing to God by living life according to the Bible. Read it, learn it, listen to it, obey it … it’s your link to God and your hope of eternity.

* Leave a legacy by living the legacy of Christ.
* The Word of God will:
… manage your marriage, fix your finances, bless your business, change your children and frame your future. It will challenge your attitude, sad-itude, bad-itude and deposit glad-itude. The Word will wash you, iron you, dress you in your best and put a smile on your face. Let the word work in your life - why not? btw … You’re It!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Power of God to Heal: Part 2


Key Scripture: 1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

The reason healing is an important a part of the covenant we have with God is because there is such need.

When sin entered into mankind and separated man from right relationship with God, death became a reality and every man’s destiny. Man became a natural man instead of a spiritual man. What causes the natural death of all natural men?

Death is the result of a deteriorating natural process of life. This deteriorating process we see and feel in our ever aging bodies can be called sickness and disease. Some people are genetically resistant to many sicknesses and diseases and others take excellent care of their body … but no one, not even those who are genetically superior or physically fit will escape the law of God that says every one will die. And unfortunately for many, death will be the result of some sickness, some accident or disease. Some die healthy but not many and yet death will happen even to the best and most spiritual of us.

2 Kings 13:14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.

However, there is supernatural intervention available. Not to say that some will escape death, oh no, all will die, but we can defeat sickness and disease in this life because Jesus paid the price for our healing. It is a part of the covenant gift of God for every believer.

This covenant provision of divine healing is often experienced through the grace of God and visited upon us even when we are not aware. God’s goodness spills over upon His children and those in need and He blesses both the just and the unjust, daily loading us with benefits while He perfects that which concerns us.

However, there are times when we need to directly petition God to access the healing provisions of His covenant due to discovering that we are being attacked by some sickness or disease. Once an enemy of God gets root in a person’s life it can be a battle to get it out. We can fight that battle by our faith and the spiritual weapons of war.

As with any conflict, especially one which has the potential to destroy the quality of life or life itself, defeating the onslaught of sickness and disease can be a serious matter. In order to successfully maneuver this particular battleground it is extremely helpful if we have confidence in our approach. Thank God that He has not left us without strategy. Knowing the will of God gives us confidence.

To bolster that confidence lets look at His will together from scripture and lay a foundation with God’s Word. God has provided healing for His children and we can gain confidence in our approach.

Exodus 23:25 "So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you.

Deuteronomy 7:15 "And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you.

Exodus 15:26 … "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."

Greek: rapha' raw-faw'

AV-heal 57, physician 5, cure 1, repaired 1, misc 3; 67

Psalms 103:3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.

One of my favorite passages in the whole bible is:

Isaiah 53
4 ¶ Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

Our Key Scripture is a quote from this passage:

1 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

The New Testament continues to reveal God’s will and intent through Jesus.

The Gospel of John begins by telling us that Jesus was with God in the very beginning and that He took upon Himself the image of mankind so that He might reveal the Father to us. Later Jesus responded to His disciple’s request for Him to show them the Father by telling them that if you have seen Him, you have seen the Father.

Jesus declared in:

John 14:10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

The New Testament continues to give us confidence concerning the will of God to provide healing to His children. Scriptures such as:

Matthew 4
23 ¶ And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them.

Luke 4:40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.

Luke 6
17 And He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases,
18 as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed.
19 And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.

Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

The reality tonight is that Jesus has shown us the Father and His compassion. God is easily touched with the feelings of our infirmities and has made provision for our healing.

The very best thing we can do is to begin putting a hedge of protection around us and our family by sowing seeds of divine health from God’s Word. Faith in God and confession of His Word will build a barrier against the enemies which desire to destroy your life. Confidence in God’s will gives us the edge we need to destroy the devil’s attempts to destroy our life & quality of lie.

Once an enemy breaks through, we must stand against him by faith.

Other Notes:

The lame man’s friends brought him to Jesus
And when they had knowledge of Jesus they came to Him
They came to hear and to be healed

I. The Reason Jesus Came (1 John 3:8b)
II. The Power of Confession (Romans 10:1-17)
III. Some Get It, Some Don’t (Mk 16:15-20)
IV. The Window of Opportunity (Mt 13:10-15)
V. Power Over All (Matthew 10:1)
VI. Spirits of Infirmity ((Lk 13:10-17)
VII. Laying On of Hands (Acts 28:1-10)
VIII. Sin (John 5:14 & 1 Corinthians 11:30)
IX. Health (Pro 26:2)
X. Finally
2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

Sunday, July 13, 2008



Key Scriptures: Genesis 31 NLT

11 Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, I’m listening!’

12 The angel said, ‘Look, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen all that Laban has done to you.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s the computer slowly began to replace the typewriter in many homes and offices. One problem with the early releases of word processing software was that it often did not look the same on the screen as it would appear once printed on paper.

As time went on software creators realized that in order for the common person to buy into the market they had to have an expectancy of just what the end result was going to be. In other words, what they saw on the screen needed to match what they wanted to see on the paper with the same borders, margins, headers, fonts and colors.

The embedded commands and computer programming it took to make this happen were too strange and distracting to be understood by most people. All those things taking place in the background needed to stay in the background and hidden from view. All the consumer wanted was to simply type a letter, create a spreadsheet or edit a photo, not become a computer programmer.

To expand the market and attract consumers to buy into the idea that computers were faster, more efficient and easy for anyone to use, the software makers created programs which were called WYSIWYG.

WYSIWYG, phonically pronounced ‘Wizzy-Wig’ is an old computer software acronym which stands for: “What You See Is What You Get”.

You can accurately predict what the finished product is going to be even though you have no clue to what is happening behind the screen to accomplish your desire. However, you see it in another form before it is ever finished.

This reminds me of a story in the bible. Turn with me to Genesis 30.

Setting and Background:

This is the story of Jacob and his God inspired approach to accumulating wealth. For those of you not familiar with the story allow me to catch us up for a moment.

Tell the story of Jacob beginning with Genesis 27 and continuing up to Genesis 30:37.

Genesis 30 NLT

37 ¶ Now Jacob took fresh shoots from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of the bark to make white streaks on them.

38 Then he set up these peeled branches beside the watering troughs so Laban’s flocks would see them as they came to drink, for that was when they mated.

39 So when the flocks mated in front of the white-streaked branches, all of their offspring were streaked, speckled, and spotted.

40 Jacob added them to his own flock, thus separating the lambs from Laban’s flock. Then at mating time, he turned the flocks toward the streaked and dark-colored rams in Laban’s flock. This is how he built his flock from Laban’s.

41 Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob set up the peeled branches in front of them.

42 But he didn’t do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob’s.

43 As a result, Jacob’s flocks increased rapidly, and he became very wealthy, with many servants, camels, and donkeys.

God inspired Jacob in a dream to take the pure white-wooled sheep and white-haired goats and give them a different vision. Jacob made the sheep and goats stare at and focus on a spotted, speckled and brown streaked fence and later at other mixed colored sheep.

By this means Jacob succeeded in causing the animals to visualize themselves as something they were not. No doubt all the sheep and goats could think about was brown and white mixed colors.

Why did Jacob do this? Because he saw it in a dream and believed it!

Without regard to all the commands of God taking place behind the scenes suffice it to say that what they focused on they began to believe in and without understanding the mechanics of the dynamics, the dynamics worked anyway and they brought forth a mixed colored offspring. You see:

What you see is what you get!

… even when you are seeing by the eye of your faith … especially when you are seeing by the eye of your faith.

Faith is simply seeing it like God sees it

We must believe and when we see it like God sees it we will believe it like God believes it.

Faith is an image created in us when we hear and meditate on God’s Word and Will for our life … and the truth is:

WYSIWYG! Without even being aware of what is going on behind the scenes with the embedded commands of God moving in ways we cannot understand, in ways we cannot comprehend, in ways beyond our imagination, we can rest assured that what we see is what we get.

This is the same New Testament principle Jesus revealed in scriptures like:

Matthew 9 NKJV

28 And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord."

29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you."

Matthew 8:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.

Numbers 13 NKJV

30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we."

One saw they could and one saw they couldn’t … One saw themselves able and the others saw themselves unable … One saw God bigger than their problems and the others saw their problems bigger than their God … and you know the rest of the story … what you see is what you get!

What man cannot do, God can do and if we work with Him we can do things we would never be able to do without Him.

Mark 10:27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."

Jesus was approached by a man asking that his son be delivered and healed from a horrible condition of life. Jesus told the man that he was going to need to participate in his son’s miracle by having faith.

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Upon hearing this the man made a reasonable request of Jesus …

Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

What was this man saying? “Lord, I am struggling with what to believe. I have been in this situation for so long now that it’s about all I can see anymore. I want to believe, in fact that is why I came to you. Lord, I’m doing my best, help me to see it like you see it … help me to believe.”

Jesus will do the same thing for you … He will help you see it … He will help you believe … He will help you create an image of His future for you in your mind and in your heart.

In fact, God has already made a way for you to participate in that miracle.

Philippians 4 NKJV

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

It’s the same thing God told Joshua (Joshua 1:5-9) … be strong, be courageous, don’t live in fear, rather think about what I tell you that you are able to do, not what others say about you, and then you will prosper and be successful.

Basically, fill your mind with God’s best for your life and apply His Word to life. Don’t worry … He will be with you all the way!

And remember, what you see is what you get, so start building an image of what you want instead of what you have and pray the promise, not the problem! Instead of telling God how big your problem is, tell you problem how big your God is and you will see a change.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Strange Fire


Key Scriptures: Ephesians 4 NKJV

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,

12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,

15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—

16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

The success of God’s plan hinges on the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher equipping saints to work the ministry.

What is the work of the ministry? The work of the ministry is nothing less than the evangelization of every soul on planet earth.

Evangelism is a race against time.

Sinners are being born every day and if we are not ever vigilant and consistently diligent in our work, we will get behind the power curve and begin to lose the race to win souls in the time we have been allotted.

You only have one life, not two or three. There is a set amount of time each of us have been given to fulfill our part in God’s plan. We must be busy about our Father’s business and work while we have time.

We will never reach that proverbial ‘last house on the road’ unless we reach every house on the planet in our generation. The work of God is not cumulative in the sense that when we have preached the gospel to one community we can mark it off our list and then go on to the next.

We must not only reach each community but also establish the Kingdom of God in that community by planting and empowering a church family, in that community, to continue the work from there.

The church must be birthed in every location in each generation so as to reach the lost and disciple the saint to carry on and advance the Kingdom of God throughout the world until Jesus comes.

Without continued evangelism as the number one priority of every saint, God’s plan will suffer and souls will be lost to eternity.

We cannot afford to become detoured from the clear marching orders given us in the great commission of Matthew 28. The devil is a master tempter who offers enticements, especially to the saint and to the church, hoping to get them off track and slow the progress of world evangelism in every generation.

In Luke 10 Jesus gave His disciples power over unclean spirits and to heal sickness and disease. He sent them out by twos and they had great success. Upon their return they were rejoicing that the devils were subject to them in His name.

Jesus listened and confirmed the power and authority they had in doing His work. However, not wanting His disciples to become distracted, detoured or derailed from God’s purpose, Jesus corrected them by telling them to not rejoice in the fact that they had power or authority over devils but rather they should be focused on the names which are being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Jesus continued instructing His followers to give themselves for others.

We can ill afford to embrace a ‘monk-atarium’ spiritual philosophy. Monk-atarium is better known to some as a monastery. A place where people isolate themselves with others who are also pursuing some higher plane of spiritual knowledge and experience aimed only at their own benefit. This is lunacy … unless one believes that it’s all about self, or getting rid of self, whichever approach it’s still a monkatarium as far as I’m concerned.

You see, evangelism … salvation of souls … is where it’s at. It’s all about others and how we can deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him to become fishers of men. God reaches through people to people and there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that is converted than over the 99 who are already right with God.

What is it that most often distracts the saint from the work of God? Enticements! Normally enticements that in some way benefit the individual who is in pursuit of the enticement. “It’s all about me’ee!”

Enticements are things which God made for man but the devil uses to tempt people away from God’s purpose. Just like the devil used the stone, bread, worship, power, position and destiny to tempt Jesus.

Enticements don’t have to be intrinsically evil … they can be good and still not be God. They can even be godly but nonetheless distractions, detours and/or derailments of life.

I have categorized enticements under 5 common labels:

Five Common Enticements

1. Love

2. Sex

3. Money

4. Power

5. Position

All of these can be God or can be used to take you away from God.

Just for a moment, lets look at a bible story in the book of:

Leviticus 10

1 ¶ And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

What determines if it is ‘Strange Fire’ or ‘Holy Fire’?

There are many potential scenarios but allow me to give the two main determinate factors. Whether the fire is considered strange fire or not primarily depends on:

1. Who offers the fire before the congregation …

2. Where the fire comes from

* Not their place but Aaron’s place –they were priests of the house but not the high priest – the senior priest – whose duty it was to offer this fire and he had given no instruction or direction but Nadab and Abihu took it upon themselves to rush in and do this seemingly spiritual thing which was not their place to do.

> Nadab means – liberal or generous

> Abihu means – He (God) is my Father

Note: So, here are two called and ordained priests who are good and generous children of God disciplined for doing something which was just not their place to do. They were responsible for some things just not everything … took too much upon themselves.

Strange Fire = Common Fire

* This fire they offered was not the fire from the altar of burnt offering which fire came down from heaven, but rather fire which had no connection to salvation and the forgiveness of sins. It was exciting fire, not salvation fire.

Note: This fire was just as hot, just as bright and just as productive and, it was offered in a very exciting manner – by two men instead of one as God had commanded, but what was most noticeable was that it had no connection with the Brazen Altar … it had no connection with the salvation of God’s people. Therefore it was too common and too strange to God’s purposes and God would not allow it to take the place of His Holy Fire for His Holy Purposes. This fire could not masquerade as God’s fire. There was no salvation but rather self exaltation in this fire.

One comment I heard today: “Would either of them have done this if they had been alone?” Perhaps we often attempt to gather others with us to stray from the senior priest of the house and his offering of Holy Fire in God’s order to pursue the salvation of sinners instead of the exaltation of saints.

John Gill’s Expositor: Leviticus 10:1 Commentary

This they did of their own mind, and not by order. It does not appear that they had any command to offer incense at all at present, this belonged to Aaron, and not to them as yet; but without any instruction and direction they rushed into the holy place with their censers, and offered incense, even both of them, when only one priest was to offer at a time, when it was to be offered, and this they also did with strange fire. This may be an emblem of dissembled love, when a man performs religious duties, prays to God, or praises him without any cordial affection to him, or obeys commands not from love, but selfish views; or of an ignorant, false, and misguided zeal, a zeal not according to knowledge, superstitious and hypocritical; or of false and strange doctrines, such as are not of God, nor agree with the voice of Christ, and are foreign to the Scriptures; or of human ordinances, and the inventions of men, and of everything that man brings of his own, in order to obtain eternal life and salvation.

So, what is the work of the ministry? Souls, not saints!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fletcher Emanuel Church Alive


The older I get the less I seem to know and at the same time the things I do know seem somehow more and more precious each day.

Here are three things I do know:

1. God has a plan

2. He will succeed

3. We have a chance to participate

Our text for today comes from the book of Joshua chapters 2 & 3. The event we are going to read this morning took place about 3500 years ago on the Eastern bank of the Jordan River not too far from the city of Jericho.

This particular place is revisited several times in both Old and New Testament stories. The book of 2 Kings contains a story about Elijah and Elisha crossing the Jordan River at this same place just before Elijah is taken into heaven by a whirlwind.

Centuries later Jesus is baptized at this same place by John the Baptist and then subsequently led out into the Judean desert to spend 40 days fasting and praying before being tempted of the devil.

However on this day, as recorded in Joshua 2 & 3, two men had just returned from spying out the city of Jericho. God had a plan to take the descendents of Jacob, also called the Children of Israel, into the land of Canaan which He had promised to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This was not the first time God attempted to fulfill His plan. Would He succeed this time? As always, success depends on the people whom God chooses to participate. If they are courageous God will be with them. By the way, you know:

Courage is not the absence of fear but rather what we do in the face of fear.

The former generation had failed to advance and engage the inhabitants of Canaan. They believed that they would fail and so they decided to play it safe and stay where they were. What would this generation do … what would they believe?

Joshua 2 NLT

23 Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them.

24 "The LORD will certainly give us the whole land," they said, "for all the people in the land are terrified of us."

Joshua 3 NLT

1 ¶ Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing.

2 Three days later, the Israelite leaders went through the camp

3 giving these instructions to the people: "When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, follow them.

4 Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer."

5 Then Joshua told the people, "Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do great wonders among you."

It was a new day for the Israelites, a brand new chapter in their life and journey … what an opportunity! Although they had enjoyed great days in the past: the plagues against their enemies in Egypt; their great deliverance from Pharaoh and the crossing of the Red Sea on dry ground; manna from heaven and water from a rock … yet their greatest days were just ahead.

The biggest hurdle was not the enemies they faced in Canaan, but those in their own camp, even those in their own minds. Moses had been leading them for about 40 years and now they were being forced to accept the new leadership Moses put in place.

This was a new day, a new way and it required change.

A little more than 500 years earlier Abraham heard God and prepared himself to obey God and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt Moriah. Three days later, ready to obey God, Abraham heard another word dynamically opposed to the first word … “don’t sacrifice Isaac.” We too must always be ready for a new word from God!

Sometimes we go down the road to get to the end of the road and sometimes we go down a road to get to the fork in the road. The truth is, life is a mystery and a script that only God can write.

We are often challenged to gain victory in our situation before we experience victory over our situation.

Success is more than a one step process, and the first step is to believe. If it works for salvation, it will work for everything.

You see:

We think what we think

We feel what we feel and

We want what we want

Because we believe what we believe

This morning I am going to ask you to believe your Senior Pastor, the Shepherd of this house for the past 32 years. Believe what he tells you is the will of God instead of believing your fears or the fears of others who attempt to influence you to the contrary.

There is a healthy amount of skepticism in any group … it helps us count the costs. However there are also times when skepticism moves into an unhealthy realm. Unhealthy skepticism produces paranoia and gives heed to conspiracy theories. An unhealthy amount of skepticism is what caused the children of Israel to wander in the wilderness for 40 extra years. They decided to believe the skeptics instead of the Shepherd.

Your pastor and I have been friends and fellow ministers in Southeast Texas for 20 years. During these past few weeks and months I have had occasion to meet with several in the leadership of this church. I have asked and been asked a multitude of questions and I can confidently state that your Pastor has not and will not leave you unprotected, uncovered or uncared for.

Both he and those whom he has put in place have your best interest at heart and have wisely and securely positioned this church to accept all the help it now needs without losing any of the control it must keep.

With that being said, let me encourage you to make time to attend a Q&A meeting at six o’clock this evening, here in the sanctuary. This meeting will offer information and provide an opportunity for questions and answers as we begin the journey to our greatest day.

You see, we are either coming from our greatest day, at our greatest day or heading to our greatest day … it’s our choice!

The story we read in Joshua 3 has so many applications to the situations of life we all face today. In verse 4 the people were reminded that they had not been this way before.

The story in Joshua confirms the three things I mentioned of earlier:

1. God has a plan

* Rahab

* Leah

* Ruth

2. He will succeed

* time and costs are immaterial

* destiny neither waits nor depends on any man

* God’s will is never determined by a show of hands

3. We have a chance to participate

* Esther

* The Young Rich Ruler of Matthew 19

* The widow of Zarephath – 1 Kings 17

God demands that we participate in our miracles

Believe me, God has it all under control … the only question is ‘will you believe it?’