Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Life Shape Prayer and Discipleship Module One Block Five – Sacrifice


Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death …

God so loved the world

Hebrews 9:22  And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

Genesis 3:21  Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.

God instituted ritual sacrifice for temporary reprieve – Even Cain and Abel had spiritual revelation concerning sin offerings.

Hebrews 10
1  For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
 4  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
12  But this Man, (Jesus), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Important Points:
1.   Sin requires death – Only blood can satisfy sin.
2.   Man’s impure blood is insufficient payment for sin.
3.   Animal sacrifice only achieved temporary reprieve.
4.   Only one sacrifice is sufficient to satisfy the eternal debt of sin.
5.   Jesus willingly died for you.
6.   God has a gift in His hand.

Key Scripture: Romans 6:23

Support Scriptures: Genesis 3:21, Hebrews 9:22; 10:1-14, Romans 5:8


God so loved the world that He could not stand to be eternally separated from mankind. He knew what He needed to do … pay for the sin Himself. The scriptures tell us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Man’s sin required a blood sacrifice. When God found Adam and Eve, separated from Him by their sin in the Garden, the scriptures indicate that God sacrificed an animal and, no doubt, used the blood to cover the sin and clothed them with the skins. From that time forward, God instituted a regimen of sacrifice and ultimately made a law whereby He ritualistically accepted the blood of bulls and goats as temporary payment for specific sins.

It was impossible, however, for the blood of bulls and goats to free mankind from the eternal grip of sin. If not, they would not have ceased to be offered. Only one thing could pay for the sins of all mankind forever … The pure blood of a perfect sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God … Without this, each and every person would be left to pay for their own sins with their own blood which would not be sufficient, seeing that it carried with it the sin nature of man. Therefore, mankind would be damned to eternal separation from God. The wages of sin is death BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God found a perfect sacrifice in the pure blood of His only begotten Son, Jesus. Through this one sacrifice for all sin forever, the eternal price was paid, the debt fully satisfied, and a gift of salvation was now in the hand of God, which He freely offered the world so that all who receive should not perish but have everlasting life. Jesus died an agonizing death fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy which says Messiah would be wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, chastised for our peace, and by His stripes we were healed. Jesus died to pay for your sin and His body was buried in a borrowed tomb.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Come On In


At some point you will become responsible to fix something that breaks … even if you’re not the one who broke it. Turn with me to:

Luke 15  NKJV
11  Then He said: "A certain man had two sons.
12  "And the younger of them said to his father, ’Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood.
13  "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.
14  "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
15  "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16  "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.
17  "But when he came to himself, he said, ’How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18  ’I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you,
19  "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."’
20  "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.
21  "And the son said to him, ’Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22  "But the father said to his servants, ’Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.
23  ’And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;
24  ’for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.
25  "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26  "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.
27  "And he said to him, ’Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’
28  "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.
29  "So he answered and said to his father, ’Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.
30  ’But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’
31  "And he said to him, ’Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.
32  ’It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’"

The older son had reason to be cautious concerning his wasteful young brother. However, he was wrong to resist his father’s decision. The older son would not go into the house. Although he was in the family he was not in the house. We can be in the family and yet miss all that is in the house.

What was in the house?
1.   There was Joy in the house.
2.   There was Meat in the house.
3.   There was Restoration & Relationship in the house.

Not only these, but the abiding presence of the Father was in the house.

At times people who are in the family miss out on so much because they won’t come in. They refuse to get closer and they end up angry and isolated. Instead of helping to fix things, they make things worse. There is a difference between having a problem and being a problem.

Every father, including our Heavenly Father, wants His family to get along. It’s possible that in order to please our Heavenly Father that we must be willing to Get Closer to Change. Let’s not forget that we are one family, one body – and only when we are a part does our part mean something. (1 Corinthians 12:27 - The Message) – Be a part of the Father’s joy – enter in!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Life Shape Prayer and Discipleship Module One Block Four – Sin & Separation


This lesson will teach us that “Sin Separates!”

Genesis 3
1  Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, ’You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’ ?"
2  And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
3  "but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ’You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’"
4  Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
5  "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
7  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
8  And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.


God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and they enjoyed a close relationship until one day Eve was tempted by the serpent to separate herself from God’s Word for a moment. The subtle question she was asked to consider seemed harmless - Certainly God couldn't mean what He said? This seed of sin was sown in her mind and then she was left to think about it on her own. She began to imagine how good and pleasant and desirable it seemed and then she decided to eat of the forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband to eat as well. Eve was deceived and nurtured a lie. Sin was born and with sin came separation.

Sin did not make mankind more like God but rather, more like the devil. This reveals an eternal truth: Sin does not keep its promise.

Sin separated Adam and Eve from one another; sin separated Adam and Eve from God; sin separated Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden; and sin separated Adam and Eve, along with their offspring, from an eternity with God. Sin not only separated man from God but also God from man. Sin required the loving Father God to become a critical judge who pronounced punishment, created laws and established penalties for sin throughout eternity.

Today sin still holds two distinct powers which separate. The first power of sin is to damn a soul to hell and thereby separate a person from God for eternity. The second power of sin is the power to deceive and control. This power of sin separates people from God’s will and blessings in this life.

Important Points:
1.   Sin separates.
2.   Sin will take you farther than you expected to go.
3.   Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay.
4.   Sin will cost you more than you are able to pay.
5.   Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Supporting Scriptures:
·        Romans 5:12  Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Embracing Discoveries


Life is filled with discoveries. All we know was at one time a new discovery and all we will yet learn are but our discoveries waiting to be made.

To discover is to uncover what was already there. For example:

Christopher Columbus did not invent the Americas nor did he create them any more than Benjamin Franklin invented or created electricity or Sir Isaac Newton invented or created gravity. No … but rather Christopher Columbus is credited with the discovery of this wonderful land where now stands the United States of America.

This brings up an important point. some say that Columbus discovered America but to the people who were already living in the Americas in the late 1400‘s, Christopher Columbus did not discover a thing. They already knew that they and their native lands existed, it was only a discovery for those who were not as yet enlightened in this matter.

So, the greatest discovery of the 15th Century embraced by so many important and well educated people was already known and being taken advantage of by those thought to be some of the poorest and most illiterate people in the world. However, it was not the indigenous Native Americans who were poor and stupid – it was rather those who had lived their whole lives thus far not knowing the wealth, peace, joy and beauty this land affords which bountifulness others had enjoyed for ages.

This reveals an important principle:

Others may be experiencing bountiful riches which we are yet to personally discover.

So it was in the lives of a group of disciples who were following Jesus in the Galilee near 2000 years ago. Let’s discover this truth together …

John 6
44  "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
47  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.
48  "I am the bread of life.
51  "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
54  "Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
60  Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
61  When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you?
66  From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.
67  Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
68  But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69  "Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

·        For one group of disciples it was a “hard saying”
·        For the other group – Jesus spoke the “words of eternal life”

One group said “Amen!” while the other said, “Oh Me!”

What is the definition of a “hard saying”? ~
·        A “Hard Saying” is a truth we have yet to discover and embrace.

Those who had already discovered the life giving power of the Bread of Life were satisfied with the requirements – those who had not yet discovered who Jesus is were a bit uncomfortable committing to His requirements.

What does John 8:32 say? “… you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”

The Greek word translated “know” means “learning to know” or “to come to know” or in essence, “to make a discovery”. (ginosko ~ an idiom used for sexual intercourse between a man and a women in the sense of the process of getting to know someone) – (John 6:69 & John 8:32 – know)

Of course there are many truths from the God’s Word which we have yet to “come to believe and know” - discover and embrace. Allow me to share three of the most important and least threatening, but three of the hardest sayings of the Lord which many are yet to discover and embrace.

Look with me at the end of a familiar passage in 1 Corinthians 13 for a moment. Specifically: 1 Corinthians 13:12 & 13

1 Corinthians 13
12  For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
13  And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I simply ask you this morning: Have you yet discovered:
·        Faith
o   For today – faith that keeps you trusting in God’s grace
o   This trust can be found today by coming to know Jesus
o   Others are experiencing the bountiful blessings which can only come from an abiding faith in Him – Discover faith
·        Hope
o   For tomorrow
o   Which hope is the anchor of our soul both sure and steadfast
o   This is a “hard saying” for some who have yet to discover and embrace the truth concerning the eternity which awaits all men
·        Love
o   For God – above all else
o   For yourself – we must love ourselves before we can love …
o   Others – and then, we must love others as much as self

There are many other hard sayings which we may have yet to discover however, if we will begin to embrace and begin to exercise these basics … no doubt we will come to believe and to know more.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Life Shape Prayer and Discipleship Module One Block Three – Man


Genesis 1
26  Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
27  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
28  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 2
7  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
18  And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
21  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
22  Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

        God made man on the sixth day of creation. Man’s first day was God’s seventh day, the day God rested. From this we conclude that man was first invited to rest in God’s finished work. God purposed man to have dominion over all creation upon the earth. Dominion is understood to be both the right and the power to govern and control. Man is God’s steward. Furthermore man was created in the likeness and the image of God.
Man, like God, is a three-part being. God formed man’s body from the dust of the ground; breathed into man’s nostrils the Spirit of Life; and man became a living soul. The scriptures rightly identify God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – God in three persons, the Holy Trinity. Man was purposefully created a triune being like God – Spirit, Soul and Body.
Once created, God did not find it best for man to be alone. God further divided man into two genders, man and woman. He gave to each gender the qualities and capacities of life which are necessary to fulfill their ordained roles and responsibilities according to His plan. God does not intend for His relationship with man to take the place of man’s relationship with man … both relationships are important to God and to man.
Whether man or woman, male or female, you are a unique individual created in God’s image, a three part being, invited to rest with God in His finished work, given dominion over all God’s creation upon the earth, charged with stewardship responsibilities, and destined to live forever. However, man’s only connection with God is through the Spirit.
One day your earthly body will perish but you will continue to exist far beyond the grave, even throughout eternity – the only question is where.

Important Points
1.   Every individual is like God – 1 person, 3 parts.
2.   Every individual is designed to have dominion over God’s other creations.
3.   Every individual is invited to rest with God in His finished work.
4.   You are a unique individual with special value.
5.   You will live forever – the question is, where?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Grace to Forgive


“God does not have problems, only plans.” Corrie ten Boom

Matthew 6  NKJV
9  "In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14  "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15  "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I imagine forgiveness to be one of the most powerful forces and one of the greatest hurdles in the universe.

For those of us who have been forgiven it is a gracious and cherished gift. However, for those who are challenged to forgive – it can at times seem like a heavy and terribly unfair burden. Nonetheless, only forgiveness can set the captive free.

Forgiveness is an act of the will, not an emotion. It’s a decision made by choice in hopes that God will grant His grace to make it so.

How can we forgive without God’s help … How can we forgive without God’s grace?

The Story of Corrie ten Boom
        Corrie was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch Reformed Christian family in 1892. Her family had a history of heart-felt concern for and outreach to the Jewish community. Corrie’s grandfather worked during the early 1800’s in attempts to improve Jewish-Christian relationships. Corrie was raised, along with her brother and sisters, joining their father in attending Jewish Sabbath worship and bible studies. Corrie’s brother, Willem, the Pastor of a Dutch Reformed Church, was assigned the duty of converting Jews to Christianity. Instead of attempting to agressively force conversions he instead studied Anti-Semitism and then opened a nursing home for people of all faiths eventually converting it to a safe house for Jewish refugees during the war.
        Following the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 and the ensuing Jewish persecution, the ten Boom family began providing aid to the persecuted families first by giving food and then by sheltering individuals and families from arrest by the Gestapo. Of course, any assistance given to a Jew under Nazi rule was strictly forbidden by law and punishable by imprisonment and/or death. Nonetheless the ten Boom’s were Christians, what else could they do?
        On one occasion Corrie ten Boom recalled asking the local Pastor of a Christian Church in town to help by taking in a Jewish infant. He replied that he could not do so because of the great risks it would present to him and his family. Corrie’s father entered the room about that time and upon hearing her request and the Pastor’s reply, he took the child up in his arms and declared what an honor and privilege it would be for the ten Boom family to give their lives for such a cause.
        Not only did Corrie and her family provide food and shelter for Jewish refugees but they also networked with the underground movement in the countryside to send many Jews to safety abroad. This continued until February 28th, 1944, at 12:30pm, when the German police raided the ten Boom house in response to an informant. Fortunately the family had built a small “hiding place” on the uppermost floor of the home into which the current six Jewish refugees crammed themselves to escape capture. However, Corrie, her sisters Nollie and Betsie, along with their brother Willem, their father and a group of about 30 people who were holding a Bible study in the living room of their home were arrested. Of those arrested all were released except for Corrie, Betsie and their father. Ten days after being arrested Corrie’s father died in prison.
        Soon afterwards Betsie and Corrie were moved from one prison to another eventually finding themselves assigned to the Nazi death camp, Ravenbrueck. Corrie had managed to smuggle a little Bible and keep it hidden from the guards and with it she and her sister held Bible studies among the camp’s prisoners. One of the sisters would read the text in Dutch then translate it into German and it would pass through the congregation being re-translated in the native tongues of each prisoner group so that everyone could understand God’s Word. Corrie remembered those times as a glimpse into heaven’s international congregation as the light of God’s Word illuminated faces from all walks of life.
        On December 16, 1944, Betsie, frail from the starvation, persecution, and the conditions of the camp, now only skin and bones, died in Ravenbrueck at the age of 59. Before she died she told her sister Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still.” (Betsie ten Boom)
        Twelve days later, on December 28th, 1944, due to a clerical error, Corrie was released. The following week all of the other women in her group at Ravenbrueck were put to death leaving Corrie ten Boom, this woman of faith, as the sole survivor. One more story about Corrie and I will get back to the message for today.
        After Corrie’s mistaken release from Ravenbrueck Nazi death camp, she continued following her faith in Christ by preaching forgiveness and returning to the Netherlands where she established a post-war home for camp survivors, and those Dutch neighbors of hers who had collaborated with the Germans during the war. She went on to author books, travel to 60 countries where she gave her testimony and encouraged people with her life message – a message of trust and forgiveness. She passed away in California on her 91st birthday, April 15th, 1983.
        Once, while giving her testimony in a Church in Munich, Germany, she noticed a balding man dressed in a heavy coat, clutching a wool hat. As he approached her she flashed back to her days in the Ravenbrueck camp and remembered this man, a bit younger, dressed in his blue suit, staring down with the swastika emblem on his Nazi hat as she and her frail sister, Betsie, were forced to disrobe along with the other female prisoners and pass by him day after day in humiliation. She remembered her sister’s cruel death and then he spoke.
        He said, “You spoke of Ravenbrueck … I was a guard there and did cruel things … but since that time I have become a Christian and God has forgiven me … will you forgive me?” And with this he stretched his hand out towards her.
        Corrie recalls that she stood there, she whose sins had been forgiven, unable to forgive another. Betsie died there … could this man now gain forgiveness simply for the asking?
        Knowing in her heart that she had to but also realizing that forgiveness is not an emotion but an act of the will – Corrie told herself that through Christ all things are possible and with God’s help she mechanically lifted her arm, trusting God that He would supply what was missing in her heart by His grace alone. She gives the testimony as to when their hands touched and their eyes met, the most incredible thing happened. She felt it begin in her shoulder, down her arm and through her hand – the forgiveness of God and she loudly proclaimed: “I forgive you brother, with all my heart!” In her words:

“I had never known God's love so intensely as I did then.”

There is a grace of forgiveness, first there is a grace to be forgiven and then there is a grace to forgive.

It has been said by someone who knows that:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength … Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” – Corrie ten Boom

1.   If you need to be forgiven this morning, come forward. You’ll not be asked to reveal your sins but only to God.
2.   If you need to forgive someone else, come forward. I’ll not ask you to recount anyone else’s sins committed against you but only to God.
3.   God will forgive you and give you the grace to forgive others. It is available for the asking.

… Go with me to God to obtain this grace we all need.

1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Ephesians 4:32  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.