Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module One Block Nine – Salvation


·        There is only One God – Jehovah, the God of the Bible
·        God created the heavens and the earth and made man like Him
·        Adam and Eve sinned through their disobedience and were separated
o   From each other
o   From God
o   From God’s purpose and provision on planet earth
o   From eternal life
§  Sin brought birth to death and eternal separation from God
·        Sin claimed the souls of all man and demanded sacrifice
o   The blood of animals could only temporarily cover man’s sin
o   The blood of man was impure and unacceptable
o   The sin debt required the perfect sacrifice of a sinless man
·        Jesus, Son of God and Son of man, willingly offered Himself
o   Not because He had to but because He wanted to – love
o   In death He destroyed him who had the power over death
o   He triumphed over principalities and the powers of darkness
o   He took the keys of death, hell and the grave
·        Jesus, the promised Messiah, victoriously rose to life on the 3rd day
·        God willingly opened a door through Jesus and extended an invitation by grace back into His perfect plan for all mankind
·        There is only one way back into God’s grace – it is by faith

Key Scripture:
Ephesians 2
8  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

There was a man who lived in the day of Jesus who was a member of the religious group known as the Pharisees. His name was Nicodemus and he was a prominent and well known religious leader of the Jews. This man, not wanting to stir up controversy or cause unnecessary problems for himself, came to Jesus during the nighttime, after dark when no one else could recognize him. Nicodemus had a genuine respect for Jesus and said, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."
Jesus answered Nicodemus and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus replied to Jesus in earnest, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?"
Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Herein Jesus is clearly referring to the element of water baptism as an outward sign which is meaningless without an inward conviction. More than having or producing an appearance of religious piety, one must be born of the spirit. More than merely joining the Church or a religious group of the day, in order to even see the Kingdom of God, much more to expect to enter into that Kingdom, one must truly be converted in heart and soul. 
If the only approach we make to God is to clean the outside of our life, or make an outward commitment, we fall short of what it takes to enter a spiritual Kingdom. For this reason Jesus concluded: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ’You must be born again.’  (John 3:1-7 Commentary) We must not die in sin but rather die to sin in Christ.
The effects of sin passed from Adam upon all mankind thereafter, even good men. Salvation comes only with a true conversion of the soul. Salvation is offered by grace, through faith in Jesus, and not by works.

Important Points:
1.   Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
2.   Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
3.   Romans 10:13 Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
a.   Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
b.   Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Day


Hebrews 10
22  let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
24  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

The “Day”
·        Many scholars imagine this, in a larger sense, to be the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Of course this is the ultimate fulfillment of many references made by the Holy Spirit through the writers of the scriptures.
·        However,  it is certain that this writer is speaking to the generation who occupied seats in the first century Church and just as well to those of us who occupy seats in the 21st century Church.
·        Each generation and every congregation faces difficult days which call for and critically demand strength to endure and overcome.
·        When the book of Hebrews was penned, the first Church was about to enter into the most difficult days of its existence.
o   Rome was poised to unleash unheard of persecution and vile retribution upon the Christians and Jews alike.
o   Jerusalem was to be trodden underneath the foot of these gentiles and soon the first Church would be all but gone
o   Families would be torn apart
o   Church leaders martyred
o   And congregations scattered
·        This “Day” was keenly anticipated not only by the writer but also by all those who had their spiritual eyes and ears open to know the times and seasons which were upon them. By the end of the first century Believers were on trial throughout the known world.
·        Since that time, each generation of Christians have had their own set of struggles, whether they be physical, mental or spiritual struggles, each generation has faced formidable pressure to compromise their faith and forego the practice and pursuit of pleasing Almighty God.
o   Temptations to compromise come in many forms

This morning we are going to discover, or for some, rediscover, what the Bible instructs us to do when we find ourselves in trouble or when we  sense difficult days approaching.

And BTW – if you have not yet noticed … trouble is all around us and our generation is headed down the road which leads to what many believe will be some very difficult days: financially; socially; politically; physically, with such simple things as health care and fundamental rights; and spiritually.

I don’t want to take our time and paint the wrong picture. We are not here to exalt or magnify the evil which is all around us. It is not the goal of the scriptures to leave us anxious, afraid or borrowing trouble from tomorrow’s woes. Rather, God would have us shine a light on the answer. We have come today to hear the voice of God’s Word and follow His prescription for our lives. This is what the scriptures encourage us to do when we are either in trouble or when we sense difficult days approaching:

1.  Draw near
a.   to God - with a true heart
b.   certain of our faith – (trust in the Truth – God’s Word is Truth)
c.   with a clear conscience
2.  Hold fast
a.   the confession of our hope (the anchor of our soul - Heb 6:19)
b.   Why? - because you can afford to – He is faithful
3.  Consider
a.   one another (so as not to turn inward or consume ourselves)
b.   stir up one another (the fellowship we have in Christ is interactive)
c.   to love and do good things
4.  Do not Forsake
a.   coming together to encourage one another (it’s not about us)
b.   especially in “The Day” to come …

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Life Shape Prayer & Discipleship Module One Block Eight – Faith


Each Life Shape lesson is strategically designed to add and secure one more critical component of truth to the Believer’s life. This step by step approach to discipleship will expose and explain the essential doctrines of the Bible in a logical format. Thus far we have learned:
·        There is only One God - Jehovah
·        He created the heavens and the earth
·        This One God made man like Him, 3 parts – one person
·        Every man, woman, boy and girl is a living soul born to exist forever
·        God prepared a wonderful place for man to enjoy
·        Sin separated man from everything God intended
·        The blood of bulls and goats could only afford temporary forgiveness
·        Eternal forgiveness required a perfect sacrifice – God’s only Son
·        Jesus willingly gave His life as a ransom for sin – He died on Calvary
·        God gave more than He had to because He wanted to – that’s grace
·        In death Jesus destroyed him who had the power over death – satan
·        After 3 days Jesus rose victorious over death, hell and the grave
·        Now the all sufficient grace of God is available to every man
Tonight we take the next step in this discipleship process and discover how to access the storehouse of God’s grace.
Have you ever considered the storehouses of God? The place where He keeps His gold, jewels, blessings, miracles, kindness, forgiveness, peace, patience, love, joy, righteousness and all manner of goodness and provision? Imagine the storehouses of the Sovereign Creator of the Universe … the place which also holds the inheritance of His only begotten Son in whom He is well pleased. Think about the abundant and perpetual supply.
Now imagine how that God, because He is good and so loves the world, reaches into these storehouses and daily blesses the earth and many individuals who never realize where their blessings are coming from. It is even from these storehouses that God gives food to the birds, from where He clothes the lilies and supplies bread to the eater and seed to the sower.  
What if God was willing to give you access to His storehouses! This is the place where forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life are kept.
Good news … in fact that is exactly what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is – Good News! Why is it called “Good News” – because God is willing to grant you access to His storehouses, not because you deserve it, not because you earned it, not because you purchased it – in fact it cannot be purchased with money or works of any kind. God is willing to give you access because He is good and He loves you that much … again it’s called GRACE!!!
How do you access this grace? There is only one door and it requires an access code.

Key Scripture:
Romans 5
1  Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2  through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Jesus, the Messiah, is the door. Faith is the access code. We gain access to God’s grace through Jesus by faith.

Important Points:
1.   Faith is the level of our trust in the truth.
a.   Minus either element, trust or truth, we cannot have faith
b.   Faith is a productive partnership between us and God
c.   The Bible speaks of levels:  great, little, and no faith
d.   Our trust in the truth says God’s Word is good enough
2.   Without faith we cannot please God. (Hebrews 11:6)
3.   Faith grows when we listen to God’s Word. (Romans 10:17)
4.   Faith is also grown as a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
5.   Faith is our substance and evidence until we see our hope.
a.   Hebrews 11:1
6.   Faith accesses what grace provides.

Supporting Scriptures:
·        Hebrews 11:1 & 6               Luke 7:9
·        Romans 10:17                    Mark 4:40
·        Galatians 5:22                    2 Thessalonians 1:3
·        Matthew 6:30

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Where Are You Running?

I am always fascinated by God’s ability to speak so many things through the same verse or book.  I can tell you as a pastor; it gets awkward to stand up here week after week realizing that we are saying the same thing in a different way each week.  Here’s the kicker, people come up afterward and tell us they’ve never heard that before and that they had a life change!!!  It blows me away at how big and great a God we serve.  Let us just stop and thank Him for the word we are going to receive today. 
After saying all that, turn in your bibles to the book of Jonah.  You can see where I was going with that now.  How many people have ever heard of Jonah?  Even most unbelievers have heard this story but don’t get too comfy, God will be speaking to many of you today through this well known story.
This book was written around 785BC to Israel and God’s people everywhere.  It is different from the other prophetic books because it tells the story of the prophet and does not center on his prophecies.  It is an autobiographical account from Jonah showing the extent of God’s grace and love for all people.  On a side note Jewish tradition has Jonah as the author.  Initially, one would think it would be counterintuitive to write a narrative painting oneself the way Jonah looked.  But after reading the story, one could argue that Jonah may not have seen Himself as the bad guy.
          In fact, with not took much of an imagination, one could easily put themselves in Jonah’s shoes and feel the same way. 
          “Today, sin runs rampant in society – daily headlines and overflowing prisons bear dramatic witness to the fact.  With child abuse, pornography, serial killings, terrorism, anarchy, and ruthless dictatorships, the world seems to be filled to overflowing with violence, hatred and corruption.  Reading, hearing and perhaps even experiencing there tragedies, we begin to understand the necessity of God’s judgment.  We may even find ourselves wishing for vengeance by any means upon the violent perpetrators.  Surely they are beyond redemption!  But suppose that in the midst of such thoughts, God told you to take the gospel to the worst of the offenders – how would you respond?”      Life Application Bible (p.1559)
This is where we find Jonah in verse three verses... 
1 The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
3 But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.
We could stop right here and spend the remainder of our time discussing these three verses and their application.  There is so much here, it’s a pastor’s paradise.  The first verse, first five words, is the first thing God wants you to hear today.
1.  Who is Speaking:
God is Speaking
God is speaking to you this morning.  He is giving a state of the union address to your hearts and ears.  He is saying to many of you that things are not going well and He is going to do something about it.  Things aren’t always great for Christians if you haven’t noticed?  The bible says that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous”.  Jesus said we would have “tribulations and trials”.  Bad things happen to good people.  But is that a reason that good things shouldn’t happen to bad people?  I think not.
2.  Who is He Speaking to?
But who is God speaking to?  Who is His audience?  God wanted to reach the Assyrians with a message.  These people like many today are in need of salvation from themselves.  They are a representation of the world.  
The World
3.  Who is He speaking through
He is Speaking through You
God is speaking to many of you today.  He is speaking through me today to reach you.  There are people in your world who have hurt you.  Who have misused you, embarrassed you, and hated you.  But God still wants to speak to them.  He has a word for them, a message that only you can bring.  This is where things got to be too much for Jonah.  It only took two verses and one word from God to run, use his own money to buy a ticket and board a ship heading as far as he could from Nineveh.  It’s almost comical how quickly he runs from God.  Imagine this prophet of God who has heard from God many times over and knows God’s voice, hears the word of the Lord and doesn’t even try to pretend he has something to do.  He just runs out the door.  How many understand Jonah?  It’s not as hard to understand Jonah now.  Some of you might want to run away right now.  Don’t!  We see how it ends up. 
This is a hard word.  Jonah doesn’t try to reason with God like we often do.  “Well God, I know you said I need to love her, but you don’t understand she isn’t lovable.” Or, “Well God, I know you said I need to respect him, but you don’t understand he isn’t respectable.”  Oh no, I’ve gone to medaling. 
4.  What is God Saying
Moving forward, what is God saying?  What is He wanting to speak through you today?  Write this down, if it’s the only thing you get from this message, remember to ask this question all the time… What is God speaking to and through you?
Repentance and Redemption
Paul says: Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
He says this in Galatians 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?  What a question!  If we were to look at it we would probably find out that it was ourselves that “cut in” and kept us from the truth. 
Run the race that God has called you to run.  Don’t run away like Jonah.  Realize that success is not determined by our own measure, but by God’s.  Jesus went to the cross, Paul was beheaded.  Don’t think that just because your life is hard, that you’re not where God has you, look at Hosea.  God called him to marry a prostitute only to have to turn around and buy her out of prostitution again.  God is not a God of fair; He is a God of just!  Jonah thought is wasn’t fair that the Assyrians were going to receive God’s mercy if they repented.  They had done horrible things to the Israelites and didn’t deserve God’s grace.
There could be people in our lives that are in need of God’s mercy and grace.  The problem is that we might be the ones God is calling to extend it to them even though we are the ones that got hurt by them. 
How are we going to react to this calling?
Are we going to be like Jonah and run the other way, paying our own way to try to stop the Will of God?  Where God calls, He also provides
Will we be as self-centered as Jonah to think that because it affects us, it’s about us?
He is calling you this morning to:
Let go
Jonah 10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
That’s how God see’s it in our lives today.  Reach out with the message of Redemption.  Don’t get caught up in judgment, leave that to God. 
On a side note, you can’t give what’s not yours.  God is only requiring you to listen and obey; you can’t make the decision for others.  God hasn’t called you to change your spouse or co-worker that is His job.  Yours is to do what he has called you to do.  This doesn’t mean the other person will change just because you gave them mercy or grace, but you are the one who is changed, being transformed into Christ Jesus’ image.  Jonah couldn’t get anyone to repent, that was up to God.  Jonah’s job was to not judge but offer the word of the Lord to a people in need. 
Many of you have people in your life that are in need of mercy, forgiveness, love, respect, redemption.  The very fact they need it is because they are wrong.  If they didn’t need it, then you probably wouldn’t be upset with them.  God is calling all to come to Him and He is calling all to by any means facilitate it.  Will you answer the call of God in our life?  Will you commit to put aside your anger and judgment reaching out to those who are in need?  Pray with me and let us make this commitment together.