Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mark’s Conclusion


In conclusion of our 2015 study of the book of Mark, we now come to a passage of scripture which has been the topic of scholars for many years. Some translations of the Bible indicate that the last dozen verses of chapter 16 are not original to the writings of Mark. Some believe these verses were added as footnotes to clarify, compliment or conclude the intent of the writer.

With respect to the diverse opinions as to the arguments put forward on either side of this issue, I wholeheartedly believe in and hold to the verses we are about to read as the Word of Almighty God. Every scripture, properly interpreted by scripture in light of the one story being told by the Holy Spirit, is confirmed. Now, let’s conclude our 2015 study of Mark.

Mark 16
14 ¶  Later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
15  And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
16  "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
17  "And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
18  "they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."
19 ¶  So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.
20  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

So often the above scriptures are quoted in support of the doctrine of divine healing. The doctrine of divine healing is well founded in the undisputed testimonies of both the Old and the New Testaments as the divine will of God.

The latter portion of verse 18 is the favored passage upon which authority and instruction is given to Believers in Christ to prayerfully lay hands on the sick in the Name of Jesus and fully expect the sick to recover from their sickness, disease or infirmity. This practice is in agreement with the teachings of Jesus demonstrated by Him and testified by the many witnesses thereafter.

From the Four Gospels to the book of Acts and all through the Epistles healing is a dominant part of the work of the Church and its ministers. God responds to our prayer for others and expects us to be moved with compassion and call upon Him for help. Divine healing is second in the scriptures only to the work of salvation. I say this not to discount justification, sanctification or the infilling of the Holy Spirit. However healing was sought after and performed more than any other work of Christ in the Gospels. The Old Testament is also filled with scriptures and accounts concerning divine healing.

The first time the word “healed” is mentioned in the Bible, (Hebrew: Rapha), was in respect to Abraham’s prayer for another man.

Genesis 20:17  So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children;

Moses also mentions healing while preparing the Children of Israel with instructions for life:

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." (Jehovah Rapha)

King David also appealed to the mercy of God when he was sick.

Psalms 6:2  Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.

Psalms 30:2  O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.

David believed healing was one of the many benefits of being a child of God.

Psalms 103
1  Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:
3  Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,
4  Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5  Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Everyone who reads the Bible and accepts it at face value would attest to the fact that God is a healing God. God’s intent to heal is clearly seen especially in the Messianic prophecy spoken through Isaiah.

Isaiah 53:5  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.

This prophecy is repeated and confirmed as New Testament Church doctrine by the Apostle Peter.

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.

Believers know that God can heal but the question is: how does a person obtain healing? What is the prescribed and most effective course which can be taken to receive healing from God?

The Word of God gives us several solid and well documented approaches to healing. The Bible is filled with people who were successful in pursuit of healing for themselves and for others. Although there is no formula we nonetheless can see some common threads which connect each instance of divine healing in the scriptures. These threads help us to establish a solid foundation on which to stand and participate in this God process.

A first element of healing is:
·        The General Will of God which is clearly established in the scriptures and is in agreement with the whole counsel of God’s Word as a major part of the One Story told by the Bible.
·        Healing is included in the Will of God and is a part of every Believer’s inheritance.
·        Even though it is the General Will of God for His Children to walk in divine healing and health, each Believer has the potential to live and die sick because The General Will of God is Conditional.
·        Some Believers live and die sick due to:
o   Lack of knowledge
o   Personal disregard
o   Irresponsibility
o   Lifestyle choices
o   Unbelief
o   Ungodliness
o   Refusal to participate with other God given remedies
o   Tiredness (Weariness)
o   Desire or Decision (Decide to die)
o   Sabotage (The power of the tongue)
o   Subversion (The wrong influence)
o   Attack (The devil)
·        These reasons do not change the Will of God but they often affect the outcome.

If/when I found myself sick or diseased and in need of divine intervention for healing the first things I would/did do is:
1.  Check myself
a.   Do I believe healing is the will of God for my life?
b.   Am I right with God?
c.   Am I living and making responsible lifestyle choices?
d.   Have I earnestly prayed in faith?
e.   Have I asked others to agree with me in prayer?
f.    How can I better educate myself to fight this sickness in faith and practice?
g.   Am I doing everything I can reasonably do to participate with my God given spiritual and medical advisors to facilitate my healing.

After I check myself to insure I am not giving any room for this sickness or disease to exist, I then:

2.  Challenge myself
a.   Increase and discipline my prayer life
b.   Increase and discipline my Word intake
c.   Increase and discipline my faith filled confession
d.   Increase and discipline myself to sow seeds of healing in the lives of others

Here are a few truths concerning the Child of God:
·        You are the healed and not the sick
·        Some sicknesses are physical, others mentally based while still others have an active demonic root such as spirits of infirmity.
·        We fight our enemies from a position of victory
·        Our ultimate victory is in Christ and throughout eternity
·        There is a difference between the general and the specific will of God

The Specific Will of God is clearly seen in the scriptures as a part of God’s overriding plan to accomplish a specific purpose often known only to God. Instances of the specific will of God are seen throughout the Bible in the lives of faithful followers of God. More about this later …

Next week will begin our New Year with a fresh study of the scriptures concerning divine healing each Wednesday evening during the month of January. If you or someone you know is in need of healing these Wednesday evenings will make the difference. Each week we will hear the Word of God and apply it to our lives for ourselves and for others. Signs, wonders, miracles and healings are waiting for us in 2016. Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Next Step


This is the last Sunday of the year. Friday we will all take the next step into the future together as we celebrate the New Year, 2016. In respect to this next step allow me to share 3 Truths that affect us all.
1.   There is a time for every purpose under heaven.
2.   God wants to move you up the ladder of His will.
3.   Your success can begin with the next step.

Believe me when I say that: “You are completely unprepared for anything other than your next step with God.” However, you are fully prepared for the purpose of this season in your life. Anything less than pursuing God’s will for your life can only add to the problems, cause unnecessary or even critical delays and ultimately take you farther from the answers and the help you will need. You are only one decision away from the best decision.

Ecclesiastes 3  NKJV
1  To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
2  A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted;
3  A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up;
4  A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;
5  A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
6  A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;
7  A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak;
8  A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.
9  What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
10  I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied.
11  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
12  I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives,
13  and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor — it is the gift of God.

Life is filled with times and seasons … some we enjoy and some we don’t.

Every time we arrive at one destination we find ourselves standing on the platform of our next departure. Each season and every circumstance of life finds us busily preparing for the next. Every decision we make, whether right or wrong, supplies critical information and adds valuable experience we will need to take advantage of our next opportunity.

No one is perfect or without fault in this life. We have all made decisions we regret but not one of us can turn back the hands of time and wipe away our worst mistakes. God understands that there is nothing we can do about our yesterdays except turn them over to Him and leave them in His hands. He is the only one who can manage our past.

The most important thing on our plate today is not what we did or didn’t do in 2015 but rather what we will do in 2016 by the grace of God. God is not focused on our past but rather He is focused on our future.

Our future will not be determined by our past but rather by our response to a now God with a now word for the next step of which - we are prepared to take. Believe it … you are fully prepared for the next step!

1.   There is a time for every purpose under heaven.
2.   God wants to move you up the ladder of His will.
3.   Your success may depend on your next step.

There is an Old Testament account of a man named Abraham who was in a covenant with God. One day God told Abraham to take his promised young son to a specific place and sacrifice him on an altar. When Abraham knew he had clearly heard the Word of Jehovah God he took the next step … he prepared and immediately began the journey. Abraham knew the next step and he simply trusted God enough to take it.  

After a 3 day walk Abraham and his son Isaac arrived at the place God chose. While Abraham was obediently preparing his son as a sacrifice, God saw his trust and his faithfulness and spoke a second time to Abraham.

Genesis 22
10  And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11  But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am."
12  And He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

Abraham faithfully followed the Word of the Lord knowing he could trust God even with his greatest possessions. What must have seemed like new orders from God weren’t really all that new to God … they were just new to Abraham. God was always in control and had actually already provided another sacrifice for Abraham that day.

Abraham didn’t know the end from the beginning but God did and sometimes God leads us like He led Abraham. God could see all the steps while Abraham could only see the next step. If we are going to make the most out of life we must always be ready for a fresh word from God …

There is a time for every season to change and for new things to take root where old things once grew. Just because seasons change does not mean the last season was bad or that it was not the best God had to offer us in that season. However, without regard as to the last step we took in faith trusting God … the most important step we face is the next step.

In closing I offer three things to remember when considering your next step:
1.   Don’t limit God
a.   Trust in the miraculous and realize that God always moves His children up the ladder of His will
2.   Be flexible and resolute
a.   Resolve to obey God
b.   Everything else is subject to change
3.   Don’t burn your bridges
a.   Abraham may not have understood but he nonetheless trusted … Don’t be anxious or fearful - Trust God with the next step!

The best decision you can make right now is to offer yourself completely to God. Pray and let Him know that you are committed to His plan for your life. God will not forget your trust in Him and He will open every door of favor and multiply His grace in your life so that you will not stray or be drawn off course. God will make His will clear to you even if He has to send angels from heaven to direct your path.

Psalms 37:23 says the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord …

If you will but commit yourself to His purpose and take the next step in this season, to which I might add you are fully prepared, He will direct your way and give you a lamp for your feet and a light for your path.

This coming year is a time of great change such as we living in the world have not seen in our generations. Although many of us were born long before the technology revolution and some even before television, and although we have witnessed such great changes take place in the political and social landscapes of our nation and the world, yet we have never seen the likes of those things which will suddenly upon us.

Knowledge will increase and craft will prosper and the very powers of this world will be shaken and will yield their secrets to those destined to usher in the coming of the Lord. Many will face temptations they never imagined and fall prey to the pursuit of selfish gain and fleshly advance but those who wait upon the Lord shall be supernaturally strengthened and will see through the darkness and discern the enemy’s plan.

Look up and lift up your heads saints, your redemption draws near and the Lord is standing to ready His return. There is a purpose in this season … God is calling us to higher ground … make sure your next step … you are well prepared and for such a time as this. Resolve to obey God and take your next step with Him.

Let’s let God know we are ready for the call … and … lest I forget …

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday Circles - Don't Stop Short

Sunday Circles
        Building Your Family With Friends
Church On The Rock

Hymn: Isaiah 51:11
Memory Verse: Isaiah 51:11 Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Lesson: Don’t stop short of the Promised Land to live in:

Pastor remarks and intro of first principle

First Principle: Don’t stop short of the Promised Land to live in fear or frustration.
Scripture Reference: Numbers 13:32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.
Fear wants to freeze us in our tracks.
Sometimes our enemies seem more powerful than us.
Following fear filled leaders will frustrate the will of God.
Fear is a poor manager of life’s decisions.
Question: What are some enemies people commonly fear?
Follow Up Question: What are some things we can do to avoid letting fear dictate our decisions?
Conclusion: Courage is not the absence of fear but rather how we move forward in the face of our reasons to fear. When we choose to do God’s will, fear can sometimes attempt to make us stop short of God’s promise. When God wants us to stop, it feels different than fear. Fear should not be the dominant reason for the decisions we make in life.

Pastor remarks and intro of second principle

Second Principle: Don’t stop short of the Promised Land to live in comfort or compromise.
Scripture Reference: Numbers 14:4 So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”
Of course the children of Israel were more comfortable in Egypt than they were in the wilderness.
Sometimes we must go through something we don’t want to get to something we do want.
The path to the Promised Land is not always easy.
Fear filled leadership bred frustration and gave the people an opportunity to compromise their walk and choose comfort over courage.
Question: What does the word compromise mean to you?
Follow Up Question: Do you imagine it could ever be God’s will for you to be uncomfortable?
Conclusion: Our comfort may not always be the most important thing to God. When His purpose requires an uncomfortable journey, we should embrace our opportunity to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

Pastor remarks and intro of third principle

Third Principle: Don’t stop short of the Promised Land to live in criticism or complaint.
Scripture Reference: Numbers 14:2 And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!”
God chooses leaders who are bold, courageous, and confident.
A godly leader does not draw their confidence from their own abilities but rather from the conviction that they are called by God.
Godly leadership is not moved by fear or frustration, comfort or compromise, and neither do they give credence to criticism or complaint.
Leaders are called to follow the orders of the one who called them.
If leaders are chosen by the people, then they must of right, lead according to the people’s wishes.
However, if leaders have received a higher calling, they cannot afford to be driven by poles or popularity.
Question: Describe some qualities every higher called leader should possess.
Follow Up Question: What are some ways we can discern if we are following a God ordained leader?
Conclusion: Stubbornness does not equal the confident boldness which comes from knowing you are doing God’s will. When God speaks it sounds different than fear, frustration, comfort, compromise, criticism, or complaint. Every person is called by God to lead in some point of life, even if it is only over our personal decisions. Don’t stop short of the Promised Land because of yourself or others who try to influence you.

Pastor closing remarks

·        Connect Cards; Offering and Prayer
·        Memory Verse

·        Pre-Praise & Worship Prayer will be hosted in the Sanctuary Studio. Worship will begin in just a few minutes.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Sunday Circles - Who's in Control?

Sunday Circles
        Building Your Family With Friends
Church On The Rock

Hymn: Isaiah 51:11
Memory Verse: Isaiah 51:11 Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.

Lesson: Who’s in control?

Pastor remarks and intro of first principle

First Principle: We are never in control.
Scripture Reference: Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
Only God is in control and we are subject to being interrupted.
Caesar Augustus was not in control.
The Roman Senate was not in control.
Neither Mary nor Joseph were in control.
God does not first seek our permission before he alters our plans.
What may seem like an unfair burden to us is often a plan to God.
Question: How many interruptions outside Mary’s control had to take place for her to be a part of God’s plan?
Follow Up Question: If Mary had been in control, how might things have been different?
Conclusion: God orchestrates life and events so that each person is given an opportunity to participate in His plan. Every day things happen which are beyond our ability to control. The best we can hope for is to find a way every day to please God in all we do. We cannot always choose what we go through but we can choose how we will go through it.

Pastor remarks and intro of second principle

Second Principle: God is always in control.
Scripture Reference: Luke 2:10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”
God has a plan and He will succeed …
God knows the end from the beginning and works all things to the benefit of His good will.
Although we have a choice, only God is in control.
Question: Do you trust God enough to let Him be in control?
Follow Up Question: What are some ways we can show God that we trust Him?
Conclusion: God was determined to bring peace and good will to mankind and whatever it took to accomplish that was well within God’s control. God exercised complete control over events which effected generations, nations, and individuals. Never forget that God has a plan for peace and goodwill and He is in control. Like it or not, all eternity depends on God … how much more the things of this life.

Pastor remarks and intro of third principle

Third Principle: The journey is your friend.
Scripture Reference: Luke 2:7  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Being highly favored of God does not equal being favored of man.
At times life can seem so unfair and taxing.
Even though Mary would not have chosen this journey for herself, yet the journey brought her to her destiny.
Life and circumstances were outside of Mary’s control but not outside of God’s control.
Question: How did Mary’s journey become her friend?  
Follow Up Question: How can our perspective help us in our life journey?
Conclusion: God moves a lot of things around in days that we don’t know and in ways we cannot control to accomplish the will that we could never have imagined. Work with God and give Him your best every day. He is in control.

Pastor closing remarks

·        Connect Cards; Offering and Prayer
·        Memory Verse

·        Pre-Praise & Worship Prayer will be hosted in the Sanctuary Studio. Worship will begin in just a few minutes.

Silence Speaks


Matthew 1  NKJV
18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
19  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
20  But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21  "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."
22  So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
23  "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."
24  Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
25  and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

God chose Joseph, a common construction worker, to be the earthly image and play the role of father in the life of Jesus. I have long looked at Joseph as one of the unsung heroes of the Bible. So many times we overlook the critical part he played in the plan of God. Even though we never hear one word uttered by Joseph, I nonetheless believe he speaks volumes to every man who becomes a father, especially to those who are busy raising someone else’s children. Joseph is an amazing example for each one of us.

The role of a father can be boiled down to Two Basic Responsibilities:
1.   Guide
2.   Provide

Although Joseph words aren’t recorded anywhere in the Bible, his silence speaks loudly. A simple survey of the passage we’ve already read this morning reveals 4 evident reasons why Joseph was chosen and why I believe he was so successful. As you listen this morning imagine how these same truths can apply to your life. What can Joseph’s silence teach you?
1.   Joseph was connected to someone who was connected to God …
a.   Matthew 1:18&19 tell us that Joseph was engaged to Mary and was her husband
b.   Who we include in our inner circle can help us or hurt us
c.   Our success in life may depend on others more than we realize
2.   Joseph was a humble man
a.   Matthew 1:19 says that Joseph did not react selfishly when he found out about Mary’s pregnancy but considered what he should do based on how his actions would affect her.
b.   Joseph did not react out of haste or hurt; he was not rash nor did he take advantage of the situation to vindicate himself.
c.   Joseph didn’t let his pride get the best of him … rather he humbled himself and gave his best to God and to Mary.
3.   Joseph embraced the supernatural
a.   Matthew 1:20-23 reveal how Joseph believed in and accepted both the messenger and the message from heaven.
b.   One Word from God changes everything … at least it does for those who will receive it …
c.   Some things can only be explained in light of the supernatural plan of God.
d.   In his critical moment Joseph embraced the Word of the Lord as divine direction for his life.
e.   When God could do no better, God sent His Word … to Mary; to Joseph; and to the world!
4.   Joseph was unafraid to go against popular opinion
a.   Matthew 1:24&25 show us that Joseph obeyed God instead of just going with the flow or pleasing the crowd.
b.   Reckon what all those “wagging tongues” are going to say come judgment day? Think they’ll still be making fun of Joe?
c.   Actions most often speak louder than words and Joseph’s silence still speaks today … what do his choices say to you?

When God chooses you for your next task realize it may not be all about you so stay humble, embrace the supernatural Word of the Lord and don’t be afraid to swim against the tide. I love you … Merry Christmas!