Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fruits of the Spirit Series – Part 2 Joy


It’s strange for me to imagine that I am now a part of the old school crowd. In 1979 I accepted the call of God on my life to be a preacher and pioneered my first Church that following year. I became a full-time pastor of a new charismatic congregation at the age of 25. Most of our congregation were in their 50’s and I was the new, young, energetic preacher with lofty ideals and the belief that somethings needed to change.  

One of the first changes I made revolutionized the song service. I introduced a sound system, added an electric guitar, did away with hymnals, brought in an overhead projector, invited the people to stand throughout the entire worship, and encouraged clapping and the lifting of hands.  

Up until that time it was generally accepted in our community that expressive non-conservative worship and especially dancing was simply not done in church. It was like pulling teeth to get people comfortable with this new approach to what we began to call praise and worship.  

Adding to the hurdles I began to sing fewer and fewer hymns and started offering scripture verses as songs. This way those who wanted to hold and read something while they sang could feel more secure. I would tell them to turn in their Bibles to a certain passage and we would put those words to a tune. The ones that worked we sang often and it helped to reinforce the scriptures in the hearts and minds of those in attendance. Some songs however never really made it. Either they were too wordy or the tunes just didn’t fit in proper cadence. Nonetheless I continue to this day to sing some of the musical flops from that era when we were stretching out into the new for a generation coming to the Lord. 

Some of the songs we sang are still my go-to’s in the shower and during my private worship time each week. Our topic of study has been on my mind this week and I have found myself singing some old familiar songs. 

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 joyand sorrow and mourning shall flee away. 

Isaiah 55:12  You shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you, they will be shouts of joy, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 

Isaiah 61:3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. 

Isaiah 61:10  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. 

Jeremiah 31:13  Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. 

Ok … well there you go … These new things and new songs and innovative ideas I used to make the song service more spiritual and more relevant and more meaningful have now, in only one generation, become the old things … the old ways … and I’m now a part of the old school 

One thing that hasn’t changed however is the Word of Almighty God and His desire for us to understand it and build our lives upon the Rock so that the gates of hell can never prevail against us. Would you turn with me to our key scripture for this series on the Fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22. 

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility, self-control. Against such there is no law.  

Last week we discussed how these fruits of the Spirits are grown. When we believe in and rely upon Jesus we are Born Again and become like a garden of the Lord. The more time and effort we put into cultivating a spiritual relationship with Jesus, the more fruit of the Holy Spirit grows in our lives. It becomes evident to us and to others that we are changing. 

The Word of God is the seed of God. The more we hear and accept the Word of God and put our trust in Him, the more fruit we produce in our lives. We can grow as much love and joy as we are willing to cultivate. Joy enough to have and joy to share with others, despite the circumstances.  

This fruit of the Spirit we recognize as joy transcends the natural elements and conditions of this mortal life. We have joy because we know and trust God. 

Hebrews says that Jesus was able to endure the cross because of the joy which was set before Him. He was joyful about the future. (Hebrews 12:2) 

1 Peter 1  NLT 
6 ¶  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 
7  These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 
8  You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 
 The reward for trusting Jesus will be the salvation of your souls. 
10 ¶  This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 
11  They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. 
12  They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen. 

Nehemiah 8:10c  Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Eternal Wages


We are in a great season of the year for all mankind. Each fall God begins a new year with great expectations for His children. According to Law of God, as recorded in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, this coming Friday, September 29th on our calendar, will be The Day of Atonement. The Jews celebrate it as “Yom Kippur” - The most Holy Day of the year.

This is the one day each year on which the High Priest of the Jews was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies and offer blood upon the Mercy Seat above the Ark of the Covenant to obtain forgiveness of sins for all the people. Immediately afterwards the High Priest stretched out his hands over the chosen scapegoat and transferred the sins of Israel onto the goat who then carried them out into the wilderness taking them away from the people. For thousands of years this dress rehearsal has given us a glimpse of what God had promised and has fulfilled in Christ.

Also of note: Next week will be the Feast of Tabernacles, remembering the fact that God will one day live with us, tabernacle with us, on the earth. This yearly 8 day feast of the Lord will begin Wednesday evening at sundown on the 4th of October. What a wonderful time of the year!

Some may not be fully aware that sacrifices are still being made on holy days and the yearly feasts among some who are waiting on the Messiah to come. For example, the Samaritans believe they are the true descendants of Abraham and continue to this day to live a holy life according to the Law of Moses which includes keeping some of the sacrificial obligations of the law.

This morning I have a few pictures of the place where Abraham built his first altar in the Promise Land. It is also the same place where Jacob bought a piece of ground from a man named Shechem and dug a well, Jacob’s well. It is also near to where the Children of Israel buried the bones of Joseph after conquering their enemies in the Land of Canaan. I have visited there many times and have met with the current High Priest of the Levities of Samaria. To this day they continue to live on Mt Gerizim in the place Moses commanded them to go and worship upon entering the Land of Canaan. The city of Samaria is situated there high above Jacob’s well.

Production Note: (I emailed a file with several pictures to production - show the pictures I sent of Samaria; the High Priest; Mount Gerizim; Sychar; Shechem; Joseph’s Tomb; and Jacob’s Well in the numbered order. I will make comments on a few.)

This morning I would like us to turn to the Gospel of John, chapter 4. While you find John 4, allow me to encapsulate the account of Jesus encountering the Woman at Jacob’s Well in Samaria and the Eternal Wages of which He spoke.

John 4
4 ¶  But He needed to go through Samaria.
5  So Jesus came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6  Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7  A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”
8  For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9  Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10  Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11  The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water?
12  “Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13  Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again,
14  “but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15  The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16  Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17  The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’
18  “for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19  The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
20  “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22  “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
23  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
24  “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
25  The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
27 ¶  And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28  The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men,
29  “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?”
30  Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
31  In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32  But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33  Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
34  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

35  “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!
36  “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.
37  “For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’
38  “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”

What would you say if I told you I knew of a way you could win the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes for certain and get $10,000 a week for life. How many of you would be very excited and want to know how you could do it? Well, I have a better offer than that! And it’s for certain! In fact, I can show you how you can get a guaranteed paycheck and benefits, including 100% covered health, hazard, flood and fire, all pre-paid with nothing down and zero deductible for life … eternal life! That’s right … get paid throughout eternity for doing something easy as pie right now. I can’t imagine anyone who would turn down that solid offer.

When Jesus told the woman at the well that
 “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
He wasn’t fooling, kidding, joking, lying or leading her on … He was serious … eternal life serious!

Today we have the greatest opportunity in or out of this world. Greater than winning the lottery or some sweepstakes that only pays for this lifetime. We have been offered a job sowing seeds and reaping a harvest for God. Jobs just can’t get any easier than this and nothing in the world can match the pay or provide the benefits.

Good news is that anyone can do this job whether at home, work or play. You can earn wages at parties, watching ball games, going to church, eating out, on vacation, while shopping, texting, on social media, surfing the web or playing catch with the kids.

What does it take for someone to be saved? The same thing it took for you to be saved:
       1.    Recognize they need a Savior
       2.    Repent of their sins
       3.    Receive Jesus in their heart by faith

Plus one more thing perhaps …Everyone needs someone to tell them about this Good News.

Romans 10
13  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
14  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?

17  So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

Someone made it possible for you to be hear the Good News … they will receive wages and have fruit for eternity! Don’t you want a paycheck in heaven?