Sunday, April 28, 2019

God’s Dream


I.   The Pre-Message Altar & Prayer Time

Bring your past, your present, and your future to the altar this morning … we are going to stir up dreams and visions for your greater success in life.

1.    Dreams and Visions are the language of the Spirit
2.   The 1st lesson in the Bible
                 i.    Open your mind to God possibilities
                ii.    Let faith begin to open your mind to God’s possibilities – (Dream)
3.   You may need a new faith project in your life
4.   Faith makes things possible it does not make things easy.
5.   What would you ask God to do for you if you knew He was willing to work with you?
6.   Today I believe God will drop the seed of a new dream in your heart that He is willing to fund.

II.        The MessageGod’s Dream

In the very early days of the first Church in Jerusalem, many religious leaders were dead set against the group they called the Nazarenes who were followers of Jesus. One of the most religious among these anti-Christian zealots was a man named Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a young, highly educated Jew who had come to Jerusalem to study the Jewish faith.

Acts chapter 8 begins with Saul of Tarsus consenting to the stoning of Stephen, one of the deacons of the Church in Jerusalem. Acts chapter 9 continues the accounts of Saul and his persecution of Jews who were Believers in Jesus. These new Christians were afraid of Saul because he relentlessly hunted them down and cast them into prison for blasphemy against Jehovah, a charge worthy of death under the Jewish law.

Because of Saul’s hatred for Christians and the Church of Jesus, he hatched a plan and volunteered to travel all the way to Damascus to find any Jewish followers of Jesus and return them to Jerusalem under arrest to be tried under Jewish law. The High Priest agreed and gave Saul letters authorizing him to act in his name. Saul departed with a group of men who were deputized to carry out the orders.

As Saul and his group drew near to Damascus, a great light shinned from heaven and Saul heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” This was the voice of Jesus. As a result of his encounter with Jesus on that Damascus road, Saul was converted to Christ, but he had to be escorted into the city because he was blind. He sat waiting for three days on a man named Ananias whom the Lord said He would send to help him know what to do.

It is certain that Saul was converted to Christ on the Damascus road that day. He was Born-Again. Everything became new in his life. However, although he was saved, he was blind and without direction for his new life. Jesus had a plan for Saul that would reach far beyond his conversion experience … a plan of which Saul was yet unaware.

After 3 days Jesus sent Ananias to confirm Saul, pray for him, heal his eyesight, water baptize him, and begin teaching him all about his new life in Christ. Saul spent some days with the disciples there in Damascus, learning more about Jesus and God’s plan for his life. Finally, after some time, Saul began to witness to others about this saving grace of God.

Acts 9 NKJV
17  And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
18  Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.
19  So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.
20  Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.

Saul of Tarsus is a prime example of what can happen in the life of a person who has a true conversion experience with Jesus. The scriptural account paints a clear picture of a man before he gets Born-Again. Saul was educated and angry; He was motivated and driven to succeed; Saul was connected and moving up in life; He was liked by his friends and feared by his enemies; He had respect and he had a great job doing something he believed in and something he was good at.

Without regard as to how happy, prosperous, successful, content and influential Saul of Tarsus was before he met Jesus, he was leading his family and friends straight to hell. Not only was he bad for his family and friends, he was causing trouble for anyone who didn’t agree with him. Saul had problems and he caused problems for everyone he met. Saul needed what we all need at some point in life – Saul needed to change.

Most problems in life can be solved in three simple steps.
1.  Get saved
a.   Saul got saved!
b.   What does salvation do for a person?
                         i.    They become a new creation in Christ Jesus.
                        ii.    Old things pass away, and all things become new.
                      iii.    Their Born-Again spirit and soul receives the capacity to understand and apply God’s Word and Will to their life.
c.   How does a person know if they are saved?
                         i.    The Holy Spirit will be their witness of salvation.
                        ii.    The Holy Spirit will encourage, challenge, teach, correct and inspire every child of God to obey God’s Word and God’s will.
                      iii.    Others will notice a change in their heart and attitude.
d.   How can you be saved?
                         i.    Recognize
                        ii.    Repent
                      iii.    Receive

After salvation, most of the problems we bring with us from our old lives can be dealt with if a person will only:

2.  Become a disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word
a.   Saul of Tarsus became a disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word.
b.   Discipleship is Education and Preparation to live a godly life.
                         i.    A person can be saved and still tell lies.
                        ii.    A person can be saved and commit adultery.
                      iii.    A person can be saved and still cheat on a test.
                      iv.    A person can be saved and not be a good witness.
                       v.    A person can be saved and still get drunk or do drugs.
                      vi.    A person can be saved and continue to cuss or talk bad about other people.
                    vii.    But why would anyone want to stay like they were before they got saved?
c.   Discipleship checks us, challenges us and changes us … it changed Saul and gave him the basis for beginning his new Christian walk.
d.   You must decide for yourself if will become a disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word.

If you have been born again and have become a disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word … It is time to:

3.  Begin living the changed life
a.   Life is a choice-based adventure.
b.   Saul immediately began living his changed life.
c.   Success is dependent on only two things:
                         i.    Knowing the right answer
                        ii.    Applying that answer
                      iii.    Life isn’t more complicated than that.

If you can’t seem to conquer your problems or can’t get a handle on life:
·        Get saved! – If you are saved and still have repetitive personal problems …
·        Become a disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word.
o   Place yourself under spiritual authority
o   Welcome instruction, correction, reproof, rebuke and encouragement aimed at cleaning out the old carnal attitudes  and establishing the new spiritual graces of life
o   Submit your life to the Word of God
o   Become a functioning part of a local Church Family for the glory of God
o   Accept every challenge to grow and be more like Christ
·        Live the changed life.
o   Commit yourself to a spiritual code of conduct
o   Bridle your tongue
o   Curb your sinful desires
o   Repent and Recover yourself from failures
o   Activate your faith for signs, wonders and miracles
o   Be a witness of what Jesus can do in one person’s life

God has a dream … What is your take-away today?
·        Are you saved?
·        Have you become a disciple of Jesus Christ and His Word?
·        Will you begin living your changed life today?

I challenge you to open your heart and mind to God’s potential in your life. Faith makes things possible it doesn’t make things easy.

In just a moment I’ll be back to seal God’s Word in our hearts. I’m going to pray in faith that God will drop the seed of a new dream in your heart … a dream that He is willing to fund.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Unfinished Business


We just came through the most holy week of the year. Late last week we remembered the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the anniversary of His crucifixion. This past Sunday, just three days ago, we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.

Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem just as the prophets proclaimed. He was the Son of God and the Son of Man and well aware of His purpose. Jesus plainly told everyone why He had come:

Luke 4 NKJV
18  “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19  To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

This message, first spoken from heaven through the prophet Isaiah, was misunderstood for centuries. Jews and those who followed the prophecies of the servants of Jehovah, believed the Messiah would come to establish His Kingdom on the earth in a tangible way. They were looking for a strong militaristic leader who would gather an army of zealots and fight against the tyranny and injustice of wicked and evil men.

It wasn’t until after the resurrection of Jesus that His close followers began to understand that the prophecies concerning Messiah were first and foremost aimed at eternity. The beliefs they held, although true, were to be fulfilled in a different way than most expected. Every promise of God was complete in Christ at the resurrection. The eternal Kingdom of God did not come with observation but yet was secure and resident in all who believed in and called upon the name of Jesus as Lord.

Jesus secured eternity first and then turned His attention on those things which would offer men and women, boys and girls, the opportunity to enter into this eternal Kingdom. Those who would be saved by His grace through their faith while on the earth would ultimately be swallowed up by life at the moment of the death of their mortal body. For the Born-Again Believer, spiritual death would never be known.

Jesus came to earth with two primary goals. First:
1.   To destroy sin and its power over the souls of mankind.
a.   He had to do this as a man – and then …
2.   To establish His Church in the earth.
a.   This was to be accomplished by His followers as He directed them from His throne in heaven through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.
b.   The Church was the hope that others might learn of Him.

The scriptures cast many reflections on the Church. The Church is referred to as:
·        The Body of Christ
·        The Bride of Christ
·        The Family of God both in heaven and earth
·        The Army of the Lord
·        A Royal Priesthood
·        A Holy Nation
·        The City of the Great King
·        The Generation of Jesus Christ
·        The called out, called together sons and daughters of God
·        The Holy Habitation of God throughout eternity

From the cross of Calvary Jesus paid the debt for all sin forever. In the grave He buried our sins and defeated the devil, taking the keys of death and hell from him. In the resurrection Jesus gave His followers victory over death and the grave and secured His Lordship throughout eternity.

After the resurrection, Jesus remained on the earth for 40 additional days to help with the next step in His plan. Jesus had a goal of building the Church and He invested His time in a few people to get it going. Earlier He gave His disciples a glimpse of the work He was preparing them to do.

Matthew 16
18  “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
19  “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

When on the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” He was talking about the first step of His plan. Sin was defeated in human flesh. A man, Jesus, in His humanity, defeated sin in His flesh. He won that victory. The next part of His plan was to defeat the devil and then defeat death and the grave. He did that during the three days in the bowels of the earth and finally sealed this victory at His resurrection.

This brought Jesus to His next step: the building of His Church in a way so that the gates of hell could not prevail against it. I believe this was one of the main reasons Jesus stayed on the earth for 40 days after His resurrection.

1 Corinthians 15 NKJV
3  For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
5  and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
6  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
7  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
8  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

Praise be to God that we have the Gospels of Jesus Christ which give us details of His earthly life, death, burial and resurrection. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are powerful testimonies of our Lord and Savior’s life. However, there is more to the story and more to the plan of Jesus. So, let’s turn our attention to the Book of Acts and begin to see how Jesus continued to work His plan after His resurrection as He prepared people to take the next step. Jesus said, I will build My Church!

Before we begin to read from Acts 1:1, allow me to remind us all that the Old Testament covers a period of approximately 4000 years and reveals God working through generation after generation to bring Messiah to a lost and hurting world. The New Testament however covers a period of only about 40 years and challenges each successive generation to see what can happen when a few people give their lives to Christ, are filled with the Holy Spirit, and begin working with Him to accomplish the Great Commission in their world. The New Testament is a snapshot, if you will, a single account or testimony of what God can through one home group when they give their lives over to Him and His plan.

Acts 1 NKJV
1 ¶  The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2  until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,

·        After Jesus was taken up, He continued to give commandments through the Holy Spirit.
·        Jesus is still in charge and is still working to accomplish His plan.

3  to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

·        The Kingdom does not come with observation. (Luke 17:20)
·        The Kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)
·        The Kingdom of God is righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
·        The Kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field … (Matthew 13:44)
·        Unless you receive Christ with humility as a child … (Matthew 18:3ff)

4  And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;
5  “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
6 ¶  Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”

·        Once again, even after His resurrection, those closest to Him continued to question Jesus about restoring the kingdom to Israel.
·        They were still expecting a physical kingdom to be established on the earth at that time which would bring down their enemies, specifically the Romans at this point in history.

7  And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8  “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
9  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11  who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
12 ¶  Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey.
13  And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James.
14  These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

It is evident when Jesus sat down on His throne that He had finished His work on the earth through His own hands and had take the position of Commander and Chief of the Church. The work Jesus continues to do today is done by the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. The greatest work of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to each generation. This is done today in just the same way as it was done 2000 years ago by those who were first filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2.

In only 40 years, one generation, this one home group spread the Gospel and established Churches in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Antioch, Laodicea, Pergamos, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thyatira, all throughout Asia Minor, Caesarea, Damascus, Crete, Thessalonica, and Rome just to name a few places. These 12 boys led the Church to evangelize virtually their whole known world in only 40 years and not one of them even owned a bicycle.

This picture given us by the New Testament is the incumbent call on every generation and each individual until the Lord shall return. It is our calling and it is our turn. As yet, it is still unfinished business …

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Galilee - Easter Part 2


Today is the day in history that Jesus walked out of that garden tomb alive and victorious over sin, death, hell and the grave! Happy Resurrection Day! He left us with only one set of marching orders. He said all power had now been given unto Him in heaven and in earth, therefore, “Go and tell everyone the Good News.” Jesus is alive! Our orders are simple – more than just modeling a set of laws and restrictions:

We must introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ and not just the practice of Christianity.

Have you ever noticed how many people are fascinated with imaginary superheroes? This is a phenomenon in every nation in each generation. All the world wants a hero … someone with special powers, noble and pure, who can defeat the bad guys and right the wrongs in the world.

There’s: Superman; Spiderman; Antman; Wonder Woman; Captain Marvel; Captain America; Flash Gordon; the Incredible Hulk; Super Girl; He-Man; Thor; Poseidon; the X-Men; the Fantastic Four; the Six Million Dollar Man; Iron Man; Batman; the Green Hornet; the Tick; Black Lightening; Black Panther; the Invisible Man; the Highlander; Tarzan; Guardians of the Galaxy; Chuck; Captain Underpants; Danger Mouse; Mighty Mouse; the Power Rangers; Optimus Prime; the good witch Wanda; Dr Strange; Dr Frankenstein; Dr Who; Mr Spock and even the great Captain Kirk, and dozens of others. All of them fantasies, imaginary heroes, dreamed up by the most creative minds in the world, yet, not one of them, and not even all of them collectively if they were real, could hope to hold a candle to my Redeemer, Jesus. He is the One and the Only True Superhero in the world.

Jesus knows the thoughts of every person in the world; He is never wrong; He knows the number of the hairs on your head; He calls you by name; He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omni-everything; without Him there is no Light; without Him there is no Life; without Him there is no Love; He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, and the Author and the Finisher; there is no other name given under heaven by which men must be saved except the name of Jesus. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords; the Lion and the Lamb; the Creator of the universe and the Sustainer of all life; He spoke and the worlds were framed from things which didn’t even exist; He is Healer, Redeemer, Deliverer, Lord, Savior, Prince of Peace, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Friend; He was, He is, and He is to come; And, He wants to live in your heart! Are you getting the picture?
·        He walks on water …
·        He commands the wind and the waves
·        He can take one boy’s lunch and multiply it to feed 15,000 people.
·        He walks right through walls and locked doors.
·        He commands fish to swim wherever He wants.
·        He can cast legions of demons out of person with just one word.
·        He rides on the clouds.
·        He is the son of God.

He allowed Himself to be suspended between heaven and earth on a wooden cross, outside of the City of Jerusalem. And for 6 hours He drew all of the sins of mankind, past, present and future, to Himself, and then He willed Himself to die and He buried those sins in His own grave.

He emptied Himself of mortal life and entered into the chambers of sin-filled death. He went alone for only He could pay your eternal debt.

He stood face to face with Lucifer in the bowels of the earth and at the end of the day, He defeated Lucifer, that old serpent, which is the devil, and took the keys of death and hell from him and made a show of him openly.

He is Jesus of Nazareth! He is the Christ. He is the Son of Almighty God, Creator of the universe and everything therein. He is immortal, eternal, everlasting! His eyes are like a flame of fire and out of His mouth goes a sharp two-edged sword. Demons tremble at His name. His voice is like thunder. He is just and kind, tried and true, strong and mighty and He is worthy of all our praise.

There really should be a movie … He is the ultimate Superhero with miraculous super powers. But the Good News is … there’s a book … it’s called the Bible, and it’s awesome! Read and rejoice …

All that being said, let me tell you one of the coolest things about my Jesus … It’s The Resurrection!

On the third day after laying His own life down to destroy sin, He took His life back up again and was raised from the dead. His Spirit and Soul re-entered His earthly body, He came back to life and He walked out of that tomb victorious and alive forevermore. If that same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, it will make you immortal as well. For this reason:

We must introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ and not just to the practice of Christianity.

Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. It was on this day in history that Jesus walked out of the Garden Tomb alive and Lord over all. Let’s read that account:

Matthew 28 NKJV
1 ¶  Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
2  And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
3  His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4  And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5  But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
6  “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7  “And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
8  So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
9  And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.
10  Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

We all have a Galilee. The Galilee is not a place on the map so much as it is a place in the heart. The Galilee was the place where it all began for Jesus and His disciples. The Galilee was a familiar place, the most familiar places in their lives were there.
·        Jerusalem was such a place of tension and contention.
o   Always an argument waiting to happen
o   People trying to trick Him
·        Samaria was filled with bitterness and resentment.
o   The Samaritans believe they are the only ones
o   They are just better than everybody else
·        Jericho and the Judean desert held memories of temptations and sadness.
o   The young rich ruler on the road to Jericho refused to follow Jesus
o   The devil tried every trick in the book including the false word
·        Nazareth refused Him honor and respect …
o   No prophet is without honor
o   Family divisions – brothers who didn’t believe
·        Bethlehem denied Jesus a safe and warm place to be born.
o   Mary was forced to deliver Jesus in a stable
o   Herod slaughtered the children trying to kill the Christ
·        But the Galilee …
o   It was the first place of calling into the ministry
o   It was where the disciples saw their first miracles
o   They witnessed Jesus walk on water
o   They were saved from the storms of life
o   It’s where Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves and the disciples fed the multitudes
o   The Galilee was where they first fell in love with Jesus

We all have that place … that first love place. When the disciples felt they had lost everything, like they had lost their way, their direction in life, their first love … Jesus knew they just needed to go back to where it all began and see Him still there – not just as teacher but as the resurrected Christ.

Where did you first fall in love with Jesus? The resurrected Christ wants to meet you there again. Will you go? Get out of the business, the temptations, the confusion, and go see Jesus in your Galilee.

We must introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ and not just to the practice of Christianity.