Sunday, April 28, 2024

Kingdom Culture

My daughter plays basketball and is a pretty good little player. Much better than I was at her age. In her very first tournament last month, her and her team won all their games decisively. They were no doubt the best team on the court. They were also the home team for that tournament. Three weeks later, she was playing in her last tournament and this time they were on the road. Every team had seen them play at this point and they all wanted payback. Every game they played this time around was a lot tougher. They were in enemy territory. All of the odds were stacked against them. Yet, they were still expected to perform.


Each game they played was a battle. Those teams pushed them and challenged them more than they had been pushed before. However, there was only one way to win; they had to put that ball in the basket more than the other team. After three long fought games, those girls walked out of there with another championship. They went into enemy territory and they came out victorious!


How awesome is that! As her dad, I was extremely proud of her and her teammates in the way they played. Even with the odds stacked against them, they still came out with the win.


As I was thinking about this, it made me think, this must be how God feels about us as His children.” 


As believers in Jesus Christ, we are all on one team. As Christians, we have a game to play everyday. Our life is the court we walk on to each and every day. The goal of each day is to win the game. There is only one way to win, that is by pleasing God. Why? Because He has already won! The victory is in Christ! There are no wins outside of Christ. The devil will try to make you believe that there are other ways to win outside of Jesus. They will look good and feel good. However, they will only leave you feeling like a winner, only to find yourself disappointed in the end.


In every game we play we only have one opponent; that is the devil. Your co-worker is not your enemy, your ex is not your enemy, the person who makes you upset is not your enemy. There is only one true enemy, that is the devil.


And even though God is our father, every game we play is on the road. We live in enemy territory. This world and the culture we live in is not our home. It is not our final destination. The gym may look nice, the field might look good, all the equipment may be top notch, it all looks great, but this is not our home. 


We must realize that as Christians, every game we play is on the road.


We live in a culture that does not celebrate Christ. We live in a world that does not want Jesus to win. Why? Because the god of this world hates Jesus. The god of this world has his hands on the culture, on media, on minds, etc. 


While the devil may be the god of this world, he is not the God of the universe. While he may have his hand on culture, media, minds, he does not have the final say in someone elses life.


There are a lot of people who need to hear about Jesus. There are a lot of people who are close to being saved. However, they need someone to show them he way. They need someone to tell them how. They need someone to be a light.


As Christians, even though every game we play is on the road, we are still expected to win. Someone elses eternity depends on it. They need you to be a light shining in this dark world.


That brings us to our scripture for today.


Paul the apostle is speaking to Christians living in Philippi, modern day Turkey. He realizes that they are in need of a paradigm shift. Although they were Christians, some of them were living as if they were not. They were being influenced by the Philippian culture around them. The Apostle Paul felt the need to address the issue. Lets pick up in verse 17.


17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.


Paul starts off by telling these Philippian Christians to set their focus on gaining Christ. He tells them in the precious verses to forget what lies behind them, their past, their mistakes, their failures, to put them all behind them. He tells them to not hold on to what you once had, but it to press on and run toward what lies ahead of them. What was that? Christ! He was saying to make their relationship with Christ the main thing. He said that by doing so, they will obtain the ultimate prize. That is, eternal life and ultimate satisfaction with God in heaven. 


There are a lot of good things here in this life. There are a lot of things that bring us joy. However, ultimate joy is found in Christ! What do I mean by that? We have moments of joy and happiness here in this life. But joy and happiness come from God. They are a benefit of Gods blessings in your life. The devil, his desire is to change what you believe to be true. He wants to make you think that you can still find joy and happiness by going outside of Gods will. But you have to remember that His desire is to steal, kill, and destroy. He does this through deception. You may find joy, but it will come with a price. All of the devils enticements come with strings attached. 


It may bring you joy to lust, but its going to cost you your marriage or your future relationships. 
It may benefit you to lie, but its going to cost you your integrity and everything you have gained up until this point.
It may benefit you in the moment to choose something over Jesus, but it will cost you joy and satisfaction in the long run.


Therefore, Paul tells the Philippians to imitate himself. He says to follow his example or the example of someone else who is following Jesus. In other words, He is saying watch who you are emulating. Watch who you are allowing to influence you. Be watchful of what building you are leaning your ladder against. 


We should have people we look up to and follow concerning the faith. However, we must follow the fruit. What kind of example are they leaving behind? That is important to ask because that will be the example you will leave behind. What kind of example are you leaving behind for other believers to follow? What kind of example are you leaving behind for your children? There are a lot of things that matter in life. 


We need more people who are leaving an example worth following. What does that look like? 


Philippians 3:13-14

Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


All this stuff that life has to offer is great, but let us not get caught up with the stuff of this life. Instead, we make Jesus and His kingdom the priority. The goal is to build a godly life.


Godly Life = To be pleased with God and to be pleasing to God.


This is the goal; this is the example we should strive to leave behind


18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 


Who is Paul referring to here? He is speaking of those who alter or change the message of the gospel and believe they are right with God. There are a lot of people who believe a different message but claim it is the same gospel.


Progressive Christianity


These all sound good, but they are not the same message of the gospel. Instead, their teachings oppose the message of the cross. This is what Paul was saying. Anyone who believes and lives out these teachings are ultimately enemies of the cross. 


It is also important to note that he says this with tears in his eyes. While their life and mindset oppose the cross, they are not our enemies. Our desire is that each would be saved.


v19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.


Their god is their appetite and glory in things that are shameful. Their mindsets are on earthly things. Jesus had a much different mindset. 


v20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ


Paul reminds the Philippians that their citizenship was not only in Philippi. As believers, they had a new citizenship, that was in heaven. Being a Philippian citizen was notable in that day. It came with Roman benefits, which in that day was a big deal. But Paul was letting them know that as notable as that was, they were also citizens of heaven. In fact, he was implying that their citizenship in heaven was of higher rank than their Philippian citizenship.


I am proud to be an American citizen. I am happy to be a resident of Texas. I love living here in Southeast Texas! However, none of those take the place of my citizenship in heaven. I am a born-again believer before anything else. That is not just our destination, that is our identity.


As Christians, every game we play is on the road. We must be careful not to confuse our location as our destination. We may live here on earth, but our destination is in heaven!


We as Christians are the visiting team in todays culture. There was a day in age when culture was informed by Christian truths. Now we live in a time where culture is trying to impact and change the Christian worldview. Jesus is not accepted in todays culture. He has been rejected by a culture that has continually tried to cancel Him in media. The culture of today is against Jesus and is against you as well. They are rooting against you. However, you are still expected to win. 


In the midst of a culture that publicizes humanism, materialism, and secularism, God needs you to get into the game. Not to sit on the sidelines, but to get in the game. He is in need of us to be kingdom citizens.


Kingdom Citizen = Followers of Christ who align their priorities with Gods Word, in the midst of todays culture.


Regardless of what is happening around us, we are still going to live right, do what is right, and be a light to the world around us. Culture does not define for me what is right and what is wrong. Only Gods Word can define what is right and what is wrong. As kingdom citizens, we prioritize Gods Word and seek to uphold it in the midst of todays culture. That is what I call Kingdom Culture.


While the god of this world has his hand on the culture and media, he does not have the final say in anyone’s life. For this reason, let us be kingdom citizens and shine a light in a dark world. Let us uphold Gods Word with how we live and how we think.


Let us be less like the world and more like Jesus.


v21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.


One day everything will be made right. Let us do all that we can to draw more people to Jesus.




1. Before anything else, you are a kingdom citizen
• That is who we are
2. We must prioritize and uphold Gods Word in todays culture
• As Christians, every game we play is on the road.
• We cant just sit on the sidelines
• God needs us to get in the game
• Be a light to the world around you
• Leave an example worth following
3. Do not confuse your location as your destination
• Dont get caught up with what you have or what you can get in this life
• None of those things can go with you after this life
• We live here on earth but our destination is heaven
• Let us live in light of the reality that Jesus is coming back
• That is the reality of a kingdom citizen

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Discovery: The Story of Gideon


The title of my message this morning is Discovery. Most of us are familiar with the term discovery. It is the process of finding, realizing, or unearthing something that was previously unknown. I kind of feel like I am in a season of discovery. I’m learning new things about ministry and new things about myself as it pertains to ministry.

Discovering new things can be exciting, like finding out you’re expecting after you’ve been trying and sometimes, we wish we hadn’t discovered somethings at all, like finding out about an unfavorable diagnosis.

But the reality is, God intended that discovery and discovering be a part of life. Even the Lord hides things so that they might be discovered.

-          Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory is kings is to search things out.

This morning our focus is going to be the Story of Gideon in Judges 6-8 and we are going to discover, along with some other things, that when God gets involved, the story is subject to change.

Gideon was the son of Joash (who was an Abiezrite) and when we discover him in Judges 6:11 we find him somewhere near a terebinth tree in Ophrah hiding wheat in a winepress in order to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appears to him.

See, the Israelites once again did evil in the sight of the Lord and so for 7 years God had given the Israelites into the hands of the Midianites. And the Midianites oppressed, ravaged, and ruined the Israelites so much so that they had become impoverished – poor. The Midianites constantly came in and took from Israel and this is why we find Gideon trying to hide whatever wheat he has from the Midianites.

Let’s pick up in verse 12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”

Gideon, not yet realizing who it is that is speaking to him responds in verse 13 saying “O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.

-          O please, if God is with us – why is there so much bad in the world today? I mean, the guy is having to hide wheat in a winepress. It’s pretty grim outside.

-          And where is all that stuff he promised us? Where is my healing? Where is my peace?

-          And where are the great works like that which our ancestors saw in Egypt?

-          No! God is not with us. God has forsaken us and given us over to our enemies.

Verse 14, Gideon still thinking this is just some good advice… “Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

Verse 15 … “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

Verse 16 “And the LORD said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”

Now Gideon, still not certain of who is speaking to him, asks the LORD for a sign. Gideon makes an offering.

Verse 21 says “Then the Angel of the LORD put the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the unleavened bread; and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread and the Angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.

Verse 22 Now Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord.

Now had Gideon discovered that it was the Angel of LORD who spoke to him.

-          Gideon, through the process of discovery, finally realized it was the LORD the entire time.

-          Gideon, who had previously implied that God was not with them.

-          Gideon, who had previously stated God has abandoned us

-          Discovered about .5 seconds after the sign, that it was indeed the Lord

This wasn’t just some casual conversation with a friend or a neighbor.

It wasn’t just some good advice or encouragement.

God had called Gideon to win the fight.

But during the process of time between the moment God called Gideon and the moment Gideon defeats the Midianites, Gideon has a series of discoveries that no doubt helped him accomplish the very thing God has called him to do.

Gideon Discovered:

1.      Gideon discovered that God was with him.

a.     This wasn’t even conceivable for Gideon is Judges 6:12-13.

b.     How can the LORD be with me?

c.     Judges 6:36-39 The Sign of the Fleece was evidence that God was with him, and that God would save Israel by his hand.

2.      Gideon discovered that he could do what God called him to do.

a.     Judges 7:9-14

b.     He must have been afraid because he went down to hear what was being said.

c.     But it was enough to embolden him and return to the camp.

d.     Judges 7:15 Arise, for the LORD has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand.

3.      Gideon discovered that he was who God said he was.

a.     Judges 7:14 …” This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God had delivered Midian and the whole camp.”

b.     Judges 8:28 Thus Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, so that they lifted up their heads no more. And the country was quiet forty years in the days of Gideon.

Those were 3 things I believe Gideon discovered and as I was reading the story of Gideon, I also made some discoveries. I pray that you are able to make some discoveries as well as we continue with the word but…

One of the things I discovered was:

-          God has a pattern of choosing the least, the weak, the unqualified, the foolish and the willing to further his plans.

o   Judges 6:15 Indeed my clan is the weakest… and I am the least in father’s house.

o   Gideon didn’t just believe that God had forsaken them. He didn’t believe in himself either.

o   He was the least. Kind of reminds you of all those other biblical characters who either were counted out by others or who counted themselves out. (David, Moses, Jeremiah, etc.)

-          He makes the least of us princes, priests, rulers, prophets and kings.

-          He vindicates the weak and makes them strong.

o   In fact, 1 Cor 1:27 says God deliberately chose the weak to put shame to the things that are mighty in this world.

o   Now let the weak say… I am strong

-          He qualifies the called… and what qualifies us to begin with is the fact that we are the least, we are weak, we are not qualified.

o   Or should I not show compassion to Nineveh who has many people living in spiritual darkness – that’s the reality of us all (Jonah 4:11).

-          He uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise


1.      You can discover God for yourself.

a.     Gideon was having an encounter with the God of Israel, and he didn’t realize it but once he did…

b.     Judges 6:22 Alas, O LORD God! For now I have seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!

c.     He knew for himself.

2.      You are who God says you are.

a.     Don’t let the lot you have been given in life determine your effectiveness for God.

b.     God knew Gideon’s lot before he called him (knew he was the least and his clan weak)

c.     When God gets involved, the story is subject to change.

3.      If God has called you to do it, HE will see you through it.

a.     It was because God was with Gideon that he was triumphant and victorious.

b.     It’s his plan… not ours

c.     Just say yes.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Winning Words


Imagine that we are in the middle of a championship game, and I am giving a half-time talk. That’s what I do each Sunday and Wednesday


Wouldn’t it be great if the coach already knew the outcome and the pep-talk he was giving was based on the win he knew would follow? If we only had the whole story perspective before we called the plays. I imagine we would run the pattern with a lot greater purpose and passion


It’s always been the same. Faith has always been required to please God in the middle of a game. The disciples of Jesus did not have the advantage of knowing the whole story when making their decisions and neither do we. Listen up like you’re in a locker room or on a sideline huddle and let me give you some winning words.


The Jewish Feast of Passover begins tomorrow, April 22nd, at sundown in Israel. So according to the Jewish calendar, today, right about this time of the day in Jerusalem, about 2000 years ago, Jesus was enjoying the Last Supper with His 12 disciples in an upper room on Mount Zion. 


Towards the end of the supper, an hour or two from now historically, Jesus encouraged Judas Iscariot to go ahead and do what he felt he had to do. (John 13:27ff) Judas left the upper room to fulfill his agreement with the high priest and deliver Jesus away from the multitudes who believed in Him. (Matthew 26; Luke 22:6)


When the Last Supper was finished, the disciples accompanied Jesus on a 15-minute walk out of the city, eastward and across the Kidron Valley. Just at the foot of the Mount of Olives Jesus stopped in a quiet place called the Garden of Gethsemane. He was troubled and He wanted to pray. (Matthew 26:36ff)


Judas knew where Jesus and His disciples would take a short break before beginning their climb up the steep trail towards Bethany. After Jesus finished praying and had uttered the memorable words, “Not My will but Thine be done, He found His disciples sleeping and told them to wake up because His betrayer was at hand. 


Matthew 26 NKJV

47 ¶  And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48  Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.”

49  Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him.

50  But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

51  And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

52  But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.

53  “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?

54  “How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?”


Don’t you know it was extremely hard for the disciples of Jesus to imagine this could ever be the will of God. Once we see this from whole story perspective, we easily understand more about God and more about life.But in the moment, all they could do was trust His Word.


From this account we learn:


1. There is a time for every purpose under heaven.
a. Time is the envelope into which God has placed all of His promises. None of them will fail.
b. We must be brave and trust that this is, or that this is not the time.
c. That was the reason Jesus was troubled and stopped to pray.
d. He wanted to know … “Is this the time?”
e. God is the only One who can tell you for sure.
f. There will come a time when you will have make a decision by faith.
2. God teaches us that nothing takes the place of being prepared.
a. We will never catch God unprepared for what we have done, or what we will do … 
b. Just ask Jonah and the big fish.
c. Jesus was prepared for His betrayal, arrest, trial, and the cross.
3. Your limited experiences are not the measure of God’s will. 
a. Your life on earth is not the measure of God’s will for mankind.
b. God does not first seek our permission before He upsets our plans.
c. God’s will does not have to make sense to us before it can be God’s will.
d. The disciples learned to trust God beyond the disappointment.
4. We can become so focused on what we know God wants for our lives that we miss what God is doing in our lives.
a. What may seem like a surprise to us, may be a plan to God.
b. We can become so caught up in the future that we miss the point of the present. 
c. The disciples did not want to fail Jesus or fall short of their destiny … but neither did they understand what it took to make their dreams come true.
d. There is always a purpose in the process. (Romans 8:28)
5. Without God’s intervention, life would be hell!
a. The hell we are going through does not compare to the heaven we are going to.
b. Many challenges begin with you not being able to and end with you being well able to. 
c. In order to be successful, you have to begin somewhere.
d. Why not begin here and now


There is no problem so big that you cannot outlive it, out last it, or out distance it, if you will only get on the right road and stay on that road until you get to where you want to be. The right road is always found in Jesus. He is the Way; He is the Truth; and He is the Life. Winning words!


Now let’s go out there and run the next play He calls the way He calls it …