Archive for June, 2014

Pour Out Your Spirit

June 23, 2014

A while back I was asked what made our church different from other churches in the area.  I wish that I could take back the answer that I gave on that day.  On that day, I said that our contemporary worship style set us apart.  Although it is true that our worship is different, what truly sets us apart is our belief in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

I.  Pour Out My Spirit  Joel 2:28-32

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

Peter quoted this portion of scripture in the message that he gave on the day of Pentecost.  That day was the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit that included a new phenomena, speaking in tongues.  Speaking in tongues was an important part of the apostolic age.  After the apostolic age it was a long time until there was a renewal of interest, and participation in the practice of speaking in tongues.  The modern pentecostal movement began in the late nineteenth century.  In the second half of the twentieth century it expanded into the mainline denominations with the charismatic renewal movement.  Today there are many people who accept the pentecostal experience as their own.

II.  More Than Tongues:  I Corinthians 12:7-11

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

The word of wisdom is when we are faced with a situation that human wisdom is not enough to know what to do.  God can give us wisdom to know what needs to be done.  A friend of mine is an engineer.  One day he was dealing with a design problem that he could not decipher.  He believes that the answer came to him, not because of his own wisdom, but as a gift from God.

The word of knowledge is when God reveals something to us that we do not know through human means.  For example; a friend of mine was at a service arguing with God about his call to the ministry.  In his mind, he told God that if God really wanted him to be a pastor he would have the speaker that night tell him.  In the middle of the service, the speaker stopped in his message, pointed at my friend, and told him to stop arguing with God, God had called him into the ministry.  Thirty years later, my friend is still serving in the ministry.  He never again doubted his call.

The gift of faith is different from saving faith.  We all must have  a measure of faith or we would be lost in our sins.  The gift of faith is when we are able to go beyond I believe that God can do something, to God will do something.  Faith helps us to move forward and attempt great things for God.

God gives gifts of healings.  Notice that it is gifts of healings, not the gift of healing.  A person is not able to simply go down a line of people healing everyone in that line.  God heals some, and does not heal others.  Sometimes we are able to discern possible reasons, but other times we must simply recognize that gifts of healings are given as the Spirit wills, not necessarily as we will.  I recommend that if we have a physical need for healing that we first pray, then if the symptoms persist, we should see a doctor, and then we should pray again.  We should repeat this process as often as necessary.

Miracles still occur today.  They can take various forms.  I remember one time when I was traveling with a group called the Christian Life Singers.  We were somewhere in far northern Minnesota.  We had arrived at our destination with our old school bus gas gage on empty.  We conducted the service, had a long prayer time and headed out probably close to midnight.  Our leader told the driver to head for home and stop at the first gas station.  Then everyone but the driver fell asleep.  We woke up in the early morning and asked where he had stopped for gas.  He hadn’t.  He had not come across an open gas station.  He drove for at least five hours with the gage on empty.

Prophecy is when God speaks to us through another person.  It may be a word of encouragement, rebuke or prediction.  It is not studied, or planned out, but is shared in the moment by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The discerning of spirits is when God allows us to recognize something in the spiritual realm that we cannot see in the physical realm.

There are three different gifts of tongues.  The most common is a prayer language where we are able to speak to God in a heavenly language.  The next most common is similar to prophecy in that God inspires us to speak out in a gathering of believers.  It is necessary that someone then give an interpretation of tongues, which is a separate gift,  A third form of tongues is a sign to unbelievers.  This is when a person speaks out in a human language that they do not know, but someone who hears them does understand.

All of these gifts are given to individuals, not for the glory of that individual, but for the profit of all.  God uses this gifts to build His church.  They are given, not as we may desire, but as the Spirit wills.

What sets us apart?  We believe that the gifts of the Spirit are meant to be a part of normal Christian experience.  We desire to see the Spirit of God poured out in our midst, with the gifts functioning on a regular basis, as the Spirit wills.

These are the sermon notes from 6/22/14.  Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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Heaven is For Real

June 19, 2014

I recently watched the movie Heaven is For Real.  I had heard a lot of good things about it.  After viewing the movie I have a mixed response.  The movie is good in that it helps people to believe in a life beyond the grave.  It gives credible support to the existence of an afterlife.  That is a good thing.  Unfortunately, one could easily come away from the movie with the belief that everyone goes to heaven.  I am told that the book did a better job of presenting that a life in heaven came as a result of faith in Jesus Christ.  The idea that everyone goes to heaven is a belief called universalism and is a very dangerous belief.  No repentance, no faith is necessary.  A loving God simply welcomes everyone home to heaven.  That is not biblical truth.  There is a line in the movie where the minister states “What if we truly believed that heaven is real?  Wouldn’t we live differently?”  (This quote may not be exact, but it is close.)  I would suggest a different question “What if we truly believe that both heaven and hell are real?  Wouldn’t we live differently?”  The Bible tells us in Revelation 20:15

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

If we truly believe this to be true, would we live any different?  If only heaven is real, that is one thing, but if both heaven and hell are real, how should we live?

 

Any advertisements that accompany this blog are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Classic Pattern

June 16, 2014

Throughout the writings of the prophets there seems to be a fairly classic pattern.  God would bless Israel.  Israel would fall in to sin.  God would send prophets to warn of judgement.  Israel would ignore the prophets.  God would send judgement.  Israel would repent.  Israel would be restored.  The pattern would repeat.

Hosea 7:1-2

“When I would have healed Israel,
Then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered,
And the wickedness of Samaria.
For they have committed fraud;
A thief comes in;
A band of robbers takes spoil outside.
They do not consider in their hearts
That I remember all their wickedness;
Now their own deeds have surrounded them;
They are before My face.

I.  Iniquity Uncovered

If we have consciously given way to sin, choosing to live a life that is displeasing to God, we should know that it is not hidden from God.  God sees what is done in secret.  God sees right through our attempts to rationalize.  God recognizes sin as sin.  We may be able to fool others.  We may even be able to fool ourselves.  We will never fool God.

II.  Punishment

In these verses, the image of a thief is used.  God has a whole host of ways at His disposal.  The judgement of God can take many forms.  One problem that we face, is that we may not even recognize that the setbacks that are occurring in our life are sent from God.  It would be appropriate for us to regularly pray and ask God if we are living right before Him.  Search my heart oh God…

Hosea 6:1-3

Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

III. Repent

When we recognize that we have sinned, there is only one correct response: repentance.  Far too many people try to excuse their sin, or declare that their sin, isn’t really a sin, or that it isn’t that bad.  When God reveals our sin to us we should ask God to forgive us, then go and sin no more.  Now, I recognize that it is not quite that simple.  It can be very difficult to change sinful patterns in our lives.  We do not make these changes in our own strength.  God will help us.  We must take the step of confessing our sin, and asking God to help us to do what is right and pleasing in His sight.

After we have repented, God will bring restoration to our lives.  God can bring healing to broken hearts and broken lives.

IV.  Pursue the Knowledge of the Lord

No matter how long we have been a Christian, there is more to learn about the ways of God.  Let us continue to pursue the knowledge of God.  This is available to us through the Word, and through prayer.  This knowledge of God will help us to face the challenges of this life.  God will give us wisdom and strength for each new day, for each problem that we might face.

As we grow in our knowledge of God, our appreciation for the blessings of God will grow as well.  We will appreciate more the beauty of the world around us.  We will treasure the relationships that we have with the people in our lives.   We will grow in our ability to experience the joy that God has for His people in His presence.  It is a very good thing to grow in the knowledge of God.

These are the sermon notes from 6/15/14.  Any advertisements that appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do  I receive any money from them.

A Very Real Concern

June 12, 2014

It is never right to knowingly do what is wrong.

I am very concerned for the spiritual state of some Christians.  I do not know how many times I have had people express to me something along the lines of ” I know it is wrong, but God will forgive me.”

We have emphasized the love, mercy and grace of God so much that people have forgotten, or seem unconcerned with, the holiness of God, the wrath of God and the judgement of God.

We have forgotten the consequences of sin.

Willfully choosing to do what is wrong in the eyes of God is dangerous.  Sin has consequences in this life, and potentially in the next.  If we are routinely choosing to sin, believing that God will forgive us; instead of hearing the words “Well done, my good and  faithful servant.” (Math 25:20-22) we might hear “depart from me you workers of iniquity”. (Luke 13:26-28)

Is that wrongful act worth the risk?

I am not saying that we have to live in fear and guilt constantly wondering if we are good enough to go to heaven, but I am saying we should have a holy reverence for an awesome God.  That reverence should show itself in a life that is dedicated to doing what is right in the eyes of God.

A Remodeling Job

June 10, 2014

Today is Pentecost Sunday.  You might expect a pentecostal minister to preach about the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but that will not be the case today.  Pentecost Sunday is considered by many people to be the birthday of the Christian church.  It was on that day that the disciples went from being a small group of believers in hiding, to a powerful force that “turned the world upside down”.  Today I will be preaching about God’s ongoing work in the church.

I>  The Church in Smyrna.  Revelation 2:8-11

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,

‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

A.  I know you.  God saw that the church in Smyrna had remained faithful even in the midst of terrible persecution.  God also knows us.  He knows exactly what trials we face and how we are responding to them.  Are we faithful?

B.  I know those who wrong you.  God also knows who the people are who wrong us.  We are to remember to “not repay evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good”  and that “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”.  We must be careful to do what is right in the eyes of God and to leave our oppressors in the hands of God.

C.  Be faithful unto death.  We too, are called to be faithful unto death.  Our lives may not be all that we expected them to be, but we should remain faithful in our service to God.

D.  You will receive the crown of life.  If we are faithful, then we will receive our reward one day.  God sees us, and is faithful to us.  We should be faithful to Him.

II.  The Church in Pergamas:  Revelation 2:12-17

 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,

‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.[a] 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

A.  You have held to the name of Christ in difficult circumstances.  The people of the church in Pergamas had continued the confession of faith in Jesus in the midst of persecution and death.  That is commendable.

B.  You have compromised in doctrine and lifestyle.  Although they continued in a confession of faith, they had given into idolatry and immorality.  They had allowed the culture of their community to corrupt their lives.  Here in America, there is much ungodliness and sin in our culture.  We must guard against giving in to the corrosive influence of contemporary culture.

C.  Repent!  If we have slipped away from godly standards we ought not to try to justify or rationalize our sin.  We should repent!

III.  The Church of the Laodiceans:  Revelation 3:14-22

 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

A.  They were lukewarm.  The church was half-hearted in their service to God.  We as Christians are called to serve God with our whole heart, not simply with a piece of it.  We should be fully committed to the cause of Christ.

B.  They were deceived.  The church did not even realize that they had fallen so far spiritually.  May God help our eyes to be open to our true spiritual condition.

C.  God will rebuke and chasten those whom He loves.  We can expect that God will take disciplinary action in our lives when we are going against His will for us.  We should continually seek to know His will and to follow in the path that He has for us.

The church is not a building but rather a gathering of believers in Christ.  However the idea of a building can be used to illustrate the point of today’s message.  If their is something displeasing to God in our lives our in our Church we can expect that God will undertake a remodeling project in us.

May we be the people, and the church that He wants us to be.

These are the sermon notes from 6/8/14.  Any advertisement that follows is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them , nor do I receive any money from them.

God Works Through Us

June 3, 2014

We appreciate those who serve,  and who have served our country.  We should also appreciate those who give their lives to the service of Jesus Christ.  Actually, that should be all of us who call themselves Christian.  God desires to work, not just through pastors, missionaries and evangelists, but rather though all who believe.

I.  Stand in the Gap:  Ezekiel 22:30

 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

I know that this verse is speaking about people praying for their country, but it reminds me of something else.  Since it is Memorial Day weekend, it seems appropriate to talk a little about our military.  Some refer to it as “the iron ring”.  I remember a sign that was on the door of the 1st Sergeant’s office back when I was serving in the Marine Corp.  It read ” For those who fight for it, freedom has a special flavor the protected never know.”  We should appreciate the sacrifices that have been made, and are being made, by our military and their families.

The verse above is not talking about military service, but rather a different type of service, a service of prayer.  Christians should pray for their country.  We should ask God to forgive us for the sins that are prevalent in our land.  We should pray for God to give wisdom and direction to our political leaders.  We should pray for God to bless our economy, our agriculture, and every other aspect of our country.

We should also pray for our churches, our missionaries, our evangelistic outreaches, and all sorts of other needs of Christians and ministries.  Prayer is very important, and it is something that we can all do.  We should pray, not just for our own needs, but for the needs of others.

II.  Watchman:  Ezekiel 33:6-8

 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Here again I am reminded by the service of or military, and our law enforcement personnel.  They do provide protection for us.  Without their service, life would not be the same.

Spiritually I am reminded of our need to proclaim both the good news of salvation in Jesus, and a warning about the consequences of the rejection of Jesus Christ.

I recently watched the movie “Heaven is For Real”.  In that movie the minister makes the statement “Wouldn’t we live differently if we truly believed that heaven was for real?”  I would counter with the question “Wouldn’t we live differently if we believed that hell was for real?”  As God’s people we are called to extend both the promise of salvation, and the warning of judgement.

III.  God is Our Shepherd:  Ezekiel 34:15-22

 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

17 ‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. 18 Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture—and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”

20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

I appreciate that ultimately God is our shepherd.  He will seek the lost, heal the sick, and strengthen the weak.  God is in charge overall, but He works through us.  We are to seek the lost, bring healing to the sick, and strengthen the weak.  God desires to work through us.  We are to be concerned about other people and their spiritual well-being.

God is also going to judge His sheep.  Christians sometimes do not act very Christ-like.  They can be downright mean and judgmental.  We should be careful and diligent to be faithful to our calling to love one another.  I am reminded by the verse that tells us that “by this will all men know that you are my disciples, by your love for one another.”  I hope and pray  that we will be the people God has called us to be.

IV.  Dry Bones Ezekiel 37:1-10

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

This is such a great story.  It should give us all hope for whatever task God has called us to do.  There are no impossible tasks if God is with us.  There are no lost causes.  With God, all things are possible.  Never give up!  God desires to work through you!!

We can pray.

We can proclaim.

We can care.

We can be victorious.

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/18/14.  Any advertisement that may accompany this blog is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.