Finding Freedom Part 4: Permission Granted

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Last week we talked about how we can open doors for the adversary to come into our lives and cause problems.

We talked about how the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of the life can give the devil a foothold in our lives. Today I want to take a deeper look at how pride can be destructive in our lives.

Today’s message could be a challenging message for us to accept. The scriptures that we will look at will bring us to these two questions:

  1. Do we ever grant Satan permission to take us into bondage in any area?

  2. Does God ever grant Satan permission to take us into bondage in any area?

We will answer these questions during this message.

Our world is in the situation that it is in because of pride. It started with Lucifer and the other fallen angels. It was pride that caused them to fall from heaven. Pride is destructive in our lives as well. We are going to define pride through three points today.

I. Pride is trusting in your own strength

Luke 22:31-32: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”

asked:

  • to ask for something and to receive what one has asked for

  • to ask for with success

  • to ask and to receive

  • Satan asked and received permission to sift you like wheat

Notice that Jesus didn’t say that He would keep Peter from being sifted like wheat by Satan. He said that pleaded in prayer that his faith wouldn’t fail. He goes onto say that when you repent, you strengthen your brother. I love the confidence of Jesus in Peter!

Mark 14:27-31: On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” Peter said to him, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will.” Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” “No!” Peter declared emphatically. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the others vowed the same.

Jesus quoted a prophesy that they all will be scattered during arrest and crucifixion. Peter boldly says '“not me." I won’t desert you, even if I have to die.”

Jesus tells him that He will deny him three times before the roster crows. We all know what happens. Peter was confident in his own strength.

Matthew 16:21-25: From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead. But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

This is a profound verse. Peter was reprimanding Jesus and trying to prevent God’s will from happening. Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me Satan, you are a dangerous trap to me.”

Jesus makes something clear here about being a follower. Following Jesus means that we do things His way and not how we think things should happen. Pride in our own strength will ultimately cause us to fail. We will only succeed in God’s will through His strength.

1 Corinthians 10:12: If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.

II. Pride is trusting in your own righteousness

Job 1:6-12: One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan. Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.” Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.

Satan appears before God in heaven at His throne and asks God for permission to attack Job. God allows Satan to test Job by doing whatever he wanted to his possessions, but he could not hurt him physically.

For the next 31 chapters, we see a man go through many difficult things, and his three friends were not the most encouraging people.

Job 32:1-2 (NKJV): So these three men ceased answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then the wrath of Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, was aroused against Job; his wrath was aroused because he justified himself rather than God.

Job was righteous in His own eyes.

Job justified himself rather than God.

Job 33:8-9 (NKJV): “Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words, saying, I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent, and there is no iniquity in me.

There has only ever been one perfect man on this earth and that was Jesus.

Job was a man of integrity and was blameless, but pride entered his heart through all of this testing. He was righteous in his own eyes.

Job 36:3 (NKJV): I will fetch my knowledge from afar; I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.

Elihu, the youngest man in the group, showed the most wisdom when he declared that he would ascribe righteousness to his maker. Job gets put in his place and ultimately sees where he failed.

Job 38:1-6: Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind: “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone

Job 40:8: “Will you discredit my justice and condemn me just to prove you are right?

Job’s open door was that he felt righteous because of what he did and not because of who he knew.

III. Pride is trusting in your own wisdom

King Ahab wanted Jehoshaphat to join him in war against Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat wanted to consult the Lord before going in war. Ahab’s 400 hundred prophets declared that it was God’s will to go to war, but Jehoshaphat wanted a second opinion from another prophet.

1 Kings 22:7-8: But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.” The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Michaiah was disliked by King Ahab because He never prophesied what Ahab wanted to hear.

1 Kings 22:15-18: When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should we hold back?” Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!” But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?” Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’ ” “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”

Michaiah tells Ahab not to go to war or it will not end well for him.

1 Kings 22:19-22: Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’ There were many suggestions, and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’ ‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked. And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’ ‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’

He goes on to share a vision that he sees. He saw God on His throne and he asks who could entice Ahab to go to war. A lying spirit comes forth and says that he can inspire Ahab’s prophets to tell him to go to war. God commands the spirit to do so and declares that he will have success.

This shows that evil spirits can and have been in Gods presence. God will sometimes use the enemy to fulfill His purpose.

1 Kings 22:34-35: An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. “Turn the horses and get me out of here!” Ahab groaned to the driver of his chariot. “I’m badly wounded!” The battle raged all that day, and the king remained propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran down to the floor of his chariot, and as evening arrived he died.

Ahab does go into war and tries to outsmart God by having Jehoshaphat wear his kingly robe. He dresses in armor and stays a distance from the rest of the battle. A soldier shoots his bow up in the air at random and hits Ahab between the joints of his armor, and Ahab dies from his wounds.

Ahab trusted in his own wisdom. God was speaking to him through His prophet and he did not listen. He thought that he was smarter than God.

James 3:14-15: But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.

Notice that this kind of wisdom is demonic.

This is the difference between these three men:

  1. Peter repented and became one of the key apostles in the early church

  2. Job repented and had everything that he lost restored to him in double

  3. Ahab did not repent and was killed in battle

Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

This verse is often misquoted. Pride does not go before the fall. It goes before destruction. Pride will destroy you if you don’t repent and do things God’s way. God was not being men to these men - He was protecting from destruction.

Pride is the trap that the strong the wise and the righteous can fall into. God wants to save you from destruction. If you are relying on your own strength instead of on His, you need to repent and begin to walk in His strength. If you feel like God owes you something because of your righteousness, you need to repent and walk in His righteousness that comes through faith in Him. If you are leaning on your own wisdom or the wisdom of man, you need to repent and trust in God’s wisdom and do what He says.

Finding Freedom Part 3: Open Doors

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The past two weeks we have talked about knowing our enemy and how he attacks. Last week we looked at the ministry of deliverance and how demons can influence a Christian’s life. We defined what demon possession was and talked about how Christians can be influenced by demons. This week we are going to look at how a demon can enter into your life and keep you in bondage to sin and other destructive patterns.

I. The influence of the spirit of this world

Ephesians 2:1-3: Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

The whole world has been influenced to some degree by the Spirit of Disobedience and is resistant to God Almighty. Until you were redeemed by the work of the cross and came into relationship with Jesus, you lived according to your sinful nature and were subject to God’s wrath.

Romans 6:1-11: Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

The cross has freed us from the power of sin. We are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ.

Romans 6:12-14: Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Don’t let sin control you. Don’t give into sinful desires. We see a clear picture that we still have to deal with our flesh. We can return into bondage if we give into our sinful nature.

Romans 6:15-18: Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

We become a slave to whatever we choose to obey. Choosing a lifestyle of sin will make us a slave to sin. Choosing a lifestyle of obedience God’s Word will make us a slave to righteous living.

All human bondage comes from the Spirit of Disobedience in one of four ways:

  1. Neglected Responsibility

    • Example: if you neglect your yard, weeds will overtake your lawn

    • Proverbs 4:23: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

  2. Innocent Ignorance

    • Engaging in spiritually dangerous activities, despite not fully aware of repercussions

    • Example: as a kid I played with a Ouija Board and did other things that I should not have; the fact that I did those things out of innocence doesn’t change the fact that I opened doors for the enemy to enter

  3. Sinful Rebellion

    • Knowingly engaging in sin or rebellion for whatever reason

    • Example: a child brought up in the church deciding to do whatever they want and walk away from God simply because they can

  4. Passive Victimization

    • Something that happened to you that you may not have invited or allowed on your own

    • Examples: molestation, physical or verbal abuse, negligent parents, generational curses

    • Exodus 20:4-5: You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me.

Mark 7:24-30: Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre. He didn’t want anyone to know which house he was staying in, but he couldn’t keep it a secret. Right away a woman who had heard about him came and fell at his feet. Her little girl was possessed by an evil spirit, and she begged him to cast out the demon from her daughter. Since she was a Gentile, born in Syrian Phoenicia, Jesus told her, “First I should feed the children—my own family, the Jews. It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even the dogs under the table are allowed to eat the scraps from the children’s plates.” “Good answer!” he said. “Now go home, for the demon has left your daughter.” And when she arrived home, she found her little girl lying quietly in bed, and the demon was gone.

Tyre was formerly known as Phoenicia. Jezebel was from Phoenicia and brought Baal worship, sorcery, witchcraft and paganism into Israel when she married King Ahab. Phoenica was an occult city.

Syria represents pride throughout the Bible.

Pride and witchcraft are signs of the occult. Believers who think that they can dabble in the occult and not be affected by it are prideful. If you read horoscopes, watch demonic movies, go to haunted houses, play demonic video games, go to palm reading, you are dabbling in the occult, and you are opening doors to the enemy. How did this young girl get demonized? Through her mother’s connection to the occult.

II. Open doors

Ephesians 4:17-19: With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

Don’t live as a lost person - hardened hearts towards God, lacking a sense of shame, living for lustful pleasures and practicing every kind of impurity.

Ephesians 4:20-24: But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

Through a relationship with Jesus we have learned through the Word how we are supposed to live. We are to throw off the old sinful nature. This is exactly what Jesus said to Lazarus when He raised him from the dead. He told him to throw off the grave clothes. He was no longer dead, but was alive!

Ephesians 4:25-32: So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

He is telling them to stop lying, don’t let anger control you, stop stealing, and don’t use foul or abusive language. All these things describe Satan. When we are doing these things, we are like Satan.

Ephesians 4:26-27: And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

Anger can be destructive. We can do thing that we regret in our anger. We can say destructive things that we don’t mean in our anger, and we can even take someone’s life in anger.

If we don’t deal with anger immediately, we could give a foothold to the devil.

Foothold

  • tŏpŏs.

    • dwelling place, license.

      • We give the enemy a license to do whatever he wants to us.

Ephesians 4:31-32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Get rid of these things. Instead be kind to retaliate, forgive and don’t hold grudges or bitterness. Forgive just as Christ has forgiven you.

III. More open doors

1 John 2:15-17: Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

Most of the doors that we open for the enemy will fall into one of these three categories:

  1. The Lust of the Flesh

    • Hunger for food or thirst, sex drive, addiction

  2. The Lust of the Eyes

    • Visual or mental pleasure, pornography, coveting

  3. The Pride of Life

    • power, fame, respect, money, greed, materialism

Think about the ways that Satan tempted Jesus:

Luke 4:3-4: Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”

The lust of the flesh. Jesus was hungry from fasting for 40 days.

Luke 4:5-8: Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

The lust of the eyes. He showed him the kingdom of the worlds and offered him the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them.

Luke 4:3-12: Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

The pride of life. Satan took him to the temple and challenged him top prove that He was the son of God. If he jumped off the angels would save him.

The enemy is trying to find open doors into your life so that he can destroy you. He even tried it on Jesus, but Jesus knew and lived out the truth to keep himself from falling into temptation. The enemy is relentless and will continue to find ways into your life to try and influence you. Don’t give the enemy a foothold. My prayer for us today is to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any doors that you may have opened. This may have occurred through neglected responsibility, it may have happened through innocent ignorance, maybe you are walking in sinful rebellion because you have allowed your heart to get hardened and you just don’t care anymore, or maybe it’s through passive victimization. You couldn’t control what you went through but it has brought you into bondage nonetheless. The good news is that doors can be closed. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any doors that may have been opened in your life.

Finding Freedom Part 2: The Ministry of Deliverance

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Today we are going to build off of what we talked about last week. We laid a foundation for understanding who our adversary is and his strategy against believers and the rest of God’s creation. If you have followed Jesus for any amount of time, you understand that there is opposition against your walking in God’s plan for your life. You also understand how sin can cause great turmoil and destruction in your life. The Bible is clear that if we sow into the flesh, we reap death; however, if we sow into the Spirit, we reap life.

I have seen people over the years faithfully follow the Lord and then fall away because of sin. I have also seen believers still bound in sin and desperately wanting to be free. This has always baffled me because Jesus has paid a great price for us to be freed. Sometimes you go through life as a believer and begin to experience things that cause you to look at Scripture a little more deeply. It may even cause you to change your theology. Today I want to take a look at how demons can influence the Christian life. I also want to answer the question of whether a Christian can be demon-possessed.

I. We are commissioned by God

Matthew 10:7-8:: Go and announce to them that they Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

We know that Jesus spent a lot of time with twelve men who would eventually be key to the start of the church and the advancement of God’s Kingdom. He taught them to pray and showed them how to heal the sick, cleanse the leper, and cast out demons.

Mark 16:15-18: And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able t place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.

Jesus goes on to say that these signs will accompany those who believe. They cast out demons, speak new languages, and heal the sick.

I have seen people saved and completely transformed. I have seen people healed, but I have never seen a demon cast out of a person. Why do you think that is the case? Are most demon-possessed people in other countries?

Let me share some interesting things about demons.

The word demon is in the Bible 82 times - 61 times in the Gospels.

I mentioned last week that I can only think of a couple examples from the Old Testament, King Saul with the tormenting spirit being one of them.

I believe that we see most references in the Gospels because no one ever had authority over the demons until Jesus came. We also see other examples in the New Testament. Jesus gave us His authority when He commissioned us to fulfill His Great Commission.

I believe the reason we are not seeing people set free from demonic spirits is because we have not come to a place of walking in the authority Jesus has given us.

II. Demon-possession in Scripture

Mark 5:1-13: So they arrived at the other side of the lake, in the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus climbed out of the boat, a man possessed by an evil spirit came out from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the burial caves and could no longer be restrained, even with a chain. Whenever he was put into chains and shackles-as he often was-he snapped the chains from his wrists and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Day and night he wandered among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and cutting himself with sharp stones. When Jesus was still some distance away, the man saw him, ran to meet him, and bowed low before him. With a shriek, he screamed, “Why are you interfering with me, jesus, Son of the Most High God? In the name of God, I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had already said to the spirit, “Come out of the man, you evil spirit.” Then Jesus demanded, “What is your name?” And he replied, “My name is Legion, because there are many of us inside this man.” Then the evil spirits begged him again and again not to send them to some distant place. There happened to be a large herd of pigs feeding on the hillside nearby. “Send us into those pigs,” the spirits begged.” Let us enter them.” So Jesus gave them permission. The evil spirits came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the entire herd of about 2,000 pigs plunged down the steep hillside into the lake and drowned in the water.

What we know about the demon(s) based on Scripture:

  • Supernatural strength (chains could not restrain him)

  • Caused harm to his body (he would cut himself)

  • They talked to Jesus

  • There were many of them (at least 2,000 because that’s how many pigs ended up drowning)

  • They were in the man until Jesus commanded them to come out

  • They caused the man to be insane (he regained his sanity after the demons left)

III. Can a Christian be demon-possessed?

Acts 2:21: But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

“Save” in this verse is the Greek word sozo, which means to be forgiven of sin, healed and delivered.

2 Corinthians 1:10 (NKJV): who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us

We have all been delivered (when we accepted Christ as our Savior) and will continue to be delivered.

I have always believed that Christians cannot be possessed, but only oppressed. Oppressed means outside influence, rather than inside. I was taught that God and evil cannot be in the same place - thus a Christian cannot be possessed.

However, teaching from Robert Morris completely destroyed this reasoning. Think about this - God is omnipresent - He’s everywhere. It is impossible for Him not to be around sin or evil. God is greater than evil. In the book of Job, Satan was in Heaven talking with God about Job. What sealed this debate for me was defining what demon possession actually means.

demon-possessed

  • Greek: daimonizomai

  • daimoni means “demon”

  • zomai means “to possess”

  • Two Greek meanings for possess:

    • Ownership

    • To gain mastery over

Can a Christian be owned by a demon? No, they are owned by God. However, a Christian can be under the control or influence of a demon. A better word for demon-possessed is perhaps the word demonized. It is more like a squatter.

Imagine you left a window open at your house and a squatter had entered. Does this squatter own your house? No, but they are now in your house. They have control over certain aspects of your house. He may not leave until you have the squatter forcibly removed.

Let’s bring this out in Scripture a little more.

Lamentations 1:10: The enemy has plundered her completely, taking every precious thing she owns. She has seen foreigners violate her sacred Temple, the place the Lord had forbidden them to enter.

This text is talking about the Nation of Israel. It represents believers, who are the temple of God’s presence. The enemy was forbidden to enter the temple, and yet they did.

Joel 2:9: They swarm over the city and run along its walls. They enter all the houses, climbing like thieves through the windows.

The locust that this verse is talking about represent the enemy. Houses represent believers. The locust enter houses like thieves through open windows.

John 10:1 (NKJV): “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

The sheepfold here represent the believer. Jesus is the door. The thief and the robber enters another way.

John 8:31-32: Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (emphasis mine)

Jesus is talking to believers about being free - the people who believe in Him.

John 8:33-36 (NKJV): They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will be made free’?” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Jesus was telling them that they could be free, and they answered that they’ve never even been in bondage, because they’re Abraham’s descendants. They were in bondage to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Chaldeans, and to top if off, they were in bondage to the Romans at this very moment. Christians can be in bondage, but the key to get out is to see that you are in bondage in the first place. As believers we can choose to walk in sonship or go back into bondage to sin.

commit: to formulate a plan; whoever is formulating plans to stay in sin by keeping it hidden is in bondage.

Think of being demonized as being under the influence of demonic spirits. If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they don’t own you but they are in you and influence you. Someone under the influence will do things that are out of character.

A friend of mine from work just went on vacation to Mexico. He told me that everyone went by different names when they were drinking. They did this because they were different people while under the influence. A demon cannot own a believer, but it can influence a believer.

You can’t cast out the flesh and you can’t disciple a demon.”

- Jack Hayford

We have tried to fix people through counseling and discipleship, but people need to be delivered from demonic spirits that have influence over their lives. You can’t fix a demon through counseling.

On the other hand, not every sin issue in life is the result of a demon. Some people just enjoy living by their flesh and enjoy living in sin. You have to want to be freed from the bondage of sin in order to be freed from it.

Deliverance and discipleship must always go hand-in-hand. Getting free is one thing, but staying free is another entirely. Maybe this message has you thinking about your own life. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there an area of your life that you cannot get victory over?

  • Is there an area that you feel powerless?

  • Are there sins in your life that you keep confessing over and over again?

If yes, you may be in bondage, but the good news is that Jesus can set you free.

Finding Freedom Part 1: Know Your Enemy

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I am excited to start a new series entitled “Finding Freedom.” If you have put your faith in Jesus and have surrendered your life to follow Him, then you have experienced freedom. The best description of freedom that I have heard from people who come to know Jesus through salvation is a weight has been lifted off of them. The other reality some Christians have is that they somehow ended up bound by sin again. We have an adversary who doesn’t want us to walk in freedom and will constantly try to find ways to bring us back into bondage. Jesus paid a great price for our freedom and He wants us to stay free. In order to do this, we must recognize that we have a real enemy and we must learn how to walk in Jesus so that we can be effective in our faith for His Kingdom. Today, I am laying the foundation for this series on the enemy that we are are battling.

I. We are in a battle

Ephesians 6:10-12: A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Two things stand out from this text:

  1. Our battle is not physical, but spiritual

  2. The enemy is both strategic and organized

Revelation 12:7-12: Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens! And you who live in the heavens, rejoice! But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”

Satan is mad and is going to do everything that he can to hurt the people that God loves. He is relentless and will do as much damage as possible because he knows that his days are numbered.

1 Peter 5:8-9: Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

We are in a battle and we need to stay alert or we will be devoured.

II. Know you are fighting

Satan

Ezekiel 28:14-19: I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. “You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Your rich commerce led you to violence, and you sinned. So I banished you in disgrace from the mountain of God. I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. Your wisdom was corrupted by your love of splendor. So I threw you to the ground and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire out from within you, and it consumed you. I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you will exist no more.”

Isaiah 14:12-14: “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’

John 10:10: The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.

Demons

Jude 1:6: And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them securely chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the great day of judgment.

Demons are fallen angels.

2 Peter 2:4: For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment.

They rebelled and sinned against God.

Revelation 12:4: His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth.

One third of the angels fell from heaven.

The oft-recorded fact that demons are continually seizing upon the bodies of men to try to use them as their own is taken as confirmatory evidence that demons are disembodied spirits, and that their intense desire for re-embodiment indicates that the intolerable condition of being unclothed, for which they were not created, is so overpowering that they will even enter the bodies of swine (Luke. 8:32).
Guy Duffield & Nathaniel Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology

1 Timothy 4:1: Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.

They are deceptive and distort truth. They can cause various physical afflictions.

It is in the power of demons to cause: dumbness (Mt. 9:32, 33), blindness (Mt. 12:22), insanity (Lk. 8:26–35), suicidal mania (Mk. 9:22), personal injuries (Mk. 9:18), and various defects and deformities (Lk. 13:11–17).
Guy Duffield & Nathaniel Van Cleave, Foundations of Pentecostal Theology

Jesus comes on the scene and immediately starts bringing forth His Kingdom and taking back territory that the enemy had stolen.

We don’t see much about demonic activity in the Old Testament. We know Saul was afflicted by a tormenting spirit. Lying spirits were sent to speak though King Ahab’s prophets to go to war against Ramoth-Gilead.

Robert Morris has a great teaching on how the Chaldeans represent demons in the Bible. Here are some points that I learned from Him:

Chaldeans: demons, wanderers (source: exhaustive dictionary of BIble names)

Demons are thieves.

Habakkuk 1:5-6: “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you. 6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

They take hold of dwelling places and houses that are not theirs.

Demons are vicious.

Habakkuk 1:6-9: For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful; Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves. Their horses also are swifter than leopards, And more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat. “They all come for violence; Their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.

Demons are vicious like wolves.

Ezekiel 22:7: Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.

Acts 20:29: For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.

Demons are cunning.

The first Chaldean came in as a friend and ruled for ten years before the Assyrians found out about him. They oustead him. Three years later, the Chaldeans conquered both Babylon and Assyria and Nebeacannezer took over as king.

Daniel 2:2: Then the king gave the command to call the magicians, the astrologers, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to tell the king his dreams. So they came and stood before the king.

Demons are trying to distract deceive and determine your future. They make themselves look like friends or harmless trying to distract and deceive until they find a way to attack and destroy you.

We are not trying to make everything about the devil or his demons. The bottom line is that if we are commissioned to advance God’s Kingdom, that means the enemy’s kingdom is shrinking. He is not going to allow that to happen without a fight and he does not fight fair. Why do you think sin is so attractive? It is meant to get you to put your guard down until you are in bondage to it again. Every believer goes through challenges and discouragement. We will all get worn down at some point and have moments of weakness. We don’t need to fear the enemy, but we need to respect him. We need to stay alert and know that God will give us the wisdom and strength to stand against him. The battle will be fierce, but if we walk in God’s strength and fight together, we will see God’s Kingdom advance in our lives and in our city. Next week will take a look at how the enemy affects a believer’s life.

Rivers of Living Water

The past few days, I have had an old song in my head that I used to sing back in Bible College. It’s called “I’ve Got a River of Life.” It was one of those songs that had extra motions and words to it, so you have more fun - a silly song. I realized how powerful the lyrics were and God began to stir that truth in me from John 7. We are going to take a deeper look into this text to see what Jesus wants to say to us today.

I. God is our faithful provider

John 7:1-2: After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters

Jesus is heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the last of the seven feasts called the Feast of the Shelters (or Booths or Tabernacles). It was also known as the Feast of Harvest or Pentecost. This was the most joyous of all the feasts to celebrate. The purpose of the feast was to remember how God provided for them while they were in the desert before entering into the Promised Land. They would set up shelters and stay in them during the seven-day feast.

Another key part of the festivities was the daily drawing of water from the pool of Siloam. A priest would fill a golden pitcher with water and would return to the temple with a procession of people and musicians. On returning to the temple, he was welcomed with three blasts from a trumpet, and, going to the west side of the great altar, he poured the water from the golden pitcher into a silver basin, which had holes in the bottom through which the water was carried off. This ceremony was accompanied with songs and shouts from the people and the sound of trumpets. This water would symbolize coming from the rock in the wilderness.

Here is another interesting thing that I learned: they called the temple during this time The House of the Outpouring. This has significance for what Jesus declares later in the text.

II. The battle over whether Jesus was truly the Messiah

John 7:14-17: Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. The people were surprised when they heard him. “How does he know so much when he hasn’t been trained?” they asked. So Jesus told them, “My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me. Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.

Jesus came to the festival in secret because they were trying to kill him, but now He is at the temple teaching them. They were amazed by how He taught and how much He knew. Jesus tells them that He was speaking only what the Father was telling Him to speak.

John 7:25-34: Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah? But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from.” While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” Then the leaders tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. “After all,” they said, “would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this man has done?” When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”

There were mixed opinions in the crowd as to whether Jesus was the Messiah. Some were convinced He is the Messiah because of the all the miracles that He performed and the authority through which He taught.

Others did not believe He is the Messiah because they knew where He came from and didn’t believe the Messiah would come out of Nazareth.

This debate still goes on today. Are we convinced that Jesus is the Messiah? Is God even real?

III. Rivers of living water

John 7:37-39: On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’ ” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

Jesus was all about setting up His message in order to bring greater understanding to His message. He waits for the climax of the festival as they are pouring out water on the altar. Remember this was symbolic of God providing water from the rock in the wilderness.

He invites those who are thirsty to come to Him. He is saying I am going to satisfy your thirst.

Only those who believe in Jesus can drink. If we are going to walk in the fullness of God, we have to fully trust and believe in Jesus. We have to be convinced that Jesus is who He says He is.

We can come to church and sing songs about God’s faithfulness, and we can hear incredible messages about His faithfulness, but there has to come a point that we actually know God is faithful. We know that God is faithful because by faith we come to Jesus and drink. When you drink, it means you experience.

Jesus’ declaration and invitation was spoken throughout scripture. Lets look at some of the powerful promises.

Isaiah 43:20: The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed.

Isaiah 44:3-5: For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the Lord.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the Lord’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.”

Isaiah 55:1-3: “Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.

There is life in Jesus and when we drink of Him, it says that rivers of living water will flow from the depths of our heart.

Rivers of living water flowing out of the believer refers to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I mentioned earlier that this festival was also called The Feast of Harvest or Pentecost. I also mentioned that the temple was called the House of Outpouring.

This refers to what happened in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out. They began to do the same things that Jesus did and this rivers of living water began to bring live from Jesus to Judea to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. God has empowered us by His Spirit so that we can bring in the harvest.

That invitation still stands today. If you are thirsty, come to Jesus and He will fill you with rivers of living water. God is inviting all of us to know Him as our faithful provider. Let’s not just sing about it, but let’s experience it because we are to come to Jesus in faith and drink of His Spirit.

Stronger Together

I am hoping that this is a day that we will never forget. God has been doing a work in my heart since we started this church. God wants our church to follow the example of Jesus and fulfill His Great Commission through His power and authority in our city. This means we are to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons. I firmly believe that what we read in the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament is still happening today. When we go after God to know Him and truly understand who we are in Christ, we will begin to do the things that Jesus did.

We have been praying for God to heal Piper’s back for the past year. She is scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday. God can use surgery to straighten her spine and that would be okay, but I know that God can heal her and she can avoid surgery altogether. I want to see Jesus glorified through her healing. I want to see faith and expectancy for healing to grow in Resonate and in Sioux Falls. I am ready for people to encounter the love and power of God. God put this story of Jesus healing a paralyzed man on my heart this past week. I hope this message will build our faith as we pray for God to heal Piper’s back. I hope this is a day that will launch us forward into God doing powerful work in and through our lives.

Background: Jesus was in Capernaum. He went to the synagogue to teach the people about the Kingdom of God. He encountered a man who was demonized and set him free from this demonic spirit. This is how those in attendance responded to what they had just witnessed.

Mark 1:27-28: Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee.

Jesus went on throughout the region of Galilee and continued to preach about the Kingdom of God. Many people were healed and set free from demonic spirits. Word spread quickly about Jesus and people flocked to wherever Jesus showed up.

Jesus later healed a man with leprosy and crowds grew even bigger.

Mark 1:45: But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

Jesus could no longer enter any town without being surrounded by large crowds of people . This leads me to the text I will be preaching on.

I. Jesus heals a paralyzed man

Mark 2:1-12: When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

Some observations from this text:

  1. Things changed quickly from the last time that Jesus was in Capernaum. The house that Jesus was staying at was probably Simeon Peter’s and it was filled with people and even had people outside the house trying get close to Jesus.

  2. This was a big obstacle for the four men trying to get their friend to Jesus. They refused to give up. They went to the roof, made a hole, and lowered their friend to the feet of Jesus.

  3. Jesus saw their faith. This was more than the action of lowering their friend through the roof. He saw their hearts and it was full of faith in Him and because of that, He was able to heal this man.

  4. Jesus’ initial response was to forgive this man of His sin. Then He healed the man. This proved that He was sent by the Father and that He had the authority to forgive sin.

    • This also shows that Jesus’ full Gospel message of salvation is the forgives of sins, healing, and deliverance. We need to minister to all the people this way.

  5. Jesus always preached the Gospel message with the demonstration of power. He was proving that He was sent from heaven and that God’s Kingdom had come to earth.

Mark 2:12: And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”

These people had never seen anything like this until this moment.

Mark 16:15-18: And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.”

We can learn something from these four men and be willing to bring others before Jesus at all costs. Sometimes people can’t get there on their own, and we need to help them. There will always be obstacles and when we attack things as a church family, we will keep finding alternative routes to get to Jesus. We need to pray and believe as if we are the people who need the touch from the Lord. God is moved by this kind of love.

Come to Jesus in Faith

We will be concluding our Come to Jesus series today. The Bible is clear that God’s love for us is great and that He longs for us to be in His presence. Jesus died so that we would have a personal and intimate relationship with Him. He does not force this to happen - He desires for us to want to be in His presence. This has to be genuine and not going through the motions out of obligation. We also see through Scripture when Jesus shows up powerfully and transformational things begin to happen. It’s important as followers of Jesus and as His church that we invite Jesus into our gatherings so that He can change us and change our city. So far we have talked about coming to Jesus in fear, with singing, and in humility. Today we will talk about coming to Jesus in faith. How can we ever expect to God’s Kingdom to be released in and through our lives if we do not have faith in God? Let’s see what the Word says about coming to Jesus in Faith.

Hebrews 11:1-6: Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen. It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

I. We encounter God through our faith

Hebrews 11:6: And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

There are two things that this verse reveals about coming to Jesus in faith:

  1. When we come to Him we must believe that He exists.

  2. He is a rewarder of those who sincerely/diligently seek Him.

“The idea is not merely that God exists as a rewarder, but that He will prove Himself to be a rewarder of that person who diligently seeks Him. As Vincent puts it: “He who approaches God has, through faith, the assurance that his seeking God will result in good to himself.”
- K. S. Wuest, He Will Reward Your Seeking

I have heard many Christians use this phrase a lot:

“God will answer this prayer, if it is His will to do so.”

There are over 8,000 promises in the Bible and we can receive all of them. The more that we come to know God, the more we will see how good He is and that He loves to reward His children.

Maybe the reason prayers are being delayed is because God wants to do a work in your heart so that you will see Him as the Great Rewarder and you come with expectation to reward you.

II. What is faith?

Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV): Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What does that mean?

Hebrews 11:1 (NLT): Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

The word substance literally means “to stand under, to support.” Faith is to a Christian what a foundation is to a house: it gives confidence and assurance that he will stand.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for!

The word “evidence” is elegchos (ἐλεγχος) which means, “a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested.”

“Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is real seeing.”
- K. S. Wuest

Hebrews 11:1-2 (The Message): The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

All these men and women are mentioned in this chapter because their distinguished them from everyone else during their time on earth.

“Jesus is the substance of God. God is the evidence of the things we can’t see.”
- Robert Morris

Here are some thoughts on faith:

  • Faith is not believing for something. Faith is believing in someone.

    • You can’t have faith in something happening. You have to have faith in God.

  • Faith is not the absence of difficulties. It’s the nearness of God through difficulties.

  • Unbelief gives a false picture of God (His character, His nature, etc.).

If we are dealing with unbelief, then we don’t have a clear picture of who God is. Regardless or whether we are facing hardships or not, God is still God. He is good, loving, faithful, holy, righteous, and just.

Let’s take a deeper look at the people who are mentioned in this chapter of faith.

Hebrews 11:13: All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth.

These individuals did receive some of the things that God promised to them, but not all. They all died still believing in what God had promised them.

In other words, they were not here when Jesus came and brought salvation to the world, but they believed that the Messiah would come one day and bring salvation to their families and the rest of the world. They saw it from a distance and welcomed it!

Their faith was not in something - it was in Someone!

Hebrews 11:32-40: How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.

Did the people who escaped death have faith? Yes

Did the people who did not escape death have faith? Yes

Faith is not in something happening. Faith is in the person of Jesus Christ.

I believe that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego say it best:

Daniel 3:17-18: If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

No matter how things turn out, I am all in with Jesus.

If we expect God to move in our lives and in our city we must come to Him in Faith. That means putting our faith in the person of Jesus and not in something happening. I would like to conclude with this portion of Scripture.

Hebrews 10:19-23: And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.

It’s not about telling God what you need. It’s getting into that attitude and relationship with God where you can receive what you need when you tell Him. We come to God on the basis of what Jesus has done on our behalf. We come on the basis of Who Jesus is. Let’s come to Jesus in faith this morning. Let’s expect Him to meet us here in this moment!

Come to Jesus in Humility

Today we are going to be be talking about coming to Jesus in humility. God wants to do a work in each and every one of our hearts and being humble is what allows Him to do that. The opposite of being humble is being prideful. Pride is not a very welcoming quality. Those who walk in pride either feel like they have got it all together and do not need God, or they think God owes them something. God speaks pretty clearly about us walking in humility throughout Scripture. Jesus is our ultimate example of walking in humility. Let’s take a look at how coming to Jesus in humility invites His presence.

I. Differentiating Friendship

James 4:1-6: What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

  1. James seems to be addressing a messy situation. People are quarreling with one another.

  2. There is jealousy over materials things. It’s like two kids fighting over a toy.

  3. They are not not asking God for the thing that they desire.

  4. Even if they did ask God, they don’t get it because they are asking with the wrong motives.

  5. God’s Spirit is within us and therefore we should be faithful to Him.

  6. Our God is gracious generous giving God.

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. In other words, God wants us to come to Him in humility and when we do He will pour out His grace on our lives.

James 4:7-10: So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

  1. James is encouraging these individuals to lay down their pride and to stop quarreling and come to God in humility.

    • Humble: obedient submissiveness

  2. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

    • Friendship with the world means friendship with the devil. Why did Lucifer fall from heaven? He fell because of pride. He wanted to be like God. A third of the angels sided with him and fell from heaven as well. Pride will keep us from God. You can’t repent from your sins if you don’t humble yourself and ask God for forgiveness.

    • We resist the devil by laying down our pride and submitting ourselves to God.

  3. Come to God and He will come to us. The invitation is always they, but we need to start that process of coming and then he will come.

  4. Keep our hearts pure through repentance. We live in a fallen world, so we are going to see unwanted things, we are going to be treated unfairly, and we will be tempted by the devil. We need God to search our hearts daily and allow Him to point out any areas that we may need to purify through repentance.

  5. God promised us that if we humble ourselves, He will lift us up!

II. The example of the Pharisee and the tax collector

Luke 18:9-14: Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

God opposed the Pharisees because of their righteous pride. Think about all the miracles they saw Him perform but very few gave their lives to Christ. Pride will hinder us from knowing God.

Tax collectors were hated and despised by people during the time of Jesus, but this tax collector recognized the sin in his life and begged God for mercy. He humbled himself.

Jesus says it again in this text. Those who humble themselves will be exalted.

III. The example of the sinful woman

Jesus was invited to eat dinner at the house of a Pharisee. A woman who was a prostitute found out Jesus was at this house and brought an expensive bottle of perfume. She anointed Jesus with the perfume and washed his feet with her tears and her hair.

Simeon had issues with this woman touching Jesus because she was immoral. Jesus teaches about forgiveness though a story of two people who were forgiven of their debts. The one forgiven of the greater debt showed greater gratitude for being forgiven. This obviously represented the woman.

There is more to this story than forgiveness. Jesus talks to them about welcoming Him.

Luke 7:44-48: Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”

  • They didn’t offer Jesus water to wash the dust off his feet, but she washed His feet with her tears and her hair.

  • They didn’t greet Him with a kiss, but she has not stopped kissing his feet.

  • They didn’t anoint His head with oil, but she anointed His feet with an expensive rare perfume.

  • She welcomed Jesus’ presence into her life by humbling herself and He lifted her up by forgiving her of her sins. He gave her a new life that was free from shame!

Matthew 26:13: I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

Not only did He forgive her of her sins, but we are still talking about her today. Her story is part of the Gospel message. She is teaching us a valuable lesson about coming into His presence with humility.

God wants to lift us up today, but in order for Him to do so we need to come to Him in humility. Let’s lay down any pride that will keep God from being able to do a work in our lives. Ask God to reveal any areas of sin in your life so that He can purify your heart right now. I would like to conclude with this verse:

2 Chronicles 7:14-15: Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.

Come to Jesus With Singing

We are currently doing a series called “Come to Jesus.” Our desire is to encounter Jesus and His Kingdom every time we gather. When we encounter Him we are never the same and our city will never be the same. Last time we talked about what it means to come into His presence with fear. This week were are going to talk about coming into His presence with singing. Worship is not just a part of the service. Worship is a way that we invite the presence of Jesus in and allow Him to work in our lives.

“I didn’t really like worship today.”
- Random Churchgoer

“That’s okay, we weren’t worshiping you.”
- Francis Chan

This quote says a lot about worship in churches today. We have all been guilty of making worship about us and not about Jesus. Let’s take a look at how we are to come to Jesus with singing and see how we measure up to Scripture.

I. Come before Him singing with joy

Psalm 100:1-5: Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Some commands in this text:

  1. Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. (All the earth - that means everyone, including you and me.)

    • “shout” - in triumph; a war cry

  2. Worship / serve with gladness (pleasure and jubilation).

  3. Come before Him singing with joy and rejoicing.

  4. Acknowledge that the Lord is God. (This means to know Him as Creator, the very source of our lives)

  5. Enter His courts with thanksgiving.

    • “thanksgiving” - to lift or extend one’s hands

We come into His presence with singing because…

  1. He is good.

  2. His unfailing love continues forever.

  3. His faithfulness continues to each generation.

“These commands are based on timeless truths. God made us, and we are His people. The Lord is good. His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness is to all generations. Our ability to praise, serve, or enjoy God’s presence flows out of our understanding of who God is and who we are in relation to Him.

Everything I am is due to Him. My worship, service, and fellowship with the Creator is dependent upon self-understanding. How can I praise when I am still the center of my own world?

And not knowing the Lord hinders my worship. How can I praise whom I fear? Or bless One whom I think is evil? Or thank One whom I think is unreasonable? To bless and serve the Lord, I must know Him! Here is our priority, know the Lord and worship Him with joy!
Pastor Jack Hayford, “Knowing the Lord

Here is another text telling us to do the same thing:

Psalm 95:1-7: Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!

If this is God’s standard for coming into His presence, how are we measuring up to that?

We have all been guilty of making worship more about us than God. We are too tired, not feeling the song, thinking about other things, or just going through the motions.

If we know God and understand all that He has done for us and continues to do for us, we would come to Him worshiping with complete abandonment.

Some of us have come from places where worship has very little expression or emotion. We don’t want to stand out or be looked at like we are crazy. We need to worship like David did!

2 Samuel 6:14-15: And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.

Regardless of whether we are having a bad day or we don’t really feel like singing. God is still God and He is worthy of our praise. We may be going through battles, but God has given us praise as a weapon. As we raise our hallelujahs, we will silence any unbelief that tries to hinder our faith in God. We don’t come to church to get motivated to worship God. We come to church already full of worship and praise in our hearts. We are just joining in chorus as one unified body launching forth God’s Kingdom and presence in our city. We might be surprised by what God will do when we come to Him singing with joy. Let’s ask God to raise our level of worship here. Let’s ask for more of His presence. Let’s let praise and thanksgiving flow from our mouths. Let’s make this authentic and real.

Come to Jesus in Fear

I believe one of the things that people put as a high priority in life is comfort. We want to live in comfort in our homes, in our finances, and in our relationships. Comfort in and of itself is not a bad thing, but it can cause problems in our pursuit of God. God wants us to know Him and walk in faith just like Jesus which means getting out of our comfort zones. The other thing that comfort will do is cause us to causally come into God’s presence and not give Him the honor and reverence that He deserves. If we want to encounter God in a way that will bring transformation and power to our lives, we need to make sure that we invite Him in a way that honors and gives Him the glory and praise that He truly deserves. God clearly tells us how to come into His presence throughout Scripture. For next few weeks, we are going to look at how God wants us to come into His presence. Everything will change in our gatherings and in our lives when we come to Jesus the right way. Today we look at coming to Jesus in fear.

I. Jesus invites us to come to Him

James 4:8: Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

It’s clear throughout Scripture that God pursues us relentlessly. He longs for relationship with us, but He does not force us to have a relationship with Him. It’s important to see that this verse tells us that we first come close to God and then He will come close to us.

II. What does it mean to fear the Lord?

When we are talking about fearing God, we are not talking about being afraid of Him. You don’t want to be around someone that you are afraid or have a relationship with them.

“To fear God is to love Him so much we are afraid to be away from Him.”
John Bevere, “What Fearing God Actually Looks Like”

Let’s look at some verses that talk about fearing God.

Psalm 31:19: How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.

God stores up goodness for those who fear Him. He lavishes His goodness on us and the world will take notice.

Proverbs 22:4: True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.

Psalm 145:19: He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them.

He grants the desires of those who fear Him.

Malachi 4:2: “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.

The fear of the Lord will bring healing.

This next portion of Scripture gives us a good idea of how we come into God’s presence in fear.

Psalm 34:1-11: I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the Lord, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing. Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord.

We come to the Lord with praise and worship declaring His greatness. We are thanking Him for all that He has done and is doing in our lives.

God surrounds and defends those who fear Him. Those who fear Him will have all that they need.

Psalm 89:7 (NKJV): God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him.

We need to fear God in our gatherings.

III. God wants us to encounter Him

Isaiah 6:1-8: It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke. Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.” Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

This text shows the awesomeness of being in the presence of God. The word “Lord” here is is Adonai, which means “Supreme Lord and Master.”

Seraphim were the angels closest to the Throne of God. Their name means “burning ones.” Burning with the Love and passion of God.

  • Two of their wings covered their faces - this was out of respect for God’s glory.

  • Two covered their feet (or body) - this shows modesty.

  • With two wings they flew - this shows instant obedience.

Isaiah saw his own sin in the light of the Lord. The seraphim touched his mouth and made him clean. This represents the confession of sin and the confession that Jesus is Lord that makes us clean. God can make any vessel clean and ready to be used for His purposes.

God wants us to draw near to Him. He wants to invade our lives. He wants to invade our gathering. When we come into the presence of a Holy God, we need to come to Him in fear and humility. God wants to do more than we can even imagine, but the only way these things can happen is through the Lord. Fear is what reminds us of that. We can’t live without Him.

Vision Sunday 2019

We will conclude our fast at the end of the service. I hope these past twenty-one days have been a time of you growing in greater intimacy with Jesus. I hope that you have had powerful dreams and visions that have given you a greater revelation of who Jesus is and how He wants to work in and through your life. I also pray that you are more familiar with the Holy Spirit and His leading. God wants to release His Kingdom and His promises in your life and in our city. I want to take a look at a lesson that Jesus taught the disciples about faith as we conclude this time of prayer and fasting.

I. A lesson on faith

Jesus was high up on a mountain with Peter, James, and John. He had a visit with Moses and Elijah. After the meeting they came back down the mountain to this situation:

Matthew 17:14-18: At the foot of the mountain, a large crowd was waiting for them. A man came and knelt before Jesus and said, “Lord, have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.” Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Then Jesus rebuked the demon in the boy, and it left him. From that moment the boy was well.

This is an interesting story, because this the only time we see the disciples pray for someone that needed healing and they were not able to heal them.

Luke 9:6: So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

When we don’t see prayers answered, we try to come up with logical reasons for why they weren’t healed. We may even say that it wasn’t God’s will to heal them. If it wasn’t God’s will to heal this boy, then why was Jesus able to heal him?

Matthew 17:19-23: Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

The disciples were eager to find out what went wrong when they prayed for the boy. In verse 17 Jesus rebukes them by calling them, “You faithless and corrupt people!”

He is basically saying to them that they are thinking with a worldly mindset instead of a Kingdom mindset. Natural instead of supernatural. This boy had seizures and when they saw him shaking, it didn’t help their faith while praying for him.

Matthew 17:20-21 (NKJV): So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”

“Because of your unbelief” - Jesus is telling the disciples that they have little faith. They do not see the way He sees. How do we see they way Jesus sees? Through prayer and fasting, and through intimacy with Jesus.

Mark 11:22: Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God.”

This is the corresponding verse from the book of Mark. “Have faith in God” could be translated to “have the faith of God.” We need to see things through the eyes of Jesus.

II. Our mission

res · o · nate - to evoke or produce a movement of large and increasing impact from a single source.

John 12:24-26: I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.

1. The cross brings life

1 Corinthians 1:18: The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

Romans 8:11: The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

We live through the power of the cross. His power resides within us and we should expect His Kingdom to grow through our lives.

2. We must die to self and live in Christ

Galatians 2:20: My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17: Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

We now live seeing things from Jesus’ perspective. Jesus lives through us. We are an extension of Him.

3. Following Jesus means being where He is at and following Him.

John 5:19-21: So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants.

Jesus said it this way: I do only what the Father is doing and I say only what the Father is saying. Jesus set the example for us to follow. We need to do what the Father is doing and say what the Father is saying.

Acts 2:42-47: All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

The result is an unstoppable force that multiplies God’s Kingdom!

We obviously want to reach our city for Jesus. We want to see people saved, healed, delivered, baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. We want to multiply our MC. We want to start new huddles. If we are going to do these things, then we need to do them through His power and in His way. That means we have to pursue Him, listen to Him and do what He tells us to do. We need His faith to grow in our lives so that we can see things the way that He sees them and then we will see breakthrough. Let’s go after Jesus like never before and see what He can do through us and in us!

Understanding Dreams and Visions (Part 3)

We will conclude with our final message in the Dreams and Visions series. I hope that you have had some powerful encounters with the Lord in your dreams. My desire is for this to be a launching point for us moving forward. God wants to and will continue to speak to us through dreams and visions if we will take them seriously and steward them well. Today we are going to look at how God can give wisdom through our dreams.

James 1:5-6: If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.

This Word says that if we need wisdom that we can ask God and that He will give it to us. He gives it to us freely and He will never rebuke us for asking. But we must go to Him with confidence that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.

We are going to take a look at a few people in the Bible who encountered God in a dream and to whom God gave wisdom to succeed in the things that He called them to do.

I. God rewards Solomon for his extravagant offering

1 Kings 3:3-9: Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!” Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne. “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

The first thing that we notice from this text is that Solomon loved the Lord and followed all His decrees. He loved Him so much that He offered 1,000 bulls as a burnt offering to the Lord. This was an extravagant offering. He was only required to offer one. The Lord appeared to Solomon that night in a dream and told him that He would grant Solomon whatever He asked for.

The second thing we notice is that Solomon learned well from his father King David. David led the Kingdom as God directed Him and had great success because of the Lord. Solomon knew that He would need the Lord’s help as well. Solomon asked for an understanding heart and wisdom to govern his people.

1 Kings 3:10-15: The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies—I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.” Then Solomon woke up and realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, where he sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then he invited all his officials to a great banquet.

God was so pleased with Solomon’s request that He made him the wisest person to ever live as well as granting him riches and fame. Solomon woke up and realized that it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and gave an offering to the Lord. The most significant thing that the Lord ever did in Solomon’s life happened in a dream while Solomon slept.

II. God shows Jacob how to increase his wealth

Jacob leaves his family to run from his angry brother Esau because he feared for his life. He went to stay with his Uncle Laban. He worked for Laban and came up with wages that would work. Jacob fell in love with Rachel and said that He would for Laban for seven years in order to marry her. Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah instead and committed another seven years for Rachel. After fourteen years of working, He wanted to start making money to provide for his family. They came up with this agreement:

Genesis 30:31-32: Jacob replied, “Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. Give these to me as my wages.

Laban cheated Jacob and removed all of these animals and moved them to a distant location three days’ travel away. Look what Jacob does later in this text:

Genesis 30:37-43: Then Jacob took some fresh branches from poplar, almond, and plane trees and peeled off strips of bark, making white streaks on them. Then he placed these peeled branches in the watering troughs where the flocks came to drink, for that was where they mated. And when they mated in front of the white-streaked branches, they gave birth to young that were streaked, speckled, and spotted. Jacob separated those lambs from Laban’s flock. And at mating time he turned the flock to face Laban’s animals that were streaked or black. This is how he built his own flock instead of increasing Laban’s. Whenever the stronger females were ready to mate, Jacob would place the peeled branches in the watering troughs in front of them. Then they would mate in front of the branches. But he didn’t do this with the weaker ones, so the weaker lambs belonged to Laban, and the stronger ones were Jacob’s. As a result, Jacob became very wealthy, with large flocks of sheep and goats, female and male servants, and many camels and donkeys.

Why would Jacob do this with the animals? The next text will explain that to us.

Genesis 31:4-13: So Jacob called Rachel and Leah out to the field where he was watching his flock. He said to them, “I have noticed that your father’s attitude toward me has changed. But the God of my father has been with me. You know how hard I have worked for your father, but he has cheated me, changing my wages ten times. But God has not allowed him to do me any harm. For if he said, ‘The speckled animals will be your wages,’ the whole flock began to produce speckled young. And when he changed his mind and said, ‘The striped animals will be your wages,’ then the whole flock produced striped young. In this way, God has taken your father’s animals and given them to me. “One time during the mating season, I had a dream and saw that the male goats mating with the females were streaked, speckled, and spotted. Then in my dream, the angel of God said to me, ‘Jacob!’ And I replied, ‘Yes, here I am.’ “The angel said, ‘Look up, and you will see that only the streaked, speckled, and spotted males are mating with the females of your flock. For I have seen how Laban has treated you. I am the God who appeared to you at Bethel, the place where you anointed the pillar of stone and made your vow to me. Now get ready and leave this country and return to the land of your birth.’ ”

The Lord took notice of how Laban was cheating. No matter what Laban did, God would continue to bless Jacob. Now we know why Jacob did these things while the animals mated. He learned this from a dream.

God showed Jacob how to increase his wealth through a dream!

III. God makes a covenant with Abram

Abram was promised great wealth if he left his home and followed God to the Promised Land. Abram questioned the idea of God giving him great wealth because he had no children to whom he could pass on such wealth.

Genesis 15:12-21: As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River—the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”

Abram falls into a deep sleep and it says a terrifying darkness comes over him. This sounds more like a nightmare. He saw a glimpse of his descendants being oppressed as slaves that would last for 400 years. But all that would end, those nations would be punished and they would come away with great wealth.

Abram wakes up and saw a smoking fire boat and a flaming torch pass through the halves of three carcasses. It was the Lord making a covenant with Abram that he would give this land to his descendants.

God showed Abram the future while He was sleeping and made a covenant with Him.

Let me share a couple of stories that might encourage you. We know that God spoke to people through dreams in the Bible, but He will speak to people just like you and me.

First, Jack Nicklaus figured out through a dream why his swing was off. In the dream, he was playing a masterful game of golf. After analyzing the dream, the six-time Masters champion realized he was gripping the club differently in the dream than he does in waking life: “I tried it the way I did in my dream, and it worked. I feel kind of foolish admitting it, but it really happened in a dream.”

Secondly, Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon and 2016 presidential candidate, tells the story about struggling to understand a required college chemistry course. He asked the Lord to help him. The night before a major test, he “picked up his chemistry textbook, determined to learn the whole course overnight.” He fell asleep. While he slept, God gave him a prophetic dream: “I was in this large auditorium.... Just me, and a nebulous figure working out chemistry problems.... When I went to take the test the next morning, it was like The Twilight Zone.... I opened that [test] book and I recognized the first problem.” They were the exact problems he had completed in his dream. He finished the test, knowing the answers because God revealed them to him in a dream.

Ask God to give you wisdom in whatever area in your life that you need wisdom. God will be faithful to give you wisdom to do what He has called you to do. He may even speak to you though your dreams!

Understanding Dreams and Visions (Part 2)

Last week I laid a little foundation for our dreams and visions series. We are going to build on that today. Dreams can gives us direction, they can give us warnings, or reveals what is going on in our hearts. There are many ways that God speaks to us in dreams. I want to focus more on what is happening in our hearts.

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV): Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

As we know by now, the most important thing to understand about dream work is that dreams are symbolic. The second most important is that dream symbols are personal. Mine are mine and yours are yours.

This is why you are the best and most qualified person to interpret your dreams. You know what the symbols mean to you, and you know what is going on in your waking life better than anyone. A vital key for dream interpretation is to remember that symbols are specific to your own history and personal experiences - they are not one-size-fits-all.

I. Dreams can be a warning

King Nebuchadnezzar has a disturbing dream and demands his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers interpret the dream without him telling them what the dream is. They are not able to interpret it and Nebuchadnezzar commands that all of them be killed. Daniel and his friends get word of this and here is what they do:

Daniel 2:17-23: Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon. 19 That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength. You have told me what we asked of you and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

Daniel knew that God is the only one who can interpret dreams, so he asked God for help. God gives Daniel a vision of what the king dreamed and what the dream meant. Then Daniel gives praise to God for His help!

Daniel 2:27-28: Daniel replied, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.

Daniel took the opportunity to lift up His mighty God through this situation. No one is as wise as our God!

Daniel 2:29-30: “While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen. And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.

This dream was a warning for what was going to take place in the future. His kingdom would be destroyed along with the there kingdoms that would follow. Only one kingdom would remain and that would be God’s Kingdom. The greatest Kingdom!

Notice why God gave King Nebuchadnezzar this dream:

because God wants you to understand what was in your heart
- Daniel 2:30

God gives us dreams to reveal what is in our hearts. Dreams of warning are God’s way for us to see where we are missing the mark. He allows us to repent and get back on track. Only those who are wise take His advice!

II. Dreams that give us confidence in the Lord

The Midianites ruled over the Israelites for seven years because they had disobeyed God. They took all the livestock and their crops. The Israelites called out to God and God raised up a judge by the name of Gideon. Gideon was unsure of his ability to lead the Isralites into battle against the Midianites, so he asked God to give him a sign. He laid out a wool fleece. If the fleece was wet and the ground was dry, he knew that God would be with him. He then reversed the request for the next sign and asked for the ground to be wet and the fleece to be dry.

Then God had Gideon trim an army of 22,000 troops down to just 300 men so that Israel would know that God gave them the victory over the Midianites.

Judges 7:8-11a: The Midianite camp was in the valley just below Gideon. That night the Lord said, “Get up! Go down into the Midianite camp, for I have given you victory over them! 10 But if you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah. Listen to what the Midianites are saying, and you will be greatly encouraged. Then you will be eager to attack.”

God told them to go and attack the Midianites, but they were afraid to do so.

He then encouraged them to go to the camp and to hear what the Midianites were saying about them and then they would be encouraged to go.

Judges 7:11b-16: So Gideon took Purah and went down to the edge of the enemy camp. The armies of Midian, Amalek, and the people of the east had settled in the valley like a swarm of locusts. Their camels were like grains of sand on the seashore—too many to count! 13 Gideon crept up just as a man was telling his companion about a dream. The man said, “I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!” His companion answered, “Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!” When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he bowed in worship before the Lord. Then he returned to the Israelite camp and shouted, “Get up! For the Lord has given you victory over the Midianite hordes!” 16 He divided the 300 men into three groups and gave each man a ram’s horn and a clay jar with a torch in it.

They go down to the camp and hear one man sharing his dream that he just had. The man said, “I had this dream, and in my dream a loaf of barley bread came tumbling down into the Midianite camp. It hit a tent, turned it over, and knocked it flat!” The other man knew what the dream meant.

“Your dream can mean only one thing—God has given Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite, victory over Midian and all its allies!”
Judges 7:14

That is a pretty strange dream. Why would this guy think that it was Gideon? What was Gideon doing when the angel appears to Him? He was threshing wheat! I am sure these words came to mind when Gideon heard this dream.

“The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.
Judges 6:12

There is a powerful revelation that God wants us to understand from this story. If we have a revelation of how God sees us, it will change how we walk out His mission for our lives.

Knowing what the enemy thinks about us changes how we battle him and take the territory that God has given us!

III. Dreams point us to where God is leading us

Acts 16:6-10: Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.

We see throughout the book of Acts how the Holy Spirit led the Apostles to where God wanted them to minister.

This passage seems to imply Paul and Silas decided to go where they felt like going instead of asking God where He wanted them to go. How do we know this? Because the Holy Spirit prevented them from going to two different places. It took a night vision for Paul to finally hear God and know where he was supposed to go.

Here is a perfect example that dreams are symbolic. We never hear that Paul actually found the man who was calling out to him in the dream. In fact Paul ended up ministering to a woman named Lydia instead. The man was not the key in the dream. The key for this dream was the man was from Macedonia . God wanted them to go to Macedonia and this dream helped them to get there.

I would like to conclude with a dream that I had this past week. I hope this encourages you to continue to ask God to speak to you through your dreams. I also hope that you will write down what you remember from your dreams, no matter how small or crazy the dream is. Only God can truly give us an interpretation of our dreams, but you are the one he will use to interpret your dreams. You know what’s going on in your life and you are the one who will know what the symbols in your dream mean to you.

There were three parts to my dream and I will share each part and break them down for you.

Part #1

Amanda and I went out to look at a field that looked like it had been planted with grass and flowers. It looked like a place where people didn’t have much luck growing anything. We were encouraged to see what we had planted was starting to grow very well. We also noticed that fields that others had planted and given up on were growing as well. Amanda actually pointed out a flower that was starting to bloom and we felt very encouraged and surprised by what we saw God was doing. I knew the field represented Sioux Falls and this verse came to mind:

John 4:34-38: Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

Part #2

I was trying to level a road that was uneven with potholes. I was pouring blacktop or concrete over it and smoothing it out. This verse came to me for this part:

Matthew 3:3 (The Message): John and his message were authorized by Isaiah’s prophecy: Thunder in the desert! Prepare for God’s arrival! Make the road smooth and straight!

John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by preaching the message of repentance and baptism. I feel like this dream is telling us to prepare the way for Jesus to come and minister to our city!

Part #3

I had a dream that I was at the junior high school that I went to. This building had four different floors to it. I was walking up the stairs with a group of people who I did not know. We started on the first floor and made our way all the way up the the fourth floor. There were several other people up there sitting in this classroom. We were all sitting in chairs just waiting, but I don’t know what exactly what we were waiting for. A teacher showed up and was surprised by how many people were in the room. She said, ”Look at all these installers.”

Here is what I feel this part represents. The junior high represents learning. God is going to teach us something. I believe the group of people waiting in classroom on the fourth floor represents the 120 believers waiting in the upper room for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on they Day of Pentecost. God is going to pour out His Spirit on us so that we can learn through revelation of the Kingdom of God that He wants to install in our city!

The more I think about this dream the more that it excites me. God wants us to prepare the way for Jesus to come into our city. He is going to teach us how to build His Kingdom in Sioux Falls. We should be encouraged by the growth that has already begun because it is growing better that we thought. God is preparing us for the harvest. He has set that harvest time right now!

Understanding Dreams and Visions (Part 1)

I am really excited about starting this new year. I believe God is going to do something powerful during this fast if we seek Him with all our hearts. God wants to reveal Himself to us in a way that will bring radical transformation to our lives. We need to make every effort to hear God clearly throughout this fast. We do this through silencing outside distractions and being still in His presence. We need to lay everything at the foot of the cross that is weighing us down and rest in the promises of the Word. I believe God wants to speak to us through dreams and visions this year. If we commit to stewarding these dreams and writing them down, God will give us a deeper revelation of who He is and how He is working in our lives.

I. What the Word says about dreams and visions

Acts 2:17: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams.

God has already poured out His Spirit and continues to do so. This means that we will see these other things as well. Sons and Daughters will prophesy. It also says that God will speak to us through dreams and visions.

In the Bible, the words dream and vision are used almost interchangeably. In Job it says: “In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men...” (Job 33:15). Again, in Isaiah, the same phrase is used: it “will be like a dream, a vision of the night” (Isaiah 29:7). Scripture also says that “the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision,” and later, “I kept looking in the night visions...” (Daniel 2:19; 7:13).

God speaking through dreams and visions is throughout the entire Bible. In fact about a third of the Bible has some kind of reverence to God speaking to people in dreams and vision. That is equivalent to the amount of words written in the New Testament…

Dreams are a gateway to the spirit realm where God lives. They are regular and reliable. They are accessible and available to everyone every night, and they provide a meaningful, powerful way to hear from Heaven and connect to the very heart of God…

By seeing and agreeing with the meaning of our night visions, we help bring about their messages in waking life…

Vision is a bridge that helps move the Kingdom of Heaven from the spiritual side of the realm over to the tangible side of it.

Mark Virkler, Hearing God Through Your Dreams: Understanding the Language God Speaks at Night

Here are some verses about God speaking to us in the night:

Numbers 12:6: “If there were prophets among you, I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams.

God spoke to His prophets through dreams and visions.

Hosea 12:10: I sent my prophets to warn you with many visions and parables.”

Psalm 119:148 (NKJV): My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may meditate on Your word.

My eyes are awake is referring to dreaming.

Psalm 16:7: I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.

God instructs or councils us through dreams.

Song of Solomon 5:2: I slept, but my heart was awake, when I heard my lover knocking and calling:

We need to desire and ask God to speak to us in our sleep.

Why would we not want God to speak to us through dreams? We spend a third of our lives sleeping. We get out of the natural and get into the supernatural through hearing from God in our dreams.

II. Learning from Joseph’s dream

Genesis 37:5-11: “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!” This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant.

Joseph obviously didn’t have a clear picture of what his dream actually meant. Yes, he would ultimately be in a leadership position over his family, but God had a purpose for putting him in that position.

Joseph had many hard lessons in order to prepare him for what God had called him to do. He was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar's wife and thrown into prison. Yet he remained faithful to God and grew in godly character.

The King’s cup bearer and baker both had dreams while in prison that did not sit well with them. Joseph could tell something was bothering them and tried to encourage them.

Genesis 40:8: And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”

Joseph knew God that was the only one who could interpret their dreams. He was confident that the Lord would help him interpret their dreams and His interpretations were correct.

We need to ask God to give us the interpretations of our dreams.

Genesis 41:15-16: Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.” “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”

We see a common theme with the people that had dreams. They bothered them and stuck with them.

We again see Joseph looking to God for the interpretation of the dream. Not only did God give Joseph the interpretation. He gave him the wisdom for what Pharaoh needed to do in order to lead his people through the upcoming famine.

God fulfilled Joseph’s dream by placing him as second in command over Egypt.

Genesis 45:5-8: But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

Joseph never anticipated his dream being fulfilled this way, but He clearly saw this was all orchestrated by God. God put him in a position to save his family as well as many other lives.

We should learn from Joseph and trust God to fulfill the dreams and visions that He gives for our lives.

We need to go through these next twenty-one days and expect God to speak to us through our dreams and visions. We need to steward these dreams well and ask God to give us an understanding and a revelation of what we are dreaming. I believe these dreams will have a significant impact on our lives and on our city. We start by committing to get at least seven or eight hours of sleep every night. We need to ask God to give us dreams every night and then put a pen and paper by our beds and record what we dream.

Let’s see what God does!

Sowing in Tears

It is hard to believe that this will be our last service in 2018. God started us off with the book of Joshua so that we could learn how to take the territory that He has given us in our lives and in our city. This past year may not have gone as you planned or envisioned. Your faith may have grown this past year or maybe it was challenged. Nonetheless, you are still here and are putting your trust in God. I want to talk a little about sowing in tears and then finish off with talking about the fast and what we will trusting God to do in our church in 2019.

I. Sowing in Tears

Psalm 126:1-6: When the Lord brought back his exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! What joy! Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.

This psalm is talking about Israel’s coming out of their seventy years of captivity. Their disobedience and rebellion brought them into captivity. God did a mighty work in them though this captivity and was bringing them into a new season of harvest and celebration.

When the Lord brought them out of captivity, they thought they were in a dream. The were filled with joy and laughter and they sang (or they worshiped).

They prayed this prayer: “God restore our fortunes as streams renew the desert.” They had lost everything, but they knew God could restore all they had lost and more!

This is a beautiful picture for us. We may plant in tears but we will harvest with shouts of joy.

  1. Tears of Sorrow / Suffering

    • 2 Kings 20:5: “Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the Lord.

    • God sends the prophet Isaiah to tells King Hezekiah to set his affairs in order because his days are numbered. Hezekiah cries out to God and reminds Him of his faithfulness to follow and do God’s will.

    • God hears his prayer and heals him, adding fifteen years to his life. He also gives him victory over his enemies.

  2. Tears of Joy

    • Genesis 33:4: Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. And they both wept.

    • Jacob is trying to return home and is worried about Esau still being mad at him. When they saw each other for the first time in many years, they embraced each other with tears of joy.

  3. Tears of Compassion

    • John 11:33-35: When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept.

    • Jesus wept with compassion as Mary, Martha and others grieved over the loss of Lazarus.

  4. Tears of Desperation

    • Esther 4:1-3: When Mordecai learned about all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on burlap and ashes, and went out into the city, crying with a loud and bitter wail. He went as far as the gate of the palace, for no one was allowed to enter the palace gate while wearing clothes of mourning. And as news of the king’s decree reached all the provinces, there was great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes.

    • Mordecai found out that his people were about to be wiped out so he and the rest of the Jews fasted and wept for God to save them.

    • God gave Esther favor with the King and her people were spared.

  5. Tears of Travail / Giving birth

    • Isaiah 42:13-14: The Lord will march forth like a mighty hero; he will come out like a warrior, full of fury. He will shout his battle cry and crush all his enemies. He will say, “I have long been silent; yes, I have restrained myself. But now, like a woman in labor, I will cry and groan and pant.

    • God was about to rescue and restore his people in this text. He tells His people to come to Him in worship. He tells them to sing a new song.

    • Birthing things for the Kingdom of God is not easy and there are going be tears that will take place as we travail for His will to come forth.

  6. Tears of Repentance

    • Joel 2:12-13: That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

    • There are times when we may get away from the Lord and we need to have a time of repentance. This may be because you have tried to make things happen on your own or maybe you have allowed doubt to enter your heart.

Galatians 6:7-10: Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

I want to remind you of this promise in Scripture. We will always harvest what we plant. We have been sowing Kingdom seeds in our city and in our families for the past five years and we are going to see His Kingdom come forth.

You may be in a place of frustration and may be thinking, What’s the use? I have fasted every year and nothing has changed. God is faithful and He says that we will reap the harvest at the right time if we do not give up. We can’t control when that time is, but we can prepare ourselves and be ready when it comes. We have come this far. Let’s see this through and be amazed by what God does!

II. The Fast

The goal of this fast is come to a revelation of who Jesus is and a greater intimacy with Him.

We are going to do this fast from a place of rest. I want our church to commit to getting at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night for the next twenty-one days. If you have a busy life, find was to cut things out and make time for the Lord and your family.

God wants to speak to us through dreams and visions this year and I believe we are going to have some powerful encounters with Him as we sleep and rest in Him!

God has made it clear to us that we need the Holy Spirit to be at work in our lives if we are going to walk in all that God has for us. We need to be led by our Spirit and not our flesh. Fasting is what enables us to do that. We deny our flesh and weaken it, which allows the Spirit to take the lead and help us to hear what God is speaking to us.

Keys to hearing God and knowing what to fast:

  • Silence

  • Stillness

Silence is putting away the outer distractions. People hate silence because the moment they are silent they begin to see the chaos within. The Holy Spirit will purify us in the seeking. The flesh does not like to wait. Silence is what weakens our flesh as we wait on the Lord.

Stillness is the quieting of the soul. The moment we begin to pray, we have fear crossing our minds. The Holy Spirit wants us to trust so that He can free us from any inner chaos.

It’s in the stillness that we lay down our burdens, cares and worries at the feet of Jesus.

Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 37:7: Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.

Stillness is waiting on the Lord. It helps you to let God be God and stop trying to make things happen in your own strength and wisdom. Let God be in control while you sit back and watch, and be amazed!

Stillness precedes revelation.

Final notes:

What we do in private will be revealed in public. If we are not praying and seeking God, we are not going to see him move in our city or in our lives. God moves through our prayers. That is why prayer and fasting are so important.

David killed bears and lions in private before he defeated Goliath in public. God knew that He could trust David in public because of how He lived in private. That goes the same for us.

Here is how I want our church to pray during this fast. I want you to fast whatever will help you silence the noise and distraction around you. I want you be in a place of stillness where you have laid every worry, doubt, and anxiety at the feet of Jesus and you are at a place of complete peace in His presence. When you get to this place of silence and stillness, ask God what He wants you to pray for in that moment.

Here are three things I believe will come through this fast:

  1. A greater revelation of who Jesus is and a greater intimacy with Him.

  2. A greater relationship with the Holy Spirit and His leading in our everyday lives.

  3. A greater release of God’s Kingdom in our city as we step out in faith and obedience to God.

God With Us (Part 4)

Today we will conclude our series with talking about Jesus coming to be our King. This is clearly revealed throughout the time of Jesus’ birth and following. It has great significance that we need to understand as believers. My desire is that this message will bring a greater revelation to our worship of Jesus and our life in Him!

John 18:36-37 (NKJV): Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

Jesus is talking to Pilate during the time he was arrested to be crucified. He talks about His Kingdom not being of this world. Jesus came to bring His Kingdom here on earth.

Revelation 19:16: On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

Most of us are familiar with the Nativity story of how Jesus was born. We know that an angel appeared to Mary and told her that she was going to give birth to the Messiah. We know how Joseph was a man of great character and stayed with Mary, trusting that this was all orchestrated by God. We also know that everything was going to take place in Bethlehem in order to fulfill prophecies spoken about the coming of the Messiah.

This leads me to a story that I would like to highlight.

Matthew 2:1-11: Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The wise men came to find the newborn king of the Jews. They came bringing Him gifts and to worship Him!

There are two other people that came to see the newborn King that I would like to talk about.

Luke 2:25-35: At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Simeon was a righteous man devoted to God. We can tell from this passage that God had promised Simeon that he would see the Messiah. Simeon believed God and eagerly waited for the Messiah to come.

The Holy Spirit led him to the Temple so that He could see the newborn King.

Luke 2:36-38: Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

Anna was a prophet who stayed day and night at the temple, worshiping God with prayer and fasting.

She also was led to Mary and Joseph and began praising God that she had seen the newborn King. She began to tell everyone about Jesus.

Everything changed the day that Jesus came to earth. The newborn King not only brought hope and salvation, but also His Kingdom on earth. Everywhere King Jesus is, His rule and reign is also present. That means all things are possible in Him! That means hope rises, darkness turns to light, chains are broken, and healing is here!

This whole series has been about God with us. Jesus came for many reasons and every one of them is important and life-changing. I am so thankful that He brought salvation and that He is a God that restores and renews. I am so thankful that He brought heaven to earth and has revealed His Kingdom to us. He has given us an example to follow and we are to release His Kingdom every where we go. I am also thankful that He reveals the Father to us and by knowing the Father and His love, He changes us! Jesus is King and we need to let Him rule in our lives!

What areas of your life do you need Jesus the King to show up? There is nothing that is impossible with Him. Do you need finances, do you need healing, do you need peace or comfort? The King is here to rule and reign in these situation. We just need to invite Him and let Him take charge of those situations.

God With Us (Part 3)

We are on our third message in the God With Us series. Today we are going to look at Jesus coming to reveal the Father to us. Every believer needs to understand Who the Father is and how much the Father loves us.

I. Jesus reveals the Father to us

Colossians 1:15: Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

John 1:18: No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

No one has ever seen God, but we have a clear picture Who Jesus is through the Word.

Revelations 1:13-16: And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

This is John’s physical description of Jesus. We see the Father through the character and love of Jesus.

Hebrews 1:1-4: Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.

Many non believers view God as an angry judge rather than a loving Father. If you have only read stories in the Old Testament then you can see why they might think that. You may look at Jesus in the New Testament and think that’s a better picture of love. When we understand Jesus came to reveal the Father to us, we know that when we look at Jesus we are looking at the Father.

John 14:1-14: “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

The Father is not going after the select few. He wants everyone to be with Him in heaven. He assures us that there are many rooms in His house and He is preparing a room for us.

Jesus declares that He is the way to the Father. He also gets into this interesting dialogue with the disciples about He and the Father being one.

Jesus says if you have seen me, then you have seen the Father. This is the reason why. I do only what the Father tells me to do. I speak on what He tells me to speak. The work that Jesus had done speaks for itself.

He also tells them that they to will do these works, even greater works, so that we too can bring glory to the Father!

II. Invitation to come to the Father

Matthew 11:25-30: At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus again shows that He is the one who reveals the Father to us. We pursue and grow in our relationship with Jesus. He brings us to the Father and the Father pours out His love and goodness on us.

John 17:25: “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”

Jesus reveals the Father to us so that the Father’s love will grow in us. We will never be able to do what the Father has called us to do without His love in our hearts. We will not be motivated to do His will and it will be more about us than about Him.

1 John 3:1-3: See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.

We have the great privilege to be called children to our Heavenly Father and to be His heirs. We have the promise that we will be like Him and that we will see Him for who He really is!

Psalm 67:1-2: May God be merciful and bless us. May his face smile with favor on us. May your ways be known throughout the earth, your saving power among people everywhere.

I would like to ask that Jesus would reveal the Father to us in a new way today. May we have a deeper understanding of who He is and how much He loves us. When we grow in our relationship with the Father and understand how much He loves loves us, we will truly be able to accomplish all that He has called us to do. And by doing the things that He has called us to do, we will bring glory and honor to Him. Jesus made all this possible by coming to earth and giving His life for us!

God With Us (Part 2)

Last week we talked about Jesus coming to earth because of His love for us. He brought us salvation in order to restore our relationship with the Father. This week we are going to look at how Jesus brought heaven to earth and what that means for us. We will also look at the significance of Jesus living as a man and how He set an example for us to follow until He returns.

I. The incarnation of Jesus

John 1:1-14: In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

This is a clear picture of Jesus’ deity. He was he in the beginning. He had key role in the creation of the world. He came down to earth as a human and lived among us!

Philippians 2:5-11: You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This text gives us clear insight as to how Jesus lived His life on earth.

Kenosis

  • this word means to be emptied

  • Jesus was fully God and fully man. He laid aside his rights as God and became a servant.

“While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divine powers and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It's vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God. If He did them as God, I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow.”
- Bill Johnson, “Claiming the Power to Heal as Jesus Did”
(Charisma Magazine)

Bill Johnson has been called a heretic because of how he interprets this Scripture. He is not saying that Jesus is not God. He is saying that Jesus did miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 4:1-2: Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.

This text follows right after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

Why was Jesus Baptized? He was without sin, so He didn’t need to be. Jesus was baptized because He set a pattern for us to follow. Not only was He baptized in water, but also the dove which represents the Holy Spirit rested upon Him. This symbolizes that He was filled with the Spirit.

This text mentions that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit.

Why was Jesus full of the Holy Spirit if He is God? Because He did everything through the direction of the Father and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus was tempted by Satan and we know Jesus was able to resist Satan and did not sin. Jesus also stayed true to his human side and did not use his powers as God. He was hungry and his body was frail after the 40 days of fasting. Angels came to take care of Jesus.

Luke 4:14: Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region.

Jesus returned to Galilee filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. We never hear of Jesus performing any miracles until after His baptism. The power of the Holy Spirit came upon him at baptism. This is significant for us.

II. He came to initiate the existence and realization of the Kingdom of God one earth

Mark 1:14-15: Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”

What was Jesus’ message? The Kingdom of God is near!

Luke 17:20-21: One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is!’ or ‘It’s over there!’ For the Kingdom of God is already among you.”

This is an interesting answer to a question about the Kingdom of God. What did Jesus mean when He said, “For the Kingdom of God is already among you.” Jesus is the Kingdom of God. It his presence that brings forth the rule and reign of His Kingdom.

Colossians 1:27: “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Jesus resides in us at salvation. He deposits His Spirit within us. We carry His presence wherever we go, which means His Kingdom is wherever we go!

How did Jesus teach us to pray?

Matthew 6:10 (NKJV): Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

God can change any situation because His Kingdom is not bound by our laws of nature. That’s why the prisoners are set free, the blind see and the dead are resurrected!

III. Jesus came to give us an example to follow

Luke 9:23: Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.

Matthew 10:7-8: Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

1 Corinthians 11:1: And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

I am so thankful that Jesus came to earth and humbled himself as a man. I am so thankful that He understands our struggles and and our pains. He brought heaven to earth so that we can have hope now. He showed us how to walk in the power of the Spirit and to release His Kingdom here on earth. We just need to have faith in Him and walk in obedience to His word. When we do this, we will never be the same and our world will never be the same!

God With Us (Part 1)

Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to come as a baby? Why didn’t God just start over when “the Fall” happened with Adam and Eve? There is a lot more to the Nativity story than you can imagine. I hope the next four weeks will give you a greater appreciation for Jesus coming to earth as a baby and a greater revelation of God’s love for you.

Isaiah 7:14: All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

This prophecy was written about 650 years before Jesus was born. It describes Jesus who is God living among His people. The moment Adam and Eve fell God set His redemptive plan in motion and Jesus coming as a baby was His best and only plan. We are going to look at some of the Key reasons as to why Jesus coming to earth was such a big deal.

I. Jesus came to seek and save the lost

John 3:10-17: Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things? I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony. But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven. And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

Jesus is trying to explain His message about the Kingdom of God to Nicodemus. He lays out a clear picture for salvation - that the Son of Man must come to earth and die on the cross in order for man to receive eternal life.

God loved the world so much that He sent His one and only Son to earth to take our sin upon Him by dying on the cross and restoring our relationship with the Father. He did not send Him to judge the world but to save the world through Jesus.

Luke 19:9-10: Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Jesus cam to seek and to save the lost. This is why he spoke parables about the lost coins and the prodigal son. God is crazy about us and loves us so much that He pursues us with His grace and His love. He wants us to know Him!

II. Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil

1 John 3:7-8: Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.

When man fell in the garden, sin and death entered the world. We feel pain, sorrow and sickness because of the curse of sin. Jesus cam to destroy those things.

Titus 2:14: He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

He gave His life to free us from sin!

Revelation 1:17-18: When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

We don’t have to be afraid because He holds the keys to death and the grave. He is the Resurrection and the life!

Colossians 2:13-15: You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Jesus has disarmed the devil through the cross. Because of the victory on the cross, Satan has no legal rights over those who put their faith in Jesus.

III. Jesus came to restore and give life

Luke 4:18-19: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”

Jesus is in the business of restoration. He make the poor rich, sets the captives free, helps the blind to see, and sets the oppressed free. He restores broken marriages and broken bodies.

John 10:10 (NKJV): The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Satan’s goal is to destroy your life. God wants to give to life and wants you to live life to the fullest.

When Jesus came to earth, He brought hope and love. He could not have expressed love in a better way. He gave His life to destroy the works of the devil. He broke the power of sin and death. He restored us and gave us a new chance at life. This new life is meant to be rich and full. It can only be lived that way though an intimate relationship with Jesus. When we come to know Him, we come to know love and what true life really is. Life is forever changed and we are never the same. We can thank Jesus for that!

Acts (Part 6)

Saul is one of my favorite people in the Bible. Also known as the Apostle Paul, his encounter with Jesus reminds us of two things. First, it doesn’t matter what you have done. Jesus can and will transform your life with His love and salvation. Second, God can transform anybody’s life no matter how far they seem to be from God. I also want to highlight some of the other things that we have seen throughout this series in regards to the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

I. Saul’s encounter with Jesus

Acts 9:1-7: Meanwhile, Saul was uttering threats with every breath and was eager to kill the Lord’s followers. So he went to the high priest. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, asking for their cooperation in the arrest of any followers of the Way he found there. He wanted to bring them—both men and women—back to Jerusalem in chains. As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?” “Who are you, lord?” Saul asked. And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men with Saul stood speechless, for they heard the sound of someone’s voice but saw no one! 8 Saul picked himself up off the ground, but when he opened his eyes he was blind. So his companions led him by the hand to Damascus. He remained there blind for three days and did not eat or drink.

Saul was the last person one would expect to surrender his life to Christ. He opposed everything about the church and its message of the cross. He wanted to capture and imprison every believer. The Word even says that he wanted to kill them. He got leadership to back him and that’s what he set out to do as he headed to Damascus.

He encountered Jesus on the way. The story is not so much about Jesus stopping Saul as it is about Jesus pursuing him.

Acts 9:6 (NKJV): So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Most people believe that Saul received salvation in this moment. This verse seems to him surrendering by asking the Lord what he wanted him to do. We also see that he prays and fast for three days before Ananias comes to visit him.

iI. Ananias’s key role in Saul’s new life in Christ

Acts 9:10-19: Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! 14 And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon your name.” But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.” So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. 19 Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength.

There are a few things that I want to point out here in this next portion of the text.

1. Why did God send Ananias?

  • He was sent to validate what God was doing in Saul. This is all new to Saul. Ananias confirms what God speaks to Saul and he helps Saul take the next step so that he was equipped for his mission.

2. How did God speak for both Saul and Ananias?

  • He spoke to them through visions.

Acts 2:17-18: ‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.

God speaks to us in multiple ways - the Word, still small voice, dreams, visions, and through other people. I believe that we will see more of this in the days ahead.

3. What did Ananias do for Saul?

  • He prayed for him to receive his sight, he prayed for him to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and he baptized him in water. Saul was making a public declaration that he was following Christ.

These are important elements for every person who receives Christ - salvation, water baptism, baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Ananias did not initially like the idea of going to see Saul. He was afraid of Him. God showed Ananias Saul’s purpose in the Kingdom of God.

Acts 9:15-16: But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

What a great picture for us to follow! God will reveal His heart for others and we need to call those things out in their lives. This helps others to see themselves through the eyes of Christ. It also helps us to see others through the eyes of Christ.

III. The Holy Spirit and Saul’s ministry

Acts 9:19-23: Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days. And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” All who heard him were amazed. “Isn’t this the same man who caused such devastation among Jesus’ followers in Jerusalem?” they asked. “And didn’t he come here to arrest them and take them in chains to the leading priests?” Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful, and the Jews in Damascus couldn’t refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. After a while some of the Jews plotted together to kill him..

This is why I love Paul. He gets right down to business and immediately begins to preach that Jesus is the Messiah. This phrase is interesting. “Saul’s preaching became more and more powerful.” This is what happens with the help of the Holy Spirit and taking time to seek the Lord daily. We grow in our knowledge of Him and the Word and we become more powerful in our witness of Him.

The Jews in Damascus could not refute his proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Saul was a new Christian and now he is able to show others that Jesus is the Messiah. This goes back to the what is the predominant message of the book of Acts. We need to be baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit so that we can be effective in our witness of Christ and whatever He call us to do.

We will never fully accomplish all that God has called us to accomplish without the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. The Holy Spirit was key in the early church’s growing and it will be key in our reaching our city, our nation and our world for Christ.

Let’s take time to pray for people we may know that seem next to impossible to come to know Christ. They may be a lot like Saul before his conversion, completely opposing Jesus and His message. If God can transform Saul, He can transform anybody. God may be stirring hearts today to follow Ananias’s example and go to minister to a Saul on the Lord’s behalf. We need to do it under the Lord’s leading and direction in order to be successful. I also want to encourage everyone to rely upon the Holy Spirit’s power to accomplish God’s plan for your lives.