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.

Acts (Part 5)

We have seen a common theme of the Apostles ministering through the demonstration of the power of the Spirit and many people come to know Jesus. They had a greater boldness and confidence in Jesus because they had been filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. No matter what opposition came their way they continued being faithful to proclaim the message of the cross and the Kingdom of God continued to advance.

Now we come to a new challenge within the church. The church is growing rapidly and there are some turmoil among the believers. I want to highlight some insight from how the Apostles navigated through this situation. I also want to look at the life of Stephen and how his ministry and life impacted the Kingdom of God.

I. Challenges in Church Growth

Acts 6:1-7: But as the believers rapidly multiplied, there were rumblings of discontent. The Greek-speaking believers complained about the Hebrew-speaking believers, saying that their widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” Everyone liked this idea, and they chose the following: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit), Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas of Antioch (an earlier convert to the Jewish faith). These seven were presented to the apostles, who prayed for them as they laid their hands on them. So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.

  • There were obviously some issues with how the food was being distributed between the Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking widows. They called in the Apostles and they came up with a solution.

  • A new ministry was birthed. They chose seven men to oversee this food distribution ministry.

Qualification for ministry

  • Well-respected, honest, trustworthy, of good character

  • Full of the Spirit - led by the Spirit and working out of the strength of the Spirit

  • Wisdom - God is the source of their wisdom

They laid hands on them. They were commissioning and empowering them to do the work that God had called them to do.

These adjustments brought more growth to the church. Even Jewish priests were coming to know and follow Jesus!

II. God desires every believer to minister with the power of the Holy Spirit

Acts 6:8-10: Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people. But one day some men from the Synagogue of Freed Slaves, as it was called, started to debate with him. They were Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria, Cilicia, and the province of Asia. None of them could stand against the wisdom and the Spirit with which Stephen spoke.

Up until this point we only read of the Apostles doing miracles. Now Stephen is perform amazing miracles and signs. This has always been God’s plan. We all have the same Holy Spirit at work in our lives and just need to step out in faith and do what Jesus did!

Stephen was challenged to a debate and it says that none of them could stand against he wisdom and Spirit with which he spoke.

Stephen had a faith and revelation of the word that we all need. He was someone that spent time with Jesus. This is the only way that he could do these things.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14: And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.

God put His Spirit in us so that we know Him and have access to all that He is, including His wisdom.

Colossians 1:9: So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Pray and ask for God’s wisdom. Pray and ask God to give us wisdom as a church as we move forward.

III. More opposition and more growth

Acts 7:55-56: But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”

Stephen was falsely accused and speaks a powerful word from the Holy Spirit. He challenged their beliefs and they didn’t like that.

Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit is mentioned a few times throughout the text. We can only accomplish God’s purpose and plan for our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. The only way that we can be full of the Spirit is through being in the presence of God.

Full means overflowing

Stephen shared a vision that he was having of the heaven being opened and seeing Jesus at the right hand of the Father. We know that he was stoned to death next. He was the first martyr. His death ultimately shook up the believers in Jerusalem and caused the message of the Gospel to spread throughout the region and beyond.

God wants to use you to reach this city. He wants to use you to heal the sick, to set people free, and to bring people to salvation. God will do these things out of relationship. We pursue Him and He fills us with Himself to overflowing and that overflow begins to change people’s lives in our city. He wants us to tap into His wisdom for whatever challenges and obstacles we may face individually and as a church. We don’t have to force these, but we do need to be ready do whatever He asks us to do. I am excited for who God is and what He is doing in our church. Let’s keep going after Him and see Him do great things in our city!

Acts (Part 4)

Last week we looked at the story of the crippled beggar at the Beautiful gate being healed. Peter was walking in a new boldness that came from the Holy Spirit’s baptism. He saw this man through the eyes of Jesus and used the authority given to Him by the Father to heal him. As a result, 2,000 more men were added to the church. Momentum is building and God’s Kingdom is growing!

We are going to pick up in Acts 5 and look at how God is using the Apostles to continue in the advancement of the Kingdom. There is a common theme of God using healings and miracles along with the preaching of the gospel to win the lost.

I. Faith is growing

Acts 5:12-16: The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.

  • The healing of the crippled beggar launched the Apostles into greater faith and expectancy for miracles and healings. They had Jesus do many miracles and expected every time that He prayed for someone that they would be healed. After healing the lame beggar they no longer went to the temple just to pray. They went to minister healing and salvation.

  • God healed a man who had been crippled from birth. This not only raised faith and expectancy for healing in the Apostles but also for those who needed healing.

  • Solomon’s Colonnade was a common location for rabbis to teach their disciples. God opened a door for the church to meet in this area after the crippled man had been healed. They were meeting there regularly. It also says no one else dared to join them, even though they highly respected them.

  • The great news is that there were still many coming to know the Lord. The Apostles stay true to what God had told them to do and the result was the Kingdom kept growing.

“As the result of the Apostles’ work” means the apostles continued to preach the message of the cross and they continued to heal the sick.

They were lining them up on the streets so that Peter’s shadow might touch them and then they would be healed!

The story of Peter’s shadow healing people brought this verse to mind:

John 14:12-14: “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. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

The woman with the issue of blood was healed by touching the robe of Jesus. Now we see people being healed by Peter’s shadow. We also see in Acts 19:12 that God healed people with handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul’s skin.

II. Ministering in the power and authority of Jesus will come at a cost

Acts 5:17-32: The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them, “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!” So at daybreak the apostles entered the Temple, as they were told, and immediately began teaching. When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council—the full assembly of the elders of Israel. Then they sent for the apostles to be brought from the jail for trial. But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported, “The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!” When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end. Then someone arrived with startling news: “The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!” The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. Then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them. “We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”

It says that Sadducees were filled with jealousy over the Apostles’ ministry, so they arrested them and put them in jail.

It’s interesting - all the people who opposed Amiee Simple McPherson when she started the Foursquare Church. Many tried to discredit her, but God kept doing a mighty work through her and many people were healed, saved, and filled with the Holy Spirit.

This is an incredible story in Acts. The Apostles get arrested. Then an angel of the Lord helps them escape and tells them to go back to the temple and to preach the message of life.

These officials were dumbfounded when they went to the jail the next day only to find the Apostles not there. They got word that they were back at the temple and to go to arrest them again.

They gave the Apostles orders not teach about Jesus or His message anymore. Peter and the Apostles responded by saying “we must obey God’s authority over Human authority.”

III. God always wins

Acts 5:33-42: When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered. “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!” The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go. The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”

The Apostles’ response made the high council furious and they wanted to kill them. Then Gamaliel gave them some wise council.

Let them go. If they are doing these things on their own, it won’t last just like these other movements. However, if they are doing what God tells them, then nothing will stop them. The Apostles were then flogged and let go.

The Apostles rejoiced because they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Every day they continued to preach the message of Jesus.

1 Peter 1:6-7: So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

We try to avoid trials and hardships as much as possible, but it’s these trials that refines us and shows us that our faith is genuine. There have been many challenges these past five years during this church plant, but I have experienced God’s glory and joy in ways that I could never imagine!

The Apostles remained faithful! Every day they continued to preach the message of Jesus.

God wants us to be a church that minsters the way the early church ministered. We will minister the full gospel - salvation, healing, and deliverance. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to do these things, so we will continue to pray for people to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Ministering this way may come at a cost, but the cost will be worth it when we see more people coming to know Jesus.

Acts (Part 3)

Last week we talked about the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Day of Pentecost. All 120 believers that were in the upper room were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised that He would send the Holy Spirit to empower them to be witnesses for Him. The disciples did what Jesus told them to do a waited until they received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Peter preaches a powerful message and three thousand people come o know the Lord and the early church is started!

Last week we shared four things that the Baptism with the Holy Spirit does for us.

  • Power to serve and witness (Acts 1:8)

  • Pursuit for and in the word of God (John 16:14, Ephesians 1:17-18)

  • Revelation of God’s truth - deeper understanding and love for the Word

  • Potency in prayer (Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26)

  • Passion for Worship (1 Corinthians 14:1, Philippians 3:3, Acts 2:11)

  • A greater desire to be in the presence of God

Today we will are going to look further into how the Baptism with the Holy Spirit impacted the Apostles lives and ministries!

I. Seeing things more clearly

Acts 3:1-11: Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded! They all rushed out in amazement to Solomon’s Colonnade, where the man was holding tightly to Peter and John.

What do we know about this lame man that was healed?

  • He was lame from birth.

  • He was carried down to the gate near the temple every day so that he could beg for money in order to survive. He couldn’t work and they didn’t have disability back then.

  • He was lame for over forty years (Acts 4:22: For everyone was praising God 22 for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.)

How many times do you think the Apostles walked by him until the healed them on this day?

Shortly after they had be baptized with the Holy Spirit they did something that they had never done before. They looked at him with a different perspective. They saw him the way Jesus saw him - with love and compassion. It’s interesting to see Peter’s response to this man. “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” What did he have to give him? Jesus!

Matthew 10:5-8: Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. 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!

Salvation is more than the forgiveness of sin. It is also healing and deliverance. This man was healed through the name of Jesus.

Why didn’t Jesus heal him? He had plenty of opportunities to do so when He went to the temple. Jesus only did what the Father told Him to do. The Father had a plan to heal this man later through the Apostles. These next verses tells us why.

Acts 3:12-13: Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him.

He points to Jesus as the one who healed the lame man and proclaims His message of salvation.

Acts 3:19-20: Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah.

I am thankful for my salvation, but I am also thankful for God’s presence. There are times that we are run down and burned out and God refreshes us when we are in His presence.

God used the Apostles to heal this man instead of Jesus, because this created an opportunity for 2,000+ more people to come to know the Lord.

We should never question when, how, or who God heals, He always has a reason and a plan behind everything.

II. God wants us to operate in His power to validate who He is!

Acts 4:10: Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead.

Now the priest, temple guards, and religious leaders are getting involved. They didn’t like the idea of the apostles preaching about Jesus rising from the dead so they put them in jail for the night.

Peter makes it clear to those who threw them in jail that Jesus Christ of Nazarene, the one they crucified, is the one who healed the lame man.

Acts 4:12-14: There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say.

The members of the council were amazed by these two things:

  1. The boldness of Peter and John

  2. These were ordinary men with no special training the scripture, yet the spoke with authority

They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

Why healing the sick is important in ministry:

The members of the council couldn’t say anything because the healed lame man was standing right before them. People may try to say that God is not real, but when they experience healing or a miracle they can’t get around that. They cannot simply explain away what they see before their own eyes.

III. We need to be refilled with the Holy Spirit daily.

These leaders wanted the Apostles to stop preaching about Jesus. The apostles knew that they would face opposition and asked God to help them.

Acts 4:29-31: And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.

  • They prayed for boldness to preach God’s Word.

  • They prayed that God’s power would heal as they stretch our their hands to pray for the sick.

  • They prayed for signs and wonders to be done through the name of Jesus.

After this prayer meeting the place shook and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. They had already been baptized with the Holy Spirit, but we constantly need to be refilled by His Spirit. What happened after they were filled with the Holy Spirit? They preached the Word of God with boldness!

If we are going to be effective in the Kingdom of God as believers and as the church, we need the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. He will help us to see more clearly where God is at work. He will give us the boldness to preach His word and to stretch out our hands to heal the sick. God wants us to operate this way in our lives so that people will know that He is real and that He loves them. The only way that this is going to happen is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. We need to be filled over and over again. God wants to use us and will use us, but we have to stretch out our hands in faith and let God do His work through us.

Acts (Part 2)

Today my prayer is that God will move in such a powerful way in your life that you will never forget this gathering. I can tell you personally that I was never the same after I had my own Acts 2 experience and was filled with the Holy Spirit. I will share this experience later in my message.

I was reminded of a story that I read when I was in Bible college about Charles Parham. He was a Methodist pastor who felt like there was more to his faith than what He was experiencing. He started a Bible college called Bethel. He asked them to study Acts chapter 2 and see how they could experience the same thing the Apostles experienced with the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Someone by the name Agnus saw that people received the Holy Spirit when they laid had on them and prayed for them. She asked them to do that to and she was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to pray in tongues. This was what started the Pentecostal movement.

Have you ever asked yourself if there is supposed to be something more to your faith?

Acts 19:1-6: While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them. “No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in other tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.

Paul wanted these believers to know that there was more to their faith. They were baptized in water for the forgiveness of sin, but they had not been baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit.

I. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit

Acts 2:1-7: On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed. “These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages!

The Apostles did what they were told to do. They waited for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on them. They didn’t know what to expect, but they knew when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. In fact, he whole town knew that they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s just say the Holy Spirit gave away their hiding spot.

Key things to know about the Baptism with the Holy Spirit:

  1. All 120 people experienced the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

  2. They began to speak in other languages as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

  3. This amazed the people who came to see what was going. They were from Galilee and they were speaking in their native language. Tongues is a sign to the unbeliever.

  4. Joel prophesied about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit 800 years prior.

    Acts 2:17-21: ‘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. And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives. But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

    Acts 2:32-33: “God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.

  5. Peter was affirming what Jesus had spoken to them that they would receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, so that they would be empowered to be witnesses of what Jesus did on the cross and proclaim the message of salvation unto all the world.

    Acts 2:36-39: “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

  6. Peter’s preaching became powerful through the Holy Spirit and 3,000 came to know the Lord.

  7. Salvation must take place first before you can receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.

  8. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for EVERYONE! You, your children, those far away, every believer.

What will the Baptism with the Holy Spirit do for you?

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.

  • Power to serve and witness (Acts 1:8)

  • Pursuit for and in the word of God (John 16:14, Ephesians 1:17-18)

  • Revelation of God’s truth - deeper understanding and love for the Word

  • Potency in prayer (Ephesians 6:18, Romans 8:26)

  • Passion for Worship (1 Corinthians 14:1, Philippians 3:3, Acts 2:11)

  • A greater desire to be in the presence of God

How would you like to grow in these areas of your walk with the Lord? The Baptism with the Holy Spirit will do that for you.

Acts (Part 1)

My prayer has been and will continue to be for God to transform lives in our city. I want people to know God and to walk in the salvation and truth that He has provided them. I want to be a church that is having significant impact on our city because we are faithful to walk in the power of the Spirit. God continues to stir my heart for a move of God in our city. I want to see the lost found, the blind see, the lame walk, the terminal healed, those bound in addiction freed, and the broken restored.

As I have said before, we are not going to preach a powerless Gospel. We are going to follow the example of Jesus and do exactly what He showed the Apostles to do. He has given us authority to preach the Kingdom of God, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons. God has called Resonate Church to minister this way to our city and we have experienced some of these things over our time here in Sioux Falls. He has been building our faith so that we will see these happen on a daily basis. There is no better place to learn this than in the book of Acts. There were never more challenges and opposition for the church to advance the Kingdom of God than when the church first started after the death and resurrection of Jesus. I believe God is going to do a powerful work in these weeks ahead and I pray that we will have fresh revelation from His Word and a fresh outpouring of His Spirit in our lives.

I. The pattern of Jesus’s ministry

Luke 4:1: Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,

Jesus’s ministry began after He was baptized by John. He was filled with the the power of the Holy Spirit at his baptism and was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Everything Jesus did in ministry on earth was done through the power of the Holy Spirit. He did this so that we can pattern our lives after His.

Why did Jesus perform miracles?

John 10:24-25: The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.

The miracles were proof that He was ministering on behalf of the Father and that He was the Son of God.

Luke 9:1-2: One day Jesus called together his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Jesus gave the disciples power and authority to cast out all demons and to heal all diseases. Why did he do this? Because He gave us a pattern to follow in order to fulfill the Great Commission.

This validates the message of the cross and the power of the resurrection. People cannot deny God’s existence when we walk in His power and authority.

John 1:32-34: Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

There are two baptism that every believer needs to experience.

Water Baptism

  • Our public declaration that we are alliance with Jesus.

  • We are dying to old man and are being raised to new life in Christ.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit

  • The outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

  • This what empowers us to live the Christian life and to minister in the power of God.

II. Jesus’s last message to the Apostles

Luke 24:44-49: Then he said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. “And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

The book of Acts is just a continuation of the Gospel of Luke, both having been written by Luke.

Jesus appears to the disciples and reminds them of what the Scriptures said pertaining to His death and resurrection. He also mentions that this Gospel message was to be proclaimed to all nations beginning in Jerusalem. They were the key witnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus and they would be the ones to proclaim this message and establish the church that Jesus would return for.

He also knew that this was an impossible task to accomplish without the power of the Holy Spirit. He tells them to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:1-5: In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

We know that Jesus was on earth for forty days after He rose from the dead. He spent these forty days giving the Apostles further instruction of what they were to do.

He appeared to them several times to prove to them that He was actually alive. This is a powerful point - if we are not convinced that Jesus rose from the dead, then everything the cross provides for us has no value to our lives.

He continued to teach the about the Kingdom of God. He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Baptism with the Holy Spirit is important to a believer’s life. How were they going to know when they were baptized with the Holy Spirit?

Acts 1:6-11: So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?” He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. As they strained to see him rising into heaven, two white-robed men suddenly stood among them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

The Apostles were still focused on the wrong thing. They wanted God to free Israel. Jesus wanted them to fulfill the Great Commission so that He could come back for the church.

What is the purpose of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit?

The purpose of the baptism with the Holy Spirit is to empower His followers to be witnesses of the message of the cross, telling everyone starting in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, Samaria and throughout the earth.

We have been commissioned to make disciples and we cannot achieve that without the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostles watch Jesus descend into heaven. I love what the two angels say. “Why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”

We are not to just sit back and wait for Jesus to return. We need to advance His Kingdom until He returns!

III. United in Prayer

Acts 1:12-14: Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, a distance of half a mile. When they arrived, they went to the upstairs room of the house where they were staying. Here are the names of those who were present: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the zealot), and Judas (son of James). They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

The Apostles did what they only knew to do. They followed Jesus’s instructions and waited in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was poured out. There were 120 believers who gathered together and were constantly united in prayer.

We may not know exactly how God is going to do His work, but we will be ready as for what He does as we stay untied together in prayer.

Take time to pray for God to pour His Spirit over our church and over our city. God wants us to be a church that operates in His power and authority. We don’t need great programs to reach people in our city. We need God’s power. God’s salvation is not just the forgiveness of sin but also healing and deliverance. We need to invite God to do whatever He needs to help us individually in these days ahead, so that we can be ready for the move of His Spirit in our city.

Continual Praise

Have you ever found it challenging to praise God at all times? I have been trying to grow in this area of my life for the past year. I have seen some growth but know that I still have a ways to go.

This past week was another opportunity for me take a another step of growth. I have been dealing with a cold for the past week. The verse “the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” came to my mind throughout this cold. This is why we need to learn to be led by the Spirit. Our flesh will most likely fail us, but the Spirit won’t! I want to take a look at Psalm 34 today and see what the Lord wants to speak to us from this passage.

David wrote Psalm 34 after God delivered him from his enemies. David was on the run from Saul and ended up in Gath. If you remember, Gath is where Goliath is from. This is Philistine territory. People began to recognize David who killed their great warrior, so David pretended to be insane. The king saw him as no threat and let him go. David knew that it was the Lord that delivered him and not his acting skills.

I. An invitation to worship

A. Continual Praise

Psalm 34:1-3: 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.

Constantly

  • continually, always, evermore

  • “to stretch out to eternity or to extend forever”

Is continual praise possible? Yes, but praise has significant impact on our lives. Praise is powerful. It changes us. It gives us strength. It changes our perspective. It points others to Jesus. It confounds our enemy.

David invites everyone to join him and continually praise the Lord. There is so much power when we gather and praise the name of Jesus together. We could have had a bad week, but something changes in us when we turn our eyes to Jesus and praise Him.

B. Answered prayers

Psalm 34:4-7: 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.

When we look to Him for help, he fills us with joy that radiates from our lives. He listens and saves us from all our troubles. He surrounds us with His angels. He is fighting on our behalf.

C. Experiencing God’s goodness

Psalm 34:8-10: 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.

Taste

  • to eat, to discern, to perceive, to evaluate

  • the testing of good by means of the sense of taste

We can actually experience the goodness of God. He wants us to know Him and invites us to do so. Fear the Lord and you will have all you need.

II. Instructions on how to fear the Lord

Psalm 34:11-14: Come, my children, and listen to me, and I will teach you to fear the Lord. Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

Fear the Lord

  • to revere, to be awestruck, to walk in obedience to

If you want to live a long life:

  • don’t speak evil

  • don’t lie

  • turn from evil and do good

  • search for peace and work to maintain

We are able to walk in these things because we fear God.

Psalm 34:15-20: The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil; he will erase their memory from the earth. The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken!

We are righteous because we are in Christ and He makes us righteous through His work on the cross. The Lord’s eyes are on those who do right. He hears us when we call for help. He is close to the brokenhearted The righteous will face many troubles, but He will rescue us every time.

God wants us to be people that will continually praise Him, because He knows how this will change our lives. Not only that but He also knows how it will change the lives of others. I was humbled this past week to see what God is doing through my life. Praise is such a powerful weapon and we need to use it to push back the enemy. We also need to learn to walk in the fear of the Lord. God supersedes everything else in our lives. Always be worried about how He feels about you, not what others feel about you. He is fighting for us and His eyes and ears are always towards us. If you need Him to rescue you today, then call upon Him and He will be faithful to help you!