- ABOUT US
- Calendar and News
- READING PLAN
- The Chosen
Audio File – https://mega.nz/#!rYMFgQQA!0NPPX3-cmwL_lW0pP4rpytZ4PkcRZ2m6YvG6ufXXbQA
As you know, we’re into a new series on discipleship looking at those biblical values that we need to build our lives upon in order to rightly build God’s house within us. This week I was looking at the value of accepting responsibility, andhow taking responsibility, or the ability to respond rightly, might be one of the greatest gifts and values we have.
This was the sermon that I had ready to rock and roll for us this morning, but the Lord seemed to want to change this up so that we get rightly focused on our responsibility as a church and as members of this congregation, as to what our real priorities are, especially when we come together.
This past week, several things came out as we took time to fast and pray concerning the potential expansion of our sanctuary into the space next door. Now, I’m not sure how our Foursquare district and the denomination will respond to our request, but what I do know is what we should be doing, whether we get the place next door or not.
Maybe I can say it like this, what is our responsibility.
Several of us took some time in prayer this past week, and during that time there were two words that stood out to me about what our responsibility should be in what we are now facing. These words were “trust,” and “distraction.”
And so this is what came to me during the prayer time. “What are we placing our trust in,” and “is Satan distracting us from our true mission at Living Waters Fellowship?”
Placing our trust that the church will continue to grow if we have more space, may be a little misguided. First, if God wanted us to have this new space, He would have provided the necessary funding required by Foursquare with no questions asked. But in that same vein, God may be testing our faith in that we need to move forward, and not let the issue of finances stand in our way. But that last part is somewhat mute, in that we’re ready to move forward, but at this moment it is in the hands of the Foursquare denomination.
And so, the issue of having the faith to move despite our finances isn’t the issue.
What’s the issue? It’s simple, are we placing our trust that having the larger space is the answer? Are having more chairs and more room, having new carpet and freshly painted walls, having some new and better audio/visual system, or a new stage and pulpit the answer.
Now, on the practical side of things, the answer would be yes, because that is what a lot of people see, and want to see, who are looking for a new church home.
It is said that from the first five minutes a person walks into a place they determine whether or not they want to come back. And so, when people are looking for a church, for the most part it’s the ascetics, and the friendliness of the church membership that determine whether someone will come back and stay.
What I have found refreshing about our church is that when people come in they are warmly greeted by our members, and they feel the Holy Spirit when they enter. I hear this a lot from those who come and visit and then stay. This honestly is what it should be about, not about all the other stuff.
But I also want to give a shout out to Wes and Don for the work they put in every week in keeping our church clean. It is a tremendous honor having both of them, and others, who have taken a sense of pride in this place God has given to us. And this is no small feat that they accomplish.
I also want to give a shout out to all those who are greeters, hosts, and ushers, because it’s your smiles, it’s your warm and heartfelt greetings, and friendliness that set the tone for those who enter here to worship.
And I don’t ever want to forget those who sacrificially give in our children’s and youth ministry. Who take care of and teach our little ones, and not so little ones, the truth of God’s word for their lives, and who they are in Christ.
And so, for all of those who help clean, greet, host, usher, and care for the children and youth; you are why a lot of people have come back, and many who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, which is the real reason why we gather together. It is to worship and thank God for the wonderful gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to hear His word, will, and way for our lives.
And so I would like to say thank you for accepting and moving forward in these callings and responsibilities.
But let’s get back to this issue of trust. If our trust in in a larger space with more chairs and more room, then our trust is misplaced, and we have become distracted from what our real mission and goal is as a church, especially in our time together.
Now, as we have seen, in our time together we need to come with hearts filled with gratitude and praise for the Lord, and to hear a word for our lives.
Now, we’ve heard a lot about what true worship is, and of our need to worship from Pastor Duke’s last message four weeks ago, along with my message on building up God’s House within us as a house of worship the month before that.
But there is also that need to teach and preach God’s word, and present the gospel message of Jesus Christ, making it easy to understand and apply to our lives, which is something I hope I have been able to do.
And it is my prayer that from this solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ and the gospel message that we have proclaimed during our time together, that the living waters of the Holy Spirit will flow, drawing all those who are parched from the dryness of this world to come and worship God.
But this calls for us to become more like the Bereans.
The Bereans were believers from the city of Berea, which Paul visited on his second missionary journey. The Bible records that the Bereans were of a more noble character than their sister church and community, Thessalonica, because they received the gospel message and Paul’s teaching with great eagerness and examined every day what was presented by Paul from God’s word (Acts 17:11).
In my 40 plus years as a believer, this is what I have strived to become, making sure that everything that I was taught, and now everything that I teach matches up with what the Bible says. Further, I determined not move forward with what other’s taught because it sounded good, or that is was presented in a way that was persuasive or charismatic.
Our teaching, and what we are taught should be from the whole of God’s word, not just from the parts that we like, or what we’ve heard others say?
I have heard a lot of Amens over the years as I have taught, and truthfully some of those times an Amen wasn’t called for and was the furthest reply that should have been given, because it wasn’t an Amen statement. Now, while I try not to point out the obvious error in those Amens, sometimes I’ve had to, because of the damage it could have caused.
But let me just say I admire the enthusiasm. But we have to be careful not to get emotionally caught up in the moment at the expense of of the truth found in God’s word.
A friend of mine, one in whom the apologist and author, Dave Hunt, called one of the most radical apologist he knew, told me a story of a prayer meeting he attended. And there were a whole lot of Amens going on, and what they were Amening wasn’t in line or in accordance with God’s word. It was something they were just caught up in during the time of prayer. Everybody was Amening what everyone was saying.
And so he said as a prayer the following, “Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the clock,” and he heard several people Amening. Immediately he stopped the prayer meeting and taught God’s word and what it says.
Please, don’t just accept something at face value because it is being taught from the front, or by someone we expect to be teaching us correctly. Don’t get caught up in the excitement, or in the newness of what is being said, but rather, let the Holy Spirit lead based upon the Word of God.
And so, when we gather together, what should we be looking for, what should we be expecting? I’d like to share with you three of these that actually came from my time and study of God’s word, prayer, and fasting.
To Seek God’s Presence
This begins by faith, the faith of a child to believe God at His word, that when Jesus said where two or three of us are gathered together, He is there. In other words, by faith do we believe that He is right here in our midst as he promised?
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20 NKJV)
And so, the first thing that we need to get established in our hearts, minds, and spirits, is that Jesus is here right now. This is what is called faith, by faith’s definition found in the Bible.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)
When we gather, do we believe that Jesus is actually here even though we do not physically see Him? Even Jesus gave a blessing for this belief saying to Thomas who doubted that Jesus actually rose from the dead and presented Himself to the disciples earlier, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 NKJV)
Jesus has a blessing for us when we gather together believing that He is here with us in our midst. Do we believe that? Do we have the faith? And if we do, are we coming together with that expectation and anticipation in meeting Him in our time together?
Ezra, from the Old Testament, had that type of faith, along with the people he was leading back to Jerusalem from their Babylon captivity. With such an expectation of God being present and hearing the cry of His people, Ezra called for the people to fast and pray.
“So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:23 NKJV)
When we come together, no matter how much room we have, no matter how good the seating may be, or how nice the sanctuary looks, what we should be doing is seeking the presence of God above and beyond anything and everything else.
When we come together we need to get serious in seeking after God, searching out His will and way for our lives and for the church.
Consider what Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
And so, if we need that larger space that has more room and seating capacity, and if we are truly seeking God’s kingdom and His presence, then the Lord will give what we need without all of our manipulations.
This is something that we truly must believe. This is something we, like a child, should have the faith for. And that everything we do would be drawing us closer to Him.
To Seek God’s Guidance
I think about the Apostle Paul when it comes to this. It began when he left for Damascus thinking he was doing God’s will by arresting all those who believed in Jesus Christ. On his way, Jesus appeared to Paul in His resurrected form, and the light of Jesus’s glory blinded him.
For three days Paul was laid up, unable to see, and I believe that it was during this time that Paul was seeking God’s wisdom about what was going to happen next, because it says that during this time he fasted and prayed (Acts 9:9).
Paul was not only without physical sight, but he also was without any spiritual sight as well, that is, he had no clue about what direction his life was now going to take.
Now how do I know that Paul was seeking God? It’s because of what the Lord said to one of the disciples in Damascus named Ananias commanding him to pray for Paul to receive his sight.
Not only did God tell Ananias where to find Paul, but God said that Paul was at that very moment praying to Him (Acts 9:11b).
And so, God gave to Ananias the guidance that Paul needed, and the directions as to what Paul was now to do. And this is what I believe Ananias told Paul.
“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16 NKJV)
And throughout his missionary journeys, Paul continually sought the Lord as to where he was to go and the way he was to take. One of the stories that stand out about Paul in this area is when he desired to go into Macedonia to preach the gospel.
He tried twice, but God stopped him both times. But then God gave Paul a vision of a Macedonia man saying, “Come and help.” Immediately Paul concluded that this was God’s guidance and he booked the next ship going to the Macedonia port of Philippi (Acts 16:6-12).
Our preaching and teaching should therefore be directly from God’s word, because it is inspired by the Lord God Himself to help guide our steps in the way we should go.
Paul said, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul says the Bible is “profitable.” That is, it is useful, beneficial, and advantageous for our lives in teaching what is true, reproving what isn’t, along with correcting and instructing us on how to get and stay right with God.
The Psalmist said,“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV)
And so when we come together it isn’t about where we meet, it’s about why we meet, and what we are to anticipate and expect.
To Break Spiritual Bondages
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV)
When looking at the reasons of fasting and prayer, one of the reasons, and what I believe we should be seeking when we come together, is to break spiritual bondages. This is what Michaela was talking about last week, when she shared her vision seeing people in boxes wrapped up in chains.
Those boxes and chains are for the most part different for each of us, but every one of us knows that there is something we need deliverance from, because as the Bible says is that there is no one righteous, no not one Romans 3:1). And that all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s holy and righteous standards for life (Romans 3:23). And if anyone says that they are without sin they deceive themselves and the truth is not in them(1 John 1:8).
What I’d like to look at, as far as these bondages are concerned, are the sins and the weight that so easily entraps us. A lot of these are habitual behaviors and attitudes that we hold onto, and that are involved in, that are directly against God’s word, and that have victimized and enslaved humanity from the very beginning of time, and defy humanity’s effort to break free.
Many people are caught up in false religions, cults, and the occult. They are oppressed and/or possessed by Satan and his demonic forces. These are also people that are bound to alcohol and drugs, deceived by magic and spiritualism, and tied up in their fears and resentments.
Therefore we need a break through and bring spiritual deliverance. Both Jesus and the Apostle James talks about our response to those caught in Satan’s grip.
“Is anyone among you suffering? … Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:13-15 NKJV)
Jesus walked into a crisis when He came down from the Mount of Transfiguration. His disciples were trying to cast out a demon that was constantly trying to kill a young man, but they were unable to do so.
Upon seeing the situation, Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out. When the disciples asked why they couldn’t cast out the demon, Jesus said that it was not only because of their unbelief, but also such a deliverance can only happen though prayer and fasting.
“The disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ 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’” (Matthew 17:19–21).
It first begins with faith to believe. Jesus said that this is what they were missing, because if they had the faith of a mustard seed, or can I say with the faith of a child, they can remove mountains. Therefore, nothing, no spiritual bondage or anything else will be beyond the realm of possibility to break.
But there comes a time when more is required, and Jesus mentions the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting. Faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ, along with fasting and prayer are what breaks the chains of spiritual bondage and brings deliverance.
And so, in our times together we should be taking the time to pray and pull down the strong holds in our lives, along with casting down every thought and imagination that exalts itself against God, bringing them all into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
And so, it really doesn’t matter if we get the place next door to expand our sanctuary or not, it’s not about that.
When we are moving in the Holy Spirit, when we start seeing the presence of God in our times together, when the Lord is guiding us, both individually and corporately as a church, when we see the chains of idolatry, affliction, addition, and whatever else
Wednesday Evening Bible Study