In Bible college, this was called ‘Applied Theology’.. which is the opposite of implied Theology.
Today I want us to look together at one of the critical flaws in Christian witness and living, it is the distance between knowing the word and making application of the word in our daily interactions and situations, where the rubber meets the road.
It can make the difference in how we communicate with one another, how we handle our relationships, in other words, how we do life…. A sailboat with no sail, will not make much progress…It is the sail that makes application of the knowledge about wind power and it’s ability to push the vessel forward through the water. Unless the dynamic of the wind is properly applied with a sail, you go nowhere. The well known martial arts expert Bruce Lee said “Knowledge is Power, but if you haveknowledge without application it is ineffective and useless”. It is the difference in whether we will build bridges or if we will build walls of isolation.
We can’t really say, “I know this”, until we can say “I have applied this”
I am sure all of us have read the scripture text which I have chosen for the message today, or heard it many times, but my prayer is that we would read it with the desire to apply it and not just to acknowledge it.
1 Corinthians 13:1 (The Message Bible)… Even though I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. v2 If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all His mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t have love, I am nothing. v3-7 If I give everything I own to the poor and go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t have love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I am bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for myself. Love doesn’t constantly want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut around, and doesn’t have a swelled head,nor
does love force itself on others. It isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the unfolding of truth,puts up with anything, (believing things will always get better). Love trusts God always, always looks for the best, doesn’t dwell on past hurts and failures, but keeps going forward to the end.v8-10 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over and done with some day, praying in tongues will end, knowledge will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we know and say about God is incomplete. But when the completionarrives, our incompletes will be canceled”.
When we go to a doctor, they will ask us key question which will help them to diagnose our problem. They will do blood work and lab tests, in order to verify what our symptoms are telling them. Then they *….will prescribe some medicine and lifestyle changes, which will correct or alter our condition, so we can improve and turn it around. As one doctor said to his patient, “So what fits your busy schedule better, exercising one hour a day or being dead 24 hours a day”?
God’s word is the same, and the only way we can see the change and improvement in our situations and circumstances, is to apply that knowledge to our situations and our condition.
In order to become successful in turning our negatives into positives, and our defeats into victories, we need to recognize that
1. There is an enemy we need to resist at all times.
2. There are devices which he uses that we need to recognize
3. There are temptations we need to resist
4. There are sins we need to avoid and confess
5. There is spiritual armor that we are provided to wear
*…..6. The enemy is often within ourselves
If you don’t accept this, then you’re only Kidding Yourself. (Tell someone, “quit kidding yourself”)
If you graduated from a university with a very prestigious degree…. (Doctor this or that) You might qualify for a $100,000 dollar a year job, but if you never applied for a job, you would never really enjoy the benefits of that degree. And if you got the job but never showed up, the results would be the same.
Let’s say you found out somehow, what the 80 million dollarmega million winning numbers were, but you never applied that knowledge and bought the ticket, they would read off the results and you would hear…. “And the winning number is “Not Yours”…..
We read In James 1:22 “But as for you, be doers of the word, and not hearers only, otherwise you deceive your own selves. v23 For, if anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a mirror, v24 There is a moment of recognition, but then he walks away and forgetswhat he sees. v25 But whoever looks at God’s word, which is the perfect law of liberty, and then continues in it (applies it), he is no longer a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, (making application to his lifestyle) and this man shall be blessed in all his deeds”.
Mahatma Gandhi was quoted as saying that “The problem with Christianity in the world, is not it’s teachings, but the Christians that claim it but don’t practice it”
The most effective messages which others receive from us are those that have been lived out…. Through brokenness, through humblings, through sacrifice and repentance. Through failures and disappointment, the rising and falling again, only to rise once more…. These are the power and the effectiveness of any Christian’s message.
I was sharing some counselling with someone who had come to me for some light at the end of their tunnel. As I was sharing with them, they interrupted and said “I can hear your wisdom coming through your own brokenness.”
Friend there are those that are waiting for us, to emerge from our own dark places, because they need us to be able to tell them what the light will be like when they emerge from their own!
Discipleship comes from the term “disciplined ones”. These are those who have moved from only hearing the word, memorizing it’s principles, and reciting it from memory…to applying it’sdisciplines to their day to day living….It’s one thing to say that you are a Christian, but it is quite another to declare that you are a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ!
The soul and will must both be converted. They must work hand in hand or the will can work against the soul and drag it down. The soul is first converted, so that the will can be brought under discipline. It is then that lives can truly be transformed. The word from God will educate the mind, but we must be open to allow Holy Spirit to motivate the heart and discipline the will!
We can weep, speak in tongues, and be deeply moved by a truth, but unless our Christianity gets beyond the church building, and sits at our table, our living room flat screen TV, our Bubba and Bubbett hang times, our sexuality, on the job pressures and encounters, and our lifestyle patterns…. Then it is sounding brass and clanging cymbals!’
I’m not condemning anyone, I’m encouraging us all, to harness this power of God’s truth in life’s mainstream, where it was intended to make a difference, the world is waiting to see the real deal!
You can know that you have gone from just knowledge to true discipleship …
When Old beliefs give way to New beliefs
When Old values give way to New values
When Old behaviors give way to New behaviors
When the Old speech give way to New ways of speaking
When Old habits give way to New habits
When Old relationships give way to New relationships
When Old outlooks give way to New outlooks
When Old purposes give way to New purposes
When the Old environment gives way to a New environment
When the Old plans give way to New plans
When the Old nature gives way to a New nature
When the Old morals give way to New morals
When Old desires and passions give way to New desires and passions
Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (ploo'-no so) in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another….with grace in your hearts to the Lord. v17 Andwhatsoever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him”.
The Greek word for God’s word dwelling richly is (ploo'-no so, it means, that it is to be as obvious on the outside, as the clothes you wear)
The word of God does not just answer our deeper level life questions, it’s intention is to transform our lives and to show in all that we do!
One of the enemies of obedience is performance.
Obedience is saying yes to whatever God asks of you. Performance is saying yes to whatever people expect of you.
Obedience is following the promptings of God’s Spirit. Performance is going along with it, as long as you can stay in control…
Obedience springs from a heart to please God. Performance springs from fear that God will get you if you don’t.
Obedience begins when the reader lays down the bible and walks away to do it. Obedience begins when the sermon ends and the final prayer is prayed and we get up from our seats. Obedience begins with the next challenge, the next argument, the next disagreement, the next problem that we face. Obedience is when submitting to God’s word will cost you something but you do it anyway.
Religion can actually be a placebo, or a knock off version of real, genuine Christianity, and it can build a barrier to obedience, so that folks can go through a performance with no personal application to the way they live their daily lives.
They make their confession to the priest and get a clean slate so they can go out and fill it up again….REALLY? A new priest was real nervous about hearing confessions, since he was not sure he was doing it right and since he was just starting, he was very appreciative for any advice he could get, since he was dealing with such a serious matter. So he asked the older priest to sit in on his sessions. After new priesthad heard a couple of confessions, the senior priest told him he wanted to give him a few suggestions before the next person entered the confessional.
The old priest said, “I suggest that you, Cross you arms over your chest, and rub your chin with one hand as people are sharing their sins, so they know you’re serious about it." The new priest tried it and felt better. The old priest told him, "Now, try saying things like, 'I see, yes, go on', and "I understand. How did you feel about that?" The new priest repeats those things to make sure he’s got it…
The old priest says, "Now, don't you think that's a little better than slapping your knee and shouting 'NO WAY?!? So, what happened next?"
Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna was brought before the godless Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released. He then replied, "Eighty-six years have I served Christ, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?" The Roman officer replied, "Unless you change your mind, I will have you burned at the stake." But Polycarp said, "You threaten a fire that burns for an hour, and after a while is quenched, for you are ignorant of the judgement to come, but if you will repent and receive Christ, you will escape the fire that burns for eternity. So go ahead then, and do what you wish." WOW!
Charles Spurgeon, says, “ The sermon does not begin until the hearers make application of it”. The bible is filled with places where we are not done reading or hearing it until we personally fill in the blanks.
Applying the word, means that we all need to ask ourselves….
1. Is there a witness I need to share
2. Is there an encouragement I need to extend
3. Is there a service I need to do
4. Is there a forgiveness I need to ask
5. Is there a fellowship I need to nurture
6. Is there an exhortation I need to give
7. Is there a burden I need to bear
8. Is there a kindness I need to express
9. Is there a hospitality I need to extend
10. Is there an attitude I need to change or guard against
11. Is there a sin I need to forsake
Applying the word is about making it real. Sister Betty is making it real, as she visits the convalescent center, and the homes of some of the senior citizens on a regular basis.
Craig is a first responder in many situations where there is no one else to say a prayer, or give a word of comfort, he’s there.
Linda is there getting those grandkids to church and providing the wheels for folks to get to Women Of Destiny.
And we sure miss it when we walk in the doors, and Erika isn’t here with that big smile and a cheerful welcome…..And certainly there are many others who are making it real at home, at work and in neighborhoods where you live…
The challenge we have is to build bridges between the word, that is the policy manual for the kingdom of God and the real world we live in here and now!
Applying the word is about Making it relevant….The values and truths of the kingdom of God are relevant and can make the difference in any situation that we will ever encounter. God has given you the missing piece to the puzzle many folks just can’t seem to put together.
If the widow of Nain had not obeyed God’s word that came through the prophet and baked a cake of meal for him first, she and her son would have perished. Now that is relevance! The prophet had the missing piece of their puzzle.
You Only Believe What You Obey…
If David had not obeyed and taken off Saul’s armor, and faced the giant with his sling and stone, the Philistines would have won. That is relevance! That stone was the missing piece of the puzzle.
If Elijah had not been willing to confront the prophets of Baal, false Gods would have put Israel under their dark power. Believe me, that is very relevant! Elijah had Israel’s missing piece of the puzzle.
The heroes of the bible were fashioned from the stuff called “application of the word of promise”. God said it, and that settled it!
So they went out and acted like it and spoke like it!
Good intentions will get you nowhere….speaking of good intentions…..
Some guys were working on a 35 story construction site, one of them dropped his hammer off the 30th story. It was falling right towards the boss’s head and he yelled out, "Move, Falling Hammer". The boss looked up and moved to one side as the hammer crashed to the ground.
The boss looked up and yelled, "A $100 bonus for you buddy."
Another guy observed what happened and thought he would like to get a $100 bonus, the problem was he was a stutterer, as hedropped a crowbar off the side of the building he looked down and yelled with a loud voice, MoMoMoMoMo…… Man, you’re dead!
Good intentions aren’t enough….
I want to give you the “Rules for Being Amazing”……Risk more than is required, learn more than you’re obligated to learn, be strong and of good courage. Seize all the moments that take your breath away. Love, lead and speak the truth with kindness. Live out your values regardless of what those around you feel or do. Laugh often and deeply. Cry and let your heart stay sensitive. Innovate and simplify because life is complicated enough. Master the things that try to master you. Let go of all mediocrity and don’t settle for anything less than excellence. Stay humble and be a second-miler. Always give out as much as you get. Do whatever you do with passion. Break through your limitations and transcend your fears and doubts. Inspire others to go further and be better by example, not by words alone. Dream big but be willing to start small. Stop putting things off, Act now and never, never, never stop.....
1 John 2:17 “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God is forever”. In 1 John 2:3, “We know we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.”
Pastor Rick Warren says…
1. All behavior is based on a belief.
2. Behind every sin is a lie which I have believed.
3. Change always starts in the intellect.
4. To help people change, we must change their belief systemfirst.
5. Trying to change people’s behavior without changing their belief system, is a waste of time.
6. The biblical term for “changing your mind” is repentance.
7. You do not change people’s minds, Holy Spirit takes the truth of the Word of God and does makes the changes.
8. Changing the way I act is the evidence of repentance.
9. The deepest kind of obedient living brings repentance in others.
My friends, we are not who we think we are, we are not who our family and our friends think we are, and we are not what our enemies and the devil says we are, but we are who God knows we are, and who Christ died to make us to be. Those things did not lay down their life for me, but Jesus did, and He has filed for the certificate of occupancy.
So many folks have a difficult time letting go of the things of this earth, so they can’t obey the Lord. They’re like the guy who lived his entire life to make money. Nothing was allowed to get in the way of that. When he was ready to die, he had them make him a solid gold casket. But as he was making preparations, an angel appeared to him and told him that they had plenty of paving material for the streets in heaven. He saw gold as so valuable that he gave up every thing for it… heaven saw it as paving material! Oh my!
Would you stand with me as we close… let’s ask ourselves some questions… in these closing moments…
What are you trusting and believing God for right now?
In what ways are you needing to apply what you already know, that we haven’t been applying?
Robert Frost wrote “But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”. In light of the message today, I could say the same. There are promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep!
What is your action plan to experience change in what you think and how you live?
James 4:17 “Therefore to those that know to do good, and do it not, to them it is a sin”.
Here are some basic questions that will help us to apply the word of God to every situation in our life…. 1. Is there an example for me to follow for what is important?
2. Is there a sin I need to avoid or confess?
3. Is there a promise I need to claim?
4. Is there a prayer I need to repeat?
5. Is there a command I need to obey?
6. Is there a condition I need to meet?
7. Is there a scripture I need to remember?
8. Is there an error or misinterpretation I need to avoid?
9. Is there a challenge I need to face?
10. Is there a principle I need to apply?
11. Is there a habit that I need to change, start or stop?
12. Is there an attitude I need to correct?
13. Is there a truth I need to believe?
We should all ask ourselves some of the questions on the screenbefore we put our head on our pillow tonight.
Lord, what is it I know but I’m not applying to my lifestyle.
I suppose the situation with my wife’s toe surgery may have prompted this subject. She has pretty much been bare footed for a couple of weeks. Her feet have required a lot of attention. So I want to give some attention to your feet today.
When most folks get home after work, the first thing they do is take their shoes off and let their feet breath and get the blood flow going again. Your feet are the longest journey your blood has to go to and from your heart, which is why the feet are subject to problems if not taken care of. I recently heard that one of the top things that puts soldiers out of commission is foot problems. If you can’t walk, you are greatly hindered in doing a whole lot of things…
When Moses was forced to flee out of Egypt into the desert with his name on a wanted poster in the place where he grew up, stripped of his princely status, and everything that marked him as Egyptian royalty. He spends 40 years in the wilderness and just when he thought he had left his Jewishness behind, God meets him at a burning bush and commands him to take his shoes off. Egypt had already stripped him and now God is stripping him to equip him. This represented a new direction, at a new level for a new season and a new reason .
Let’s look at the account beginning in….Exodus 3:1 “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. v2 And the angel (or person) of the LORD (Moses saw the physical form of Jesus) appearing unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. v3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not consumed. v4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. v5 And he said, Do not come close until you have put off the shoes from your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground”.
Here’s some historical background connected to this event…..
From creation until this God-encounter, the mountain referred to here was called Horeb, but after Moses’ encounter with the burning bush it was called Sinai.
In the Hebrew, the word for the burning bush is Se’ne’h which is pronounced as Sinai, so that the encounter with God, changed that place forever.
When we have a Sinai type of encounter with God, nothing is ever the same again and that encounter becomes a “Holy Ground” launching pad which we move forth from.
It was at Sinai, that the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night began to go before Israel as they journeyed to the promised land.
The power of this burning bush experience was such, that just before his death, Moses blessed the 12 Tribes of Israel with the words… Deuteronomy 33:1 “And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel (the twelve tribes) before his death. v2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai (the burning bush), and rose up from Seir (light that shines in darkness) unto them, he shined forth from mount Paran (God’s judgment on His enemies) , and He came with ten thousands of His saints and from His right hand went the fiery law for them.”
So the blessing contained a supernatural sending, a light in every dark place, and God’s judgment upon those who were fighting against God, in their behalf….
Someone has said that God went to the
Jewish people and said, 'I have Commandments that will make your lives so much better than they have been.'
'Commandments?' They said, 'How much are they?'
God said 'They're free.' They said… “Then we'll take 10 of them.”
Until the burning bush, Moses has tried to help his people in his own strength and influence, and he had failed miserably. Behind him he had left the esteemed position of son of Pharaoh, in line for the most powerful throne in the then known world, now he is in a place where there are no risks and no challenges and he has convinced himself, that he likes it that way. He is a broken person who has given up on his dreams, and he would rather just leave the deliverance stuff to someone else rather than risk failure, rejection and abandonment ever again. Moses would rather just survive out in the desert tending his father-in-law’s herds, than take a stand and get knocked down again.
Moses was full of questions, but he really didn’t want to hear the answers. He was so busy with why and how this had ever happened to him that he wasn’t listening….
God is about to get your attention….(May I have your attention please)….The burning bush is God getting Moses’ attention, whether he wants it or not! You see, Moses needs to get re-introduced to God and God needed to clear up a lot of misconceptions before Moses could be used of God for the most important mission of his life.
It’s like this…..When God wants to drill a man, And thrill a man,And skill a man. When God wants to mold a man, To play the noblest part.
When He yearns with all His heart, To create so great and bold a man,
That all the world shall be amazed, Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects, Whom He royally elects! How He hammers him and hurts him, And with mighty blows converts him, Into the shapes and forms of clay which, Only God understands, and While his tortured heart is crying, And he lifts beseeching hands! How He bends but never breaks, When his good He undertakes, How He uses whom He chooses, And with every purpose fuses him, By every act induces him, To try His splendor out- God knows what He’s all about.
You see when God told Moses to take his shoes off, Moses was taking off his preconceived ideas that had hindered and disqualified him for the walk that he must walk.
So God starts at the beginning and says “I am, that I am”….. The Aramaic says it this way…. (I am He who spoke the world and all things into existence, and I am the one who is sending you)
Moses says, but Lord, “I don’t have a plan” ….God says, “But I do, tell Pharaoh the people want to take a three day stroll out into the desert to offer sacrifices”… (sometimes you have to get away, in order to get your perspective right)
Then Moses says, “But what if they don’t believe me”… God says, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, like turning your staff into a snake, turning your hand leprous then cleansing it, and oh yeah, turning water to blood. Someone has said, that “I’m responsible for what I say, but not what you understood that I said”.
Then Moses says, “But I’m a stutterer” God says, “I made your mouth, I can fix it”… But if you can’t get your head around that, I’ll give you a person who will speak for you….
When God shows up, leave your shoes and your worries at the door…
God is letting us know that it is not about our ability, but our availability!
We will never be all we need to be, but at the end of ourselves we find the beginning of “I Am”…. None of us are worthy or adequate, but He enables those whom He calls, and He equips those that He uses.
God could do it without us, but we have the amazing privilege of being chosen by Him to be part of what He is doing.
He calls us heirs and joint heirs…. Workers together with Him… fellow citizens of the household of faith… His body in the earth….
A man got the news that he’s not got much time left on this earth. He tells his pastor that he’s concerned about whether or not he’ll get into heaven. The pastor says I understand that you need 100 points. He says “I’ve been a good person and I’ve done a lot of good things. I was married to the same woman for 50 years and never cheated on her, even in my heart." "That's wonderful," says the pastor, "that should be worth three points!" "Three points?" he says. "Well, I attended church all my life and supported its ministry with my tithe and service." "Terrific!" says the pastor, "that's certainly worth 2 points." "2 points, is that all? How about this: I started a soup kitchen in my city and worked in a shelter for the homeless." "Fantastic, that's good for 4 more points," he says. "4POINTS!!" the man is desperate, "At this rate the only way I get into heaven is by the grace of God!" "In that case, you will make it in!"
One of our greatest problems as Christians is not knowing when to take our shoes off, in the presence of “I am, that I am”… and understanding that it is not I but Christ in me, the hope of glory!
So when Moses took off his shoes, it was a sign of surrender to God. It was a declaration that he was laying aside all excuses, and all arguments so that he could be clay that was ready to be shaped by the master potter Moses knew there was no need to argue, the one that was before him knew him better than he knew himself.
He SURRENDERED THE PAST! In order to fully join with God in the
In taking off his shoes he was saying Lord, You know me. You know my faults; you know my warts, my quirks, my peculiarities. You know my uncertainties, you know my weaknesses, you know where I hurt, you know where I am troubled, and where I struggle… this is who I am.
I must stand unshod before you…. Nothing hidden, nothing held back….
Moses SURRENDERED HIS PLANS in order to be part of something much bigger that God was planning.
When you get up tomorrow, and you get ready to head into your day, take a moment and think….. All this day, I will be in the presence of God, all I do will be before an all seeing eye, and an all hearing ear.
Moses SURRENDERED HIS WALK in order to walk with the Master… God was changing his perspective which changed his perception of why he was where he was. His surrender gave him direction and purpose. He had gotten bogged down in his desert experience, and now God was about to show him the way out, and many would follow when he did….
God knows us enough to know what it takes to wake us up….
Picture if you will, an elderly woman seated on a train, quietly looking out the window, noticing everything that passes by: the lines of houses, the power-line poles, the rolling clouds, the children at play. A stranger is seated next to her. Smiling, the woman points to something in the distance. "See there," (she giggles, as she says it) "the rows of corn in the field. Isn't it wonderful?" The man’s response is "What's so wonderful about a common row of corn?" The woman just smiles,"You think it strange that a little field of corn has any kind of special meaning. But, you see, I just beat cancer, and in the time I have remaining in this wonderful world everything has looked so beautiful – and I realize I have missed so much. I feel like I’ve been asleep and someone just woke me up"
Friend, listen to me, It’s those moments when your vision has been renewed, hope has been rekindled, and your faith has been recharged, that cause you to take your shoes off…. You’re on holy ground!
We need to really get ahold of this statement made by God as He speaks to Moses… He says, “I have seen the misery of my people . . . I have heard them crying out . . . I am concerned about their suffering . . . so I have come down to rescue them” Now if you wonder sometimes if God sees your situation, your adversity, your challenges and your valleys .. just read that scripture and know that He sees, hears and cares!
He’s already come down and He’s got a plan for you…
Now remember, when God says to Moses at that burning bush in the wilderness, “Now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt”… The man is 80 years old at this time. GET REAL! Most folks are just looking to settle into a comfortable niche, get a good fishing spot, and a nice lounge chair, but definitely not preparing to oversee the evacuation of 2.5 million people out of Egypt’s bondage!
You’re not finished yet! Anyone who thinks they’re over the hill, or beyond the point of making much of a difference in God’s kingdom, look at Moses. He started out as a basket case and ended up in God’s show case!
I suppose we all need to just relax and take a deep breath, when God hands us these burning bush challenges that we don’t feel capable or at all prepared for….. I mean, if God spoke through a jackass, then He can surely use us as well.
Let it be said, that God is their God. The great I Am is sustainingthem, God blesses them, Holy Spirit guides them, Christ empowers them, and Grace and Favor is with them. In Him they live and move and have their being!
The same God who said to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM, Go, and I will be with you” …NOW SPEAKS TO US!
God sends us into a broken world, to bring hope in the midst of tragedy, faith in the midst of perilous times, love and compassion when folks are wounded and betrayed, and a purpose when the rug has been pulled out!
When you’re jobless He says “I am” … when you’re lonely He says “I am”.. when you’ve lost your way He says “I am”… when you’ve given up, He says “Here I am.”
It is to the unshod who have begun to see with new vision that He says… Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”.
Too many folks are drinking out of the toilet, when there is so much better available. We were not created for heaven, we were made for earth and heaven is the outcome of that. We can so focus on heaven that we miss the very thing that is our mission… to bring the transforming power of redemption here to this earth.
This was the call to Moses and it is our call as well.
Perhaps, as we experience our own burning bush moments, the Lord would not only say, “Take off your shoes” but He doesn’t stop there, He goes on to say “Now, walk in my shoes”….
Your walk talks and your talk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks. (shall I say that again)
In the Old Testament, the feet symbolize power, possession and domination. Moses removes his shoes at the burning bush and he is recognizing that God has all the power and what lies ahead requires bigger shoes than his.
According to ancient middle eastern texts, shoes symbolized ownership in property transactions. The old owner of a property would remove his shoe as he stood on the property and the new owner would place his foot on the property. To set foot on land was associated with ownership.
In the story of Ruth and Boaz, the kinsman redeemer relinquished his right to Naomi’s inheritance, by taking off his shoe and giving it to Boaz. So that now through Boaz, who is now the legal kinsman redeemer, and Ruth, all that Naomi had lost when her sons died, is regained.
In the same way, God was giving ownership to His people through Moses as Moses was willing to remove his shoes and let God do the choosing….
Daniel 4:17 “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He wills…”
It is at this moment, when Moses removes his shoes, before he even returns to Egypt to confront Pharaoh, that God gives the land of promise to the Hebrew people through Moses, their newly appointed kinsman redeemer. And when they left Egypt, they took the spoils.. and that word is only used when a nation has been defeated….
From this point onward, God speaks of the land as being already theirs, they just needed to put their feet on it…. To seal the deal.
Joshua 1:3 “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon,I have given unto you, even as I said unto Moses”.
What is the dream God has put in your heart… What is the deepest desire that you’re holding on to….Understand that God is all about you receiving your inheritance that He’s always intended would be yours!
Perhaps it’s time to take your shoes off, and let Him give you what He desires… and He will declare you as the owner, long before you ever get there to set your foot upon it…..
An investigator estimates there is about 40 billion dollars in inheritances lying unclaimed in the US alone. It’s theirs but they have never claimed it because they were not aware it was theirs.
As the heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ, we can fail to receive the gifts that are ours by our covenant with God.
Listen friend, God sent someone who was willing to come and take His shoes off for you. Those unshod feet, walked up Calvary’s hill, carrying the cross that should have been mine. Then those beautiful feet were pierced by nails. But those feet marched into hell and took the keys from Satan, and marched out victorious as our kinsman redeemer. All this, so that we might receive the inheritance that Satan had stolen, but the nail scarred feet of Jesus, are our guarantee that it has been redeemed.
Exodus 6:8 “And I will bring you there, concerning all which I did swear to give you, and I will give it you for an heritage, I am the LORD”.
Claim your inheritance today, step into the shoes that will get you where God wants to take you, and nothing will ever be the same again
Satan gets really nervous when Christians begin to discover their authority. And he knows he’s in big trouble when they begin to operate in that authority….
The religious leaders of the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry resented the way the people were drawn to him, but they envied the authority which he spoke with, and they couldn’t help but recognize the anointing that was on his ministry. Jesus knew this so when they came to Jesus, they began to question Him about the Spiritual authority which He operated in, and Jesus immediately directed the conversation to John the Baptist. Let’s look at this….
Matthew 21:23 “And when Jesus came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto Him as He was teaching, and said, By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You all of this authority? v24 And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. v25 The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? v26 But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. v27 And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And He said unto them, Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things”.
The Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees had power by virtue of the religious culture at the time, but they did not have authority, because even though they had manipulated an allegiance from the people, they did not have the hearts of the people.
The religious leaders were actually asking Jesus “ Whoauthorized you”… at the center of authority is the author. Since Jesus was the author, being that He was the Word made flesh… He was His own authorization, and yet He was also authorized by the people whose hearts He had won over.
The religious leaders were asking Jesus who was the author of your authorization!!!?
The governor was enjoying the sunset at the beach, but he was experiencing bladder problems. The bathroom facilities at the beach closed at 7:00….and it was five minutes after Seven. When he got to the men’s room it was locked and the park ranger was standing there. The governor told the ranger, you need to open the door. The ranger said, I’m sorry, but my job is to lock it up at 7:00. Do you know who I am, shouted the Governor….I’m the governor of this state! The ranger said, do you know who I am… I’m the guy who has the keys to the men’s room….
If you know who has authorized you, and what it is you are authorized to do, you can get the job done!
There are many who would like to change the constitution of the United States, rewrite the very document which guarantees our freedoms because it does not fit their agenda. And they may have a lot of Political power and influence, but they don’t have the authority to do so, because the very document which they desire to change does not authorize them to do the thing they want…!
In another document that guarantees freedoms it says in John 8:31 “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, Ifyou continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed v32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.
Let me rephrase that “if you know the author of truth, His truth shall authorize you and give you the authority to be free”…
Because Jesus is the living, breathing expression of that truth, He was able to authorize others to operate in His authority.
He told His disciples, who usually didn’t have a clue that He would give them the glory which the Father had given Him.
Look at John 17:22 “And the glory which You gave me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
The word “Glory” here is the Greek word “Dok-eh-o” which is (the full manifestation of His truth)….So the Lord is saying that when we walk in the full manifestation of His truth, we will come into unity….
When there are problems in our lives or in the church, it’s usually a problem with obedience to the full manifestation of His truth, because people want to pick and choose what authority they will or will not obey.
The Book of Judges discusses the ups and downs of the children of Israel in following God. It quickly becomes apparent that there are more downs than ups.
This is revealed in how the book ends - Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king (or authority) in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes, (or was his own authority).
Here was a society that didn’t follow any established set of rules. They had no king so they had no central authority
They abandoned religious values – and each one followed their own desires and interpretation of the truth.
Can you imagine a football season where each team had its own rule book and each player did what they wanted to do. Where each official decided for himself what rules they would follow and which they would not….. It would be mass chaos.
And yet in our world, we have many claiming they are “Christians,” but everyone plays by their own rules instead of following the author’s rule book.
Just as Adam and Eve gave authority to Satan to enter the garden and bring death, rebellion and sin with Him…. We need to be aware of how authority was given to sickness, or conflict in a family, or even a spirit which stunts the growth of a church or the power of sin and evil over any given city or area.
That authority must be broken by a higher authority and replaced with Godly authority. Jesus said this kind does not happen without prayer and fasting. He was speaking about breaking the ruling authority’s power, so that transformation might take place and then healing and wholeness, righteousness and truth can prevail.
In Matthew 8:9, Jesus marveled at the words of the Centurion who came to him for the healing of his servant. He said Lord just speak the word and he will be healed, for I am a man who has authority because I am under authority and I say to my servant go and he goes, I say come and he comes. Authority given by God is not attained by position or manipulation, It is attained by a relationship with the author of all authority, which is Father God. Many say they know Him but they cannot say they have a relationship with Him….You can’t even spell authority without the author Himself being at the beginning of it…. When Jesus bestowed authority upon the disciples, He was giving them what we now call “Power of Attorney.” To act on behalf of Himself in His absence. The ability to transact kingdom business in his behalf, until He returns. When we see statements such as “In Jesus name”… or “in the name of Jesus”… it is a legal term to express the right of those authorized, to act in His behalf.
Notice that we do not say “In the name of Jesus son of Joseph” which He was known as, while in his flesh and blood body on earth. Because our power of attorney does not have it’s source through an earthly linage, but through a heavenly one. One who was in the world but the world was made by Him. Having risen from the dead, He has assumed His rightful place as mediator between God and man… for he ever lives to make intercession for us at the right hand of the throne of God. When we as believers use that power of attorney, He enforces it with His power, and validates the authority He has given us in His name!
There was a man who was told by his doctor, that he only had 4 months to live. So he immediately went down town and robbed the bank. *….The judge gave him 20 years with release in 15 for good behavior. Overjoyed, he said I’ll take it!!! The judge had the authority to give him 20 years but he didn’t have the power to keep him alive long enough to serve his sentence.
The kind of authority we have received, has the power of the risen Christ to back it up.
We need to be able to know how to live in the spiritual realm in a way that redeems the natural realm. We must not be content to only celebrate how the spiritual realm effects just ourselves… but to live in a such a way that it comes to bear upon our homes, our neighbors and our city. Don’t be like the guy who said…When I go, I want it to go like my grandpa, in peace and sound asleep. Not screaming and panicking like all the people who were on the bus he was driving.
We need to stay alert and use the authority we have been given, we’re not the only folks on this bus!!!
May we be like the farmer, who came to church, heard the gospel preached, received Christ as His Lord and Savior and went home….The pastor tried and tried to contact him after that Sunday and finally, on the following Saturday he reached him. When the pastor told him that he had not been able to reach him, the farmer said, “Pastor, I’ve been going non- stop, trying to do everything you preached from the good book, on Sunday and I’m still way behind”!!!
Ephesians 1:19 “I pray that you'll begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe. This is the same mighty power which he brought about in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things in subjection under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church".
Jesus ascended above all power, might, dominions, and authorities, and from that position, He delegates authority to those who seek Him first and desire His will. Even though my body is physically resident here on earth it is Spiritually present at the throne room of God, where I can appear anytime through Christ, my mediator and advocate…. Ephesians2:6 “He has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
Before Jesus left this earth and ascended up into heaven, He told His disciples. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you”…. The word which describes this authorized body of believers, who are followers of Jesus in the earth… is Ecclesia or “Sent Ones”
We don’t need to pray for more power, or authority or greater anointing… we need to have more obedience to His living truth. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, has taken up residence in us! We have enough power and authority right now, this moment, to do what we have been called to do….to make Christ known, to bring His kingdom into the earth, as we live in simple obedience.
When we operate in the authority which Jesus has given unto us, when we speak his word and send forth the powerful truth that is imbedded in it… it’s as though Jesus Himself is speaking.
This powerful truth is revealed in a story about Amy Carter, the daughter of President Carter, who brought an assignment home from school one Friday night while her father was still President. It was about the industrial revolution. She asked her mom for help but she was stumped by the questions needing answers. She asked an aide to get the information from the Labor Department. A "rush" was placed on the request since they thought it was for the President himself. The Labor Department kept a full team of technicians and programmers working overtime all weekend...at a cost of thousands of dollars. The report was finally delivered by limousine to the White House on Sunday afternoon and Amy showed up in class with the official report on Monday morning.
That’s what happens when you’re the president’s daughter, and that’s what happens when you are a child of the Creator of the universe. Heaven puts a priority on your report!
Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? v32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things"?
*…..If you’re always trying to be normal, then you’ll never know how amazing you can be! We need to redefine what normal is…. The book of Acts is not finished, and it continues to be writtenuntil Jesus returns to gather his church home. The gospels were the training program for the book of acts. It is in the book Acts,that we see what normal should be.
Luke 9:1 says, "He called the twelve (the church) together and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal all diseases." Now that’s our normal as the authorized children of God…
Dr. Tony Evans gives this illustration….“In football they have a huddle, the goal of the huddle is to give you thirty seconds to call the play, that is the purpose of the huddle.(At a professional football game there may be ) Sixty thousand people watching you huddle. They understand that, the quarterback needs to know where he is going to have the team go, the backs need to know where they are going to go, the ends need to know where they are going to go… A huddle is a necessary part of playing the game. But let me inform you if you do not already know, sixty thousand people do not pay $20 a ticket to watch you huddle. See, people don’t come to football games to watch the huddle. They want to see if their team can overcome the opposition who is daring them to snap the ball and move down the field to score. What they want to know is does your huddle make a difference in the overall game? Now what Christians often do is get all into their huddles. We gather together at our churches and it’s all about the huddle! We say, “Boy did we have a great huddle!! My quarterback can call plays better than your quarterback. And boy do we get all into the huddle. But what people don’t seem to understand is, that the huddle is so that we can now play the game”.
What are some things that are keeping us from exercising our authority….Unbelief is another word for disobedience…Doubt is another word for disobedience….Fear is another word for disobedience…. intimidation is another word for disobedience…. Perhaps we need to pray the prayer that the man in Mark chapter 9 prayed when he brought his epileptic son to Jesus to be healed….”Lord I do believe, help me in my unbelief (ap-is-tee'-ah…disobedience)”
What would it be like to see every believer, every marriage, every family, every church that names the name of Christ moving in full operation, in the authority and power of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit? Hell could not withstand that kind of obedience.
Your words have power…Your authority is released through your words….Jesus said “You shall speak to this mountain, be removed and cast into the sea, and it shall obey you and nothing shall be impossible.”
Matthew 12:37 “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be snared”. Matthew 18:18 "Whatever YOU say is bound on earth will be bound in heaven - whatever YOU say is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven".
Paul talks to the Corinthian church about moving in authority within the circle of their influence. This means that in any area where you are given influence at any level, family, friends, work, school, or your neighborhood…you are authorized to operate in your God given authority. In other words your influence gives you jurisdiction. Jurisdiction gives you heaven’s legal power to influence and hold sway over, events, decisions and outcomes. It is your sphere of authority.
2 Corinthians 10:13 “We will not boast beyond measure, except within the limits of the sphere (met'-ron) which God has appointed us.” The word met’ron, is the territory that God has measured out and given you responsibility for….it is your ministry assignment and responsibility, it is a specific territory which God has measured out to each of us in which we can move in power and demonstration of the Kingdom of God.
Adam refused to exercise authority in the territory that God measured out for him…. Genesis 2:15 “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden (his sphere of authority) to tend and keep it.” Because Adam failed to use the authority he had been given, He set in motion a cycle of Broken Relationships….He damaged his relationship with God, with his wife and sowed the seeds of divorce, abandonment, and family members turning against one another…He Lost His Spiritual Authority and yielded it to Satan, to kill, steal and destroy. He opened the door to Oppression and Sickness and set in motion a generational cycle which is still being felt today.
Generational curses can appear in the form of Miscarriages, Persistent poverty, Emotional and Mental problems, Addictions and Bondages,
Sudden or early death, Sickness, malfunctions and disease that can be traced back through generations.
Hold Your Territory…..Ask the Holy Spirit to give direction and guidance, wisdom and understanding, and believe me He will. Luke 4:18 “He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives"
Get a Clear Vision of what is possible… Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, (maintains spiritual boundaries) happy is he.
Your words have power….Use your voice to Subdue opposing spirits, forbid their operation and Decree God’s Word and promises over your territory. Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were made from things that are not seen”…
This unseen force is what we’ve been talking about today… and the Lord tells us how to activate this force that we have referred to as the authority of the believer, in our daily lives….
He calls it the greatest of all the commandments… Matthew 22:36 “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? v37 Jesus said unto him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." If we obey this command of the Lord, then everything else will begin to fall into place…authority must be wrapped in love and compassion….
We do not ever own this authority, but we allow it to flow through us, that the Lord may be glorified, and His power be manifested.
As His love fills us, until it is greater than the fear of man, or the forces of intimidation…. We will operate with authority and power over unclean spirits… We will operate with authority and power over sickness and disease… We will operate with authority and power to move mountains that stand in our way (symbolic or otherwise)…. And we will operate with
authority to announce the forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ finished work.
Jesus is the highest authority and must be acknowledged as
Lord of my will, Lord of my decisions, Lord of my mind, Lord of my thoughts, Lord of my worldview, Lord of my emotions, my reactions, my sexuality, the way I speak and act….Lord of my possessions, my work, my finances and my relationships….
Someone has said, “If He is not Lord of all, then He is not lord at all”!!! That is our constant goal and challenge….
It’s good to see all the folks who have joined us on this special dedication Sunday. Who are have come to support the parents as they presented their little ones unto the Lord….Some grandparents are glowing here!
It reminds me of the lady who was trying to get her dad to attend Easter service with her, but she knew he always fell asleep whenever she was able to get him in church. She could not sit with him because she sang in the church choir. So, she asked her son to sit with his grandfather and she would give him a dollar to keep Grandpa awake.
Half way through the preliminaries the she looked down from the choir loft and heard her father snoring above the music. When she was able to get to her seat, she asked her son why he didn’t keep his grandfather awake, since she gave him a dollar for that very purpose. He said, “well mom, you told me to save my money, and Grandpa gave me five dollars to leave him alone and let him sleep”.
Good to see all of you today, I’ll do my best to keep you awake!!!
So today I want to talk about “The Easter Way of Walking”
We all must walk through some valleys and some shadowy places to learn the lessons they bring us so that we can keep growing, developing and maturing… (airplane voice) (Ladies and Gentlemen, The lessons will continue until we learn them, and then we can move on… to the next lesson)….
We are Easter people, and that means we are not who we used to be, but we live our lives with the benefits, the advantages and the reality of the resurrection side of the empty tomb.
A man was walking down a street when he noticed in a store window a beautiful painting of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He stood there gazing at the picture for the longest time, then herealized that a little boy was standing beside him. He patted the little boy on the head and said, ''Son, what does that mean?'' The little boy said, ''Doncha know Mister? That there man is Jesus, an' the woman that's crying is His mother, an' there’s some men called Roman soldiers, and they killed Him.'' The man smiled and then started walking away. But then he heard someone running, and when he turned he saw that it was the little boy. The boy came running up to the man, out of breath, and said, ''Hey Mister, I forgot to tell you that with all they did to Him, he just wouldn’t stay dead.''
We who receive Christ are children of the Resurrection!
Jesus died to make all things new…. And He rose to make all things possible…..He told us “Because I live, you shall live also”.
This tells us that no matter how it seems, there is a new thing, in a new way, with a new outcome waiting for us, because of the Easter Story.
When I was a teen, I worked at the local grocery store in my home town of Blackstone Virginia, after school and on Saturdays. I was a stock boy and also did a lot of bagging of groceries. I remember one day, a lady remembered that she had forgotten an item, and I was asked to get it for her. Her little boy wanted to go with me, so I said, OK, walk this way…..(then I proceeded to do a crazy walk, and when I looked back, he was trying to do the same thing)
Because of Easter, Jesus tells us “Walk this way” and those who have had an encounter with Him, commit themselves to trying to walk in His footsteps. And there are blood stains on that pathway. Sometimes it gets pretty crazy, and you don’t really understand, and you end up in places you never planned to go and you end up with folks you never planned to be with…. But MAN, WHAT AN ADVENTURE… WHAT A LIFE….. He who the son sets free is free indeed!
Free to walk the resurrected life! Free of all the baggage, and free of hurts and offences. Free of the stuff that should have been discarded and buried long ago! (Speaking of doing away with stuff)
My wife is a fanatic when it comes to shredding. The person you see is her sweet wife, mother and grandmother disguise, but she is actually….
“THE SHREDDER”!!! Our shredding bag usually fills up pretty quick every week…Anything with our name or anything with any personal information is going into the shredder. All the junk mail goes into the shredder (Man I wish I had all the money they spend to send me all that junk mail, I’d be rich!) So I brought a shredder today…. I’m going to call it the empty tomb shredder…. Because when we come to Christ, receive Him as our savior, we get the gift of our own personal empty tomb shredder. We can put all our junk mail in the shredder and all the personal stuff the devil uses to condemn us goes into the shredder…
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
I want the shredder to join me up here if she would please….
So let me see…. Before I met Christ, I lied (let’s run that through the shredder).. I was filled with anger and unforgiveness (let’s run that through the shredder)… I cheated and I stole (run that through the shredder) I was a very fearful person (so, we’ll run that through the shredder) Hey…. I was a sinner (Let’s run that through the shredder) All the personal information that condemned me, and was against me, intimidating me, and putting me in a place that was something less than the best that God had planned for my life ( Let’s run it through the empty tomb shredder)!! Come on, give it up for the Shredder!!!!
Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be white as wool.
As a result of the resurrection of our Lord, we are able to experience a love which surpasses any love of this world. That love is the process which God uses to bring us from Point “A” in our walk, to point “B”… (We will accomplish a lot more with love and genuine concern than we ever will with rules and regulations and demands). It’s the difference In religion and relationship! A married couple was celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. At the party everybody wanted to know how they managed to stay married so long in this day and age.
The husband responded, "When we were first married, we came to an agreement. I would make all the major decisions, and my wife would make all the minor decisions."
At which point they asked the wife who said, "And what’s amazing is that in 60 years of marriage we have never had to make any major decisions."
The major decision we must all make is “what will we do with Jesus, what place will He have in our lives?”
I can vividly remember the birth of each of our children, and it'sremarkable how God has taught us about His love for us through the love we have for our children. We saw their potential, we could see what they were capable of.. (On the screen you can seea picture for you to enjoy. They used to be so cute. I don't know what happened to them.)
But you know what? From the moment they arrived in that hospital room until right now; I would give my life for them no questions asked. I'm sure you're the same way. Because something happens to you when that baby is born.
The moment you lay eyes on them there is this utterly unashamed, fierce loyal, and powerfully protective love that sweeps over you for them. There's nothing you wouldn't do that was in your power, on their behalf, am I right?
And even though that newborn screams bloody murder and keeps us awake at night, and there is always plenty of changing diapers and getting thrown up on. OH, yes, they demand so much sacrifice of time, energy, effort, and resources, and we fiercelylove them through it all.
It’s hard to understand how a parent can love a child who wants nothing to do with them, and curses at them and puts them down constantly, but they love them deeply and strongly ! A mother will love that daughter who is determined to destroy her life with alcohol and drugs… She will even love that son who goes to prison for crimes of violence, even though the whole world is against them…..
If we are that way, how much more would the one who paid such a great price, so that we could not only live life well here in this world, but for all eternity, and never stop loving us with his great love.
The Easter kind of walk is also seen, in a marriage, when you've got a husband and a wife trying to out-give each other all day long, every day. And both of them can't believe how good it is to be in that marriage. Wow! It's the stuff your favorite stories are made of ... A young wife named Jennifer prayed like this: Lord, I pray for wisdom to understand my man. Lord, I pray for Love, to forgive him. O Lord, I pray for patience, to deal with his moods. But O Lord, I do not pray for strength, because if you give me too much strength, I will beat him to death, (OOPS).
The Easter way of walking is when a big brother stands up for his little brother, when a big sister brags on her little sister to her friends ... when siblings can't think of anything better to do than spend time with one another, and there's genuine admiration for the good grades, or the sports talent, or the musical skills, or the winning way they have with people ... or whatever it is.
And when a church walks out the Easter way of walking, and the church is filled with those with a desire to serve one another, miracles begin to happen in everything they do!
One preacher in his sermon, said, "There's no such thing as a perfect person other than Jesus. If anybody present is perfect, would you please stand up." Well, of course, nobody stood up.Then the preacher said "Those who have ever known a perfectman other than Jesus, would you please stand up." At that, one little old man, stood up… "You’re telling us that you knew an absolutely perfect man?" The pastor asked, somewhat amazed.
" Well sir” He said, “I didn't know him personally, but I have heard a great deal about him. He was my wife's first husband."
Jesus rose, and walked out of the tomb so that imperfect people, struggling with real life problems, wouldn’t’ get caught in the grip of hopelessness, or trapped in revolving doors, dumped at a dead end, chained to a bad outcome, and have to live filled with regret.
Easter is love, overwhelming our rebellion…No matter who we are, we have all done a little rebelling of our own. Some have been more so than others….but it’s there… (I’ve drawn many devil horns and mustaches on my mom’s pictures, when she was trying to help me reach manhood without killing myself!
We live in a day where many rebel against the status Quo, and they hold demonstrations and protests, but then they grow up and look back and wonder what in the world they were thinking at the time… A little boy was placed in an experimental school program, where the students were permitted to have absolute free expression. They were encouraged to explore their inner feelings. They were told that they could do whatever they wanted to do in whatever way they wanted to. They could come to their own conclusions, and actually create their own curriculum. But with all this, believe it or not, after a couple of days of this, the boy went to the teacher and complained, by saying "Do I have to do whatever I want to do?"… What he was needing was boundaries and he felt vulnerable and frightened without them….The disciples of Jesus were constantly doing their own thing, coming to their own conclusions and needing another session with the master to renew their purpose.
In the early morning hours of that first Easter, we saw impetuous Peter running into the empty tomb and then we see skeptical, fearful John cautiously entering after him…. but regardless of how they both entered the tomb, they were both walking with new found faith and commitment when they came out of that empty Easter tomb …. Because they had encountered the reality of the resurrection and everything was about to change….
The Easter way of walking…. Is about teaching and learning…. About falling down, and getting up…. It’s about learning to win by handling defeat… It’s about building relationships and often we learn what we should do by what we shouldn’t do…..
Joshua the deliverer of Israel who prayed and the sun and the moon stood still until they won the battle, had gone through some major mistakes in his leadership career… if you make a mistake or if you fall down, get up! Don't quit! Learn the lesson of the mistake and move forward because God loves you, He still wants to fight for you, and He can still use you for His glory if you'll just stay humble before Him!
When Jesus showed up on the road and walked with them after He was risen, they didn’t recognize him….
Sometimes as we walk this Easter walk, we won’t recognize the risen one because He may show up as a lonely widow, or it may be an orphan child, He may show up as a soldier returning from the war front still dealing with the horror of it all, and what if He shows up as that person you can’t stand… will you recognize Him….
For He said in Matthew 25:40 “Verily I say unto you, as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto Me”.
On Good Friday, Jesus declared that the work was finished and He died on the cross.
On Easter He presented His victory before the heavenly mercy seat, so that it would be forever secure, unchanging, and undiminished. Nothing could touch it to altar it or dilute it’spower. No thieves could break in and steal it from us, the corrosive elements of earth could not corrupt it, and Satan’s forces cannot violate it. It is available, the same now as it has always been, for every man and woman and child.
The Easter way of walking, brings strength to the weary, joy to the sorrowful, it brings faith to the doubting, hope to the hopeless, guidance to the lost, encouragement to the discouraged, comfort to the grieving, peace to the troubled, deliverance to the captive, healing to the sick, power to the weak, and eternal life to all who receive Him
We say “It’s impossible” but because of Easter, God says “All things are possible”…. We say “I can’t.” But the empty tomb declares that He already has….We say “I’m not able”….but the risen Christ says “I am”…. We say “I can’t forgive”…. He says, “You’re forgiven, just act like it”…. We say “I can’t make it”, but the one who defeated death says “I have overcome so that you can”… We say “Things just never get better”…. He who turned the grave into a celebration, says “The best is yet to come”!!!
Let us stand together to make our closing confession….
Father, thank you that your constant Presence in my life, is a faithful witness to me, giving insight, and inspiration, and gently guiding me in making wise and compassionate decisions. I know that nothing can touch my life without Your permission. I know that You only desire to provide what is best for me in everything, at all times, and it is planned by the Father, purchased by the Son, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
In You Lord, we have a love that can never be fathomed, a life that can never die, a righteousness that only You can give, a peace that is beyond understanding, a rest that can never be disturbed, a joy that can never be diminished, a hope that shall endure, a glory that can never be clouded, a light that can never be darkened, a beauty that shines from within, a wisdom that can never be baffled, and resources that can never be exhausted. Thank You, In Jesus' name…. Amen
Early Monday morning, following Palm Sunday, little Billy took his girlfriend downtown so they could get married. The marriage license clerk smiled and explained to them that they were both much too young to get married. Upon hearing this upsetting news, because they were very sincere about it….Little Billy asked, "Well sir, could you at least give us a learner’s permit then?"
Well, I hope we all can get a learner’s permit for sincerity today….
Some people believe that It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you're sincere. Those people need to visit a mental hospital…. All of the people there are very sincere in what they believe…. Some believe they are the president of the United States, some even believe that they are God.
A person can write a check with the sincere belief that they have the funds to cover it, but in reality there hasn't been enough money in the account, for quite a while, so the check bounces. This happens regardless of how sure they were in their beliefs about their checking account. If you walk out onto a frozen lake because you believe that the ice is solid enough to hold your weight, what's important is not what you believe about the ice, but the reality of whether or not it is thick enough. The actual density of the ice is what will determine if you are able to walk on it, or if you will fall through. Assumption will not hold you up and wishful thinking will not keep you from falling. Unless belief has a solid foundation, water will act just like water!
There are those who sincerely believe that snake handling should be part of the church service, they are sincere, but many of them are bitten each year.
There are those who sincerely believe that they should never accept blood transfusions and they would rather let their children die because of that belief, but now there is a law which says that if your belief puts someone else’s life in jeopardy, then care givers no longer require that they participate in the practice of that belief.
The bench mark of the Christian is not sincerity, but truth, that is sincerely believed and correctly discerned ….
Wrong is still wrong even if everyone is doing it and right is still right even if no one is doing it….
Sincerity must ask itself 3 questions…. Is it true, Is it kind, and is it necessary….. If you can answer yes to all three, then move forward….
Palm Sunday should serve as an example to us all, to examine our motives and check out our sincere conclusions…
We can all look back at times in our lives, when we were so sincere and yet we were so wrong….
It’s a humbling experience, when you’re so committed to something and then find out you were on the wrong side of the issue….
I used to think my parents were horrible people until I became a parent.
It has been well said…..by Mark Twain “When I was a boy of 14, my parents were so ignorant I could hardly stand to have themaround. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much they had learned in seven years.”
We can be sincerely wrong about a lot of things….
When Jesus came down from the Mount of Olives and rode into Jerusalem, He knew that the people who were sincere about cheering Him with “Hosannah” that day would also be sincere in shouting, “Crucify him”… just a little while later.
Certainly it is this kind of thing which caused Jesus to make the statement on the cross….”Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing”….
Palm Sunday was about causing the folks in the crowd that day, to be confronted with their own fallibility for He knew that they would have to face themselves in a post resurrection encounter. The truth will set us free, but often it will hurt us with the harsh reality of our own selves.
I was visiting someone at the hospital and a couple came into the room who had previously tried to run me out of town. He came over to me and gave me a big body hug and no words were needed, I knew he had an encounter with the truth within himself.
John the Apostle says it this way….1John1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. v9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from allunrighteousness v10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us”.
When I was in my 20’s I had an argument with my boss and I told him he was completely wrong about something. He told me that he had thought he was wrong once, but he was mistaken about it!..... He was saying to me that no matter what I said, I was going to lose that argument!!!! You can argue with God that you don’t need Jesus, but you’ll lose every time, believe me!!!
When the religious leaders of the day, caught a woman in the act of adultery and dragged her out in public to stone her….(by the way where was the guy that was involved….he was probably one of the Pharisees) Then they brought Jesus to be their witness… and Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground (some feel he wrote all of their names…. He could surely have written mine) then he said in John 8:7 “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”.Well at that, they looked at one another, dropped their rocks and split!
Jesus came to make right what was wrong in all of us.
Certainly the bible is filled with folks who were sincere, but were so wrong…. Samson, Jonah, David and Bathsheba, Foot in the mouth Peter, the Prodigal Son and Paul the persecutor of the early church…. Just to mention a few….
And out of the wrongness we find ourselves in, we can justify being condescending, condemning, gossiping, or talking bad about one another. And we break people’s hearts rather than heal them. Our words tear down instead of building up…. We build walls instead of bridges to one another.
Matthew 5:23 “Therefore if you come to worship, and while there, you remember that you and your brother have unforgiveness between you…
v24 Leave the altar, and go your way and be reconciled to your brother, and then come to the altar and worship”.
Just like the crowd on Palm Sunday, there are folks who have fallen and they’re trying to get back up…. Like the crowd we are far from perfect, but we welcome the King to make a triumphant entry, so that His truth can enter us and help us confront ourselves….
To fall down is not a failure, it is only a failure, when we refuse to get back up and do what is right.
Failure is also the refusal to help those who have fallen around us and refuse to help them to rise again. A helping hand is far more helpful than a pointing finger….And when we surround someone who has fallen, together, we are then able to harness the power of the resurrection.
We need to help others to rise, as much as we need others to help us to get up and get started in the right direction again.
When we identify with and lift up those who have fallen, we should be careful that we are neither endorsing or celebratingthe very things that have caused them to fall.
I love the story of Charles Wesley, who went out to the red lightdistrict and paid a prostitute for one hour, for the purpose of spending the hour leading her to Christ and bringing her into spiritual freedom and out of sin and bondage.
Galatians 6:1 “If someone falls into sin, forgive and restore them, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day ís over”.
As Christians, all of us together, make up the church and as such, we form the body of Christ in the earth. We are all a part of the same body. Since that is true, when we attack another Christian, instead of lifting them, it’s like we are attacking ourselves, but more than that, we are arguing with God who has purchased them with His blood.
The foot doesn’t attack the knee because it’s different, the hand doesn’t attack the face, because it has a different function… and the arm doesn’t put the head in a headlock, to make it do what it wants…. As ridiculous as that sounds, it’s what we do when we attack one another…
A minister went out and got the mail and when he opened one envelope, he pulled out a single sheet of paper and on the paper,he found written only one word in capital letters… it said "FOOL!"
The next Sunday he announced to the congregation, "I have known many people who have written letters to me and forgottento sign their name.
"But this week I received a letter from someone who signed his name but forgot to write a letter."
What part of truth have we not understood. Actually, the church is a place where our main product is truth… “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”… It doesn’t say “the fool shall set you free”….
Christian love understands that we have all come short, it is not a bunch of enablers coming together and hiding behind a warped idea that the Church is another way of saying that we tolerate, put up with, and accept anything and everything…
No, the church is a place where those who have fallen, can find healing and recovery… a place of rehabilitation, growth and development. It’s what we’ve all needed at some point and time…. I’m sure when Jesus looked down from the cross and said “Forgive them for they no not what they do” It was His way of saying…”They may not look like much right now but wait till you see them after Easter!
The Greek word for “Sincere” is i-lik-ree-nace' which means “Judged by the sunlight”.. If a sculptor accidentally broke off a finger, a nose, or an arm while carving a figure… rather than start all over, they would use wax to put it back on. Then they would sell it as an unblemished sculpture. But when it was placed in a warm room, soon the nose, or the ear, or the arm would fall off, revealing the deceptive flaw. It was not sincere. But if the buyer took it out into the sunlight when he bought it, he would be able to see the wax and know that it was not sincere…. So the word also came to mean “without wax”…. If it passed the sincere test…
A woman was soaking up the sun's rays on a Florida beach when a little boy in his swimming trunks, carrying a tube, came up to her and asked her, "Do you believe in God?" She was surprised by the question but she replied, "Why, yes, I do." Then he asked her: "Do you go to church every Sunday?" Again, her answer was "Yes!" He then asked: "Do you read your Bible and pray everyday?" Again she said, "Yes!" By now her curiosity was very aroused. The little lad gave a big sigh of relief and said, "Will you hold my dollar while I go in swimming?"
The little boy was straightforward and honest in his questions because he wanted to entrust the lady with something very valuable. He wasn’t about to trust someone who didn’t put God first….. The bible does not emphasize going to church as much as it focuses on being the church….
The church is a hospital, it is a place of life long learning, it is an inter-relational testing area, it is sending station and every gathering is a group therapy session…..about living life well….
When Saul was on his way to kill and persecute Christians, and the Lord knocked him off of his high horse, and struck him blind. The Lord was showing him his spiritual blindness by causing his physical blindness. He was attacking the very answer that he needed.
I know it is a simple principle….but God cannot bless our disobedience….
In order to disobey, it requires that in our hearts we know what the right thing is, but we are refusing to act on it….
1Samuel 15:22 “Behold, to obey is better than all of your sacrifices, and it is far better to hear and obey than all of your choicest offerings”. The folks on Palm Sunday could really shout and praise. They could really work up a religious fervor. They had the leaping and dancing down real good, but they were real short on truth. And we know this by the lynch mob that they became just a few days later.
1Corinthians 14:17 “For it is certain that you give thanks well, but others are not edified”.
This word “Edify” is translated from the Greek “oy-kod-om-eh'-o” which means to build up, brace up, strengthen, affirm, or increase capacity…
The bible tells us that the lord did not come to condemn, but that we might be saved (whole, well, complete)
We often quote ‘There is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ’
However, take a look at this scripture… 1John 3:21 “Beloved, if our heartsdo not condemn us, then have we confidence toward God”.
What it’s saying is that it is our own heart that condemns us…. It is the truth in our hearts (our center) that raises red flags, andbrings us to a place of turning it around. Because the genuine spirit of truth doesn’t condemn us but it convicts us of the places where we have tried to patch ourselves up, and create our own righteousness separate from Christ….
Jesus told Peter “When you are converted, then strengthen your brothers”
The Holy Spirit wants to start a Spiritual domino effect…. Where a chain of conversions is set in motion that will circle the globe…
There is no way we could ever imagine the number of lives that can be touched as one by one, heart transformation begins to take place! Glory! In Mark 9, we are told that Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on the mountain to witness His transfiguration. In the mean time, the remaining nine disciples were left behind with no adult supervision. While the nine disciples were waiting for Jesus and the others to return, a father approached them with a demon possessed son and asked for Jesus. The disciples probably told the father that Jesus would be back later in the day and that they would see what they could do, while they were waiting.
Now, the disciples’ had cast out demons before. In Luke 10 we see that Jesus sent seventy-two disciples out to do mission work. Verse 17 says that the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” So they did have experience with demons.
But this demon wasn’t leaving and their attempts to make it leave had attracted a crowd that included some scribes. So in the midst of all the turmoil, Jesus returned from the mountain top with Peter, James, and John to find the nine disciples surrounded by a large crowd of people that the scribes had gotten all worked up to discredit them.
Jesus took a little bit of time to sort out the situation and then He scolded the Disciples, and He said “Oh, you unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him to me.”
The disciples were sincere in trying to help, but they had fallen into a trap that they were responsible for getting the demons out in their own strength, instead of understanding that it was all done by the Holy Spirit… They had begun to think they were responsible for their own success. They were sincere but their thinking was incorrect….They needed to change their perspective from me centered to God centered….
A senior citizen was driving down the freeway when his wife called his cell phone. She said "Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Route 280. Please be careful, that’s a busy high way!" Herman, who is now dodging cars, says…"Oh, you don’t know the half of it, It's not just one car, there's hundreds of them”!!
Sometimes it’s all about our perspective…
Everything can get all messed up quick when we’re going the wrong way… we need to turn it around….tell someone… just turn it around!
How quickly, like the crowd on Palm Sunday, we can jump from God centered to man centered…. We can think it’s all up to us, when it is His story, being manifested through our lives…
It’s not by might nor by power but by my spirit says the Lord….
Turn to someone and tell them…. If you think you can’t do this, you’re right, (but don’t stop there)… But you can do it through Christ in you by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Even Jesus said in John 8:28 “I can do nothing of myself; but as my Father teaches me, I speak these things. v29 And He that sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left me on my own, for I do always those things that please Him. Him”.
We have received the Spirit that operated in Christ, so that we might work the works of Christ….
If Jesus could say it, then we should say it…. “I can’t do this, but I can do what the Father has told me, for I am not on my own”!!! The sick are healed, the answer comes, the situation changes, by the Spirit of Christ, for it is not of ourselves, not in our ability or power, but by His power….Hosanna!!!!