If B.I.B.L.E stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth” then the 40 days Jesus spent with them between His resurrection and His ascension was certainly all of that! Someone has said that we need the bible because there are some things that even Google can’t answer!
I want to open this presentation with a writing which is included in the book of acts by Luke, who is the author of the book that is still being written by the followers of Christ. The apostle John tells us that there are many other things which, if they should be written every one, I the world itself could not contain it…..
A few insights here….The letter is addressed to a man by the name of Theophilus, who most feel is a high ranking official in the Roman government, who has supported Paul in his missionary journeys. He is most likely one of those that Paul refers to as “the saints in Caesar’s household”. Luke addresses him in the book of Luke as “Most Excellent” which would indicate a person of high rank and possibly a member of the Emperor Nero’s own family, referred to as Caesar. There are historical records which refer to a man named Theophilus as “A Great Lord” from that same time period.
But the purpose of the letter is clear. Luke states it is “that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” (Or that you may know that you have been taught the truth)
Acts 1:1 “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach v2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after He had given instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen. v3 After His suffering, He presented Himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. v4 On one occasion, while He was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. v5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
v6 Then they gathered around Him and asked Him, “Lord, are You at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” v7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. v8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” v9 After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight”.
For 40 days, after the resurrection, Jesus interacted with them in a one to one as well as in groups. In one incident he met with 500 at one time… He was not just a Spirit, He ate with them, they touched Him, Thomas put his finger in the wound in his hand and his side.. On one occasion, after he rose, it says He built a fire and had bread and fish prepared on the shore, so they could eat together… He walked Emmaus road with them and went to their homes.
Between the Resurrection and the Ascension Jesus was conducting an Apostolic bootcamp, and His teaching centeredaround three things, The end times, the Holy Spirit’s ministryand our purpose as His ambassadors in the earth.
They wanted to know what was ahead for the future. So, Jesus used their question to teach them about the Holy Spirit’s work through them and their purpose in it all. …let’s look at what Jesus taught us about what’s ahead. We are privileged to be witnesses of many end time prophecies of Jesus being fulfilled…..
Jesus told them to beware, because many would come in His name operating under an anti-Christ spirit, and lead many folks astray. The ultimate fulfillment of this will be in the form of the anti-christ, whom the world will follow after.
Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars, (warring spirits loosed in the earth. Spirits of violence, greed, covetousness and murder) and that earthquakes and famines will increase in frequency, but the end is not yet.
Paul described it as the whole creation groaning and travailing like a woman nearing child birth.
Jesus told us that we would be persecuted to silence us but if we were faithful, we would stand before Governors and Kings to bear witness of the truth. He said that the Holy Spirit would give us what we should say and do. Jesus said that we would be hated for our faithful witness to Him, but be encouraged, “those who endure to the end will be saved.” I read a report that currently… there are 270 Christians who become martyrs every 24 hours, of every day….
Does that frighten you or give you boldness and resolve? In the midst of all of this stuff taking place, the Lord promised that all the world would have a chance to hear the gospel and then the end would come.
That’s why we are part of “Faith Comes By Hearing” which is dedicated to reaching every tongue, every culture, and every people group. How exciting to be part of hastening the coming of the Lord!
Three times Jesus tells them and us, “Be on guard”…. Nothing, I mean Nothing, is important enough to miss heaven for. Let’s finish what we’ve begun and do it joyfully with a smile on our face..
Big Dave was very negative about church, but he attended just to keep his wife from nagging him constantly. He would always fall asleep and snore during the Sunday sermon and his wife, Martha, was fed up and decided to deal with the embarrassing situation. The next Sunday when he fell asleep, she quietly removed some limburger cheese from a zip lock bag in her purse and smeared it under his nose. Big Dave sat up straight and blurted out, “This sermon stinks”…He moved to the back of the auditorium and said “This whole church stinks”… He went outside and yelled “The whole world stinks”….
Well, just maybe it’s the attitude of the stinking stinker, not everything and everyone around them!!!!
You’ll be a lot sweeter if you stay close to the great Shepherd, Strengthen one another, stay in fellowship, stay in the Word, and allow the ever present ministry of the Holy Spirit, to constantly renew and replenish your spirit….You’ll smell much better and be a better smeller!
You know, Jesus talked about His return before He had evenascended! Clearly, He wanted there to be no doubt concerning His coming back to this earth. After He had ascended, the church went everywhere declaring the message that He would return to gather His followers, both the dead and the living.Paul tells us that these were to be words of comfort to the church….
1Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first, v17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord”.
Christ will appear in the clouds at the time of the rapture, 7 years before He actually touches the earth. This is when He gathers believers, alive and dead from the 4 corners of the earth. Some say He will appear before the 7 year tribulation, others say He will appear at the middle, and others say He will come back at the end of the tribulation…
Let me explain why I believe in pre-tribulation rapture. Understand that the tribulation is described as the wrath of God toward a rebellious and wicked world.
1Thessalonians 1:10 “We wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivers us from the wrath to come”.
Once, when I was teaching about the rapture on Sunday morning, and after church was over and we were riding home, my son Chris (12 yrs old) appeared to be a little upset and he said “I don’t want the rapture to come”… He said “I haven’t done a lot of things that I still want to do”…. Even though we told him all the positives about going in the rapture, he could only see the things he would miss out on like girlfriends, marriage, children of his own, and getting to be a full grown man….(you are all thinking now of the benefits of going in the rapture)
Well, Once we are raptured, we will receive the rewards forfaithfulness in His service during our life here. What have we done with what we’ve been given? Have we been faithful as soul winners, have we kept the faith and put the Lord first.
SPURGEON said “There are no CROWN-WEARERS there,who were not CROSS-BEARERS here."
2 Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing”. (This is the awards ceremony of the righteous)
Some of the crowns that are listed in scripture are, The CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS—2 Timothy 4:8 An INCORRUPTIBLE CROWN—1 Corinthians 9:25-27 The CROWN OF LIFE—- James 1:12 The CROWN OF GLORY—1 Peter 5:2-4 The CROWN OF REJOICING—1 Thessalonians 2:19
This event will be followed by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb… Revelation 19:9 And the angel said to me, “Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (No worries about your diet, or your cholesterol, or whether or not to have dessert)
Many talk about going to heaven as though that’s where we’ll spend eternity… but we’re coming back here with immortal bodies, riding with Him, to reign with Him IN THE EARTH, for 1000 years. That will take place at the end of the 7 year tribulation period, when He comes with the saints, to subdue the earth, and set up His 1000 year kingdom..
Zechariah 14:1 “Behold, the day of the LORD comes, and His spoil shall be divided in the midst of the. v4 And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall be split and form a valley toward the east (the temple) and toward the west (the dead sea)…”
We read that after this great battle (known as Armegedon) Satan and his minions would be bound and there would be no more death, or sickness, or wars and peace would reign in all creation. Beast of prey will lay down with what once was their dinner. A baby will play at the vipers den. What an amazing scripture prophecy….
Isaiah 11:6 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion together; and a little child shall lead them. v7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. v8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the dragon’s den. v9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”.
Second, during the 40 days, Jesus taught them about the Holy Spirit.
He said John 14:16 “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, (signifying that He was like himself) that he may abide with you forever. v17 Even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it doesn’t see him or know him, but you know him, for he dwells with you, and shall be in you”.
He further taught them John 16:13 “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew youthings to come (revelation). v14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. v15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you”.
Also look at…John 16:8 “And when he is come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. v9 Of sin, because they believe not on me. v10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and you see me no more. v11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged”.
He showed them the 3 levels of The Holy Spirit’s working. The first level deals with the fact that no one can come to Jesus or know and accept that He is the messiah, unless the Holy Spirit draws Him…. “He shall convict of sin”… He convicts and convinces… He is the revealer who brings us and introduces us to Christ. On the second level, The Holy Spirit enters the life when we receive Christ as Savior and repent of sin, which we all have in common, and we receive His forgiveness. We personally experience the Christ (Christos, the anointed one) and His Lordship.
Did you see that He judges the Prince of this world wherever you encounter Him. Deliverance comes as the Holy Spirit in us, judges the prince of darkness. The H.S. in us serves Him eviction papers! Then, they were told to not do anything until they went into the upper room and experienced what Jesus called the next level,“the baptism in the Holy Spirit”….
Paul exhorts in 1Corinthians 1:5 “In everything you are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge. So that you come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
A Kingdom that is Spiritless is powerless. A life that is Spiritless is powerless….It’s not about how much of the Holy Spirit you have, but it’s about how much of you the Holy Spirit has, that is an important difference….
Act 1:8 “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth”.
We can and do experience each of the levels today as they did then. He draws us and reveals Christ to us. He comes into our Spirit and we experience the work of Salvation and forgiveness of sin. He then we receive the boldness and inspiration which Holy Spirit brings to us.
The outflowing of Spiritual gifts from our lives are listed as 9 manifestations….
3 for knowing, 3 for doing, and 3 for speaking….
The 3 knowing gifts are listed as Wisdom, Knowledge and Discernment.
The 3 doing gifts are Faith, Healings and Working of miracles.
The 3 speaking gifts are prophecy, Diverse tongues, and interpretation of tongues.
I trust that we all understand that we don’t have gifts, we are the delivery system for the gifts which are to be received by others. The sick receive the gift of healing, that’s their gift to receive. Those who face impossible situations, receive the gift of miracles, that’s their gift to receive. Those who need direction, receive the gift of prophecy or wisdom, knowledge and discernment…. that’s their gift to receive…
The mailman just delivers the mail, he doesn’t choose where it goes!!!!
For the Gifts to be the most effective, they are designed to work together with the fruit of the Spirit … scripture tells us that to have gifts without the fruit of the Spirit, is to become sounding brass and clanging cymbals… That would be like having a great doctor, who can’t stand people! He’s good but he has no bed side manner!
The fruit are about the Holy Spirit’s nature and character, and the Gifts are about His power… The world wants power and is willing to sacrifice character to have it…
So in seeking gifts, we are instructed to seek first, to have the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives as demonstrated by Hischaracter flowing through us.
Galatians 5:22 (amplified bible) “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, v23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. v24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put off the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites. v25 If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct is now empowered by the Holy Spirit]. v26 We must not become conceited, provoking or competing with one another, or envying one another”.
Just as a house is no better than it’s foundation, the Christian life is no more effective than the successful integration of the Spirit’s fruit…
This is why one of the true measures of our faith, is the Holy spirit’s presence evidenced in our lives….People say, “Well that’s just the way I am”…. No, that’s just the way your old rebellious self is… the way your unyielded self is!!!
Well, I’ll have to get to the 3rd thing Jesus spent the 40 days teaching His disciples, next Sunday…
I’ll close with a question… Did you know that when Jesus was speaking about the ask, seek, knock promise He made…, He was talking about the Holy Spirit….?
Look at it quickly… Luke 11:9 ”And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you. v10 For every one that asks receives and he that seeks, finds, and to him that knocks it shall be opened. v11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? v12 Or if he shall ask for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? v13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him”?
The work of the Holy Spirit is so vital in all the circumstances and situations of life.. He helps, He guides, He teaches, He speaks, He reveals, He instructs, He testifies of Jesus, He comforts, He calls, He fills, He strengthens, He intercedes, He prophesies, He brings truth, He brings joy, He frees us, He casts out demons and dispels the darkness, He leads us to obedience, He sends out the call for Jesus’ return, He transforms, He renews, He releases gifts, He produces His nature and Character, He leads, He convicts and convinces, He sanctifies, He empowers, He unites us, He seals, He makes us acceptable, He enables and empowers.
Can you tell someone… “We need all of that!”
Prayer…. Lord You said to ask and we would receive. So we ask and we receive each level of the Holy Spirit’s working in and through our lives…. To bring conviction and convince of sin..To call us into righteousness and Holiness… To release the fruit and gifts of the Spirit and reveal Your nature and Character in us…. To judge the prince of darkness and evict him everywhere he is trespassing….
I open myself to His working in and through me all day, every day.
I consciously invite Him to have His way and express Himself freely to me and through me. Thank you Lord for the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name… So be it!!!
When you graduated, when you got married, when your first child came, when you moved into your new home, when you chose a life career, when you retired….for each of these, you could say…”That changed everything”….
Throughout history, there have been significant events in our world that humanity points to and says, "That changed everything."
Go back to the days when fire was discovered. With the advent of fire, everything changed. It gave people a new way to stay warm, a new source of light, and new ways to cook food. No more huddling together for warmth in the cold dark of night and having to eat raw plants and meat.
Likewise, the wheel changed everything. The invention of the wheel, made it possible for people to move heavy loads from one place to another. No more having to keep things in one place or needing a large group to move something heavy. They could go faster, as they found horses to pull this new invention. Many people could travel together along with their possessions. A new era in transportation had come. Go back to the 1400s when Gutenberg invented the printing press. This finally made it possible to print the written word and to distribute it to large groups of people. The printing press changed everything.
In the last century or so we've seen the discovery of electricity, the invention of the light bulb, the first car rolled onto a city street and we had the Wright brothers first flight. It's pretty obvious with these inventions…. "that they changed everything."
In some people’s lifetime, they've seen the rise of computers, internet, cell phones, and wireless communications. As we all know, these things changed our culture, our society, our world and how we do life forever.” There was an article that says “Computers are Like Men” In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem. They have a lot of information but they have no idea what to do with it. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that, if you had waited a little longer you could have had a better model. They hear what you say, but very rarely do they hear what you mean. So there’s a lot of misunderstanding whenever you speak to it…
But then…”Computers are also Like Women”...No one but the Creator Himself, understands their internal logic and The language they use to speak with one another is completely incomprehensible to anyone else.
Even your smallest mistakes, are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending your paycheck on all the accessories that it requires. You may have done the same thing the same way, for years, but suddenly it's all wrong.
Well, certainly we could say that the advent of computers, and all these other things we have mentioned, are all monumental events in human history, but none of them are as significant as the life, ministry, and death of Jesus.
Our entire calendar is centered around Jesus. But the one event that makes Him so important, was His resurrection. Nothing else even comes close to so completely changing the world as Jesus' resurrection. More than anything else in all of history, we can accurately say… "That Changed Everything." To all who believe, there is something wholly life-changing about the words: "He is risen!" The resurrection is the defining moment of history.
Philippians 3:10 Paul expresses his new mission… “That I may know him, inthe power of his resurrection”. In a way, we celebrate Easter every daybecause Jesus changed the way we measure time….BC, (Before Christ) and AD, (Year of our Lord) Because of Easter, we now live in the “Year of our Lord” since He is still alive… The New Testament reveals that the early Christians began meeting together on a new day (that we call Sunday) as a weekly commemoration and celebration of new life in Christ, since that first day of the week was when everything changed. Every day becomes a new day of possibility, for the believer because of Easter….
There is a Cartoon of two Roman soldiers standing by the empty tomb. The stone is rolled away and one soldier says,
“We’re in a heap of trouble, He did what He said He’d do!”
But the other one is shrugging and he says,
“Don’t worry about it. A hundred years from now, no one will even remember.”
But after 2000 years people do remember. And millions of God’s people still gather and remember what was done that first Sunday, 2 millennia ago.
They remember that Fear was changed to faith….When you think about the disciples huddled in that locked upper room, the fear was real, it was paralyzing, and very disorienting, and understandably, they couldn’t seem to figure out what to do next.
Jesus must have known that a group of faint hearted disciples who could only see the world through the limited lens of their own fears would never, ever change the world in that condition.
So Jesus shows up. The atmosphere needed to change, resurrection needed to become real for the disciples, so they could embrace the promise of what was ahead— and that promise was a whole world that would be changed by the Gospel message. And when they see him—a switch is flipped somewhere on the inside of their spirit man. It was as if they had received corrective lenses and the disciples could see what they couldn’t see before. FEAR….heart-stopping, life-crippling fear—was miraculously transformed into faith.
When the truth of the resurrection had sunk into their lifestyle, everything changed. The disciples saw the world in a whole new way; their perspectives radically shifted. It was enough to cause them to unlock the door to that dark room that had imprisoned them and compelled them to march out into their city.
It was enough to turn insecure, unsophisticated fishermen into bold proclaimers of Jesus’ Gospel. It was enough that they gave up their very lives for this glorious hope!
Hebrews 10:35 “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which has great recompence of reward. (36) For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise”.
Sorrow and Despair were Changed into Delirious Joy…As the women left the tomb on Friday, their hearts were heavy and their steps and attitudes as well. Their Despair was manifested as low self esteem, Sorrow, Suspicion, Anxiety, Lack of confidence, Poverty thinking, Mental imprisonment, and Distress of soul and spirit. But when they arrived early Sunday morning at the tomb, the message they heard transformed their spiritual climate. He is Risen! And with that, they joyously ran to share the glad news with the rest of the disciples.
When your sorrow and heaviness turns to joy, you can’t help but share it with everyone! You can’t keep the overflow to yourself, you’ve got to tell somebody! (CAN YOU SAY TO SOMEONE…, “YOU NEED TO TELL SOMEBODY”)
Weakness and Powerlessness were changed into Power and Authority! This newly stirred deep conviction, brought about by the resurrection, was not terrified by bonds, imprisonments, banishments, hunger, fire, attacks by wild beasts, or the refined torments of cruel persecutors. It boldly stood in the face of gladiators, lions, and the dangers presented on the foreign field, in the midst of political, social, and religious hazards and peril, it was content, in knowing that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord.
Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers, from the dungeon of Rome…. There were no requests for an easier path, no requests for relief from persecution and opposition, no pleas for comfort and convenience…. Ephesians 6:19 “And for me, pray that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, v20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: for as long as I am here, that I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak”.
Friend, God will find a way to bless you, and turn things around so they work for good to the people who love and serve Him…. He will make a way.
Two friends were sharing their medical problems with one another. Fred mentioned that he had a case of the flu that seemed to drag on forever. Jim said that he also had the flue recently, but he went to the doctor and was told he would be back on his feet in no time at all. “So, did he get you back on your feet pretty fast”, asked Fred. “Oh yes, he got me back on my feet alright….the bill was so large, I had to sell my car to pay it”.
Easter is God letting us all know that He paid the bill so He could get the blessing to you!!!! He’ll find a way to bring you from fear to faith, from shyness to boldness, from sorrow into joy and from insecurity to confidence!And get you moving forward.
2 Corinthians 3:18 ”But we all, with open face beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord”.
We go to a physical mirror in order to behold our physical appearance. We look in a MIRROR and see that we need to accomplish some CHANGES in our lives. We look and see…that spare tire, or that extra chin, or some sagging here or there, the grey hair is a little thinner…we take a long look,and then decide to make a change.
By the same token, we go to a SPIRITUAL MIRROR in order to realize our SPIRITUAL appearance.
But the spiritual offers a vision of the glory, and power and authority, that has been made available to us in the reflection of the resurrected Jesus.What is true of Him is true of us. If you want to know what is the true potential within yourself, look fully into the image of Jesus Christ, who sees us through the power of the resurrection.
Previously, when someone was sick, you may have pitied the person and you encouraged them as best you could. Having looked into the image of Christ, now you lay hands on the sick and command the sickness to go! You now believe that signs and wonders shall follow you and that devils will come out, in Jesus name!!!
*…..There is always more to see in the mirror, as you look into the image of Christ Jesus!!!! When we get impatient, we realize that there are things we have not yet seen, that God wishes to REVEAL and UNVEIL to us, in Christ. So you can mark it down -- you do not yet see all there is for you to see. His mirror, will always reveal the best is yet to come… (tell someone..”You ain’t seen nothing yet”)
3 people, a minister, a college professor, and a politician, walk into a tent at a circus. There is nothing inside the tent but a mirror….
There is a sign next to the mirror, which reads: "This is a magic mirror. Say what you think and if what you say is true, amazing things happen. if you lie, you disappear forever...."They all agree that they will take the chance with the mirror. The minister says "I think I'm the holiest person in the world." Poof, the minister is gone. The Professor walks up and says: “I think I'm the smartest person in the world" poof, he’s gone. The Politician walks up to the mirror and says" I think.............and " poof, the politician is gone!
The bible tells us that A middle-aged man is having a tough time….Hisfather and mother are both dead now and he misses having them with him. He’s got problems with his teenage children. Economic problems and severe shortages, have hit the region where he lives. To make matters worse, it seems as if every time he accomplishes anything, someone else comes along and takes what he’s worked hard for all his life. It’s enough to make anyone want to give up... But FOUR WORDS CHANGED EVERYTHING IN HIS LIFE.
A young man runs away from home. He knows that one of his own family members is out to kill him. He finds himself all alone and afraid in a place he’s never been before. Where there used to be friends surrounding him, now there are only strangers in a strange land. His future looks grim.FOUR WORDS CHANGED EVERYTHING.
A sincere and honest employee works hard, he is honest and productive, and yet has to put up with constant sexual harassment from one of his bosses. After refusing these unwanted advances, day after day, this honest, hard-working employee is accused of sexual misconduct by the very person who has been guilty of the harassment. The employee is thrown in jail to serve out an undeserved sentence. And the outlook is bleak. But FOUR WORDS CHANGED EVERYTHING!
An elderly man is commanded by God to confront the world’s most powerful leader and demand freedom for his people. He doesn’t want to do it. He would much prefer staying in the quite, familiar, solitude of his home. He feels weak and afraid, and completely inadequate. But FOUR WORDS CHANGED EVERYTHING! There’s another man who just lost his best friend and the mentor who has been there most of his life, and now he is called on to take his place. He is filled with many insecurities, a sense of inaptitude and grief. He knows that his dead friend was the sort of man that he could never replace. How can he possibly handle the responsibility of it all? But FOUR WORDS CHANGED EVERYTHING!
These words that changed everything, are the words that transfer theamazing transforming power of the resurrection to us today!
They are “I AM WITH YOU” …Those four words changed everything for a middle-aged struggler named Isaac…. They changed the life of a frightened runaway named Jacob… They vindicated a wrongfully imprisoned employee named Joseph… Those four words changed everything for Moses, the timid 80-year-old……They gave strength to Joshua, the man who had to fill the shoes of Moses. And the resurrected Christ, speaks them to us today…
Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: v20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
God has sent you this message today, to say to you….I AM WITH YOU! That power is available everywhere we go and whatever we are dealing with. You see, this resurrection power is not about everything turning out OK, according to our felt needs and perceptions, it is about being OK, no matter how things turn out.
How long has it been since you ran towards your challenge instead of away from it? How long has it been since you understood that Christ in you is the answer that is greater than the problem. Do you truly believe that the answer is in you…
James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is confronted can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is confronted.”
Someone has said “Running away from your problems is a race you’ll never win”…
2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
(8) We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; (9) Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; (10) Always bearing about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh”.
Jesus arose and sat down at the right hand of God, that each of us could have access to that place of His favor and power. And by God’s favor, He has made it possible for us to rise above everything that would seem to ensnare, entrap and confine us. We are risen together with Him, that He through us, might show the world His resurrection power .
THE ENEMY KNOWS OF YOUR POWER, and he is actually more fearful of you than you could ever be of him….
He knows that God can Amplify our voice, Magnify our work, Glorify our endeavors, Mystify our enemies, and Multiply our labors!!
It’s the difference between a Thermometer and a Thermostat. A Thermometer tells you what the temperature in a room is, a Thermostat can determine the temperature in the room! A Thermometer tells you what has changed, a Thermostat makes things change. “Easter calls us to be thermostats and not just thermometers!
There was an e-mail about a longtime Kansas wheat farmer who had a terrible fight with his wife about getting rid of all their credit cards. He dies and finds himself in the devil’s living room. The devil says, "Pretty hot down here, isn’t it?" The old farmer says, "No, not really." The devil goes over to a thermostat and turns up the heat and says, "What do you think now?" The old farmer replies, "I was a wheat farmer in Kansas for more than 70 years. I know what hot is." This really ticks off the devil, so he goes over to the thermostat and cranks it all the way up. "What do you think now?" he asks with an evil laugh.
The farmer gets out his handkerchief, wipes his brow and replies, "It’s warm, but have you ever sat on a tractor in a Kansas wheat field, in the middle of August? Now that’s hot." Angrily, the devil storms over and turns the temperature all the way down. Suddenly, everything is freezing, with long icicles hanging from the ceiling. "Well what do you think of that!" roars the devil. All the farmer can do is laugh. "What’s so funny?" asks the devil. The farmer can’t answer because he’s on his hands and knees laughing so hard, he can’t speak. " I asked you, what’s so funny!" the devil roars. Finally the farmer gets up, wipes the tears of laughter from his eyes and replies, "My wife said she would cut up all of her credit cards when hell froze over!"
(Cute joke, but terrible theology)…..!!!!
When God told the prophet Jeremiah, to go down to the potter’s house and watch the potter, as he works with the clay, He was comparing each of us to clay in the potters hands.. Even when God is preparing a blessing, there is pressure and squeezing. So, keep a good attitude and stay soft and pliable to Him. Don’t become hard-hearted and allow the lumps of rejection, bumps of hurts, wounds of the past, hardness of injustice and unfairness and the blows of abandonment, settle down inside of you. When you do this, you are allowing them to build a wall between you and the preparations of God which are being done so you can be blessed.
He speaks to us now, on this side of the empty tomb what He spoke to Isaiahon the other side…Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not; for I am with you, be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you, yea, I will help you, yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness”.
" Lord, You are the Potter and I am the clay, and I am the work of Your hands". Thank you for Your resurrection power, which is working on the inside of me. You are causing me to be equal to the changes I am facing, my skills are strong, and growing stronger, each day. As change comes, it is pushing me to learn. My mind is receptive, my spirit is strong, and my future is bright.
Any setbacks I experience are only temporary, and I am growing more confident, with each day. Help me to be willing to see the big picture in all things, so that I may act in harmony with Your best, and highest plan. May I come to understand, that there are blessings everywhere, if I will just look for them.
Lord, You are teaching me, that my attitude will affect the outcome….and the challenges I face, are gifts which come into my life in disguise. May I come to trust, that when I maintain a positive attitude, it makes for greater outcomes and possibilities. May I use the skills and talents I have, to make a positive influence on the lives of many others.
May I always remember, that each relationship in my life has a special value. Let my mind be filled with understanding, my heart with trust, and may my spirit be open and accepting. Bless me with strength, health and vitality, as You open me up to all that you intend for me to be.
Lord, Bless the new choices and changes which I am making, as I press forward into the best things which You have designed for my life. Open my spirit to accept new challenges, new people, new opportunities, and new experiences. Bless each new undertaking with winning vision, careful planning, good timing, clear direction, financial sufficiency, and Your favor. In every thing, I give you Glory, Honor, and all the Credit,
Margaret Smith, said “I love fights. Well, actually, I don't like the fight, I like the loose change I find on the floor afterward”. Mark Twain said, “When you’re in a fight, never punch a man in the cheek who's chewing tobacco”. Woody Allen says that “He was so timid in school, he was beaten up by the Quakers”.
And here’s what the final authority says about it…..2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not have to fight (law-kham'… be ever fighting) this battle. Take up your positions (yaw-tsab'….evaluate the situation) stand firm (aw-mad'….get confirmation) and see the deliverance the LORD will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'"
One thing we all must learn is that not every battle you could fight is a battle you should be fighting. A child feels the need to fight every battle, because they want what they want….butwhen we become adults, we should be able to evaluate the situation on the basis of need.
Actually, very few fights that we are pulled into, are really worth fighting. Most battles we find ourselves fighting are because of someone else choosing the wrong battles to fight.
Like the fellow who walks into a bar and starts a fight, and while everyone is fighting his fight, he walks out and leaves them fighting a battle that wasn’t even theirs!!
These fights that we get pulled into are usually a distraction that draws us away from our destination and rob us of precious time and valuable resources that end up being wasted on the wrong battles. On Palm Sunday, Jesus showed us that the way to defeat the enemy is surrender to the will of God. He knew that the favor of God was far more to be desired than the favor of men. Jesus took the praise of Palm Sunday with the same grain of salt that He took the clamor of the crowd that shouted “Crucify Him, Crucify Him”…. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy (the fulfillment of) that was set before him endured (surrendered to) the cross, despising (taking away the power of) the shame, and set down (resumed His position) at the right hand of the throne of God.
When David arrived at the encampment of Israel as they faced the Philistine army, lead by their champion Goliath, listen to what David said…..
1 Samuel 17:26 David asked the men standing near him,"WHAT WILL BE DONE FOR the man who kills this Philistine and removes this shame from Israel?
David was told the reward was great wealth, the king's daughter in marriage (which meant that the winner would become important and powerful), and the man and his family would be exempt from taxes. THAT’S A WIN, WIN….David concludedthat this was a battle worth fighting. There were spoils and rewards and it would advance the purpose of the anointing which Samuel had spoken over him. (The anointing will attract the connections and opportunities you need)….
The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing! It’s far to easy to major on minors. I have done my share of majoring on minors…..
Notice that immediately, when David chose the right battle to fight, there were distractions….from the very ones that were closest to him…who knew him well and could exploit his weaknesses, instead of covering his back….
1 Samuel 17:28 But when David's oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. "What are you doing around here anyway?" he demanded. "What about those few sheep you're supposed to be taking care of? I know about your pride and dishonesty. You just want to see the show!"
But David’s answer revealed that he was looking at the bigger picture, and not being led emotionally or selfishly… 1 Samuel 17:29 And David said, Whathave I now done wrong? Is there not a cause? (David saw something much bigger than his brothers
David could have become occupied with defending himself to his brothers, and wasted the energy he needed to defeat Goliath. But he didn’t allow his brother to draw him away from the real cause that he needed to fight for. He wanted to choose a battle worthy of fighting and worthy of winning…
Matthew 16:13-14 Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” and they replied: “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” Notice all the ideas men had about who Jesus is were wrong. The Lord went on to ask them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter spoke for all when He answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”
When we win the battle within ourselves about who Christ is, and who we are in Him, it will go a long way in settling the issue of what battle is important to fight and what is not….. I quote John Stott…”Many people are rejecting our gospel today not because they perceive it to be false but because they perceive it to be trivial. They are looking for an integrated worldview which makes sense of their own experience”. So, our priority is to live what we say we believe and manifest it where the rubber meets the road!
A certain pastor and choir director got on the outs with one another…One week the pastor preached on commitment, and how we should dedicate ourselves to service. The director then led the choir in singing, ‘I Shall Not Be Moved.’
The next Sunday, the preacher preached on how we should gladly give to the work of the Lord. The choir director then led the song, ‘Jesus Paid It All.’
The next Sunday, the preacher preached on gossiping and how we should watch our tongues. The hymn chosen, was ‘I Love To Tell The Story.’
The preacher became disgusted over the situation, and the next Sunday he told the congregation he was considering resigning. The choir then sang ‘Oh, Why Not Tonight.’
When the preacher did resign, he told the church that Jesus had led him there and Jesus was now leading him away. Thechoir director then led in the song, ‘What A Friend We Have in Jesus.’
Paul told his spiritual son Timothy…2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
The battles we are to fight are referred to as “The good fight”…. A good fight is the war against poverty at it’s very roots. A good fight is a war against ignorance as we declare the truth that exposes error and de…..
Stan Mikita, was a professional hockey star. He had a reputation for getting into a lot of fights during games. It seemed that he enjoyed Hockey, because it gave him a chance to fight. But it was his eight-year-old daughter who turned his entire attitude and reputation around, by asking a very grown-up question: "Daddy, How can you score goals when you’re always in the penalty box?
You have to pick your battles…. It is said that People who always fight fire with fire usually end up with just ashes.
Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
The devil said to Jesus, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread"….Satan said cast yourself down, and the angels will keep you from harm… Another time the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and tested Him asking that He would show them a sign from heaven. In each case Jesus was pushed to prove who He was and in each case, He refused to engage at that level. Jesus knew Who He was and had no need in Himself to prove to Himself who he was!
All the things that were putting pressure on Jesus to fight the wrong battles, were to draw Him away from the real battles which were part of His purpose. He would pick the battlefieldwhich He would fight on.
We must be intentional about selecting the battles we choose to fight!
We opened with the statement in Chronicles that “The Lord would fight for us”… but we must be mindful that the Lord will fight for us if we pick the right battles!! Don’t go and do something STOOOOOPID!
The heaviness of the dark valley can crush us and kill us, or the same dark valleys can bring us to the foot of the cross where we realize the battle is too much for us, we need God to fight for us! And that critical part of the process, my friend, is up to us.Winners, understand that you don’t have to fight every battle!
Matthew 24:22 (MSG) “If these days of trouble were left to run their course, nobody would make it. But on behalf of God's chosen people, the trouble will be cut short”.!
When Israel stood at the Red Sea, with the Egyptian army bearing down on them, the people panicked because of how hopeless it looked. But Moses calmed the people, because he knew they were there because they had picked the right battle to fight, so he knew that he knew God would fight for them!!!
God had set this thing up, so, God would bring it to the right conclusion!
Moses and Joshua understood that the real battle was not between Egypt and Israel, the real battle was between Egypt and Jehovah!
The best win is when God wins and uses us to show His Lordship!
When Christians trust God to fight their battles, because they have chosen the right battles to fight, it enables us to transform, panic, fear, doubt and hopelessness, into faith, hope, confidence and assurance…
Colossians 2:15: “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
We Fight the avalanch of lust, by wanting God more than anything else. We Fight entitlement by keeping in mind that everything God has given us, we don’t deserve but it comes by grace. We Fight pride by recognizing that without God’s help, we will surely fail.
Christ has “disarmed” the powers of darkness. Jesus is theConqueror! He has given us His name, His authority, His blood, His power and the keys to the kingdom.
Before Moses reached the Red Sea, the headlines had already been printed in heaven…. Before they reached the promised land, the reception had already been prepared….
The headlines of your victory have already been printed and handed out all through heaven. When we pick the right battles, heaven starts rejoicing before the first shot is fired!!!
When Israel sent spies into the land of promise to check out the land, the real issue was about which battles were worth fighting, and they chose the wrong battle… they concluded that they were unable to go up against the Canaanites, who were too big and too strong. Due to choosing the wrong battle, they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land and spent 40 more years in the desert, and lost an entire generation of people.
The battles you avoid choosing today, that God has appointedfor you, will determine what battles you’ll be forced to fight tomorrow, or the next time, or the next time…but they will be fought. (Get them over with)…
Jazz Musician Eubie Blake, who lived to be 96 years of age, and died in 1983, is quoted as saying, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself!” How many folks would have fewer health issues if they chose the right battles….Eubie would have made better choices, if he knew ahead of time where those choices were going to take him…
One old man said, “When you get old, all you care about is just getting older and older and the number of doctors, and clinics, prove it!
How often have Christians unwittingly become tools of the enemy instead of ambassadors of the Kingdom because they focused the fight on other people and even fellow Christians, instead of the real enemy who’s the force behind all the wrong battles we fight… Jesus knew where the lines were drawn and would not be distracted or pulled off mission….
1John 3:8 “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil”.
Christ in us, is manifest to do exactly that…. That manifestation may be a marriage saved, helping a troubled teen make the right choices, encouraging a brother or sister to not give up, or to get their priorities right, or bringing a soul from darkness into the light of salvation….
A pivotal moment in any battle is where we place our confidence. Israel avoided the battle, because they lacked confidence that God had already chosen the battles for them which they were to fight. They failed to understand that when God chooses the battles, He always has a way for us to win, when we see the battle from His perspective….our hope, our faith, our confidence is in Him….
Psalms 20:6 Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed, He will hear from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. v7 For, some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. v8 They are brought down and fallen, but we are raised, and stand upright”.
Paul refers to the people of God as “More than conquerors”, because every time God wins, we become winners with Him. He fights the enemy and hands us the victory!
Our battle is not one dimensional, it is always on two levels,Victory is assured, when the battle is fought in both arenas… The natural realm and the physical realm.
Exodus 17:9 “And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose your men, and go out, fight with Amalek, tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God raised in my hand”.
God calls intercessors to intercede, while those chosen to fight in the natural realm can then win the battle.
There is a sweet spot near the heart of God and it is the role of the intercessor. If most people told this story, they would say that Joshua won the battle, but it was prayer on the hill top, that brought victory down to the fight being waged in the valley!
Scotty is one of my favorite characters on Star Trek. Captain Kirk is the man out front that everyone sees, and who seems to be in charge. But behind the scenes, we find Scotty… he is the actual link to the crews survival. Usually Kirk is saying “I need more power”… and Scotty is saying “I’m givin her all the power I can,” but he always manages to somehow come up with more power and is able to repair the unrepairable. Captain Kirk gets all the credit. But without Scotty’s engineering skills, behind the scenes, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise would be toast, my friend.
It is the role of Satan’s strongmen, to bring heaviness, weariness, fear and doubt into the hearts of those fighting the fight in the natural realm. When the intercessors (the Scottys)behind the scene, break through the ranks of these strongmen, the path is cleared to victory. AND JOY, PEACE, FAITH, HOPE AND STRENGTH RETURNS, AND A NEW INTENSITY comes to cross over into victory! More power is on the way!
God’s people have always experienced a power that even today’s greatest physicists cannot quantify, and that is prayer power.This is the real power that wins the battles….and brings the victory.
TAP INTO GOD’S AWESOME POWER….
Into all of our lives comes seasons of testing, but they are also seasons of growth and development. The rain falls on the just and the unjust, and the sun shines down on all of us the same. The difference is where we look and where we go for the answers and where our help comes from….
Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. v2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn. v3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified”.
Choosing the wrong battles to fight can change history….
Pearl Harbor proved to be one of the greatest military miscalculations in history by the Japanese. Or we would be speaking Japanese….
Hitler’s attack on Europe proved to be his undoing, because it drew the U.S. into the war. Otherwise we could all be speaking German….
Muhammad Ali was in the waning years of his fighting careerin the late seventies. But, he was a star, he had a devoted following, and then of course, there was the money. So, he decided to fight an up and coming boxer, Leon Spinx, who had only had seven fights as a professional. Ali figured with his skills and experience, Leon wouldn’t be that much of a challenge, but he picked the wrong battle and was defeated by Spinx in one of only five losses of his 61 career fights.
As we think about causes worth fighting for…..I want you to hear Patrick Henry’s famous speech given during the Virginia convention, at St. John’s Church, Richmond, VA in March 1775, it demonstrates the spirit necessary in choosing battles. This is an excerpt of that speech:
“If we wish to be free – then we must fight. An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts, is all that is left us! Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which God has placed in our power. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone. It is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! - Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable - and let it come! Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace, but there is no peace. The war is actually begun. The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field. Why stand we here idle? Is life so dear or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me - give me liberty or give me death!”
We were made to win…and It’s all about choices. The God of the Old Testament said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve”… and the God of the New Testament still says the same…. It doesn’t matter if we are on the sidelines or if we are on the front lines, we cannot escape the battles which are ours alone to fight. There. are some moves that only God can make!
God is looking for those who are willing to join His redemptive work in this fallen world and look beyond the immediate concerns of our own life and take advantage of these greater and more important opportunities which will enrich all of our lives.
Bring your God-given gifts and strengths into the battle. Don’t waste the gifts that God has given you that He wants you to use to serve Him and improve the lives of those around you. Ask Him and He will give you wisdom to discern the best ways you can put your gifts into action to help everyone experience their own win/ win situations.
Choose to be led by the Holy Spirit rather than your emotions.Don’t allow anger, hurts of the past, regret, unforgiveness, anxiety, fear, and wrong thinking be what you base your choices on. Rely on the Holy Spirit to give you guidance that reflects God’s unchanging wisdom in the constantly changing world that we live in.
Battles will always bring change…..Speaking of that, someone asked how many Christians does it take to change a lightbulb? It only takes one Charismatic—their hands are already in the air. It takes 10 Pentecostals—one to change the bulb and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness. It takes no Presbyterians—because lights go on and off at predestined times. It takes no Catholics—because they only use candles. It takes 15 Baptists—one to change the bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad. It takes 3 Episcopalians— one to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks, and one to talk about how much better the old light bulb was. With Methodists—it is still undetermined—because if yourlight is bright, dim or completely out, just bring the bulb of your choice and a covered dish, you are still loved.. It takes no Lutherans—Lutherans because they don’t believe in change. And the Amish—are still asking
“what’s a light bulb”.
So, As God turns on the light and shows you which battles, He wants you to fight, do it with the confidence, knowing that Satan has been defeated, and that God will use your life in ways that will powerfully impact the world for His time and His reasons.
Live your life in surrender to God every day. Make a daily habit of surrendering your own plans to God, invite God to use your life every day to accomplish His plans for you (which are greater than what you could ever figure out or imagine on your own).
Remember that everything you need for where you are, is right where you are, not where you hope to be or want to be…
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The battles you are facing now have already been won. When Jesus said “It is finished” on the cross, he meant that in your present “now” of life, it is finished. He has prepared what you need for this time, He has made you to be what you need to be for this time.. Be strong in the Lord and in the Power of His might!!!! This battle has been chosen for you and you have been chosen for the battle.
The Holy Spirit is showing you which battles are worth fighting. You have what it takes to be more than conqueror.Present yourself to Him, and move in confidence, knowing the battle is the Lord’s !!!
Romans 8:37-39 “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Because He overcame, we shall overcome also in His name!!!
I am told that the invisible man and invisible woman had children... but they weren't much to look at… A guy went to the doctor because he thinks he’s invisible. The doctor says, “sorry I can’t see you right now”… If you have observed a total lunar eclipse without scorching your eyeballs…. You understand that even though your eyes tell you that the moon is turning into a crescent which eventually disappears altogether, like someone eating a pizza pie until it disappears one slice at a time…. You know the moon hasn’t changed regardless of what you just saw. You saw it differently because the earth came between the sun and the moon. This eclipse condition is what often causes us to see people and situations as something other than what they really are? Things get between the source of our illumination and cause us to see things different than they really are … To lay the groundwork, I share the story of John Blanchard … John sat on a bench where he waited, at Grand Central Station. He shifted in his Navy uniform, and studied the crowd of people, because He was looking for the girl whose heart he knew, but who face he didn’t, the girl with the rose. He had found her through a book in a Florida library and he was intrigued with the notes that were penciled in the margin. In the front he found her name, Miss Hollis Mayhill. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and invitedher to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the war, they got to know each other through the mail. A romance was beginning to bud. John had requested a photograph, but Hollis refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like…. Hmmmm… Now, this was the date they would finally meet… at the Grand Central Station in New York. “You’ll recognize me,” she had said, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So, at 7:00 he is in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen. Suddenly, a young woman was coming toward him, her figure, long and slim. Her blonde hair laid back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. He started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. A small provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my way, sailor?” she murmured. Almost uncontrollably he made one step closer to her, and then he saw Hollis Mayhill. She was standing almost directly behind the other girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet shoved into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. He felt as though he was being split in two, so strong was the desire to follow her, and yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly captured him and kept him strong throughout the war. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. His fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that had brought them together. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a deep friendship and kinship for which he would forever be grateful. He squared his shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though he felt choked by his sudden disappointment. “I’m LT John Blanchard, he said, and you must be Miss Mayhill. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?” The womanresponded with a smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just went by you, begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said she was putting you through some kind of test!” A French Historian wrote “Tell me what you love and I will tell you who you are.” A tax collector of the first century wrote in Matthew 25:34 “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. v35 For I was hungry, and you gave me meat, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you took me in. v36 I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me, I was in prison, and you came unto me. v37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed You, or thirsty, and gave You drink? v38 When did we see You as a stranger, and took You in? or naked, and clothed You? v39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and came unto You? v40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, I say unto you, as you have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me”. Has God been testing us this past week? YEAH BUDDY, YOU KNOW IT!!!! It was about the righteous and the unrighteous. The word righteous, which Jesus used here in the Greek is
(deek'-ah-yos …and means “equitable in character or action, a person of justice and principle, doing the right thing for the right reasons”) A bible college professor hung a large silhouette on the wall with a target drawn on it. Each student was to picture in their minds a person that they would want to throw a dart at. Each student took a turn until the picture was punctured and mangled almost beyond recognition. When they were finished, he took away the silhouette and underneath was a picture of Jesus, punctured and mangled almost beyond recognition. With the words, “As you have done it unto them, you have done it unto me”….. Every student sat in shock, knowing that their dart done the damage….. John the Baptist was for sure, the Grizzly Adams of the bible. He wore furs, lived in the wilderness, ate grasshoppers and honey, didn’t wear deodorant and Jesus said “there is none greater than John” (Wow, I would have missed that one)! Jacob was a mamma’s boy, he was sneaky, he lied, he cheated and deceived his dad and brother,yet God chose him to be Isaac’s successor and the father of the 12 tribes, through whom the Messiah would come. (Yuup, I would have missed that one)! When things look like they’re going to hell in a handbasket, God is still at work. When it looks like the powers of evil may be winning out over the forces of good, God’s day will still dawn. Though our efforts to serve others seems to make no difference at all, God is still blessing our labors. “For Your labor is never in vain in the Lord”! This all tells me that we need 1. New eyes to see. 2. New ears to hear. 3. And1. New eyes to see. 2. New ears to hear. 3. And a new heart to believe.. When Jacob checked into what some have called “The Hard Rock Hotel.” He had a vision which transformed his world. He saw something that he had not seen before, but it was there all the time. He would never have believed it in his waking moments, so God had to show it to him in a dream. In the very place where he had stopped to lay down for the night, there was a stairway to heaven. The angels of God were going back and forth between heaven and earth, and God himself was standing at the top of the stairway. When he got there at the Hard Rock Hotel, the only thing Jacob saw was a hollow in the ground, in the midst of all the rocks, where he could lay down and “rock-a-by-baby”.. He didn’t realize that all the time he spent there, running to get there, he was surrounded by the glory of God and the host of heaven. (come on) Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], let us strip off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, and let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, v2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [He is the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him, endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work]”. How many times have we only seen the natural world, when the reality is that we are surrounded by the supernatural. We become so preoccupied by the ordinary and the depravity, that we fail to see the extraordinary. We are so caught up with the temporary, pseudo world that we fail to see the real, permanent, eternal world. We want everything to be explainable, so we miss the unexplainable. So we are constantly handing God our script, and saying “here, follow this”!!! That tells me that we need New eyes to see. New ears to hear. And a new heart to believe.. One day as Moses was walking through an ordinary day, dealing with ordinary sheep and camels, and interacting with ordinary people…. When he encountered an extraordinary bush that was aflame with God. He had been trampling around in what he thought was ordinary stuff when God told him to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground. I sometimes ask myself how many times I have been trampling through some ordinary places and failed to see that it is on fire with the glory of the presence of God.
The person we may have a conflict with is not the problem, and they are not the enemy. The problem is our spiritual enemy who is blinding our eyes, blocking our ears, and hardening our heart. All of the frustrations, thedisappointments, the discouragements and depressions weexperience is the enemy’s way of causing us to totally miss the extraordinary, and supernatural thing that is going on in the moment.
Hebrews 11:1 (amplified bible) “Now faith is the assurance (the title deed, and confirmation) of things hoped for (and divinely guaranteed), and it is the evidence of things not seen [and the conviction of their reality—for faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. v2 For by this very [kind of] faith the men of old gained [divine] approval”.
(now that’s a mouth full)!! But there’s more…. Hebrews 11:3 “By faith [that is with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (the universe, the cosmos, and the ages) were framed and created [shaped, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made of things which are visible”. I have always been amazed at the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection and the spiritual dullness of the disciples who failed to recognize him. After the resurrection several people reported having seen and talked with Jesus, but Thomas would not believe until he had placed his hand in his wounds.
We are told that two of the disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus, when Jesus came up and began to walk with them, but they did not know who he was. Their eyes were not seeing, because their minds were still reeling from the loss of the way things were. Even though He had told them all that was to happen, it was not part of their changing reality.
He began to teach them from the Scriptures but still they did not recognize him. They needed new eyes, new ears, and a new heart. But then He began to break bread with them and as He did, He broke into their reality, and brought them into their new reality…
God is speaking, is anyone listening…..People run along paths and trails with all the wonderful sounds of nature surrounding them, but they are wearing headphones. They are blessed to be with family members who love them and care about them, but they are buried in a video game. They go out to a nice restaurant and they sit beside their spouse with eyes and ears occupied with their cell phones. We live in a society where, we have become isolated from the very things that psychiatrists say we all need the most…personal connections, physical contact, belonging, giving and receiving love, acceptance and worth.
Matthew 13:11-15 Jesus said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. . . . ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’ In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused, they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes” There is a wonderful story in 1 Samuel 3:1-10 of an Old Testament priest named Eli and a young boy that he is grooming for the priesthood named Samuel. Samuel was only a child, but he had a heart for God, and his spiritual ears were open. During the night he heard someone calling him: “Samuel, Samuel.” But he thought it was Eli. He went to Eli’s bedroom and said, “Here I am. You called me?” Eli said, “I did not call you. Go back and lie down.” A second time this happened, and then a third time. The third time Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”. Then the Word of the Lord came to Samuel. I’m wondering that if God wanted to speak to some folks today, He would have to speak through their cell phone, or their video games…. When is the last time you went off to sleep speaking to and hearing from God… When is the last time that the final moments before you got lost in slumber land, you were worshiping and praising Him? “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Stanley Jones tells of the time when he was about to board a plane when he heard God, in his spirit, telling him not to get on the plane. He learned later that the plane crashed and there were no survivors. When he shared his experience with someone, they said, “You’re going to tell me that you were the only one God told not to get on that plane?” Jones said, “By no means, but it is possible that I was the only one listening.” It is important to develop your ability to hear God and see what He wants to show you. When our eyes, and ears and mind become opened, it’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we realize that we are not in Kansas anymore babba loo. In the film version of the story, it begins in black and white. She saw nothing too exciting about Kansas. But as she travels to the Land of Oz the screen bursts with color, and she is introduced to a land she never knew existed before, but it was one that had been around her all the time. The point of the movie is that Dorothy was seeing what she had always missed before but it was there, everywhere. Paul told the church of Corinth, 1Corinthians 13:12 For now [in this season of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [as the time completeness comeswe will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].
I believe the suicide rate would drop rapidly, if folks could truly see what has been right there around them all along. I believe folks would treat one another different, see one another differently and bring new value and appreciation into their ordinary life if they had new eyes to see, new ears to hear, and a new mind to understand… We would say like Jacob, as we wake up to the real world, saying every day…“Surely the Lord was in this place and I knew it not.” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote…. The Earth is crammed with heaven, Andevery common bush is ablaze with God. But only he who sees ittakes off his shoes, while the rest sit round and pickblackberries.
It’s so easy in the struggles of life, to allow a dullness to come into our sight and our hearing. And in that condition to miss the bushes that are ablaze with God, and the stairway to heaven and angels going and coming… The greatest display of God’s glory is when His people are fully alive and fully entuned in the Spirit to what’s all around them. Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we do not fix our eyes on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. What could be sadder than a life lived without everunderstanding that there is more than meets the eye. To be so absorbed in the material world that you never experience a personal face to face with God. To have God all around you and be totally clueless — as though you were sleepwalking through life and never truly waking up. I read about one person who woke up in their underwear,pushing the vacuum cleaner, which wasn’t plugged in, back and forth over the carpet, back and forth, back and forth ……Another person woke up late one night with all the sheets balled up in her arms, banging into the bedroom door, trying to take them to the laundry room….. When one guy was 15 he dreamed that he was skydiving, but his chute didn’t open. He hit the ground—hard—but miraculously, he wasn’t injured. So hebrushed myself off and got into the next plane to do it again, The next morning, he woke up with a sore arm and found out from his brother that he had jumped off his top bunk, screaming, “GERONIMO!” Twice. It can be dangerous sleepwalking…. God is saying wake up, see the things we’re missing, do the things we can do, and hear what He is showing us and saying to us! Someone wrote…. “There are two birds that fly over our nation’s deserts. One is the hummingbird and the other is the vulture. The vultures find the rotting meat of the desert, because that is what they look for. They thrive on that diet. But hummingbirds ignore the smelly flesh of dead animals. Instead, they look for the colorful blossoms of desert plants. And each bird finds exactly what it is looking for”. God has promised that he can transform our hearts and our expectation as we come to him.
He said, Ezekiel 36:26 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh (baw-sawr… an understanding, willing heart)”. We said last week, that David, in the midst of a time of betrayel, asked God for a “willing heart”…. To sustain him….. The day is coming when the dark cloudy glass of separation will be removed, and all that can be seen will be seen. We will see with new eyes, hear with new ears and understand with new hearts. But it can begin now, as we open our hearts to the world of experiencing God as we have never experienced Him before.Of beholding what has been all around us all of the time but we couldn’t see it. At the Straits of Gibraltar, under Spanish control, there were two immense pillars called the Pillars of Hercules. Scrolls were placed on the pillars which said “ne plus ultra,”which meant “No More Beyond”. However, some folks didn’t bother to read the scrolls, or if they did, they saw more than everyone else. Because they saw with different eyes, they went further south to Africa, then around the horn to Asia, and eventually across the Atlantic to the New World. And theyopened up a whole new world for everyone. They now understood what they never thought possible before. A radical shift in their worldview took place. They kept the scrollsfastened to the pillars, but now there were only two words….and it now said… “More Beyond”….
Church, there is more beyond what we know, but only those with new eyes will see its wonder; only those with new ears will hear its music, and only those with new hearts will experience its supernatural reality.
I want us to close this morning by finding some folks around us, reaching out and coming into agreement together….Regardless of what you may be seeing at this point in your reality, there is a new reality waiting to be reavealed! As we believe with one another for “MORE”, “MORE”, “MORE LORD”!!! Song… “More, more about Jesus, more, show me more, more about Jesus. More of His saving fullness see, more of His love who died for me.(repeat)
More about Jesus let me learn, More of His holy will discern;
Spirit of God, my teacher be, Showing the things of Christ to me.
Closing Prayer of Agreement….
Heavenly Father, today, we come before you expecting this to be the greatest day of our life. A day filled with unique opportunities to share your love with every person we meet. We thank you, Lord, for the favor which will flow through us today in every conversation and for this to be a day in which you will be glorified by what we think, say and do, in the strong name of Jesus. Lord, we thank You for freedom in speaking and being a mouthpiece for You, for fearless confidence, for cheerful courage, and for boldness with supernatural assurance. We command stolen blessings to be restored seven fold for every blessing we have missed in Jesus name. We have angels assigned to minister and strengthen us in Spirit so that we can do those things that God has called us to do. Thank You Lord, that these mighty angels go before us to protect and to guard us and bring us to the place that God has prepared. The angel of the Lord is stationed at our side as we seek after God and His will. We are of good cheer for the Lord has overcome the world and given us His victory. We have been made more than conquerors in Christ... Praise the Lord!