I want us to look today at Paul’s Grand Serendipity. We might call it his AH-HA moment, his defining cross roads encounter, his Epiphany season, and his transformative experience with God. There’s something we can all take home with us from his experience….
Acts 9:2 “Paul (who was formerly called Saul) was seeking letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that If he found those who belonged to “The Way”(the followers of Jesus), whether men or women, these letters would authorize him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 So Saul headed toward Damascus.
The Roman government was ruling in Jerusalem and they had made a league with the Jewish religious leadership to snuff out the movement whose allegiance was to Jesus whom they had crucified. But instead of destroying the church, it only grew, the greater the persecution. (God knows how to stir the eagle’s nest when it’s time for the eagle to fly..)
Saul, was the hit man for the opposition and was tracking down the followers of “The Way” who had migrated to Damascus to flee persecution.
It wasn’t hard to find them because they left a trail of new believers everywhere they went….changed lives were in their wake, the healed, delivered and transformed…
Damascus was about 150 miles from Jerusalem, which would be like walking from Key west, to Coral Gables….that would be about 30 minutes by air. Three hours by car and most of a week if you were walking. So, Saul had all that time to scheme and plan his diabolical round up of the followers of Jesus, but God was way ahead of Him.
Listen if God said He’d be with you, He’ll be with you… If God said He’ll go before you, He’ll go before you….If He said He’d be your shield and sword, count on it…. He is the surrounder who surrounds and He’s rock that won’t roll and that rock is your foundation….
The church was out-numbered, it was out-financed, it was out-equipped and out-resourced…EXCEPT FOR THE GOD FACTOR….. ONE WITH GOD IS A MAJORITY….
Paul was about to get a lesson in “little is much when God is in it”….
The Damascus road is a road of confrontation, change and challenge. Paul thought he was the one on his way to confront the Christians and instead, he was about to be confronted by the very truth that he denied.
Acts 9:3 “as he (Paul) came near the city, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around him. 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice speak to him. "Saul! Saul!" the voice said. "Why are you opposing me?" 5 "Who are you, Lord?" he asked. "I am Jesus, I am the one you are really opposing”. Listen, if you’re living life the Jesus way, confrontation is inevitable! The very ones who are out to confront you, are about to be confronted! I’m sure Paul didn’t mind folks talking to God. But when they took it to the next level to say that God talks to them, then they’re crazy, and delusional nut jobs!(have you found it to be true)
Christians are supposed to be hearing voices… (Father, son, and H.S. and angels as well) God says to “Listen” to Him 331 times in the bible and He tells us to “Hear” Him 347 times. So, why would He say this if He wasn’t speaking something to us…..
The very word of God which we read, was mostly spoken by God to thosewho wrote as God spoke it to them by the Holy Spirit, but for YOU to hear from God in this day and age, is another matter completely for many folks.Think about it….
Yet, the scriptures tell us He is the same Yesterday, today and forever. He changes not, and there is no shadow of change with Him.
God says in Isaiah 28:23 “Listen to Me and hear My voice, pay attention and hear what I say.
God says in Proverbs 8:4 “To you, O people, I call out, I raise my voice to all mankind”.
God says in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If any man shall hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and we will fellowship together with one another”.
Believe it Church, God is speaking to all mankind, but like Saul, they are being brought to a Damascus road confrontation, and to a defining moment of personal revelation. In Jesus’ name!!
That confrontation settles once and for all the feeble efforts of trying to explain away and understand the supernatural God with the natural mind.When that light hit Saul, there was no further argument.
John 1:4 &5 “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness could not comprehend it.” John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
The voice that Saul heard…was the same voice that spoke into the shapeless void and created the worlds
It was the same Voice that spoke breath into Adam
It was the same Voice that spoke to Moses from out of the burning bush
It was the same Voice that spoke to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The prophets, heard that voice, and those who stood around mount Calvary, heard the voice cry out from the cross, “It is finished.”
And all Saul could do and all anyone who truly hears that voice can do, is to bow and yield to the only true authority, the Lord Jesus Christ.
You may not see it but that same confrontation is going on all around you in the neighborhood, on your job, in your family…there’s a Damascus road happening….Divine confrontation is taking place…. We all need a vision check-upregularly…. I believe Christ blinded Saul and then healed his sight, to let him know that he wasn't seeing God, himself or others in the right way and he needed a major adjustment.
When our resistance collides with His voice and His light, it is inevitable that change will take place at the core of our being…. (have you checked your vision lately)
Paul himself, expressed it this way… 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old way has gone, the new way has come.”
Paul knew the word, he knew the Scriptures, top to bottom, frontward and backwards, but it didn’t change him, and that’s because he never personally knew the Author.
We are not complete, and cannot become all we were created to be without intimacy with God… That’s why the scripture tells us we have all come short of the glory of God… Even the goldfish can tell the difference in a person who has an intimate relationship with Father God….
The word “Yadda” in the Hebrew means “to have intimacy knowledge of”.There are folks who say they believe in Jesus, they say they are Christians (Christ followers) but they rarely if ever open up their Bibles. When you combine a personal intimacy with Christ and applied knowledge of the Word….BAAM…BAAM… Transformation takes place….
It’s like Power Rangers…. BAAM.. they step over into their power and are able to overcome the enemy, that they couldn’t overcome before!
The old song says, “He walks with me and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known”. THAT’S YADDA!
That Intimacy produces revelation insight into the Divine will, and understanding of your purpose and destiny.
Hollywood loves a crisis… it’s the stuff that keeps folks hanging on in a movie or Television. They keep you on the edge of your seat, then go to commercial just to torture you. Crisis keeps folks reading to see the end of a story. There’s a crisis in the government, or in the health service, climate change, nations on the verge of war, earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes and oh yes the polar caps are melting and will flood the whole earth….. God was creating a crisis for Paul….because Crisis produces change….Sometimes when it looks like everything is falling apart, it’s really just starting to come together… When our plans are all coming unglued, God’s plans are getting fastened down and in place…. When Jerusalem was experiencing it’sgreatest persecution, it created the great dispersia, that sent the gospel out into the world as people fled from Jerusalem…. It was a crises that fulfilled prophecy… “This gospel shall be preached in all the world”….
What’s interesting is that the word “Crisis” originally meant “a turning point” or “change of direction” or a “Tipping point”.….
The Damascus road, brings confrontation that leads to a personal crisis, and that crisis presents all who walk it, with the Damascus road challenge.
Paul found out that faith in Jesus, challenged everything in his life.
He is about to come under a new authority in his life….
Acts 9:6 (The Lord said) “Get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." v7 The men with Saul stood speechless, for they witnessed the voice but they saw no one there! v8 So Saul got up from the ground, but [although] his eyes were open he could see nothing. And leading him by the hand, they brought [him] into Damascus. v9 And he was three days without sight, and did not eat or drink anything”.
The next thing we read, in this encounter, is that when Paul got to Damascus, God called to a man named Ananias, and Ananias’ response was, “Yes Lord, here I am.” (Sometimes we have to say Yes, before God lets us know what we said “YES” to. Sometimes we have to sign the check, and let the Lord fill in the amount) So, when Ananias said “Yes Lord”.. then the Lord proceeded to tell Him that Saul of Tarsus was at a house on the street called Straight, praying. And God had to move because thousands of Christians were praying for this guy… (they were praying “HELP”) God told Ananias to go to Saul, lay hands on him and pray that he would receive his sight.
So, Ananias answered the Lord with that same calm, confident obedience, we all use when the Lord asks us to step up to the challenge and follow Him when He tells us something we just can’t wrap our head around!!!.
“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR ETERNAL MIND?!! (or something like that)
I mean, Lord…Saul just finished whacking Stephen in Jerusalem and he’s killing believers and putting many in jail wherever he goes. And you want me to lay hands on him and pray. I lay hands on him he’s going to lay hands on me, and not in a good way.” “Trust me”…. (Ohhhh, wow, Is there anyone else up there, I could speak to)
It’s far better to let the Lord handle some things, or we may end up like the old retired gambler who was on trial for murder and if convicted, could spend the rest of his life in prison. He found out that a fellow gambler was on the jury and figured that would be the one who would take a bribe. He sent word to the juror that he would be paid $10,000 if he could convince the rest of the jury to reduce his charge to manslaughter.
The jury deliberated an entire week and sure enough, returned with a verdict of manslaughter. After the trial, the accused was given 30 days to turn himself in for sentencing. The accused had the juror come to his house, and told him what a great job he had done and paid him the $10,000. The bribed juror replied that it wasn't easy to convince the rest of the jury to change the charge to manslaughter. They all thought he was not guilty and, wanted to let him go!
(IT’S FAR BETTER TO LET THE LORD WORK SOME THINGS OUT!)
So getting back, to the Damascus road… listen to the Lord’s response to Ananias….
Acts 9:15 “But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel”.
How would you like to be the person who obeyed the Lord and led Billy Graham or Pat Robertson, or Paul Crouch, or Joel Houston, John Kilpatrick or Reinhart Bonke to the Lord.
I have a friend who bought one of those metal detector devices and he goes out on the beach every evening and walks around on the beach when everyone has gone. He has found 300 buttons, thousands of bottle caps and beer tabs, and scores of broken sun glasses and false teeth. But he has alsofound diamond rings, gold bracelets, collector’s coins, and other costly jewelry. Buried treasure, lost treasure, that is there waiting to be found and given value once again. We need some “lost soul” detectors so we can reclaim the Lord’s lost treasures….
Luke 15:8-10 “Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Paul wrote 1/3rd of the entire New Testament, became the Apostle who brought the gospel to the Gentile world, and planted churches throughout the Mediterranean region.
What a hidden treasure, God called on Ananias to recover!!!! Although we never hear of Ananias again he is one of the great heroes of the Bible. Everything Paul accomplished for the kingdom, there was Ananias’ finger print on it all, there at the critical juncture at the launching of one of the most powerful, influential personalities in the history of the church, was a man, waiting in the wings, Ananias.
I can’t help but ask what hidden treasure The Lord is waiting for us to discover and recover as he asks each of us as he asked Ananias, “are you willing, will you go”?.
We serve a God who is in the life changing business….it doesn’t matter to Him which road to destruction they may have chosen…. The road of drug and alcohol addiction, or crime, or bitterness, or greed and covetousness or sexual addiction.
COME ON NOW…. He changed us didn’t he….. that same Holy Spirit encounter can transform them as well!
I want you to notice something, Saul wasn’t saved on the road to Damascus because he had this amazing supernatural experience. He was saved three days later, when he called on the name of the Lord as Ananias presented Christ to him and baptized him.
There are many folks I have talked with who have had special encounters and experiences and some have had miracles, and they think they are saved because of these supernatural encounters. But they go on in their lives and live no different than they did before. What does the scripture say about this?
Let’s hear the Holy Spirit’s first message after the day of Pentecost, which was the launching of the church.
Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. v39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.”
Now, water baptism is the outer witness of the inner work of repentance which opens the soul to the invasion of the eternal life which Christ gives by the Holy Spirit. (repeat that) Baptism is about a new walk of obedience to our Lord and Savior.
Without the work of the Holy Spirit, by faith, we go in the water dry and come out wet and that’s all that really happens….
Having a miracle in your life, or a supernatural experience, won’t save you… it is repentance of sin and receiving Christ as Savior alone, that brings salvation….
The Damascus road encounter got Paul’s attention and brought him to a different place in his priorities and values, but with only that, he would have missed the power within his life to transform and truly change his world view and save his soul.
Paul is certainly speaking from personal experience when he says in
1 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away; behold, all things become new.”
One of the evidences of the reality of Saul’s conversion was his immediate identification with and joining together with the church.
Perhaps nowhere else is the radical change in Paul’s life more apparent than in his attitude toward the followers of Christ. Previously Saul had sought them out to persecute them, even kill them, but he now sought them out to worship and fellowship with them in God’s house.
And it was Paul, the transformed persecutor of the church, who wrote…
Hebrews 10:23 “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) v24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: v25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is but exhorting one another and so much the more, as you see the day approaching”.
Paul is saying “don’t neglect church attendance”… in the church building and outside of it!!!
We are told that from day one, when others stood back and were a little nervous about this former persecutor, coming to church…. Barnaba immediately joined himself with Paul and befriended him, and showed him true Christian love and acceptance.
When many of the apostles stood at arms length, Barnabas defended him and stood for him. Do you think perhaps, Paul may have stayed with it and remained faithful because of the faithful friend he found in Barnabas.
What if we marked on our calendar each day, “FGT” and make every day a FGT day. That stands for “Find God’s Treasures”.. and how about adding “BAF” to that which stands for Be A Friend to someone who needs a friend…..Be a Barnabas!
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again…. God sees the apples on the trees in the seeds of the apples on all the apple trees for infinity….
The word God deposits within us is like that apple seed….It has the power to reproduce itself for infinity!!!
The bible is filled with little things that people gave and they did to make the big things happen….
I can think of how Rahab the harlot, hid the Israeli spies on the wall of Jericho, saving their lives, and then let them down by a rope…just a little thing….with big results!
That guy who gave Jesus the donkey on Palm Sunday, just a little thing, to fulfill prophecy…but with historical results!
What about the little boy's lunch that Jesus miraculously multiplied to feed over 5,000 men, plus women and children. Just a little thing with miraculous results!
I also think of the little woman’s oil and meal that fed a prophet and supplied for an entire community in time of famine…. That shouts “little is much when God is in it”!!
It’s so true that One sows, another waters and we all rejoice in the harvest!!
To a childless couple, great news would be “You’re expecting”…. To a couple waiting for their mortgage to be approved, it would be, “You are now a home owner”…. To a teen-ager great news would be, “Here’s the keys to your new car”…. To the early church, it would be, “Saul has accepted Christ as his savior”!!!! He’s a believer now!!
More than two hundred years ago Adoniram and Ann Judson and Luther Rice heard God's call and left America to go to India. On arrival, they were baptized by William Carey. But were not allowed to serve in India, so Judson and his wife, went to Burma. Because their support would no longer come from the folks who sent them out as missionaries, Rice returned to America to raise money. Through his efforts the Judsons were able to continue on in Burma. The couple served for six years before they saw their first convert."
Henry Blackaby said: he visited (Burma) in 1999, and found that there were 700,000 who were the result of Judson efforts. Rice who raised the funds and the Judsons, could never have imagined that they would help start something which would reach so many for Christ!
In Bill Gaither’s song “Joy comes in the morning”, one verse says,
“To invest your seeds of trust in God in mountains you can't move,
You have risked your life on things you cannot prove, But to give the things you cannot keep for what you cannot lose, is the way to find the joy God has for you.
Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning. Weeping only lasts for the night. Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning. The darkness now means dawn is just in sight.”
Each of us are on our own personal Damascus road today. It’s aroad that will bring crisis, which is a place of change in direction, a turning point, and a tipping point. Nothing will be the same again, because we will not be the same as we have our own encounter with Christ there.
I wrote a little verse while I was preparing this sermon that says….
“Where does the road you are walking lead? Do you know who has brought you there? Have you made the stops that He’s prepared? Have you gathered His treasures so fair? Have you heard His voice as you walk that way? Can you see it’s beauty so rare? When you enter that beautiful city, and the saved all around you appear, what a joy when someone comes up and says, “It was you who invited me here”.
Prayer…..Lord, we open ourselves to the fullness of Your wisdom and guidance. We receive the knowledge we need at this time in our lives that we might serve You and serve those around us. Our greatest desire is that we may bring glory to Your great Name. Forgive us for the times we have taken Your presence for granted on our Damascus road. Make us more aware of the One who made all things and holds all things together.
No matter what has happened, I know that beginning today, it can be different. Give me an understanding heart, that I may see the precious lives that you treasure all around me. Lord we cry out in behalf of the people, all around us, that their eyes may be open to Your truth so they might receive Your mercy and forgiveness. Help us, that as we walk in love, You would shine through us to dispel the darkness, so that all can run into Your transforming light.
Father, You are able to bring forth every kind of good fruit and bring our loved ones, friends and neighbors into the peace of mind and spirit, they so long for. Bring this city to revival and restoration. May we be strengthened with Your glorious power so we have the endurance and patience we need, to enabled us to share in the inheritance that belongs to all Your people.Shine through us and may Your light never dim. Christ with me, before me, behind me, in me, beneath me, and above me. Christ on my right, on my left, when I lie down, and when I rise up. To Him be all the glory, In Jesus Name…
Usually “Nick Names” say something about a person….
so, speaking of “Nick Names”, here’s a few….
(this is your chance to participate)
What do you call a woman with a frog on her head? (anyone?) “Lilly”.
What do you call someone hanging on a wall? “Art”.
What do you call GUY under a pile of leaves? “Russell”.
What do you call a guy who is in the water and can't swim? “Bob”.
What do you call a Chinese man that gets on your nerves? “Anno- Ying”.
What do you call a man who has a shovel on his head? “Doug”
What do you call a guy who is always carrying a pencil? “Mark”.
What do you call a Chinese Billionaire? “Cha Ching”
Her husband affectionately called her Boom Boom. Just as the graveside service was finishing, there was a lightning strike and an earth shakingboom. The little old man, looked up and said, “Well, she made it, She’s His problem now”!!!
Acts 17:29 – “– “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, shaped by man's devices”
Has anyone ever had a picture that you would never show anyone, because it just doesn’t do you justice? If you have then you know what God feels like. God is saying that we should not make any graven images in His likeness, because no man can create a likeness that sums up all that He is. No picture would ever sum up or capture who He is! In the same way, no one name could ever express all that God is, so he has given us many names which still fall short of the inexhaustible, incomprehensible, all knowing, omni present and all powerful God!
However…. once God did take a selfie and when He showed it to us, it looked like Him, acted like Him, and it sounded like Him. It was Jesus! Jesus said that He had come to show us the Father.
Now what is even more amazing, is that God created man in His image and His likeness. But man forgot who He was to look like, so God sent Jesus to remind us. Jesus showed us how to look like, sound like and act like the Father.
That didn’t happen with Mohammad. It didn’t happen with Buddah, Confucious, Sun Yung Moon, or any other religious figure ever born, but it does happen in the name of Jesus Christ! Because He is alive and moving among us today!!!
Archibald Ewing, was a successful business man in Glasgow, who went to China as a missionary. Through his intimacy with the Lord Jesus, his features became so radiant that the people there gave him a new name—`Mr. Glory-face'.
The name “Christian” is actually a Nick Name which means “Like Christ” which is why I have named this message “Living up to Your “Nick Name”…..
It seems that “Christian” can mean just about anything today. To be called a Christian today, may not be paying anyone a compliment.
Mahat-ma Gandhi, the well known non-violent liberator of India, is known to have said “Christianity would be a great movement if it weren’t for the Christians in it”!!!
But names are important, they embody the nature, the agenda, the vision, the function and the intentions of a person or a thing….
A teacher for 4 year olds found that out that one little boy had showed up for her class for the first time without any name tag. She managed to get his first name, but couldn't find out his last name. She was told that the boy couldn’t speak well. "Brian, what's your daddy's name?" she asked. "Daddy," he replied. She tried again, "Brian, what's your mommy's name?" "Mommy," he answered. Suddenly she realized exactly how she could get the answer she needed. "Brian, what does your mail man call your mommy?" His face lit up. With a grin and a deep voice, he replied, "Hey lady, do something with your dogs!" (well that was no help)
They didn’t do Jacob any favor, his name meant “usurper and liar” so God redeemed it to mean “the prince who prevailed with God”….Abram’s name meant “Father” but God redeemed it to Abraham, which means “Father of Nations”….Saul’s name meant “to ask or question” but God redeemed it to Paul which means “Little by Little”…..And that’s how he won the gentile world… little by little….
Acts 11:25 “Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Paul v26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch of Syria. So for a whole year Barnabas and Paul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch”.
Everyone knows that there are good names and bad names….. Very few folks name their children “Judas” because it’s association with the betrayer of Christ… or how about Nero, who burned Rome….
This name they tagged the church with was a mocking term, spoken in a very negative manner by those who didn’t know what category to put these followers of Christ in, and since they didn’t have a name for them, and they didn’t have a label to put on the bottles which contained this “New Wine”, they called them Christian as a sarcastic put down.
You can see this as the Apostle Peter is specifying the charges brought against them… 1 Peter 4:16 “If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (the behalf of the one whose name we carry).
Notice that the church did not call themselves “Christian”, but the people in the city of Antioch saw them acting like, talking like, and looking like Jesus and they said “they are Christians”….. in their groping way, the antagonists at Antioch had put their finger on the fact that the one power that held this Motley mass together, the one bond that was the glue of this movement of 'Jew and Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, bond and free' into one vital unity, was a personal relation to a person who had died and yet they claimed was still alive!!!
We need to remember that Jesus was accused of being a fake and a fraud , a bastard child of Mary, a traitor against the king because He claimed to be a king, He was seen as a threat by the religious leaders since multitudes were following Him, they were saying that He did not rise from the dead and that the disciples had taken His body and hidden it…. So, this “Nick Name” which was given the church was not a compliment by any means….Notice it is not Jesus the Man they were “Nick Named” after, but Christ, the Divine office, that name which makes possible the foundation and the bond of the Church with a capitol “C”.
If they followed us around, would they observe that Jesus was alive and well!!
As Christ has revealed His power through the church over the centuries, this title by which the followers of Jesus Christ proudly call themselves all over the world, has become it’s banner and it’s anthem!!
It is a poor comment on your nick name, if, being Christ's followers, you can go through life unrecognized by your neighbors, your fellow workers, the store you shop at, and the crowd you hang out with.
It’s like the young man who was brought before Alexander the Great. When asked his name by the great ruler/warrior, he said “Alexander sir”… The general was impressed that he had the same name. He asked what the charges were against the young man. They told him that he fled from the battle field, in the midst of battle. The General rose to his feet, grabbed the young man and said…. Either change your behavior or change your name immediately”!!
If we are His, He should clearly and apparently be the center and the guide, the impulse and the pattern, the strength and the reward, the motivation and the priority of our whole life. And because of that, they called them Christians.
If the people who reside in the Florida Keys had to invent a name for you, as the clever folks of Antioch did for the early church there….. what name would naturally come to their lips, watching you, listening to your words and your actions…. would it be 'Christians,'? (like Jesus) If it would not, then there might be something that is still need to do a little work on.
Now, before they were called Christians, the names they were called are important, because this lets us see why they were tagged with the nick name “Christian”.
They were first referred to as Disciples. This name was common for the period of time and referred to the manner of mentoring, which involved a teacher, who was called the “Master”. This Master would choose a group of folks to impart his wisdom into. They would live together with their master, and day after day, life was their classroom, they would learn as they applied life principles being lived out around them.. When the teacher died, his students would continue to spread his teachings. So it was important that they understood the teachings of the master in order to share their truths. Discipleship may have revealed potential, but it did not guarantee transformation….
Other masters taught truths, but Jesus was truth come to earth that all people might experience transformation and life as God intended. What He says is truth, pure and complete. His utterance is the final word aboutany subject that He touches upon. His truth flows from an inexhaustible supply of wisdom and knowledge. The name, “disciple”, is used through the book of acts, and is not mentioned again after that….
We also see that they were known as Believers. This indicates atransformation at the core of your being. Belief is an action which is activated by a deep and abiding trust. This is where character is formed, life and goals are built, and the cycle of grand possibilities is set in motion.Belief is never passive but it is always indicated by how you live.
A disciple might approach life with the question, “what will help me reach my goals”… A Believer who has been invaded by the Christ, would approach life with the question, “What would You have me do Lord”?
They were also called Sanctus or Saints. To many folks, saints are football players who play for New Orleans…. To many others, Saints are Superhumans, whose feet never really touch the ground. But the name Saint or Sanctus, means “to be set apart for God”.. which means all who receive Christ and make Him Lord of their lives and make a commitment to obey and follow Him, are saints! Perhaps, we don’t refer to ourselves as saints because it means that life can and often will be difficult. It means that life can be sacrificial. It means that you can’t always put your own needs first, but often put others first. There aren’t normal and super levels of Christianity. We are all called to work at it in our own way in our own lives.
Sainthood is about training for reigning, to change the challenges into opportunities for God to get glory. To transform stumbling stones of life into stepping stones.
And last, they were called Brethren.. Luke 22:32 Jesus said to Peter, "When you have been recovered, strengthen the brethren".
The title “brethren” means to be “born of the same womb”. That’s what we are as believers. We’re “born through the womb of the Spirit”. The Holy Spirit is brooding, incubating and birthing us into Christ.
We’re all in this thing together through the good and the difficult. That’s why you’re here today, to strengthen the brethren through our common bond in Christ and allow others the opportunity to become brethren as well.
Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship (Koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (house to house) If the first communion had been in the south, it would have to include fried chicken, and if it had been in KW, black beans and yellow rice would have been on the table!!! But we would say that this scripture is talking about home meetings….
1 Corinthians 12:25 “Let there be no division in the body (the church) so that there might be mutual concern (Koinonia) for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it”. When one hurts they all hurt, when one rejoices, they all rejoice..
Koinonia is a Greek word that occurs 20 times in the Bible. Koinonia’s primary meaning is “fellowship, sharing in common, and mutual concern.” Christian fellowship is a key aspect of the Christian life. Believers in Christ are to come together in love, faith, and encouragement. That is the essence of koinonia.
The New Testament is a “one another” collection of books, Brethren have a “one another” focus, and the Church should be a “one another” place.
Brethren indicates a sameness…..Christ is our elder brother, and He has given us the same spirit. There are no Pastor Holy Spirits and Lay person Holy Spirits, there are no Evangelist, Prophet, Teacher, Apostle Holy Spirits. There are no children Holy Spirits and adult Holy Spirits… A child receives the same full fledged Holy Spirit that an adult receives. We all receive the Fully God, Fully Complete, Holy Spirit! But we all must grow up into Him at different levels, and callings, and the more we yield and obey, the faster we grow and cooperate with Him in our destiny.
Webster’s Definition of a nickname is … “a descriptive name given instead of or in addition to the one belonging to a person, place, or thing…. God’s Nick Names are a revelation of His character and what He’s willing to do and to become in our behalf…. They show us His nature, His intent and His willingness.
Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches”. And God sure did give us some good names to call upon Him with…. that are greater than material riches….
He is El Shaddai, the Strong One.
¨ He is El-Elyon, God Most High.
¨ He is El-Olam, the Everlasting God.
¨ He is Jehovah Jirah, the God Who Provides.
¨ He is Jehovah Rapha, the God Who Heals.
¨ He is Jehovah Shalom, the God of Peace.
¨ He is Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts.
¨ He is Jehovah Shammah, the God Who is There.
¨ He is Jehovah Nissi, the Lord Our Banner.
¨ He is Jehovah Roi, the Lord Our Shepherd.
He is Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord Our Righteousness.
And He is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord who is there.
Someone has said that there are 256 names for Christ in the Scriptures.….I heard of one small boy who had asked his parents about the name of God and after hearing a long explanation that God was called by so many names (and they went through some of them with him) He finally askedhis parents, “Could I just call Him Steve?” (and I’m sure He would answer that call)
If He has called Himself “Healing” then He is now our very present healer….
If He has called Himself “provider”, then He is now our very present provision….
If He has called Himself “Peace” then He is now our very present peace….
When Isaiah called his name, he doesn’t stop at King or Lord, but lets us know that His name is ….Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. When Isaiah delivered these names to the Israelite people, they were exiled in Babylon at the time. These were dark times of slavery and servitude in their lives. But God was speaking through Isaiah to show them and us the shape of their new future, to reveal to them and us that the best of times are on their way, and to impress upon us the wonderful things that God is doing behind the scenes and will continue to do out in the open, among His people! (to impart hope, confidence and peace)
You see, God’s good news overwhelms the world’s bad news.
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The Greek phrase “In the name” Is “Exeusia” or “by the authority of”.
When a policeman says, “stop in the name of the law” we know what that means. He’s speaking with the authority that’s been given to him and the law backs him up. That’s why people listened to Peter and John. They spoke by the authority of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said right before the Great Commission, “All authority or power is given unto Me in heaven and on earth.” And He delegates that power and authority to us….
Remember when Peter said to the lame man, “Silver and gold have I none but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Well, guess what happened? He not only stood up and walked, he went to church with them!... Now that’s what I call a church growth campaign!
Jesus is not only the name that gives power, authority and ability…. He is the name that holds it all together…. And holds it all up!!!
Acts 4:11 “This (Jesus) is the stone which was rejected by the builders, which is now become the chief foundation stone”.
Psalms 3:3 “But You, oh Lord, are my shield, my glory, and the lifter up of mine head”.
He lifts up the fallen, the discouraged, the downcast and the depressed….
He’s the foundation stone, that will hold marriages together, He’s the foundation stone that will hold body, soul and spirit together, He’s the foundation stone that will hold businesses together, He’s the foundation stone that will hold the church together, He’s the foundation stone that will hold nations together…. If He builds it, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it ”!!!!!
He’ll lift and sustain your peace, your health, your family, your business, your sanity, and while others are falling apart, and the world is going crazy all around you, you shall stand and having done all, stand and see the glory of God!!!
Satan knows how special that name is, that’s why he constantly tries to demean and defile it in the minds of our society today, by turning it into a curse word, or a explicative which is used as a by-word to express, frustration, anger or consternation. Friend, guard the sanctity of that name. When you’re watching a program and they start using “Jesus” as a curse word, change the channel, because you know that worse is coming. Someone using Jesus’ name as a curse word is a great opportunity to witness for Christ. Let them know that’s who loves them more than anyone has!
Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us who can succeed against us.” Friend, if you’ve got Jesus on your side, you’ve got all you need. Share with that person, who He is and what He has done for them…By dying for their sins and giving forgiveness and all we have to do is ask. They’ll think about it because that’s Holy Spirit’s job, to make sure they do!!! Share out of concern not just to make a point. Let the Holy Spirit flow through you….
A missionary had finished teaching a group of new Christians on forgiveness, when a lady came forth to share the impact the teaching had in her life. He asked her what her name was and she gave her Mexicanname. He asked her what it meant and She answered, ‘It means “Child who takes the anger away.”’ When he inquired as to why she would have been given this name, she said, ‘My Mom and Dad had been forbidden by their parents to marry. But they loved each other so much that they married anyway. For several years they were cut off from both of their families. Then her mother became pregnant with her. And when the grandparents held her in their arms for the first time, the walls of separation and hostility came down. She became the one who swept the anger away. And that’s the name her mother and father gave her.’” “Child who takes the anger away.”
What’s in a name…..My name “Charles” means “free man”, Christopher means “To present Christ” and Elliott means “Spirit of Elijah”… That’s a tall order to measure up to!!! But I checked out some other names…..Mary ( a Wished for child)… Alan (Harmony)….Dara (Pearl of wisdom)…Winnie (reconciliation)… Craig (Strong)… Linda (Flexible)… Cherie (Darling)….Betty (given to God)….Phil (Lover)….Marsha (Warrior)…. Mae (Increase)….Esmeralda (to be envied)… Doris (The gift)…. Erika….(Ruler)….Ann (Favor or grace)….Landon (High places)….Danica (Morning star)…Scott (a Scottsman)… Cynthia (the hunter)
If I didn’t get your name in there, you can Google and get it…..
But my point is, that when we call out a name, we are saying something about the person that we are calling. My message today is about living up to our name. So, first and foremost, we are called Christian…I believe as Christians, God calls us by our Redemption name. Look at what Jesus promised to all who believe in Him:
Revelation 2:17; 3:12 “I will give him . . . a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. . . . I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name”.
What this stone is which is mentioned, we don’t know, but it will be ours and it will have our new name on it, God’s name, The city’s name, and the new name that we will know Jesus by.
The bible tells us that Jacob came to a place called “Luz” and it was there that He saw a ladder stretched from heaven to earth with angels going and coming and this is significant to me, The place was renamed from Luz (the almond tree) to Bethel (the house of God) That’s what the vision of God will do to the place you’re at. Don’t let the place, the circumstances, or problem change you…you change the place…
Then in Genesis 32 … Jacob prevailed with God after wrestling all night with the angel… The angel asked him, “What is your name”… Sometimes we know where we are but we don’t understand our destiny. Jacob was where he was, but Israel was his destiny! His name was changed to Israel (Prince who prevailed with God)…
This is not just about putting lipstick on a pig and naming it angel…. This is about seeing a Jacob (usurper) changed to an Israel (a prince of God)….
Ephesians 6:10 “Finally brethren, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. v11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. v12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
We have not been called to fight with the world but to pull down strongholds, rulers of darkness and spiritual forces of evil in high places so that the world can change as we allow the Holy Spirit of God to use us to love it and reconciled it to God.
If we are faithful to live up to what God calls us, He will use us to be the instruments that He uses to transform places and people so that they are never the same.
Our three hinderances we face are COMPLACENCY, COMPROMISE, and LACK OF COMPASSION. If we don’t get victory over our broken places, we will be numbered among the hurting people, that are hurting other people…..
If we don’t overcome these enemies, the world will change our families and us instead of us changing the world…. Dr. S. M. Zwemer said “He who sets out to change individual lives is considered an optimist, but he who sets out to change society without first changing the individual is a complete lunatic.
Let me sum these three hinderances up in one word COMFORTABLE…..We have believed the lie that God has called us to be comfortable… This is the Americanization and Western-ization of Christianity. Comfort will keep you from winning souls, from taking the risk of being rejected if you take a stand for Christ, and from fulfilling your Divine calling…
Being too comfortable is how scripture tells us we can get passed up by God as He moves on to someone else who is willing to be uncomfortable….
Luke 14:16-24 Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. v17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ’Come, for everything is now ready.’ v18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ’I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ v19 Another said, ’I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ v20 Still another said, ’I just got married, so I can’t come.’ v21 The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the Master became angry and ordered his servant, ’Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ v22 ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ’what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ v23 Then the master told his servant, ’Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house may be full. v24 I tell you, not one of those men who were originally invited will get a taste of my banquet.’"
A British vessel landed The Patons on the main island. They carried anarmed guard because the natives were cannibals and they stood guardwhile the crew built the missionaries who would be stationed there, a house to live in. Then they sailed away, convinced that they would never see the courageous couple again.
In just a short time Mrs. Paton died of a tropical disease that was swift and deadly. Her husband buried her, but the natives demanded her body for their feast. John Paton had to lie upon her grave, musket in hand, ten days and nights, aided only by his dog, until he was sure that his wife’s body was no longer edible. Only then did he return to his lonely house and began the translation of the Bible into their native tongue. For thirty years he labored among them. When the British Government visited the Islands to evaluate his labor, they reported that the `cannibals' of the New Hebrides had now become the most advanced and cultured of all the native tribes who lived under the British flag. In those thirty years the island had been transformed and redeemed by the God breathed Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word for transformation is —`metamorphosis'. It summons a picture of the caterpillar changing into the beautiful winged butterfly. It is a change of form and appearance, from limitations and bondage to glorious freedom, but it also a change of habits and life style. From eating leaves to feasting on nectar…From crawling through valleys of lack, want, and never enough to rising to another level and living life over and above….
Listen Our God has called and anointed us to transform our valleys into banquet halls, (David says that He prepares a banquet in the valley) Hetransform our pain to reveal the pinnacles of His glory and grace, Hetransforms our disappointments into displays of His power, He transform our hard rock pillows of Luz into Bethel (the house of God). Remember, the only Jesus that many will ever see, is the Jesus in you and me! So, let’s not show them opinions, our bad experiences (we all have them), or our dissatisfaction and disappointment with everything and everyone…. Let’s just show them Jesus, and that will be enough!!!
We’re going to conclude with a purpose filled time of calling upon the Holy Spirit, to create opportunity, and grant wisdom unto us to seize the moments which are made available to us….
People go to the gym and lift weights, do the treadmill, do push upsand sit ups, they ride bikes, they row boats, and they run, to get fit and keep off those extra pounds. They monitor their weight constantly as they hop on the scales to see the results of all the burn, baby, burn!!!
And then, there are some folks who are allergic to exercise….
Someone said, “We all know that mirrors don’t lie, but we should be grateful that they don’t laugh”!!
On the moon, I would weigh 32 lbs… on Mars I would weigh 74 lbs…on Neptune I would weigh 223 lbs… on Jupiter I would weigh 500 lbs and on the Sun I would weigh 5,360 lbs. (stay away from that sun!)
God is a weight watcher. I always knew God was watching me and knows my every thought and hears my every word, but watching my weight? The Bible says that God watches our weight and He sees that many people weigh too much! (I’m going to explain that one)
There is a scale in Washington DC that is so accurate that it can weigh smoke. It can tell the difference when a fly lands on it. You actually have to stand 10 feet away from it when someone is using it because the heat from your body can affect it. If this scale says someone weighs a certain amount, we can be sure it is accurate.But God’s scales are more accurate than that because His scales weigh motives and intentions.
Someone in the Old Testament had an unpleasant encounter with scales.
There was a king mentioned in the bible who ruled over a huge mega kingdom of his day. His name is Nebuchadnezzar.
Let me read you a description…
Two million men were employed for the construction of the wall and principal works of the capital. The walls of the city were sixty miles in circumference. They were surrounded by a trench, which had been dug to provide the materials for the construction of the city. There were twenty-five gates of solid brass on each side of the square city. Between every two gates a great watchtower sprang up into the heavens. From each of the twenty-five gates, on either side, a street ran straight through, to the gate on the other side, so that there were fifty streets, each fifteen miles long, which gave to the city an appearance of wonderful symmetry. The houses were joined by bridges which ran from roof top to roof top and between them were lush gardens and shrubbery.
A branch of the Euphrates river went through the city, over which a bridge of marvelous structure was constructed and under the river a tunnel allowed free access to the other side for those of high rank. To keep the river from overflowing the city in the flood season, a great lake was arranged to catch the surplus, in which the water was kept in a reservoir until times of drought, when it was sent streaming down to irrigate the land.
A palace stood at each end of the Euphrates bridge; one palace was 1 3/4 miles in circumference, and the other palace was 7 1/2 miles in circumference.
The wife of Nebuchadnezzar, grew up among the mountains of Media, and could not stand it in this flat country of Babylon, and so to please her, Nebuchadnezzar had a mountain four hundred feet high built in the midst of the city. This mountain was surrounded by terraces, lifted up by great arches. All the glory of the flowery tropics was spread out at that tremendous height, until it must have seemed as though the clouds were all in blossom and the very sky leaned on the shoulder of the cedars.
At the top of this, an engine was constructed which drew the water from the Euphrates, and made it spout up to irrigate this garden of the skies. All this to please his wife.
In the midst of this city stood the temple of Belus. One of its towers was one eighth of a mile high, and on the top of it an observatory, which gave the astronomers and priests great advantage, since, being at so great height, one could easily talk with the stars and the Gods. This temple was full of cups and statues and censers, all of gold. One temple image alone weighed one thousand Babylonian talents, which would be equal to fifty-two million dollars.
With all it’s wealth and power. With all the splendor that spared nothing to impress and overwhelm the senses. This city and it’sruling system, would fall in one day as Darius and his army broke through the river tunnel during a drunken banquet.
Suddenly darkness fell upon the palace banquet room. The shine of gold is gone, and the powers that be are staring in horror as a hand appears and begins writing upon the wall.
Daniel 5:25 “And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UFARSIN. v 26 This is the interpretation of the thing. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it. v27 tekel, you have been weighed on the scales (God’s scales) and found wanting.”
Scripture tells us that God measures the soul of man and He measures by the things of the spirit…
A certain Christian was packing his suitcase before he left on a journey, he remarked to a friend: "There is still a little space left in the corner and I still need to pack a guidebook, a lamp, a mirror, a telescope, a book of poems, a scale, a bundle of old letters, a hymnbook, a sharp sword, and a small library, containing thirty volumes, in a space of about 8 inches wide and two inches deep." "I don’t see how you will ever do that” His friend said. “How are you going to manage this?" Oh, that space is where I’ll put my bible! It’s my lamp, my mirror, my telescope, my book of poems, my letters to the church, my hymn book, my sword, a 32 volume libraryand a scale. If you’ll apply it, it will weigh you….
Luke 12:16 And Jesus spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully. v17 And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room to safely store all my harvest? v18 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my goods. v19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have much goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry. v20 But God said unto him, you fool, this night your soul shall be required of you, then whose shall those things be, which you have stored up? v21 So is he that lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”.
Our God is weighing the principles, priorities and values in our lives, He’s weighing individuals, He’s weighing churches, He’s weighing kingdoms and nations.
He weighs us by what we’ve done with the opportunities He gives us, by faithfulness to the task, by who we brought to Him and who we did not. He weighs what we did with what we have been given, and if we had compassion, went the second mile, if we forgave those who He asked us to, and gave Him His portion.
How foolish to cut off the branch that’s holding you up….If we neglect winning souls to Christ, we will be weighed in the balances
and found wanting. Our nation will be weighed in the balances and found wanting. When we kicked God out of the education system, made abortion legal, and violated God’s laws concerning marriageand the family (a person can legally marry their dog or their cat now, and children can divorce their parents) We’re cutting off the very thing that is holding everything together…
Hebrews 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, v2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. v3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds”.
The Jewish Bible says “lay aside every weighty impediment”
New living Bible says “let us strip off every weight that slows us down”,
New International Bible says “let us throw off everything that hinders”
Message Bible says “Strip down, start running - and never quit!”
God’s Word Translation says “get rid of everything that entangles us”
The Common English Bible “throw off any extra baggage”.
We all must ask ourselves,”what is it in my life, that fits that description”
Disobedience can weigh you down, unforgiveness, pride, envy, strife covetousness, greed, selfishness and fleshly lusts can weigh you down.
A psychologist took a glass containing water, and walked around a room while teaching. As she raised the glass, everyone expected they'd be asked the "half empty or half full" question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she asked them all "How heavy is this glass of water?" The answers ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, "Actually, it’s not the weight that matters. But it’s about how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each *…..case, the weight of the glass doesn't change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes." Having settled that….
She continued and said, "There are things in our lives that are like this glass of water. Carry them for a while and nothing happens. Carry them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you carry them all day long, day after day, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of being your best self." It’s important to remember to let go and stop carrying things that diminish and disempower you. Remember to put the glass down!
One of the spiritual extra baggage items is self--sufficiency. And a lot of pretty good people, and fairly successful people will be found wanting because they are counting on being good enough and religious enough to balance their own scales!
The greatest fear of the approval addict is rejection; the greatest fear of the power addict is humiliation; The greatest fear of the comfort addict, is suffering; and the greatest fear of the control addict, is uncertainty.
Religion is what we do, redemption is what He does. Believing and receiving is our part, impartation is His part. We are willing to put the glass down, He is able to lift it’s affects from our soul and spirit….
Jesus had to give the Pharisees and Sadducees new scales to weigh themselves. They were using the scales of comparison to weigh their righteousness. They looked pretty good compared to many folks around them, but Jesus put them on the scales of God’s impartial and universal truth and they didn’t like it!!!
2 Corinthians 10:12 “Comparing ourselves among ourselves is not wise.”…. Mark 10:25 “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven”. That means rich in ability; rich in resources; rich in self righteousness. (or Self-sufficiency) Throughout the gospel it is not only sin that keeps people from Jesus, but self-righteousness and self-sufficiency. It’s not our weakness that keeps us from being used by God, so many times, it is our attitude that we can do it in our own strength.
Here’s some wisdom from God’s measuring scales…(check it out) ----You will never change what you are willing to tolerate, because you have now mentally accepted that limitation as your standard.
If you are living in a certain way and are unhappy you must make a decision that you don’t have to live that way any longer.
You will only attract, what you respect the most.
By respecting something, you put value on it. Things you don’t respect will not stay in your life because they have no value.
A mistake repeated more than twice is a decision….
If you don’t respect a person, you can never learn from that person.
What you make happen for others, will happen for you.
When you do something for someone else without expecting anything in return – you have operated a key of increase in the kingdom.
The habits that are your daily routine are constantly determining your future. They are setting you up for success or failure every day.
The problems you are willing to solve for others are the solutions which will come back to you. If you are creating problems, that is what will come back to you….(Learn from the past, plan for the future, and live in the present)
Your time, Your love, and your friendship are seeds that will cause a harvest to come back to you….
You cannot free someone who refuses to leave their prison.
When Daniel was summoned to the palace, to interpret the hand writing on the wall, Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t looking for solutions, he was looking for someone to blame for interrupting his banquet and raining on his Ego-parade.
He was surrounded by folks who only told him what he wanted to hear, and instead, Daniel told him what he needed to hear!
The last thing that Winnie wanted to hear, just hours after recoveryfor her hip replacement, was get up and let’s go for a walk. The physical therapist didn’t tell her what she wanted to hear (leave me alone and just let me lie here and sleep) But they told her what she needed to hear, (get up and get moving, so healing can begin)!!We now have a therapist in town who is checking to see if Winnie is “weighed in the balances and found wanting”…. So far she’s doing pretty good! When the writing on the wall is put in context of our modern lives, it would be a mandate about where our treasure is. What is it that brings you joy? Where is your pleasure center located?
Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. And Brother Luke goes on to say this…
Luke 12:28 “If God so clothes the grass, which is to day in the field, and tomorrow is cut down and cast into the oven, how much more [will he clothe] you, O you of little faith? v30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knows that we have need of these things. v31 So seek first the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.v32 Fear not, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”.
We are being asked about what the true value of our life is….and what is it that we treasure? The stuff that we treasure may be owning us instead of us owning that stuff. (where your treasure is there your heart is also)
It’s not just about our stuff, but it’s about what it is that fills up our hearts.
Matthew 6:19 “ Do not just lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: v20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”
We all need to lose a little weight….and we’re not talking about jelly rolls, or those late night snacks, and fewer desserts….This is not about calories…. We are being weighed each day, and the scales are calibrated by the word of God that we all must stand before and give an accounting.
From the moment our feet touch the floor, till we lay down our head at night…our attitude, our gratitude, our obedient response to His will, and faith in his word and character are being weighed.
This is not to condemn us but to assure that by putting greater value there, we receive the greater reward and blessing the father has for us! He wants us whole, healthy and living life well!
Have you ever been in a situation where you were at the checkout counter and didn’t have enough money? Or you forgot your checkbook? Or the magnetic stripe on your credit or debit card didn’t work? How about when you had less available on your debit card than you thought? You just didn’t check your balance before you started spending. But then, someone steps up and says “It’s OK, I’ll take care of it, put it on my tab”… I’ve had that happen, at a restaurant, where I went to pay, and the person at the register said, “someone already paid your bill”…..
I am told that our weight should be in proportion to our height. I heard someone say that they didn’t have a weight problem, they have a height problem. They just need to grow to 9 feet tall to be the right weight…
What I’m getting at is that prayer is important in our lives, because when we’re on our knees we are so tall that we can touch heaven. So spending time on your knees can really help with your weight problem!
Dr. Rand Byrd was a staff cardiologist at the San Francisco General Hospital and a professor at the University of California. He conducted a ten-month study of 393 patients admitted to the coronary intensive care unit of the hospital. There were 192 patients, in the “prayed for” group, while the remaining 201 patients were not prayed for.
Prayer groups around the country were given only the first names, diagnoses and prognoses of the designated 192 patients. The groups were asked to pray for each patient by name once a day. No other instructions were given. None of the patients, nurses, or physicians knew which group each patient was in.
The results were startling. The prayed-for patients were 5 times less likely to require antibiotics and 3 times less likely to develop fluid on the lungs. None of these prayed-for patients required breathing tubes compared to 12 in the other group, and fewer of the prayed-for patients died. The findings were published by the American Heart Association.
Dr. Byrd’s study showed conclusively that praying for others really does make a difference even when the patients don’t know they are being prayed for. Think what could happen if we started praying for others and ourselves about everything. Our prayers could change the world!
We Are All On God’s Scales…..When we honestly and sincerely ask Him what His values are and what He treasures in our lives, what happens is that He begins to balance the scales.
Along with all the stuff that we may have accumulated, there are clearly things that God is looking for as we step on the scales…
He’s looking for Faith. “For without faith, it is impossible
to please God.”
He’s looking for Belief. “He that comes to God must believe that He is…”
Salvation: “Except a man is born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom…” Do we weep over the lost?
He’s looking for His name….Where have we placed The Name of Jesus: “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name given unto man which can save…”
What place do we give The Spirit of God: But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”.
What about Holiness: “without which no man shall see the Lord.”
And He’s looking for Truth: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth”. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
When you go to a doctor for your check-up, they will often begin to poke, prod, and press various places, all the while asking, "Does this hurt? How about this?" If you cry out in pain, then likely, there's something wrong, and the doctor will say, "We'd better do some more tests. It's not supposed to hurt there!"
It’s the same way, when pastors preach and the Word reveals as the Holy Spirit is moving, it causes some discomfort, in some area. It may indicate that there's something wrong that needs to be dealt with in prayer and obedience before the Lord.
When I get on the big scale at Winn Dixie, I hold on to the rail until it indicates what I want to weigh… You too determine what you weigh…
Set the thing down that you’ve been carrying too long, set the thing down that has been weighing you down….
David Livingstone the missionary Doctor, wrote…. “I place no value on anything I have or may possess, except in its relation to the kingdom of God. If anything will advance the interests of the kingdom, then it shall be used to promote the glory of Him to whom I owe all my hopes for time and eternity”.
You see, for the born again child of God, when weighing time comes, Jesus steps on the scales with you, and His righteousness, His holiness, His purity and sinlessness balances the scales! You’re on one side and His grace, His atonement, His compassion are on the other side providing the standard which brings us into God’s pleasure and favor….
And the verdict is “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”….
“As we come to this place in our journey,we thank You Lord that even when we did not feel Your nearness, we knew deep inside that you were always there. So constant in the minutes, hours and days, you were watching over us and keeping us in your love and grace. You said that we were always on Your mind and in Your heart. That truth brings comfort and amazing peace in every situation.
Lord You have enabled us to persevere and hold on as we are strengthened and carried by Your Spirit. You are never far from any one of us, so Your ear is close when we pray and when we just want to talk.
While we don’t know what the days ahead will hold, we thank you that every moment is in your hands, and part of the plan You have for us. So, we move forward in confidence, knowing You walk where we walk, and feel what we feel.
Forgive us Lord, for allowing our hearts and spirits to be weighed down with the cares of life at times. Help us to lay aside all those weights that we might enter Your peace and run the race You have for us. We gladly yield our lives unreservedly to You, our Savior, and our Lord. Help us to be, and to go, and to do, as You would wish. It is our great privilege to serve You and to walk in obedience. We desire nothing greater than to bring You Glory and help others to know You better and for some, to know You for the first time.
Open hearts that are still closed against you, and open understanding that in knowing, lives would changed and spirits made open.
Holy Spirit, bring conviction unto righteousness, and draw those who are away from you to faith and to repentance.
Lord Jesus, as we lay aside all the weights that might hinder and distract us, may we join your multitude of harvesters in this end time harvest, as we wait for Your appearing. Continue to move upon our hearts to mold and shape us more and more for Your honor and glory we ask.
A fellow got in a terrible fight and the next day a friend saw his cuts and bruises and commented on how terrible the man looked. The guy simply remarked “Hey, I won, you should have seen the other guy!!!….
Garrison Keillor wrote…..”It's a shallow and sterile life that doesn't give a person a few scars”.
Harry Crews wrote….There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, and the wound is closed and healed, and done with”.
Webster says a scar is “A mark left by a healed wound”.
Recently, as you know, we have been up close and personal with a scar, and I’m talking about a whopper. And the adventure continues. They use glue now, instead of stitches or staples. The glue is made from protein and it bonds with the body tissue, then it is timed to dissolve when the tissue is healed. This greatly minimizes scarring… and there are no sutures or staples to remove later.
How many know, that the Lord sometimes heals the body but allows scars to remain as a testimony of His power.
Let me give you an example…
When Jacob wrestled all night, with the angel of the Lord at Bethel, which means “House of God”… Jacob said, “I will not let you go, until the blessing I receive”… the angel touched his hip and put his hip out of joint, so that he walked with a limp, the remainder of his life.
Every time Jacob limped, he was reminded of the night in God’s House, that he prevailed and received the blessing. His scar was not a reminder of defeat, but of victory!!! That scar declared Jacob wrestled through and prevailed in prayer.
So, for this season, Winnie will be defined and greatly influenced by her scar, that will always remind her that she had a God appointment which will forever change her life. And I want to say that all through this adventure, we saw the hand of God at work.
From now on she will set off alarms at airport security,
and she never wore string bikinis anyway, so that won’t be an issue.
And just like with Jacob, God has used this scar to allow us to make connections we would never have made without it, and we’ve been able to witness to many people as a result of this experience.
That should be the purpose of our scars, that they would become a testimony we can use to share our relationship with the Lord and introduce others to Him so they can have that same relationship….
God will use whatever you allow Him to, as a tool to witness, and to demonstrate what He can do through your own experiences and with the scars which we all wear.
John 20:24 “But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. v25 So the other disciples were saying to him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” v26 After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace a be with you.” v27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands, and reach here your hand and put it into My side and do not be unbelieving, but believing. v28 Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Some time ago, I wrote a verse which I call “Scars”…
It doesn’t matter who you are.
It doesn’t matter where you’ve been.
It doesn’t matter what the scar.
It doesn’t matter what the sin.
It doesn’t matter how you fell, somewhere along the way.
There’s healing available for your life … beginning right now, today.
I remember when I was much younger, I wanted to get a job driving trucks. I heard how much they got paid and I wanted some of that! I didn’t even get an application. The guy took a look at my hands and said, You’re no truck driver, those hands are too smooth, there aren’t enough callouses and scars…My point in saying that, is that we know Jesus by the scars that he wore in our behalf! They are what identified Him to Thomas. It is what is special about Him still today…
Luke 24: 36 “And as they spoke, the resurrected Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and said unto them, Peace be unto you. 37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. 38 And He said unto them, Why are youtroubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me, and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones, as you see me have. 40 And when He had spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet”.
(He’s been revealing himself to us all, but we think of Him as some kind of Spirit, but He’s real, I’ve seen Him several times, and I know. We need the covering removed from our eyes, so we can see Him) The word is still being made flesh today!
Paul declares that he would be known everywhere he went by the scars he wore…
Galatians 6:17 (MSG) “Quite frankly, I will not be bothered anymore by trivial disputes. I have far more important things to do. For I bear in my body the scars from my service to Jesus”.
We can see the list of scars that Paul bore (it’s quite a list)
2 Corinthians 11:23 “I have been been flogged severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.
I like the T-shirt that says “ If scars tell a story, then my body is a book”…..Every scar has a story. Some scar stories are really cool. When people ask about them, there’s a grand adventure to tell.
And then there are the scars that tell stories we don’t want told. Stories that are embarrassing. I have a scar on the back of my head because I’m an idiot. I tried to ride a pipe stuck between two 50 inch cart wheels down a steep hill while balancing in the middle with nothing to hang on to but a free turning bar. A story I usually don’t tell.
There are scars that we hide or bury deeply in our psyche. The scars that bring up old wounds that we would rather just forget. Sometimes those scars have visible reminders. Sometimes they don’t.
But they still make themselves known one way or the other. They still tell a story that we may not want to hear again. And they don’t go away because their purpose is that we might learn from them and grow wiser and stronger.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is perishing, yet our inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Tony Evans tells of two monks walking on their life’s journey. When they came to an OLD, ELDERLY WOMAN JUST SITTING THERE CRYING. She needed to travel to a city and there was a river between her and the city. There were no bridges to cross the river and the lady couldn’t swim.
So the first monk said: WE WILL CARRY ACROSS THE RIVER. The two monks joined hands and picked up the old lady and gently carried her across the river. When they got across the river they sat the lady down, she continued her journey and they continued theirs. The second monk started complaining endlessly. He said: Look how wet I am, I am cold now. Look at the mud that I have all over me. I have wrinkles in my clothes and they are dirty now. Then he added, and my back is hurting from lifting that heavy old lady. I am getting stiff. I am in pain.
The second monk just kept complaining and finally said “I DON’T THINK I CAN CONTINUE ON THIS JOURNEY”. Why aren’t you complaining, he asked the other monk? Doesn’t your back hurt?
Then the first monk said: WE DID A GOOD THING. YES MY BACK IS HURTING, AND I’M MUDDY, AND I’M TIRED. BUT I KNOW WHY YOUR BACK IS HURTING AND YOU ARE COMPLAINING SO MUCH. YOU ARE STILL CARRYING THAT OLD LADY. I SET HER DOWN 5 MILES BACK. YOU NEED TO SET HER DOWN TOO!!
Tell someone….. “SET HER DOWN”!!!
Scar tissue is always stronger than the tissue around it. I used to win, when I compared scars with Winnie, but I have never had a scar to compare with the beauty she has now!!! SHE WINS!!This is the Donely family who were so gracious to let us stay in their home during the surgery and the therapy. The Donelys were Winnie’s therapist as well as our wonderful hosts…
Through the “scar” experience that Winnie and I have walked through over the past weeks… We have been reminded again and again, that He took our place there at the whipping post when they laid open His flesh with the whip which was constructed with pieces of glass and metal woven into the leather strands,then they pressed a crown of thorns into his scull and brow….Then at the cross, they nailed His hands and feet and then drove a spear into His side. Those were our scars that He took….
All done and allowed by the Father so that He could take our sinsand bring healing to the memory and the emotions that are attached to our scars, and transform them for good and not for evil.
Isaiah 53:1 Surely He bore our griefs, and our v2 sorrows He carried, yet we esteemed Him stricken, v3 Smitten of God, and afflicted. v5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities. The chastening for our v2 well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. v6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to be laid upon Him”.
There was a woman who said that God talked to her every day. Soa minister went to her house to confirm or disprove that God was speaking to this old woman every day. “If God speaks to you, then surely He can tell you what I confessed to Him in my prayers last night, I will come back tomorrow and you to give me the answer. Ask God what I confessed to Him and see what he says.” The minister left confident that he had disproved an old woman’s claims. The next morning, he returned and asked her what God had told her about his confession from the night before. She took away all doubts, as she said “God told me that He completely forgot what you confessed to Him.”
HALLELUJAH! Not only is He able to take away the memory of the scars, He completely forgets about it, never to bring it up again, or hold it against us…..He forgot it, so you can forget about it!!!
Every one of us, have a birth scar (unless you are an alien from outer space).. PLEASE DON’T GO CHECKING ONE ANOTHER!
That birth scar, where the umbilical cord was cut, is your birth mark. It is a constant reminder of the time in your life when you went from one stage of life and development to another. Our scars are much like that, it is through them that we have grown and developed and learned to move to the next level in our lives.Every disappointment, every hurt, every emotional wound, every failure becomes the stepping stone that we use to climb up higher… Our scars are each a measurement of progress through the faithful blessings of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 28:2 And all these blessings shall run after you, and overtake you in the way you go, if you shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God.
And if we do hear His voice, we might hear Him say “yes”, or “no”, or “wait” or “You’ve got to be kidding”…..I hear many people pray and it sounds more like they’re giving God instructions than making a request”
Sometimes you have to press through the “no’s” to get to the “yes’s”
Satan tries to come around and throw your past in your face, the memories, the mistakes, the sins, the blunderings of your youth, but they’re under the blood, and Satan can’t touch what’s under the blood!!!!
If we don’t let Christ bury our past, and get it resolved, our past will bury us. We’ve all made mistakes and bad choices. If it’s true that we learn from every mistake we ever make…I should be a genius by now!!!
Water baptism is an outward testimony of an inner miracle where we testify that our past is now buried with Christ and He has risen to present the victory to the Father, and the sins of the pastare defeated and wiped clean and can no longer be held against us…Listen to Paul here….
Colossians 2:12 “We are buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through the working of God, who raised him from the dead”.
Sigmund Freud is world famous as a neurologist and psychologist. He is the founder of modern PSYCHO-ANALYSIS.He was a genius and a foolish man at the same time. His motto should be “Do as I say not as I do”….Life had left Sigmund a BITTER, HURT, DISAPPOINTED AND DISILLUSIONED OLD MAN. He smoked 20 cigars a day, which caused cancer of the mouth, he also had a cocaine addiction. He wrote a sad line in 1918, before his death “ I HAVE FOUND LITTLE GOOD ABOUT HUMAN BEINGS ON THE WHOLE. IN MY EXPERIENCE MOST OF THEM ARE TRASH…”
(kinda makes you wonder about your therapist) He also said…
“When a man is freed of religion, he has a better chance to live a normal and wholesome life”
Sounds like Siggy was mad at God and the whole world! Siggywould tell you that everything happens for a reason, in the cause and effect cycle of things. But in his case it’s bad decisions and stubborn pride….
Luke 6:37 Judge not, and you shall not be judged: condemn not, and you shall not be condemned: forgive, and you shall be forgiven:
Have you forgiven yourself….. That’s where the Healing starts….
A man was in prison for murdering a bank teller in an armed robbery. One night while in prison he asked God into his heart. Even though he had asked God for forgiveness, he continued to be plagued with guilt for his sin and so he went to see the prison chaplain. The chaplain asked him if he had asked God to forgive him, he said yes I have. The chaplain then asked if he had been able to forgive himself. He said, “what do you mean, I have to forgive myself?” The chaplain told him that in order for God to complete His work of cleansing through him, he had to forgive himself.
Let me ask you a question this morning, “Have you forgiven yourself, of the thing you asked God to forgive you from”?
It is then, that it is truly wiped away…. Don’t worry about the scars that are left as a testimony… they are only there to give God glory! The scar is a monument to the healing that has happened.
Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. v13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated [us] into the kingdom of His dear Son. v14 Inwhom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins.
IT DOESN’T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT!
A little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. He dove into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward him. His mother was looking out the window saw what was happening and she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. The boy made a U-turn to swim to his mother. But it was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him.
The mother grabbed her boy by the arms just as the alligator grabbed his legs. An incredible tug-of-war between the twobegan. The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, and shot the alligator.
After weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep cuts where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.
The news paper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy didn’t lift his pant legs but he showed the reporter the scars on his arms. The reporters said, I was talking about the scars on your legs. “Oh, I have scars on my legs, but the scars on my arms are where my momma won and the alligator lost. My Mom just wouldn’t let go."
Jesus’ scars are your assurance that He will never let go. Jesus’scars are proof that you won and the Devil lost. They are proof that you are victorious and Satan is defeated. His scars are proof that you have survived but your toxic past has not! Satan meant it for evil, but God meant it for good!!!
Because Jesus just wouldn’t let go!!!!
One of the mysteries of Easter is that the Resurrection brought Christ back to life, but He chose to keep the scars.
When I was a boy, I heard a minister say that there is only one thing in heaven made by man. That is the scars in the body of Jesus, His hands, His feet and His side….
Whatever happened to you, that left scars on your heart, or your soul, or your body – Jesus went through it in the final hours of His life…
Were you humiliated? So was Jesus.
Were you abused? So was Jesus.
Were you betrayed? So was Jesus.
Were you done wrong? So was Jesus.
Were you falsely accused? So was Jesus.
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I have an abundance of scars from my life, like most folks. Many of them, really put a hurt on me, when they happened. The pain was severe and intense at the time.
But I look at the scars now, and I remember some of those episodes, but you know what…. It doesn’t hurt anymore.
Jesus came to take away the hurt. The scar may be there, but the hurt, and the pain are gone, and we don’t have to keep reliving it or experiencing it over and over again.
If it still hurts, I want you to know with confidence today, Jesus has come to heal, restore, and take away the hurt….
The song by Bill Gaither says, “Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning. Weeping only last for the night. Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning. The darkness now, means dawn is just in sight”….