Well, yesterday we looked the the foundation provide by Jesus that the very first believers embraced. But what good is a foundation unless something is built upon it. Right now I remembering from a previous appointment in a certain community, there was something I saw almost every day. It was a foundation for a house. What I noticed was that it was overgrown with weeds even saplings were growing up. Someone had started to build a house but got only as far as the foundation.
I don’t know the story or the reason why–but this morning I see a spiritual truth in that image. A foundation becomes worthless unless something–something worthwhile–is built upon it. In looking at the book of Acts–Acts Of The Holy Spirit In Surrendered People–those surrendered people took that foundation and began building. What they built is a far cry from most “churches” today.
Renewal and Revival are the exclusive works of God through the Holy Spirit. And it comes when we build upon that Foundation that is provided for us. You know I love to throw that phrase Kingdom of God around a lot. And there’s a life that goes along with the Kingdom. I call it The Kingdom Life. But what I’ve discovered in this journey is that it is more accurately The Koinonia Life. Koinonia is that Greek word which means “a shared, or join participation”. Look at Acts 2:43-47
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Acts 2:43-47 (NLT)
Here is what that first life together looked like; and take a moment to compare it with the life you see at your church:
1] There was an awe and reverence for God. There was something about what was happening that it was clear to nearly all that this was a work of God—the implication is that even those who rejected Peter’s invitation could not deny that God was present.
2] There were signs and wonders. The wonders is what caught their attention. That’s what the Greek word means—to catch the attention of others. The signs, well here’s the Greek definition of that word: that by which a person or a thing is distinguished from others and known. They were known by the power that was being revealed in them. This is what produced the miracles.
3] They met together. Human connection is important. They actually enjoyed seeing each other. The Benediction wasn’t the sign that church was over. It signaled that it was time to get together.
4] They shared everything. It was their shared concern for each other that they gladly helped each other.
5] They were mission focused. They were willing to give up whatever they owned when someone was in need. Others were more important than self.
6] Worship was central. Notice they did it daily. Worship was important for them. It wasn’t an act they had to do—it was the life they lived.
7] They Met in homes for Communion. They didn’t have church buildings, so homes became the key meeting place. Today in congregations that are growing, one of the key reasons is small groups. This is going back to the very beginning of Koinonia. We have only a limited supply of time, so they invested in key relationships of people who shared their passion for Jesus. Just a side note here. How did they serve Communion with a seminary-trained,-church-ordained clergy to administer it? Have we made Holy Communion so “special” that it’s not sacred unless a pastor administers it? If so, we have robbed this Moment of it’s sacredness and power.
8] They shared meals and everything with great joy. The key word is JOY. To many church pew sitters look like they are chewing on a green lemon rind in one corner of their mouth and a green persimmon in the other. Hold a mirror up to your face and ask yourself, “Would someone really want to follow Jesus based on that image?”
9] They had generous hearts. What could show the heart of God more than Generosity? No one had to earn their way into their hearts. Their hearts were open to love and embrace others.
10] Their lifestyle was characterized by praise. They weren’t complaining about their community—they were doing what the apostles did when the Holy Spirit Indwelled them—telling others of the wonderful things of God! Here’s an application—those outside the church, outside the Koinonia, see us more for what we are against that what we are for.
And the result of building this kind of life?
1] They were respected. Is the church respected today in the U.S.? Not so much. Respect is earned, and maybe we need to get back to the Koinonia Life.
2] Others became followers of Jesus, daily this happened. And make sure you pay attention to the cause of the new followers. Who added? The Lord! We work the fields, HE takes care of the harvest.
If life within a local congregation does not mirror this kind of life, then it has lost its heart, its passion, and its purpose. Remember to Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
As a pastor, I admit I tend to first read a passage through the lens of a pastor. I look for what I need to teach, share and preach in order to fulfill what I like to term the Ephesians 4:11-12 model–to build up and equip the body of Christ. But this journey through Acts, I’ve sought to read this first and foremost as a disciple of Jesus. And as I look at this journal I’m keeping, there’s this haunting question I wrote: “How devoted am I to Jesus?”
It seems I’ve been so focused on building up others, that perhaps I’ve forgotten how to build myself up. But any pastor who never or rarely asked themselves the tough questions they pose to the flock, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t stay with that flock very long. The verse that leaped off the page and sliced open my heart is in chapter 2, verse 42
All the believers devoted themselves…
Acts 2:42 (NLT)
It seems I’ve been quick to do my “devotions”, but I’ve come face to face with the issue of being “devoted”. These words sound similar, but they are light years away from being the same thing. I can’t complete shake the lens of being “Preacherman”, so I know that I am not alone in this issue. I have seen many others who have substituted “doing their devotions” for “being Devoted“.
I am coming to understand what being devoted as a follower of Jesus should mean. It is found in how Dr. Luke paints a powerful word picture of being devoted. As the Holy Spirit was wiping up all that blood that had gushed from my heart when He sliced it open, He looked up at me and said, “It’s about the foundation, Randy. The foundation holds up everything on top of it. If the foundation is solid and strong, it holds up the rest of it. But if it’s not……well, you know what Jesus said about that.”
After regaining my composure, I looked for that foundation built by those first believers. It’s found in what they were devoted to. I read that list, and saw ever so clearly why the Body of Christ in Africa, Russia, Asia and other places were growing and thriving, and why the Body of Christ in the Western World is declining and in such chaos. It all comes down to that word “devoted“, and what they were devoted to.
1] The Apostles Teaching: There was an insatiable appetite. It seems that they could not get enough of it. They were hungry for what God had to say. This formed their core beliefs. These would be the things that everything else would be built around. We would call them the non-negotiables. And what they were teaching was what they were learning—from Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. This happened because Jesus promised it would happen with the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
2] Fellowship with each other: The Greek word Luke used is “koinonia”. It means “joint participation”. It’s a word used to describe close and caring relationships. In fact, as the Gospel continued to spread, they weren’t known in their culture as “churches” but as Koinonia. It was something everyone had a share in—a belonging. It wasn’t a building or denomination that marked these early believers—but their desire to be deeply connect TOGETHER in Christ and with each other
3] Sharing in meals: The Greek used by Luke is literally “the breaking of bread.” Now, when we think about the breaking of bread, what do we usually think about? Holy Communion. But in the Middle East, and most of the Mediterranean breaking of bread meant a meal. Meal time was considered special. In fact, if someone invited you to a meal and you refused, it was considered offensive. I know that one time my son Matthew told me when he was in Iraq, sometimes he had no idea what he was eating—but he never turned down any invitation to a meal. Whether it was a meal or The Lord’s Supper, breaking bread was considered a sacred and holy moment. See, there is something Biblical about Methodists loving to Meet And Eat.
4] They prayed: Early on they knew the importance of prayer. Remember we are talking about the foundation. Prayer wasn’t a last resort—but the first step. They really believed in the power of prayer because their faith was filled with that hopeful expectation that God was present and at work. And honestly, I don’t think their prayers were anything at all like those “stained glass prayers” spoken in church. For them, prayer was dialogue with God–both talking to and listening. They may have been considered by today’s standards, rather simple minded, but oh what results came from those prayers.
5] And remember, they did all this TOGETHER! What those disciples did just before the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit, being together, was so important and it continues to be important today. Some of the later writing by Paul focused on the importance of TOGETHER, and said a lot of harsh words when TOGETHER was being broken.
This is the Kingdom Foundation. What happens next comes out of that Foundation. Well, the Holy Spirit has stitched up my heart where He sliced in open, and it’s better now than before. So, to you the reader, remember the difference between devotions and devoted. Devotion are what we do. Devoted is the pursuing the Kingdom of God with all that is in us. It’s following the pull of the Holy Spirit into the direction of what God is doing in our world. Being devoted isn’t a casual thing, or a part time job as a follower of Jesus. It’s throwing yourself completely into the Kingdom of God and what HE is doing in our world.
Remember, love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
(P.S.–the next edition is about the kind of life that comes from our devoted foundation….)
Seems I remember somewhere about a certain road paved with good intentions; but it leads you to a not so nice place. Well, I’m guilty. I have good excuses, really good excuses; but I don’t have a good reason for failing to share what I’ve discovered as I read with fresh eyes the Book of Acts. So, forgiveness please….and my next “insight” says much, so very much, about grace. It’s Acts 2:39 NLT)–
This promise is to you, to your children, and to those far away—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”
The struggle in the arena of self-esteem has two extremes. At one end of the spectrum are those whose ego is over-inflated. They see themselves as “God’s Gift” to the world. That somehow, everything would collapse were it not for them. Know anyone like that? I sure do! I’ve even had the occasion (more accurately “burden to bear”) of being their pastor. But today, I’m putting them back up on the shelf. Maybe I’ll write something about them at a later time.
Today I want to focus on those on the other extreme, and those words of Peter in that famous Pentecost Message: “This promise is … to those far away.” I’m talking to those who feel totally, completely, absolutely worthless. I know how you feel. I’ve been there, done that, and got the scars to prove it. When it comes to the personal sense of well-being and worth, it’s a vacuum.
I compare this feeling to road kill. You know, that critter that wasn’t just hit once by a vehicle. It has been run over multiple times…and now is just a flat disk on the pavement. One would have to really focus to make out what it once was. It’s original image is gone.
There is nothing there at all. Well, there is that gnawing feeling of worthlessness. And being created in the image of God, and you are created in His image, this is a burden we were never equipped to carry. God knows this, and so even before The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit said, “LET THERE BE LIGHT!”, the 3 of them sat down and talked. They talked about you….and me.
And what was the subject of their conversation? Our redemption! My redemption! YOUR REDEMPTION! As they were planning this wonderful, beautiful, awe-inspiring creation, they were determined to put God’s image upon it. That image wasn’t placed in trees or any other created matter–it was on the last day they added it–when they created human begins. As they discuss this, the Father looks at the Son and says, “You know Jesus, part of our image is free-will. Unfortunately, they are going to use this precious gift for their own design, and we will be cut off from them, forever. Forever, unless you agree to become one of them, live like them, and also die FOR them a horrible, painful death. But it’s the only way to bring them back to us in this perfect relationship. So, Jesus, what do you say?” And Jesus said, “They are so wonderful and awesome I will do anything to restore them, restore them back to us! Let’s get busy creating!”
Does that conversation sound a bit far-fetched for you who feel so far away from God. Well, try this on for size…it fits you perfectly:
18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. 20 God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. (1 Peter 1:18-20 NLT)
Remember that these words were written by a man who said he would never, never, never deny Jesus. But he did; 3 times to be exact. If anyone ever felt far from God, it would be Peter. Yet on Pentecost, this same man stands up, without a prepared script, to proclaim the truth–this truth–YOUR TRUTH–that God has come looking for you. And you are never too far away for Him to find you.
Right now I’m thinking about another man who must have felt far away from God after Jesus was arrested. That would be Judas. He felt so far away from God that he could not see what was right in front of him. Earlier that night, Jesus took the Cup, gave thanks, and passed it to them, including Judas, and said, “All of you drink from this cup. This cup is my blood poured out for you and for many–for the forgiveness of sin.”
Judas felt remorse for his actions. Peter felt remorse for his actions. The self-esteem of these 2? Flattened Road-Kill. Peter, though, stayed around long enough for the Resurrection and experienced a resurrection of his own. And Judas? He just couldn’t see it. Can you image the impact of the testimony of Judas if he could have just held on to that Sunday? But the world will never hear of that kind of testimony because he gave up, too soon…
For those who feel so far away…..you are NOT too far away. God knows where you are,exactly where you are. He has a testimony for you to share with others living in that land of far, far, away. Remember that whatever led you to this “far away” place–also remember that God has the Promise–of forgiveness, a new beginning, and the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit will help keep you from going back to that “far away place.”
And should you ignore Holy Spirit and go back again to the far away place, He will find you even there and lead you back home….I know….He did it for me! You are never too far away for God to find you, and lead you home.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements Jesus Ever Made when He
Claimed To Be The Great I Am. Our focus
verse is Exodus 3:15: “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember
for all generations.” It is God’s
eternal name, His name for all generations to remember. Though it was illegal to use that word in
public, yet Jesus used that Name and He backs up that claim in another moment
when He uses His Eternal Name. It’s
found in John 8:12-20 (NLT)
to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in
darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”
Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”
them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am
going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You
judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect
because I am not alone. The Father who sent me is with me.
17Your own law
says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as
fact. 18 I am one witness, and my Father
who sent me is the other.”
19 “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” 20 Jesus made these statements while he was teaching in the section of the Temple known as the Treasury. But he was not arrested, because his time had not yet come.
is now making His move toward the ONE reason He came: The Cross.
is making the calculated steps toward His Purpose. And in today’s passage, Jesus lets us in on
yet another dimension of His Eternal Name:
you ever given serious time thinking about “light”? Light tends to be one of those things we
typically do not think about, until—until we find ourselves in the dark.
review where Jesus used that Name. Jesus
has dramatically called people to come to Him.
To the Samaritan woman thirsty for God’s presence, He explicitly called
Himself YAHWEH—the eternal name for all generations who provides us Living
Last week by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus clearly called Himself YAHWEH—The Bread Of Life. They asked for a sign like the manna in the wilderness. Jesus contrasts the Life He offers to the life they were wanting. Unlike Manna that never lasts and never inspires us to the Great Adventures with God, He calls us to a relationship that satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts. And now He refers to himself in a most startling way, saying, I Am The Light Of The World. If you can remember only one thing, this is it: We Will Stumble In The Dark Unless Jesus Is Our Savior And Lord! This claim to be the Light Of The World, like the claim to be the Living Bread, has a setting. This is it!
the Feast of Tabernacles, where they remember how God led their ancestors by
the pillar of cloud in the day and the pillar of fire at night to the Promised
Land. In this feast there was a
lamp-lighting ceremony that took place in the temple every evening of the Feast. Large lamps were set up in the Court of Women
lamps filled every courtyard in the city. In the light of these lamps there was
great singing and dancing all evening in celebration of God’s salvation,
especially His deliverance at the Exodus as He led his people with his presence
in a pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They were never in the dark when it came to
God’s presence and when it came to following God.
sight of these great lamps in the Temple and throughout Jerusalem, Jesus
proclaims himself to be The Light Of The World. Light, pure light, is composed of all the
colors of the spectrum. Filter one of
those colors out and the light changes in appearance—the hue becomes different.
Jesus said, I Am The Light Of The World,
He was saying that He alone is all of God, and to follow that Light means we
accept Jesus as He is. When we reshape
Jesus to someone easier for us to follow by resisting and refusing to do what
He wants, we change the light that we follow.
out a little here, and a little there, and soon we have shaped a formed a Jesus
that is easier to follow; but he’s not the real Jesus. If you take away all the colors of the
spectrum and do you know what you have? Absolute
Total Darkness. For the
Pharisees, that Pillar of Fire, God’s Holy Presence, had been replaced by the
Law. Everything For Them Was About A
List Of Things To Do And An Even Longer List Of Things NOT To Do. They pursued and followed what they thought
was the light with every fiber of their being.
Were Religious For Sure.
why they didn’t have the time to even care about people who did not fit their
description of being religious. They
wrongly believed that following the Law would be the light that would lead them
into the very presence of God. But it
didn’t! All it did was make them feel
more important and better than most folks.
And rather than leading them into the Promise of God, it brought the
darkness into their life.
And there they were in the
middle of the Holy Days, days that were to remind them that just as their
ancestors followed the Light of God in the wilderness, so were they to follow
the Light of God in their day to day life.
It must have been a spectacular sight at night…but:
Surrounded By All Those Lamps, Illuminating The Temple Courts, Lights Shining Out Into The Streets Of The City, They Didn’t Have A Clue Of What It Meant To Follow God.
lot of people today are clueless just like those Pharisees and Teachers of the
Law. They think they’ve got it all
figured out—following everything from power and money, to rules and traditions. And they think in their hearts, “Eureka! I’ve found the light, I’ve found the
light!” But all around them is
darkness—without a clue they follow and follow and follow and then they wonder,
“Why is my life so empty? Where’s the
purpose? What’s the meaning?”
And then Jesus makes the bold statement: “If You Want Light—If You Want To Know What It Means To Follow God—If You Want To Know That Your Life Is Meaningful And Has A Holy Purpose—Then Follow Me! I AM—YAHWEH—The Light.” And let me share with you why Jesus is The Light!
1. First, His Light Is Revealing
He Is The Light
That Reveals The Secrets We Hide In Our Hearts. We can all be
masters of deception when it comes to what goes on inside our hearts. Any of a number of us could have an Academy
Award sitting on a shelf in our living rooms—if others just knew what we were
I think about Jesus as The Light, I must be honest; there are times when
thinking about The Light that I shudder.
I tremble because Jesus sees those times that I am living a lie, those
things that make me feel ashamed. Every
corner, every dark cave where we try to push down those things we don’t want
anyone to see, Jesus sees because He shines The Light in there. When He shines The Light and reveals the true
me, I feel the shame and regret. But
He isn’t disgusted with what the Light shows. His light makes us
deal with some dark stuff that resides in our heart. And here’s why:
His Light Reveals The
Solution, The Cure For What Is Ailing Our Hearts And Spirits. He isn’t
content to leave us in the dark because He loves us too much to leave us
there. He wants to lead us out of the
dark places of our heart with the Light of His Love, His Grace, His Mercy. It’s the Light that shines and shows us what
we need the most.
And what we need the most is to kneel, kneel at the foot of the Cross that is soaked with His blood. If you feel like everything has gone dark in your life, Look! Look at Jesus because His Light shows us our shame, and His Light shows us the way out of the darkness.
2. Second, His Light Is Restoring
Jesus Came Because God Wanted
To Restore His Image Bearers Who Are Held Captive By Sin. He came to
set back right everything that was wrong.
He came to put things back right—to put us back right with our
Creator! What Sin Takes Away, What Sin
Destroys Is Our Birthright To Be The Daughters And Sons Of God. Jesus Is All About Restoring Everyone Who Is
Broken In Their Heart—Alienated From The Father.
overlook what happened just before this revelation from Jesus. Earlier that day, the Pharisees and Teachers
of the Law had dragged a woman into the presence of Jesus. They publicly shamed her. They publicly declared this woman was
worthless. She was wasting space and
oxygen. They did that when they said,
“Rabbi, this woman is guilty of adultery.
The Law says she should be stoned to death. What do you say?” But Jesus ignored the question and quietly
started writing something in the dirt.
They push Jesus for an answer and it never ends well when anyone tries to push
He does, “Let the first stone be thrown by the one who is without sin. Then the rest of you can join in.” Then he goes back to writing. Do you ever wonder what Jesus was writing?
do. Maybe it was from Numbers 14:18—“The Lord is slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion.” Maybe it was Psalm 107:1—“Give thanks to the
Lord, for he is good! His faithful love
endures forever.” Whatever
it was, it must have been powerful because one by one the rocks hit the ground and
they drifted away until it was only Jesus and her. And what does Jesus do?
restored her by forgiving her and releasing her from her shame and guilt—restored
her back into fellowship with God. He
came in the flesh, died on the Cross, Rose from the grave to Restore us to the
relationship we were created for—with God our Father.
3. Third, His Light Is Renewing
There Are No Chains, No Fears,
No Prison That Can Stand Against The Light. When the way gets hard and
difficult; when the pressures and stresses of life puts the squeeze on us; when
it feels like the last drop of energy is about to leave us—The Light comes to
put everything back in us, and more.
In Those Times
When The Life In Grace Feels More Like A Routine Than A Relationship—
The Light breaks
the shackles that have imprisoned us.
The Light cleans
and heals those wound caused by the shackles.
rekindles the Fire of the Holy Spirit in us.
The Light places
the song back into our heart.
The Light puts
the step back into our dance.
His Light Lifts
Up Our Hearts With Joy, Hope And Purpose. The Light IS the Life. It’s all
about the relationship.
not just a dim light, but the Light that literally shatters the darkness. He is the Light of the World! The word John used from the Greek was “kosmos”. It means more than just the globe we call
earth. It means literally everything
around us—what we see and what we can’t see—what we understand and what we
don’t understand! It’s the realms of
both time and eternity.
And He Wants To be The Light
in us, but He wants something more from us.
He wants to be The Light that shines through us. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16—“You are the light of the world—like a city on a
hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts
it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is
placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16
In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone
will praise your heavenly Father.”
Motel 6 had a very popular
slogan: We’ll Leave The Light On For You. God has left the light on for you first. Will you allow Jesus to be the Light that
will guide you to the very throne of your Heavenly Father?
It’s the same as last
week. Our world needs the Light of
Jesus. It’s our responsibility to get it
Come Up With An Idea Of A Way We, As A Church,
Can Get To Know People Around Us.
Up With An Idea Of How We Can Connect With Other Churches Around Us In Order To
Do More For The Kingdom Of God!
Well, this morning I’m waiting to leave to take my lovely wife, Debbie, to the surgery center for some minor surgery. You do know the difference between minor and major surgery, don’t you? Minor surgery is what someone else has–major surgery is what I have! No seriously, I do not take what is about to happen to her lightly. I’ve read those “disclaimers” about all that can go wrong. Really, no surgery is minor. But let me quickly get to the point.
Debbie has been having chronic sinusitis. And it’s not only affected her sinuses, but also fluid has built up behind her right ear drum, making it difficult to hear. Besides, everyone knows how annoying it is to have all that stuff behind an ear drum, am I right? Scans revealed a small cyst on the right side of her sinuses that is causing that sinus fluid back up, all the way to her ear. Dr. David told us that by removing that small cyst, it should allow all that fluid to drain out. Her body will function as it is designed, and hopefully this works. Otherwise, it may require the insertion of tubes to keep that nasty and annoying fluid from impairing her ability to hear.
Well, what does all that have to do with the Kingdom Life? I’m so glad you asked. The fluid behind her ear, that feeling of her ears being “stopped up”, started somewhere else. Her sister and I offered to put a vacuum cleaner up to her ear and see if we could suction that fluid out. She didn’t go for it.
You see, the problem isn’t in her ear. The source of the problem is somewhere else. Can you see a spiritual truth developing here? Until the cause is fixed, the problem persists. It’s easy to get fixated on what others are doing wrong. The chaos of my Tribe right now is being caused by this very thing. By pointing the finger at what others are doing wrong, it’s easy, so very easy to ignore what’s wrong with us. We think that the ills of our culture can be fixed if we can just get all those others “fixed”
Well, guess what. Treating symptoms will not cure the illness. Ask Debbie about this. Multiple shots and rounds of decongestants, antibiotics and multiple shots haven’t done a thing for all that fluid behind her ear drum. The problem is somewhere else–something growing where it shouldn’t be growing. So Dr. David is going to remove that “shouldn’t be there foreign object” so that her sinuses and ears can function like they are designed. Until that cyst is removed, nothing will be as it should.
Have you had your “AHA!” of where all this is going? If you haven’t, then let me draw you a picture; and explain it with a passage, actually a song written by one of the most prolific song writers ever: Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Without Dr. David having ordered the CT scan, without the radiologist knowing how to interpret the results, Debbie’s only hope would be more of the same–meds and shots. But those will not solve her problem. That foreign-it-doesn’t-belong-there object needs to be removed. I wish I could take her place and let the doctor work on me–but that won’t solve her problem.
Truth Time: I’m good at hiding the truth about me from myself. I’m better at hiding the truth about me from others. And so are you–unless we follow the advice of this song: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you.”
But don’t stop there. That next line is the all important one: “and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” The truth is that for God to lead us along that path of everlasting life, sometimes there are things that get in the way of us following. There’s a technical term for those things that get in the way of following Jesus. It’s called SIN. Sin is that foreign object that gets in the way of us living the way God designed us to live.
So, today, focus on this Psalm. Ask God to point out those nasty, annoying “cysts” that’s getting in the way and causing problems, lots of problems. Then yield and submit to that Divine Surgical Procedure we called “Redemption”. Allow Him to remove that sin in your life. Oh, and be sure you go back for regular “scans”, the struggle against sin isn’t over, yet. But it will be some day–it will be!
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
We are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements
Jesus Ever Made. We are looking at some
of those times when Jesus said: “I
am.” Last week we looked at the Story of
the Woman at the Well. But remember that
Jesus never said “I Am” because He didn’t speak English. He would have spoken Hebrew and the word he
would have used was Yahweh.
Yahweh is the name God revealed to Moses.
It is God’s eternal name, His name for all
generations to remember. It was illegal
to use that word in public, yet Jesus used that Name when He revealed himself
to that woman. Claiming to be Yahweh, He backs up that claim with another
moment when Jesus uses His Eternal Name.
It’s found in John 6:32-51 (The
32-33 Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that
Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you
bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and
is giving life to the world.”
34 They jumped at that: “Master,
give us this bread, now and forever!” 35-38 Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more
and thirsts no more, ever. I have told
you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t
really believe me. Every person the
Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and
don’t let go. I came down from heaven
not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
39-40 “This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the
Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I
have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he
is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life.
My part is to put them on their feet
alive and whole at the completion of time.”
41-42 At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,”
the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t
this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know
his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of
heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
43-46 Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way
you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my
work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they
wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’
Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really
listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it
with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it
firsthand from the Father. No one has
seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you
can see me.
47-51 “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal
Am The Bread Of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert
and died. But now here is Bread that
truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone
eating this Bread will not die, ever. I Am The Bread—Living Bread!—who came
down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this
Bread will live—and forever! The Bread
that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this
Have you ever thought about how images of bread are
used in our ordinary day to day life?
“That’s the best thing since sliced bread. He’s rolling in the dough. Hey Dad, I need some bread, (meaning money). Their bread isn’t buttered on both sides
(meaning they lack common sense). Man, he’s
toast.” In Middle Eastern culture, and
Mediterranean culture, eating bread together is a sign of friendship and
connection. Bread is a symbol for life.
When it comes to people’s spiritual lives, they
will be living eitherthe
Manna Life or the Living Bread Life.
There is a sharp distinction between the two. There is no confusion about which life we are
choosing the live. And make no mistake
about it; it is our choice whether we live the Manna Life or the Living Bread Life.
Let’s find something we can
all agree on: We have no control over some
things that come our way in life. There
are some things that happen to us that are absolutely beyond our control. Does everyone agree with this? I didn’t say we liked it; just that it
happens. Now, my next point is something
that you may dislike even more, but it’s the truth: We Do Have Control Over How We React To Those
Times. How We Live Each Day And Our Reactions
To Life As It Happens Come Out Of The Life That Is In Each Of Us. If
you can remember only one thing today, then remember this:
Your Heart, Life, And Mind Is Being Fed By Either
The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life.
One life never satisfies and the other will always satisfy
and see us through anything that life throws our way. Let’s see the difference by setting up
today’s passage. The day before Jesus
had fed a large group of people with a young boy’s sack lunch of 5 barley
loaves of bread and 2 fish. Now Jesus
and the 12 are on the other side of the lake, and the people have come to Jesus
again. This time they are seeking a
sign. They wanted a sign from Jesus
before they would accept Him as Messiah.
They pointed out the Moses had given them Manna as a sign that God was
with them. Now they want Jesus to give a
sign that God was with Him.
OK, excuse me, but He has
turned dirty water into the most extraordinary wine, healed every disease put
before Him, cast out demons, opened eyes and ears, and gave voice to those who
could not talk. And added to all that,
He taught the Kingdom principles with authority, like no one else ever
had. And NOW, they want a sign? Jesus doesn’t waste His time or their
time. More than a sign, Jesus talks
about life through the images ofManna Life and Living Bread Life. Think about the differences.
Does The Manna Life Look Like?
What does this life feel like? Well go back to the time when God gave them
Manna. It appeared every morning on the
ground. Each family could pick up enough
for just 1 day, and no more—except on Friday.
Then they could pick up enough for 2 days. It never lasted longer than that. Any thing left over would be ruined the next
morning, so they would have to go out and pick up more.
Every meal was the same. The husband or kids never asked “What’s for
supper?” It would be manna casserole,
manna pot pie, manna sandwiches, manna stew, manna soup—and for dessert it was
always manna cake. I mean, there was not
a whole lot of variety to their meals. And
they had to do nothing to do to get it.
They didn’t have to trade or buy or barter for it. Every morning, day after day after day, there
it was. And every morning, whatever was
left in the jar was ruined. And here was
where the problems started. It produces
the same problems today:
They Believed They Were Entitled To It. They did not have to buy it
and it was always there every morning. They
begin to feel like they were entitled to it.
Few things are worse than living every day with a sense of
entitlement—that life owes you something simply because you are breathing and
alive. Living With That Evil Spirit Of
Entitlement Will Remove From Your Heart Any Sense Of Gratitude. Oh, for sure, at first they were
grateful. But after only a few weeks of
it, things changed. First, they always
expected it to be there,
They Got Tired of it. But can you blame them? The same meal day after day after day is
enough to make them want something else.
This is what the Manna Life is like. It’s waking up every morning to the same
There Is No Sense Of
Excitement In The Manna Life.
There Are No Adventures To
Explore in the Manna Life.
There Is No Anticipation For Anything Different To Happen in the Manna
It’s The Dull Life. Nothing to inspire the mind or stir up the heart.
It’s The Life That Is Afraid To Get Out Of That
Comfort Zone. Comfort is more important than Purpose.
It’s The Life That Is Unwilling To Take The
Risk. Playing it safe is the key to survival for
It’s The Life Spent In Waiting And Then
Wondering Why They Never Experience The Great Victories In Life. Now mind you, they haven’t sought great
victories, they’ve never engaged in the battle—but they expect great victories
and are disappointed.
And For Church People, It’s
The Life Sitting In The Pew Sunday After Sunday, Who At Best Think It Is
Enough, And At Worst Think This Is All There Is To It. They never get to experience the surprises of
God’s presence, God’s grace, and God’s activities. And sadly, they never experience the joyful
surprise of being used by God to touch another life and watch God change that
routine life, and nothing is more boring, nothing is more unfulfilling, and few
things make a life more ungrateful, than the Manna Life. These people around Jesus thought they wanted
the Manna Life. But Jesus did not come
to bring the Manna Life, but something so much better. He came to bring them and us the Living
Bread Life. Jesus is much
more than a free lunch—more than a vending machine dispensing what we want.
Exactly Is The Living Bread Life?
What does it feel like? Look like?
Allow me to sum it up for you.
It Is The Life That Is Deeply And Intimately
Connected To Our Heavenly Father Through Christ Living In Us. It is living your life with the assurance and
confidence that Jesus actually lives in your heart—lives in you so that you can
grow to become all God sees in you!
It’s A Life That Is Abundant In Power, Love And
Grace. There is more than enough of Jesus living in
the heart of every believer to accomplish anything that God wants. It’s not just enough for today. It’s enough for tomorrow, and the next day
and the next, all the way to eternity.
There is enough grace, enough mercy, and enough love to lead us right up
to the very throne of God.
It’s The Life Of Adventure. When the Hebrews would wake up each morning
in the wilderness, they didn’t have to look far to find the manna—just go
outside and pick it up. But Living Bread
Life calls us into an adventure where we trust in Him to provide what we Cannot
See Or Even Imagine. God
wants to take you on an adventure in life where nothing is bland or dull. It’s the life of excitement knowing that
Jesus lives in you, and that He is going to use you in ways you never
It’s The Life Of Exploration. It’s going down different paths, trying new
ways. The only thing we know about the
future of this life in grace is that one day, we will end in His eternal
presence. So every day offers us the
opportunity to find that God is always doing something new. It’s exciting to be a part of what God wants
done. God is anything but predictable
when it comes to how He works in this world.
It Is The Life Of Contentment. Let me tell you something about real
life. There will be times of abundance
in our life. And there will be times of
scarcity. There will be times when all
of our ducks are in a perfect row and all marching to the same beat. And there will be times when the ducks will
scatter in all directions. There will be
times when the sailing is smooth as silk.
And there will be times when it will feel like we are on a monster
roller coaster. But the one thing about
Bread Life is that in every condition and situation, we will learn
to be content—that we are at peace with God, self and the world.
The only source of life for all of this—comes
through the only thing—rather the only ONE—who will be present in both extremes
and every point between them. I’m
talking about Jesus living in your heart.
You know He is the one who blesses us far more than we deserve. And you know He is the ONLY one who will
stand with us to strengthen us and guide through the rough waters and over the
We can choose to accept the Manna Life with all its
hollowness. Or we can choose to accept The
Living Bread Life with all its Hallowedness—by inviting Jesus, The
Living Bread, into our hearts.
For someone here today, this may be the very first time for you to
invite Jesus into your heart. For the
rest of us, it’s our time to renew our decision by inviting Jesus to go deeper
into our hearts. Just bread on the table
will leave us hungry again. But the ONE
who dares to call Himself Yahweh! Living
Bread, can and will satisfy our deepest hunger and
Come Up With An Idea Of A Way We, As A Church, Can Get To Know People Around Us.
Come Up With An Idea Of How We Can Connect Other Churches Around Us In Order To Do More For The Kingdom Of God!
It was early yesterday afternoon when I first noticed it. The sound was at first faint and distant. But it grew louder and louder, deafening even. I quickly recognized it as the sound of people wailing and crying. Between the wails and the cries was the sound of moaning. I wondered, “What’s going on? Did the rapture happen and I missed it? Are hyper-Calvinists right, and I wasn’t one of the chosen?” I didn’t have a clue as to the cause–just the wailing and the crying, and the moans as they were trying to catch their breath.
Then last night, I discovered the reason when I checked in on my Twitter account: Facebook and Instagram were DOWN! Oh dear Lord! Is this a sign of the apocalypse? I reflected for a moment, thinking about the deafening sounds in the hills and hollows around our community. Suddenly, clarity came to me, and I began to understand what all those people were crying, wailing and moaning about.
The world was missing out on how important they are. The world wouldn’t know what they ate for lunch; the mean people they encountered, the times they didn’t get their way. In short, their small, selfish world imploded on them. They were no longer the center of the universe. It was as if a black hole had swallowed them up. They felt insignificant because they couldn’t tell how many liked their latest post. Self-esteem plummeted like the Stock Market.
But the most disturbing cry I heard was from those who self-identify as “Christian”. They were moaning, “Oh, dear Lord, sweet Jesus, how can the world know how much I love you? I can’t ‘like’, ‘share’, ‘type amen’, ‘copy and paste this as my status’. Merciful God, how can they know I’m not ashamed of you if I can’t like, share, type amen, copy and paste this as my status? Sweet Jesus, what am I going to do? How can I let the world know about you, my friends (some of whom I’ve never met, but they are my FB friends) won’t be able to see I’m a Christian! Please, Jesus, heal Facebook and Instagram. The world needs to know You, and how can it if I can’t like, share, type amen, copy and paste this as my status? If you can’t heal Facebook and Instagram, then Jesus just come on back. There’s nothing I can do for you anymore.”
Now if this all sounds sarcastic to you, then please, let me assure you, IT IS! Sarcasm is one of my spiritual gifts, although the Holy Spirit is probably scratching His head right now wondering, “When did I give Randy that gift?” OK, so Facebook and Instagram crashed yesterday. I would like to think that it was caused by the Holy Spirit (now I can’t give you any Scripture to back this up) to get people to rethink about their life–especially those who self-identify as “Christian”.
I know I’m a day late and a dollar short, but may I give you wailers, criers, and moaners some advice? The next time Facebook and Instagram crashes, calmly remind yourself that you are not the center of the universe. Oh, that realization will hurt and hurt deeply. But when the truth dawns upon you, you will find a lot more calm and peace in your life.
And to you who self-identify as “Christians”? Try this to let your friends and the world know you are a Christian. Be kind to everyone. Help anyone and everyone you can. Volunteer at the local food bank. Help sort clothes that were given to help those in need. Get to know your neighbors. Listen. In other words, let your attitudes and actions announce you are indeed a Christian, not your posts.
Facebook and Instagram crashed. The world did not end. Jesus hasn’t returned, yet. And the hyper-Calvinists are still wrong. So…..Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM! And you can live without Facebook and Instagram….
this Lenten Journey, I want us to look at the most profound statement ever made
by Jesus while He was here in our human form.
Throughout Lent we are going to be in John’s Gospel looking some of the
sayings of Jesus—those moments and situations where He identifies Himself in a
very specific way.
lay the groundwork for today’s passage before I read it to you. Moses had this unbelievable encounter with
God. We call it “The Burning Bush”
story. God tells Moses to go back to
Egypt and inform them that God has appointed him to lead them to the Promised
Land. But before Moses agrees, he wants
to know who it is that is sending him.
They will want to know who has sent him, so Moses poses the
question: “Who shall I tell them sent me?” And in that moment God reveals His true
Name: I Am Who I Am! In Hebrew, the word is Yahweh! And God goes further with this statement:
This is my
eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
am I telling you all this? Because
without this knowledge, nothing that we look at this season will make any sense. We are going to journey through Lent by
looking at certain moments when Jesus says, “I
Am”. The first one we
need to look at is from John 4:4-26
He had to go through Samaria on the
way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan
village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from
the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water,
and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his
disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse
to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and
I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the
gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would
give you living water.”
sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than
our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well?
How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals
enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who
drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will
never be thirsty again. It becomes a
fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me
this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to
get water.” “Go and get your husband,”
Jesus told her. “I don’t have a
husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said,
“You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you
aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a
prophet. So tell me, why is it that you
Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans
claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?” Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the
time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on
this mountain or in Jerusalem.
Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all
about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here
now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will
worship him that way. For God is Spirit,
so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to
us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
need be begin our journey with boldest statement ever made by a human
being. Jesus tells her: I AM! For what I am about to say, some would want
to tar and feather me and run me out of town, but I’m going to say it. Jesus did not say “I Am”. Now, you look confused. “Preacher, you just read that Jesus said I
Am.” But Jesus did NOT say I Am—because He did not speak
English. Jesus would have been able to
speak in both Aramaic and Hebrew. So
when He identifies himself to her, the word He used is Yahweh!
The Name That God
Told Moses Would Be His Eternal Name, The Name That People Would Identify As
None Other Than The God Of Abraham, Isaac And Jacob.
you imagine the shock on this woman’s face when Jesus identified Himself as Yahweh? It was a name so sacred that Law prohibited
its use in public. No human being since
Moses was allowed to use that name. And
no one dare named their child Yahweh! Yet this is the name Jesus calls
Himself. What were the first thoughts
running through her mind?
“Is he crazy? Has he been out in the sun too long? Is he playing mind games with me? Is he mocking me because I’m a Samaritan?” Whatever her first thoughts might have been, they didn’t stay long. Somehow she knows His words ring true, so she runs back into Sychar with the news, telling everyone she can find: “I’ve found Him! I’ve found Him!” And the people may have laughed, “Who, husband number 6?” She catches her breath, “No, no, I think I’ve found Messiah! I just know He must be Messiah!” I know it says she asked a question: “Could
He be the Messiah?”, but it’s not a question of doubt. Hers is the question of hope. And here’s the one thing you need to remember
The Deepest Longing Of Every
Human Heart Is To Be Near To God!
may have been a tarnished hope, or it may have been a secret hope that no one
could see in her life. But somehow, deep
down in her heart, there must have been that hope that God would come near to
her to satisfy the deepest longings of her heart.
we make our Lenten Journey, we need to know that we are going to find that same
longing in our heart—to see and experience the nearness of the One, True and
Living God. And we can count on Jesus
being that just for us, as He was for her!
And it is all because of The Name:
Yahweh! Jesus is Yahweh and here’s why:
1. He Is Yahweh Because He Looks For Us
Well was the place ordained by God for this woman. He Has A Place Ordained For You, To Meet Him
Face To Face, For You To Surrender Your Life To Him. And Jesus planned it out for that moment when
she would be coming to draw water. As
Jesus and his entourage arrives at Jacob’s Well, Jesus announces, “Guys, I need
to stop and rest; besides it lunch time.
Tell you what, go into town to McDavid’s and get you something to eat,
and bring me back a #7 combo. I’ll just
wait right here. Now, go on guys.” Have you ever wondered why Jesus sent them
ahead while He stayed behind? Well, I
have and I’ve come to this conclusion.
If there had been several of them with Jesus, that woman probably would
have stayed away. But just one man
there, it’s not as threatening to her.
Jesus wanted this moment with her.
had been looking for her and the time was right. And He looks for us. There are God-ordained moments where He is
looking for us. He is looking for us to
have this special relationship with Him.
God wants us to have more than a mental knowledge about Him. He longs for us to give Him our hearts. But
God-ordained moments go further than for us to become a Christian. There are God-ordained moments to comfort us,
encourage us, strengthen us, and to take us deeper into this relationship with
Him. And you never know when they will
appear. This woman came in the middle of
the day; not the usual time to draw water.
And God may surprise you with ordained moments because He is always
looking for us.
2. He Is Yahweh Because He Knows Us
in Sychar must have known this woman. 5
divorces and shacking up with another man?
She must have been the talk at all the hair salons. They looked at her and saw someone who
couldn’t keep commitments. They saw
someone who had no morals. They saw
someone whose only contribution to the community was to keep the gossip lines
hot. They saw her as dirtied and all
women of Sychar always went to the well early in the morning, but she would not
have been welcomed then. They saw
everything that was wrong with her. They
thought they knew her. But there was so
much about her they could not see because they had made up their minds about
her. But Jesus knew there was more to
her than what was on the surface.
Only God, Only The One Whose Eternal Name Is YAHWEH Can
See Into The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Heart.
sees the secret sins we hide from others.
He knows the dark secrets we keep pushed down deep. But He knows more, much more. He knew what she was truly longing for, and
He knows what we are longing for.
Because He knows us, He knows what it will take to bring that hope alive
in us. This woman wasn’t ignorant of
God’s promises. She knew one day Messiah
would come. And though it may have been
a weak hope, there was the hope that Messiah would come to save her. Listen to your heart; your heart knows it
wants to be known deeply and loved intimately by God. Yes,
He knows our flaws and sins, but He also knows the real you—the one waiting to
be born, waiting to be released upon this world and into God’s Kingdom.
3. He Is Yahweh Because He Offers Us Life
At Jacob’s Well this God-Ordained moment was for one single purpose: To Bring Real Life To This Dirty, Broken Woman! Nothing Can Give Us The Life We Long For, Only Jesus.
people settle for a life of thrills, but there are never enough thrills. Some settle for a life of wealth, but there’s
never enough wealth to hold off the fear of losing it all. And some settle for a life of respectability—but
they are hollow and empty inside. This woman
was looking for life through one relationship after another. But none of them satisfied the cravings of
in this world can give you real, abundant, lasting, eternal life. This is something only God has—Jesus is Yahweh
because only HE has the life that we hunger for. Only He has the life that will survive
the ups and downs of life here on earth.
Only He has the life that can hold up under the fiercest
storms. Only Yahweh can offer us
this kind of life—and He offers it as The Gift.
only He paid the price necessary to take away the dead things of our life, and
put in their place Life. It’s not just any ordinary life, but the most
extraordinary life of all—His Very Own Life. In this Lenten Journey, in your life journey,
remember that There Is A Name For All Generations To Remember.
is His Eternal Name, Yahweh and He is looking, looking
for you because He knows you. He knows you need more than an ordinary life—but
the most extraordinary life of all. Paul
nails it when he describes this life in Galatians
And this is
the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
Great I Am can put real and abundant life in you—That life is Him
Has anything robbed you of
hope?The news? This
controversy going on in our Tribe?
Guilt? Some fear, named or
unnamed? Crushing grief that you keep holding on to, that you never completely
give over to Jesus? Feelings of
inadequacy? Or, how about despair, that
you’ve given up on something, something very important?
Give whatever that is up. Give it up to
Jesus. Make it your offering to
Him. He’s not looking for only the good
things to offer Him, He wants the pain, the burdens that you carry to be given
over to Him. You don’t have to keep
carrying them because He carried that weight, while on that Cross!
If you have given Jesus your
heart, then declare this truth every day, all day long:Christ
Lives In Me. When you doubt, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When you are afraid, say it: Christ Lives In Me. When that thing you gave up that was robbing
you of hope starts to weigh on you again, say it: Christ Lives In Me.
For the last
4 weeks we’ve been talking about Kairos Living In A Chronos World. Chronos and Kairos are the Greek words for
time. Chronos time is measured time—a
second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year.
That Time Between Punching The Time Clock In And Punching Out. It’s Endured Time. God offers us more—He Offers Us Kairos Time—Time
That Is Rich And Full Of Experience.
There are so
many Kairos moments for us to experience.
Today, we’ll close out this series with the most significant kairos
moment a disciple of Jesus can have: The
Kairos Moment of Discovering Your Unique Mission. Knowing your Unique Mission in life is
crucial. Talk about a powerful Kairos
moment—it will change the way you live the rest of your life. Look with me at 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NLT)
4There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is
the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of
service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God
works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of
us. 7 A
spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.
What could be more important
than to be on a mission from God? You
are 1 of a potential 7.6 billion followers of Christ. Yet, out of so many, God has called YOU to
carry out His special mission in the world.
Do you know what your Unique Mission is?
If you can remember only 1 thing this morning, this is it: Your Purpose Is To Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known To The World By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship With Jesus! If this sounds sorta familiar, then you’ve heard the Westminster Catechism.
People who choose
to live in Kairos Time find their Unique Mission as we live out this
purpose. Inside purpose, we always find
the Mission. To Be A Real Disciple Is Not
About Creeds And Rituals—It’s All About Relationship And Experience. I want to share with you how you and discover
God’s unique mission in your life so you can have Kairos Living in a Chronos
Of All, Make The Conscious Decision To Nurture God’s Thoughts!
It’s possible to plan out a
day, a business agenda, a church agenda, or even life goals without knowing
God’s thoughts and without the certainty of moving in God’s presence. Before Jesus ascended back into heaven, his
last words of counsel to the disciples and to us are: Wait
until you’re sure you’re moving with God’s plan. Hang on until you know you have God’s
presence, because this mission is impossible to do in your own strength and
As you walk in step with
God, you have a tremendous privilege of knowing the heart and mind of God. Anyone—not just pastors or great saints or
Bible scholars—can dream the dreams of God.
God promises that all Kingdom People, regardless of gender, race,
economic status, social status, or age will be given the ability to think God’s
thoughts for the purpose of acting on God’s plan for the future.
It says so in the book of
Joel, that Peter quoted on the Day of Pentecost: Acts 2:17-18—17 ‘In
the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old
men will dream dreams. 18 In those days I will pour out my
Spirit even on my servants—men and women alike—and they will prophesy.’
Those days are the time
between Jesus’ Ascension and His Return.
You need to begin right now nurturing God’s thoughts. Most of us need to learn this nurturing
Some People Develop Inspiring Visions For What
Their Life Potential Could Be, But Few People Have The Sense Of Supernatural
Intervention That Provides For The Ability To Think God’s Thoughts Today. The world teaches that life centers around
self-focus. But a person filled with the
Holy Spirit puts the focus on knowing and pleasing God. Spirit directed people gear their whole
lifestyle toward the purpose of God.
In Mark 1 we read about
Jesus going out to pray before sunrise.
What was he doing before his day began?
He was Dream-Visioning and Thinking God’s thoughts in order to direct
the purpose for His day. Because
Of The Holy Spirit You Can Dream God’s Dreams And Know God’s Thoughts Right Now.
We have to go on a course
that is not always comfortable or natural and that is moving counter clockwise
to the rest of the culture because we will be surrendered to a God-focus. We develop the ability to think God’s
thoughts and then move further toward God’s preferred future.
2. The Second Step Is To Connect With People
Who Share God’s Passion!
You need to connect with
people who will encourage you forward in God’s Mission. This is what mentoring is all about.
You Will Begin Thinking Like
The People With Whom You Spend The Majority Of Your Time. If people around you think money, you will
begin to think money. If you spend time
with negative people, your attitude becomes negative. If those you hang with people who are
critical, you will be critical. I want
to hang with people who throw more fuel on the fire of God! You need mentors.
But the truth is, there are
not enough mentors to go around. Mentoring
cannot always be done through 1-on-1
relationships. But you are still
responsible for managing your own mentoring needs. Time boundaries and geography restrictions
are no excuse for not building a solid network of mentors. You can have mentors who may not be aware
they are your mentors; they may not even know you exist, yet you can draw from
their wealth of wisdom.
Let me share with you some
of my mentoring network: My Dad, Debbie,
Carrie Thompson, Chuck Swindoll, Max Lucado, Mike Stenson, Tim Buchanan, Reggie
McNeal, John Wesley, Kyle Idleman, Mike Stonbraker, Matt Redman. Some I know personally, others I’ve never
met, but they and many others, are a part of my mentoring network.
You may never meet a lot of
the people who are a part of your mentoring network, but you can listen to them
and be the better for it by spending time with them. Who are the mentors in your life?
How much time do you spend
under the influence of Godly People? It will be these godly people who will help
you discover your mission from God and encourage you to move forward into God’s
future for your life.
Name Your Unique Mission From God!
Allow me to make an important distinction: Your Unique Mission Is Different From Your Life Purpose! My life purpose and your life purpose is simple and it is our overall reason for being here on planet Earth. Our life purpose, whether we’re a pastor or factory worker or teacher or retired, is to Know Jesus Deeply, Enjoy God Immensely, And Make Him Known In Our World. This is the purpose for every person. Young, old, rich, poor, men, women—it’s the same.
is highly specific. Your Unique Mission Is To Make
Him Known By Helping Others To A Saving And Growing Relationship with Jesus! My mission is clear to me: To fulfill my Unique Mission, I am to be a
pastor, preacher, teacher and leader.
When you identify your mission, it will be as specific as mine. Here is a way to find the Clarity you need
for your Unique Mission:
Your Mission Will Come Out
Of Your Passion.
It Is Something That You Are
It Will Probably Be
Connected To Your Life Experiences.
It Will Be Something You
Feel Is A Gift From God.
You Can’t Keep From Doing
Will living out your mission
cause you to leave your job and seek employment at a church or ministry? Maybe, maybe not. Will it cause you to bring your skills, your
talents, and your gifts to the church for use?
You decide who your mentors
will be depending on your life situation.
Choose people in your mentoring network who can help you name your
mission. Your mission is for the body of
Christ, the Kingdom of God!
Your mission, should you
choose to accept it, is to use your life to carry out God’s Dream. In the power of the Holy Spirit, you can make
a difference in your world. Identify
your unique mission and serve God by serving people. Should you choose to accept this mission, God
will be with you every step of the way.
Your life will not self-destruct, but will grow and blossom as you live
in Kairos time!
your network, and write down their names.
If they are local, get with them frequently. You need at least 3 or more people you can meet
with face to face.
about Spiritual Gifts and name your gifts.
be afraid to try something different.
Failure isn’t fatal, but fear is!
My dear Sister and Brother Centrists and Progressives in the United Methodist Church,
I do not know if you will read this or not. But sometimes…sometimes the heart must speak. I will be honest with you upfront: I am first and foremost, a servant in the Kingdom of God. This submission to the Rule of God is absolute and unconditional; though at times I am rebellious and disobedient. I am secondly, an Orthodox Methodist, a label that has been put upon me, yet I wear it with humility and honor. Knowing this about me, you are now free to stop reading and make up your mind about me, without ever knowing what I will say. Based upon past behavior, I will not be surprised if some of you do just that; but for you who are still reading, please allow me the grace you say you so deeply believe in, be given to me as well.
I have a question ONLY for Centrists and Progressives.
“Why should I remain in the United Methodist Church, a church I have loved, supported and serve in the name of God’s Kingdom, when so many of you hate me?”
I am sincere in this question. I acknowledge, with much shame as a follower of Jesus, that some who say they follow Jesus have said and continue to say hurtful and hateful things at the LBGTQIA community. And to my United Methodist sisters and brothers who have said those things, please, go join the Westboro Baptist Church. If you live too far away, start a local chapter. I’m sure they would be glad to become a multi-campus church.
Allow me to also say to my Sisters and Brothers who are Centrists and Progressives in the United Methodist Church, what I am about to say is not a blanket, “one-size-fits-all” comments. Some of you share the love and grace professed to even those who do not agree with you theologically. And to you who practice what you preach, please accept my gratitude for your consistency.
Alas, not all show the love and grace they profess. Rev. Tom Berlin has compared me, and my sisters and brothers in Christ, to a virus. More specifically, an Ebola Virus. Furthermore Rev. Berlin, under the banner of love and grace, you said that unless the UMC credentials the LBGTQIA members, then my credentials should be removed. You see, Rev. Berlin, I have been divorced…and remarried. Sir, you are right, myself and the gay community do share something in common. We are sinners. My sin isn’t any worse than any other sin. Sinners are equal at the foot of the cross.
Rev. Berlin, I have confessed my sin of divorce (along with several other sins). This means I agree with God, that it is sin in my life. I have also repented. I have turned away from ever divorcing again. And I turned to the only place I knew I would find grace–at the feet of Jesus. He forgave me. I even went through a process with my annual conference who held me accountable to confession and repentance. And now, Rev. Berlin, though I have confessed, repented and turned back to follow God with all my heart, you say I am unfit (after all, that’s what taking away my credentials because of divorce means) even though I’ve gone through God’s process for sinners, and the church’s process to continue in ministry. Though I and my LBGTQIA sisters and brothers share the bond of sin, I have admitted my sin, while the LBGTQIA refuse such an acknowledgement. See, Rev. Berlin, though we are the same–we are different in how we choose to deal with whatever that sin may be. Because I choose to admit it, I’m mean and unloving? Really?
And to Rev. Adam Hamilton, you choose to belittle me and those like me. You consistently espoused hate at us in St. Louis. And afterwards, your accusations continue to flow. You say I am homophobic (though I have friends who are gay). You say I treat them like second-class citizens (though I cried with someone who lost their partner, because we are friends).
You say I am refusing them grace (though I have served them Holy Communion and will continue to do so). You insist that I am full of hate because I choose to believe the Truth about marriage. That I am hateful because I cannot embrace a theory that isn’t even accepted in the behavioral science community. I am accused of not caring, all because I believe and am convinced that the Bible clearly defines marriage as a man and a woman. Rev. Hamilton, you say that I am not open to the Holy Spirit because I believe in the Biblical teachings on sexual ethics. I did not realize that God had given up the right to judge of my heart and given it to you.
I did not watch all of the 2019 General Conference, but I did watch a lot of it. I’ve also read the blogs, read the Tweets, and listened to the videos. After it all, I am left with only one conclusion: I am hated by the majority of United Methodists in my own country; this according to Rev. Hamilton. Even my former Bishop, Will Willimon, says that I am the problem–because I am over 40 years old.
So, my Centrist and Progressive Sisters and Brothers in Christ, I will ask you again:
“Why should I remain in the United Methodist Church, a church I have loved, supported and serve in the name of God’s Kingdom, when so many of you hate me?”