26 August 2014
24 August 2014
With all the current events these past few weeks it’s not hard to become discouraged, scared and even a little angry with the present world system of things. Especially with the latest news in Iraq and the devastation that is still going on over there. With the militant group ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] slaughtering moderate Muslims and Christians, especially in these past few weeks, has caused my heart to be stirred through prayer for these poor people. Jay Sekulow of ACLJ [American Center For law And Justice] Chief Counsel said this week “As ISIS still controls vast areas, and they are stepping up their killings – murdering Christians every single day. Our allies are still outgunned.” ACLJ says “It is believed that over 400,000 Christians have been displaced from their homes. ISIS militants gave them an ultimatum: leave or face “death by the sword.” The international Christian ministry “Open Doors” has called it the “worst genocide since Rwanda.” I’ve had preacher friends send me information and videos of some of those tragic events and some of them I couldn’t bear to watch the slaughter and the evil that has overcome man to do such a terrible act. I can’t and I won’t even describe to you what I saw these past weeks, but it has caused a stir in my heart for our brothers and sisters and lost souls on a way to a Christ-less eternity.
For the past few weeks I’ve been following this tragedy in Iraq and its really hit home and got me thinking about the persecuted church and the Christian life. I know I’ve mentioned persecution quite a bit in the past, but I think this is something that we can’t and shouldn't ignore, for the sake of our North American comfort. These are trying times and call for all Christians, young and old, to stand together with our brother and sisters around the globe who face things that we can only imagine this side of the globe. We need to start examining our friendship with this world [meaning the world system]. Again this is not our home and we need to realize that and embrace that now; more than ever in our present anti-God ….anti-prayer and anti-Christian society. And these past few weeks have reminded me what the Hebrew writer said to the believers from the early church. Jesus has commanded us and He has commissioned us as well, to go into this fallen world and proclaim the good news of the gospel. Sometimes we ignore that command with our self-righteous desires and so-called religion. But as David Platt said “are we going to die in our religion or are we going to die in our devotion?” This is an important question to ask ourselves this morning! Especially in light of what happening around the globe and even in our own country. I ask myself this question this past week! Have we [I] retreated or have we [I] pressed forward for the gospel and the glory of God? Better yet! Are we standing on the front line as David did when he faced Goliath or have we retreated into the mountains as the nation did when the Palestinian giants came for battle? Please turn with me to the book of Hebrews. The last chapter where we read these challenging words in Heb 13:10-16 “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” What a powerful portion of scripture that really speaks and clarifies the truth that the church of North America really needs to hear this morning. There are two commands that I want us to look at this morning…commands that I think get overlooked as we continue a pilgrimage home.
FIRST COMMAND IS FOUND IN……….
(v13) “…let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach..” Why by what we read in (v12) Jesus demonstrated to us the single greatest thing for all of humanity by dying on the cross, not on the altar of sacrifice but by going outside the camp to show His merciful love to sinners. See, the Old Covenant understanding of the sacrifice for the Day of Atonement was contrasted to the better one found in the New Covenant through the blood of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament the Levites were never allowed to eat the sin offering. The bodies of the animals used for this sacrifice were to be taken outside the camp and burned. The truth for us is that we as the Lord was crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, so we are to be spiritually outside the walls of sinning people.
- Refraining from doing the things of this world.
- Walking a different walk to the culture.
- Behaving and showing hospitality and kindness to all people.
- Sharing [speaking the good news] and demonstrating the gospel in our lives to those around us.
Now! This doesn’t mean……... we go looking for trouble…by hopping on a plane to the Gaza Strip or walk into a Hindu temple in India and scream out heresy. This also doesn’t mean we be monastic and keep our religion to ourselves in closed buildings and private homes or that were “Holier than Thou people”. We are in this world, but we must not be of this world. Think about it! What happened after the nation built a “golden calf”? What did Moses do? According to Exodus 33:7 it says “Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.” Why? Because Israel at the time was mostly siding with the world and began to truly reject God. Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Tim 2:4. The practical truth to this command is that we as New Testament believers must be willing to go out from the world system and face, bear the rejection from men as Christ did. The mandate is that we as a body of believers are to do as Jesus did, because this present world system doesn’t recognize or joyfully embrace the truth that has been granted to us through the gospel of Jesus Christ. As Paul said “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Tim 3:12. As John MacArthur said “the reason why more Christians are not persecuted is simply because so few are truly. Godly, truly living outside the camp……and it’s easy to be distinguished in the eyes of the world if we compromise godly living.” See to go outside the camp might mean you become…..Ostracized by friends, family and co-workers. An alien to own country, who might turn on you, by labeling you a trader. To associate with Christ is to reject this world system, and to love this world is to reject Christ and the finished work found in the gospel. To go outside is to go to the dirty places. The despised places where blasphemous, haters of God, go to die outside the camp. In Leviticus 13:45-46 says “Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, 'Unclean! Unclean!' He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.
Jesus went to the dirty places for you and me! To die on a cursed tree, a death only reserved for the vilest of criminals. The sinless spotless Lamb of God died for you and me outside the walls of Jerusalem because the religious despised Him and hated Him. See, Jesus is calling all of us to go to those hard places with the precious gospel. Do you realize there are over a billion people who still haven’t heard the good news of the gospel? And what’s amazing, even though that statistic is large! Jesus is and always has been at work in the dirty places. I remember when I did jail ministry [which I miss by the way] ministering to men and women who were drunkards, thieves, drug addicts and the occasional murderer…..telling them of the grace that is given for sinners if they repent and put their trust in Him alone. The blessings that came to those who went outside the camp to minister to so-called lepers of our day. Society would classify them as “outcasts” or “the scum of the earth” But remember Christ came to save sinners…..even sinners who kill and behead Christians….even you who was once an outcast, outside His grace. This was made possible only because He went outside the camp to demonstrate His love to the world. By that demonstration of love, the disciples and the early church turned the world upside down.
See in the early church to trust in Christ cost them everything……all because they went outside the camp. They were willing to die in their devotion over their religion. Why? Their hearts are fixed on Christ and His returning in all His glory. We are to go outside the camp and seek the city that is to come and stop loving the one that is going to self-destruct. (v14). A City that is not built by men, but by God and His promise of a new Heaven and a New Earth. As 2 Peter 3:10-14 says “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;” As we look forward to this city! But there is something else outside the camp God has commanded us to do? TO PRAISE HIS SOVEREIGN NAME.
SECOND COMMAND IS FOUND IN ………
(v15) “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” While we walk with Christ outside the camp, we seek the city that is not yet come. We are in the meantime to offer up our praise to Him and goodness as we walk this narrow, bumpy road. See sacrifice was very important to the Jews….because it was God’s provision for cleansing of sin under the Old Covenant. But by Christ offering Himself, we have an everlasting sacrifice that covers all our sin. And through that we should praise His name continually for the greatest sacrifice ever offered to God on behalf of sinful man. This sacrifice should cause us daily to sing praises to His name. As the Psalmist sang “Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!” Psalm 150:1-6. By praising Him we are to offer this continually with is our reasonable service to Him. This is not to be some fair-weathered offering, but an offering of thanksgiving for every circumstance that He allows into our lives. Not only are we to praise from our lips and heart we are to do good to one another, sharing the blessing that has been given to us. See worship involves action that honors God for His goodness by demonstrating that towards those outside the camp. Isaiah said it best “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?” Isa 58:6-7. Praising God with our lips and demonstrating that to a world that hasn’t tasted His grace are inseparable. They go hand in hand. See the only acceptable sacrifice we can offer with our hands is to God to one another, share with one another, minister to one another, to love one another with the truth that has been revealed tom our hearts. As John penned “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18
I came across an old story that happened in the 80’s about the Beirut Bombing! It is said to be one of the most “tragic events during the Reagan Presidency.” It happened on a Sunday morning when terrorist bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. The article when on to say “Many of us can still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble. A few days after the tragedy, I recall coming across an extraordinary story. Marine Corps Commandant Paul Kelly, visited some of the wounded survivors then in a Frankfurt, Germany, hospital. Among them was Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, severely wounded in the incident. Nashton had so many tubes running in and out of his body that a witness said he looked more like a machine than a man; yet he survived. As Kelly neared him, Nashton, struggling to move and racked with pain, motioned for a piece of paper and a pen. He wrote a brief note and passed it back to the Commandant. On the slip of paper were but two words—“Semper Fi” the Latin motto of the Marines meaning “forever faithful.” With those two simple words Nashton spoke for the millions of soldiers American and Canadians who have sacrificed body and limb and their lives for their country……….those who have remained faithful. Can that be said of each and everyone us here this morning? Listen to the words of the late great J.C. Ryle who wrote "If we desire to do good, let us never be ashamed of walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ. Press others to consider their ways. Compel them with holy violence to come in, to lay down their arms and to yield themselves to God……..Entreat men to repent and come to Christ — but bid them at the same time to count the cost!" Have we counted the cost? Have we gone outside the camp to be where Christ was and is? We know how to praise God really good on Sunday, but is that all He asks of us? No…..Not just that! He has called us to go and praise His name among the world because the home we’re waiting for is not here yet. As the Hebrew writer said “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.” The one that He is preparing and sanctifying by the finished work He did outside the camp for sinners like us. Some of you may be wondering what the symbol means behind me this morning? This is the Arabic letter "N" this is the first letter of the word "Nasrani," or "Nazarene," which is used to describe Christians because they follow Jesus of Nazareth. But, this is also what ISIS is putting on the houses of Christians to mark for their death. Have we retreated? Or are we willing to stand on the front lines with our brothers and sisters around the globe? Because as one missionary said “the motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be “Devoted for life.” Jesus is calling us to go outside the camp to the dirty places and claim our true identity…..which is found in the merciful and gracious Savior. So! Let’s go outside the camp with Jesus for the glory of God to prepare the way for the His Kingdom of God.
13 August 2014
6 INGREDIENTS TO HAVING SPIRITUAL JOY...............
1. JOY IS A GIFT THAT COMES WITH A BLESSING FROM GOD.
Psalm 16:11 "You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
2. GOD GRANTS OR PROMISES JOY TO THOSE WHO GENUINELY BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.
John 15:11 "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."
3. JOY IS PRODUCED THROUGH THE MINISTRY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Romans 14:17 "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."
4. JOY IS EXPERIENCED MOST FULLY AS BELIEVERS WHEN WE RECEIVE AND OBEY GOD'S WORD.
Jeremiah 15:16 "Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O LORD, God of hosts."
5. JOY IS DEEPENED THROUGH TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS.
1 Thess 1:6 "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit," Because as Paul reminded the church, suffering was a gift from God for our good and His glory " For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake," Phil 1:29
6. BELIEVER'S JOY IS MADE COMPLETE WHEN THEY SET THEIR HOPE ON THE GLORY OF HEAVEN.
Romans 12:12 'Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."
This is good news for the strong or the the struggling Christian! See biblical joy drives a believer to recognize or embrace joy with a…..Thankful heart......Prayerful heart....Desiring heart......Joyful heart! Andrew Murray says "Our love to God is measured by our everyday fellowship with others and the love it displays." And when your heart is joyful, your confidence grows in the knowledge of Jesus Christ and your fellowship with one another. That's a blessing and a gift from God.
SO ASK YOURSELF?
1. Is your heart full of the Lord?
2. Are you completely satisfied in Him alone?
3. Does He bring you reason to rejoice today?
Never forget as Jesus reminded His children in John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
By Mike Andrews
09 August 2014
How do we know if we love Christ? This is a really good question to ask ourselves. So let's exam our heart in light of scripture and the gospel that saves to the uttermost parts.
How Do We Know If We Love Christ?
By J C Ryle
1.If we love a person, we like to think about him. We do not need to be reminded of him. We do not forget his name or his appearance or his character or his opinions or his tastes or his position or his occupation... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
2.If we love a person, we like to hear about him. We find a pleasure in listening to those who speak of him. We feel an interest in any report which others make of him... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
3.If we love a person, we like to read about him. What intense pleasure a letter from an absent husband gives to a wife, or a letter from an absent son to his mother... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
4.If we love a person, we like to please him. We are glad to consult his tastes and opinions, to act upon his advice and do the things which he approves... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
5.If we love a person, we like his friends. We are favorably inclined to them, even before we know them. We are drawn to them by the common tie of common love to one and the same person... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
6.If we love a person, we are jealous about his name and honor. We do not like to hear him spoken against, without speaking up for him and defending him... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
7.If we love a person, we like to talk to him. We tell him all our thoughts, and pour out all our heart to him. We find no difficulty in discovering subjects of conversation... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
8.Finally, if we love a person, we like to be always with him. Thinking and hearing and reading and occasionally talking are all well in their way. But when we really love people we want something more... Well, it is just so between the true Christian and Christ!
04 August 2014
We are warned not to allow ourselves to become hardened, because if we look at the whole concept of hardening in its biblical perspective, we see that something happens to us through repeated sins. Our consciences become seared. The more we commit a particular sin, the less remorse we feel from it. Our hearts are recalcitrant through repeated disobedience.
When God hardens the heart, all He does is step away and stop striving with us. For example, the first time I commit a particular sin, my conscience bothers me. In His grace, God is convicting me of that evil. God is intruding into my life, trying to persuade me to stop this wickedness. If He wants to harden me, all He has to do is to stop rebuking me, stop nudging me, and just give me enough rope to hang myself.
We see in Scripture that when God hardens hearts, He does not force people to sin; rather, He gives them their freedom to exercise the evil of their own desires (James 1:13-15).
Coram Deo: Living in the Presence of God
Pray this prayer with the psalmist David: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24).
For Further Study
James 1:13-15: "Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death."
27 July 2014
Nothing makes the heart feel better knowing that help is on the way! I can recall numerous times of needing help and the peace it brings to knowing help was on the way. The time when my alternator died on the way home from the drive in. The time when I got stuck in the mud at Brighton Speedway. The time when I saw the Roadrunners Tow truck pulling in behind a broken down van when we started out on our vacation. There is a sense of peace and joy that overtakes your heart when help comes. The sound of sirens as they approach your burning house, a distressing call, health reasons. There is a certain peace that takes over when you’re troubled at heart. Go back a few years when 33 miners were trapped in a Chilean mine deep under the earth’s surface. Can you imagine what they went through? I wonder if they felt totally lost and doomed to a slow and painful death. Now fast forward when help finally received the word that help was on the way. Imagine how they must have been filled with joy when they got a message from above that the rescue team knew exactly where they were and that the process of getting them out had already begun! There are times in all of our lives when we feel like we’re stuck in a really bad place. Anxious and alone, we despair that we are out of options and that no one understands where we really are in life. But in such moments we need to remember God’s promises and His comforting words, just like the disciples here in the upper room with Jesus! These men are so troubled and felt alone like the miners did before help came…..even though the Lord Jesus was with them. The Lord comforts them we yet another truth…….a truth that should seal the deal on all doubt and fear. What were His words of comfort? HELP WAS ON THE WAY! Our greatest hope here below is help from God above. This is so true in our lives and in the lives of these 11 men.
I think one of the most encouraging things Jesus said to the disciples is that “I will not leave you orphans” (v18) “orphans”, “comfortless” or better yet “fatherless” WOW! This powerful stuff here! Jesus promises when he says “I will never leave you fatherless and abandoned like so many people today”. Especially today with the breakdown of the husband and wife and the family unit. He says that he would show them the kindness of a parent, and, though he was going away, he would provide for their future safety. How? He does this by promising of sending us a helper, a guide, a teacher to show us the way home where there is a room for you and me. That place called Heaven that Jesus spoke of in the opening remarks of chapter fourteen for those who truly follow Him. And He says “I will come again” (v18b) Here is the stamp, the icing on the cake to that promise that He will never leave us orphaned. Never to leave us crying and feeling alone when they walk out of our lives, to never to return. Why? He’s Jesus, and He is the example every father should live and govern their lives by. Jesus promises that will never happen no matter what! HE PROMISES. That’s why we find comfort when the Hebrew writer penned these words “….For He Himself has said, "I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU." So we may boldly say: "THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?" Heb 13:5-6
So who is this Helper? John’s gospel is the only one who identifies the Spirit this way! This word is better translated “Comforter”, “advocate,” or as we see here in the text “Helper”. What is Jesus trying to say to His weary disciples? John Gill said “the Spirit, who performs this his work and office, by taking of the things of Christ, and showing them to his people; by shedding abroad the love of the Father, and of the Son, into their hearts; by opening and applying the precious promises of the Gospel to them; by being a spirit of adoption in them; and by abiding with them as the seal, earnest, and pledge of their future glory; and with this view Christ promises to pray for him," The Spirit is promised as one who would supply Christ’s own place in His absence. That’s why Jesus continues to comfort the disciples in John 16:6-14 “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” The Spirit of truth will teach them and us all the necessary truth pertaining to life and godliness. And how will this Helper comfort my troubled heart?
THIS HELPER COMES ALONG SIDE US TO COMFORT US AND STRENGTHEN OUR SOULS FOR HEAVEN. (V15-V18)
Having the Helper is the same as having Jesus physically, accessible but only better. Again remember Jesus said he is going and we can’t follow right now, but you will in time. So access to Jesus personally is impossible though our earthly life, but the Helper the Holy Spirit resides with us to comfort us until that glorious day when we stand before Christ physically. The Holy Spirit is not some force or essence that comes over us. It is the Third PERSON of the Trinity. Who comes along side us as father does his child when he’s teaching to ride his bike for the first time without training wheels. Walking or running alongside your son or daughter, with one hand on the seat giving instructions “relax, keep your wheel straight and steady.” And when they fall or crash [and they will] you’re there to pick them up and to encourage them to try again and never give up [to persevere]. Isn’t this the Christian life? Every one of us started out with training wheels, some still need them to grow; because some need more comfort and encouragement to continue. But the wonderful blessing in all of this is that the Spirit doesn’t sit back and wait for an opportunity. He is always there through the good and bad times of your journey home. He was there in the beginning and He will help you through to the end of your Christian life. As Paul wrote when he was discouraged and had been disheartened “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,” 2 Cor 7:5-6
THIS HELPER DWELLS WITHIN OUR HEARTS AND BRINGS THINGS TO REMEMBERANCE. (V19-V26)
In (v23) we read "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” Doesn’t this sound familiar to the opening statement Jesus made? “I go to prepare a place for you” (v2) See “place” in (v2) and “home” in (v23) is the same Greek word “mon-ay” which means: dwelling place, abode, room. Jesus is preparing a dwelling place for us, but He is also dwells within us. One of the most encouraging aspects to the Christian life is to know that the Holy Spirit not only comes along side us, but that He dwells within us. Sadly though! One of the most troubling thoughts many feel today is that they’re all alone; there is nobody to help them in their time of struggle, temptation and so on. And that’s true for many people around the globe today who are defence and hostile to the things of God. Usually when a person feels they are all alone “self-pity” comes to visit and they usually end up saying “nobody cares about me”. Again these are common feelings but unnecessary for the genuine child of God. As Paul wrote to the church in Rome “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” Rom 8:10-11. The Holy Spirit teaches us and prepares us for ministry and our eternal inheritance. He brings to our lives that need to be changed for our good and God’s glory. He brings that inward feelings of conviction, repentance, faith , hope, fear, and love, which will always produce an outward display of an inward changed life. Without the Spirit we are hopeless, restless and lost without a home in Heaven.
THE HELPER GIVES US THE ABILITY TO DO GREAT THINGS FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD. (V12-V13)
There is a true story of a submarine mate in World War II who had an acute appendicitis and the nearest surgeon was thousands of miles away. The Pharmacist mate watched the solders temperature rise to 106 degrees. The man’s only hope was an operation! So the Pharmacist said “I've watched doctors do this, I think I can it”. The man who was in pain consented and so they prepared for surgery. The cook boiled water in pots to sterilize the instruments. A tea strainer served as an antiseptic cone. A broken handled scalpel was the operating instrument. Alcohol was drained from the torpedo was the antiseptic. Bent table spoons served to keep the muscles open. After cutting through layers of muscle, it took him 20 minutes to find the appendix. Two and half hours later, the last stitch was sewed just as the last drop of ether gave out. Thirteen days later the man whose life hanged in the balance was saved and he returned to duty fully recovered. That’s amazing! An untrained man under the most extreme conditions performed a miracle that saved this man’s life. Jesus said “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” (v12)
There is much we can learn from this experience because the Spirit dwells in us and He gives us the wisdom and abilities to perform great things for the Kingdom. Through the Spirit we are able to do the same as Jesus. Jesus brought life and through His life giving message in the gospel. We are able to see God’s mighty power as it transforms millions of lives though our transformed lives and the proclamation of the gospel message. See, our ministry that we’ve been given is greater than Jesus Christ, even though His is the conductor and orchestrator and source of all things. He was here for a short period to display the love of the Godhead but He is gone and will not return until an appointed time. We have been given the responsibility and joy to tell others and see people come to Christ for His glory and His name sake. God through the Spirit uses simple, untrained people to impossible things for His glory and His Kingdom. Look at the life of a fisherman…..Peter, when the religious leaders were dumbfounded by Peter’s wisdom. Act 4:8-13 we read “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED BY YOU BUILDERS, WHICH HAS BECOME THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
THE HELPER IS THERE TO SETTLE A TROUBLED HEART. (V27-V31)
A peace that world desperately needs, but unable to attain apart from Christ and the Holy Spirit indwelling. A person will never find genuine peace in this life or the next apart from the saving work found in the gospel. See this peace that Jesus gives us is not purchased at the store, or in today’s best-selling books, not even your neighbor or closet friend. It comes through Jesus Christ and the always present Helper in our lives. That’s why Jesus says “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (v17) As John Gill said “the men of the world, who are as they came into the world, carnal and natural men, can neither receive the Spirit nor the things of the Spirit, the truths and doctrines of the Gospel; they can neither receive them into their understandings, nor into their affections; and indeed, because they cannot understand them, therefore they do not love them, but despise and hate them.” That’s why Paul wrote “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor 2:14. Remember we need Him and His help to see genuine peace! As Francis Chan said “Why would we need to experience the Comforter if our lives are already comfortable?”
These are the promises that Jesus told His disciples and these are the same promises that have been made available through the finish work on the cross. The Holy Spirit is given to the church of all God’s called out ones [the Elect] to abide with us until Christ calls us home. And what’s beautiful about this is He will never let go of your heart! That’s a peace that supersedes everything else in this troubled life. Eph 1:13-14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Again let not your heart be troubled my weary untrained disciples! HELP IS ON THE WAY!
Church family! HELP IS HERE and He’s going nowhere, He is here to come alongside, dwell within us, help us to great things for the Kingdom and give us a peace in the midst of our troubles and circumstances of life. Let not your heart be troubled! I’m with you always…..so comfort one another with these truths and live your life for the glory of His name. Remember “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” And that’s only possible, that’s only made available through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
20 July 2014
I don’t know about you, but I find it’s absolutely amazing sometimes that we can be so familiar with something or someone and yet somehow be ignorant or insensitive to things and people around us. It seems so contradictory to know, and yet not to know, at the same time. How often have we heard the statement, “I thought I knew everything there was to know about that person? But I've discovered I really didn't know them at all.” That statement simply reveals that it is possible to know a person, and yet not really notice all of the complex qualities of their personality; just as so many people do when you think of Jesus Christ. Maybe you struggle with who Jesus is? Maybe, you've said this statement “I thought I knew everything there was to know about that person? But I’ve discovered I really didn’t know them at all.” Maybe you felt that way? I thought I knew him, but I really didn’t. Maybe we’re not so different to Phillip and the gang when he spoke out to Jesus. I want you think about this statement and see if this is you at times. The statement is found in Phillip’s comment to what Jesus has already said in (v8) “Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." Maybe you’re the type of person that needs to see more in order to believe? Maybe you’re the type of person who waits for signs and wonders to make you believe? I think Odd Thomas said it best when it comes to this type of thinking in Humble Beast's song
"Signs & Symbols"
Odd Thomas said.......Sometimes what we believe to be true
from our supernatural pursuits
Is actually a fluke,
a series of events used to distract you from truth
But I'll give you a sign thats obvious
One of the most supernatural acts
is that God through his word
Has actually revealed everything pertaining to life and godliness
There's this idea that an individual
is somehow more spiritual
If he see these so signs and symbols
And takes what's normally invisible and make it simple.
But I say the mark of a mature man
Is the one who reads Gods word and understands
And allows that, to govern his decisions and perspective plans.
These men have been with Christ for 3 years, and to their defence they were men who’s knowledge was small and limited at best! They knew very little before the crucifixion and resurrection compared to what they knew after the day of Pentecost. Look at how Jesus responds to this group of men, who J.C Ryle described as “children in understanding” Children, as described when Paul penned these words “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.” 1 Cor 13:11-12. So Jesus responds as always with a loving, comforting tone to His child like disciples. Look what Jesus says (v9-v11) Have I been with you this long and you still need more proof to who I claim to be Phillip? (v9). Have you forgotten already the supernatural work that I have done since I’ve been with you? For instance:
- I turned water into wine at the wedding you attended with me Phillip.
- Have you forgotten that I knew where you friend Nathanael’s secret alone place was when I called him?
- I calmed the storm with a command while we were in the boat together.
- I feed you and thousands of others with only a small portion fit for one boy.
- I casted out demons that knew who I was.
- I walked on water to you and the rest of the disciples.
- I gave sight to the blind, even from birth, and made the lame to walk again.
- I healed people by my touch, without my touch and from a distance, remember the nobleman’s son?
See, this must have grieved the heart of God, to know that His disciples hearts were still unsettled about what was going to happen and to who Jesus claimed to be GOD incarnate. Jesus poured His life into these men, day in and day out. These men had the privilege to walk, witness, fellowship with the God who created them for His glory! These men walk with the “image of the invisible God”. The same God who walked with Adam and Eve in the coolness of the day before sin came. The same God who provided a sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac. The same God who wrestled with Jacob the night his name was changed to Israel. The same God who was born of a virgin to save us from our destruction. Jesus in His incarnate form displayed for us the truth that Paul penned to the church. Col 1:12-16 “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
The same truth the Hebrew writer was trying to proclaim in the early part of his letter. Heb 1:1-3 “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” the disciples didn’t fully understand or could possibly comprehend this truth until later when the Holy Spirit came into their lives.
See Phillip didn’t ask this question as if this is the first time meeting Jesus. This is the final hours the disciples will be with Jesus, before His arrest and death on a cross. But we need to understand! The question or statement that Phillip asked or demanded is no different than many of us today in our society ask….even people in the church! we just ask or demand in a different way……….
- Where is your God, reveal Him to us?
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- God wouldn’t let this happen in my life?
- How could a God like that allow so much death and destruction?
- How could you follow a God you haven’t seen?
See the logical answer to Phillip’s question is…….. To see God physically is to look upon person of Christ. But like Phillip and the rest of the disciples they didn’t get it! They were very much like their ancient generations of old. They too didn’t get it, or the big picture. St. Augustine put this beautifully when he pointed out that the eyes of faith were still being formed in the disciples and they were at this point unable really to see at all. He said “Why wasn’t he seen? Because the eye he could be seen with was not yet whole. As for the Lord’s body, which could be seen with these eyes, it was not only the one who revered him who saw him but also the Jews who crucified him. So if he wanted to be seen in another way, it means he was requiring other eyes.” In other words, the physical eyes of man could look upon Jesus and either love and worship Him or hate and crucify Him.
We see this today. Some people look at Jesus and love Him. Some people look at Jesus and hate Him. Do you realize it’s possible to look at Jesus, but not really see who He is? But to eyes of faith, however, Jesus reveals more than what the physical eyes see. To eyes of faith, Jesus reveals nothing less than God the Father. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” Again Jesus is giving His disciples another gentle answer to encourage the troubled heart of Phillip and the rest of the disciples. See we need to understand when Jesus answers with “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” What Jesus is saying is that He makes things known, He uncovers, and He unveils. Jesus is revelation. Jesus shows us God.
- To see Jesus is to see the Father.
- To see Jesus heal is to know that God is a healing God.
- To see Jesus forgive is to know that God is a forgiving God.
- To see Jesus reach out to the outcast is to know that God is the God who loves outcasts.
- To see Jesus tell His disciples to forgive and forgive again, is to know that God’s mercies are ever new.
- To see Jesus weep is to know that God cares.
- To see Jesus die…is to know that God will do whatever it takes to save lost humanity.
- To see Jesus rise again is to know that God wins!
Isn’t that amazing and humbling all at the same time as New Testament Christians? Doesn’t that just change your perspective and outlook on who Jesus, truly is. God who came in the form of man to save man from himself. How do we know that’s true? The proof is found in your transformed life who loves and believes Jesus even though you never saw Him physically. The question is………Do you believe this to be true? Is it possible that Jesus is asking you the same question he spoke to Phillip, this morning?
“have I been with you for so many years[add your name] and you still struggle to know Me?”
Have you forgotten that…….
- I was there when you were conceived.
- I was there when you gave your first breath.
- I was there when you feel off your bike and scrapped your knee.
- I was there when you cried out to Me in genuine repentance and faith.
- I was there when nobody else was.
- I was there when you fell in love with the one I chose for you.
- I was there when you lost someone close to you.
- I was there when you fell into sin.
- I was there to pick you up and restore you.
- I was there and will always be God.
Do you believe this even though you never saw Him or touched Him? Do you believe even though you never saw the burning bush? Do you believe even though you never saw the glow of Moses face when he ascended Mount Sinai? Do you believe even though you never saw the cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night? Do you believe even though you never saw Him hang on the cross? Do you believe even though you didn’t see the empty tomb for yourself? Do you believe even though you can’t see Heaven from where you are? Do you believe? See we don't need to see something supernatural in order for us to put our faith in trust in Jesus Christ! See, every one of us live a Ruth story! What do I mean by that? Our lives are very much like Ruth, plain, boring that has no special or supernatural event to make people follow by faith. Just like the story of Ruth we see our lives as......A typical life with no excitement or seeing any supernatural moments. A life of tragedy and sorrow. A life of hard work and not knowing what lies ahead. A life of daily struggles and fighting the flesh. A life that each and every one of face….day in and day out. The one thing we all have in common with Ruth and everyone else in the bible is that Jesus is Lord and He will always be with us, just as He was with Moses, Elijah, David, Hosea, the disciples and the church! And if that’s not enough! As Jesus said in (v11) “believe …..for the sake of the works themselves.” What is that work? What I’ve [meaning Jesus] has accomplished in His earthly ministry and most of all! Your transformed life……..you are not who you used to be. That's a MIRACLE! We are God's representatives to a lost and broken world who desperately need Jesus Christ; which is the amazing and unbelievable supernatural work found in Christ and the gospel.
16 July 2014
13 July 2014
Everywhere you look we see people with troubled hearts! A troubled heart occurs when it comes to….
- Loss of job
- Health issues
- Lack of money
- With rising crime rate, rising costs of living
- The major problems happening in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas.
- The intolerant Homosexual movement.
- The major rise of porn exposure at such young ages.
- Stealing and Pirating music and movies
- Political corruption.
- The killing of innocent life in the womb.
- The massive breakdown of the family unit.
- Fighting amongst genuine Christians.
- Complacency and apathy in the church today
- And the list is endless to a troubled heart in any generation.
In the book of Job we read "Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble.” Job 14:1. See, being born in sin; sin and trouble go together, where there is sin there is trouble; sin entered into the world and there is only one cure for the troubled heart! J C Ryle said “that disease is trouble of heart, That remedy is faith.” Heart trouble is common everywhere around the globe in our generation. Kent Hughes calls it the “The Cardiac age”. The heart is a wonderful creation. It beat an average of 75 beats a minute, 40 millions times a year, 21/2 billions time for a person of 70. It pumps enough blood (650,000 gallon a year) to fill more than 82 tank cars with 8,000 gallons each. Many of us in this sanctuary have troubled hearts today! The question is what are you doing about it? Better yet, who are you turning to? It’s no wonder we have so many health problems in our culture today. Studies show according to Harvard Health Publication wrote “Anxiety has now been implicated in several chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.” A troubled heart can at times play a factor in our heath! When we constantly worry about everything we sometimes cause ourselves to worry about things that haven’t happened yet. We sometimes make up worry in our thoughts and even have the tendency to borrow worry. But Jesus said “"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matt 6:25-34.
Look what Jesus says to His disciples here in John’s gospel. (v1) He says “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” “Troubled” means: “uncertain affinity; to stir or agitate” The effects of all that Jesus had told them must have shocked them, and by John 14 they were undoubtedly confused, baffled and filled with anxiety. They have been told there is one who is a betrayer among them. He has already said He is going to be handed over to the Romans and die a sinner’s death. He has confronted Peter with the truth that he is going to deny Him. And to top it off! Jesus says He’s leaving them in a while and they can’t follow Him until later on. This was a troubled room filled with men of anxiety who left everything to follow Jesus. As our Lord looked at these men, He knew what was going on in their minds and hearts, He knew how disturbed and upset they were, and knew what was causing it. He also knew the remedy for it, as well. (v1-v6)
First thing Jesus says is "Let not." This means that the disciples could nothing to solve their problem. There is truly only one remedy for a troubled and sinful heart! The Lord Jesus and the promise He brings. This passage is one the most comforting passages in all of scripture! It has said that F.B. Myers of England had a Bible that had been passed through many generations. He said, many of the pages were clean just like the day it came from the printing press. But the pages of John 14 worn, spotted with tears of the people who had read it and found the comfort of God. That is so true! We can find great comfort throughout the scriptures, but we find great comfort here in this passage of John’s letter!
This is why Jesus says what He says. Don’t let this world and the coming days worry or trouble you! You trust in God, trust in Me, as well and the promises I bring.
See the problem is our sin nature of disbelief! We tend to think of the worst; we tend to get ourselves worked up when we’re faced with challenges, disappointments and confrontations. We tend to shut down and curl up in the fetal position waiting for things to pass. We tend to explode in the midst of trouble like a child does when they don’t get what they want. In reality its sin! John MacArthur said “The Worrier Strikes Out at God, The Worrier Disbelieves Scripture, The Worrier Is Mastered by Circumstances, The Worrier Distrusts God, Worry Is Unwise Because of Our Future”……He went on to say “Worrying paralyzes you, making you too upset to accomplish anything productive. It will seek to do that to you by taking you mentally into tomorrow until you find something to worry about. Refuse to go along for the ride. The Lord says you have enough to deal with today. Apply today's resources to today's needs or you will lose today's joy.”
The Psalmist wrote “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:6-8 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” In other words, our worry leads us astray and allows Satan a foothold into our lives. Since “sin” is, at its core, “missing the mark” that God has set for us, and so worrying is not living up to God’s standard. Jesus comforts His disciples with the promise in (v2-v3) There are many dwelling places; there are many beds for you in my house, what Jesus is saying. Jesus says “I go to prepare” a bed for you and me, His called out ones a place that John describes in Revelation 21-22 as absolutely AWESOME! A place that………
- Is filled with the glory of God.
- A place that has no more tears.
- Has no more death.
- Has no more sorrow, trouble.
- Has no more pain.
- We will never thirst again physically or spiritually.
- God illuminates His glorious light for all eternity.
- That has Christ sitting on the throne in His entire supreme splendor.
- That has your name in a book, if you are truly His child.
This is a place called Heaven, a place that we cannot fathom in our finite minds to how beautiful it is and glorious it will be for you and me when we spend eternity with Christ. Heaven is so overwhelming of a place, that it caused the Apostle Paul to pen these words “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed [it’s like a tug of war at my heart strings] between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Phil 1:21-23. Jesus knew the importance of this place! Otherwise He wouldn’t’ have told us as we face obstacles or troubled hearts! In this life you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I’ve overcome them! In John 16:33, Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
See, this is a promise that cannot be taken away for those who are truly His and what’s more amazing Jesus uses four words of comfort for the troubled Christian. (v3) “I will come again” doesn’t that give you comfort when you’re troubled at heart? Seriously, the King of Kings, Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End, made this promise that He is coming back, but not only to come back to judge but to “receive” us back to Himself. To receive us and He will take you up with me to Heaven; I will receive you into glory where he is and always be. But obviously this didn’t settle the disciple’s hearts because Thomas asks Jesus a question! (v5). But again Jesus gives yet another confirmation, another word of comfort, so that it would close any doubt they might have. Look what Jesus said in (v6) This is what we would call a dogmatic statement! There is no compromising on a statement like this. Jesus is the only one who can grant such a promise as we’ve seen in the opening verses of this chapter. Let’s examine for a moment what Jesus is saying by breaking down this bold dogmatic statement.
Jesus says He “is the Way”
There is no other way to find rest in the midst of trouble then Him alone. The Father’s house in Heaven is only reached through Jesus Christ and His perfecting atoning work on the cross. Eph 2:18-19 we read “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,”
Jesus says He “is the Truth”
The root of all knowledge is to know and savor this truth in Christ. All truth in the Old Testament and into the New Testament all point to Christ. The only truth the soul needs is Him, what Jesus is saying is that he isn’t some form of truth or a truth to equal with whatever you call truth. He is truth itself, there is no other! John 1:14-17 we read “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.' "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said He “is the Life”
He is the root, the source and the foundation of all life. He is not a life, but life itself, just as He is truth. He is the giver and taker of life; He is the giver of eternal life to whomever He chooses. In John 11:25-26 we read “Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"
There is no other way of escape to find rest for a weary and troubled heart other than Jesus Christ. There is no other way a person will ever stand in heaven apart from Christ and His redeeming love found in the gospel.
- Not by your strength
- Not by another human being
- Not by works
- Not by your church attendance and involvement
- Not by your supposed goodness.
As John wrote in John 1:10-12 “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. And he even went on to say in the next verse “who [meaning you and me] were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13. He is the only way we can find true healing in this life! This is what he promised the disciples and this is what He promises to us for those you put their trust in Christ alone. “Sola Christos” As Luke penned “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12.
The troubled heart needs to remember that Jesus is everything! Trials are part of life, but Christ always says to us in the darkness “do not let your heart be troubled” As Hudson Taylor said “There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” I am the way…..the truth…and Life for those whom are mine! The problem for us is our sin, the solution is Jesus Christ, and the promises found in the gospel that not only saves you from the wrath of God…..it saves you a dwelling place for all eternity with Him. The one and only Jesus Christ!