Sanctified Soil

Nehemiah 10:31b, “Every seventh (Sabbath) year we will forego working the land…”
This hails back to God’s original command to have the land lie fallow for a year. Why?
Why did the land need a Sabbath?
Any farmer will tell you that if you don’t rest the land and allow it to replenish its nutrients it will be less productive, less fruitful, and the quality of what it DOES produce will be diminished. Allowing it to rest keeps the soil sustainable for the long term.
I hope you’ve thought through last week’s message and asked God to help you create margins in your life so that you can be the most effective for Him long term.
But as I was praying this week about this portion of scripture and asking the Lord what this means to us today He reminded me that we were created from the soil of the earth. Soil and all of us have much of the same ingredients.
In my research this week I discovered that our bodies contain detectable traces of 60 chemical elements, most of which can be found on the earth’s crust.
It’s like we’ve just been scooped out of the top layer of the earth and formed with the same ingredients. But there’s one element we have that soil doesn’t have.
Which brings me to what I’d like for us to look at today.
Our bodies are sanctified soil. The difference between us and a handful of dirt is the breathe of God.
We are set apart. We are unique to all the rest of God’s creation.
Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”
He made us in His image. There’s nothing else in all of creation that even comes close to the magnificence of mankind because we alone were created in His image. Then we read in the following chapter something unique to our creation apart from any other things He created.
Genesis 2:7, “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
Everything else God created… HE MERELY SPOKE and they appeared. BUT when God created man He climbed down into the mud and got His hands dirty.
Nothing else in all of creation called for that degree of attention or that depth of involvement by God.
And the reason was simple: Man was the only created being on earth that was formed by God and in the image of God.
Evolutionists believe there is no divine in man, just soil. They tell us that man gradually evolved from lower life forms. They tell us that life was just an accident and man is nothing more than a higher order of animal. To evolutionists you and I are animals borne of chaos and lacking any real reason to exist. We have no higher purpose. We have no real value beyond being a scientific curiosity.
But the Bible tells us that’s not true. You’re not just soil.
Evolution may see us as one step above apes.
But Scripture tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully hand-crafted by God Himself.
You and I are NOT like the other creations of God. We’re not like Apes, the Chimps, the Orangutans. We are a special creation MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD!
Now, why is that important? It’s important for a couple of reasons.
Because you are made in the image of God, you have intrinsic value. If for that reason alone, you are WORTH something.
What you THINK you are shapes WHO you are. If you think you were born to lose and have no purpose or value, that’s how you’ll live. But if you realize you have intrinsic value, you will tend to live up to that image.
You have been made in the image of God.
He has the authority to say you have value and worth.
No matter what’s happened to you,
No matter what you’ve done with your life,
No matter how many bad decisions you’ve made,
You are STILL created in the image of God and you are worth something.
You are valuable to God.
But… how do you know you have that value?
Because something is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.
So, how much are you worth?
Well, God says you’re worth so much that He gave His only begotten Son for you.
Not only have you been created in God’s image, you’ve been bought with a price… with the precious blood of Jesus.
So, first because you’ve been created, you have worth & value, and you are valued so much that God put the price of your worth at His only begotten Son.
Because you have been created in His image you have been valued by God to the highest level, therefore you and I have a responsibility to live up to.
In evolution there is no image of God in which to live up to. You’re just an accidental collection of matter. You are who you are and you can’t help being who you are. Without the DIVINE all you have left is SOIL. As soil, all you’re left with is animal instincts and emotions that are base and uncontrollable.
Because, if that’s all you are, that’s all you’re going to be.
And many people think just like that. They will say, “That’s just how I am”, or “I was born this”, or “I can’t help myself.”
What they’re really saying is they’re just soil… not divine or sanctified or set apart or unique.
They’re declaring, “I wasn’t formed by God, wasn’t breathed into by the breath of God, but I was formed by accident or a Big Bang or by the random evolutionary luck of nature.”
And that’s what society continues to try to push on us. They tell us, “You can’t help yourself, that’s just the way you ARE, you were born to live a life controlled by your emotions and your appetites and there’s not a thing you can do to change it. And when things get too far out of whack because you’ve lived like that, just take this pill or this drug and it will all go away.”
But the Bible says that’s not true. You were created IN THE IMAGE of God. You were created to live a responsible life that reflects your Creator. God believes you can change who you are and how you live.
That’s why the Bible says in Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”
Jesus said in Luke 6:36, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
And again He said in Matthew 5:48, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Now just an explanation about that last verse and the word “perfect”.
Many people read that word “Perfect” and think it means to be without sin. But the Greek word used for perfection actually means something else. It means “to be complete” or “to be mature”, as in Hebrews 5:14 where the word is translated that way, “But solid food is for the MATURE, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
So Jesus is telling us, “Grow up!” Grow up to be like your daddy. Grow up to reflect the image of your Father that’s within you. That’s our responsibility.
The Bible teaches us that we can’t be saved by our good works. We can’t earn our way into heaven by accumulating enough brownie points. We don’t get past the pearly gates because we’ve been merciful. We don’t earn a place in Paradise by how nice we’ve been. We don’t even get into heaven because we’ve been holy.
But if holiness doesn’t get me into heaven, why SHOULD I be holy? Why should I do good things?
Why? To reflect Jesus to others and bring glory to Him.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, SO THAT they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Everything Jesus said and did brought glory to His Father.
Everything we do and say should reflect our Creator and bring glory to Him because you and I are created in HIS image.
This is our privileged and joyful responsibility as Believers and followers of Christ.
You can tell who employees of businesses belong to by the garments they wear. They’ve been entrusted with the IMAGE of that businessl. They are stewards of the reputation of the organization to which they belong. And we tend to judge their place of employment by how they conduct themselves.
in the same way, as stewards of the image of God, we’ve got to realize what we do and don’t do reflects back on our God. When we treat someone rough, or lose our tempers, or say things we shouldn’t say, or do something we shouldn’t do, that reflects back on our Creator.
But by contrast, if we live a life dedicating ourselves to being God’s image to the world we can change the lives of those around us. This is our responsibility as representatives of Him.
I’m not sure what someone told you years ago or what you believe about yourself today, but you have intrinsic value. You are worth more than anything else to God.
You are sanctified soil, breathed into with the very breathe of God, made in His image. Bought back from the curse of sin with the price of His only Son.
You have the privileged responsibility to display this example to others as His representative. You are a son and daughter of God!
As we give proper rest to the soil which is our bodies, we will be sustainable long term. But we can’t be fruitful in quantity and quality if we don’t come to the realization that we have intrinsic value as uniquely formed and fashioned by God’s hands, in His image, breathed in by His breath of life, and bought with the price of His only Son, which places on us the responsibility to be the image of Him to those who have intrinsic value, are uniquely formed and fashioned by His hands, in His image, breathed in by His breath of life, and have been bought with the price of His only Son, but have not as of yet accepted the free gift of salvation.
Maybe that’s you today. Maybe that’s someone you know.
God, change our perspective of who we are. Help us to embrace the fact that, regardless of what we’ve been taught or told, we are unique and valuable and worthwhile in YOUR eyes, so much so that You gave us Your only Son. Sanctify this soil today. Set us apart. Then out of that help us to embrace our responsibility to live it out as Your children to others as a reflection of You and for your glory.

Conquering the Subtlety of Compromise

Nehemiah 10:30, “(Therefore) We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons.”
Why did they make this commitment?
Because when this intermarrying took place it ALWAYS led to compromise and the ultimate downfall of the people.
How can we guard our hearts?
In the book of Deuteronomy God gave the people of Israel some wise instructions as He was preparing them to enter into the Promised Land. These instructions are for us today.
Deuteronomy 7:1-4,26 , “When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nation, and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn our children away from following Me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction. Regard it as vile and utterly detest it, for it is set apart for destruction.”
When we first get saved it’s a clean slate as far as God is concerned. All the old things have passed away and are washed clean by the blood of Jesus and all things become new. Sin has been driven out and you’re a newborn creation in Christ Jesus.
But not too long into this walk temptations come our way. Old habits knock at our door. The old ways drop by for a visit to see if there may be any lodging for the night.
It’s when this happens (and it’s continual), we can apply these 4 tactics to keep them from overtaking us.
Last week we talked about the first one – We Make No Treaty
This week let’s look at the final three.
Our second weapon we can implement to defeat compromise is to –
Show No Mercy
When you think of mercy you think about someone who shows kindness, favor, or pity.
When God was instructing the people, He was telling them to show no mercy to their enemies, no kindness, no favor, and no pity.
I’m sure there were some people who may have felt rather bad about kicking the people out of the Promised Land who had lived there for generations before. “Maybe we could just coexist with them”, they said, “show them a little mercy, a little kindness, a little pity.”
“Hey, live and let live. Why can’t we just all get along?”
Listen, we don’t need to have pity on sin. We don’t need to show kindness to compromise. There’s nothing about sin that I want to get along with, how about you?
It’s those compromising sins that got you and I into this mess in the first place. Why have pity on them? Why show mercy to them?
God is saying today, “No matter how nice they may be, how presentable, how friendly, how seemingly harmless, you must show no mercy.”
Listen, some of these sinful habits in your life may seem like buddies. You may have been told and are convinced they are just part of who you are, part of your DNA, your heritage, even your nationality (Irish temper or Latin lover anyone?).
There are those things in our life that we’re convinced for whatever reason that are just “who we are”.
You ever said that about yourself? “Hey, it’s just who I am.”
But I challenge you today that it isn’t who you are. It’s who you WERE before Christ, but you are not the same. You are a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says,“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!”
Satan does not want you to know that. He doesn’t want you to believe that. He wants to make you think that your DNA is greater than God, that your heritage is greater than God, that your experiences that have molded you are greater than God.
But God has created all things, and there is nothing that the Creator created that is greater than the Creator who created it!
Including your heritage, including your nationality, including your DNA!
Think about stories in the Bible, stories you’ve heard of others in history, people you know, and your OWN life testimony. When God gets ahold of people, when people have a genuine encounter with Jesus Christ, lives change. Directions change. Goals change. Speech changes. Thoughts change. Habits change. Priorities change!
The old has gone! The new has come!
Your spiritual DNA has been completely altered by the powerful, life giving, soul cleansing blood of Jesus Christ!
So show no mercy to your old man. Instead, be harsh with him, be intolerant, and be cruel. Crucify him daily at the foot of the Cross of Calvary.
First, we make no treaty! Second, we show no mercy!
And thirdly, we …
Share No Love
God warned them, “Don’t give your sons and daughters to be married to their sons and daughters”.
Why? Mixture.
God knew their hearts. He knew their propensity to stray. God knew how easy it would be to compromise. God knew the heart was a fickle thing. God knew the subtlety of the luring away and the slow drift that would happen away from their first love.
It happened to Solomon. It happened time and time again with the people of God. It’s happened throughout the history of the Church. It’s happening today, and it may be happening in your life.
What have you married yourself to? What have you slept with, given your heart to, your affections, your attention?
There are many handsome and beautiful things out there that are beaconing you, alluring you with their charms. It could be a person, it could be a thing, it could be an activity. No matter what it is, if it draws you away from your first love, from your primary pursuit of God, from dependency upon God for your total satisfaction, if anything or anyone else out there “completes” you, you’ve allowed compromise a place at the head of the table of your heart and it must be shown the door.
Revelation chapter 2 describes 7 churches that are representative of the last days churches, each having their unique issues.
Revelation 2:1-5, “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for My name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Just as we would not tolerate a divided heart from our spouse, God will not tolerate a divided heart towards Him.
Some symptoms of falling away from your first love are- Not spending time with Him in prayer and devotions, allowing someone or something else to be first in your priorities, having a thought life that is not pleasing to Him, becoming indifferent about sin in the world, becoming complacent about your testimony to others with your lifestyle choices and words.
If these things are apparent in your life, run back to Jesus and fall back in love with Him.
Show no love to the things that would cause you to compromise and fall away from God. Instead, detest it, despise it, loathe it entirely, utterly reject it.
It needs to make us sick to our stomachs.
So first we make no treaties, second we show no mercy, third we share no love, and finally, we –
Leave No Trace
God said, “When you go into the land I’ve prepared for you, I want you to totally destroy them.”
In other words annihilate them, vaporize them, completely eradicate them, take no prisoners, nuke ’em!
Listen, sin will be around as long as we are alive on the earth, but just because sin exists doesn’t mean we need to have any part in it.
That’s what God was saying to His people then and what He’s saying to us today.
We are in but not of the world. God has made all things new inside of us as a foretaste of what’s to come when He makes all things new. We are representatives of His Kingdom, not the world’s. We are a new creation and a reflection of Jesus Christ who now lives in us.
Imagine this scenario. People who knew you in Middle School or High School or College or many years ago or at a recent place of employment. How ever old you were and where you lived BEFORE you served Jesus. What kind of person were you? Okay, so imagine that same person comes up to you now after all these months or years.
Would they see a difference? I’m not talking about the extra pounds, wrinkles, and gray hairs, I’m talking about your countenance, your words, your lifestyle, that “aura” about you that makes you peculiar, different, and set apart because Jesus Christ is fully alive in you and flowing out from you.
If not, if there’s insufficient evidence of a real change. Or maybe if they at first would have seen it when you were first saved but the years have caused a drift back to the old ways, then it’s time to Nuke ‘Em.
Sin creeps in. It’s subtle. It gets a toe hold. It gains control. It causes compromise, slowly but surely. We start off with great promise, only to end up like Solomon as we invite 700 wives and 300 concubines into our hearts and divide our affections 1000 different ways.
How can we keep this eradicated in our lives? How can we vaporize these sinful ways? How can we take no prisoners? How can we Nuke ‘Em?
We die to ourselves daily, and take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.
Let’s take the wise advice God gave to His children back then and apply it to our lives today towards compromising sin.
We make no treaties. We show no mercy. We share no love. And we destroy completely.
Sin has been set aside one day for utter and complete destruction. One day sin will be no more. We dare not partner ourselves with it or we, too, will be set apart for destruction.
Like Solomon, you can continue to serve God, work for God, honor God’s laws and commandments, & live wisely. But the little compromises that seem so innocent and contained now are like a toehold into your heart. It has created an inroad into your life that will eventually expand and decay your heart from within, unless you do something about it.
Make no treaties. Show no mercy. Share no love. Nuke ‘Em.

Therefore… Nehemiah 9

July 12th, 2015
The word “Therefore” appears over 1200 times in the Bible. When you see a “therefore” in God’s Word it is always helpful and wise to see what it is “there for”. “Therefore” always points back to something that was just said.
That’s what we see in Nehemiah 9:32 in this beautiful prayer of God’s people to God.
When constitutions and bylaws are written or proposed for change, there is always the word “whereas” at the beginning, often more than one “whereas”, followed by a “therefore”.
It’s just like saying, “Since all this has taken place, since these are the facts of the matter, since we are aware of the details that has brought us to this point, we therefore make this commitment, this proclamation, this proposal, this promise, this vow, this covenant.”
This is what was happening in this prayer. “Here’s what’s happened as a result of our disobedience and rejection of You and Your Laws. It’s not been good. We are aware of it and now confess our sins, repent, and recommit to walking in obedience to You and relationship with You. So in view of all of this, therefore we make a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and affixing our seal to it.”
We are in such a place right now in our Nation. We’ve turned from God’s laws and rejected relationship with Him.
We are vigorously scrubbing away all vestiges of God from our public places and are commanding the Church to sit down, shut up, & go away.
We are denying God’s part in blessing this nation and setting it apart for His good in our world. We are instead taking credit for our success and saying in essence, “We don’t need God, we can make it just fine without Him.”
One of the minor prophets towards the back of the Old Testament is Hosea. He lived during a time of great prosperity among God’s people, but also simultaneously a time of great falling away and compromise of all things holy and righteous and pure, not unlike America is today.
He was told by God to marry a young lady by the name of Gomer. God warned Hosea ahead of time that Gomer would be unfaithful to her covenant vow of marriage, which she was. It was meant to be symbolic of the people’s compromising commitment to Him in their covenant relationship.
The first part of Chapter 2 speaks of the whoredom and unfaithfulness of Gomer. Starting in verse 14 it speaks of God’s plans to redeem her, again symbolic of God’s heart and plan towards His Bride and His people.
Hosea 2:14-23, “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (which means “trouble”) a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master. ’ I will remove the names of the Baals (other gods) from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord. “In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord — “I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, and they will respond to Jezreel (which means “God plants”). I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ”
Many segments of Scripture have dual meanings and fulfillments. And while this speaks to Jesus setting up His ultimate eternal reign of righteousness in the near future, it also speaks to nations and peoples who have throughout human history been in a constant state of needing redemption.
We are in a such a place in our Nation. We are in a Valley of Trouble.
But this valley of trouble we are in in America can also be a door of hope.
No political party, whether it be Democrat, Republican, Independent, Tea Party, or whatever can bring healing and hope and salvation to America.
God alone is our Hope. He alone is our healing and salvation.
God wants to bring salvation to us, to His Church, to our nation, to the world. His covenant of love is unchanging. His justice is perfect. His faithfulness is continual. In all of our whoring and unfaithfulness, in all of our rejection of relationship with Him, He remains steady, constant, faithful, and true. His love never changes.
But as loving as He is, He is also holy and just. And His holy justice demands righteous, restorative judgement. We are in a very precarious place in our nation. The gas peddle has been pushed it seems of late to the floor board and we are speeding towards a very steep cliff and breakneck speed. If we do not repent, His restorative judgment is at the door.
2 Chronicles 7:13-15 says, ““When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
This describes our nation and world right now. In so many ways the heavens are being shut up and there’s much devouring of the land.
We as the church of Jesus Christ are called as the front line of our generation to be the first to repent.
“If My people who are called by My Name”. That’s His Church!
“Will humble themselves”. This is a recognition that we are helpless without Him. It’s the opposite of prideful self-sufficiency. It’s an acknowledgment that all things come from and return back to God.
Pride is what Lucifer kicked out of Heaven. But Ps. 51:17 says, “A broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise.” And James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
“And seek My face.” This is about relationship. We don’t seek His hand or His things, we seek Him first, and His righteousness, THEN these other things will be added unto us.
“And turn from their wicked ways.” Again, this is the Church’s wicked ways, not the world. We know the world’s wicked ways, but what’s going on the Church, in my life, in your life, that we MUST turn away from. King David cried out in a musical prayer, Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
“THEN, THEN will I hear from Heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.”
If we will soberly, vigilantly, wholeheartedly, humbly, thoroughly, authentically do our part by coming to God and repenting of our sins individually and corporately, we can see revival in the Church and in our land.
I don’t know what it will take for His Church to get with it. I’m not sure what catalyst will finally bring the Church to its knees in complete humility and repentance.
We saw it for a few weeks after 9/11, but it was superficial. Instead of the world becoming more like the Church has, the Church has become more like the world.
Think about it, have we been the salt and light that we need to be, preserving and rescuing those around us? Or has the world crept in more and more to our churches? Does the bell of holiness and righteousness and purity in your life and the life of the Church ring true, or is it vague, cloudy, and muffled?
What’s it gonna take? How will God finally get the attention of the Church and our Nation and our world?
Therefore. Therefore.
Let me close this Faith Notes out with this following prayer.
“Lord, since we’ve strayed. Since we’ve neglected You. Since we’ve embraced the things of this world. Since we’ve seen the Church loose it’s savory-ness, it’s passion, and it’s glow. Since we’ve become complacent. Since we’ve not placed You first in our lives. Since we’ve become lukewarm. Since because of this we have seen our nation and our world’s morality crumble, it’s respect for You diminish, and it’s carnality explode. We recognize this as the wicked fruit of the flesh we’ve sown. We therefore humbly come to You today in repentance, making a binding covenant, putting it in writing, and affixing our seal to it.”
Won’t you join me in this prayer and commit to turning to Him with your whole heart and see this valley of trouble become a door of hope. May God turn our hearts, the heart of His Church, and the heart of this great Nation back to Him.

The Church’s Mission Has Not Changed

July 5th, 2015

The Church’s Mission Has Not Changed

On one of the saddest and most troubling days of our nation’s existence, on June 26 the Supreme Court of the United States in a 5-4 decision ruled in favor to legalize Same Sex Unions. As of that day, what some people have called “settled law” on the issue was declared, that homosexuals and lesbians have the legal right to marry in the USA.
Banners declared on that day, “Love Wins”, when in fact, on that day, perversion won and holiness lost.
There are many ways we can look at this and respond to it. We can be fearful, angry, or simple resign ourselves to “settled law” and shrug our shoulders with the attitude that’s there’s nothing we can do.
But let’s be reminded today that, in spite of any decision or law or event that may take place in our world, the Church’s mission remains the same. We can and must still make a difference, one soul at a time, one opportunity at a time, planting and watering as God brings the increase.
We must keep our perspective!
When Roe v. Wade passed, approving the murder of unborn babies in 1972, the Churches didn’t roll over and die. Life continued. Churches remained vibrant and effective. The Mission of the Church remained.
Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said this in regards to the Supreme Court ruling, “We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us. Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again. God’s truth has not changed. The Holy Scriptures have not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church’s mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.”
The Church’s mission has NOT changed. But what is our mission? What is it, in spite of any law, ruling, election, event, or catastrophe upon which we must remain focused?
First, our mission to proclaim the Gospel throughout the world. Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature”.
This is known as the Great Commission. It’s proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, bringing men’s souls into fellowship with God. It’s a continuation of Christ’s earthly ministry that we are privileged to continue on His behalf.
Second, our mission to be a vibrant community of worship and fellowship to manifest the presence and love of Jesus. Jesus said in Matt. 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them”.
A part of the Lord’s purpose of the church, besides bringing people to God, is to gather His people together and facilitate a corporate environment of worship, to express our love toward Him and one another. Jesus described these as the two highest ideals of Christianity. Mark 12:30-31, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these”.
Third, our mission to mature believers and prepare them to perform works of ministry. Eph. 4:11-12 says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”
The church must continue to be an atmosphere of spiritual edification, where God’s Word is taught, where believers are grounded, discipled and led toward maturity. This not only serves to anchor their faith in Christ, but prepares them for service for the kingdom.
And fourth, the mission to represent God’s Kingdom and influence our society for Him. Matt. 5:13-14 says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden”.
Jesus used salt and light as metaphors of the influential characteristics of His church in the world. The presence of the church in the world is Christ’s seasoning and preservation, just as salt is in the natural. And His church has been called to let its light shine to the world — to love, to care for, and to meet needs of humanity, while upholding the redemptive truths and righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Our mission, our focus, our purpose for being, is what it always has been: to preach the Gospel to a lost and dying world, be a place of worship and fellowship to encourage the saints, to disciple Believers into maturity and effectiveness for His Kingdom, and to be salt and light to a dark and dying world.
No Supreme Court ruling will ever change that. In fact, it only brings it into greater clarity as we see the world waxing worse in sin, and helps sharpen our perspective of our mission.
Let’s be a church that connects to God, connects to others, and connects to the lost. That’s our mission.
That’s our focus. Period.
That will never change.

God’s Power

June 28th, 2015

God’s Power

The oceans of the world contain more than 340 quintillion gallons of water (that’s 18 zeros), yet Isaiah 40:12 says God holds them “in the hollow of His hand”.
The earth weighs 6 sextillion metric tons (that’s 21 zeros), yet in Isaiah 40:15 says, God says it is but “dust on the scales”.
The known universe stretches more than 30 billion light years (200 sextillion miles), but Isaiah 40:12 says God measures it by the width of His hand.
Scientists claim there are at least 100 billion galaxies and each galaxy is made up of about 100 billion stars (that’s 10 billion trillion). To such mind-boggling math Isaiah 40:26 reminds us that God calls each star “by name”.
If you ever should doubt God’s unmatched power this should dispel it.
God is all powerful. Nothing escapes Him. He holds all things in His hands. Certainly if He can take care of the immeasurable things we just heard, He can take care of the concerns you and I face.
We see them as insurmountable. He sees them as nothing. It’s all about perspective. And from His perspective they are as a futile as a speck of dust trying to overtake the universe.
Nehemiah 9:24, “Their children went in and took possession of the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; You gave the Canaanites into their hands, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased.”
We see how God went before them to “subdue” their foes. The word “subdue” doesn’t quite cut it for me. It just doesn’t seem to have enough teeth to it. I prefer the words “vanquish, overcome, & conquer”, which is what subdue means. God is a superior force to all He confronts. The opposition has no choice but to submit, bow, and yield.
God went before them to fight their battles. He completely overcame their enemies.
This passage is very clear in that the people merely went in to collect the spoils, to organize behind God’s already done deal, and to possess what God had laid in their hands.
Their job was to simply do whatever was in their heart to do with the land, the goods, and the peoples
God had already conquered before them.
This is power. And this is the God we serve.
God is still in the subduing business. There are many things in our own life that are bigger than us that we need God to go before us and subdue, to vanquish, overcome and conquer.
Fortunately for us, the Bible describes to us many things God still “subdues” on our behalf. He’s not left us to fend for ourselves. God goes before us. He fights for us. He is on our side!
First, He subdues our enemies
Psalm 81:13-14, “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”
God can and will easily conquer our enemies, but He has an “if” He’s placed in there.
He promises as we follow His ways and take heed to Him, that He will quickly conquer and vanquish all of our enemies.
We may think that the enemies of our life are many and varied, but we really only have one enemy who manifests himself through a variety of people and circumstances, and that’s satan himself.
He is the enemy of our soul, and his job is to steal, kill, and destroy, to wreak havoc in our lives.
He’s been around since the beginning of mankind doing his job.
He showed up as a serpent to deceive Adam & Eve.
He filled with jealousy the brothers of Joseph to sell him into slavery.
He worked through Ahab & Jezebel to challenge and threaten the prophet Elijah.
He tapped into the rage and religious zealousness of Saul to have many Christians imprisoned, tortured, and killed.
And he tempted Jesus with power, riches, and the kingdoms of this world if Jesus would but only bow to him.
We even see today how he uses people, their hatred, their prejudice, their religious zealotry, their perversions, their greed, their selfishness, their anger, to lash out and act out in ways towards others that are a direct attack on the things of God; His love, His compassion, His desire to have relationship with His creation, His giving, His purity.
Satan hates all of that, and will do all he can to thwart movements in that direction.
He’s the enemy of our souls, believers and non-believers alike.
God is saying, “Trust in Me. Walk in My ways. And I will quickly vanquish your foes before you.”
Even though sometimes it may seem like it, people are not your real enemy. Satan is your enemy.
We must love people as Christ loves them. As Christ loved us even in our sin so we must look past the appearances and lifestyles to the soul that needs redeeming and love them into the kingdom.
You are allowed to hate satan. You can despise him, detest him, and utterly disdain him. You don’t have to give him an ounce respect. You don’t have to pray for him. His fate is determined. His doom is assured. He deserves nothing but the hell that is prepared for him and all of his demons.
But we must love people. Reject their sin. Don’t agree with their lifestyle choices. Don’t compromise God’s Word, not one iota. But love as Christ loves. Pray for them. They are NOT your enemy. They are souls Jesus died for. They are your potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Listen to Jesus’ words on this subject. Luke 6:27-36, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
God has made a way to defeat satan through the love of Jesus Christ. When He gave His life on the Cross, that ultimate act of love conquered satan.
So now the love of Christ in you is greater than he that is in the world.
John was speaking about false, evil, worldly spirits in contrast to the true Holy Spirit when he said these words in 1 John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them (the demonic, false spirits of satan’s camp), because the one who is in you (Jesus) is greater than the one who is in the world (satan).”
So we don’t hate people, but we love them with the love of Christ, but we despise satan, realizing the love of Christ in us has conquered, vanquished, and placed under His feet, and therefore our feet, the enemy of our souls.
That’s the powerful God we serve!
Second, He subdues our sin.
Micah 7:18-19, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
Satan is not sin. He tempts us TO sin, he is the embodiment OF sin, but satan is not sin. Sin is separate enemy altogether.
The Bible says in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory.”
Sin is a ruthless foe. It is an act of willful disobedience. Our flesh is constantly drawn to it. Satan the tempter will make sure of it. From the littlest white lies to the most heinous of crimes and actions, our flesh has the potential to act out in a myriad of sinful ways.
Sin is our enemy. We have no power in our own strength to conquer it. But thank God He has made a way through Christ to subdue sin.
Christians know this verse by heart, John 3:16. That’s the Gospel. And that’s the powerful love of God for you and me.
As Jesus came to this earth to conquer satan by His power, He also came by His power to conquer the ruthless, relentless foe of sin and create a path for us to be forgiven and have restored relationship back with God the Father.
Sin separates us from relationship with God just as the Atlantic Ocean separates America from Europe, or space separates the Earth from the moon. Without a trustworthy mode of transportation it would be impossible to get to either. But as man has constructed boats and planes and rockets to get to places that were in centuries past only a dream, so God has provided a trustworthy way to enjoy a restored relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
It’s funny, our pursuits in life are most of the time pleasures, fame, fortune, advancement, ease, and happiness, among other things. But God’s singular pursuit is this, just this one thing – YOU.
He misses you. Longs for you. Desires relationship with you. But cannot because of our sin. He won’t tolerate it and won’t inhabit anywhere where there’s sin in control.
You are His highest creation and His singular pursuit. There are many things in this world that are calling for our love, time, and attention. But these things didn’t die for you. These things don’t care to have a loving, eternal relationship with you, these things can’t give you real peace or rescue you from the ruthless enemy of sin. Only God can. And He’s wooing us with His love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Jesus conquered sin on the Cross. The power of His work has made it possible for us to have a restored, loving relationship with the all-powerful God who holds the oceans in the hollow of His hand.
That’s the powerful God we serve!
So God’s power is displayed in His conquering of satan and of sin. And finally we see that one day…
He will subdue our mortal bodies.
Jesus came to conquer satan, to conquer sin, and to conquer death.
Hey, this old body isn’t our permanent home. It’s not really us. It’s just a shell! Who we REALLY are is inside of us, our spirit man. It’s our spirit that will live forever.
Jesus will display the ultimate power in our lives when, at death or the Rapture, we will be swallowed up in victory.
1 Corinthians 15:50-57, “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We have nothing to fear today. They may kill the body but they cannot kill the soul. The Bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.
Jesus has conquered, vanquished, and utterly defeated death!
And listen to this bonus –
Philippians 3:20-21 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
It says here Jesus is able and is right now subduing, conquering, vanquishing ALL THINGS TO HIMSELF. And 1 Cor. 15:28 says one day Jesus will present all that He has subdued, which is everything, to God His Father, so that all things will eventually and eternally be under Him.
This means Jesus is conquering nature, the stars & galaxies, the atmosphere, the animals, the oceans, the weather, the governments, the kingdoms, the riches, and on and on and on, unto Himself and will present it to God one day so that all that USED to be under Him, but was impacted by rebellion and sin, will again be under Him entirely redeemed, all because of and through the work of Jesus Christ!
Jesus came to redeem mankind and ALL OF CREATION back to God. And He will accomplish it.
Almighty God is all powerful and has given authority to Jesus Christ to subdue all things as it relates to us- satan, sin, and death, plus ALL THINGS, which means everything!
THAT’S the powerful God we serve!
1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
In light of God’s all-powerfulness, How do we give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord?
Let me close this Faith Notes with this illustration.
A clump of marble in my hand is just a piece of glass, but marble in Michelangelo’s hand will get you a magnificent statue of David, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
A violin in my hand will get you some squeaky noise, but a violin in Yo Yo Ma’s hand will get you the music of a master, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
A football in my hand is worth about $50, but in Cam Newton’s hand it’s worth about 100 million dollars, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
A tennis racket in my hand is a dangerous weapon, but a tennis racket in Venus Williams’s hand is a Wimbledon champion, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
A golf club in my hand means ‘look out!’ but a golf club in Arnold Palmer’s hand is a golfing champion, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
A rod or stick in my hand will fight off the dogs, but a rod in Moses’ hand will part the Red Seas of your life, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
A slingshot in my hand is just a kid’s toy, but a slingshot in David’s hand will stop the Goliaths in your life, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
Spit and clay in my hand might get you some mud cakes, but spit and clay in Jesus’ hand will open up the blinded eyes, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
Two fish and five loaves of bread is a couple of fish sandwiches in my hand, but the same fish & loaves in Jesus’ hand will feed the multitudes, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
Nails in my hand might get you a birdhouse, but nails in Jesus’ hand is salvation for the whole world, because it all depends on whose hand it’s in.
Let me encourage you today to place your life in the hands of the man who has all power over satan, sin, and death, and give yourself fully to the work of the One who measures the whole universe with the breadth of His hand.
THAT’S the powerful God we serve!