SermonsDiscover the Joy of Leaving Laodicea Behind
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution - 2 Timothy 3:12That is, of course, unless you aren't particularly interested in living godly in Christ. Then you may be pretty safe, right up until the time you take the mark on your hand or forehead. But that's another issue for another time.
How to be Filled with the Holy SpiritThe key to living a life of assurance and confidence in Him is learning how to remain filled with the Holy Spirit. And before you can remain filled, you have to be filled in the first place. This is what this message talks about. We talk about some steps you can take to prepare yourself for His filling. They are as follows:
First, you must desire to live a life that will please the Lord.
Second, be willing to surrender your life totally and irrevocably to our Lord Jesus Christ.
Third, confess every known sin that the Holy Spirit calls to your remembrance and experience the cleansing and forgiveness that God promises in 1 John 1:9.
Fourth, ask Him, by faith, to fill you with the Holy Spirit. You can pray something like this:
Dear Father, I need You. I hunger and thirst for a more vital relationship with You. I admit that I have been in control of my life. And, as a result, I have sinned against You. Thank You for forgiving my sins through Christ’s death on the cross for me. I now confess and turn from my sins and surrender the control of my life to the Lord Jesus. By faith, I invite You to fill me with the Holy Spirit as You commanded me to be filled. You promised to fill me if I ask according to Your will. I pray this in the authority of the name of Jesus Christ.
To demonstrate my faith, I now thank You for filling me with Your Holy Spirit and for taking control of my life. Amen.But that's not the end of it.
There is so much more to learn.You will need to understand the basis of God's filling, and it has nothing to do with the amount of time you spend praying or the people who lay hands on you. The basis is on the command (Eph. 5:18) and promise (1 John 5:14-15) of God. And the filling of the Holy Spirit is given to you the same way you received salvation, by faith.
He is the Creator.
He is the Final Arbitrator.
He is All in All.
There is nowhere to go beyond God.
He is Sovereign!
He is Sovereign!So how can I communicate the greatness of His sovereignty? Let's start with just a few verses that speak of that. We'll begin with my life verse:
But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases" - Psalm 115:3. Why? Because He is sovereign.
"Remember this, and show yourselves men; recall to mind, O you transgressors. Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'" - Isaiah 46:8-10. How can this be true? Because He is sovereign.
For I know that the LORD is great, and our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places - Psalm 135:5-6. How is this possible? Because He is sovereign.And everything belongs to our Sovereign God.
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters - Psalm 24:1-2. How can everything belong to Him? Because He is sovereign.What does that really mean? He is Omnipotent (all powerful).
His power is unfathomable to us.
It is infinite and has no limit or end.
And God is not limited to what He has already done.
God can do infinitely more than He already has.
What Does that Mean For Me Today?Understanding God's sovereignty and His unconditional love for you should forever remove any worry, doubt, fear, apathy, or depression from your life. After all, the very one who slung the universe into existence has the hairs of your head numbered (Matthew 10:30). And it can't get any better than that. And how can He do that? Simple. He is sovereign.
How are we being deceived today?
And, if we are being deceived, how would we know?
Are there other places in the Scriptures that warn us against deception?
What kind of deception can we expect?
And what was the specific focus of the deception Jesus spoke about?
How Important is the Coming (and Present) DeceptionTo see how rampant deception is in our society, and as a sign of the end, look at how many times Jesus spoke about it in Matthew 24:
And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many." - Matthew 24:5.
"Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" - Matthew 24:11.And how powerful will that deception be?
"For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" - Matthew 24:24.Did you catch that? If it were possible (and we know that it's not), even the elect, those chosen and sealed by Christ, would be deceived. It's gonna be bad.
Who Do You Trust?One final question regarding trust and deception. Ask yourself this one question: Who do you trust? If you're honest, your answer may shock you.
Familiarity Breeds ContemptThe church at Ephesus, when John penned the Revelation, was only one generation removed from the life of the Lord. They were a hard-working bunch of committed believers who had a resume and doctrinal purity that would be the envy of almost any church today.
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary" - Revelation 2:2-3.In fact, they worked for the Lord to the point of sheer exhaustion.
“I know your works (the results of employment, duty, business, something to be done), your labor (to toil to the point of exhaustion, the labor which demands the whole strength of a man exerted to the utmost to accomplish the task), your patience (to remain under, to bear up under), and that you cannot bear (support, stand) those who are evil (bad, worthless, wicked, vicious, harmful, bad in heart, conduct, and character). And you have tested (tried, to prove either good or bad) those who say (affirm, proclaim) they are apostles (messengers, sent ones) and are not, and have found (by examination, search, or inquiry) them liars (false); and you have persevered (to bear up under patiently) and have patience (to endure, to remain under), and have labored (to be fatigued, worn out, weary, faint) for (what) My name’s sake and have not become weary (faint from constant work)."I get tired just reading all that they did. But, like the church today, they had missed the most important part of their relationship with Jesus. The relationship!
“Nevertheless (in spite of all this) I (Jesus) have this against you, that you have left (to forsake, quit, abandon, desert) your first love ( agapē)" - Revelation 2:4.Sobering words. The Lord said He is "against" them... even after all the good they had done. How could that be? And what can they do to right their sinking ship? It may seem simple, but it is hard to remember the right things. Sometimes it is painfully hard.
"Remember (to call to mind, to keep on remembering) therefore from where (why, how) you have fallen (to fall off or from, to fall away, to fail, to be without effect, in vain); repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place— unless you repent" - Revelation 2:5.
Do You Remember?It may seem simple, but it is hard to remember the right things. Sometimes it is painfully hard. Consider the following questions to help begin the process of remembering:
Are you in? Or are you out?If you look at the major faith personalities in the Bible, you will find every one of them had to ask themselves the same question. Every one of them was faced with a choice that comes with a set of troubling questions: "Do I continue in the course that seems right to me? Or do I trust I actually heard from the Lord and go in a direction totally unfamiliar to anything I’ve ever done or known? How much faith do I really have?” We call these moments Divine Interruptions. In this message, we'll look at these interruptions from the vantage point of: David
James and John and Peter and Andrew
And finally, Hosea.
A Personal NoteAnd I will share with you the divine interruption I received this week while preparing for this message from Jude. In fact, in the weeks to follow I will share more about the changes the Lord has brought in my life regarding what His will is for me and this ministry. And I rejoice in that. Why? Because He has simply answered a prayer I have prayed for almost two years in a most profound way.
What Does Personal Revival Look Like?In this message, we'll look at a few Scriptures that describe to us what true, Spirit-led, personal revival looks like. Some of the passages we'll examine are Psalm 119:25, 37, and 40, along with a few of the kingdom parables (Matthew 13:44-46). We then look at Philippians 3:7-8, and a few other passages, and conclude by asking just a few questions. What is worth selling all you have to acquire?
What is worth everything you are?
What is the thing you value the most?
Have you asked the Lord to show you things in your life that are worthless and deceitful and are causing you to sin and grieve the Holy Spirit?
Or are you too afraid of what He might say?
What will you do if He shows you what must go?
Is the promise of living your life more alive and more abundantly than you are now worth more than holding on to what we are convinced brings lasting joy?
Will you ask Him right now to reveal it to you?
But as we shared last week...
The First and Second Great AwakeningReal revival has taken place on our shores, but it was several centuries ago and has become known as the First and Second Great Awakening. It was spurred on by the preaching of Charles Finney, Wesley, Whitefield, and many others, who faithfully preached about the conviction of sin and the need for repentance and conversion. In fact, the results in the communities where revival took place were remarkable. But note this, modern, manufactured feel-good meetings are not true revival. In fact, they are a cheap substitute for something Spirit-led and ordained by a sovereign God. In 1932, William Sprague took upon himself to research the Great Awakenings in our nation and wrote a book titled, Lectures on Revival. In his book, he quoted many ministers who had experienced, first hand, the Spirit-led move of God on this land. One of these men was Francis Wayland, a Baptist pastor and president of Brown University. Wayland described the true revival he had experienced as follows:
No Longer Alienated and Enemies of the LordThe Scriptures say that I, and all who are called by His name, are no longer "alienated and enemies" of the Lord. Look at this marvelous gift found in Colossians 1:21-22:
And you (your name), who once were (past tense) alienated (apallotrióō – to estrange, alienate entirely) and enemies (echthrós – hatred, hostility, enmity) in your mind by (what) wicked works, yet now (present tense) He (Christ's actions) has reconciled (apokatallássō – the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed) in the body of His flesh (how) through death, (why) to present (paristánō – to cause to stand near or before) you (your name) holy (hágios – set apart, sanctified, consecrated, a saint), and blameless (ámōmos – unblameable, without spot or blemish) and above reproach (anégklētos –unreproveable, not merely unaccusable but unaccused, free from any legal charge) in His sight (presence, before His face).But there is more. He keeps us from stumbling and presents us faultless before His glory. Amazing. Read it yourself in Jude 1:24.
Now to Him (Christ) who is able to keep you (your name) from stumbling (áptaistos – falling), and to present you (your name) faultless (where) before the presence of His glory (how) with exceeding joy (agallíasis – extreme exultation, exuberant joy),And how do we respond to this incredible gift? Read the next verse.
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.I pray you will begin the next year with the same praise and passion for your Lord that you ended the last one. And you can do that by realizing what a great God we serve and what a great gift He has given us in His Son. Will you join with me in exalting His Name?
Seven Things the Church Failed to Teach MeRecently I was reading a blog that shared these seven things the author said the church never taught him. And I couldn't agree more. Consider the following:
- How to practically live by the Christ who dwells inside me.
- How to practically learn how to hear the Lord’s voice beyond “pray and read your Bible.”
- That church-as-we-know-it is drastically different from church-as-God-would-have-it.
- What the gospel of the kingdom is and how radically it can alter a human life.
- How deep the tentacles of the world system go and how to break free from them.
- That God’s presence is extremely subtle most of the time.
- How to find Christ in the Scriptures, including the entire Old Testament.
One Man is All God NeedsBut there are some encouraging words for us in the Proverbs. Consider the following:
Proverbs 28:2 - Because of the transgression (rebellion) of a land, (result) many are its princes (ruler, official, chieftain); But (what) by (through) a man (one, singular, individual) of understanding (biyn - to discern, to pay careful attention to, to consider diligently) and knowledge (yāḏa) right will be prolonged.Did you catch that? It only takes one man, one single man of understanding and knowledge for God to prolonger what is right in a land. Just one man. That's why the Lord continually addresses the remnant in His letters to the church at Thyatira and Sardis.
Revelation 2:24 - "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira (the remnant), as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden."
Revelation 3:4 - "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments (the remnant); and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy."Do you want to be part of the remnant? Do you want to be the man, the single man the Lord can use to change the face of our culture? Do you want to know Him more than you do today? Then keep listening.