A&D Biker Ministries "Growing the Kingdom of God . . . one Biker at a time"

Sermons

July 13, 2019

 

“THE CRISIS OF BELIEF”

SERMON #12 in a sermon series on Henry Blackaby’s, Experiencing God.

 

In Numbers, chapters 13-14, we read about the spies that were sent into the land promised by God to the nation of Israel.  Here is their report back:

 

Numbers 13:26-14:25 (NLT)

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran.  There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.  27 They gave Moses this account:  “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!  Here is its fruit.  28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.  We even saw descendants of Anak there.  29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”  30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”  31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”  32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.  They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it.  All the people we saw there are of great size.  33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim).  We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

 

1 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.  2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt!  Or in this wilderness!  3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?  Our wives and children will be taken as plunder.  Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”  4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”  5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.  6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.  9 Only do not rebel against the Lord.  And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them.  Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them.”  10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.  Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites.  11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt?  How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?  12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”  13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it!  By your power you brought these people up from among them.  14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it.  They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’  17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:  18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’  19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”  20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.  21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times - 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors.  No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.  24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.  25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”

 

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In our sermons onIn our sermons on how we Experience God in our lives, we have learned that:

 

A. God is always at work in our lives.

 

B. God pursues a love relationship with us that is real and personal.

 

C. God invites us to join with Him and cooperate in the work He is doing.

 

D. God speaks by his Holy Spirit to reveal himself, his purpose and his ways - through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the Church.

 

Today, let’s talk about what happens when we hear God’s call.  When we hear God’s call, we face what scholars call a crisis of belief.

 

A “crisis of belief” is a turning point where we must make a decision concerning what we really believe about God.

 

If I believe that God really does know what he is doing, that he really can do what he says he can do, that he really does know what’s best for my life, and that his cause is one worth giving my life to, then I will respond with obedience to his call.  If I really don’t believe these things, then I will not obey His call.  It’s really that simple.

 

It’s at this point that you discover whether or not your belief about God is a belief of conviction or convenience.  A belief of convenience is one that you hold on to only when it’s convenient . . . but a belief of conviction is one that you hold on   to even when it is NOT convenient.  How you respond at this very point is what will determine whether or not you cooperate with God in what he’s planned for you - or, miss out on what God has “prepared in advance for you to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

 

It is very important, when you sense God speaking to you, that you respond appropriately.  In our text, we read about how Israel faced a “crisis of belief” - and how their response to God’s call revealed their true belief about him. 

 

From this story, we learn:

 

A proper response to the call of God requires faith

 

Because of their lack of faith, the people of Israel failed to enter into God’s desire for them (the Promised Land).  It was all because they did not respond properly to God’s call.

 

Hebrews 3:19 (CEV)

We see that those people did not enter the place of rest because they did not have faith.

 

Think for a moment about faith . . .

 

A. The source of faith

 

Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 

 

Faith comes from . . .

 

1) Our lives being filled full with God’s Word

 

Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

Faith comes from . . .

 

2) God’s Word being fulfilled in our lives

 

Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

 

God WAS with them when they spied out the land:

 

Numbers 13:27 (NIV)

They gave Moses this account:  “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!  Here is its fruit.”

 

Through filling our lives full with God Word, faith rises up within us.  But that faith must be applied if it is to grow.  Through obedience, our faith is allowed to grow, as what God has said is seen to be true in our experience.

 

D. L. Moody once said, “If all the time that I have spent praying for faith was put together it would be months.  I thought that someday faith was going to come down and strike me like lightening.  But faith did not come.  One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, ‘So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.’  I had closed my Bible and prayed for faith.  I now opened my Bible and began to read God’s Word - and faith has been growing ever since.”

Think for a moment about faith . . .

 

A. The source of faith

 

B. The object of faith  (14:8-9)

 

Our faith does not rest in a concept or an idea.  It must rest in a PERSON - God Himself.  Faith is only valid in God and what he is purposing to do.  In fact, when God calls us to take a new step of obedience in our walk with him, it will always be new territory for us.  It will always be something we have never experienced before.  It will always be something only God can do.  That’s why our faith must be centered in God and God alone.

 

Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible.  There is no glory for God

in that which is humanly possible.  Faith begins where man’s power ends.”

- George Muller -

 

Moses could not deliver the children of Israel from Pharaoh’s army, cross the Red Sea on dry land, provide water from a rock, or provide bread and meat for food. 

 

Moses had to have faith that the God who called him would do the things he said he would do.  Joshua could not take the Israelites across the Jordan River on dry land, bring down walled cities, defeat enemies, or make the sun stand still. 

Only God could have done these things.  Joshua had to have faith that the God who called him would do the things he said he would do.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:24 (MSG)

The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!

 

Our faith in God grows greater . . . as, through our obedience to his call, we come to recognize more of the greatness of God.

 

Think for a moment about faith . . .

 

A. The source of faith

 

B. The object of faith  (14:8-9)

 

C. The nature of faith  (faith grows with use)

 

Luke 17:5-6 (NLT)

The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”  The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you!”

 

Jesus responded to His disciple’s request for more faith by saying that their problem wasn’t that they needed more faith.  Faith had already arisen in their hearts through the Word he had shared with them.  What they needed to do was apply the faith they had!

 

The only faith that God can respond to is faith that is used!  As we study the ministry of Jesus, we see varying degrees of faith in those who came to him.  He cast out a mute spirit from a son whose father wavered between faith and doubt (Mark 9:17-24). He healed a leper who was not sure that Jesus would (Mark l:40-45).  And he healed the servant of a centurion who was so sure of the outcome that he asked Jesus merely to speak the word . . . long distance (Luke 7:1-10).

 

These examples teach that God doesn’t answer according to the strength of our faith.  Rather, in his wisdom he responds to any degree of faith.  His ultimate goal is to develop our faith, so that we might experience the fullness of all he has in mind for us. 

 

Faith is like a muscle, and obedience is what makes it grow!

 

My obedience in what God calls me to today will prepare me for what he will call me to tomorrow!

 

This is a basic Biblical principle:

 

Matthew 25:23 (NIV)

“Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.”

 

Back to our text:

 

Numbers 14:20-24 (NLT)

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.  21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times - 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors.  No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.  24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 

 

Because the majority of the people had failed to respond, by faith through obedience, to the call of God in the past, they were not ready to respond to the invitation to enter into the promised land.  Joshua and Caleb, however, HAD prepared themselves for this call from God because of their faithful obedience to God in the past!

 

Faith to move mountains is the reward of those who have moved small little hills.

 

Think for a moment about faith . . .

 

A. The source of faith

 

B. The object of faith  (14:8-9)

 

C. The nature of faith  (Faith grows with use.)

 

D. The evidence of faith

James 2:26 (NIV)

Faith without deeds is dead.

 

Faith is action, based on the certainty of what God will do!  What did the response of the people in our story today reveal about their belief about God?

 

  •  They believed God had deceived them
  •  They believed God would not defend them
  •  They believed God would desert them
  •  They believed God would destroy them

 

What did the response of Joshua & Caleb reveal about their belief?

 

  •  They believed in the promise of God
  •  They believed in the power of God
  •  They believed in the protection of God 
  •  They believed in the presence of God

 

A defendant was on trial for murder.  There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse.  In the defense’s closing statement, the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all,” the lawyer said as he looked at his watch.  “Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom.”  He looked toward the courtroom door.  The jurors, understandably stunned, all looked on eagerly.  A minute passed.  Nothing happened.  Finally the lawyer said, “Actually, I made up the previous statement.  But, you all looked on with anticipation.  Therefore, there is reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed!  You must return a verdict of not guilty!”  The jury, clearly confused, retired to deliberate.  Only a few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a their - “GUILTY.”  “But how?” inquired the defense attorney.  “You must have had some doubt!  I saw all of you stare at the door.”  The jury foreman stood and answered, “Yes, we did look to see if the murder victim in this case would indeed walk into the courtroom.  But, your client didn’t!”

 

What you do says more about you than what you say.  What you do really reveals what you believe about God, regardless of what you say. 

 

When God reveals what he has prepared for you to do, you face a crisis of belief - a decision time.  God, and the world, can tell from your response what you really believe about God!

 

The “crisis of belief” is only a sustained crisis if we choose not to believe and obey!  Don’t live your life in a state of crisis!  Instead, choose to believe and obey God!

 

What is your response to the call of God

saying about your belief in God?

 

June 29, 2019

 

“GOD SPEAKS THROUGH HIS CHURCH”

SERMON #11 in a sermon series on Henry Blackaby’s, Experiencing God.

 

One of the problems evangelical churches face today is this:  they have so emphasized the doctrine of “the priesthood of believers” that they have lost their sense of corporate identity.  The think they stand alone before God and that they are not accountable to the church. 

 

Christians do have direct access to God!  We only need to go through Jesus Christ as our Mediator.  I can, through the work of the Holy Spirit, understand the Word of God for myself.  However, God created the Church as his redemptive agent in the world.  He has a purpose for the Church.  God places every member in a church to accomplish his redemptive purposes through that church.  So, though each believer has direct access to God and is personally accountable for himself to God; we all have a connection to one another & a responsibility for one another in the body of Christ.  Rather than being independent from others, God has made us mutually interdependent with others.

 

So, what God is doing in and through the Church is very important to my knowing how to respond to God.  Where ever I see him working in the Church, I need to adjust and put my life there.

 

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (NLT)

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body.  So it is with the body of Christ.  13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free.  But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.  14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part.  15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.  16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body?  17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear?  Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?  18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part!  20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body.  21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.”  The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”  22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.  23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care.  So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care.  So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.  25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.  26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.  27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

 

In this scripture, Paul describes the church as being the body of Christ.  And, he tells us how the church is supposed to function.  He shares with us what we might call, “Four Laws of Church Function” - which help us relate to one another, so that we can all know and do God’s will.

 

 

LAW #1 - We must each accept our responsibility (vs. 15-16)

 

Each of us has a responsibility within the life of the Church.  We are to do more than simply come to worship and ‘punch our spiritual time card.’  We each have a place of responsibility to fulfill and a contribution we can make.  Yes, there are certain things all of us are expected to participate in: prayer, worship, evangelism, attendance, giving, etc. 

 

But, there are also things that God expects of us that are unique to whom we are.  And, the degree to which we each one accept our responsibility within A&D will determine the degree to which God can work through our church to fulfill his mission / vision / purposes for our congregation.

 

I’m not sure if the following is an old poem or a new rap song, but I kind of liked it when I read it this week:

 

Said I to myself, as I grumbled and growled, “I’m sick of my church,” and then I scowled.

 

The members are unfriendly, the sermons are too long; in fact, it seems that everything’s wrong. 

 

I don’t like the singing; the church is a disgrace; and there are signs of neglect all over the place.

 

I’ll quit going there, and won’t give a dime:  I can make better use of my money and time.”

 

Then my conscience said to me, “The trouble with you is you’re too blind to see . . . that your church reflects you, whatever it be.  Now come, pray, and serve cheerfully; stop all your faultfinding and boost it up strong; you’ll then be happy and proud to belong.  Be friendly, be willing, and sing as you work, for churches aren’t built by members who shirk.”

 

LAW #1 - We must each accept our responsibility (vs. 15-16)

 

LAW #2 - We must each accept our limitations (vs. 17-18)

 

While we must each accept our responsibility within the life of the Church, at the same time, we must each accept the fact that God did not intend nor equip us to do everything.

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The problem is that The problem is that too many churches are filled with willing members - 20% are willing to work, and 80% are willing to let somebody else work!

 

It’s true . . . the Church suffers from members who will not do their part.  But, it’s also true that the Church can suffer from members who will not let others do their part!

 

As members of the body of Christ, we can be compared to pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.  Each piece has protrusions and indentations.  The protrusions represent our strengths (gifts, talents, abilities), and the indentations represent our weaknesses (limitations, shortcomings, undeveloped areas).  But the neat thing is that the pieces complement one another and produce a beautiful, complete picture. 

Just as each piece of a puzzle is important, so each member of the body of Christ is important.  Just as when one piece is missing from the puzzle, its absence is very obvious and damages the picture, so also the congregation is weakened when we are absent from the body of Christ.

 

And when each piece of a puzzle is in place, any one piece is not conspicuous but blends in to form the whole picture.  It should so in the body of Christ called the church!

 

One of the things that can hinder the health and halt the growth of a church is for there to be an unwillingness to open up opportunities for folks to get involved in service.  That’s why the most important statistic in the life of a church is not the “money & members” but the “new folks involved in ministry!”  When a church gives priority to leading people to become meaningfully involved in the life of their church, the “money & members” will take care of themselves.  So, we who are already involved must recognize our limitations and allow for the involvement of others!

 

LAW #1 - We must each accept our responsibility (vs. 15-16)

 

LAW #2 - We must each accept our limitations (vs. 17-18)

 

LAW #3 - We must each honor the other (vs. 19-23)

 

Here Paul says that we should have respect for one another because each of us is needed . . . whether we realize it or not.  Though I may not see my heart beating, that doesn’t mean that I would want to try to get along without it!  We need to honor each other for the contribution to the life of this congregation that each individual can make.

 

In any flesh-and-bones body, there are a variety of cells.  There are nerve cells, blood cells, muscle cells, and many others - each having a distinct function.  The body operates smoothly, not because the cells get together and vote on what to do, but because each one does what it was designed to do!  It is the function of the head to bring all these different functions together, so that the body operates effectively as each cell gives itself to the task of functioning according to its design.

 

Certainly the body would not operate properly if its cells chose to go their own way.  Do you know what we call a rebellion of the cells of your stomach?  We call it indigestion!  A revolt of your brain cells is called insanity.  Any time the cells in our body don’t operate properly, it means that the body is sick, that something is wrong.

 

Many of problems in the Church today are a result of our forgetting that the Church is a body with the head being Jesus Christ.  He has determined that each of us is needed within the body.  Therefore, what we each need to do is look to him to show us our proper role within the church.  Every member of the body must be encouraged, and appreciated for what they can do within the life of the church.  In the Church, there is no contribution that is unimportant and there is there is no member of the body that is insignificant. 

 

LAW #1 - We must each accept our responsibility (vs. 15-16)

 

LAW #2 - We must each accept our limitations (vs. 17-18)

 

LAW #3 - We must each honor the other (vs. 19-23)

 

LAW #4 - We must each be aware of the other (vs. 24-26)

 

I injured my elbow last year, and it was very painful.  In fact, I had surgery on it this past January, to reattach a tendon and repair a torn nerve.  Before the surgery to correct the injury, the rest of my body felt so bad about my elbow that it sat up all night just to keep my elbow company! 

 

Have you been there?!

 

Ephesians 4:15-16 (NIV)

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

 

God not only calls us to pursue individual Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29), but he also calls us to pursue congregational Christlikeness - by making sure we all do our part within the body of Christ.

 

Since this is the case, how does one find their place of service and ministry within their church?  Well, apart from the body, you cannot fully know God’s will for your relationship to the body.  Without the eye, the hand does not know where to touch.  Without the ear, the rest of the body may not know when or how to respond.  So,  need to look and listen AND see where there might be a need within my church.  

 

Once I am aware of needs within my church, I should then go to the Lord in prayer / consider the wisdom revealed through his Word (the Bible) / consider my circumstances / and seek the counsel of others within the body.  What you will find is that a number of things begin to line up.  What you are hearing from the Bible and prayer and circumstances and the church will begin to speak into your soul . . . and say the same thing! 

 

Then you can proceed with confidence.

 

This same procedure applies to discerning God’s will for my life outside the church as well.  In discerning God’s will, I should pray, look to God’s Word, consider my circumstances, and seek out godly counsel in my church. 

 

If I am going to be in God’s will for my life, I must understand that it is impossible to be in God’s will without being involved in the way God wants me to be involved in my church.

 

When I’m not involved in my church, I’m tossed back and forth by confusion, doubt, and fear!  Because, God Speaks Through His Church!

 

SO . . .

 

1. Seek God’s guidance in being both a member and a minister in your church.

 

2. Seek God’s guidance in using your unique giftedness, by serving through your church.

 

3. Seek God’s guidance through godly council of others available in your church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 22, 2019

 

“GOD SPEAKS THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES”

SERMON #10 in a sermon series on Henry Blackaby’s, Experiencing God.

 

God, the Father, loved the Son and showed him everything he was doing.  Jesus did not have to guess what to do.  He did not have to dream up what he could do for the Father.  Jesus watched to see what the Father was doing around him, and then he committed his life there!  The Father could then accomplish his purposes through the life of our Lord.

 

This is what Jesus wants to do with his Lordship in our lives.  We see what he is doing in the midst of our life circumstance . . . and we adjust our lives / our plans / our goals to what he is doing.  To be in position to do this, we must completely place our lives at his disposal.

 

This is the kind of single-minded surrender that we must give to Jesus every day that we live . . . if we are going to be in a position to recognize what he is doing through the circumstances of our life!

 

Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.  2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

Note carefully what Paul tells us will produce in us the single-minded surrender necessary to enable us to “test and approve what God’s will is.”

 

A. Keep the cross before you

 

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.  

 

This is the basis of ALL single-minded surrender for Christians.  When you think that Jesus suffered like he did at Calvary for YOUR sin, that makes you think twice about giving in to temptation.  It will motivate you when it comes to dealing with sin in your life.  It moves you to want to give yourself completely to him - out of a heart of love for how he gave himself for you!

 

Isaac Watts understood this, when he penned the words to the old hymn, When I Survey The Wonderous Cross . . .

 

 “Were the whole realm of nature mine; that were a present far too small:  Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all!”   

 

A. Keep the cross before you

 

B. Focus on God above you

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship.  

 

The reason we call what we’re doing right now  a “worship service” is because worship and service go together.  True worship always motivates for service and true service always creates a desire for worship.Top of Form

 

A. Keep the cross before you

 

B. Focus on God above youBottom of Form

 

C. Resist the world around you

 

2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

I once saw a news report that told how the Japanese were growing watermelons in square containers.  It was so they would fit better - in their refrigerators!

 

The world wants to squeeze you into its mold.  But God has more in mind for you than that.  He made you to be a unique individual, and you will never truly find yourself outside the context of his will for your life!  The world works to “conform” you with pressure from without; but God seeks to “transform” you through his presence within.

 

A. Keep the cross before you

 

B. Focus on God above youBottom of Form

 

C. Resist the world around you

 

D. Let Christ be formed within you

 

2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

In Galatians 4:19, Paul told those followers of Jesus how he longed to see Christ formed in them.  He wanted them to think as God would have them to so they might live as God wanted them to.

 

These are the characteristics of a single-minded / surrendered life . . . and single-minded surrender is a prerequisite for your being in a position to discern God’s will for your life!

 

OK.  Having said all this, how do we evaluate our circumstances in seeking to know and do the will of God for our life?  Well, in considering what God might be saying to you through your circumstances, you need to keep two things in mind:

 

1) Evaluate your circumstances from God’s perspective.

Consider the circumstances that Job found himself in.  He did not know what was happening when everything he owned was destroyed; when his children were killed; and when he developed sores all over his body.  Job wrestled with understanding what God was trying to say to him through his circumstances.  The entire book of Job is about Job being brought to see life from God’s perspective!

 

Mrs. Job thought that she had the right perspective on the situation.  She thought that Job’s God was weak and had let Job down. 

 

She felt that Job’s God was not worthy of devotion.  That’s why she told Job to, “Curse God and die,” (Job 2:9).

 

And Job’s friends - they thought that they had the right perspective on Job’s situation.  They told Job that he was obviously guilty of some sin and was being punished.  That was the only reason they could conceive of as to why Job was suffering like he was.  (Remember, up until this time in his life, Job had thought the same way as they did.)

 

BUT . . . Job didn’t content himself with the perspective of man or woman.  He sought to understand God’s perspective.

 

Consequently, Job learned that God had purposes for his life that transcended Job’s perspective.  God wanted to work through Job’s life to bring glory to himself, to provide a testimony to others, to bring Job to a deeper sense of dependence on God, and to lead Job into a deeper relationship with him!

 

After gaining God’s perspective on his circumstances, Job adjusted his life to God

 

Job 42:1-6 (ERV)

1 Then Job answered the Lord:  2 “I know you can do everything.  You make plans, and nothing can change or stop them.  3 You asked, ‘Who is this ignorant person saying these foolish things?’  I talked about things I did not understand.  I talked about things too amazing for me to know.  4 “You said to me, ‘Listen, and I will speak.  I will ask you questions, and you will answer me.’  5 In the past I heard about you, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.  6 And I am ashamed of myself.  I am so sorry.  As I sit in the dust and ashes, I promise to change my heart and my life.”

 

God’s perspective is vital, in understanding your circumstances.  When you face difficult or confusing circumstances, they can overwhelm you.  If you put yourself in the middle of your circumstance and try to look at God, your understanding will be distorted.

 

You might have the perspective of Job’s wife, or his friends, whose perspective on Job’s situation was definitely wrong.  Instead, like Job, we need to seek, through prayer and searching for the wisdom of God as revealed in his Word (the Bible), to gain God’s perspective on our circumstance.

 

Corrie Ten Boom was a prisoner of war in a Nazi concentration camp.  She wrote the following:

 

In our World War II prison camp, Betsie and I had to go on roll call very early in the bitterly cold morning.  Once, while we were on roll call, a cruel guard kept us standing for a long, long time. Suddenly, a skylark began to sing in the sky, and all the prisoners looked up to listen to that bird’s song.  As I looked at the bird I saw the sky, I thought of Psalms 103:11 - “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.”  God sent that skylark daily for three weeks, exactly during roll call, to turn our eyes away from the cruelty of men to the ocean of His love.

 

God has a right to interrupt your life!  He is Lord!  When you accept him as Lord, you give him permission to help himself to your life - anytime he wants . . . and He will! 

 

That’s why we need to be single-minded in our surrender to God.  It is only then, that when we go through the various circumstances that our Lord sovereignly allows to come into our lives, so that we will be able to discern his perspective and have his guidance.

 

In considering what God might be saying to you through your circumstances, keep 2 things in mind:

 

  1. Evaluate your circumstances from God’s perspective
     
  2.  Evaluate your circumstance in light of God’s past working

 

Joshua 4:1-7 (NLT)

1 When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe.  3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan.  Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”  4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen - one from each of the tribes of Israel.  5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God.  Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder - twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.  6 We will use these stones to build a memorial.  In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’  7 Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’  These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

 

The stones were spiritual markers, reminders of a mighty act of God in behalf of His people! 

 

On many other occasions, men built altars or set up stones as a reminder of a significant encounter with God (Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, etc.).  They provided an opportunity to teach their children about the ability of God to work on behalf of his people.

 

The most important point is not just about teaching children the ways of God, but, that God works in sequence!  What God did in the past was done with a kingdom purpose in mind.  What God is doing in the present is in sequence with what he has done in the past . . . and with the same kingdom purpose in mind!  What God is doing in the present is in sequence with the future!

 

When God called Abraham (Genesis 12), he began to develop a people for himself.  He came to Isaac, and Isaac saw God’s perspective as God reminded Isaac of his relationship with Isaac’s father Abraham (Genesis 26:24).  To Jacob, God identified himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 28:13) . When God came to Moses, he helped Moses see what he was doing through history when he said he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:6-10).  At each new step in his divine plan, God involved a person.  Often in the call, God rehearsed his activity - so the individual could see God’s perspective on what was happening!

 

This principle applies to all generations, and to all congregations, and to all families, and to all individuals.  See, when God gets ready for you to take a new step or direction in your walk with him, it will always be in sequence with what he already has been doing in your life.  God does not go off on tangents or take meaningless detours!  God builds our character in a personalized fashion, with a divine purpose in mind.

 

A spiritual marker identifies a time of transition, decision, or direction when I clearly know that God has guided me.  When I face a new decision about God’s direction, I need to recall the spiritual markers in my life.  This helps me see God’s perspective on my past and present.  Then I can look at the options that are before me.  I look to see which one seems to be most consistent with what God has been doing in my life.  Then, I continue to pray and wait on the Lord.  If that option does not contradict the Word of God - through prayer, God will minister his peace to my heart concerning which option is consistent with the work he has been doing in my life up until this time of decision.

 

Every opportunity you have to serve the Lord is one God has been preparing you for your entire life!

 

To see God, speaking through the circumstances of your life, seek to answer this question:

 

What is God preparing me for, through the specific circumstances that I are facing today?  That is, what has God prepared me for . . . that he wants me to do today?

 

GOD SPEAKS THROUGH CIRCUMSTANCES!

 

June 15, 2019

 

“GOD SPEAKS THROUGH PRAYER”

SERMON #9 in a sermon series on Henry Blackaby’s, Experiencing God.

 

John 14:10-14 (NLT)

10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?  The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me.  11 Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.  Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do.  12 I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.  13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.  14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”Top of FormBottom of Form

 

Jesus is speaking here of prayer within the context of referring to his walk with the Father, in  verses 10-11.  As we have already seen, Jesus walked with the Father by making his love relationship with the Father his number one priority in life!

 

Mark 1:35 (NIV)

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

 

As a result, Jesus knew what the Father was doing in the world around him, and, what the Father was calling him to join HIM in doing!

 

John 5:19 (MSG)

“I’m telling you this straight.  The Son can’t independently do a thing, only what he sees the Father doing.  What the Father does, the Son does.  The Father loves the Son and includes him in everything he is doing.”

 

What Jesus is telling us is that he expects those who believe in him to walk as he walked (v. 12a):

 

12 I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 

 

WOW!  Jesus said that as we do as he did (in walking with the Father), we would do even greater things than he did.  That’s because of two reasons:

 

Reason #1 - His presence with the Father (v. 12b)

 

Anything we do of value in the kingdom of God is by virtue of the victory won by Jesus - through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension!

 

Reason #2 - The privilege of prayer (vs. 13-14)

 

Jesus repeats himself here, probably because he knew we would have a hard time believing what he said.  When Jesus says some

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