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LOVING OTHERS


by Neil Anderson

 

August 15
 
Luke 6:32 
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them
 
For many people, loving others is a nebulous concept. Fortunately, agape love is very clearly defined in the Scriptures. When love is used as a noun in Scripture, it is referring to character. For example: “God is love” (1 John 4:8); “Love is patient, love is kind,” etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love is the highest of character attainments: “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Love is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the means by which a true disciple of Christ is identified (John 13:35). The attention given to love in passages such as 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4 reveals its importance to God in our interpersonal relationships, of which the family is primary.
 
Agape love is not dependent on the person being loved, but on the lover. You may like someone because of who he is; but you love him because of who you are. God loves us not because we are lovable, but because God is love. If it were any other way, God’s love would be conditional. If you performed better, would God love you more? Of course not. God’s love for us is not based on our performance, but on His character.
 
Love is also used as a verb in Scripture. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). Used this way, love is grace in action. It is giving unconditionally to meet the needs of another.
 
If you say you don’t love someone, you have said more about yourself than about that person. Specifically, you’re saying that you haven’t attained the maturity to love him unconditionally (Luke 6:32). The grace of God enables you to love others in a way that people without Christ cannot. God doesn’t command you to like your family, your neighbors and your coworkers because you can’t order your emotions to respond. But He does instruct you to love them. You can always choose to do the loving thing and trust that your feelings will follow in time.
 
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for bestowing on me the greatest love of all by sending Jesus. Teach me to love others as You have loved me.


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Yes, the Church Definitely Stinks! Letter to an (Absent but Vocal) Church Critic

sinners-wanted-001[In response to a Facebook post about the sad, sin-plagued state of the church today.  Names have been withheld, changed, or translated into Common Eldarin & Westron to avoid offense.] 

My response:  Guilty.As.Charged. 

Is the capital “C” Church, and are all the many, many individual churches, populated by sometime cantankerous, grumpy, judgmental people?  Yes, absolutely; guilty as charged.  Do those same people fall short of biblical expectations for life and service?  You betcha! 

Should those facts make me stay away?  Better yet, should those facts make me stay away and then target those in the camp with explosive-laden complaint drones?  Well… 

There are a million reasons not to be connected with a local church or regularly in worship.  I’ve heard them all and, in moments of personal honesty, I’ve used some of them myself.  At the top of the list: many of the people you find there.  One seminary wag said it:  “Ministry is great, except for the people.”  Or, as a former parishioner of mine put it so eloquently, “I love God’s church; it’s God’s people I can’t stand!” 

There are a million reasons not to be in worship regularly.  But there is one overriding reason to be there:  God says so.  So, from a simple “obedience” perspective (for those of you concerned about the disobedient people in the church), I think you’d need to deal with that.  The Writer of Hebrews says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24,25). 

But, in the purity of the power of a relationship with the Heavenly Father, that’s not what moves me to be among God’s people, in church.  I don’t “have” to go; I “get” to go…and there are light years difference between those two things. 

The God who loves me wants me to hang out with Him AND He wants me to regularly hang out with those other people He loves…not so that we can all show off how much better than the rest of humanity we are, but to worship Him and adore Him and face our need for His grace and power to accomplish His purposes.  “Apart from me you can do nothing,” Jesus said…nothing

The church is not a beauty contest, it’s a “Critical Care Unit” — “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  That’s true before people come to know Christ and, sadly, still true after we come to know Christ.  This side of heaven we are still plagued by sin. 

Is the Bible full of calls to be better?  Certainly.  But that “betterment” is not a self-help effort.  It’s an “only Jesus can make this possible” effort.  And the very second we start to compare “betterment” we are in serious, serious trouble.  “Do not judge,” Jesus said, “Do not judge.” 

I think a wise church leader friend of mine is right: many in the church over the years have thought they were going to a spiritual Lowe’s to pick up the tools to be able to become better people (Let’s Build Something!).  When, in fact, worship is about God, not the life “score card” of the person sitting next to me–nor even my own spiritual “batting average.”  I don’t have to go; I get to go.  And, when I do go, I get to worship the God who loves this broken sinner.  And (and here’s the key point in this particular ramble): I get to hang out with others just like me who know they’re broken and who are partnering with each other and the Living God to experience grace such that we might show grace to each other and to the rest of the world. 

Do we get that right?  Sometimes…ok, maybe rarely…perhaps hardly ever…but when we do, it’s a wondrous thing to behold…and it’s worth every second of church-based stupidity I’ve ever experienced.  And trust me, as a pastor, I have seen, heard, felt, and been bashed by more of that stupidity than anyone observing from the sidelines will ever know. 

And…by the way…I do know that many have been egregiously wounded by those in the church…wounded by those who thought they knew better…or perhaps even wounded by those who did know better but couldn’t “speak the truth in love.”  This is not to diminish any of those hurts and pains.  It is to say, with Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).  And, if we think we can have Jesus (Simply Jesus) without the pains, travails, and (yes) joys of the church, then I think we miss the entire tenor of the New Testament’s witness about the church. 

Winston Churchill, in commenting on the frailties of democracy, once remarked: “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all wise.  Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those others…”  The same could likely be said of the church:  “No one pretends that the church is perfect or all wise.  It’s the worst form of Christian gathering, except for all the others.” 

To a more “Christianly Correct” audience, perhaps it would be better for us to hear Billy Graham’s pithily profound observation: “There’s no such thing as a perfect church; if you think you’ve found a perfect church, don’t join it–you’ll ruin it.”  

I regularly hearken back to John Newton’s, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see.” 

What do I see? Not how much better I can perform now, but how much I desperately need the power of God every day.  What do I see?  That grace is not a onetime proposition, but the constant outpouring of undeserving love on this weary and wary sinner.  Where do I see that best?  With and among God’s people…in worship…even when they’re cantankerous, grumpy, and judgmental. 

Before you discard the church, friend…remember that the church was (and is still) God’s idea (Matthew 16:17-19).  Standing on the outside looking in and lobbing verbal grenades?  Well, that’s someone else’s idea.

 


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BEHAVING YOUR WAY INTO GOOD FEELINGS


by Neil Anderson

 

July 22
 
John 13:17 
If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them
 
What happened to mankind emotionally as a result of the Fall? For one thing, we became fearful and anxious. One of the first emotions expressed by fallen humanity was fear (Genesis 3:10). Today fear is crippling our relationships and activities. Fear is a result of the Fall. If fear is controlling your life, then faith is not.
 
Another emotional by-product of sin is shame and guilt. Before Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25). God created them as sexual beings. Their sex organs and sexual activity were holy. But when they sinned, they were ashamed to be naked and they had to cover up (Genesis 3:7). Many people mask their inner self in fear that others may see them for who they really are.
 
Mankind also became depressed and angry after the Fall. Cain brought his offering to God and, for some reason, God was displeased with it. As a result, “Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?'” (Genesis 4:5-7).
 
I believe God established a principle here which echoes all through the Bible: You don’t feel your way into good behavior; you behave your way into good feelings. There are tons of things you don’t feel like doing, but you do them. I never feel like going to the convalescent hospital to minister. And the moment I step in the door, the smell alone does away with any positive feelings of wanting to continue on. But I always leave feeling great; I’m glad I went. Good feelings follow right behavior. Jesus said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them” (John 13:17).
 
Prayer: Lord, help me do what You want me to do even when it seems unpleasant. I seek Your blessing for obedience.


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DEMONSTRATING WHAT WE BELIEVE


by Neil Anderson

 

July 18
 
James 2:17 
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself
 
Faith is an action word. We cannot passively respond to God. You may have heard the story of the circus performer who strung a wire over a river and proceeded to ride across it on a unicycle. When he returned, everyone applauded. Then he asked, “Who believes I can do that with a man on my shoulders?” Everyone responded in affirmation. He said, “All right, who will hop on?” The person who hops on is the person who really believes. Faith is not just giving credence to something or someone. Faith is demonstrated reliance upon something or someone.
 
Faith has the same operating dynamic as agape love. When we refer to love as a noun, we’re talking about character: patience, kindness, etc. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). When we say that God is love, we are describing His character. Paul says the goal of our instruction is love (1 Timothy 1:5); therefore, the goal of Christian education is character transformation.
 
When love is used as a verb, it is expressed by action: “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” (John 3:16). If we say we love someone and do nothing on their behalf, it’s only sentimentality and not agape love. True love is expressed by meeting the needs of others.
 
Faith has a similar dynamic. When using faith as a noun, we’re talking about what we believe. But if we’re talking about faith as a verb, then it is expressed in the way we live. James says it like this: “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:17-19).
 
The devil believes in the existence of Jesus and knows that God’s Word is true. But he doesn’t seek to glorify Jesus or to obey Him. He seeks his own glory, being a rebel at heart (Romans 1:25).
 
We demonstrate what we believe by how we live our lives. If we believe it, we will do it. If we don’t, then what we believe is just wishful thinking.
 
Prayer: Lord, help me put feet to my faith every day and not rely on past accomplishments.


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Ephesians 4:3-6 (NAS): Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is ONE body and ONE Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

 

Matthew 16:19 (NAS): I will give YOU the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever YOU bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever YOU loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

 

There are at least 68 references in the New Testament about the Kingdom of God. Everything Jesus taught His followers to know and teach is THE KINGDOM, not anything outside of the Kingdom or fragments of the Kingdom. Every other reference about love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, salvation, humility, overcoming, having the mind of Christ, and every other topic all fall under the Kingdom – EVERYTHING. None are exclusive in and of themselves. We’ve had it backwards for centuries preaching only salvation and the cross, or prophecy, or healing, or deliverance, as somehow exclusive from God’s Kingdom. We need to be preaching exactly like Jesus – the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and nothing less. All other subjects fall under Kingdom heading.

If my great, great, great grandparents call dogs cats and teach their kids to call their dogs cats and I then continue such a practice and everyone in my family for generations thinks that dogs are called cats, does that make my family right? Of course not! It’s simply a matter of wrong thinking passed from generation to generation. I could argue until I’m blue in the face to convince people that I’m right, but I’m still wrong no matter how passionately and good intending I may be at heart hoping to bring someone into, in my estimation, truth that dogs are called cats.

So it is with religion. We, many (most) of God’s people, have practiced a garden variety of religious traditions for centuries. Does that make it right? Absolutely not! For most that fervently practice the religions of their forefathers do it wholeheartedly with good intentions. Needless to say, it’s still wrong. Jesus preached the Kingdom. Jesus came to tear down the wall that divides (Ephesians 2:13-16). Jesus came against the religious practices and man-made traditions that kept (and continue to keep) people of all walks of life in perpetual bondage and division.

Ladies and gentlemen, Christ came to bring all people freedom from religion, not create more religions. Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Non-denominational, Church of God, Church of Christ, and countless other denominations inadvertently stand between people, their Creator and His Kingdom – our Kingdom – He graciously offers His people. Divisions of every kind (e.g. color, race, money, politics, etc.) stand as a tall, wide and deep barrier between imprisonment and liberty and it needs to stop. God has called His holy people to bring heaven down to earth, not become more like the earth.

When we begin to discover the Kingdom of God, His government, His mind, His ways, His plan, His purpose and all that fall under the umbrella of His Kingdom, we will cease hating each other, competing against one another, dividing ourselves from one another – killing each other instead of healing each other. He has equipped His people with power from on high and it’s time to learn it, understand it, apply it to our own lives, and then walk in it in a world full of sickness, sorrow, darkness and death.

 We who carry the name of Jesus are to be the walking, talking, physical manifestation of Jesus Himself. If He is in you, He needs to come through you and that requires unity in love. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If you want to expand God’s Kingdom, stop the division. Recognize that possibly, just possibly, much of what your parents taught you may be incorrect. There’s no shame in this admission as no one is perfect. What is shameful is to know things need changing and pridefully refuse to change.

Supernatural love that is God is the key because it is the essence of His holy Kingdom. Know His heart and allow it flow through you.

……………..

Closing verses:

Philippians 2:2 (NAS): Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

I Corinthians 1:10 (NAS): I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

I Corinthians 6:17 (NAS): But the one who joins himself to the Lord is ONE spirit with Him.

 

I hope you’ll come back next time. If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

 

Alexys V. Wolf

www.thefierysword.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fiery-Sword-Global-Ministries/185299884822251

http://thefierysword.wordpress.com/

 


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Give Me Living Water

How I long for His presence

Thirsting

Seeking

And in tender moments

His heart is unveiled to me

Like a balm that heals every wound

So is the redemption in His love

How can this be?

That something so perfect

Could be given so freely?

When the flesh dies

And the heart comes alive

The Passion inside

Is enough to revive 

The same Spirit

That raised Him from the grave

Is tucked in our hearts

Praise God, we’ve been saved

A taste of His heart 

Is enough to soothe us

A glimpse of true beauty

Until that blessed day

But the thirst inside

Can only be quenched

By our one true Love

Who’s beside us always. 

© Alicia Hostetler 2014


Written by Alicia Hostetler of coveredbymercy.com


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LEND ME YOUR HOPE


by Neil Anderson

 

June 14
 
Romans 15:13 
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
 
Lend me your hope for awhile, I seem to have mislaid mine.
 
Lost and hopeless feelings accompany me daily, pain and confusion are my companions.
 
I know not where to turn; looking ahead to future times does not bring forth images of renewed hope.
 
I see troubled times, pain-filled days, and more tragedy.
 
Lend me your hope for awhile, I seem to have mislaid mine.
 
Hold my hand and hug me; listen to all my ramblings, recovery seems so far distant.
 
The road to healing seems like a long and lonely one.
 
Lend me your hope for awhile, I seem to have mislaid mine.
 
Stand by me, offer me your presence, your heart and your love.
 
Acknowledge my pain, it is so real and ever present.
 
I am overwhelmed with sad and conflicting thoughts.
 
Lend me your hope for awhile; a time will come when I will heal, and I will share my renewal, hope, and love with others (adapted from the poem “Lend Me Your Hope,” author unknown).
 
The apostle Paul gives us the biblical basis for our comfort and hope: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).
 
Prayer: I praise You for hope, Lord. Help me be a source of hope in all my relationships and circumstances today.


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Bad Bosses and Irritating People, part IV

god stuff 4

Standing in Judgment

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions…who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way…(Romans 14:1, 4, 7-13, NAS).”

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1, NAS).”

It is exceedingly difficult, nay, impossible, for the flesh of mankind to not pass judgment on those who offend and/or irritate us. However, it is through the Spirit of God exclusively that we are supernaturally capable of overcoming such judgment against others. Sufficed to say, there is no one who can honestly say that judgment does not cross their mind and heart from time to time – after all, it is human nature and we dwell temporarily is this earthen vessel.

In order to be successful in this or any area of God’s commands, we must remember that we are no longer of the human race, but of the heavenly race – the Kingdom race. We are but strangers and aliens in the earth sent from heaven to bring heaven down to earth. This is so because we are dead and our only life is Christ. In other words, once in Christ, our earthly origin ceases and our heavenly origin begins.

If you are like I, people irritate you! In our irritation, judgment can easily take hold of our hearts and grow bitter roots. Hebrews 12:15 is clear about bitterness: “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.” Operating in a judgmental/critical spirit against others no matter how innocent it may seem, causes bitter roots to spring within our hearts like weeks and they taint not only our walk with God with it takes others down with us.

Because of the nature of the flesh in which we currently remain, it is altogether a necessity to hone in on the Spirit of God within us through our spirit-man. If we do not daily (moment to moment) purposefully tap into Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves in the midst of fleshly judgment. We can defend it all day long but unless we, one, choose to recognize that we have indeed passed critical judgment in our hearts as well as, two, choose to repent of it and lay it at the foot of the cross, things will not change as we would otherwise hope. Pray though we may for God to remove us or the irritant, nothing will change until we allow God to transform us from the inside out and love and accept others as they are.

We are not to regard a brother with contempt. This is why we are urged to go to a brother with whom we have a problem so as to resolve the matter. We are to conclude our conflicts, not simply for our selves, but for the greater good of the Kingdom of God. For this reason, there is to be unity between the brethren and we should seek peace at all times, respecting one another.

One who is rebellious, for instance, will be perpetually faced with people who “force” them to rebel because, from where God stands, He recognizes the need for the weaknesses of rebellion to be exposed so that the individual will choose to deal with it through God’s strength. Otherwise, if they continue in their rebellion, the same old obstacles and irritating people will continuously come in their path; hence, frustration remains.

Likewise, one who is impatient will continually come in contact with people who try their patience. One who is timid in their faith will continuously be put in situations where they need to be bold. One who is confrontational will be put in situations where they need to submit in both humility and silence, and so on.

For me personally, the nature of the flesh in which I dwell is exceedingly confrontational. I have to be diligent with my time tapping into Holy Spirit continuously so as to be able to clearly discern when to confront a situation and when to be silent. In everything we say and do, it is a walk of balance that can only come from personal intimacy with Holy Spirit. There should never be a break in our communion with Yahweh.

Until we begin to view everything in everyday life as for the Kingdom of God instead of for or against us personally, not only will circumstances not change, but they will invariably grow worse. Since everything ultimately originates from God whether it comes from Satan’s hand or wicked men, we must say with humility instead of irritation, “What is it You, Yahweh, are trying to show me that I have not yet seen? Reveal my weaknesses to me so that Your strength may prevail in order for Your Kingdom to be advanced through me in the earth. I trust You and submit to You for Your honor and Your glory. Whatever You desire, I desire. Whatever You love, I love. Whatever You hate, I hate.”

There’s always a lesson. There’s always a God-plan. There’s always hope. There’s always growth that He desires to come forth from us, for us and, most importantly, for His great name’s sake. No situation or scenario is in vain or to hurt us. It isn’t even for punishment’s sake; it is always for the Kingdom of God. May we keep our spiritual eye open to see the bigger picture always and remember that you do not belong to yourself, but to the Lord our Great God. I remind myself of this daily so as to stay on heavenly point instead of veering away from the path of God.

 

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).”

 

I hope you’ll come back next week. If you’re interested in reading more, please go to my website and check out my books or my ministry Facebook page.

Peace and blessings,

Alexys V. Wolf

www.thefierysword.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Fiery-Sword-Global-Ministries/185299884822251

http://thefierysword.wordpress.com/

Heart of Love


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Is Your Life A Living Love Song For God?

 

Heart of LoveA love song always includes praises for the object of our affection. Would you like to make your life a living love song for God? What would that look like in your eyes? Starting today, how can you make your life a living and growing praise song to your heavenly Father?

A good way to answer this question is to look at Jesus and His disciples. How did Jesus demonstrate His love for us and how did His followers demonstrate their love for Christ? I assure you there were deliberate actions and a concerted effort.

Consider all the gifts and talents God has given you. Every child of God has received a spiritual gift(s) and is supposed to use it/them to edify the body of Christ, which in turn glorifies and pleases God. What are your gifts and how are you using them?

When we step out in faith, believing God has equipped us to help those around us, we are walking through an open door He has provided. This open door is an opportunity to serve, witness, and praise the name of Jesus. Our trust in His provision and our willingness to minister to others, even our decision to put aside our plans for the day in order to follow His purpose, is a means to shower Him with our love and appreciation.

“As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NKJV)

A.W. Tozer wrote, “You can see God from anywhere if your mind is set to love and obey Him.”  

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-love-25-awesome-scripture-quotes/#ixzz2yBHCie00

Your love song to God will be spelled out over your entire lifetime. It will not be one continuous melody. Rather, it will have different movements, like a symphony. There will be pauses. There will even be moments of silence. Different tempos will occur depending on your measure of obedience and submission to His will.

Some movements in your life song will be full of joy and speed, appropriately marked ALLEGRO. Other movements will be very slow. LARGO is a time when you may be required to endure a sorrow or time of suffering, preferably with the dignity and grace God promises to provide. How you carry yourself through a trial can be an incredible opportunity to show God your love for Him. Observers will find themselves amazed and curious when you praise God during your storm, speaking of His unfathomable love, mercy, and grace.

Jesus called us to be the light of the world. If we dedicate our lives to becoming messengers of hope, love, and grace we will get attention. Light demands attention. Light gets noticed, especially in a dark world full of sin and hate.

Goals and ambitions, when aligned with the will of God, will always come to pass. If you find your fulfillment and joy in Christ His passions will become your delight.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”Psalm 37:4 (NKJV)

Will every breath you exhale be a praise offering that honors His glorious name? Will you dedicate every act of service to Him and for His glory? Can you agree to be an extension of His love from this day forth? If so, your life will be a unique and astonishing love song to the one and only God.

“I love those who love Me, and those who seek Me diligently will find Me.”Proverbs 8:17 (NKJV)

“’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.” Mark 12:30-31 (NKJV)


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Sermon 4/6/2014: Faith

I received a request to post a written copy of the sermon I preached tonight! God completely took over this sermon! People were literally healed, set free, and slain in the Spirit. What I got to witness tonight was incredible and I can’t express how happy I am that God allowed me to participate in this. He is a God of awesome power. And as I witnessed so powerfully tonight, miracles still happen. We just have to believe!

-Austin

 

Mark 5:21- 43:

 

When Jesus had crossed over again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around Him; and so He stayed by the seashore. 22 One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came up, and on seeing Him, fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death; please come and lay Your hands on her, so that she will get well and live.” 24 And He went off with him; and a large crowd was following Him and pressing in on Him. 25 A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years, 26 and had endured much at the hands of many physicians, and had spent all that she had and was not helped at all, but rather had grown worse – 27 after hearing about Jesus, she came up in the crowd behind Him and touched His cloak. 28 For she thought, “If I just touch His garments, I will get well.” 29 Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. 30 Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?” 31 And His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 32 And He looked around to see the woman who had done this. 33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.” 35 While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?” 36 But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.” 37 And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. 39 And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. 41 Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). 42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. 43 And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat.”

 

 

Note that the woman should have been outside the city. She was unclean and should not have been around anyone. During this whole 12 years that she had the issue, she was unclean according to the Law. Actually, when she pushed through the crowd, everyone that she even slightly brushed against became unclean. So, she didn’t care about what the law said or what might happen to her if she were to get caught. All she wanted is to act on her faith that Jesus could heal her. She was convinced that even coming into contact with Jesus’ clothes could heal her.

 

She had also seen many doctors who couldn’t do anything for her. She tried putting her trust in man, but they failed her. Sometimes doctors can’t help with our ailments. If you put your stock in other people, they will fail you. This goes for all circumstances. You can’t rely on other people to bring you happiness. But God knows every cell in our body. He created us. God can heal anything from a common cold to cancer. Jesus can heal what man can’t even touch. Nothing is impossible with Him.

 

What I want to focus on however is the statement Jesus makes in verse 34. Jesus says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” He could have told her that it was his power that healed her. That’s certainly true, but there’s something deeper here that Jesus is getting at. The woman’s faith is what made the difference. She came in a terrible state. She had had this hemorrhage for 12 long years. She was in pain. Suffering for 12 years with the same constant, nagging problem was probably getting unbearable. Just look at her. She had spent all that she had on doctors and had only gotten worse. She was feeling completely hopeless. Then, she heard about Jesus. It seems likely to me that she had heard from the people around the area she was in what Jesus has done for many others and what he had been teaching (Man with the 5,000 demon spirits). That’s what her faith was built upon. She knew that Jesus had worked miracles. At this point, talk had to be getting around at what Jesus of Nazareth was doing. She knew Jesus was her last hope at healing. And she truly believed Jesus could heal her. Not only did she believe it, but also she expected it. She expected to be healed of her affliction. That’s the faith Jesus wants from us. When you come wanting and expecting the power of God, His power will fall. That’s when the miracles happen. I think it’s incredible that she didn’t want Jesus to touch her with his hands. All she wanted was to simply touch his garments. That’s knowing the power of Christ!

 

She was immediately healed! She didn’t have to wait or do any special ritual. It happened at that very instant! Mark use “immediately” several times in the passage we just read. It’s also a key word throughout the whole book. He repeats this style throughout his account of the Gospel to emphasize the fact that when Jesus worked miracles, the manifestation occurred at that instant. They didn’t have to wait. Because they had faith of healing for that moment, that’s what happened.

 

In verses 30-32 how did Jesus know who touched his clothes? This is so cool. I talked to Pastor about this. At first, I didn’t think he knew who did it. Verse 30 indicates that he knew power had gone from him, but I was failing to see how or even if he knew who touched him. Then Pastor showed me the Greek word used for “perceiving” in verse 30. That word is epiginōskō. The meaning of epiginōskō is to recognize. But not only that it means to perceive who a person is. With the crowd surrounding him, Jesus couldn’t have possibly seen at first who touched him, so he had to be seeing something in the spiritual realm. For example, have you ever seen someone who was hopeless? They have no faith in Jesus and they’re at rock bottom. You can see the deadness and the hollowness in their eyes. But, when you see someone who was made alive through the power of Christ, you see an abundance of life in their eyes. In verse 31, his disciples question him like he’s gone completely off his rocker. I think the King James Version has a better translation of verse 32: “And he looked around to see the woman who had done this.” Now it doesn’t seem like Jesus was looking around aimlessly. Pastor helped me see what the text was saying here. Jesus seems to look directly at that woman and waits for her to present herself to him. At that point she came forward and fell to ground in fear. This is the same way people responded to the presence of God in the Old Testament. The woman acknowledged the divinity of Jesus. She knew he was the Christ!

 

Let’s look at the second part of this passage again because it ties directly in with what I’m trying to get across here (pickup in verse 35): While He was still speaking, they came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the Teacher anymore?”

 

Many will come along and try to discourage your faith. Those who came telling Jairus that his daughter was dead were actually just saying, “This man doesn’t have the power to anything anymore.” They lacked the faith Jairus had. Sometimes what you are seeking seems impossible. The world likes to tell us it is too. The Enemy loves nothing more than to cause us to lose faith in God and His promise. But verse 36 tells us that Jesus says not to fear! Just believe. Now skip down to verse 39:

 

39 And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.” 40 They began laughing at Him.

 

Again here are people trying to make a fool out of Jesus. They are faithless. Jesus was trying to teach them something here. You see, for Jesus death isn’t final. Those who are without faith view death as the end of existence. Death is it. The end. But for the people of faith, death is really just the beginning because Jesus conquered death. For us, we have faith that when we die, we immediately wake up in the presence of God.

 

I want to look at another miracle that Jesus performed that has similar circumstances. 

 

Matthew 8:5-13

 

“When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.”

 

Again Jesus talks about faith as playing a key role in the healing that was taking place. The centurion was Roman, first of all. That’s what’s so incredible about his faith. The Jews were God’s chosen people (and that still hasn’t changed, it’s just the Gentiles like us are now included in God’s Promise). However, most Jews did not believe Jesus. They didn’t have the faith this Roman did. Actually the other Romans didn’t share this faith either. Jesus rewarded the centurion with what he believed and expected to happen. His servant was set free from his suffering. And again, this miracle occurred immediately.

 

Jesus says in Matthew 7:7: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

 

 

Matthew 17:20-

 

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. “

 

Church, faith is not only the fact that we believe in Christ. That’s an important part, but that’s not all. The Greek word for faith used in Mark 5 is the word pistis. Pistis not only means a belief, it’s a belief that causes action The woman with the issue of blood had faith that Jesus could heal her. That faith caused her to push through the crowd even when she wasn’t supposed to be in contact with others! In the same way, our faith had better cause action. It should cause us to worship God at any given moment, whether we feel like it or not. Everything we do should be done in a way that pleases God.

 

 

A Christian’s entire life begins at the point of faith. Our faith is what saves us; it’s our ticket to Heaven. Much of today’s church has lost faith. Pressure from the world has deflated our spiritual balloon. Many people no longer believe in miracles, the gifts of the spirit, or that God still moves in His people today. We know that’s false. It seems that week after week, God has been telling this particular church to reach out and He will move. He always fulfills His promises. We have had powerful services here when we reach out and leave all we are before God. When we put all of the faith we have, God moves.

 

 

When we finally started doing that God has moved in ways I’ve never seen before. But guess what? That’s not all He has for us. If we continue to reach out to God, He will move in an even more powerful and unique way. Miracles will begin to just flow again. Will you reach out? Isaiah tells us that if we don’t stand firm in our faith we won’t stand at all. Will you have faith? Church, Jesus will meet you at the level of your faith. Are you willing to push through the crowd to get to him?