Daring Faith Pt 8

Daring Faith Pt 8 – Rich Adamkewicz

 

God gave me an image while we were listening to worship, while we were praising God. Is there anybody here who’s drowned, almost drowned? Anybody? A few people. I know Randi’s brother had that experience as well. The lungs start to fill up with water, there’s a little bit of panic, struggle, I’m sure of what’s going to happen. They fill up some more, you feel like there’s nothing you can do. I could see this person who’s drowning and struggling. I’ve never experienced drowning by water, but I’ve experienced drowning in my life. We’re born in this world, in this society, and I’ve had things in my life where I’ve felt like my lungs have been filling up with water. I’ve felt in my life that there have been times that I was not going to get through it, that I was going to be pulled under the water and helpless. That’s life. We probably all have a story like that, and we’re not alone, and our children are the same. They go through things in life that are struggles. We may see them as trivial, but they feel like they’re drowning.

 

Today we’re going to be looking at daring to be generous, a daring faith to be generous. What’s the first thing you think of when you think of generous? Somebody says generous, giving. I have to be honest, the first thing that comes to mind, that’s right, it’s money, it’s one of the first things I think of. If somebody comes up to me and says, “I need you to be generous to me.” I’m going to be like, “I forgot my wallet at home.” That’s going to come to mind. This sermon is an adaptation from Pastor Rick Warren’s sermon of the Saddleback Church, it’s a part of this book series that we’ve been looking at. So I need to ask you today if you’re living; are you? Are you living a daring faith in your life? Living in faith is stepping out. Are you stepping out in your life? Are you being generous? Are you drowning? You want the blessings of God on your life, if you want the power of God in your life, if you want to see the anointing of God through your life, well there’s three things to have the blessing of God.

 

One is integrity, one is humility, and the other is generosity. These are three great antidotes to the great temptations in life. And it doesn’t matter where your walk is with Christ right now, whether you’re a brand new Christian or whether you’ve never been into a church and today is your first time, or you’ve been coming to church for 30 years, you know about the temptations in life. If you build your life on integrity, humility, generosity you’ll step up for yourself, you’ll create barriers to the greatest traps in life. These traps will cause us to fail. So today we’re going to look at generosity. Pastor Rick Warren, he would say, “With every promise there is a premise.” He says it in all his videos. God says if you do this I’ll do that. God says there’s a condition for every one of the promises of God in your life, promises of success – who doesn’t want success in their life? Promises for satisfaction – how many here could raise their hands and say they are satisfied with their life? Fulfillment and promises of blessings. There’s over 7,000 promises of God to you in the Bible, and every one of those promises has a premise. That’s good. I hope you pulled your socks up because we’re about to get into it.

 

In the Bible, the number one thing that God has promises about is connected to generosity. There are more promises related to generosity in the Bible than any other subject. And we need to remember when we’re discussing generosity, I’m not talking about money, I haven’t got a whole lot so I’m glad generosity is not connected to money; or is it? We’re talking about being generous with your time, being generous with your energy, generous in your praise this morning, that was generous, thank you worship team, being generous with your talents in every area of your life. It’s about becoming unselfish. There are more promises about that than anything else; anything else. And I know about being selfish, because I know that deep down I fight against it and I ask God and myself to help me with that. So what is it about generosity? Why is God so interested in generosity? Well, he’s interested in us learning how to be generous. And you know what, generosity is love in action; love in action. You can give without loving, you can; but you cannot love without giving. You cannot be loving without being generous. Wave to us Randi. That’s my wife, Randi. God was generous with me. If I tell Randi that I love her but I’m not generous with my wife, I don’t really love her. If I’m not generous with my kids, I don’t really love my kids. So hang in there with me here, because God loves to give. God so loved the world that he gave, didn’t he? It’s simple, generosity is love in action. If I’m not a generous person, I’m not a loving person. I might think I am because I buy some presents at Christmas time, and it’s coming up soon so I’m feeling pretty good. I want to limit the amount of presents I buy, but I’m still pretty generous, but I’m not.

 

Love is all about giving; it’s not about getting. I was listening to the radio, often I just listen to Shine, but because of my roots I’m drawn to country music. And so sometimes you’re listening to those songs and they’re love songs, they’re good love songs. But are they love songs, or are they lust songs? And lust is about getting. Love is about giving; lust is about getting. “You make me feel good. I like that hat you got on.” That’s lust, it’s not love. Love is giving, lust is about getting. In the Bible, the word believe, 272 times; pray, 371; love, 700 – love must be important. Giving, 2,152 times – there’s got to be something about that because God is a giver. Everything you have in life is a gift from God. If God was not generous you would have nothing, your heart would stop beating right now; he gave you life. God is generous, he gives you air, sunshine, sunshine today, a mind to think, and everything else in your life is just a sheer gift from God. Even the ability to earn is a gift from God. The ability to work is a gift from God. God wants us to learn to be like him, he wants us to be a giver. We’re going to look at about a dozen promises about generosity from Scripture today. I’m just getting started so if you got sleeves on your shirt, roll them up. I didn’t even wear sleeves today because I didn’t want them to get in my way, so roll them up if you got them.

 

What comes with a promise? A benefit. That is what happens every time you’re generous. The number one thing, are you ready? If you have paper, write it down; if you don’t, put it up there. If you have an envelope in front of you, write on it, it don’t matter, just write this down. Number one, generosity honors God. Giving is an act of worship. We worshiped this morning, the worship team was up here praising God. If you want to see honoring God, you come in the morning and go to the prayer room. It was on fire this morning. There are warriors down there praying, you want to see the spirit move, you come on in there. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:13, “You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts. Your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the good news of Christ.” Proverbs 14:31, “Whoever is generous to the needy honors God.” So let’s break that down. That means you give money to help the poor, that’s what we’re doing, we’re helping the poor, whoever is generous to the needy. I’ve walked by people who’ve asked me for money. I’ve walked by people who’ve come right up to me and put their hand out. But I’ve also changed my ways, and if I have it in my pocket, a praise to God, “What do you want me to do Lord?” – if I have a gift; it’s not my money.

 

Number two, generosity draws me closer to God. Generosity draws me closer to God. Why? Because whatever I invest in, that’s what I become interested in. If I invest my time in something, I will be interested in that. If I invest my money, I will become interested in that. If I invest my energy in something, whether it’s a sport or you’re putting together a business plan, whatever I invest my time and my money shows what’s important to me. We are so linked to our wallets in this world. And this isn’t about tithing, yet. It wasn’t until I started giving that I felt released from whatever it was that was holding me back. When I invest in God and his work, it not only honors God, but it draws me closer to him because wherever my money and time go is what attracts me. The Bible says this in Deuteronomy 14:23, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives.” We give the first part of our income, the first 10% on the first day of the week. We say, “God, you’re number one, it all came from you.” Matthew 6:21, Jesus said, “Your heart will be wherever your treasure is.” Wherever you put your money, that’s where your heart is going. You want to be close to God, put some money there, it’ll draw you closer to God. Some of you are thinking, “This guy, he wants my money.” I don’t need your money; I don’t. Did you know that the church doesn’t need your money? It doesn’t. The church is the people, the church needs your heart.

 

Number three, generosity makes me more like Jesus, because the most generous person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. He sacrificed his own life. The Bible says we have been saved because of the generosity of Jesus. Every time you give time, money, energy, anything, you become more like Jesus. Every time you give your heart grows bigger, it gets easier to give every time you give. Proverbs 20:21, 26, “The greedy always want more, but the godly love to give.” You see that today, the greedy always want more, but the godly loves to give. And the more godly you become, the more generous you are. But it also works in reverse  – the more generous you are, the more godly you are going to become. The more godly you are, the more generous you’ll be. Luke 11:41, “Purity is best demonstrated by generosity.” To live a holy life is to be a giver.

 

I learned some lessons as a child, learned a lot of lessons as a child, mostly because I had two brothers. So when you have two brothers and there’s three of you, there’s a lot of lessons to be learned; mostly, we brought them all on ourselves. But there is this time that my father, my dad, taught me some lessons, sometimes those lessons hurt. I don’t know if some of you remember the candy stores, the old candy stores, the confectioneries, we had one and you could buy the little nickel candies or dime candies, I can’t remember what they were. Some of you might remember penny candies, but we won’t get into that. You could buy a small bag of those black little jawbreakers, remember that? Those were awesome. Some people hate black licorice, but I love it, and my brothers hated it so that was even better because then I got them all for me. I remember going to one of these candy stores, got a bag of these black jawbreakers. They’re not very big, they’re small little guys, small enough that you could crack them with your teeth without having to go to the dentist, after you’ve sucked on it for a few minutes anyways. My dad bought me those jawbreakers, candy, very sweet.

 

He was the reason I had those jawbreakers. You know what he asked? “Hey, give me one of those jawbreakers.” My dad was a big guy too, shorter than me, but a big guy. He was sitting in his truck, “Give me one of those jawbreakers.” I’m like, “They’re my jawbreakers.” Did he not remember that he just bought me the jawbreakers? Those are mine, he could have bought his own, fathers. Now I understand a little bit better. I didn’t realize that he could have taken them all away. He’s my father, he bought them, he might take them all away; I didn’t know that. Well ultimately he should have bought his own darn jawbreakers, that’s really the bottom line there in my mind back then. Do you know what my dad was thinking? He’s thinking, “I’d take those away from you, not going to share?” He’s teaching me a lesson. The lesson I didn’t know back then was that he could have taken them away, or I could have shared that with him, he could have given me a big bag of jawbreakers, he could do that. He could take them all away or he could have gave me the biggest bag of jawbreakers. I didn’t know if he could buy them anymore, I really missed out I guess.

 

Those are the same three reasons God wants you to learn generosity. God does not need your money; it all belongs to him anyways. And it wasn’t yours before you were born, and it’s not going to be yours after you’re dead. He loaned it to you, he’s loaning this to you right now while you’re alive; it’s all his. He is the source of all things sweet. Everything you have in your life, if God didn’t love you, if he wasn’t being generous with you, zip, you’d have nothing. He could take it all the way from you instantly, but he’s generous. He can give you 10 times that amount. He is good. He just wants us to learn, he just wants to teach us to be unselfish because he is generous, and he wants me and he wants you to be Christ-like.

 

Number four, this is a good one, I like this one. It’s 12, you got some ways to go here so I hope you’re ready. Number four, generosity is the cure for materialism. Materialism is all about getting – get, get, get, get. Get all you can, get all you want, bring it on. It’s talking about hoarding, acquiring, having more than you need. And the only antidote to materialism is giving. You might say right now, “I’m not materialistic. We don’t even own a house, we don’t have very much.” But if you’re not generous, if you’re not giving, you are, because the only antidote is generous. The only way to break it is to give; give, you break it, you stop being materialistic. Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.” Cannot. This isn’t “you should not serve God and money”; this is “you cannot”. You need to make a choice, no one else, not your parents from your past, not your people who are going to come after you, you need to make your own choice. You can’t have two gods in your life. Some countries serve more than one God, and one of them is not money. You need to make a choice who you serve. Being rich or serving God, what’s more important to me? We live in a consumer driven world and it’s hard to fight materialism.

 

Your life, you may think that your life is your net worth, or that it determines your self-worth, and it’s not. Your values are not your valuables. Your net worth and your self-worth are not connected. But we are bombarded and Satan has a tool to catch us, and it’s materialistic – social media, online shopping, every little thing that bombards you from your looking at your phone to your computer to the advertising when you’re walking through the mall, old school catalogs. You look through these and you go, “I didn’t even know they made this. I got to have it now, where was I without that?” You know who did that? Regal catalog, who remembers Regal? You got to have it. “It can be an apple peeler and a potato peeler, and I have room in my drawers, man this is good.” 1 Timothy 6:17,19 says this, “Command those who are rich in this present world, not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to be generous and willing to share, in this way they will take hold of the life that is true life.” You need to give in order to break the grip of materialism in your life. Command of those who are rich – if I ask you right now who here is rich, I’m the only one who’s going to put their hand up, because I’m Richard, rich.

 

Even the poorest people in North America are rich when you compare them to the rest of the world. In North America you don’t have to have a whole lot, but when you compare those people with nothing here to the people in some other countries… I haven’t seen too many people here living with a tin roof over top of a couple of shack walls. We are rich in North America. Do you know what else it says in there? It says enjoyment, ‘everything for our enjoyment’. God is so generous that he has provided everything for us for our enjoyment. Do you feel joy with what you have? Is all the stuff that you have bringing you joy?

 

Number five, generosity demonstrates my faith. Every time you give it demonstrates faith because it shows that you’re trusting in the promises of God. It shows what you believe, it shows that you believe that God will take care of you if you obey him. 2 Corinthians 9:13, “Your giving proves the reality of your faith.” Philemon 1:6, “You are generous because of your faith.” You’re generous because of your faith. Stinginess is caused by unbelief – “I don’t believe God can really take care of me. I know everybody tells me he will, but I’m really struggling. I don’t know if I give this way like that guy, that big guy up there is saying, am I going to have enough for myself at home for my family?” That’s worry, that’s an anxiety, fear. Unbelief is stinginess; you’re generous because of your faith.

 

Malachi 3:10, God dares you to trust his promises. “Bring your whole tithe to my storehouse. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much.” My tithe to my storehouse, so what’s this storehouse? Temple, it’s where you worship. Test me; God is daring you to do something. I know there’s a few guys around here that if I dare you to do something we may just have a challenge. God says, “I dare you.” So what are you going to say? “Challenge accepted.” I dare you. This by the way is the only place in the Bible where you can prove God. Prove that God exists by tithing, see if he doesn’t bless you more. This will demonstrate your faith.

 

Generosity reveals character; number six. Generosity reveals my character. It shows what kind of heart you really have. It shows do I have a selfish heart or do I have an unselfish heart? Do I have a generous heart, or do I have a little tiny stingy heart? What’s that show, the big old green guy? The Grinch. Do you have one of those little tiny Grinch hearts because it’s stingy? I know I have to work on that one, I got to grow my heart bigger. Giving, generosity shows what my heart is really like. In fact, the Bible says that God uses money to test what’s really inside of you, and he uses it. He uses money to test and see if he can trust you with more. I’m going to view on more of God. If you’re faithful with the little things, he’ll give you more things. If you’re faithful with that which is not your own, “What I loan you here while you’re on earth, I will give you greater blessings in eternity.” Faithful with the little things, that’s money, “I’ll give you more things” – God. You may not realize this, but the rewards and responsibilities that you have in heaven are going to be based on how you manage your money here.

 

Luke 16:11, “If you are untrustworthy with worldly wealth” – in other words, if you are not managing your money well, you’re not generous with it. So if you are untrustworthy with worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? Your responsibilities and rewards in heaven are going to be built on how you handled it with God, with what he gave you now, and he has given you wealth. What did you do with what you were given?

 

Number seven, generosity brings God’s blessing. Generosity brings the blessings of God. You must learn not to be a miser, you must learn not to be stingy. You must learn to be open-handed with what God has given you, helping other people with everything you’ve got. The more you give away your time, your talent, your treasure, the more God will give you. Think of it as this with a child – you give your time to the child, they’re so happy. They bring you a book and you sit down and read it and there’s joy on her face; it doesn’t take any time to do that really. In most cases little kids get distracted in two minutes and go do something else, so it would have only taken you two minutes to sit down and give your time, your talent, your treasure. The more you give away God will give you, giving brings God’s blessings.

 

Proverbs 22:9, “Generous people will be blessed.” You either believe that or you don’t. Generous people will be blessed. Deuteronomy 15:10, “Give generously, then because of this God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” Do you want God to bless everything you put your hand to at home, at work, here in the church, give generously? That’s all only one of the 7,000 promises of God. Here’s another one, are you ready for it? 2 Corinthians 9:7, 8, “God loves the one who gives gladly, and God will make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs, but plenty left over to give joyfully to others.” ‘Loves the one who gives gladly.’ Not a whole lot of smiling going on when we’re tithing, is there? That’s what we all might need to work on, maybe not all of us, but a few that is. I know myself, I heard that message years ago. And when the pastor mentioned about giving gladly, I was like, “Oh yeah, right, I’m giving my money to God. I am gifting, not even really gifting because it’s God’s anyways. I should be joyful that I even have it to give.”

 

Eight – generosity increases my happiness; everybody knows this. The only people who don’t know this are the ones who aren’t being generous. Generosity increases my happiness. In Acts 20:35 Jesus said, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.” So your mom was right, it’s in the Bible, maybe that’s where she got it from, I don’t know. But it is better to give than receive. I always found that difficult, to receive, because if I received what I didn’t want, I found that very hard. And as a child you don’t understand everything. You watch a child receive something and see how that brings you happiness.

 

This one is going to blow your mind, are you ready? You might have to loosen your socks up for this one, you don’t want it to cut off circulation. Number nine, generosity expands my influence; expands my influence. The more generous you become, the more influential you will become. Influence comes, not from what you get in life, it comes from what you give away in life. And the more you give away, the more influential you will be. If you are at work and you’re not giving, you’re not being generous, you probably will not become influential in your workplace. There’s a difference between being famous and being influential. There are a lot of people out there who want to be famous, and they have no influence. And famous can be taken different ways, you know the people that you work with who always have to be up here. There’s a lot of selfish people who are famous, but they don’t have real influence. When you want to help other people, the influence is going to come from being generous, from generosity. Proverbs 11:24, “The word of the generous gets larger and larger, the world of the stingy will get smaller and smaller.” Psalm 112:9 says this, “Those who give generously to those in need will never be forgotten. They will have influence and honor.” You’re helping the poor, the unfortunate. What’s your legacy going to look like?

 

Number 10 says generosity multiplies my money. That’s a big one, isn’t it? Generosity multiplies my money. Give 10% of my income to God, we call that tithing, 10%. Do you know what God does in my life? He takes a 90% that’s leftover and he makes it go way further than if I had 00%, and I can’t explain it. For about 14 years now he has taken my 90% and… Proverbs 11:25, “A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” 2 Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched so that you can give even more generously.” That means you’re going to have more than you do now. God multiplies your money. You play this game with God, God says, “You give to me and I’ll give to you, and you give to others, you watch, I’ll give to you and we’ll see who wins.” You’re never going to win the generosity game with God. Try that, that could be a thing for you this week, see if you can beat God at generosity.

 

Number 11, generosity brings God’s protection. A lot of people don’t know this, but it will actually bring God’s protection being generous. I’m not saying that you take that money and pay Fred and his gang to watch over your family, that’s not what I’m saying. But he’ll bring protection on your family, on your business, and on your life. Psalm 112:5,6, it says “All goes well for the generous man who conducts his business fairly. Such a man will not be overthrown by evil circumstances. God’s constant care of him will make a deep impression on all who see it.” Look at that first part – “All goes well for the generous man who conducts his business fairly.” What are we talking there? Integrity and generosity, and then it says about overthrown by evil circumstances, will not be overthrown by evil circumstances. It does not say that you will not have evil circumstances in your life, it does not say that you will not have tough times. He’s saying that you are not going to be blown away, you will not be over thrown. People are going to look and they’re going to say, “Look at that guy, wow, they’ve been through a lot and God has blessed them.” And we have those miracles in our church this year, this year we have seen those miracles. We’ve had people stand up here and tell us tough times that they’ve been through, and that God did not allow the evil circumstances to blow them away. Generosity will bring God’s protection.

 

Last one, number 12, generosity will be rewarded in heaven. 1 Timothy 6:18, 19, “Use your money to do good.” Let’s stop there – use your money to do good. Use; it’s not to be loved, it is to be used. If you use money, you love people; you start loving money, you’re going to use people. Money is a tool, it’s not good, it’s not bad; it’s neutral. You can use it for good, you can use it for bad; there’s nothing evil about money, it’s neutral. It can be used in really good ways, and I’ve seen it used in great ways. It can be used in really bad ways, and I’ve used it for really bad ways in the past. The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil; the love of money is the root of all evil. You’re to love people and use money, your money to do good. Let’s go on from that verse. “Use your money to do good, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given you. By doing this you will be storing up real treasure (you) for in heaven, it is the only safe investment for eternity. And they (you) will be living a fruitful Christian life down here as well.” You can’t take it with you, nobody takes a u-haul to the cemetery with all their money. But you can send it on ahead of you.

 

So how do you do that? The Scriptures say four times, store up treasure in heaven. We have preached about this this last year, I know we have – store up treasure in heaven, how do you do that? How do you bank in heaven? You invest in people, you invest in people that are going there; that’s how. Daring faith, we’re investing in people through this. Getting people into heaven, getting them strong, getting them to grow, they said that’s investing in heaven. You send on ahead and you’re going to be able to enjoy the treasures in heaven for yourself. One of the most important things that Jesus said is in this next verse, Luke 16:9, “I tell you, use your worldly resources to benefit others and make friends. In this way your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.” It’s not saying to go out and buy a bunch of friends, it’s not what he’s saying. You take some of your money and you start building bridges, friendship. Help people that are struggling.

 

You can have friends in heaven because you bought somebody a Bible, you handed your only Bible to somebody, you sponsored a project somewhere, you helped build a church, you helped a program, you were downstairs in the children ministry and you were helping them because they don’t have enough people for the children, you were helping in the clothing zone because they had a huge shipment of clothing come in, you donated to the food zone, you did other things. And through that I came to the Lord. Thank you for coming to those programs, thank you for giving me that Bible, thank you. Generosity will be rewarded in heaven. These are all just tools, all 12 of those points. You need to decide what you’re going to do, you need to decide whether you’re going to take them and live them, take one of them and live them, or you’re just going to let them go; that’s up to you. You need to go where God’s leading you.

 

I want you to leave with this, I’m going to leave with this. I want you to think about what happens when life falls apart, what happens when life falls apart for you and you haven’t been generous in your life. All over the world there’s islands being wiped out, there’s disasters happening. Did those people know that stuff was going to happen? No. Were those people generous before these things happened? Maybe. It maybe somewhere probably just like our church. You don’t know when things are coming to an end with how you know it now. You don’t know when your job is going to be gone, you don’t know when somebody is going to get sick in your family, you don’t know when you’re going to become injured; and now everything changes. Don’t wait to be generous in your life, don’t wait to show time and generosity; do it now. When you’re a baby Christian, God gives you a lot of confirming emotions, and often answers the most immature self-centered prayers so you’ll know he exists. But as you grow in faith, he will wean you off these dependencies. It’s time to be mature, it’s time for us all to grow up and follow the word of God.

 

Let’s bow our heads and pray. Thank you Jesus, Lord thank you for your message today. Lord God the times that we know that we’re supposed to be generous Lord God and we’re not, we just ask Lord that you’d do something deep inside us Lord God and have us step out in a daring faith. I just thank you Lord for those that have just stepped into this church today for the first time Lord God. Lord I just call that the people of the church will be generous with their time and step out. Let’s say hi to those people, Lord God that’s all it takes is a hi. And Lord we just lift it all up to you, and you just do it as your will directs us, in Jesus name, amen.

Victory Church of Red Deer

Daring Faith Pt 7

 

So today we’re going talk a little bit about waiting. Few things probably test our faith, make us more irritated, make us more frustrated than having to wait. I don’t know about you guys but when I’m in traffic there’s this sense of peace that comes about in me. Am I on my own? I don’t know. Or Walmart, like the grocery line, maybe the line up in the bank, man it just gives me this heart of compassion for everyone around me. No. Kidding aside though, if we’re being honest, simply it’s a struggle, we do not like to wait at all. So in today I think like pastor Nick referred to in his last message, things are a lot different nowadays than even let’s say the farmer of a hundred years ago. I really appreciated the sowing and reaping message last week, and it really made me think for this week about just how different it must be now. The farmer had to wait, there were seasons, there’s things like that. And now today we can pretty much have everything we need in a flash, in the blink of an eye. We need to have an answer to a question, Google. Feeling a little bit hungry, McDonald’s is open 24 hours I think, I don’t know. Probably not the best place to eat, but we can. Max is open all the time.

So with that I think it’s created in society a place where instant gratification is something that we all have and we all struggle with. So one of the fruits of the spirit is patience. Waiting really is a crucial and a very important part of life, learning the skills to do so or trusting in God for that. There’s just certain things in life that through waiting or being patient that we simply can’t grow or learn any other way than by having to wait or by being patient, we just simply can’t right. And our lack of understanding in this age where everything is so readily accessible, our lack of understanding these certain principles can lead to so many problems. Just some examples, like our inability to delay, let’s say, our personal gratification leads to debt. Our inability to delay our sexual gratification maybe leads to many different things, it leads to broken hearts, broken homes, unplanned pregnancies, diseases and other social things. Those are just a few, but it’s an ability to hold back. We’re a society that when we want it, we want it, and we want it now. And so this is a very overlooked topic as we walk through our life with God.

 

Let’s just pray – Father God I just thank you for your house Lord that you have built. I thank you that we can come here today, we can seek your truth together, we can fellowship together Lord, and we can trust that you are here with us. So father God I ask that you just salt my lips Lord with your words, remove anything that is of me and just stir up your people’s hearts for your truth today. Bless them, open the eyes of their understanding today. And I pray that seeds will be planted today, in Jesus name, amen.

 

I will end that with saying it doesn’t have to be that way, we don’t have to be instantly gratified, we don’t have to be impatient people. It is a fruit of the spirit, and if we invest and allow God to nurture it, we can overcome these things. So today we’re going to spend a little bit of time about learning of the daring faith to wait on God. We’re going to carry on in in Part 7 of Rick Warren’s Daring Faith series of waiting on God. And let’s go right back to the beginning, and in the beginning I mean we’re all children of God, I’m a child of God. You are all children of God. And you might want to write this down because it’s not a part of your book, but like children there’s certain lessons that we need to learn. Number one is the difference between no and not yet. As children we learn that very young, and as our great, fearless leader, Pastor Chuck Roth, would always say, I’m going to throw this in for free, you can tell the level of maturity of a child by the way they respond to that statement, the difference between no and not yet.

 

So God wants us to understand this, he wants us to get this deep down in our hearts. In Ecclesiastes 3:11 it says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time, he has also set eternity in the human heart, yet no one can fathom what God has done from the beginning to the end.” So we need to understand that we’re not going to know it all. God has given us a desire, a yearning for eternity for him. But it doesn’t say that we’re going to get to understand it all. It says that we just can’t simply fathom that, this side of heaven anyways. And I will say this, it’s not that God can’t reveal everything to us, he can. If he so chooses, he does, and sometimes he does, in miracles and in visions and in many different things that we’ve seen manifested in these days. But he doesn’t fix everything for us all the time, and there’s a reason for that. He’s not a genie; he’s a creator. And he wants to show us more about our heart, he wants to create a heart in us that desires him, he wants to create a person like Christ in each and every one of us. Imagine if he granted us everything that we asked him for; would that manifest a person and a desired heart to be more like Christ? It would probably turn out to be a bunch of spoiled brats. What does it say in the word? Stiff necked rebellious people. We already got that covered, we don’t need any more.

 

Our faith in God should not be built on what God can do for us; our faith in God should be built on what he’s already done, and that’s enough. This is why I personally find the importance and the value to this part of daring faith. And I don’t know why I always draw the straw on the very serious stuff, because I’m not normally a serious guy. But this is important to me because I personally think that the faith required to wait is equally, if not maybe even more important than the faith that’s required to step out in boldness. I’ll tell you the difference. When I have no other source but to rely on God, so when I’m stepping out or going on a mission in the mission field, or when I have lost my job and I need to move in a direction that requires my faith, it almost gives me an empowerment. I feel bold and strengthened to move in faith, and it almost creates this level of excitement for me. Perfect love casts out all fear.

 

But waiting is a different animal altogether. When you’re waiting, they don’t teach you this in school, they don’t teach you this in seminary, they don’t teach you this in Sunday school very often. This is a life skill that has to be developed by character, and can only be developed through waiting and through character. So I find it extremely important and I’m glad that we got to do this, but I will say that it does often get overlooked, so bear with me because it might hurt. But more than that, I think we’re just going to trust God and his truth that’s available to us in his word. There are some practical stuff that shows us the value of waiting, so let’s just dig into that. On your notes today we’re going to learn a few things, five things we’re going to talk about, about what to remember when we’re waiting on God. And we’re also going to learn four things of what to do while we’re waiting on God, and then some basic principles, so bear with me. It’s a lot to go through, and we’re going to probably go through it fairly quickly.

 

So number one – Pastor Nick did a great job last week of talking about reaping and sowing. We sow carrots, we’re not going to get gold. We sow strawberries, we’re not going to get potatoes. What we sow is what we’re going to get, and in most cases we’re going to get more. But, number one, remember there is a natural delay between planting and harvesting – this is topic six I think right from your message, so this is kind of a carryover but it’s extremely important to understand how to wait on God. Sowing and reaping is a big part of waiting, you have to continue to sow. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 5 it says that, “There’s a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. A time to plant, a time to unroot, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.” That’s just many, I’m just kind of picking from here, there’s lots. But there’s a time for absolutely everything, and I thank God for that, there is a time for everything. And many of us through this series already be it that we’re on part seven, you guys have probably stepped out, been bold in your faith and have started planting and sowing seed. Maybe you’re sowing financial seeds, maybe you’re sowing the seeds of service our sacrifice. But you’re not going to see the result of those seeds immediately. We have to be willing like the farmer to wait and trust and patiently expect God’s promise to come through.

 

Number two – remember that there is an unseen battle going on. We don’t often pay much attention to that but it says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places.” There is a war going on whether you like to admit it or not. There’s a war between good and evil, there’s a war between angels and demons, there’s a war between our flesh and the spirit of God. And we’re caught in the middle of it regardless if we like to think so or not, we are in the middle of it, it says so. And we often don’t understand it, these are places that we can’t see. it’s in the spiritual realms, it’s a heavenly warfare. It’s almost daunting to think that, that we are a part of that, but our choices do count, and our obedience counts. So if you’re a child of God, and we need to learn this patience thing, this is being able to wait. This Satan character wants to mess your day up. He does not want you to wait.

 

If we continue to look at this verse in 6:12, the verse is saying that when we pray or when we expect things and we’re fighting these battles, the evil rulers are going to throw darts at us, they’re going to throw darts of doubt or discouragement, maybe disappointment, delay, depression. But it also says that because this verse is revealed to us that we should be aware of it, we should expect that. The truth is we don’t really see much else in Scripture and in the Bible, much more really about this spiritual warfare, but we get a glimpse of it in the Book of Daniel. Daniel 10: 11, 13 says, “And the man said to me,” he’s referring to an angel, “A man said to Daniel, ‘you are precious to God so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up for I have been sent to you.’ When he said this to me I stood up and was trembling. Then he said, ‘Don’t be afraid Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before God, your requests have been heard in heaven. I have come an answer to your prayer, but for twenty-one days the spirit of the prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. And then Michael, one of the archangels, came to help me and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia.'” There’s a battle going on, we don’t see it. We have angels waging war on our behalf because of Jesus Christ. But a free note to maybe write down, a delay is not a denial. There’s stuff going on that we don’t know.

 

Number three – remember God is preparing me for his blessing. God usually has a bigger and better idea in mind than we do. But he needs to prepare our hearts to be ready to receive. Usually he wants to strengthen our faith first. The first thing he does before he answers prayer usually for, let’s say a job, maybe some of your praying for jobs right now or a mate, a child, to get married, maybe to overcome an addiction, he first wants us to be ready because he is invested more in changing our character and our hearts. Like we kind of alluded to in the introduction, if he granted us everything we want ,I don’t know if that would produce a harvest in us that would glorify God. He wants to strengthen our faith and our character through preparing us. And sometimes we don’t like to be prepared. 1 Peter 1: 6 – 7 says, “There’s wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These troubles test your faith to show that it is strong and pure just as fire tests and purifies gold and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.”

 

I would raise my hand for this, but some of you like myself maybe are going through the fire right now. Don’t stop. If you are walking through hell keep walking, don’t stop, keep going. But remember when you’re waiting it’s always a test, this is a test of our faith, it’s test of our character, it tests our trust in God, and it tests our faith, our endurance, it tests lots of things. But remember while we wait that God is with us, till the end of the days he is with us, and he wants us to choose him. I don’t know why I’m adding this in because I’ve never experienced it, but Paul compares waiting on God to being pregnant. And the only reason why I’m adding this in is because I watched my wife go through this process, and I did not have much to contribute to this process except for at the beginning. But going through the process there was not much of me being able to do anything, so I had to watch this woman trust God through this process. Romans comes in, it says, “Waiting does not diminish us any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We don’t see what is enlarging us, but the longer we wait, the larger we become.” Spiritually guys, stay focused. And the more joyful our expectancy.

 

Meanwhile, when we get tired of waiting God’s spirit is right alongside of us helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter; he prays in us and for us. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, and knows our pregnant condition. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something for good. But I watched her do this exact process. You’re waiting, it’s a test. She could have not been enlarged necessarily, spiritually, she could have just… I don’t know what’s going to happen. But that’s not how mothers think, mothers are anxious, they’re joyful, they’re expecting this promise from God. I love that he uses that. We are to be enlarged by joy as we expect the promises of God as we wait. I love that They don’t call it expecting for nothing. You know what’s coming at some point I think, so let’s do that, let’s expect.

 

Number four – remember I’m in good company when I wait on God. Many, many, many, many saints and children of God have been in the same positions that we often go through. Hebrews 11:2,”Through their faith the people in the days of old earned a good reputation.” Joseph, 14 years in prison for a crime he didn’t even commit. Moses, 40 years in the desert and didn’t even get to go into the Promised Land. Abraham, that’s the one that really speaks to me. “I’ll give you nations numerous as the stars,” or a son at over a hundred years old that he had to patiently wait for. Noah, imagine being Noah. “What are you doing Noah?” “I’m just building a boat.” “What’s a boat?” “Well, it’s going to rain.” “What’s rain?” None of this has happened before. Imagine what people would think, what faith; what faith. And people earn their good reputation through this faith. It says Abraham’s faith is what makes him righteous. Even God waited thousands of years before he sent Jesus, it was the right time. Hebrews 6:15 says, “And so after waiting patiently Abraham received what was promised.”

We’re in good company, millions and millions of saints have gone before us. Some of them, actually most of them, have not yet got to see what we are so privileged in having available to us. We have the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God himself that came and bridged the gap and covered our sins. They did not have that and they waited patiently for God, and it was called to them as righteous because of their faith, being able to wait patiently. So remember you’re in good company while you’re waiting.

 

Number five – remember God always keeps his promises. Unlike others, maybe spouses, bosses, family members, we’ve all been let down. But you can count on God; God always comes through. So knowing some of this, what do we do if we trust and believe in the promises of God while we’re in the waiting room of life? And tell you what we shouldn’t do, we shouldn’t focus on our limits, our limited abilities. We shouldn’t focus on what we can’t do, we shouldn’t focus on what we can’t achieve, and we shouldn’t focus on what we don’t have. We should curb our focus and our perspective to what God has, what God can do, what God has done, and where he’s going to take us. I find if I focus on my limited ability as a man to see out of that hole that I dig becomes harder and harder. But if I trust in God’s promises and believe in what he says about me, what he thinks and plans for me to do, man, it lifts me right out of that hole. Anything is possible with Jesus Christ. And Habakkuk 2:3, which kind of segues into some freebies, “Put in writing because it is not yet time for it to come true. But a time is coming quickly and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in the coming, but wait for it. It will certainly take place and it will not be delayed.”

 

There’s over 7,000 promises in the word of God. While you’re waiting read them, meditate on them, remember them. It’s a great time when you’re waiting to invest in his promises, to memorize scripture. My wife hangs scripture on her mirror in her car, I don’t know how safe that is I think, but at the same time it’s there, it’s a place where she’s in and she reads. Put it on your mirror, put it in your wallet, put it wherever, but memorize scripture, it’s a great time to do that. to do that. So this leads into now four things of what we do, not what we need to remember, but what we do when we’re in the waiting room of life or waiting on God. And like I just said, – number one is this is an acronym it’s quite cute, W-A-I-T. Number one, the W is write down the lessons you learn. Waiting is a good season to break down and analyze “What is God showing me here?” To invest in his promises to read. What is God trying to show me? What is he trying to teach me? Remembering all the while that he’s interested in molding in you a character that resembles Jesus Christ, that changes your aroma. What happens if you don’t write stuff down? You forget it. My wife always sends me to the grocery store, I forget to write down her list and I always forget something, actually probably closer to 50% I forget.

 

When we forget them this is he danger. God is purposeful, he’s always intentional. He works in our life for a specific reason, and he will not stop until he has fulfilled that reason. It says in his word that he will not quit until his work is complete. So if you forget and don’t write down – writing down is just the principle, some people are really smart, they can remember everything; I can’t. But the key is not in necessarily writing it down, although it’ll help, but it’s not forgetting, because if you don’t forget what happens? You go around the mountain again. God will take you through these experiences again and again until you learn. And that is painful for most people, for me anyways. It’s not fun, it’s unnecessary pain if we would just heed his advice. Like Moses some of us right now are in that wilderness wandering around in the dry times. But don’t be discouraged, the dry times, the dry seasons waiting in the wilderness if you were, in the desert, is extremely purposeful. There is a purpose for you being there – learn, grow, write it down. The way to the promised land is always through the wilderness. Numbers 33:2 says, “After the Lords direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress. These are the stages of their march identified by the different places where they had stopped along the way.”

 

Write down and keep a record of what God shows you and reveals to you while you’re in this desert or wilderness. And I’m not talking about a diary, I’m not talking about “Jesse showed up with a mocha frappuccino for me at 10:30,” whatever, nobody cares about a diary. You would not buy me that by the way. But journaling is different than a diary. Journaling is things that you learn, that you write down. It’s a documented event of something that’s happened and that you’ve learned from that you want to remember. A diary is just emotions and things… anyways, you get my point. The difference is you don’t write down what you do; you write down what you learn. In Deuteronomy 11:2, The Good News Bible, I haven’t read this one in a while, but it just really says, “Remember today what you have learned about the Lord through your experiences with him. It was you, not your children, who had these experiences. You saw the Lord’s greatness, his power and his might.” If you don’t remember what God has done through your experiences with him, there’s more pain to follow because he’ll take you there again until you get it. A good prayer through this that I find is in Psalms 119:33, “Teach me Lord the way of your decrees that I might follow to the end.” It just keeps your focus on remembering that everything God does in and through us is extremely intentional and purposeful, even in the times we don’t like.

 

The A in wait, number two, act as though you already have it. So write down and act as though you already have it. We break that down, isn’t this really what faith is? Often we don’t have this expectancy in the promises of God, and our faith is not what people see when we go through these times, when we’re waiting on God. What people typically see is all the excuses and lies and humanness. We typically just waste time instead of be intentional. We wonder, “Why Lord, why?” Or we worry, “How Lord, how?” Are we whine, “When Lord, when? I want it now.” And we complain instead of acting in faith. Those three things will kill your faith. Trust God, believe in his promises. Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you whatever you ask for in prayer and believe that you have received it, it will be yours.” In season the change is in the tense – believe that you have received it, you have it. It’s not something coming, it’s not something that happened prior. If you believe it, you have it. So act as though we have it.

 

Back to the pregnant woman, she believes it’s coming. I don’t know why I chose this as my example, but it maybe fits, it proves my point. She is carrying a promise inside her and she is expecting that promise to come true even though she can’t see it, even though she doesn’t know what it’s going to be, the nursery is getting painted, the clothing, the gift certificates are getting purchased, there’s an expectancy that’s coming. Maybe you’re waiting for a job, the season that we’re in, the economic climate that we’re finding ourselves in maybe a job is important, it’s what you’ve been praying for, it’s what you’ve been waiting on God for. Maybe instead of “Why Lord? How Lord? and When Lord?” maybe it’s set your alarm, expect, get up earlier, act as if you have a job. Go through the motions, make yourself intentional, print out resumes, get out earlier in the morning. These are things that I think are practical, but at the same time we often don’t do that because we get trapped in the wilderness. We have to remember, and this is maybe a free note, that waiting doesn’t have to be passivity, we don’t have to be useless while we wait. We need to get prepared, we need to take the time while we wait to prepare our hearts and to prepare our attitudes to glorify God when it comes. Romans 4:17, “That is what the scriptures mean when God told them ‘I have made you the father of many nations.’ This happened because Abraham believed in God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.” Abraham, his name changed happened well before he was blessed with the heir and the line and the many nations that came from it. He was prepared, but the blessing followed. We have to understand that if we are prepared and we wait, and we act as though this is true, the results will come in his time he promises. So let’s get prepared and act as though these promises are filled.

 

The I, or the third way or things to do to wait on God is imitate the habits that grow strong faith. Surround yourself with people of strong faith. Take the time to develop personal maturity, focus on being the child that’s knows the difference between no and not yet. You don’t grow in faith by not hearing the testimony of those in faith. You grow in your faith by hearing the word of God through the people of God and through the word of God of course. But surround yourself by people that are faithful. Hear the testimonies of their faith and the miracles that God has done in their lives, they will strengthen your faith, I promise. And then imitate them. Paul says that word numerous times throughout the scripture, “Imitate me, imitate Jesus.” Hebrews 6:12, “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” Philippians 4:9, Paul, “Keep on putting into practice all you have learned from me and have heard from me and saw me doing.” Just because we’re waiting does not mean that it needs to be inactive, we don’t need to be inactive, we don’t need to be idle, it’s not laziness, although I enjoy being lazy sometimes. But it’s not passivity, it’s not apathy; it’s an opportunity for us to develop great habits, it’s an opportunity for us to develop life skills that will honor God and keep our hearts and our minds in the right place.

 

So before we move on to the last part of the acronym, I got five faith building habits that I’d like to throw right in the middle of this that you can find supported scripturally. You can read it through all the scripture, but this will help us in growing and developing the skills that we need to do while we’re waiting on God. Number one is keep on praying. The power of prayer. Matthew 7:7 says, “Keep on asking and you will be given what you ask for, keep on looking and you will find, keep on knocking and the door will be opened.” But keep on praying. The prayers of a righteous man avails much. Keep your heart on God and trusting in him through prayer. If our hearts and our desire is on him we can confidently walk through any desert.

 

Number two, keep on serving. It’s not always about us, and you’ll find very quickly that as soon as you take your eyes off of you and put your eyes onto something other than your stuff, you will find value that you didn’t know was there. Keep on serving. Romans 12:11, “Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Serve his people, serve his church, serve his children. I think this is where you get the term waiter and waitress from, because waiting means to serve as well, to wait on someone. I will say this, if some of you are not serving please do. And some of you that are serving right now and find yourself in a wilderness of its own because it’s becoming mundane or it’s not the same or it’s just obstacle after obstacle when you’re serving, don’t wait for your ministry to become great, just make it great. Don’t focus on the uncontrollables, put that in the hands of God, and just be a good and faithful servant and your ministry will grow.

 

Number three, keep on going to church or attending life groups. Often when we face obstacles in life we pull back, we retract. When we’re facing struggles and hurdles we box ourselves in. We are communal-created, God wants us to be with others. This is his body, if you choose to stay home we’re all missing a piece. And everything is intentional and purposeful and designed in the body of God to glorify him. Our life groups are important, we grow in relationships to each other. We stand in the gap for each other, we pray for each other, we grow together. Hebrews 10:25, “Not giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but meet together and encourage one another.” We are created to be together, we are created to look outside of ourselves and lift each other up as brothers and sisters of Christ. If you find yourself pulling back and are stuck in your box, make a phone call, join a life group, continue to come to church.

 

Pastor Nick would love this one, number four, keep on sowing. Ecclesiastes 11:6, “Do your planting in the morning and in the evening too. You never know whether it will grow well or whether one planting will do better than another.” Good seeds are good seeds, you never know what’s going to happen, we leave that up to God; but keep sowing, don’t stop sowing. Don’t get caught in the why, the how, the what, just faithfully trust God and keep on sowing good, keep on sowing love, keep on sowing patience, kindness, gentleness, the fruit of the spirit will grow. And it’s not up to you to alleviate your burden of that; it’s up to God, and he’s got it, believe me, he’s got it. I love that verse though because it says you’ll never know which one will grow; I love that. And I’ve seen that in my life where one simple act of kindness three years down the road has turned into a heart that’s on fire for God, it’s just amazing.

 

Number five – keep on believing. 2 Timothy 3:14, “But as for you, continue in the truths that you were taught and firmly believe.” We need to believe. Believing is the beginning of faith. My heart’s cry is that we believe today, that we believe in who and what Jesus Christ is and what he’s done for each and every one of us. The confidence and the trust and the life that he has set for us moving forward is radically different when we allow him to pour his spirit into our lives, change us, renew our minds and transform our hearts. We need to believe, we need to have faith in him, not faith in what he can do for us, faith in him and what he’s already done for us.

 

So back to the acronym, number four or the T in wait – Trust God instead of panicking. After learning and reading what we’ve learned today there’s two things that we can count and trust on God for – number one, God’s never in a hurry; number two – God is never late. His timing is always perfect. If it seems like he’s late, remember he’s preparing you for the blessing, he’s preparing you for the miracle. One of the amazing stories in Scripture is when Jesus healed Lazarus, brought him back to life. He could have run there, it took him three days, like “Come, he’s sick, come.” Patience. He had a plan, he knew what he was doing. Jesus walked up to the tomb, rolled away the stone, he said, “Lazarus, come forth.” I’m glad he said Lazarus by name, if he would have just said “come forth,” everybody that was dead at the time would have just rose up. But he called him by name, come forth, and Lazarus woke up out of his sleep, started walking out. And it’s interesting to me as Jesus was walking to the tomb, the people around him overheard him praying to the Father. And Jesus says, “I thank you that you’ve already heard me, Father I thank you that you’ve already heard me.” He knew, God knows you too. He knows what you’re going through, he knows the anticipations and the anxiety in your hearts, he knows the hopes and the desires that you have. But you can trust him, and he doesn’t need to be in a hurry. Remember that it’s a time to prepare and work on the things that are going on inside so you can be ready when he wants to raise you back to life. That makes me so glad, it makes me just relaxed; the burden is gone.

 

Psalms 56:3, “But when I’m afraid I will put my trust in you.” Some of us here today are waiting for the fear of the unknown to go away, and it won’t. We as people of faith need to move against fear. Perfect love casts out fear, you don’t, perfect love does. We need to rise up against it through love, through what Christ has given us. Change the perspective. Some of you are waiting for God; God is waiting for you. When you’re in a waiting season God is waiting for you to move, he’s waiting for you to step out, he’s waiting for you to rise up in faith and his promises against your fears; he’s waiting for you. So change your thought process and use it as an opportunity to prepare your hearts. I heard this a long time ago and I find it very fitting – God can’t direct a parked car. I think I heard it after Carrie Underwood did the Jesus Take the Wheel thing, but it’s so true. God will take over, but we’re not giving him control, we’re not allowing for him to move in our lives because we’re not moving in him. So while we’re waiting don’t give up, do not give up. Do not put your life on hold in this season of the wilderness or the desert or waiting on God. And remember that he’s waiting on you, step out, be bold, have daring faith. In closing, Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

 

Let’s pray. Dear lord I thank you so much that you care for your people, that you care more about our hearts than you do about the temporal things we desire. I thank you Lord that you have made a way for us to trust you. You’ve given us your word, you’ve given us promises, you’ve given us your amazing grace and mercies new every day. Just fill our hearts Lord with the reality that our faith needs to be active even while we wait. I thank you Lord that you mold our hearts and you stir up in us the things that allow us to grow even in the times that we feel dry and in the wilderness Lord. But I thank you that if we put our hope and trust in you, that when we come out the other side we are a pleasure to you, we are stronger than when we went in, our faith is increased, our hope in you is confirmed even more. So Father God we just give all of the things that we have burdening us right now to you. We do not want to be people that do not learn while we wait. We want to honor you in all we do. So Father God I pray for those who are struggling right now Lord, I pray that you nudge them to step out in boldness for you Lord, to trust in you and to move closer to you and to your people and to your word. And for those that don’t know you Lord I pray that they could come to know you Lord, that their hearts be open to a personal savior that has given everything so that we can have everything. And all it takes is to just believe and have faith in Jesus Christ. Father God I thank you for who you are, I thank you for what you’ve done. I pray a special blessing on your people today, in Jesus name I pray, amen.

Victory Church of Red Deer

 

 

 

Daring Faith Pt 6

I want to read a passage of scripture to you from Galatians chapter 6. And I know that on the PowerPoint you have a passage of scripture from New American Standard Bible, but I just want to read it from the King James; I’m old-school. Galatians chapter 6 beginning at verse number 6 – “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the spirit shall off the spirit reap life everlasting.”

 

Let’s pray. Father we thank you for your word. Lord I love you word, and I pray this morning that you’d help us to really listen to what you have to say to us. And I pray Lord God that that I will be able to communicate Lord God what I believe what the spirit of God is saying to us at this time. Lord I know this is a series that we’ve been into for the last while, and I thank you for the various speakers that we’ve had, I thank you for each and every one of them. And Lord God for the other speakers that are going to be speaking in the in the weeks to come Lord I just pray that anointing of the spirit of God would be upon them to be able to minister the word of God, because Lord God’s standing behind this music stand, pulpit, Lord God is so serious that we can’t take this lightly. And I pray this morning that God as the word of God goes forth minister to our hearts, may Lord God our hearts be open to receive and to make the changes that are necessary in our own personal walk with you. We thank you and we praise you for it in Jesus name, Amen.

 

Daring to sow in faith is about sowing and reaping. Seed time and harvest time – this is something that God actually instituted, something that God created. Genesis 8:22 says this, and I want you to really pay attention that verse. I want you to look at it very carefully because this is what it says, “Well the earth remains seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” So if you are in a place where you hate winter it says here it will never cease. Whether we like it or not, it says in the word of God and it says in the first book of the Bible, Genesis 8, so don’t you forget it.

 

Seed time and harvest time, this is something that God has instituted, this is God’s law of seed and harvest. The interesting part about that too is that there are laws that govern both seed and harvest. And there are certain people that experience this all the time, it plays out with them all the time, and that is a farmer and a gardener. I come from a farm and I experience this every year. Growing up as kids we had a garden, and as we got older we had to have more so we had to have another garden. And these are not just small little gardens, they were big gardens, because you grow up, you want more food so you had to sow more seed and then of course you’d have more of a harvest so you have plenty of food, and that’s the way it is. And so scripture uses the farmer and gardener metaphor to illustrate our lives, our Christian lives. Look what Galatians 6:7 says, and I’m going to be referring to this verse quite a bit today. “For whatever a man sows this he will also reap.” Really may the spirit of God drive this into our hearts; this is serious stuff. So if I don’t kid around a whole lot today… I’ll probably do it every so often. But this is a serious topic.

 

When you look at that verse, at this statement, it says that sowing and reaping are connected; what you sow is what you reap. So we cannot ignore the laws of sowing and reaping in our lives, for either it will bless us or harm us. I want you to remember that – it will either bless us or harm us. And the laws of sowing and reaping is really connected in every area of our lives, we can’t run away from that. It affects us in our relationships, our finances, careers, health, and building your talent. And we’re going to be mentioning some other things as the message goes on. So therefore, we need to look at the specific laws that govern sowing and reaping. It is very critical that we understand this law of sowing and reaping because it affects us personally and the people around us. We must never underestimate this topic. And so often we don’t think seriously about it, because we think in terms like, “Ah, no big deal.” That’s what we think. But sowing and reaping is a very important topic. So today I’m going to challenge you, and I hope I can, by the spirit of God, first that you need to have daring faith when it comes to sowing good seed into your life and people around you. And secondly, realizing that there are laws that we cannot run away from. It doesn’t matter how we want to think, that maybe somehow it can bypass us, no it won’t.

 

Law number one – everything starts as a seed; everything starts as a seed. This was God’s design right from the very beginning. Genesis 1:11 says, “Then God said let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them, and it was so.” God bathed these plants, the vegetation, and they had seed so they can reproduce themselves. And this is true with us too as our own personal lives. In Galatians 6 and 7, “Do not deceive, God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” So we do so seeds, and there’s all kind of seeds – ideas, dreams, time, money, appreciation, wisdom, words, praise, good advice. And there’s another one, you are here today, how in the world did you come here? How did you get to this earth? Well, your father seed connected to your mother’s egg and life began, and here you are. Everything starts with a seed, and these seeds have value, the in itself has value, but it has far more value when you actually plant it or give it away. Like for instance, praise, good advice, love, words – the thing is, when it is actually given away it produces something, its benefiting someone else, it has incredible value. Look at one example at Proverbs 16:24, listen to this verse, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” That’s talking about words. Words are powerful, and pleasant words are a honeycomb sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. So everything starts with a seed, or as a seed; that’s law number one.

 

Law number two says this – seed must be planted; seed might be must be planted. So first of all, nothing happens until something happens to the seed. Every spring, whatever seeds, carrots, potatoes, whatever they might be, peas, beans. And they come in these very interesting looking packages, and the pictures on them are beautiful, they’re just gorgeous pictures. Could you imagine if you just said to yourself, “Wow, look at these packages, aren’t they’re amazing? Look at the pictures. We’re just going to put it on the shelf and we’re going to look at it every day.” Does it do anything? No. All it does is just impress you with the pictures, but it doesn’t do anything. You have to plant that seed, or you’ve got to give it away, otherwise it is there by itself. John 12:24 says, “Truly I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The moment you plant that seed into the ground a miracle begins to take place, something begins to happen. Or when you give that seed away to someone, something begins to take place. There’s going to be a harvest.

 

But there’s a second part to this. As believers in Christ when we actually plant seeds of love or whatever it might be, we need to sow in faith. The Bible says in Mark 4:26 – 27, and Jesus was saying this and he said, “The kingdom of God is like a man who cast seed upon the soil, and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day and the seed sprouts and grows; how? He himself does not know.” Just imagine, after you have planted the seed, you’ve planted the seed and nothing seems to happen and so you say to yourself, “You know what, I don’t know whether my wife does this, I hope she doesn’t do this.” Well, you just decide, “You know what, we got to figure this out so I’m going to take a shovel or spade and I’m going to start digging to see what’s happening with the seed.” Is that what we do? No. It says here this particular person, he sowed the seed and he went to bed, he was not worried what was going to happen. He just simply believe the seed that he sowed he’s going to have a crop, he’s going to harvest down the road. And so it is with us, we’re to believe that what we sow, especially good seed, that it’s going to bear fruit. We got to believe it because we got to believe God; that’s who we believe in.

 

I think of the carrots that we planted this past year as well, and I didn’t do much planning at all because of my arm. But anyway, but I remember the carrots the carrots after they were planted and they took it seemed like forever, nothing was happening. I said, “Dear, it’s going to grow, sooner or later it’s going to grow.” Because according to God’s plan you sow a seed, it’s going to grow eventually. And I encouraged her, I said, “One of these days it’s going to happen.” And sure enough all of a sudden the ground start to crack and you begin to see the shoot come up, that was the beginning, hallelujah. So we have carrots, we have lots of carrots; we have lots of carrots, praise God.

 

But when it comes to sowing good seeds into people’s lives, into our own lives, it’s not about it’s not about feelings, it’s about doing it. Whether I feel like it or not, I sow seed and I believe God, that God is going to bring the harvest in. It’s going to start growing, things are going to happen. The Bible says in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not lose heart in doing good for in due time we well reap if we do not grow weary.” So we’ve got to sow seeds. A lot of times we are, but we got to believe that it’s going to bear, there’s going to be a crop. So when do I sow? Well, let me tell you this, don’t wait for Christmas but do it now. That is a saying and so I’m saying that to you – don’t wait for another day to sow the word of God into your life. Begin to sow the word into your life, begin to do it every day, don’t do it just occasionally but do it every day. Begin to sow love into other people’s lives. God’s word is so essential for us. The Bible says be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How do you do that? You need God’s word, you need to take that and sow it into your life and it will bring the changes about that needs to happen.

 

A lot of things what I do actually, I do this a lot more than I used to. When I take scripture every morning and I go through the verses, one of my prayers is this, “God, I pray that this word is going to transform me, that it’s going to do something in my life.” I’m taking it seriously then. I’m not just simply taking the word and I read it, “Oh, I’m done.” No. Take it, pray over it, “God I am trusting that what I’m sowing this morning is going to bear fruit in my life.” That’s God’s will, and we need to take this thing seriously in Jesus name. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.” One of our biggest problems in our lives is that stinking word call procrastination, it’s a stinking word, sorry about that, but it is because we procrastinate, we put it off, we put it off. No. It’s time to get busy; especially in this hour.

 

Law number three – when in need plant a seed; when in need plant a seed. Just think of the farmer, springtime is coming and so he knows the time is coming when he’s going to sow the seed, but it’s obviously a need. He gets his machinery all ready, he looks at his bin and there’s a lot of grain in those bins he’s got. He looks at the field and it’s barren. Obviously there’s a need here, he needs to have that thing planted because if he doesn’t plant it, it stays in the bin and it doesn’t do anything; eventually it’ll rot. That’s right, eventually it’ll rot. And so therefore he has to plant it, he’s got to plant it.

 

Many of us, we want God to bless us without sowing anything; that’s how we live. We expect God to come on the scene and pour out his blessing on us and we haven’t sown a thing. This is serious stuff. We pray, “God, meet my financial needs.” But we do not tithe, we don’t tithe and we expect God to jump at our command. If you need more energy, if I need more energy, do you know what I need to do? I need to use the energy that I’ve got so I can get more. It’s true because I hear people talking about, “Oh, I’m so tired.” I’m saying to myself, “It’s about time you use the energy you have and use it so you can have more energy.” I’m not talking to Perry, you’re out of the question buddy. If you need more love in your life, if you really need more love in your life it’s time that you give away what you’ve got. Do you know the interesting part about that? I said to someone or I was talking to someone just the other day, we’re talking about this whole idea – I’m not trying to point fingers at anyone please, this message is not designed for that at all, because I’m talking to myself as well. I said to someone, “I don’t have much in the way of friends, like real close friends.” I’m admitting something to you right now. But when I do, I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m not waiting for people to love on me. What I do is I give out what I’ve got. I can’t wait folks, I can’t wait for others to come to me, I’ve got to give what I’ve got. I was sharing this with Matt I think it was, we were talking about this very thing because it’s essential – you give what you’ve got and you’re going to reap a harvest. It is essential that we don’t wait for anybody else but step out and do it; just do it. God is going to reward you for it. When in need use what you have. If you need more money then learn to give absolutely.

 

Matthew 25:14 -15 says this, “For it’s just like a man about to go on a journey who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, each according to his own ability, and he on his journey.” You know the story, the guy who had five talents he did something with it. The guy who had two talents, he did something with it as well, they add more afterwards. And that’s what basically this thing is saying to us, that when you’re in need use what you’ve got and give it away or sow it somewhere, and you’ll have more.

 

Law number four – whatever I sow I will reap. Now we’re getting into dangerous ground, because now we’re talking about reproducing after its own kind. Galatians 6:7 says this again, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows this he will also reap.” Genesis 1:24 – 25 says this, “Then God said, let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind, and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind. And God saw that it was good.” Now, this is talking about the good things. Snakes reproduce after their kind, chickens reproduce after their kind, and the list goes on and on. We planted carrots, we didn’t get snakes, we got carrots. Peas were sown, we got peas. Wouldn’t it be just horrible, you plant things that you don’t know what to expect, that’d be horrible, what a way to live.

 

But that’s not what God designed. God designed that everything will reproduce after its kind. But this truth, number two, works both ways. What you dish out is what you’re going to get in return. What you dish out is what you’re going to get in return. Depending on the seed that you sow, because it can work for you or against you. This is getting serious folks. Look what the scripture says, some of the negative examples in the scripture. These are just a few – Job 4:8 from the New Living Translation it says this, “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” Proverbs 22:8 says, “Those who plant injustice will harvest disaster.” Hosea 10:13 says, “But you have cultivated wickedness and harvested a thriving crop of sins.” This is really trouble.

 

But then there’s also positive examples in scripture. Hosea 10:12 says this, “I said plant the good seeds of righteousness and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow the hard ground of your hearts for now is the time to seek the Lord that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.” Proverbs 11:18 – 19, “Evil people get rich for the moment, but the reward of the godly will last. Godly people find life evil people find death.” James 3:18, “And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.” So the question is, what are you sowing? What are you sowing in your life and the people around you? This is serious stuff. What kind of seeds are you sowing in your relationships, your wife, your husband, your friends, your children, your business, your workplace? What kind of seeds are you sowing? Are your sowing seeds of trust or sowing seeds of distrust? Are you sowing seeds of kindness, or are you sowing seeds of crankiness, anger, bitterness, meanness, disobedience, rebellion? Are you sowing seeds that build up or seeds that tear down?

 

This is very true – you sow anger in your home and you’ll reap angry children. You sow patience and kindness and you’ll reap this in your children. If you sow irresponsibility, you cannot reap success. This is serious folks. If you sow laziness you will not reap rewards. There’s a story in the Bible about a man by the name of Jacob, and I’m not going to go through the whole story, but here’s Jacob who is the father of 12 tribes of Israel whose name means ‘supplanter’ which means ‘who lived by deceit’, who cheated his brother and his father, and who himself was cheated by his father-in-law. I like the Message Bible that translates Galatians 6:7 and 8, and this is what it says, “Don’t be misled. Though no one makes a fool of God, what a person plants he will harvest.” The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others, ignoring God, harvests a crop of weeds. All he have to show for his life is weeds. But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvest a crop of real life, eternal life. That’s what this law is saying, and it’s true.

 

Law number five says I am not the only sower. I don’t know whether I want to go on any further, because this gets really hard because this is serious stuff. I am not the only sower. In John 4:38 it says, “I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant. Others had already done the work and now you will get together the harvest.” So you know what it’s saying there is the good seed. You talk about the gospel, you sow these seeds of the gospel, someone comes along and waters it, another person comes along and they reap. But that is also true on the other side as well. There are sowers before us. It’s great for the good seed, but the truth is about the bad seed as well. I’ll tell you this, this is hard stuff because some of us have grown in families with a history of verbal, emotional and physical abuse, history of alcoholics, drugs, adultery, divorce, sexual promiscuity, fornication, and the cycle goes on, there’s so many things. And it’s been planted, sown in the past, and here you are, you’re reaping. You’re wondering why things are not changing, you’re trying to go in this direction but you keep going back to the same way that your parents lived or your grandparents or your great-grandparents. This is a generational stuff, so they’re more sowers in your life, and it affects you whether you like it or not. That is truth, that is real stuff, we’re not playing games here, this is real stuff.

 

I was talking to someone not too long ago who said to me, “I am so fed up with a history of divorce. It’s been in my generations. And here I am, I’m going to experience the same thing.” I said, “No you don’t. You can put a stop to it in Jesus name. You can put a stop to that generational stuff.” It can be broken. We sang this morning Chain Breaker, Jesus is the chain breaker, and this stuff can stop in Jesus name, I don’t care what it is.  We don’t have to continue that road or that kind of lifestyle. You can put a stop to it, but you’ve got to recognize it. Let me say this, you’ve got to recognize what it is, you’ve got to repent concerning your parents, your grandparents, you have to stand in the gap, you have to repent for them. And then you have to forgive them, and then you have to renounce this stuff, you got to name it and you got to renounce it in Jesus name. And then what you have to do is by faith put the cross of Jesus Christ between yourself and this stuff, because what you’re doing is declaring death over this problem or these things that have influenced your life. In Jesus name you can do it, I’ve seen it work, and it works. And now what you pray then, “God I pray in Jesus name give me new life, new thoughts, new ideas how to live, the resurrection of life. May you birth in me new ideas, new ways to live in Jesus name.” And he will, he’ll give it to you. This is serious stuff, but it works.

 

The key is right now you are sitting here and everything you do from this day forward there are consequences. You’re the one who are laying the groundwork for future generations, and so therefore I’ve got to do it right. I got to learn how to sow good seeds, not continue the bad seeds from the past. There’s life folks. There is freedom, we sing about freedom. But so many of us are stuck in prison with some of these things and we can’t unlock the door. But glory to God, there’s a chain breaker that can break this free from us in Jesus name. What kind of legacy do you want to have or to leave? One with faith or doubt or fear?

 

Law number six – I always reap in a different season than I sow. The thing is when you think of the garden, I go back to it because we plant a garden every year. What you sow in the springtime you reap in the late summer or fall, in a different season. And that applies to everything we do. Ecclesiastes 3:2 says, “There’s a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” So in other words, you don’t necessarily reap that same season, you’ll reap in a different season. You will reap maybe a year down the road, maybe two years down the road, maybe three years down the road. It’s interesting about some people, they say, “Yeah, there’s been bad stuff but it hasn’t affected us at all.” But you know what, the truth is you will reap what you sow in a different season. And then sometimes, like tomatoes for instance, that’s a good example – you have tomatoes going on the branch. You’ve got a tomato plant and all these tomatoes. It’s interesting how some ripen and others don’t. But eventually they will ripen. Even in one season you can have all these things happening, it’s just one thing after another, problems after problems. So what we sow, we will reef in a different season.

 

Law number seven – I always reap more than I sow; I always reap more than I sow. I think of potatoes. I think of potatoes because we plant potatoes every year. You plant one seed and when you dig it up in the fall time you have 10,12, and they come in all different sizes and so forth. But there’s no question you will reap more than you sow, that’s why the farmer plants in the springtime what he’s got because in the fall he’s going to have a lot more. And that is true with sin as well. We sometimes think, one little small sin, that’s no big deal, no big deal. We think nothing of it, and guess what? That little small thing that you thought was nothing eventually begins to grow, and before you know it now it’s affecting my children, and before you know it my children get a hold of this stuff and it affects their lives and now they’re affected by the very thing that I started which I thought nothing of at the time. And now it’s affecting my future generations to come. And then it just gets worse. It never stays at a certain size, it keeps growing, it’s like that tree. It started with a small seed but it keeps on growing it gets bigger and bigger, the branches get bigger and the tree keeps growing. And the same applies to bad seed – it never stops.

 

But you can stop it, you can stop it praise God. Gossiping – I know I’m stepping on stuff. But gossip, there people who gossip. Guess what can happen to you? You will reap a crop of gossip about you. We’ve got to stop these things, repent of it and begin to sow good seed. Mark 4:8 says, “Other seeds fell into the ground into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased they yielded a crop and produce thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.” That is true for the good side, but it’s also true for the bad. What kind of seed are you sowing?

 

Law number eight, and the last one – I increase my harvest by sowing more seed. This is the law of proportion in its play. So if I want more, if I want more good things happen in my life I need to sow more. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. And he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” I didn’t say that; I just repeated what God’s word says. Do you know what the problem with a lot of us is? We sow little, but we want God to be generous. We sow little but we want God to be generous. We want God to just pour out barrels or truckloads of blessing on us, and all we’ve done is just a little sowing. It says here he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully; guess what? God is calling upon us to be generous. Begin to sow generosity and God will bless you.

 

The Bible says this, he who waters will be watered himself. That’s what the word of God says. So it is crucial for us to learn to be generous, step out, this is talking about stepping out in faith, doing it. You want God to bless you in your finances, guess what? You’ve got to step out and say, “You know what? I know times are tough, it’s hard but I’m going to put God first. I’m going to continue sowing that seed. I’m going to keep on doing it. I’m going to keep on doing it whether I feel like it or not. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to do it.” And God will bless; that’s my God.

 

We’ve gone through tough times, believe you me. We’ve had instances in our lives where it was we didn’t have much of anything. I remember, and I’ve shared this story before, but I remember having 10 cents in my pocket. That was Sunday afternoon. My wife says, “Are we going to church tonight?” That was our lifestyle – I didn’t care whether it was snowing or hailing or storming, whatever, we went to church. And the people that we led to Christ, they saw this and now they’re doing the same thing. What you sow is what you reap. You want people in your life, your children to be faithful, you as a parent need to be faithful, you’ve got to sow faithfulness. That is true folks, or else you’re going to produce exactly what you have sown – if it’s negative, it’ll be negative, if it’s positive it’ll be positive; it can be changed, it’s true. And so I remember that very night or that day when my wife said to me, “Are we going to church?” I said, “We’re going to church.” And because we stepped out and did it with even 10 cents and the gas tank said it was almost empty, God blessed us. God blessed us from sources that I never even thought of.

 

If you put God first, if you keep sowing, keep sowing righteousness, keep sowing faith, keep sowing kindness, love, mercy, obedience, God will pour out righteousness upon you over and over and over again. God is for you; he’s not against you. In 2 Corinthians 9:10 it says, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” Proverbs 11:24, “There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more.” And there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in what?

 

Are you happy with your life? Are you happy with the way things are? You can change it. You can change the way things are going on in your life by simply saying, “God, I’m so sorry that I’ve been a cheapskate.” I haven’t used that word for a long time. But if we want God to bless us then we’ve got to stop being cheapskates, start giving what you’ve got. As I said before you want more love, give it away. The gates are saying that song called Give it Away. But you know what, one thing that I believe in, I have clothes and I’ve given clothes away, I’ve given cars away. I’ve given cars away, I’ve given clothes away. My wife sometimes has said, “Come on Nick, don’t do that. It costs money.” Carolyn, do you want to share? Can you share you share with me concerning finances what you share with us, can you remember that? Come over here, because this is good. Can you give us at least five minutes?

 

Carolyn: A few years ago, well a number of years ago…

 

Pastor Nick: This has to do with that those people that gave that quilt away.

 

Carolyn: I was going to tell you another good one. Duane was looking at donations and he’d asked my daughter, she owns a quilt store and she makes quilts and that, and he had asked her if she could donate something towards this raffle. And so she said yes, she would. So anyway, she went and she gave him this quilt, and when he brought it he actually gave it to me to keep and then he says to me, “It’s worth $650 so I’m not going to put it in there. I think what we’ll do is put raffle tickets on it.” But I’m thinking to myself, “Myrna, why would you give a $650 quilt away when all you needed to do was just make a little dress or scarf or something like that around Christmas?” And I’m thinking this to myself, I didn’t say it to her. But as we were studying in daring faith and whatnot, and it was like God showed me you give away, you get back what you give away. And he said “test me”. And I’m thinking, “Oh my God. Forgive me for even thinking the way I was.” And so then I went and I text my daughter and I said, “Myrna.” And then I told her what I was thinking and I said, “Because you gave that $650 quilt away your business is going to be blessed.” So that was all I said, and then pretty soon she phones me back a day or so later and she said, “Mom, I showed the girls, my staff, I showed the girls that text that you sent me.” And she said they both started to cry and they’re not Christians. So we don’t know where what we say or what we do is going to help somebody else along.”

 

It is so crucial, what we sow we’re going to reap, and you never know because when you’re sowing seeds, you’re sowing for people that you know and people that you don’t know. And so that’s why I believe the clothing zone, Sharon, God has put you in a very strategic place, and I believe that God is going to bless you as you keep sowing. And even pray that what you say that God is going to bless it, take it and it’ll cause people to change. Father I pray for Sharon and the clothing zone right now in Jesus name. I pray Lord God that you would bless Sharon right now, and God that she sees herself sowing good seeds unto people that are coming from other countries of the world, people from Syria, from Bangladesh, or from any other country Lord. I pray that she sees herself sowing good seeds into these people’s lives, and Lord God that she will bear a harvest, she will reap a harvest to the glory of God. I thank you and I praise you for it, in Jesus name.

 

And this afternoon that is the challenge to you. It’s time that you stop what you’re doing, sowing bad seeds. Or if you haven’t sown the seeds that you should in your life, repent and say, “God forgive me that I’ve been disobedient to you. I know that I should have done this, but I haven’t. But today I repent of it and I ask for you to help me to be able to sow good seed.” And God will bless you. Father we just thank you, and we give you praise again. Father I pray that these people begin to see themselves sowing good seed and believing for reward, believing for a good harvest in Jesus name. That we’re not just doing it blindly, but God even if it is blindly, but we’re going to believe anyway, and that God you’re going to bless us accordingly. We give you praise and we give you thanks in Jesus name, amen and amen, glory to God.

Victory Church of Red Deer

Daring Faith Pt5

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – Daring Faith Pt 5 – Jarrud Gilbert

 

So I was driving in this morning, praying in my mind and thinking about the message, wondering if God is going to step up like he always does, because we like to wonder about that even though he’s always there and always will be and will never leave or forsake us. And on the radio pop, this little blurb on 90.5, some of you guys might have heard it this morning. I’m not even sure what the ad was for I really wasn’t paying attention, but I did catch a story about this young granddaughter that was doing something and the granddad saw her and he’s like, “No, you can’t do that. Don’t do that.” And she said, “Sorry grandpa.” And so he turned away and no sooner did he turn away and then she did it again, and he turned back, he said, “Sweetheart, don’t do that, you can’t do that.” And so she looked up in his eyes and said, “Sorry grandpa, sorry.” He’s like, “OK.” He turned away, and of course, as soon as he turned away she did it again. And this went on and on, and then she did it one more time and grandpa at this point is human like any of us who’ve encountered children, you pet them and try not to strangle them with the other hand. He says, “I have told you time and again not to do that.” “Sorry grandpa.” “Sorry is not enough,” he says to her. And immediately he was struck by a voice from the Lord that said, “Really? Sorry is not enough?”

 

How many times does our Lord accept our apologies and just love us into change? So anyway, that was just a realization for me this morning how much grace… you talk about grace, you talk about mercy and you talk about the power that God gives us to change. And part of the power is the freedom that he gives us by just continually loving us. “OK, you’re sorry. OK, I love you.” “Yes, OK you’re sorry. Yes, I love you.” We were singing that song this morning, Break Every Chain –  his name has that power. And I’m talking to you this morning about daring faith and daring to commit. So I want to commit to something, but I’m going to have the chains broken off of me. Think of something in this world that has that same dynamic. When you commit to your work, is it a commitment without chains? Is there a binding contract that you’re under? When you enter into holy matrimony is there a contract with that or some sort of chain? You’re committing and you’re chained. Chained maybe sounds like a harsh word because I don’t think of myself as chained to my wife. She might think she’s chained to me sometimes.

 

But God asks us to commit to him, and then he takes all the chains and he goes pfft. Wow, there’s something I want to commit to. Commit to me and be free, that’s what he’s saying. Your life is shaped by your commitments, we become whatever we are committed to. If we’re committed to nothing, we become nothing. There’s lots of people out in the world that have no commitments to anything, and where is their lives going? Hopefully to serve the kingdom of God, eventually somebody will sow the seed that will bring them there I pray Lord Jesus, please. But many people are afraid of commitment. Why? Why would we be afraid of committing to something? Lots of different reasons, but that fear or that fear of commitment, it causes them to miss out on so many great things. If we don’t give fully to something how do we expect to fully reap out of that. If we sort of halfway say, “I guess I’m going to sort of drive this morning.” You half open the door, one arm on the wheel, the door is open ready to jump out and walk at any moment. I don’t know if that’ll turn out so well. If I have committed to be at my job, I’m supposed to be there in only eight hours a day, five days a week, but I only show up for 20 of those hours, I don’t think I’m going to end up with a job after a short time.

 

In Romans 6:13 it says, “Give yourselves completely to God every part of you, for you have been back to life and you want to be tools in the hands of God used for his good purposes.” I’m sorry, I just want to pray right now. I forgot to pray at the start. I just want to pray Lord God, I just want to thank you for being here this morning. I want to thank you for your spirit being among us. God, I thank you for opening up our hearts to hear your message this morning. I pray that my lips my tongue, my mind, every part of me would be your instrument this morning God, that your message would not be hindered by my flesh. I thank you and I praise you Lord this morning, and I just thank you Lord for breaking every chain, in Jesus name, amen.

 

Romans 12:1 says, “Since God has shown us great mercy offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.” The New Century version, that’s at this point my favorite version, I love them. Picture this, the Olympic Games, Mexico 1968, the marathon is the final event on the program, the Olympic Stadium is packed and there’s excitement as the first athlete, an Ethiopian runner, enters the stadium. The crowd erupts as he crosses the finish line. Way back in the field is another runner, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania. He has been eclipsed by the other runners, and after 30 kilometers his head is throbbing, his muscles are aching and he falls to the ground. He has serious leg injuries and the officials want him to retire, but he refuses. With his knees bandaged Akhwari picks himself up and he hobbles the remaining 12 kilometers to the finish line. An hour after the winner has finished Akhwari enters the stadium, all but a few thousands of the crowd have gone home, Akhwari moves around the track at a painstakingly slow pace until finally he collapses over the finish line. It’s one of the most heroic efforts of Olympic history. And afterward when asked by a report why he had not dropped out, Akhwari replied, “My country did not send me to start the race, they sent me to finish.”

 

There are five commitments that will impact your eternity that I’m going to talk about this morning. The first commitment that I want to talk to you about is a commitment to strengthen your faith, and to strengthen your faith you must unite with others in worship. There’s simply two benefits to uniting with others in worship. Did you guys feel at least one of those benefits this morning after this worship session that we just had? We are so blessed to have the worship team that we do, you guys are very awesome. Worshiping with others renews my strength. In Isaiah chapter 40:31 it says, “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” Give me some of that. The other thing is worshiping with others restores my joy. Psalms 100:2 says, “Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him singing with joy.” Just two benefits to uniting with others in worship.

 

So, in doing my research for this I came across this song, and I don’t typically do this in a message, but I’d actually like you guys to listen to it, just listen to it. Maybe they’ll put the words up when it’s playing here, but so worth the long song, I mean really, isn’t that the story of each of our hearts? I watched an interview with a gentleman singing there, and you could tell when he’s talking about writing the song, he seems kind of speechless, he doesn’t know how to describe in words how he feels about what God has done, how he’s created this world and how he sent his son here to die for our sins so that we could have the relationship with God that we should have; how overwhelming is that? God could have spoke and you all would have just obeyed. He didn’t do that because he wants us to commit. He wants us to commit. I played that song and sat down there and my wife leaned over and like, “This is my favorite song.” I never actually heard it before. There’s a good reason it’s her favorite song, it should be all of our favorite songs. Again, the reason why Hillsong United can make such amazing songs is because those guys, when they decide to write a song, guess what they do? They commit – “I’m going to write this song.” So the first commitment that will impact your eternity, in order to strengthen your faith you must unite with others in worship.

 

The second life commitment is to discover my identity and purpose I must connect with others for fellowship. Sorry to all you introverts out there, you have to make connections if you want to discover your identity and purpose because somebody in your fellowship circle, somebody who’s your brother in Christ or sister in Christ, they have something for you from God that will help you figure out what your purpose is. Romans 12:4-5 says, “We are like the various parts of a human body, each part gets its meaning from Christ’s body as a whole (not the other way around), each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body.” But as a chopped off finger or cut off toe, well we wouldn’t amount to much now, would we?

 

Anytime you have conflict in relationships it affects who you are. That’s why conflict is so painful and miserable, it changes you, it affects who you are. In Ephesians 2:16 it says, “Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The cross got us to embrace and that was the end of hostility.” An amazing verse. A little background – back in the day only Jews were allowed in the outer court of temple. If there was any other race, if you weren’t a pure Jewish person and you were caught in the outer court of the temple, you were killed on the spot. And when Jesus came he tore down that dividing wall between the races. He tore it down, he said, “No more.” There is no distinction from one race to another, we are all God’s children, we all don’t deserve his grace and mercy, but it is a gift from him to all of us. Then even more Jesus tore down the dividing wall, and then he created a brand new thing; he created the church. An all nation, all-encompassing, no matter where you walk, your background comes from, no matter where your history is, no matter what color your blood is, green. God has a heyday with Star Trek, right? “Oh yes, that’s one of my sons. That’s one of my daughters and that’s one of my worms or whatever you want to call them.” what if he watches reruns?

 

2 Corinthians 5:18,19 says, “Now God has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation and the message of reconciliation.” Well, do you think we can use this little message of reconciliation today? How many wars do you think there are in the world today right now, this very minute? 50? With the crisis in Gaza, the rise of Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, and the international standoff going on in Ukraine can sometimes feel like the whole world is at war. Experts believe that this is a reality, almost universally the case according to a think-tank which produces one of the world’s leading measures of global peacefulness, and things are only going to get worse. It may make for bleak reading, but of the 162 countries covered by the Institute for Economics and Peace’s latest study, just 11 were not involved in conflict of one kind or another. The United Kingdom as an example is relatively free from an internal conflict, making it easy to fall into thinking that it exists in the state of peace. But recent involvement in foreign fighting in the likes of Afghanistan as well as a fairly high state of militarization means Britain actually scores quite poorly on the 2014 Global Peace Index, coming 47th overall. Then there are countries which are involved in no actual foreign wars involving deaths whatsoever, like North Korea, but which are fraught with the most divisive and entrenched internal conflicts. The IE peace findings mean that choices are slim if you want to live in a completely peaceful country. The only ones to achieve the lowest score for all forms of conflict were Switzerland, Japan, Qatar, Mauritius, Uruguay, Chile, Botswana, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Panama and Brazil. It’s pretty serious world we live in, so I think that we need a message of risk reconciliation. We need to get together, we need to talk about Christ amongst ourselves and amongst the people that we meet.

 

Third life commitment – to develop my potential I must learn from others in order to grow. There are some things that you just can’t learn on your own, trust me. If I think I can learn it I will try it on my own, I’m an independent guy who refuses to use the resources that Jesus has provided for me. And I get spanked for it often. There are some things that you just can’t learn on your own. Only learn them in community – love, I can’t learn that on my own, kindness, sympathy, unselfishness, loyalty, forgiveness, graciousness, faithfulness – starting to sound like some qualities that we’ve read somewhere in the Bible. We can’t learn them on our own. I can’t learn to be faithful to myself. Ephesians 4:16, “Christ’s body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow.” God wired us to need each other. Just imagine all the stories you’ve heard about normal people who started growing in amazing ways. When they stepped out in faith they committed their lives, time, talent and treasure to God; think about it. You guys have met them, you might even look at the mirror at them once in a while. Think about the changes that you’ve seen in people’s lives, not when they went, “Aah, I guess I’ll go to church.” “Hmm, I guess I’ll give Jesus my life for half the day.” Think about the people that have fully committed everything they have, and think about the things that they’ve done.

 

What does Jesus say? Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you. So, what is the kingdom of God? What is God’s kingdom? Romans 14:17 says, “God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking, it’s about pleasing God, living in peace and experiencing true happiness.” And all of this comes by the Holy Spirit. That’s why I love Sundays, not that the Holy Spirit doesn’t arrive in other places and stuff, but man we gather together like this, we stand up and we sing songs, our hearts go out to God and we’re like, “Man, I love you.” And God goes, “Yeah, whoosh.” And then the Spirit comes and we all go, “Oooh.” Of course, then tears start leaking down my face and whatever. I love it though. I love it I would never want that to be different.

 

Where’s God’s kingdom? Wherever Jesus is, wherever. He’s here, it’s kingdom; he’s there, it’s kingdom. You fly across the world and you meet someone who knows Jesus, it’s a kingdom. You go across skipping down a couple countries and you walk into the dirtiest hut you’ve ever seen in your life and there’s a cross on the wall, hey, God’s kingdom, sweet. There are places that’s not God’s kingdom, but daring faith is about building God’s kingdom here on earth. We have work to do. It’s not 100% finished, we don’t get to sit back and go, “Mhmm.” We need to commit to building his kingdom on earth.

 

Fourth life commitment – to experience significance I must serve others in ministry. Love God, love others, and serve; got to do it, have to commit to doing it. Significance doesn’t come from status, salary, sex. Where does significance come from? Service 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.” We have been shaped for significance. God says each of us are special, that he has a plan perfected and laid out for each of us. It is a plan for significance for each of us. I didn’t say a plan for glory, although that is part of serving God in his kingdom. God’s glory comes upon us, we inherit Jesus’s glory, that’s a promise. But the significance that he’s talking about is the significance that we gain when we serve. We are shaped for significance, and ministry is a way to gain that significance to serve. And I’m not talking about standing up here and giving a message. If that’s what your calling is, great, come take my place. I’m talking about just serving.

 

“Wow, it’s tough to hear that you weren’t able to make rent this month because your short $100. You know what, here’s $300, go get yourself some groceries too.” “Hey, you’re dragging around four kids in a piece-of-crap vehicle, it’s not really safe. Here, have a vehicle.” “Hey, you’ve been wearing that same outfit for the last 12 Sundays. Come with me, I want to hang out with you, we’re going to go shopping.” And these are material things too, that’s not the only thing I’m talking about either. “Hey, I saw you the other day and you look like you were crying, is there something you want to talk about?” Let’s serve. Let’s be significant to one another, because you know what, if we do that and other people see it and aren’t a part of it, “What’s going on there? I want in on that.” And they’ll come, and you’ll be significant to them and then they’ll learn to be significant to others, and then you’re spreading the gospel and all you’re doing is love and people, amen, hallelujah.

 

God has a lot to say about serving and ministering together. In Ecclesiastes 4:9 -12 it says, “Two people are always better than one, because by working together, if one falls down the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls because I fallen and I can’t get up. No one’s there to help. If two lie down together they can share the same blanket and stay warm, but a person alone will not be warm. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves. And the rope that is woven of three braids is pretty hard to break.” When we work together we maximize our impact, which is what verse 9 is talking about, you get more done. Number two, we minimize our failures, and verse 10, the other guy can help the other guy up. We can pool our resources, share the blanket. Money goes further when you share it. Think about it, one little drop of rain, does that mean the rainfall is over? You see that drop on your windshield, what do you think? There’s more coming. And all it takes is that one drop to start it. Same thing with our resources and our sharing and our building up with one another, one drop, and then think about the floods that we can create. Jesus creates it, we just kind of ride along and squirt our guns into it every once in a while.

 

With Jesus there is no insignificant ministry; none. If you can think of something, even if it’s not something you’ve ever thought of before and it’s ministering to someone else, if it’s making you significant to someone else, then it is not insignificant, and Jesus goes, “Yes, well done good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” I think about that when I’m somewhere and I see a guy shuffling along, and he’s got his bin full of stuff and you know what his life is like, and I think about me and my nice clothes, nice truck, $5 or $10 I got in my pocket because I carry a little cash here and there. Oops, I wasn’t supposed to let you know that. What can I do to help that guy? And some might think, “Well, $5 isn’t going to make a difference in this guy’s life.” No, maybe not, maybe the paper money is not going to make a difference, but you know what will make a difference? You look at him in the eyes and go and, “I hear, I see. Here.” Even if he’s not in a good shape mentally, not in a good shape because he’s under the influence of something, whatever, it doesn’t matter, look him in the eyes and say, “Here, I want to help you.” Even if it’s only for a minute that guy will see significance in you, and that’s a seed, tiny as a mustard seed.

 

The last thing to make eternal difference – I must join with others in mission. We had a talk about mission last week. You know how excited I am that you guys are taking over, and Mike, you did an amazing job with missions. When I went on a mission with Rich last year I saw his heart probably for the first time since I’ve known him. I’ve known him eight years, something like that, seven years, and I’ve never really… Rich is an interesting fellow. Great sense of humor that catches you off-guard. We used to play this game called Game of Things, so you pick a card out of the box, it gives you a subject and you write a statement about it and you put it all in and then everybody’s got to guess who wrote what. So at the end of it you have the ones that didn’t get guessed, those are the ones that are left. He decides to throw in two for himself. he throws it in, we go through the game, but there’s this extra one left. “Well who wrote this?” He’s over there chuckling away. But I saw his heart, we went on the mission together and I saw his heart in the missions, and I’m excited for this year. I think this year is going to bring some really cool things, not just out of missions either, out of the rest of this church too. I see these faces, I see how excited you guys are too. We must join each other on missions.

 

So what did Jesus do before he went back to heaven? After he died and he was resurrected, he hung out with the disciples for a bit. So what did he do? He showed them a few things, told them a few things. One of the things he told them was, “Go disciple, go do some work, go on a mission together.” It’s got to be pretty important to stop the guy on his way from rising from the dead to heading off to heaven, “Oh, hang on. I got to do this one thing.” Come talk to the disciples and be like “one mission.” And I don’t mean fly across the world. That’s good, it’s good the place to go. I went to Thailand, I super enjoyed it. I love seeing the people, realized I’m not called to missions. I shouldn’t say that. I’m not called to overseas missions, because I’m called to mission. But I’m called to help people here; that’s my mission. Val and I have been talking, we’re at sort of a nexus or transition or crossroads, whatever you want to call it, starting between ministry. It’s a weird thing because we’ve forever… well, since I’ve met Val her dad was smart enough to recognize something in me and utilize me to the fullest extent that he could, so I’ve been in a lot of the ministries, the children’s ministry, sound ministry, youth ministry, I’ve been up here preaching, I’ve helped out with reading, not consistently but once in a while, so I’ve done a few of the things here. I’ve been a Christian now for 12 years. And it’s still like yesterday when God revealed himself to me.

 

Ministry is the path to meaning in life Mark 8:35, “If you try to keep your life for yourself you will lose it, but if you give your life for my sake and for the sake of the good news, you will find true life.” That’s those chains we’re talking about breaking off. You want chains broken in your life, you got them there, you don’t seem to be able to do it, try a mission, try giving of yourself to somebody else and watch those chains just go. So before Jesus went back to heaven he gave the disciples a mission, it’s pretty important, must be. We need to do missions, we need to make an eternal difference by joining others on missions. And I’m not talking just overseas, I’m talking mission anywhere; missions are everywhere. So after the service we’re all going to run over and sign up for the missions group, right? Matthew 28:19 – 20, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to do everything that I have commanded you, and surely I will be with you.” That’s what was important for him to come tell them; pretty important.

 

I got an excerpt here from a speech, it’s a Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, Norwegian, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches on the UN Council, pretty important dude, deals with a lot of churches, a lot of different churches. And he had a speech that he presented at the United Nations Office in Geneva in the council chamber, the palais des nations on Monday the 3rd of June in 2013, and this is just a little piece out of it. He said, “The life of the churches is such that it can help to build those vital bridges between States and peoples, motivating people not simply as individuals, but as members of a wider and potentially more powerful entities, and in doing so contribute transformationally to the life of nations and of the global community.” Do you want to know how we raise that number of 11 peaceful countries up to 162? We go mission, we minister to each other. We minister to people that need ministering. We gain significance to others, we serve them. He goes on to say, “The vision requires of us that we be never content with ourselves, but always go beyond ourselves, reaching out to the other actors in civil society. God does not need religion, we as humanity can however be well served by our religious traditions if they inspire us to honor God by striving for justice and peace for all of humanity and the whole creation. Therefore, we pray God of Life, lead us to justice and peace.” Wow, that man has got a tough job. Have you ever heard of two churches with slightly different theology butting heads? That man deals with every religion on the planet. Maybe we need to just forget about some of our pettiness, get together and solve the problems in this world with Christ’s help.

 

So the real issue that I’m talking about today is the five commitments that I’ve shared with you. And the question that you need to ask yourself is, “Will I trust God in the big issues of my life?” Will you trust God in the five big issues of your life? Do we really trust God? It’s a serious question you got to pose to yourselves, because how do you commit if you don’t trust? And it all starts with a simple prayer. If you have never accepted Jesus into your heart, there’s an opportunity for you right now. I’d say no pressure, but actually I’m pressured, because it’s serious. It’s probably the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life. It was the most important decision that I made. And for those of you who know me, you probably know a little bit of where I’d be now if I hadn’t. And if you don’t know me, let me assure you I wouldn’t be standing in front of a crowd speaking about Jesus’s word unless you were giving me money to do it. I wouldn’t be free walking around without somebody telling me when to eat, when to go to the bathroom, when to exercise, when to go to sleep, and then closing a barred door on my room. I wouldn’t be here talking, I might be staring up at the bottom side of a coffin. It started with one simple prayer.

 

If you’ve never accepted Jesus into your heart I’m giving you the opportunity right now. I’m just going to say the prayer, if you want to, follow along or say it with me, awesome; if you want to say it in your mind, awesome. But I ask only that you just say it, not to me, not to your neighbor, not to yourself, but to Jesus. If you are serious and you want him in your heart today, say it to him. Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and you rose from the dead, and right now I decide to turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior, in your name I pray, amen. Simple, but pretty impactful. Five commitments. I dare you all to have faith, thank you.

 

Victory Church of Red Deer

Daring Faith Pt4

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – Daring Faith Pt 4 – Dave Thordarson

 

So we’ve been talking about daring faith for the last few weeks, it’s a series by Rick Warren, and some of our small group, our life groups are doing the series as well, and what is that? What is the daring faith? Well it’s that song we just sang. Thank you worship team by the way for that. It was awesome; awesome. And that last song we sang was called “Do it Again” where I’ve seen you move the mountains and I believe you’ll do it again. That’s a daring faith to see, to rely on God’s promise because he is faithful to his promises, and it says that in the song too – your promise still stands, great is your faithfulness, so I believe. And because God is faithful to his word, to his promise, we can have faith, we can have a daring faith. That song also talked about walls. I’ve been walking around these walls thinking why are they still here? But I believe. You’ve never failed me Lord. And I think of the walls of Jericho in the Bible where the army got the promise from God that those walls would come down, and they believed God’s promise and they walked around those walls in that city. And God fulfilled his promise, they came down; that’s a daring faith.

 

I’m sure when they got that word from God, “All you got to do is just walk around and they’ll come down, you don’t even have to fire one shot and this city will collapse.” But they knew God, they trusted God, they believed God on his word, and they believed his promise so they used that daring faith. It’s amazing. That’s what Richard talked about last week was to have faith like a soldier you need to be committed like a soldier, committed like an athlete, courageous, in it to win it, daring. But how do we begin that? And that’s this week’s part of the talk, part four. It starts in your mind, daring to imagine. It starts by changing your thought patterns from “not me” to “how me”; from “I can’t” to “how can I?” You’ve never failed me yet. OK, let’s do this God, right?

 

Why do we have imaginations? It’s because God gave it to us, God has an imagination, the greatest of all. God created everything. I talked about that the last time I spoke, it was God’s creation, because God thought it up, and spoke, and created; amazing imagination. There’s you and me, we’re here; it takes quite an imagination to think of this. It’s the same with us, nothing becomes reality until we think it up in our head first. The songs we sang here today, somebody had the idea before those words were sung. The car you drove here in, somebody had to think that a car would be a good idea. The church was God’s idea; what a great thing that we can come here and sing songs and praise and worship together and be in God’s presence as a family together, God’s idea.

 

The Bible talks about our imagination and using our minds, and it kind of has some guidelines for us too. Like it talks about things we shouldn’t imagine, like lust; lust is something we shouldn’t imagine, we shouldn’t go there in our minds. We shouldn’t worry; worry is another way to misuse this gift that God has given us. There are things we can’t imagine according to scripture, like heaven. I try to imagine heaven, but it’s beyond what I can imagine. The most incredible thing in your mind is even beyond that. You can’t imagine the love of God, God’s love; God is love. You can’t imagine it. You can try and that’s OK, but you can’t do it. And then there’s things that scripture says you should imagine, there’s things you should think about. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything excellent or praiseworthy think about such things.” It’s right there. So, we need to unlock our God-inspired imagination so we can have a daring faith right.

 

There are some things that will help us, some things we should know about it. Number one – my imagination shapes my life. My imagination shapes my life, my way of thinking shapes my life Proverbs 23:7, the first part of it is, “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Say that with me – “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” His heart, his mind, as a man thinks, so is he. And I talked about this just a few minutes ago how when you’re in the “I can’t” there’s no way. If you say “I can’t”, you will never see past the wall. If you start to say “how?” you start to imagine what the other side of that wall is like, and you will ask God how to bring that wall down. And I’m good at that, I’m good at seeing the wall myself. I’ve had lots of experience of saying, “No, I can’t, not me. No, no, no.” Just this for instance, speaking in front of you all here today, for many, many, many years – and I’m not stealing Brad’s testimony, but it is very similar to what Brad talked about a couple of weeks ago – for a long time I felt a calling to do more than just play songs but to study God’s Word and to bring God’s Word and to speak like this, and I would say no to God. Have you ever said no to God? It’s not a good answer.

 

So one day me and God actually hashed it out and I said, “Fine.” And when I accepted God’s call so to speak, then I could start to see. I started to ask, “Well, how do I do this?” I started to tell people. And then you can start to see in your mind what that would look like, and you can start to fulfill that call, and here I am today. You can decide if it’s worth it or not. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Keep your heart or your mind with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. In other words, be careful how you think because your life depends on it. How you think determines where you’re going to go, determines how you’re going to respond, that determines what you’re going to see.

 

Number two, imagining is essential to living by faith. Deep. Imagining is essential to living by faith. It’s like the song we were singing – I’ve seen you move so I can imagine you moving again in my life. That’s faith; faith is seeing the results with your spiritual eyes. Hebrews 11:1, what is faith? Read it with me. “Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for, and assurance about what we do not see.” It’s confidence and assurance; confidence. Faith is a way of seeing confidently what we don’t see with our physical eyes, it’s a way of seeing our hopes and dreams come to life before it has even happened. Faith can open the eyes of our heart, and we can see it, we can picture it in our mind, we can dream it, we can visualize it with confidence and assurance. What a gift, the imagination God gave us, what a gift. When God calls you, imagine it and visualize it. God gave us our minds to use them. God encourages us to use them so we can move forward in faith, God encourages us, and it’s in the Bible. I think of Abraham, and he was 90 years old, he was old man. And God came to him and said, “You’re going to father many, many children, be the father of great nations, your descendants…” He was old. Imagine that, picture being old like that and God saying, “You’re going to have a bunch of kids.” Just picture… I’m not going to name any names. Pastor Nate, where are you? Picture God saying you’re going to have all kinds of children. He didn’t have any kids yet, he was 90. And I’m sure when God said that he was like, “Sarah, I don’t know about this.” But God wanted Abraham to imagine, he wanted him to be excited.

 

Read this, in Genesis 15:5-6 it says, “Then he brought him outside and said ‘look now towards heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them’. And he said to him, ‘so shall your descendants be’.” What was God doing then? He was igniting Abraham’s imagination, he was getting him excited about his call, helping him think, “yeah, OK, yeah I can see that.” Our ability to see God inspired hopes and dreams in our mind allows us to move forward in faith with assurance and confidence, with a daring faith. Ephesians 1:18, “As I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” The eyes of your heart, the eyes of your mind; not your physical eyes, the eyes of your heart. God has a calling for your life, and if you can’t imagine the calling, you hear the calling and you can’t imagine it, then you’re just kind of existing. When he calls you just look at the stars so to speak, imagine it, because God can do far more than we can ever imagine, so imagine it, dream it. I want a God-inspired life, I want to live; I don’t want to just exist.

 

Number three – doubt is the enemy of imagination. In James 1:5-7 we read, “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” You must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind. Your imagination, well, your thoughts will either be governed by your fears or your faith. So your faith will allow you to be moving forward I want a faith that propels me forward. I don’t want to just move back and forth with no direction. And that’s what doubt will do to you, it will destroy your imagination. So we kind of have it backwards nowadays. We have beliefs, I believe; but we tend to doubt our beliefs, and believe our doubts. Beliefs are meant to be believed, doubts are meant to be doubted; so we need to doubt our doubts and believe our beliefs.

 

If we let our imagination be controlled by fears we will be freaked out a lot of the time, we’ll be walking around worried, stressed out, we would kind of be miserable all the time. But faith trump’s that. Let faith dominate your life and imagination, trust in God; with God all things are possible. If you focus on that you’ll imagine the good things, you’ll have less worry. Faith is your guide, not your fears. Your faith will move you ahead. And you’re going to have doubts and fears. I have them, I had them today. You’re going to have doubts, you’re going to have fears, so you don’t have to have it all together; but you can choose faith, and faith will trump your doubts and fears. In Mark it talks about this man had a son and he was possessed and it was a really hard time for him I’m sure, and his boy. And they came to Jesus, he brought his son to Jesus, and he says this, this is his dad talking, “It has often thrown him into the fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” I love this response by Jesus. He says, “if you can.” Could you imagine? He’s like, “If you can do anything” and Jesus just says, “”Don’t you know who I am? If I can?” And then he says, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.”

 

So he believed, and he used his faith. He came to Jesus with his son even though he doubted his belief, he chose faith and that was enough. So in spite of your doubts and fears, Jesus. And it’s hard, we need to do what we can to minimize those doubts and fears in our life. Get into the Word is a good way. See God’s promise; it’s here. Praying is a really good way, communicate with God. Another good way is to surround yourself with people, it takes courage; surround yourself with people who will encourage your courage. That’s why we believe strongly in life groups here, and that’s one reason, it’s because you need to surround yourself with people who can pray for you and encourage you to encourage your courage, help you grow in your faith. And it’s not too late to join one, if you want to join a life group just talk to Victor, it’s never too late to join one. It’s important to surround yourself with people who will encourage your courage.

 

Number four – God’s Spirit and God’s Word fuel my imagination and grow my character. God gives us his own spirit. God’s spirit, God gives us his spirit so we can use it, fuel our imagination. John 14:16-17 says, “And I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of Truth, Holy Spirit. The world cannot accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him, but you know him for he lives with you and will be in you.” This is where power comes from. This is where courage comes from. How do you get it? It’s pretty easy, God is offering it to you. It’s easy to get God’s spirit.

 

John 3:6,7 say, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying you must be born again.” That’s how you get the spirit. Now, how do you do that? You just believe that God is offering it to you. You believe Jesus died and rose again, you believe and you accept it. You can’t do it on your own, it’s a heart thing. God will give you a spirit. You’ll never be different until you see things different. You’ll never see things different until you get a different spirit in you. God Holy Spirit makes a difference, it propels you in life, it gives you courage, it gives you the hope to dream.

 

Another thing God gives us to fuel our imagination, his word; his word. Psalm 19:7, “The law of the Lord is perfect.” Look at me, this is not perfect. This is perfect, God’s word is perfect so don’t take my word for it, get in God’s word. So be fueled by God’s word, it gives us new life because it fuels our imagination. Relying on God’s word and his spirit will clarify your vision, it’ll clarify your call, it’ll clarify your dreams. It’ll show you God’s promise, that he is faithful to his word. Fuel your faith and it’ll grow your character. God’s spirit and God’s word will grow your character. 2 Peter 1:5-9 say, “For this very reason make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleanse from their past sins.” And how do you add to your faith? God’s word, God’s spirit.

 

Number five, this is really important – if your dream is from God it will somehow be connected to his church and his plan for this world. If your dream is from God, it will be connected to his plan. If your dream is all about you and how you can be selfish, it’s not from God. I’m not saying you can’t have a big screen TV, they’re good. But don’t say, “God wants me to have the TV.” At Colossians 3:1,2 says, “Since then you have been raised with Christ. Set your hearts on things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Set your mind on things above, not earthly things. Set your mind on things above, not earthly things. Say that with me – set your mind on things above, not earthly things. Every dream God gives you will be attached to his kingdom and his church somehow, because we’re here for his purpose, you’re not here for just you. God wants to use you, God wants you to dream, he wants to use you for his dream, he wants to use you for his plan.

 

James 4:3 says, “When you ask you don’t receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God didn’t create us to live self-centered lives, just get up, go to work, go home, watch TV. They want a big screen, big screen TVs are good; but it’s not part of the plan. That’s not all we’re here for is for big screen TVs, that’s not it. So when God gives you a dream it’s going to impact his church and his plan for the world. So how do you know what his plan is? Here. Better yet, in here the words of Jesus tells us what God’s dream is. Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore and make disciples in every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all the things that I’ve commanded you, and lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” That is called the Great Commission.

 

God’s dream, do you know what God is doing? He’s building his family. God’s dream is to build his family. God is going to have a dream for your life, a specific dream somehow going to play a role and be connected to his plan, the growth of his church, the growth of his kingdom, the growth of his family. We weren’t put here just for ourselves. Mark 8:35 says, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” I want to live. I don’t want to just exist, I want life. Choose faith, daring faith based on God’s promises. That’s what God wants you to do, unlock your imagination, imagine great things. Ask yourself these three questions, when you when you get a call from God you think you do, ask three questions to yourself – first ask “What if?” What if I did that? What if? What if this was being done? You’ll start to see and say, “Why not? Why isn’t this being done, why not?” Or lastly say. “Why not me?”

 

God is waiting for his children, and that’s you and me, to imagine the solutions. He’s waiting for us to imagine the solutions. God wants to use you in a way you’ve never even thought of. Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but all things are possible with God.” So let the size of God determine the size of our goals and our dreams, and then go for it. Move against your doubts and fears, say, “Why not me?” and move forward in faith with a daring faith; the daring faith.

 

Let’s pray. Father God I thank you for your word Lord. I thank you for your spirit God. I thank you that we can be fueled by your word and that we can rely on your word, we can trust you and your faithfulness God, and that allows us to be faith, to have faith. So Lord I pray God that you would open the eyes of our hearts, that we would start to see and imagine what it would be like for us to answer your call. Lord I pray Lord that everybody here would know you, and would open up to you Lord. If anybody here doesn’t know if they have the Holy Spirit, if they have Jesus, it’s easy like I said earlier, you need him. He’s there, he’s reaching, he’s saying, “I’m here, I’m ready to fill that brokenness, that spot that you need in your life and to help you move forward in faith. Help you move forward to help you live, to help you not be just blown about by waves in the sea. I’m here to give you focus.” So if that’s any of you, I’m not going to make you come up here or raise your hand or anything, but I’m going to say this prayer – God knows your heart. You can say it with me, you don’t have to be loud. Lord Jesus I thank you, and I believe in you. I believe that you died on the cross for my sin. I believe you rose again. I believe Lord that you defeated death so that I could have eternal life, so I could be with you, so I could know you, so that my sins could be forgiven. So Lord Jesus I just ask Lord that you would fill that spot in my life. I need you to move forward. God, come into my life now, in Jesus name, amen.

Victory Church of Red Deer

Daring Faith Pt 3

 

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – Daring Faith Pt 3 – Rich Adamkewicz 

 

Today we are going to dig deep, so I hope you’re prepared. God calls us to be prepared when we come to church, and we need to be prepared to hear the word. And the worship team set us up to be prepared, so we’re ready to move on. So, like any good man when he’s got work to do he’s got to roll his sleeves up, and if he goes to the dinner table with dirty sleeves, you might not get dinner. Daring to give God my best, daring faith. We’re going to talk about how to give God my best. This sermon is an adaptation of Rick Warren’s sermon series that some of us groups are studying this next month. And here’s a look at that book right here, Daring Faith, you can see that? See that little white thing at the top? It took me until this morning to realize that it’s a surfer on a wave. Daring faith, it’s all coming together today. I don’t know why I didn’t even clue in, I don’t know if I really cared too much, but I finally realized that is a surfer, that man has faith, or a woman. That’s one big wave, or it’s one very small person.

 

So, the greatest tragedy in life is not death but a wasted life. So, are we wasting our lives today? We’re going to look at three different analogies from the Bible today – we’re going to look at the soldier, an athlete, and a farmer. And we’re going to look at how do I give God my best; think about that. Am I right now truly giving my best to God? And if I’m not, why not? Why aren’t I giving my best to God? Why not? And why my best? Does God need me to do my best, or can he do without me? There are three things if I want to give my best to God that I must do that every soldier understands, and the very first one is I must define what I would die for. Do you ever think of that? I’m not sure I have really put true thought into what I would die for giving God my best. So what does death have to do with your best? Well, until you know what you’re willing to die for, you’re not ready to live. You’re not ready to live until you know what you would die for, not ready to love until you know who you would die for.

 

So again, what are you willing to die for? If you don’t know, then you’re not ready to fully live. You see, a soldier knows, they know that freedom is worth dying for, they know that family is worth dying for, faith is worth dying for. There are some things more valuable even than my own life, and they understand it. Let’s look at John 15:13. Jesus said the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends. Jesus understands this. The highest form of love, the greatest love right now in our lives, soldiers, law enforcement officers realize that sometimes it’s a matter of life or death; and they put their lives on the line practically every day. Look at the news in the last month, there are things happening in our society, in our province, and in our country without having to look abroad, where people, our brothers and sisters, are putting their lives on the line every day. Edmonton not too long ago when the police officer died, was stabbed, the stuff that happened down in Las Vegas, that’s not very far away. How many people here been to Las Vegas? A few. I don’t think those people on vacation were anticipating death. That’s what Jesus did for us, didn’t he?

 

The greatest expression of love is Jesus dying on the cross. You measure love not by what people tell you, not by what your boyfriend says to you, “Hey baby, life is good, come on.” No. You measure love by the willingness to sacrifice. And the greater the sacrifice, the deeper the love. Where’s Brad? There’s Brad, wave your hand Brad. Who was here last week, heard Brad’s message? Amen. I listened to it on YouTube through the victory channel because I wasn’t here last week. Fantastic message Brad. Brad is another one of our deacons on the board, delivers a great message. So, those of you that were here last week you know all about multiplication. You’re only going to get what you put into it. You’re looking for a greater sacrifice, for a deeper love, well if you don’t put the sacrifice in you’re not going to receive that deeper love. If you put nothing into something you’re going to receive nothing; if you put into it, you will receive.

 

It brings us to number two – I must sacrifice my comfort. I know, I enjoy my comfort and I enjoy my time away from work, but you must sacrifice comfort. Effective soldiers to be the best they can be sacrifice comfort. The other day I sacrificed. I decided on the way to work instead of Tim Hortons, I’m going to drink the coffee at work. But it didn’t end there, I sacrificed even further, I decided not just am I going to drink the coffee at work but I’m going to drink black coffee and no sugar no cream. It’s not a sacrifice, is it? For some it’s a sacrifice, but that’s not what we’re talking about here is it? Soldiers sacrifice their comfort, they go out and they serve in the heat and they serve in the cold. They give up their free schedule, if their commanding officer says, “Jump” they jump. That’s right, “How high?” They don’t say, “Well you know, it’s a little cold out, maybe we should wait till the afternoon and then we don’t have to wear our big heavy jacket.” They give up their freedom to perceive the freedom for me, to preserve the freedom of other people. They give up wealth and they endure hardships. How many here know a rich Canadian soldier? There are no rich Canadian soldiers. They give up wealth and they endure hardships.

 

In life, have you sacrificed? Have your achievements just fallen into your lap? Or have you had to sacrifice for them? You don’t become great, you don’t become great by doing what’s easy, by doing what’s comfortable; you become great by committing yourself to something greater than yourself, and then being willing to sacrifice for that. The greater your sacrifice in life, the greater your character in life is. In 2 Timothy 2:3, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” How many people here served in the military? We’ve asked this before, and raise them high, I want to see high so everybody could see those here that have served. Awesome. Thank you for your service. How many people know somebody who served for in the military? Yes, look around, everybody knows somebody who has sacrificed for our country, for our freedom, endure hardship.

 

So what does that mean to us? Just like a soldier who puts up with hardship for the greater cause, you need to put up with hardship for a greater cause. We’re not talking about that coffee. So what’s hardship? What is keeping you from following Christ? What’s holding you back? There’s something that’s holding each and every one of us back. No matter how much further we have being in the past, there’s something that is holding you back. It’s not easy, it’s not easy following Christ; anyone here find it to be simple to follow Christ? It is hard. We’ve wronged others, doing the right thing is not always easy. If doing the right thing was easy, man, we would all be doing it. It’s so much easier to do the wrong thing, always easier to do the wrong thing than it is the right. So you have to make choices – you see something that needs to be done and you decide, “I know that this is the right thing but I don’t want to do it.” Well, if it was easy you wouldn’t have that discussion with yourself, you would just do it because it’s the right thing. That’s why it’s harder to tell the truth, that’s why it’s harder to forgive instead of getting even, it’s harder to let go instead of getting revenge. How many people have had to let go this week? It’s harder to be kind, it’s harder to be unselfish than selfish. And of course, everybody’s different, some of these might resonate with some more than others.

 

But the path to greatness, the path to be the best you could possibly be, first you need to define what you’d die for, and then we need to sacrifice your comfort. You see, we’re all in a battle, we’re in a spiritual battle. And this spiritual battle is brought into the physical that we live every day. In Ephesians 5:2, “Live a life of sacrificial love just like Christ loved us and gave himself as an offering in sacrifice for us.” He gave his life as an offering; see, that’s the goal. If you want to be like Jesus Christ you need to learn sacrificial love. Let’s look at a couple questions. The first one – do you want to be like Jesus? And who are you offering your life for? Right now, who are you sacrificing your life for? Who are you putting up with hardships for besides yourself? You see, I must sacrifice my comfort, my selfishness. And I know that a lot of the things in my life stem from selfishness, that’s my thing, and it manifests into many other hardships that I have to work on and struggle through sometimes. Do I want to be like Jesus? We must live a life of sacrificial love.

 

I doubt that you will be asked to give your life for Jesus Christ. In most cases, probably most of us here probably won’t be asked to do that in your lifetime. There are people around the world today who have lost their lives because they chose Christ, they chose to be saved through Christ in their lives and they have lost their life. But would you be willing? You have to think about this, right? Because we say things in this society, we say things without thinking, we agree to things without thinking. So are you, would you be willing? It’s a question for each and every one of us. Or, are you a casual Christian not committed to Christ, not committed, not a committed Christian? Are you willing to sacrifice your own comfort for the greater good of other people? That’s what it means to be like Jesus.

 

The third thing that we learn from a soldier is that I must eliminate distractions. Distractions, my house is filled with distractions. Number one, I would like to say that it’s the children, but for me it’s the TV – distraction number one. Distraction number two, the kids, and I love them, but they are a distraction. They are a good distraction, but still a distraction. Working on my marriage, sometimes that can be a distraction because you have to put so much into learning about one another and working together. But there are other kinds of distractions, distractions that come from outside of your home, distractions that come from this world. So I must eliminate the distractions if I want to be the best I could possibly be, sometimes I might even need to learn how to work with the distractions if I want to be the best. 2 Timothy 2:4 says, “As Christ’s soldier do not let yourself become entangled in the affairs of this life wasting time, for then you cannot please your commanding officer who enlisted you in his army.” I get goosebumps – wasting time. You must have the freedom to respond and to serve. A soldier, to be ready at a moment’s notice you must eliminate distractions.

 

The Bible has a lot to say about doing without things that are really of no matter. How much of your time is invested in the things that aren’t going to matter in five years from today much less eternity? How much of your energy is invested right now in doing things that in five years it’s not going to matter, but in eternity? How much of your money are you investing in things right now, where are you putting your money that in five years big deal much less for eternity? If you want to be great, if you want to be the best that you can be you must start spending more of your time on things that are going to last forever, and less on things that don’t really matter. Again, this is easy stuff to say. We have to learn to do it. What could you give up to make more time for the things that matter in life, to love, to serve, to know God, to worship? These are the things we learn from effective soldiers. So we need to define what I would die for, sacrifice my comfort for, and we need to know how to eliminate distractions in our lives.

 

Let’s have a look at the athlete, let’s move on from the soldier to serious athlete. Not just the serious athlete, but the competitive athlete. This is what the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, “In a race everyone runs, but only one person wins the prize, so run your race to win. To win the contest you must deny yourselves many things that would keep you from doing your best.” There’s that, “doing your best”. An athlete goes to all this trouble just to win a ribbon or a medal that won’t last. But we do it for an eternal reward that will last forever. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step, I fight to win. I’m not just shadowboxing or playing around like an athlete, I discipline myself making sacrifices and training my body to do what it should; not what it wants to do. Otherwise I fear I might be disqualified from the race. Everyone in life is living their life, in a race everyone runs.

 

The athlete teaches us three things, the very first thing – I must intend to win; you don’t get into a race to ensure that you finish last. Talk to a school-age child who’s in their first race, they’re in that race to win. Whether that child doesn’t know how to run or what, they are in it to win. Whether they’re going to be disappointed in the end or not, they’re intended to win, they’re determined. If I’m going to win in life it’s got to be intentional, it’s not going to be by accident, it’s not going to happen without any effort. We don’t watch the Olympics to watch a bunch of guys who don’t try, they put effort into this stuff. It’s not going to happen unless I have a goal. How can you intend to win if you don’t know where you’re going? You will not become great by accident, you will not become the best you could possibly be just casually. The best you happens if you intend it to happen; that’s the difference between being a casual Christian and a committed Christian.

 

Look at golf, how many people here play golf? Put your hands up, put your hands up if you play golf? OK, there’s a few. Put your hands up now if you love golf. There’s a couple. Now, put your hands up if you’d say that you’re truly an exceptional player. Alright, amen. I’m never playing with Jerry. For anybody who hasn’t played golf, golf is a tricky sport. Number one, they make the ball too small, and number two the stick you hit it with is too skinny. But the more you concentrate on that ball you are not going to hit that thing. The more you get excited or angry or upset, you’re going to do so much worse. But when you’re focused and you practice and you put the time in, you become a very good golfer. But if you only want to go twice a summer, three times a summer to hang out with friends, you’re probably not going to become an expert in that game. So the difference is a degree of seriousness. When we’re talking about a casual Christian, a committed Christian, there is a difference in the degree of seriousness.

 

So how serious are you about being what God made you to be? “You know, I kind of like to do some of it in my spare time. You know, God and I once in a blue moon we’ll go for coffee together and I’ll talk to him. Or if somebody asks me about God I’ll think of something just to say to them.” No, it’s not going to happen. How serious are you about being the best you could possibly be? The Bible says in verse 24 from there, it goes, “In a race everyone runs, but only one person wins the prize, so run your race to win.” You’re running your race. I’m not running David’s race or Pauline; I’m not running anybody else’s race but my own. Are you running to win? Because God wants you to win. He wants you to run the race to win, and you’ve got to do this intentionally. The truth is there are some people listening to me right now, you’re never going to be a great person. You’re never going to be the person God intended. You’re never going to be the best man or the best woman you could be. Why? Because you never intended to be. You’re not willing to pay the price, you’re just not willing to pay the price. Maybe you don’t want it badly enough, maybe you don’t want it deeply enough.

 

So, how deeply do you want to win that prize that God has for you in life? He has the prize for you, he’s waiting for you to get it. What’s the prize? Run your best in the race of faith for yourself. Run your best in the race of faith and win eternal life for yourself, for this is the life that God called you to when you profess your faith before many witnesses. That’s what you win – eternal life, amen. So what’s he talking about here? It says profess your faith before many witnesses, what is that? When do we do that as a Christian? It’s talking about baptism. When you’re baptized you’re professing your faith in front of many witnesses. If you haven’t been baptized, that’s probably what you need to do next, you need to profess your faith in front of many witnesses, and baptism is the way to do that. I can feel that God has changed my life, I can accept Jesus Christ, and I can keep it all to myself. That could be done and you don’t even have to go to church. That’s not what God has called us to do. He wants us to profess our faith to many people, to the people around us, to the people that are our family. You need to run your best race, you need to do it intentionally, and you have to make the choice to go after it.

 

The second thing you need to do is what an athlete does, must discipline myself. Some hard stuff to take in – discipline myself. I think in our society we lack discipline at times. There are a lot of things, a lot of distractions in our lives right now that contribute to us lacking discipline, because there are so many shortcuts of things that we could do, so many other people that are doing things that I could just follow in what they’re doing. Of course, athletes do this. If an athlete was not disciplined, they would probably not see the prize. No athlete becomes a pro without the discipline, without the training. You don’t become great by doing whatever you feel, you don’t become great by living by your moods. You just can’t make up your own rules. There’s no shortcuts to becoming mature and there’s no shortcuts to greatness. In 2 Timothy 2:5, “If anyone competes as an athlete he cannot receive the victorious crown unless he competes according to the rules.” How many of you watch hockey? If one of the teams isn’t playing according to the rules, how many yell at their TV? 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, “To win the contest you must deny yourself many things that would keep you from doing your best.” An athlete goes into strict training just to win a ribbon, a medal that won’t last. But we do it for an eternal reward that will last forever. So I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

 

To win you may have to do without. So what are some things I can do without so I can spend more time with God, so I can give more to God, so I can serve more, so I can be more of what God wants me to be? He wants you to be great. Ask this question again, what am I willing to do without in order to be the best? You want to be the best you. Am I willing to do without popularity? Am I willing to do without wealth? Am I willing to do without comfort? How would your life be better if you’d been just a little more disciplined early on in your life? What are some things that you could be enjoying today if only you had been a little bit more disciplined? The pain of regret goes on and on and on, and we wallow in it, we eat it up, the regret in our lives. I wanted to learn French as a child, and I just didn’t; I wanted to, but I didn’t. I wanted to learn how to play the guitar, and still I haven’t done it. I even bought a guitar. I never did this, I never did that. We all have a story in our lives. I should have never sold that first car I had in my life, that was fantastic and I just let it go because my girlfriend didn’t like it. I’m sure there’s a few guys out there about that one.

 

It’s discipline. What do you wish you had been more disciplined about? That’s what caused Jesus to be able to endure the cross. The Bible says he looked beyond the pain to the reward that he was going to receive and the benefit and the prize and the payoff. Hebrews 12, “Keep your eyes on Jesus who both began and finished this race we’re in.” Study how he did it because he never lost sight of where he was headed, that joyful finish with God in heaven. He could put up with anything along the way – cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there in the place of honor right alongside God. You can handle enormous pain in your life, and some of you probably have. And you can handle enormous discipline in your life if you realize there’s a better purpose for it. And there’s going to be a payoff at the end. When you forget the payoff, when you forget the reward, when you forget the prize, guess what? You’re going to give up. That’s why Paul says, “Run to win in your life and keep your eyes on the prize.” I’m sure that a lot of coaches probably say that, “Keep your eye on the prize.” Know what God is doing. Paul says it like this in 1 Corinthians 9:26, “I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step.” He is so purpose driven. I fight to win; I’m not just shadow boxing or playing around. How many people ever boxed when they’re younger? Few people. Shadow boxing, I just didn’t get it. The problem with a lot of people today is that they’re just shadow boxing, they’re air guitaring the Christian life. They’re pretending, they’re just going playing around, hitting the air, they’re not serious. And he says, “Run straight to the goal.” You need to stay focused on the finish line, you need to stay focused on this, on that finish line.

 

Everything you see is one day going to be gone, everything. So you shouldn’t be investing a lot of time and money in energy into it. You should primarily be investing your time in things that are going to last forever. So what is that? Love, the word of God, and people, those are going to last forever; everything else isn’t going to last, everything. So, you run your race, you ignore the crowds, because when you’re running your race some people are cheering you and some people are putting you down. You ignore them, you just ignore them because you’re running the race. You keep your eye on the goal and you don’t waste your energy. How many things did I do the last week wasting energy on things that don’t really matter? How many things did I worry about, the little schemes I work up in my head to do something which was a waste of time? I need to be more focused, more purpose driven like these competitive athletes.

 

We’re going to move on to the farmer, and I love farming. I don’t ever want to have to farm, but I love farming. When I was a kid there was nothing better than being a farmer, am I right? They got cows, they got pigs and they got a whole lot of tractors, fantastic. Milking a cow when you’re a kid, probably one of the best things in the world, as long as you don’t get kicked by the old cow. My grandfather was a farmer, come from a long line of farmers; I just was never a farmer myself. It’s a lot that we can learn from agriculture. You can learn from the farmers some truth about your spiritual life. And there’s a lot of stuff in the Bible that talks about farming. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 9:6-13, “Remember this, a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop, but the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each make up your own mind as to how you should give, and give reluctantly or in response to pressure, for God loves the person who gives cheerfully. Then God will generously provide all you need, and you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. For God is the one who gives seed to the farmer and then bread to eat in the same way he will give you many opportunities to do good, and he will produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched so that you can give even more generously, you’ll be glorifying God through your generous gifts. And your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the good news of Christ.”

 

Generosity, generously – I just love those words. Your life on earth is like planting a garden, whether you got a green thumb or not. He says that while you’re here on earth, whether it’s 40 or 60 years, 80 years, maybe 100, while you’re here you’re planting a garden. And the kind of seeds that you plant while here on earth you’re going to harvest in heaven. When you sow on earth you will reap in heaven, what you plant earth will be the fruit that you get to enjoy for eternity in heaven, amen, that’s good. He says if you plant generously, if you plant a lot of seeds you’re going to have a lot of fruit in heaven, you’re going to have a whole lot to enjoy up there. But he says if you plant sparingly you’re a miser, and you hold it back, you don’t give it away, you’re not going to have a whole lot up there. If you sow generously you’re going to reap generously. In the Bible it says five times Jesus gives the same command, “I tell you, store up treasure for yourself in heaven. I tell you, store up treasure for yourself in heaven. I tell you store up treasure for yourself in heaven.” If Jesus is telling us this five times, I highly recommend that you store up treasure in heaven; are you doing it? How in the world do I do it? By planting seeds of generosity.

 

Any of us can spare, even if you’re cranky. I have a lot of cranky moments, you can ask Randy that when I’m not around. But you can plant seeds of generosity. Any time you plant a seed of generosity, and we’re not talking about money or something tangible like that, we’re talking about when you give your life away you’re planting a seed of generosity, when you help somebody else you’re planting a seed, when you’re unselfish, when you serve, when you put yourself out there so that you benefit somebody else, when you’re generous with your time, generous with your money, with your income, when you’re generous with your reputation, your talents, you use what you have for the benefit of others and not yourself. You’re planting seeds in that garden on that farm. He says, “I highly recommend that you sow generously.” He wants you to have a lot of fruit in heaven.

 

So, we’re going to look at the last lesson of this sermon here. We need to reap a great harvest, we must plant generously in faith, and I must generously in faith. There’s a couple promises of Jesus I want to talk about. Luke 6:38 says this, “Give and it will be given back to you. You’ll be given much, it will be poured into your hands more than you can hold. You’ll be given so much that it will spill into your lap. The way you give to others is the way God will give to you.” God has a number of different examples of this, doesn’t he, in the Bible. There’s the fish in the boat, overflowed in their boat, there’s also last week Brad was preaching and he spoke about the loaves and fishes. How many did they start with? And they ended with baskets, not just one basket leftover, but baskets of food. He wants to pour upon you so much that you don’t know what to do with it. Do you know what that reminds me of? That reminds me of the Holy Spirit, when he comes into you, you just don’t know what to do with it, it just pours out of your body. Mark 10:29, 30, Jesus gives a guarantee about anything you give up for his sake. He says this, “I guarantee you this…” God is guaranteeing us something, we better listen, we can count on this one. “Anyone who gives up anything for my sake and the good news, whether a home or a family member or property will get more than that back multiplied a hundred-fold and in the world to come, they will be given life forever.” A hundredfold, is that possible?

 

God says that anything that I give up for his sake, and you for his Kingdom, anything I sacrifice for him will be returned a hundredfold; how much is that, a hundredfold? That’s 10,000% interest. I want that financial adviser, 10,000%. Only God and his son can do that, and they’ve been doing business with people like this for over 2,000 years. But if you don’t believe, if you don’t believe it, why do you believe that Jesus will save you and take you to heaven? It’s the same Jesus. You can’t pick and choose from the Bible, you can’t pick and choose what Jesus has for you, what God has as designed for us. So if you can accept God into your heart and into your life, then you should be able to accept. So why do some people trust God with their eternal salvation and don’t trust God with their finances? It just doesn’t make sense. When we look at these three people that we just spoke about, the soldier, the effective soldier saves lives, the effect of athlete wins the prize, and the effective farmer harvests a larger size, a hundred-fold.

 

So, what is it I might give up or let go in order to have more time for the things that matter in life? What is it that I can let go of in order to give more, to serve more, to share more, to be more, to be all God wants me to be, in order to be the best I can be? The fact is a lot of things in your life you can probably do without, I could probably do without. And you know what? You wouldn’t even miss them, a lot of things. When we went to Jamaica to the mission field, Dewayne made me only take one bag; now you know who made me do it, one bag. I worried about what one bag that I could carry with my own personal stuff, and another little bag, it was like a man purse; I called it a diaper bag. But one big, and I’m a big guy. My pants rolled up look much different than Mr. Perry’s pants rolled up, my stuff takes up a whole lot more room. I was like, “Alright God, Dwayne is the director here. If he says I’m allowed to take one bag, Lord I guess I’m only taking one bag.” And you know what? I did it, I was very proud about being able to do it. And you know what? I didn’t miss anything else. All the other stuff that I thought I might have packed, I didn’t need it, I didn’t need any of it. There’s no hairdryer.

 

But there’s one thing you cannot do without; you got to have this one. What you cannot do without is a daily deep connection with Jesus Christ. If you’re going to grow and become the man God wants you to be, if you’re going to grow and become the woman God wants you to be, you have to have a daily deep connection with Jesus Christ. You can’t live a day without him, believe me. There are things that God can bring in your life that will make the other hurts and the wrongs of your past disappear. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s so true every day. We just talked about these seven things – three from the soldier, three from the athlete, and one from the farmer. You can’t do these things on your own, you can’t do them on willpower. You’ll do them for a while, and then you’ll give up. We need God’s power; you need God’s power. You need to be plugged in to him, that’s what it takes.

 

Let’s pray, thank you Jesus. Lord I just thank Pastor Chuck and the leadership of the church Lord God that allow me to speak God’s Word today Lord. Lord as we come to you today Lord God and everybody came in here for a reason today Lord God, they got up and they got here. Everybody has a different reason Lord God. Lord we just thank you for preparing their hearts Lord God, for bringing them in to hear the message, to hear your words Lord God, your teachings; not mine, but your word. Lord I just pray this week that each and every person go into their families, go into their workplace, go into their home Lord God and live their lives for you, to reach out for you. Lord God help them be the best person that they can be for what you have for them Lord God. And Lord, those that are out there Lord God protecting us, keeping us safe in this country and in this world Lord God, and in our cities, Lord God I just ask that we just lift them up to you Lord God for a hedge of protection. Lord God we just thank you that they sacrifice their freedom Lord God so that we can seek ours. I just thank you for this time that we’ve had today Lord God, in your name, amen.

 

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Daring Faith Pt 2

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – Daring Faith Pt 2 – Brad Shattock

 

Last week Pastor Nick started a new sermon series called Daring Faith, so what is it? Let’s take a look and see the three keys of a faith that we’re going to learn to grow. So the first thing God wants you to grow in your faith, he wants us to grow. He doesn’t want you to stay where you are, he doesn’t want you to stay a spiritual baby; he wants us to become adults, adolescents and then adults I guess. So Colossians 2:7 says, “Let your roots grow deep into him and let your lives be built on him, then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught and you will overflow with thankfulness.” So first I just want to pray. Lord God I thank you for this opportunity to be here this morning, and I pray that you just give me the words to say, that I won’t stumble, that words will come out right. I pray that people would take this to heart and that there would be something for everyone to learn today in Jesus name, amen. So that’s the first.

 

The second thing we’re going to learn to sow in faith, we’re going to learn to become generous. “Why?” you may ask, “I don’t want to be generous.” You can’t become like God without becoming generous. 2 Corinthians 9:6 says, “Remember this, a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” So, the more you give the more you receive back. Have you ever heard, “you reap what you sow”? That’s what this verse is saying, it applies in all areas of your life. If you sow love, you’re going to reap love; if you sow criticism, you’re going to reap criticism. You always reap more than you sow. So when you plant one seed in the ground it grows into a plant and it produces many seeds. You get back more than you give, positive or negative, it doesn’t matter; whatever you’re putting out there you’re getting back.

 

So the third thing, God wants us to go in faith. Hebrews 11:8, “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land, that God would give to him as an inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.” There’s that word “go” – God called Abraham to go and it was by faith, faith that he went without knowing where he was going. Living by faith involves saying yes to God even though you have no idea the outcome. When you say yes without knowing you’re trusting God and his plan; that’s what faith is. So, why do we want to grow in our faith? Here’s a couple verses to sum it up. “It’s impossible to please God without faith” – Hebrews 11:16. “According to your faith, let it be done to you” – Matthew 9:29. And Romans – “Everything that does not come from faith is sin” – Romans 14:23.

 

We want to grow our faith so that we can please God. What can we expect from going through the Daring Faith series? Well, I’m glad you asked. So the first thing, we’re going to expect to see miracles. We’re going to see miracles, and I’m going to get a little more in-depth on this later on in my sermon, but when people trust God, when they take risks and go for it in faith, God moves. God isn’t compelled to move by our complaining; anyone here with kids will understand this. When my son is complaining and he’s whining for a toy and throws a fit because of it, it definitely doesn’t make me want to give him the toy, I don’t get compelled to move. And if I don’t get it fast to him, it doesn’t make… so when he’s throwing a fit, it doesn’t make me want to give it to him – you all understand this. And maybe it’s just me, but complaining doesn’t motivate me at all, so why do we think it’s going to motivate God? God is compelled to move by faith. When my son listens, even though he doesn’t understand why, when he is obedient and he doesn’t complain, it makes me proud as a father. Those are the actions that compel me as a father to do something, so that’s how we need to treat God, because when we need to treat God the same way as a child being obedient, that’s when he’s compelled to move.

 

So the second thing we’re going expect is to grow spiritually too, you can expect to see spiritual growth. To grow spiritually is to grow closer to God, and who doesn’t want that. Your relationship with God is going to grow, you’re going to get to a deeper understanding of God’s will in your life, of God’s call. Who wants to see some spiritual growth here? I know I do. I want my roots to grow deeper so I can stand firm when Satan comes to push me off course, which is actually the third one, not as fun. You can expect to see Satan hassling you, you’re going to have some difficulties going through this. Satan doesn’t want us to learn to live by faith, he’s going to try to distract you to keep you from growing. He’s going to try everything in his power, there’s going to be thoughts of doubt, it’s going to be fear, trouble at work, he’s going to try to divide your marriage, there might be other crises that we don’t know. He’s going to do anything he can to distract you from growing in faith. And the fourth thing we can expect out of this it’s to experience joy. You can expect to experience joy when you give in to God and let go of your doubts and say, “I’m here God; use me.” Or you take the step of faith, there’s nothing like it. You take a step of faith, you don’t know what’s going to happen, but you do it because you know God called you to do it, and you get an overflowing of joy. That’s been my most joyful times is when I’ve just said, “Yes God.”

 

So now that we have an idea of what faith is and what to expect, I’m going to spend the rest of my time talking about how faith in Jesus turns a little into a lot, how to get ready for a miracle. We’re going to learn how to prepare for a miracle, to do that we’re going to take a look now one of the most famous miracles that Jesus performed, and it’s Jesus feeding the 5,000. We all know this, right? Most of us, maybe. How he took one boy’s lunch and was able to feed 5,000 men and their families; that’s a lot of people. Which it’s really is a story about how Jesus took a little and he turned it into a lot. So, what we need to know and understand, why do we need to know and understand these principles? Is because there’s going to be times in our life when we need God to take a little, take the little we have and turn it into a lot. We’ve got a little energy, we need a lot of energy, we got a little talent, we need a lot of talent. Got a little opportunity, we need a big opportunity; got a little bit of money, we need a lot of money. Whatever it is, there’s going to be times when we’re going to need a lot, and it’s going to be God who does it for us. So, many times in life God is going to need to turn a little into a lot in your life.

 

You might be thinking to yourself, “How does God turn a little into a lot?” That’s what this story is all about, and that’s what we’re going to learn about. Jesus never did miracles just to show off, he didn’t turn water into wine just to get people to like him, he wasn’t trying to impress the cute little girl in the corner; no, he did it for a reason. He did them to teach us spiritual truth, and the spiritual truth of Jesus feeding the 5,000 is how to prepare for a miracle in which God can take a little and turn it into a lot. This miracle is so important that it’s the only miracle in all four gospel – it’s in Matthew, it’s in Mark, it’s in Luke, and it’s in John. Whenever God tells you something four times he’s saying, “Hey, hey, you should listen to this one, you should be paying attention.” I don’t think he put it in the Bible just because he likes to hear the story; it’s for us. So Mark 6:30-44, “The Apostles returned to Jesus from their ministry tour and told him all they had done and taught. Then Jesus said, ‘let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile’. He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat. So they left by boat for a quiet place where they could be alone, but many people recognized them and saw them leaving, and people from many towns ran ahead along the shore and got there ahead of them. Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, ‘this is a remote place and it’s already getting late, send the crowd away so they can go to nearby farms and villages to buy something to eat.’ But Jesus said, ‘you feed them.’ ‘With what?’ they asked. ‘We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to pay for all this food.’ At that moment the disciples, they began to panic, ‘Are you crazy? We can’t afford that many pizzas, where can even get that many pizzas? And we would need a semi to deliver them all, what are you thinking?’ But Jesus replies, ‘How much bread do you have?’ he asked, ‘go and find out.’ They came back and reported, ‘We have five loaves and two fish.’ Then Jesus told the disciples to have the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of 50 or 100, and Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up towards heaven and bless them. Then breaking the loaves into pieces he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward the disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.”

 

So out of this we can see four steps to preparing for a miracle, and here’s the first one – admit I have an unsolvable problem, unsolvable. You need to admit to yourself you have an unsolvable problem. If you don’t have an unsolvable problem, then you don’t need a miracle. If it’s not unsolvable then you have a solvable problem and you should just solve it. If you have a toothache, you don’t need a miracle, you should see a dentist to get a filling. So, once you realize it’s a situation you can’t solve on your own you need to admit this. I know sometimes I just keep forgetting about it, we’ll get to that. So, back to Mark 6, “When Jesus saw a large crowd he had compassion on them, so he began teaching them. Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a remote place and it’s already getting late, send the crowds away so they can go to nearby farms and villages and buy something to eat.’ But Jesus said, ‘You feed them.’ ‘With what?’ they asked. ‘We’d have to work for months to earn enough money to buy food for all these people.'”

 

So, from this verse we see three typical responses when we have an unsolvable problem. We all do this, I definitely do this – the first thing, we procrastinate, we pass the responsibility on and we worry. The disciples did all three of these first. The first thing, procrastination. When we have a problem we can’t solve, we just keep putting it off, it’s in the corner I don’t have to worry about it. And we hope it goes away, which it never does; it’s still there, it’s still a problem. We know it won’t get better, we know it won’t go away, we know we need to deal with it, but we just keep putting it off acting like it doesn’t exist. In this verse it says, “Late in the afternoon his disciples came to him.” They waited till late in the day to address the problem, they waited all day, “It’ll deal with itself.” They had all day to figure it out, but instead, “Nah, we’ll do it at the last minute when we realize there actually is no way for this to fix itself.” Procrastination only makes the problem worse. One time I had an ingrown toenail, sorry to gross you out. It was so bad that with every step it hurt, and I procrastinated this for over a year until I went and actually dealt with it. I was in so much pain, I finally dealt with it, and the next day it felt so much better, I could have saved myself all that trouble. So do you guys have a problem that you’ve been procrastinating about? Is there something in your life that you’re pretending isn’t there when it actually is? A problem maybe?

 

So next thing we do, we just pass the responsibility. We shift the blame from ourselves and make it seem like it’s someone else’s problem, and that it’s someone else’s problem to deal with as well. The disciples said, “Send them away. Just send them away, it’s not our problem.” They were they were saying “It’s not our responsibility, not our problem that these people came. We didn’t tell him there was going to be food, we didn’t tell them that we’re going to feed them, we didn’t even ask them to come. So just send them away and let them deal with it themselves.” They were passing the responsibility. But Jesus said, “You feed them.” And the disciples go into stress overload, “Oh, no,” they replied, “with what? No. We’d have to work for months to earn that kind of money. I don’t have that kind of money, that would drain my savings. I just got it saved up, I wanted to buy this car and now you’re telling me to feed these people.” There’s no faith in that answer, there’s no faith in panicking. It’s not going to help us, it’s not what Jesus called us to do. So the point is, they’re procrastinating, passing the responsibility, and they’re worrying. Meanwhile, they’re talking to Jesus, this is the guy they watched heal people, they watched him cast out demons, they watched him calm a storm by talking to it, the guy spoke and the storm stopped. They’ve seen this power firsthand, and yet they’re still panicking.

 

Has God ever asked you to do something impossible? I know he asked me. Have you ever replied with, “I don’t have time. I don’t have time for that. I got to bring the kids to soccer, I got to all this. I’ve got a movie date tonight, no I don’t have time for God. I don’t have the money. God, I’ve been working so hard, I’ve been putting all my money into groceries and paying the bills, I don’t have money for this, it’s not my problem. I don’t have the energy, I’ve been working all day and you expect me to go do this, I can’t Lord, I got no energy left. I don’t have an education, I’m not smart enough. Lord, you’ve got the wrong guy.” Do you start to panic and stress out when God ask you to do the impossible? Moses, he said, “Not me Lord, I can’t speak.” Jeremiah said, “I can’t, I’m too young.” And then we’ve got Isaiah, and he said, “Use me God. Here I am, send me, I’m ready.” That’s what we need to be like. God tells us to do the impossible; why does he do that? He wants to stretch our faith. When God is asking us to do what we think is impossible, he wants to stretch our faith in him. Have you ever gone and worked out at the gym, anybody? Why do you do that? It’s to get stronger, it’s to work your muscles so you can lift more, for some reason. By working your muscles you get stronger.

 

When God asks us to do the impossible, it’s like going to the gym for our faith. Our faith grows when we are challenged. So the first principle of a miracle is to admit I have an unsolvable problem, that’s it. Number two, give God what little I already have. So Jesus said to his disciples, “How much bread do you have? Go find out.” And when they came back they said five loaves and two fish. One little boy has brought lunch, just one little boy; that’s what the Bible says anyway. Well I think maybe there were a few other people who brought lunch too and just didn’t have the heart to give. Maybe the disciples came by and said, “Hey, does anyone have a lunch?” and they hid it behind them, “No, I don’t have lunch, this won’t help anybody.” I don’t know I’ve been selfish like that before, it doesn’t help. This boy becomes a hero because he’s willing to give the little lunch he had. So, why did Jesus say, “Find out how much bread you have”? He didn’t need anything to perform a miracle, he could have just said, “Bread for everyone” and pizzas start raining from the sky and everyone’s fed. He doesn’t need what we have, he doesn’t need it. So the reason is, God starts with what we have is because… that is the reason, God starts with what we have, he wants to work through us. So it may not be much, but I need to give it to God. I don’t have much talent, but here’s the talent I do have. I don’t have much time, but here’s the time I do have. I don’t have much money, but here’s what I got Lord, take what I have and use it. I give you everything in my life, my reputation, my heart, my soul, my future, it’s not much, I don’t know what it is, but I’m going a give it to you anyway. I’m going to give it to you and I’m going to let you use it for whatever you want.

 

In John it tells the story a little differently, John 6:5-6. “Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip he asked, ‘Where can we buy bread for all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Jesus asked, “Where can we buy bread?” He asked Philip, “where can we buy bread” just to test him, just to see what he was going to say, because he already knew what he was going to do. Jesus already had a plan, but he wanted to test them. When God asks you to do the impossible, he’s not sitting there worried, he’s not thinking, “I hope he doesn’t do it, I don’t have a plan.” This guy says, “Yes. Oh, I don’t know what to do.” No, that’s not God. He has a plan long before you even decide what you’re going to do. God has a plan before I even know the problem. He has a plan and a solution before you even recognize that there’s a problem. So why are we worrying? God has a plan; we just need to remember this. That’s why the secondary principle is give what little I have to God, you’re giving them your finance, time, energy, worry and saying, “God, this is in your hands and I trust your plan” – which is actually our third principle.

 

Number three is put at all in the hands of God, Jesus. I put it all in the hands of Jesus. In John it says that the disciple Andrew finds one little boy who brought a small lunch. I’m guessing he didn’t have five giant loaves of Wonder bread, just carrying a bag and two trophy trout, he didn’t have these giant fish; that’s my guess, I don’t know for sure. He probably had some muffin-sized loaves and maybe a couple perch or sardines, some little tiny fish, probably wasn’t much, it was just a lunch, it wasn’t it wasn’t a feast. This kid became a hero because he gave all he had. The Bible says in Mark 6:41, “Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, bless them, then breaking the loaves into pieces he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people.” So God will use whatever I give him, it may not be much, but I give him what little I have. If I give God the little time I have, the little energy, finance, effort, no matter how little it is, he’s going to use it. Remember the woman who gave two pennies, and the rich guy gave a whole boat load, but the woman who gave two pennies gave more in her heart because she gave all she had to God. The rich guy gave boatloads of money, but it didn’t matter, he had he had a whole castle full of money. The little boy gave willingly, gave cheerfully, and he gave immediately, which are also keys to a miracle.

 

This boy gives willingly, it doesn’t say much about his attitude, but I’m guessing the disciples didn’t put him in a headlock, “Hey, give me your lunch.” They probably didn’t force it out of him, they probably didn’t take him out back and beat them, he probably gave it willingly. Would you guys give your lunch? Let’s put it in terms we might understand a little better. The Centrium down that way, it holds just over 7,000 people. So now let’s say you’ve been there all day and for some reason they’re not serving food. Some long event, people are getting hungry, they’re getting frustrated, and the guy comes up on the mic and he’s like, “Hey, does anyone have a lunch they want to share with us all here? We’re all getting pretty hungry.” I know the first thing that would come to my head if I had a lunch would be, “This lunch won’t even feed my row, let alone everyone here.” There’s 20 people in row. Could you imagine being the only one to bring up a lunch, you’re walking up, you see this guy, you’re way in the back, you’re in the bleachers. This guy is walking up, he’s got this little lunch bag, hands it over. I don’t think I’d have much hope of getting food that day, I don’t think I’d be eating. But that’s what the Bible says happened. The Bible says this kid brought up his lunch, he brought up those five loaves and two fish, and Jesus just kept handing it out for everyone, “Here you go, keep going.” And at the end there are 12 baskets full. It doesn’t make sense, right? The boy brought up his lunch and they just kept going. I think the boy did it cheerfully, I don’t think he was complaining. He didn’t say, “Oh man, why do I have to give up my lunch?” No; he did it immediately, no hesitation. He’s seen the need and he gave; that’s what we need to do.

 

Which also brings us to number four – we can expect God to multiply it. The first three principles here bring us to number four. Without the first three there can not be a number four. So here’s a reminder of the first three – admit I have an unsolvable problem, give God what little I already have, and put it all in the hands of Jesus. Remember what happened to Mark, 6:42-43. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward the disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftover bread and fish; how awesome is that? They had as much as they wanted, it was like they were going to Red Lobster for all-you-can-eat lobster, it just kept coming. Everyone was blessed in the process, and so was he. You’re never going to multiply what you have if you don’t give what you have to God – basic math, anything multiplied by zero is still zero, it doesn’t matter the number. If you give God nothing, you’re going to receive nothing. But if you give God what little you have, he can take that and multiply it, he can take that and turn it into a miracle.

 

I’ll give you an example of this in my own life. When I was in school I dreaded, dreaded doing speeches. We had to do it in English class every year, three-minute speech, man my life was over. It was terrifying, and it was the only day of the year that I would try and get out of school, it was the only day of the year I would pretend I was sick and give my mom the hardest time, and she never fell for it. Every year I would get up in front of my class and stumble my way through it, people didn’t even know what I was saying. When I finally graduated I thought it was over and that I would never have to get in front of people again. We see that I was wrong there. My fear kept getting worse, until I came to the point where I would get people to speak for me, and I would only speak around my friends. This fear paralyzed me. If we were in a group of people, I would get a friend to speak for me and I wouldn’t say a word. I was terrified to speak. When I started coming to church here and I got baptized, Pastor Chuck said, “You got to say some words, you got to tell your story.” So I got up here, I held the mic, and I said a couple words, and it probably made no sense to anybody. I think it was only like five or six words, and then I hopped in the tank and we got it over with. One day when me and my wife were getting premarital counseling, we were up in the office upstairs with Pastor Chuck and I told him I can’t speak. He asked me a question, I said, “I can’t speak, ask Jess.” And I can’t quite remember the exact words he said to me, but was something along the lines of “God gave you a voice to use it. He didn’t give you a voice to be mute.” So I took that to heart, and that changed my life; but I didn’t realize how much at the time.

 

Soon after that I was asked if I would help in the kids church by Rob, he put me on the spot. And the first thing that came to my mind was, “I don’t want to do this. I have no desire to be around kids in the first place.” That’s what I was thinking at the time. The second thing, I don’t want to talk in front of kids, I don’t want to be up there, I don’t want to talk. I hate it. I’m scared. But I said yes. I knew that God had asked me to do this, so I said yes. I didn’t know what it was going to look like, I was terrified, but I gave it to God; I said yes. I gave him the little bit I had and it wasn’t much I can tell you that. I wasn’t confident, I was terrified because I didn’t know what the outcome would be but I knew in my heart that it was God calling me, and that if I said yes to God that he would be there with me. It seemed impossible to me; but it wasn’t impossible to God. Because I was willing to give God what little I had, that’s the only reason I can get up here today in front of you guys. He’s taken that and he’s molded it into something else, and I don’t think he’s done yet, I don’t think he’s done there. He’s going to continue, not just in me; in each and every one of you. If you give it to God he’s going to continue to grow it, he’s going to continue to multiply it. You just need to take the step of faith.

 

So the point of all this I guess is God likes to do miracles through people. He doesn’t like to just do them, he likes to do them through people, he likes you guys to step out in faith and say, “Use me.” He likes to work through every day average people, which is me. What we are waiting for God to do, he is actually waiting to do through us. God wants to use each of us for miracles. He doesn’t just want to do it for us, he doesn’t want you to just sit on the bench and say, “Hey, I need a miracle. Come fix my problem. I’m not going to do anything for you, but fix it.” That’s not what he’s here for; he wants us to step out. God is going to take what we have if we give it to him. He’s going to take it and he’s going to break it, he’s going to bless it, and he’s going to multiply it. He wants to do that in your lives, he wants to do that in my life still; every one of us. So are you guys willing to give God what you have? Are you guys willing to give them your time, your money, effort, energy, whatever you have? Not everyone’s got the same thing. What do you have? What are you willing to give God and trust that he’s going to take it and he’s going to use it and he’s going to multiply it? Because I believe that, I believe he wants to use every one of us here.

 

In Mark 10:27 it says, “All things are possible with God” – all things, anything. The ultimate example of this is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If God can raise a dead human being, he can do anything. If God can raise a dead human being, he can raise a dead marriage. If God can raise the dead human, he can raise a dead career. He can raise a dead dream, he can raise dead finances; God can do anything. Whatever is dead in your life, if you give that to God he can raise that from the dead; and the resurrection proves it. Genesis 18:14 says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” It’s a rhetorical question, and the answer is obviously no. Nothing is too hard for the Lord, all things are possible with God. And the resurrection is the ultimate example of the greater the sacrifice, the more you’re willing to give to God, the more he can do with it. Jesus gave his life for the sins of every one of us, and through that we can all receive salvation; no greater sacrifice. Are you willing to give God what little you have and let him do miracles through you?

 

Now, I’m coming to the end of this. But before I pray for you guys I want to give you all a chance to take Jesus into your hearts. So I’m just going to say a prayer, you guys can repeat after me, we’re all going to bow our heads, so you can do that now. Father God, I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God, and that he died for my sins. I believe he rose from the dead for my salvation. I’m a sinner, and I ask you to forgive my sins. Jesus, come into my heart and cause me to be born again. Today I choose you as my Lord and Savior, in Jesus amen. Now, you can keep your heads bowed and eyes closed. If there’s anyone here who’s prayed that for the first time, you just put up your hand. This isn’t something to be ashamed about, this is something to be excited about. Alright, thank you guys. You can open your eyes again. I don’t really know how to recover from that.

 

So is there anyone here who would like to allow God to use them? Is there anyone here who’s willing to say, “God, I don’t have much, but I want to give it to you”? I’m going to pray for you guys, and if that’s you, if you want God to use you, I want you guys just to tell God what it is. You don’t need to tell me, I’m not the guy who can take it and multiply it, just tell God, just say, “I give you my time, I give you my energy.” Whatever it is, just say that. I’m going to pray here, so let’s all bow our heads. Father God, like it says in John 12:24, a seed has to be planted in order to multiply. So today Lord, I’m giving you my time, my energy, my finances, my marriage, whatever it is Lord I’m giving it to you. It’s in your hands, I’m letting go of all my worry and I’m going to trust your plan. I want you to use me God, take what I have and multiply it. Use me, use what I give you, and use it to bless people. Bless people around me so that they will know that you are the only God. I thank you God, and in Jesus name, amen. So, if that’s you guys just stay true to that, just give it to God and be honest; don’t hold back. Thank you everyone.

 

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Daring Faith – Part 1

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – Daring Faith Pt 1 – Pastor Nick Andrushko

Today I’m starting, or we’re starting a series on Daring Faith, so this is kind of an introductory sermon for our series. And so my message is entitled today “Having Faith That Works.” We begin first of all 1 Corinthians 13:13 that says, “And now abides faith, hope, love, these three. But the greatest of these is love.” Let’s pray. Father we thank you for your word again and I really pray that Father you will help us to understand what’s being communicated this morning. Give me clarity of mind, and Lord I pray that the anointing of the Spirit of God is upon me Lord God so this word will go forth and challenge each one of us, Lord God that we can rise to a different level than where we are at. And we thank you for that, and we give you praise. Your word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, and so we thank you for your word today in Jesus name, amen.

 

So often we talk about love and there’s a lot of messages on love, love, love, love. And sometimes I get tired of that. But love is an important ingredient of course. But I want you to know that faith is a very large component of our Christian life; faith. Romans 1:17 says, “As it is written, the just shall live by faith.” The just shall live by faith. Then we find in Hebrews 11:6, and it says, “But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that comes to God must believe that he is and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” We’re going to expand on that a little bit more later on.

 

But the thing that I want to get across also is this – what faith is not. Faith is not desire. Even though the scripture says “What things soever you desire when you pray, believe that you receive them and you shall have them.” So desire and faith are two separate things; they’re not the same. Number two, faith does not pretend that something is true when it is not. Like for instance, margarine is still margarine; and butter is still butter. You cannot imagine that butter is margarine or the other way around. Faith is not trying to psych yourself up to the point where something becomes true when it is not. Male is still male, female is still female. Number three, faith is not feeling. If I had to depend on feeling, I tell you what, I would hardly ever believe. Because our feelings change every day, not just every day but every every half hour or even less. Faith is not bargaining with God even though some of you and some of us have been doing that. But that’s not what faith is, it’s not bargaining with God.

 

So what is faith then? Faith, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1, “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is assurance for things we hope for. You have to have hope in order for faith to attach itself too, because if you don’t have hope faith will not operate, so you need hope. If you are hoping for healing or for restoration, that is a start; you need to attach faith to it. 1 John 5:14 says, “And this is the confidence that we have in him that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” So faith us an assurance, it gives us confidence in our God, it’s seen from God’s perspective. It’s basically saying what God says is true; what God says is true. It’s seeing from God’s point of view.

 

For instance, salvation. The Bible says this, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Now for the natural man that doesn’t make sense, but God says this in his word and we have to see it from his point of view, that in order for us to ever inherit heaven we need to be born again, we got to get saved. I don’t care what the media might say, I don’t care what anybody else says, I don’t care whether they have these shows that indicate everybody is going to heaven, which is a lie; it is an absolute lie. The Bible says that man, in order for a man to go to heaven he needs to be born again. But there’s another part to this, and that is this – that we need to pray for eyes to be opened. Because I’ll tell you what, the world is blinded by the god of this world. The man outside of God is blind, and even as believers we can be blind too. Ephesians 1:18 says, “And Paul is praying for the Ephesian believers and he’s saying this, the eyes of your understanding be enlightened that you may know what is the hope of his calling and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance to the Saints.”

 

To you as an example from the Scripture, we find this story, and I’m not going to go through the whole thing, but just this – in 2 Kings chapter 6 we have some Syrian raiders that came to fetch Elisha who was a prophet at the time and he was revealing secrets, the plans of the enemy to the Israeli king. And they were wondering how in the world does this does the Israeli King know all these plans of this Syrians. And so of course the information came out, it’s Elisha, it’s that prophet, so they come to get him. And when they come they surround the house; and you know the story. And here is the servant, he is scared, he’s frightened because that place where they’re abiding is surrounded by the enemy. And he says to Elisha, “What are we going to do?” And Elisha prays, he says, “God open his eyes that he might see there’s more for us than against us.” And so his eyes are opened and he sees this huge angelic army that surrounded the enemy. To be able to see into the spiritual realm, to see from God’s point of view is so important for us.

 

Faith by the way is God’s idea. Mark 11:22 says, “And Jesus answering said unto them ‘have faith in God.'” Some translators translate that passage or that phrase “have faith from God” or “have the faith of God.” So the faith we’re talking about today is not natural faith, everybody’s got natural faith; everybody’s got natural faith. But it’s based for the physical realm. For instance, you believe that when you sit on that pew that it won’t give out. You believe these are natural faith that’s based on physical realm. For instance, when you go to your car you believe it’s going to start; you hope. But this is natural faith. But when we’re talking about this faith, it is God-given faith that begins when you hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, when he gives you that faith, and that’s a measure of faith for you to do something with. And then when you get saved, this faith needs to be developed. But all praise God. When this faith is working, when you’re walking in that faith, when you activate that faith, something is going to happen. Something is going to happen.

 

Number one, faith shrinks my problems. We’re having fun today, right? Amen, glory to God, we’re having faith in church. Someone had said we should have so much fun in church that the outside world looks at us and say, “What’s going on in that place? They’re having so much fun.” Hallelujah, praise God. Yes, hallelujah, let’s have fun. Faith shrinks my problems. When I really believe and have this faith working in my life I see God as a big God. I don’t see him just some small, little idol sitting in a corner; he’s a big God. And so when he’s a big God my problems get smaller because I’m looking to him. I need to actually get to the point where my faith says, “Lord, you are a big God, and you can handle this problem better than I can. And so what I’m going to do, I’m going to give it to you and I’m going to trust that you’re going to look after me.” That’s right, it needs to come to that point. It needs to come to that point where I’m confident in my God, he’s going to look after me. That’s what faith is all about.

 

But I want you to know also that this faith, even though God has given to us, needs to be grounded in the Word of God; it needs the Word. In Genesis 18:14 it says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Luke 1:37. A person’s level of faith might… it depends where it’s at, because you might say, “Yeah, maybe.” Come on, let’s be honest. Oh yeah, there’s a lot of us, we just are not real, we’re not honest enough. Because it seems like and I’ve heard messages that seem to indicate we have faith, don’t worry about it, we’ve got faith. No, I’m sorry to differ. We have faith, a level of faith. There’s a level of faith but there’s more; and I’m going to touch on it a little bit later on. Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” Mark 9:23 says, “Jesus said unto him, if you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” We need to get those verses integrated into our minds, into our spirits. We need to be grounded in the Word of God. Faith shrinks my problems.

 

Number two, faith opens the door for a miracle in your life. You’re looking for a miracle? Faith opens the door for a miracle in your life. Mark 11:22 – 24 says this, “And Jesus answering said unto them, have faith in God or have the faith of God. For verily I say unto you that whosoever shall say unto this mountain ‘be removed and be cast into the sea’ and shall not doubt in his heart but shall believe that those things which he said shall come to pass, he shall have whatsoever he said. Therefore I say unto you what things you desire, when you pray believe that you will receive them and you shall have them.” This is talking about mountain-moving faith, this is not just some ordinary stuff. I know that God has created the laws of nature, that everything is in place. But I want you to do something else, that the laws of faith are greater than the laws of nature. Your faith is in God and God is the one who created everything. And so when you trust him God mountains can move; they can move.

 

Let me give you an example. You know the story about the walls of Jericho, everybody knows about these walls. Well I’ll tell you what, God led the nation of Israel to this land that he had promised, to the land which flows with milk and honey. But the first city they had to deal with is Jericho. And it’s interesting, God gives them directions, what they had to do, they had to walk around the city each day once. And then on the seventh day they had to go around it seven times. And then they had to shout, the trumpets would blow, and guess what? When that happens, the walls came down. In fact, history indicates that the ground opened up and they fell into the ground. And those walls were just one foot thick, they were thick enough where people could live in them. It was amazing. Not an explosive was used, no cannons, no big explosive items were used to try to bring down the walls; faith did, faith in their God. And when they followed instructions, directions, miracle happened.

 

Do you need a miracle? If you need a miracle, believe in the God of miracles and God will give you a miracle. But I want you to know something else, that your mouth plays an important part in this; it does. Because if you say things like this, “20 years ago this is the way it was and it won’t change.” We’ve prayed and nothing seems to happen, and we go on and on, we just say negative things all the time, “Oh yeah, it happens for that guy, but it doesn’t happen for me.” And we go on with that kind of speech. Guess what? Don’t expect anything else either, it isn’t going to happen. But when you line up with what God says in his word, because this is God’s Word, this is the Bible that tells me that God is a God of miracles.

 

And you could see all kinds of miracles in the Old Testament and also in the New. Matthew 13:58 says, “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” But God is still, as I said, in the business of miracles. What he wants us to do in Proverbs 3:5 and 6 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding.” Don’t allow the world to tell you what to believe and what not to believe. It’s not about your opinions, it’s not about your understanding; it’s about what God said. Folks, if we’re going to be followers of Jesus Christ we got to follow his word, not our plans, not our ideas. It’s OK to make plans, but when it comes to the final point, we’ve got to follow what he says, what the Spirit of God says, we’re to be led by him. We’ve talked about faith shrinks my problems, number two, we talked about faith opens the door for a miracle in your life; number three, faith moves God to act on your behalf.

 

God is looking for somebody who’s going to take him at his word; absolutely. God is looking for people who are going to believe. It’s not about grumbling and complaining and whining and just somehow if I just do it enough that God will listen to me, he will hear my complaints. And you know what? You can keep on doing it. I’ve been there, I know all about that story; I’ve done it many times. I would fight with God, and I thought maybe if I fought and I would persuade him. But it came to the point where I had to surrender and say, “God, I repent.” I look at it and it sounds funny, but it’s real. I’ve done it many times, and I find out that some of you have done the same thing that I’ve done. So it’s not about grumbling and complaining and whining, it isn’t going to work. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him. For he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

 

God is not a dispensing machine; he is not a dispensing machine. A lot of us would like to just go to the wall, or to go to this particular machine, push the button and get exactly what you need. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? You go to that particular machine and you just hit the button, put a dollar in, two dollars maybe, you hit the button and you get it, “Wow, I got the answer.” But God doesn’t operate that way, he’s not that way. Matthew 9:29 talks about a story of these blind men, and they came to Jesus. And the Bible says, “Then touch either eyes saying ‘according to your faith, be it unto you’.” It’s faith that moves God; it’s faith. Psalms 35:27 says, “Let them shout for joy and be glad that favor my righteous cause. Yay, let them say continually, let the Lord be magnified who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” Do you know that God wants to give you things that you need? He wants to bless us, that’s his desire. He’s our Father and he wants to give us good things; he definitely does. But he wants us to believe for them, he wants us to trust him.

 

But I also want to add something else, God is also pleased when you’re honest. It’s like the man in Mark chapter 9 who had a son who was demon-possessed, and he came to Jesus and Jesus said something like this, “You just believe and it’s going to happen” basically. And the man said, “I believe, but help my unbelief.” And the miracle took place, because God wants us to be honest. God is pleased when you’re honest, when you admit and you say, “No, I’m struggling in the area of faith. I don’t have the kind of faith that God you’re asking for, I’m not in that place.” It’s OK to admit it and to say so, because God is going to minister to you accordingly. When I was going through a period of depression, especially the last one was very difficult, it was really difficult. To believe God for things, I was fighting. We talk about ‘fight the good fight of faith’, I fought for everything I was worth, claiming scripture verses and so forth. And then I listened to Joyce Myers and she was talking about faith, and she says something, when your faith is weak don’t shy away from that; admit it. Say, “God my faith is weak, I have a difficult time in trusting.” God’s grace is going to be released into you. Because God wants us to be honest, it’s time to be honest and admit it, it’s OK. God is not frightened, he’s not somehow, “Oh, no, that person again is admitting they’re weak.” No, it’s OK. For when I am weak, then am I strong, because my dependence is on God, not on myself, not in others; but in him.

 

Number four, faith turns God-given dreams into reality. Oh my goodness, there’s some of you that have had dreams that didn’t work out, things failed, things that you believe were going to work out, they did not work. And you came to the conclusion, “I might as well quit” and you’ve never tried again. I want to encourage you today to pray for dreams again, begin to dream again. Because if it’s God-given dream, guess what? If you trust him he’ll bring it into reality in your life. The problem a lot of times is because it takes a period of time, and so we think to ourselves, “God, you’re just taking too much time. I know how to speed up, oh yes I know how to speed it up because I know I’m a man of action, oh yes. I can bring it into reality and it won’t take me as long as you God.” Well the problem is when you bring it into reality or you think you did, a lot of times it falls flat on its face; it does. And you have examples in the Bible. God is a God who wants us to dream, and he gives us dreams.

 

Abraham dreamed of being the father of our great nation, but you know what? He short-circuited as well, because he waited too long. He thought he was waiting and waiting and waiting, and said, “God.” We have Ishmael. Moses dreamed of setting his own people free, God gave him a dream. But he complained and he almost short-circuited the whole thing. Joseph dreamed of saving the nation and his family, and if you read that story, you find out about Joseph, he had to wait two years longer, a total of 13 years altogether. But he was trying to push it into existence; it didn’t work. You got to trust God. Daniel, David, Paul, John, all these various apostles as well, they had to depend on God to bring it into reality. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think or dream according to the power that works in us.” God wants you to dream again, because as you trust him he’ll bring it into reality his own way. All you need to do is trust him.

 

Number five, faith provides me the power to hold on in tough times. Faith does not necessarily take me out of the trouble at hand. God never promised that he will take us out of trouble; but he’ll lead us through. All he wants you to do is trust him, he wants you to rely upon him, and he’ll give you that strength to go through it. Psalms 91:1, 2, I think Rich referred to it last week, “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” That secret place is prayer, is spending time with him. And the Bible says you shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. And then the Psalmist goes on to say, “I will say of the Lord he is my refuge and my fortress, my god, in him will I trust. When you are struggling with situations, there are difficult things in your life, run to him. He is your refuge, he is your strength, he is the one who is able to help you in those difficult situations. Faith will take you through the pain and storms of life and give you peace. In Psalm 91:15 it says, “He shall call upon me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” God is for you, and he wants to help you.

 

Corrie ten Boom, a young woman sent to Nazi death camp, said that people who lasted in those camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald, were those who had the deepest of faith. They trusted and relied on God. Just think of it, I’ve seen some documentaries and what they went through, it was horrible, it’s a horrible experience. But the people that trusted in God were the ones who seemed to last the longest. Why? Because God is greater than the problem. God is greater than the problem. People have prayed for me, people have prayed for me that I would be healed, it was all of you. Thank you so much for praying for me. But I’ve had this problem now for about 15 years, torn tendon. It started first of all with 5/16 Karen. And then last year I was at Perry’s place, and it’s all Perry’s fault, I was throwing the football around, and guess what? From 5/16 to 2 inches, it ripped, the pain was incredible. I didn’t tell you Perry, but maybe you saw me, my arm was hanging down. I prayed when I was only 5/16. This has been about 15 years, and there are people who said, “Just trust God, just trust God.” I’ve said to some people that the healing process is like micro, micro, micro, micro; it is very small. But you know what it’s done for me/ It’s caused me to trust God and go forward and not allow this thing to stop me in Jesus name.

 

If you’re depending on God, God will give you the strength, he will give you the strength to be able to keep on pressing forward. I refuse to let this thing stop me. Even this morning I was I was praising God and I had a little dance and so forth, but praise God, I will not allow myself to be defeated by the enemy in the midst of it all, because I’m a child of the King and he is my strength. He is my life, I’m going to keep trusting him; he is my God. That’s what he wants, faith in him. Rick Warren says in one of his articles he says, “Because faith gives me the power to hold on in tough times. It produces persistence, it gives you the ability to bounce back, to keep going.” Because, you know what? Every one of us goes through struggles and problems. He also said this, “Nobody goes through life with an unbroken chain of success.” Everybody has failures, flops, duds, mistakes, we all embarrass ourselves; nobody goes through life scot-free. We all have pains, we have problems, we all have pressures in life. But the biggest thing of all, that we need to trust God, look to him as the one who gives us power to be able to stay true to him during that situation that we experience. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:8 – 9 he says, “We are trouble on every side, yet not distressed. We’re perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down. but not destroyed.” Talk about Paul, the stuff that he went through, but his faith was in God and he pressed forward, and he continued to preach.

 

Number six, the last one. I know you’re saying, “Praise God, he’s just about done.” Faith unlocks and stands on the promises of God. Faith unlocks the promises of God, because faith looks to God and it looks to these promises, and it unlocks them. Look at 1 Kings 8:56, “Blessed be the Lord that has given rest unto his people Israel. According to all that he promised, there has not failed one word of all his good promise which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.” Faith says, “This is God. This is God. God said it.” Not anybody else; God said it. And I’m going to stand on his word because God said it. Faith also helps us to understand what God is saying in that promise, so I can actually stand on it. And so when it unlocks that truth I can then stand on it. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in him are yay, and in him, amen, that have been given to us for us to take them and embrace them and stand on it.” In spite of what we face in life, God has given us promises.

 

Look at 2 Timothy 1:12. I read from 2 Corinthians chapter 4 and Paul said we have trouble on every side, yet not distressed. Look at this verse. He says, “I’m not ashamed.” He says “In spite of what I’ve gone through, in spite of the difficulties, in spite of the struggles that I’ve gone through, it doesn’t matter, I’m not ashamed. For I know whom I have believed.” And he says, “And I’m persuaded that he’s able to keep that which I’ve committed unto him against that day.” It doesn’t matter what the enemy does. I heard somebody talk about what happened in Edmonton, and there’s going to be other incidents believe you me. The spirit of Antichrist is working very hard, and there are things happening, and there’s more to come folks I’m sorry to say, but there’s more to come. But guess what? I’m going to be like the Apostle Paul. He says, “For I’m not ashamed, I am persuaded.” I’m going to keep on believing, I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing, I’m going to keep preaching the gospel. I’m going to keep preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:13 says, “Paul says again therefore take unto you the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.” We’re living in the evil day, but he’s saying put on the whole armor of God, and having done all to stand, stand on the promises of God.

 

Now, faith needs to be nourished. Our faith needs to be nourished; it needs something. You can’t take it for granted. We take faith for granted because we’re told we have faith. And sometimes people will say, “Well, you just didn’t have enough faith.” Now, I know you’ve heard it and I’ve heard it, but I want you to know something – if you can tell me you have enough faith, guess what? I’ll say you are not really sure where you’re at. None of us know how much we have, none of us have enough faith for a lot of things; it’s true. That’s why the scripture talks about that we have to nourish it, we’ve got to grow it, we got to grow faith; it’s not automatic. Number one, we need the Word; we need the Word. Romans 10:17 says… I know some people don’t like this verse, but I’m sorry. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” When you get into the word, when you take the word and you eat it, guess what? You’ll feed your faith; your faith needs feeding. Like you, you eat food every day; what do you feed? You feed your body. Well, faith needs to be fed as well, it needs the Word of God.

 

Number two, and these relationships develop through fellowship. Lyn Hammond in her book, The Master is Calling says this, “Real faith comes from knowing the person behind the principles, knowing him in a personal intimate way.” That means you need to spend time with him. Look at this verse in John 15:7, it says, “If you abide in me.” What does that mean? It means living in Christ. That’s a daily thing, it’s an everyday living in him every day of your life. You don’t separate God from your job, you don’t separate God from your relationship. It doesn’t matter what you do in life, it’s got to be all connected. You live in Christ, you live in Christ whatever you do. In politics, the same thing, you cannot separate God in politics. I’m sorry for those that are going to listen to this and say, “I don’t agree with this.” Sorry, because I’m a believer in Christ and it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m connected to politics as well. I’m a child of God wherever I am. The Bible says, “If you abide in me my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you.” It’s an intimate relationship.

 

Number three, reconnect with your covenant. You’re probably wondering, “What in the world is he talking about, covenant?” You made a covenant. You made a covenant with Jesus Christ the day when you asked Christ into your life. The day when you asked Jesus you entered into an agreement with the Lord Jesus Christ. With the king of glory you’ve entered into agreement with him, so you’re in a covenant relationship, and you need to renew that every day. Billy Graham says this, we need to go back and renew it every day. You need to renew it every day, say, “Lord, I thank you I’m saved. I’m a child of God. I’ve been born again.” You need to do that every day. And guess what when you do that? You’re going to draw from the wells of salvation – the Bible says it in Isaiah 12:3, you’re going to draw from the wells of salvation. And what is it going to do for you? It’s going to bring joy, it’s going to bring life into you. You need to go back, renew your covenant, God.

 

Number four, and the last thing, act on his word; do his word. James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Be a doer of the word whether it feels good or not, do it anyway, do his word, walk in his word. Ask God to help you, ask for grace and he will help you. He wants you to grow, he wants you to bless you abundantly. But you got to make a decision – are you going to feed your faith so that your faith is strong in him? You can do it, it’s up to you and me, and so I challenge you. You want to have a different life, you want to have a life that’s more meaningful to you, guess what? You need to feed yourself with the Word of God, you need to connect with God, and you can have the kind of faith that the Bible talks about. Especially in this hour that we’re living in, your faith needs to get stronger and stronger. But it’s going to be tested as well, but it’s OK for it to be tested, because when you persist and you say, “No, I’m not giving up. I am not quitting. I don’t care what the devil does, I don’t care what he says, I don’t care what politics in Canada says. I don’t care whatever party it is, I’m going to keep going and trusting God because he is my God.” Amen, praise God. Let’s all stand.

 

Father I thank you for your word today. I thank you Lord God you’re calling us to build our faith in you. And I pray Lord God that we are encouraged and exhorted today to do exactly that, that we will not allow the things of the world to interfere to stop us, but Lord that we’re going to press through. We’re going to keep growing in you, we’re going to keep growing our faith by feeding it through your word, your relationship. And Lord God that we’re going to renew our covenant in Jesus name. And we’re going to be doers of the word, and not hearers only. Hallelujah. I praise you Lord God and I give you glory. God, you’re so awesome; you’re so awesome. Thank you for loving us so much. Thank you for Lord God giving us the opportunity to be able to experience these wonderful things that you have in store for us, the blessings of God, thank you Lord.

 

With every head bowed and every eye closed, I want you to be honest with yourself. I want you to be honest with yourself and with God. I’m going to ask you this question – how many of you in this place, be honest now, I’m not here trying to pretend because I know I struggle with things, I struggle with faith and I need it to grow as well, and there’s a fight within me. But I’m going to ask you this, how many of you in this place, no looking around please, how many of you in this place will say before God and also admitting to yourself, “I am struggling in the area of faith”? There’s a lot of us. And I know there are others that are just not brave enough to lift up your hands, or maybe you don’t understand. But you know what, it’s OK to admit it, it’s totally OK. Because God wants to help you grow. He loves you; he does. Jesus gave his life and he’s there for you all the time.

 

Father I just pray for those that lifted their hands. God, I just pray that you would inspire within their hearts to keep standing on the promises of your word, that in spite what they might feel, that in spite what their body might say, God, but they’ll stand on your promises. Lord I pray that you give them that persistence to follow through and not give up. God, we’re not people who give up. Oh, God yes, there are times we feel like quitting, we feel like giving up. But God we’re not going to, because you’re for us and not against us. Lord, you love us with an everlasting love. God your Word says there’s nothing that can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And so I pray today Father that God, God put this within us, that determination Lord God, that we’re going to grow, we’re going to develop, we’re going to become strong in you in Jesus name. And I thank you and I praise you for it, in Jesus name, amen and amen.

 

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All Systems Go – Part 3

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – All Systems Go Part 3 – Rich Adamkewicz

Really grateful that the leadership has allowed me you to share the word today, and that I have this opportunity also to talk to you a little bit about where I just came back from. We were on a mission trip to Jamaica, I know it sounds glamorous but we did do work, believe me. But I just want to thank everybody who had a part in getting me there, I want to thank the church and the each and every one of you for your prayers and for anything else that you did to help me get there; God really did work in our entire team. Dwayne give us a big wave or… Dwayne Hillman, not only a part of our congregation, but he also heads up… Impact the World global missions, and friends and supporters of Generations Church. Generations Church is the church in Jamaica in Mandeville that we went down to there, but we didn’t just participate in the church down there, there was a number of different missions that we did. I just want to touch on a couple of things that we did just to share with you, but we were there for 10 days and we stayed in a camp called the Moorlands Camp, fantastic place, it’s a Christian camp, it’s been running for literally decades now, the facility is fantastic, Christian-operated. The people who are the directors of the camp right now are actually the pastors of Generations Church. And I want to tell you, it’s so amazing of what God can do for us, because we have so many parallels between that church and our church here. Their vision is to love God and love people, and our vision – love God, love others and serve. There is so many things they’re doing, they have a fantastic clothing ministry there, we have a fantastic clothing ministry here; they have a great food bank that they run to provide for people that can’t provide food for themselves, we also have the exact same thing.

 

It’s so cool to see what God can do for us and where God will place us and the situations God will put us in, so if we can get the… Anyway, God was doing some work there, and for myself God… for the last two weeks I think I’ve been going through a battle. When God is working in our lives and things are happening and God is moving stuff in your lives, the enemy is going to come up against you, there’s going to be a storm that comes up against you, there’s going to be a battle that comes up against you. It might seem small, it might seem like it’s nothing, that “Ugh, what a bad day I’ve been having,” but when God is doing good things in your life the enemy wants to push you back. Last week Rob… where’s Rob? Rob is also one of our deacons. Rob shared with us about knowing God, choosing God and reflecting on God, and this week I want to look at Psalm 91, and Psalm 91 I didn’t know until actually about five minutes ago I think why God is putting this on my heart, but it’s the trials that I’ve been through in this last week, and I just really feel like there’s a lot of people out there right now that have had something up against themselves. So Psalm 91, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” You see, this is coming from the point of God and we live in the world, there’s a difference there. So we’re going to look at a couple of things today, we’re going to look at some of the words in there, we’re going to look at ‘dwell’, we’re going to look at ‘shelter’, and we’re going to look at rest, because who doesn’t want rest? What does that look like to us in this world, rest, and what does it look like to God who’s supernatural, who created this world.

 

So the word ‘dwell’ in this, is it a dwelling, or is the dwelling place? Is it somewhere where you dwell? Is it where you live? So where do you say that you dwell? Does dwelling have to be a structure or a building? Does it have to be your home where you dwell? Some of us dwell in books, you find your peace in books, some people. I’m not sure I understand that but I know some people do that. Some people dwell in their children, some people find peace in their jobs, so you might say they dwell with their work. Some people dwell in social media, some people dwell in their spouse. So that’s ‘dwell’, dwelling. Let’s look at ‘shelter’ – what makes a shelter, and why do we need shelter? I’ve always been taught when I grew up in the north that there’s several things that you need if you get stuck in the bush – you need food, you need water and you need shelter; basic needs for survival. And it’s important when it’s minus 40 and you’re up in the bush and you’re stuck, you need those things. You find those things you’re probably going to be OK for a while. Looking at it from the Bible, perhaps we need food, water, shelter and maybe clothing, because of the whole apple thing, remember in the beginning of the Bible in the garden, I’m just saying. Maybe there was a time where we didn’t need clothing but now I appreciate everybody brought. So shelter is one of our basic needs, it protects us from the elements, it protects us from the world.

 

But there are different kinds of shelters, I’ve lived in many different kinds of shelters in the past, and it really depends on where you live in the world as to what kind of a shelter you need; but you can live in just about anything. Picture this, are you ready? A good-sized house, it’s solid, it’s got a nice roof, and you just bought the best shingles. Strong front door, one of those big front doors where when you see the house you’re like, “Man, I want to see what’s inside that house.” Now picture this – tin walls, just tin, leaned up against each other, a tin roof, and a piece of wood that you’d probably throw away but now that piece of wood is your door. It doesn’t sound so great here, does it? But you know what? In some parts of the world that might be the best house ever because they get rain, and a lot of it. Now picture this, another kind of shelter, a mud house, mud walls, a thatched roof, maybe a good door. It doesn’t sound good here, but I’ve been to some places where they didn’t have a lot of lumber but they had a lot of clay and they had a lot of mud and you can build a very solid structure, a very solid shelter with whatever you have. Mobile home – one of the best places I lived when we lived in the north; loved our mobile home. People call them mobile homes now, they’re trailers, if you put something on wheels it’s a trailer. We owned a trailer and I loved it, it was solid, solid, and mouse-proof, but that took some work and that’s another story.

 

A home or a shelter is a place of protection, a place of sanctuary, safety, and for some it’s an escape. A shelter is not just four walls where you put your head down at night, it’s also where you put your heart, your feelings. Home just isn’t where you hang your hat. For some, physical safety from others, or even from yourself is your home where you find shelter. So, where do you find rest? Think about that; where is it that you find rest? And I know this can be a very difficult thing because my wife and I, we have three kids, we work, this home with our four walls sometimes closes in on us. So, where do you find rest? Where is your safety? Where is your escape? Maybe it’s where you dwell. So, if it is, where is it that you’re dwelling? Where do you dwell? Is it really a building that you dwell in? If it is, why did you find shelter there? Why do you go to books to find shelter? Why do you go to that room in your home to find shelter? And is there safety, is there safety in your shelter? Or does it feel like it’s an escape?

 

I want us to picture these houses again that I spoke about. Remember the good-sized house, it’s nice and solid, it’s got the good shingles, it feels so safe. That house can fall in this world. See Mexico this week, and the earthquakes coming through there in the last couple weeks? Solid buildings with solid walls and good roofs are just crumbling to the ground. Look at the young school-aged child, a new school, so excited, first day of school comes home, was bullied all day long. It’s not safety, that person’s walls crumble down. Tin walls and a tin roof, this is good, it’s going to keep us dry. But when you add 30, 45 degree weather and you don’t have air in there, and you don’t have water, it’s a sauna it’s like an oven, it’s not safe, people die in those all the time. What about the happy couple? You see them at church, you see them on the street and they’re always so happy, and then you just feel good after you’ve talked to them, after you shake their hand it’s like the spirit of God is leaping into you because they’re just so happy. But every day they’re struggling to make ends meet. Let’s look at mud walls like, I don’t mean like Alberta mud walls, lame and flat. Let’s talk mud walls, solid I had seen last week in Jamaica, solid walls made from mud that looked like concrete. Maybe they make you feel safe, but what’s happened in the south of North America and South America this last two weeks? Hurricanes; not just one but several, and again now. And what do they do? They flatten everything in their path. That once safe solid structure shelter is now gone. What about the young mother expecting a child? This is such a glorious, gorgeous time in a person’s life. What is she thinking of? “Who’s the father? What do I do now? Can I do this on my own? Do I look into adoption or abortion?”

 

These are things that are happening in our world today. And that mobile home, that home that I loved so much which is good and solid, I put every darn block underneath that trailer almost by myself, that was a trying day. In fact, at the end of that day I had tears in my eyes because I had nothing left in me to give; nothing. I remember that day with Randy. Actually it’s hard to even talk about it. Every block I would jack up one side, put the block under, then I’d have to go all the way over to the other with the jack, hand-jack it up, put the block under, and I did that entire trailer. How long is a trailer? 60 feet long or so? It was a day. Tornado comes through, and we see this every year on the news, for some reason they have a hot spot for mobile parks. But they come and they devastate. Those shelters that were once safe, that once felt great to have a home, to have a life, to have safety, gone. You see, this isn’t the story of the three little pigs, this is our story in Red Deer in Central Alberta. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in North America or you’re in Jamaica, it does not matter where you live in this world.

 

So, where do you dwell? This isn’t a question of what kind of house you live in or what kind of house you’re going to get out of here and find something stronger and bigger. But who will you choose to live in you. The things of this world are of this world, our home, our clothing, our food, sometimes our water. We don’t know sometimes where that stuff is coming from. We need to understand where we can find shelter, where we can be safe when the storms rise up. So, whom do we find shelter in, find security in, be restful in? And that rest just sounds so nice. So, what is your storm today? What is it that is unsafe for you? Is it something at school, somebody at school? Is it at work, one particular person at work? It seems like everybody has one of those, right? Maybe it’s that you feel lonely, you’re having a hard time at home, you’re not connecting with your children or with your spouse.

 

I want to share my storm and what that looks like. My storm looks like selfishness, and I’m being honest here. I have struggled in this world for years. I have scars from battle, and unfortunately most people in my life that I’m close to also have been scarred from my battle. For me it’s not just selfishness, but it’s what grows from this need. For a long time I didn’t even recognize why I was fighting, I was frustrated, I was hurt, I was sensitive to things, I could not understand; I didn’t even know I was in battle. But the point is that we all have a battle, something in your life that you keep coming up against, and you know what I’m talking about. It’s different for each one of us, you’ve been through something. I was struggling constantly, I would try and then I would try again and then I’d make promises and then I would fail and then I would try again and would fail, and I would hurt people and I would be hurt myself; it was exhausting. How many people have been exhausted from battles they’ve been through in their lives? You can look back and you can see in your life storms that you’ve gone through, things that you’ve struggled through that we’re exhausting. I found shelter in myself, and I was dwelling in the world. I was living in that tin shack in the middle of a winter storm, and I kept going back to it over and over again, propping the door up, putting the roof back on, propping up a new wall; that was me.

 

The answer is not rebuilding your shelter so you can get back in. There’s knowing the storm that you’re going through, and there is knowing why you’re in battle to begin with. I want to read you something about battle, and I really do believe that this is happening right now in our country in Red Deer. Pastor Chuck actually sent this quote out, so there’s probably a number of you that have heard this, but I think that this is really fitting for our time and really fitting for today. This is from Discipleship on the Edge: An Expository Journey Through the Book of Revelations by Darrell W Johnson – the dragon is on a desperate rampage, in his death throes he is unleashing what evil is left. The suffering of the Church and the world is not a sign of Satan’s victory it is a sign of his realization of defeat. He does not want the child of Bethlehem to be king. If he cannot kill the child, he at least wants to keep the child in the manger. If we keep him in the manger, then there is and no danger. But the dragon knows that the child left the manger and is on the throne. Since he cannot get the child, the dragon goes after what the is dearest to the child – he goes after the woman, he goes after the people of God, he goes after the woman’s offspring. It says in John 12:17, “Keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” You see, the enemy is where you are dwelling in this world. Since he cannot get the child, the dragon goes after what is dearest to the child; that’s you, you are what is dearest to Jesus. And that’s true for each and every one of you. If you’ve ever had doubt in your life about whether or not Jesus loves you, or maybe you’ve never had a father, or the father that you’ve had wasn’t the father you wished that he was. Jesus loves you and you are what is dearest to him.

 

Is there safety in your shelter? Where you choose to dwell day in and day out, is there rest? Rest from the dragon in your life, the battle that you are struggling with. This is easy stuff, because there’s God and there’s Satan, the enemy. You can call him whatever you want, the devil, the enemy, whatever it is. But if there is God and you believe in God, there is an enemy, there is the devil. God is good, and Satan is very not good. Let’s look at Psalm 91, it’s a very long passage so there’s going to be parts that I’m going to read through and parts that I’m not. Psalm 91, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord he is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” That right there sounds like rest. “Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.” The fowler’s snare, have you ever been snared up? “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” How many here have walked through a riverbank? It’s rocky. Angels are going to pick you up so you don’t even feel those stones, so you don’t stumble is what it’s saying, that you don’t have to worry because worrying is not a part of God. God did not ask us to worry in fact, he says the very opposite. “Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him. I will protect him for he acknowledges my name, he will call on me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him with long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

 

It sounds like safety there – “I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” “Honor him” – the creator of the world wants to honor you; think about that, if you have to point to yourself, he wants to honor you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in this world or where you’re at now, he wants to honor you the way you are. The creator of this world wants each one of you to dwell, to live in him. He wants you to take shelter in him, and then you will rest. We live in this world amongst world views, public policy, physical disasters, we even live with hurts others have brought upon us, and those hurts that we may have caused others, sometimes we do things to hurt ourselves. And I can’t change the fact that there are going to be many battles ahead of me; I know that. I know that even though this has been a tough week for me and I know that God’s been on by my side and that I’ve struggled and that I have come up against some stuff this last two weeks where I have had to dig deep. But I can’t change that, I can’t change that there’s going to be more battles, more things thrown at me than I can imagine. But there are some things that I do know for sure, and I want to share that. You and I have been given free will, that means we have the choice, God has given us, when he created us he gave us the ability to choose. I choose Jesus Christ, to dwell in his shelter. “So as I declare the Lord is my refuge and you make the most high your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent because he loves you says the Lord, I will rescue him.”

 

Who feels like they’ve needed to be rescued in the past, anybody? More than once for me. How many people feel like they might need to be rescued today? Did you know that there are people out there that they don’t even know that they need to be rescued? Their fingertips are just above the water, their breath is held, and they go through this daily. Their shelter where they dwell, it’s not safe, it might be comfortable. What happens, they were struggling, they needed some help and it was not received, they did not receive it. The next day it was tough, maybe a year passed and that struggle slowly turned into a problem, and then what happens to that problem? It turns into a battle, a storm. We get so comfortable doing the things on our own, not reaching out, not receiving that slowly we don’t even realize that we are the ones with our fingertips just above the, water scared to ask for help, scared to receive the help, scared that when we open our mouths to cry for help that our lungs will fill up with water. We need to reach out before we can’t, we need to reach out to others. You don’t know what my battle is today, you don’t know what your friend is going through either that’s sitting next to you, across from you, who’s not here today. Maybe you’re one of the ones with your fingertips just above the water, but maybe you’re the one who’s just accepted Jesus in your life because you’re tired of being unsafe and not protected. You’ve not only won your last battle, but you have many scars from battle and you’re standing in Jesus name. You lift your worries up to God, you cast out any doubt you may have – it sounds good, doesn’t it? We’re going to leave here today and we’re going to feel good about this, right, because Christians are perfect, aren’t they? Are we perfect? No, we’re not perfect. The Bible is through and through with people who are not perfect that God used. All I know is that in the Bible there are some people who killed Christians, and I have never done that, so I’m doing pretty good. I recommend everybody do as good as that. Christians are not perfect, we’re sinful just the same as everybody. We choose Jesus Christ as our Lord and our Savior despite what this world or the people in it throw at us, we can find rest in the Lord.

 

So we have a couple more things that I want to talk to you about. One is that don’t keep Jesus to yourself, don’t keep Jesus Christ in the manger because the enemy is out there, your storms are out there, and they’re going to come up against you. Don’t keep Jesus Christ locked up in this building, this building is not the Church, this is just a building with four walls, well we’re weird shaped, we probably have 45 walls I don’t know, this building has a lot of walls, but it is just a structure; it is not your shelter, your shelter in Jesus Christ. So don’t leave Jesus locked up in here because the church is each and every one of you, each and every one of you that came today, you came for a reason, something in your life brought you here, it was not a mistake. I don’t know what that is, but you’re here for a reason, and you are the church. Jesus said in these couple verses here, “He will call on me and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him with long life, I will satisfy him and show him salvation” Jesus wants to satisfy you, how cool is that? There’s people out there that are… some people are probably trying to compete for your time, what are you going to get out of that? Here Jesus, he just wants you to go to him, be with him, have him in you, and he’s going to satisfy you, all your needs. I don’t know if your need is a big house, I don’t know if your need is to have a new car, it might be, God can do that. But I know that one of our greatest needs is first to have Jesus in your life.

 

So I need to encourage you today, I want you to step out this week, I want you to discover your dwelling place, your actual dwelling place. I know for some people it could even be the bathroom, because you can lock the door in the house and the kids can’t get in, that’s one of the safest places in the house to get away from the kids, is the bathroom. But I want you to find, I want you to discover your dwelling place, and you say that it’s in Jesus Christ. I want you to be able to say that your dwelling place comes from Jesus, I want you to believe it this week. Do something that shows to yourself, not anybody else, to yourself that you believe this, that you believe that Jesus is your dwelling place, that you can dwell on Jesus. Because if you don’t get up and do something for yourself, and do something different you’re just going to be sitting back here next Sunday with your worries and your storm your battles; we have to do something different. So what does that look like, what can you do different?

 

Did you know that you can develop your relationship with Jesus, that you can develop it over time. And over time as you develop and you communicate with Jesus, you will grow and you will find that when that storm comes you can just say, “Lord, take this storm.” I wasn’t going to share this story, but I’m going to share it anyway. So there’s actually only two people here that know about the story, Dewayne and Randy, but some of the battles that I’ve been facing, a week ago today actually or yesterday, was coming back from Jamaica. We had such a powerful time there in the Word of God I got up every morning early to try to catch the sunrise so I could pray and write in my journal and be with God, and I’d pray and talk about to Jesus what I’ve done; it was such a great time for me. But there was challenges throughout that whole week that I had to go through – VBS, I don’t do Bible school, I have never been to Bible School, I’ve never done a story for the kids at Bible School, I had to do two stories that week. And we had a lot of kids there – 25 one day, 70 another day, 50 another day, 25 another day, that’s a lot of kids, it was fantastic. But I don’t do it, but I prayed about it, and God just gave me a story and it just went off, and it went fantastic. But there are a few other things that week that I came up against, some of it I didn’t even share with anybody because I gave it to God and I asked God to help me deal with it. But on the way home, after this wonderful week on a mission, the enemy came right up against me, not just up against me but he sat right next to me on the plane, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with personally. I prayed the entire flight. The enemy got a hold of me, and there’s only a few times in my life where I’ve wanted to punch somebody in the face, serious, and I had to pray about that.

 

I studied the Bible next to this person. This person was so vulgar and rude to me, all his anger was directed at me, there were people around us who were uncomfortable. And I sat there, and I listened to him and I prayed in my head, and I kept it in. The enemy came up against me, and after this glorious week with Jesus the last thing that I wanted was to lose it, to lose all that that he’s done in me, and I dug deep, deeper than I ever have. And Dwayne will attest to this, it was absolutely ridiculous. But I stepped out in prayer, and you can too, that is something you can do this week; you can step out in prayer. I know you’re busy, you don’t have time for it. You know what, you do not have to pencil it into your schedule, you sit on the side of your bed and instead of worrying about your aches and pains you go “Thank you Jesus, I woke up. Thank you Jesus I’m breathing, thank you Jesus that I have a warm shower in about five minutes and coffee.” You can pray in everything, you need to step out in prayer. Once you start stepping out in prayer for every little thing, you’re going to start communicating with God, you’re going to start talking to them about your life. Did you know that my left knee gives me so much pain constantly that sometimes I can hardly walk? but every step I take I thank Jesus, “Thank you Jesus, I can walk, thank you I still have a knee.” Where I work in the hospital, “Thank you Jesus, I have a leg.” And I know he can heal me – it may not be how I see healing, but I know it could happen.

 

We need to study the word, that means the Bible. You need to dust off your Bible, you need to put it on your counter in your kitchen or on your kitchen table, just keep it there. Even if you don’t read it for the first year keep it out because God wants you to read it, he wants you to have a relationship with him, he wants you to know him intimately, you, each one of you. You can’t do it if you don’t read it; that’s easy. He also wants you to spend time with other Christians. I’m not saying you don’t spend time with people that don’t go to church, but you need to connect with people that do, you need to pray with them, you need to talk about the Lord with them. I know that there are people in this church that get together and go for coffee together and they have a wonderful time, but when you get together to go for coffee, before you leave are you asking if there’s anything they need prayer for? Is your conversation directed toward God and what God is doing in your life or the struggles that you’re having so that that person who you go to church with can help you?

 

I prayed with people this week that I didn’t know. Myself and another lady from Red Deer that was on this mission, we walked through a park in Mandeville, Jamaica, and there were people everywhere and we pray, I was one of those guys. I just put my hand out while the guys are walking by, “How are you doing?” Shaking their hand, “We’re from Canada, we’re here on a mission. Can I pray for you? Do you know Jesus?” That was me, that was stepping out. And probably out of all the people we spoke to, probably half a dozen that I know, I know that it touched them. One guy, do you know what he did? He’s like, “Can I get a picture with you guys?” And I was like, “What?” We looked at each other like, “Really? Sure.” And you know what happened? It started to downpour, not like Alberta downpour, Jamaica downpour is different, it’s different; it rained in that park. And he was trying to get his phone out but he still wanted the picture, so the three of us were standing there in the pouring rain and he’s taking a picture because something touched him by what we prayed about, something touched his life. And something can touch your life, but you need to take the step, you need to do something different. You need to find your dwelling place, you need to find Jesus so that you can be safe, because you could do just about anything with Jesus. You can do anything with Jesus. The Lord is always there for us, and we need to reach up, and we need to call upon him. Thanks for listening.

 

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All Systems Go – Part 2

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – All Systems Go Part 2 – Rob McLaughlin

All systems go part 2, yay, who wants to go today? Kind of to carry over from Pastor Nick last week I just really appreciated his heart through that message. And a lot of different things that went on through his message in terms of points and things to go over but he summed it up with just two things, and it’s God’s great plan for us, for his children, for his people, and a connection to God is important. And through that he said that it’s almost like NASA, when all systems go, the terminology was created back when before they were using space launching satellites and launching different things and things had to be checked off in order before they could say “All systems go.” And the preparation that he led to is great, so I’m going to kind of carry on with that, and I entitled my message today “Everything we need.” Today we’re going to pretty much camp out in 2 Peter 1:1-1, so if you have your Bibles please open them up, if not that’s fine we have things like that which is sweet.

 

So let’s read God’s Word. It says, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. May Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Verse 3 – “His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence. By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue; with virtue, knowledge; knowledge, self-control; self-control, steadfastness; and steadfastness, godliness; and godliness, brotherly affection; brotherly affection with love. For if you have these qualities and they are increasing, they will keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Amen.

 

Let’s pray. Thank you God for your word this morning. I thank you God that you give your people everything they need in preparation to be effective as long as they seek you first. Father God I ask that you open up the hearts of your people this morning, that you open up their eyes and their ears to hear the truth and the revelation and the confirmation that you have for them this morning. Bless your people today. Father God give me a spirit of courage Lord to deliver your truth. Salt my words with only you and the things that bring you honor and glory, in Jesus mighty and holy name we pray, amen.

 

So today we’re going to unpack this a little bit and I like to start right in the beginning, verse 1, it says, “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing as ours.” Wow. This is Peter, like Peter, the guy who walked on water Peter, the guy who pulled out a sword surrounded by soldiers Peter. I think he knows a little bit about faith, let’s assume this. So he’s sitting here in this word saying in context “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing as ours.” That is amazing to me that him as an apostle, us, God’s children, we can be in line or have equal standing faith with him. So, before we start we have to understand that this is a message to those of faith. 2 Peter is writing this book to those who already have faith, faith in God. So I encourage you today to ask God to increase a measure of faith for you today. I also ask for those who may not understand or have faith yet or are here because they’re seeking, I encourage you to pray and ask for God to open up your heart to an understanding of faith in him.

 

This letter was written very close to Peter’s end, and I felt that he… putting myself there I guess if I’m at the end of my life I think the things that I would like to pass on or leave in terms of messages would be something of value and of importance. And I think that if we get this we can really understand the rest of it, it’ll all come together when we understand that we have a faith of equal standing. And it’s not the size of our faith that makes us equal, it’s not how much faith we have, it’s not necessarily even what we put our faith in that makes us equal with the Apostles or equal with all the children of God; it’s who we have our faith in. Our faith in him is what gives us the ability to be of equal standing with them. I find this just amazing. When we put our faith – we could put our faith in many things – but I just encourage you all today to just put your faith in him and in him alone.

 

So what is faith? What is faith? Well, faith it talks about Hebrews 11:1, this is my favorite scriptural definition of faith, it talks about faith is just the confidence assurance of the things that we don’t see in short, that’s my version. But it’s putting our hope in something or requiring something that is uncommon to man. Everything around us, every person around us likes to put their faith in the things that they can touch and see. But our faith in Jesus is a confidence and hope of knowing who he is. Like Pastor Nick alluded to in his last message about God’s plan, he talks about in Hebrews 11:3 it says, further says, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was made out of what was not visible.” So this kind of reveals by faith we’re able to understand God’s plan. So I submit to you this morning that it’s not uncommon to those who have faith, but a reminder to those that have faith that faith is the way that we receive. It’s by grace you have been saved, but through faith. Through faith we receive mercy, we receive forgiveness, through faith we receive the Spirit of God, through faith we receive healing, through faith we receive all the gifts that he has for us. So it’s through faith that we have the capacity and the ability to receive the things that God has for us.

 

This faith in him is required. But is faith alone enough? This is kind of a launch of where we’re going to go today, through this passage. James 2:17 says, “Faith without works is dead.” To go a little deeper, 2:24, you see that person is considered righteous by what they do not just faith alone. So a faith that is considered righteous before God is a faith where works and faith combined, it’s the way that we live our lives. It’s not just what we say; it’s what we do as well. So to have an act of faith like pastor Nick closed very passionately, I remind you, last week, about having faith and having this connection to God, and being in word and being in prayer, this requires effort, this requires work for us to do what we claimed to have in our faith. So by having given everything, it says right here, that his divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness – divine power being, talking about in the scripture, is his spirit. So we receive his spirit through our faith in him, so it’s by faith we receive the ability to have everything we need for life and godliness. And that says everything or all things that pertain to life and godliness, depending on the version.

 

But if we have this, what good is everything if we don’t use it? That’s my question this morning. I have maybe a little bit of a funny story to articulate this a little better. So I know this gentleman who works in the oil field on the rigs, and this story is quite embarrassing so I’m not going to use any names, Lane. So there’s this new contraption in the oil field and it shocked me when I heard about it, and it’s called an incinolet. You guys understand maybe where I’m going with it, I’ll explain it. So there’s this contraption, pretty much an out house, out on the rig that you have to go do your stuff in, and it has a little switch in it that once you’re done your business you flip the switch on and it incinerates everything. It’s an incino-toilet. So whoever fails that day or whoever draws the short straw, everybody should know what the oil field is like, but whoever kind of gets picked on or whatever has the great privilege of cleaning the incinolet at the end of the day. Lane. So of course, just like we’re talking about today, in order to go we must be prepared and we must have the right things, so he of course in all of his wisdom he laces it up, he puts the boots on, he puts the full set of coveralls on, I mean the ones that go way up to the neck, puts his gloves on and then gets even so concerned about the level of job description that he has to entail that he starts to tape up his wrists, he tapes up around his legs, and he even tapes up around his neck or whatever to be able to be sure that he’s going to be safe and covered. But unbeknownst to him, when he goes to clean this out he pulls the tray out to the back and a sudden wind gust comes up and blows all the ashes right into his face. I’m sorry for that because I almost just gagged.

 

The point I’m trying to make is I guarantee you that in the dog house or in a place by the rig there was probably some safety glasses, probably an H2S mask. The company had provided everything that he needed but he chose to only operate with a few things and suffered the consequences. So in preparation before we go, this story is to kind of illustrate that we do have everything that we need for life and godliness, and it’s in our preparation and having things in a balance like Nick talked about that’s going to get us there. So to be effective and to be unfruitful these things need to be increasing in our lives which requires effort. So we’re going to talk about some things today, some points that are really going to explain the connection that Pastor Nick was talking about, was kind of just a carryover of his connection. So if we read again in 2 Peter 1:2 and 3 it just talks plainly saying that it’s in the knowledge of him, if you carry on through the end of it talks about we have all things that pertain to life and godliness, through what? It’s through the knowledge of him. And this word, ‘knowledge’, is not what we would commonly think knowledge is in terms of information, this is not just a word. I did some research back in the Greek, it’s the word inoshiko which means a knowing, an intimate type of relational type of knowing. This is not a knowledge of “I just know you and I know about you.” This is an intimacy. For example, Genesis, “When Adam knew Eve she became pregnant.”

 

So this is a type of intimacy that this word is talking about in reference to the scripture, so it’s more than just even a knowing or a believing type of knowledge, it’s an investment, it requires effort. It’s not just a knowing of information or a belief structure, because I can tell you from a theology standpoint even the enemy has good theology, even the demons know God is who he is, and they even believe he is who he is, and they know all the things about him is true. But they are unwilling to surrender their lives to him to have an intimate growing and joined relationship with him. James 2:19 reflects this, it says, “You believe that there is one God, good, even the demons believe that and they shudder, they tremble.”So to know Jesus like this is important, extremely crucial, to know him in an intimate relationship type way. It says in Matthew 7:23, this is kind of one of the scariest scriptures of all time in my opinion, where it says, “You cast out spirits and you do many miracles in my name. But depart from me, I never knew you.” This is the type of knowing that I’m speaking of today for my point one. We need to know him people, we need to trust him, we need to invest in him. How a marriage for example, for those of you are married today, how awesome would your marriage be if you didn’t invest in it? How awesome would your marriage be if you didn’t take time with your spouse to nurture, to grow, to invest in it? This is the type of knowing that Peter is referring to when he’s talking about through this knowing of God we can have all things that pertain to life and godliness.

 

2 Corinthians 2:2 leads me to my second point. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” That is enough folks; that is enough. To just know him, to know who he is, and to know that what he’s done for you it’s amazing, this is all that’s needed. And in order to know him in that way then it leads me to my second point which is choosing him. Our freewill is one of the greatest gifts that God’s given us. Probably nothing out of all the gifts that he’s given us has probably pleased him more, or can please him more, when we choose to love him over the distractions of the world, to choose him over ourselves, to choose him over all the things that are available to us to choose, including, like Eve, the tree of knowledge. We choose him over all that, that brings him so much joy, it pleases him fully, and to a level that we probably can’t even fathom. But even knowing him isn’t easy like this, we have to be intentional like I spoke of, we have to take the time with him. He is our father, we need to take time with our father. And I would probably say the opposite, it’s probably even more difficult often to get to know him in this way than it is easy. With the busyness of our culture, with work and with time and with kids and the family and with all this stuff there’s so many distractions. So I just ask you and submit to you today, regardless of those distractions choose to invest in him, choose to prioritize him.

 

And the reason why I put knowing him and choosing him in this order is because I believe just like a human relationship you’re not going to choose to follow somebody you don’t know, you’re not going to choose to follow somebody you can’t trust, you’re not going to choose to follow somebody that you’re not invested with or have a relationship with. I just think that by this knowing of him and the way that it’s listed out here will help us understand that it’s through our knowing and our knowledge of him that makes it easier, just a little easier coming up against the things that we always come up against to choose his will, his plan, and his life for us. And you’ll ask, “Well, I don’t see where it says choose him in 2 Peter 1:1-11, I don’t see that.” But I like Sherlock Holmes, so I’ll explain what a deduction is. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises; thank you Jesus, So that through them you may be participating or partakers in the divine nature – that is amazing to me – and escape the corruption in this world that is caused by evil desires. So why I think choosing him is important is if you read that backwards, if this is true than the opposite of this is true. If we choose to not know him in this way, not put our faith in him in this way, not believe in his great and precious promises or doubt in his great and precious promises, then we can’t partake in his divine nature that he has set for us, and we will be ensnared by the corruption of the world by our evil desires; that’s a deduction.

 

So it’s very clear that there are two choices – there is the choice to have faith and believe and choose him, and then there’s the choice to not. So that’s where I came up with the choice and why it’s important. So I think it’s important to note again that… Well, ponder on this for a second – based on that scripture that I just read, if you are living a life right now today, your heart is full and abounding in peace and goodness and holiness, and you have everything that you’ve needed, who gets the credit? You pat yourself on the back? Or does it say that God has granted us this? God receives the credit, it’s to his glory through what he’s done for us. And then through the deduction formula, well, what’s the opposite? If you are not living abounding in him full of grace and mercy and love, if you are not living godliness, being godly or in goodness, if you are not in that way then what’s changed? Has God changed? Has his promises changed? Has his provision for each and every one of us who have faith in him change? No. If you’re not living in the tools and the everything that he has for you, chances are you’ve changed, and chances are the distractions and the lack of commitment and awareness has probably changed.

 

To choose him is not complicated; but it is extremely costly. Luke 9:23, “Then he said to them all,” this is Jesus speaking, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily to follow me.” Matthew 16:24-25, “Then Jesus said to his disciples whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Costly. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” To choose him guys is not costly, but I’m telling you it’s worth it, it is extremely worth it. So make every effort to choose him. Like Pastor Nick says, it takes a lot of commitment and work, it’s hard work, so be diligent, make every effort to choose him. And this leads me to my third point – we need to reflect him. We need to know him, we need to choose him, and we need to reflect him.

 

2nd Peter 1:5-8 simply talks about this, it says, “Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue and with virtue knowledge.” All these things that are listed here, he’s speaking directly to character, the character traits of God, the character that we need. When we know him personally and intimately, and we’ve fully chosen him at this point. We choose his ways over our ways out of a gratitude of what he’s done for us, not duty, I’m not speaking that these are mandates, I’m just telling you this is fruitful preparation, there’s a reason why he listed it this way, that you will be ineffective and unproductive in all you do if you add to yourself these things. When we reflect him it confirms our choice to those around him. When we reflect him it shows that we are different in a very good way from the world. We have different priorities, we look at things differently, we love differently, we forgive differently, we face trials situations circumstances differently when we choose to reflect him. When we choose to reflect him it reveals that we serve a greater purpose than ourselves. In short, when we reflect him it shows that we’re becoming more like him. If we don’t it’s pretty clear what it says in verse nine, verse nine just talks about that we’re near sighted and blind forgetting of being cleansed of our past sins; that’s pretty weighty, right?

 

Some of you today may have come here with the expectation that God is going to change your situation or your circumstance. And I am not here to say that he can’t, and I am not here telling you that he won’t. But maybe, just maybe, he cares more about changing you than he cares about changing your circumstances. Maybe he’s allowing these things in your life to reveal or to shape or to mold a character trait of his in you. Maybe he’s allowing these to build perseverance or steadfastness or virtue. He cares more about your character and your heart than he does your comfort, you’ve heard this before, but this is a good reminder. And once we get this, once we get that God is at work, it says every work, every great work that he started he will complete. So once we see things through him, through knowing him, through choosing him, becoming to be obedient to his will, then he can soften our hearts. And it changes everything – we start to mirror him, we start to love like him, we start to forgive like him. And out of that comes this amazing perspective that God is in control. The weight and the expectations that we put on ourselves are eliminated, we see everything differently when we get this. We see our burdens differently, we see our relationships differently, we see our worries and our finances differently.

 

Matthew 7:20 says in short they will know you by your fruit. It’s how we live our lives and what comes out of us. Jesus says it’s not what goes into a man that defiles him, it’s what goes out. We have to be cautious that we cast a shadow. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Walk in love, therefore be imitators of God as beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us, gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “But thanks be to God who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of knowledge of him everywhere, for we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” And I chose these texts to kind of reflect this because it speaks about our being a wonderful fragrance of God, and a beautiful aroma. If we just think for a second back in those old days… as I say old days, it’s a long time ago. So back 2,000 years ago when they were… just think about the process of making a fragrance or think about the process of making an aroma where they go and find these natural beautiful sources of scent through plants or whatever and they would grab them and they would stick them in a bowl and they would mash them, and they would squish them and they would crush them. And then they would start the process of refining them, and then the end product was this beautiful fragrance. This is what God is doing with us. He’s taking the old, processing and refining to bring to completion a beautiful fragrance that reflects him.

 

So like pastor Nick says, reflecting him requires effort, and it also requires a sense of discipline. Hurting is not fun, being stripped, being broken, being exposed is not fun. But I’m telling you it’s worth it because you’re not your own, you were bought with a price, and at a steeper price than you could imagine. Well, maybe you can imagine, but I guarantee you it was worse than that. So it says here if you read through, it says doing this, by adding these characteristic traits of God it will keep us from being ineffective and unfruitful in our knowledge of him, in our knowing of him. And then if we live this out, the blessing can flow through us to those who need it the most, which is the people who ultimately we care about. This is the whole mission of all systems go. Christ didn’t come to save the saved, he came to save the sinners, it’s the people of the world that don’t know him and don’t know his principles and don’t know there’s freedom and a better life; this is what matters.

 

So this leads me to my fourth point and final point for the day, which is simply go; simply just go. When you know him and you know him intimately and you invest in him, and you take the time to love him and then you choose to follow him out of obedience, not out of duty, because of the amazing grace and the amazing gifts and the amazing ability he’s given you, then you will reflect him. And through this reflection you’re fully prepared, all systems are in line as Pastor Nick would say, and the launch process can start. But, by going I will encourage you in this way – so often in going we get ensnared by this huge intimidating thing of now that God’s given us this great commission I’m just going to go out and I’m going to change the world and it seems to always get deflated, or things always come against you in ways, and you can become very intimidated of the daunting task that’s out there. There’s some what? 3.2 billion people out there that haven’t even heard the name of Jesus Christ. When you think on this level it can be pretty daunting. And I ask you today to curb your focus away from this global mission, even though it is an absolute requirement, I get it. But it’s through knowing him and through choosing him and through reflecting him that we understand it’s personal and intentional that he’s placed us right here, right now for this very season to impact and impart and reflect his love and glory to those around us. It is by intent that he is putting every single person in our path in our path.

 

So as Jesus says in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey my Commandments. And behold, I am with you always for the end of the day.” We skim over that, we see the grandeur of it. But there’s a little word that says, “go there and make disciples.” So my encouragement to you today, discipleship making is intentional relationship, it’s coming alongside those that are with you. It is putting your arm around them, praying with them, teaching them, teaching them to obey the commands of God so that like Jesus did, everything he did was intentional. He had an intentional invested personal relationship with every one of his disciples and every single one that he talked to. This is discipleship, this requires the same level of relationship and investment and time as it does to get to know God. It’s funny how it works backwards, it’s like a circle. So once we know him and choose him and reflect him then we can invest in people the way he invested in people. And by the training and teaching and loving example reflecting him these people are now equipped, to do what? To disciple as well. And then they go, and then they go, and then they go; and this is how the Great Commission becomes effective. It’s through knowing him and through choosing him and it’s reflecting him on a personal level. I care so much more about the people than the process.

 

I will close with this. He loves you, and if your faith is in him today… it says at the end of Matthew, Matthew 19:20 after the great call of his children, “And again remember, I will be with you for the end of the age.” He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. If we follow these practices and these principles of adding to our character the things of God, he prepares a room for us it says. It’ll be a rich welcome into the kingdom of our Lord and Jesus Christ, our Savior. So today as we focus on preparing, understand that you can shave a lot of the burdens and the expectations and the grandeur away, put your hope in knowing God and choosing his ways and loving him. And just be obedient to love and to share and to be hospitable, and to add these character traits of virtue and steadfastness. And be an example to those he’s placed around you, and that’s why you’ll be effective and fruitful.

 

So let us pray. Dear Lord I thank you so much for what you’ve done on the cross for each and every one of us Lord. I thank you that it is through this knowing you and understanding and believing in you that we can see or be revealed your plan for your people. I thank you that your word and spending time with you is a way that we can gain this knowledge of knowing you, understanding your character. I thank you Lord that it’s a lot more simple than it is complicated. I just ask today Lord that you give us the strength and the courage to keep our eyes magnified on you, keep our eyes magnified on the call that you have for us individually to recognize the opportunities and the people in need of your great love around us. I pray just as we are focusing on preparation today that you prepare the hearts of those who need you the most, prepare our ways and our paths to minister your love and grace to those around us. And I thank you Lord for your great and precious promises that give us strength and encouragement. And I thank you that you will be with us till the end of the age. Increase our faith today Lord, put a zeal and passion in our hearts to want to get to know you more. Remove the distractions from this life so that we can choose you, to obey you Lord, and to reflect your love to those around us, in Jesus mighty and holy name I pray, amen.

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