All Systems Go – Part 1

Sermon from our Red Deer Church – All Systems Go Part 1 – Pastor Nick Andrushko

Do you have your Bibles with you? Turn with me to 1 Timothy chapter 6, and we’ll begin reading at verse number 11. As we read, as we start at verse 11, of course, this is in conjunction with the previous verses where Paul was talking about riches, he was talking about the love of money is the root of all evil, and he was talking about how wealth, if you seek after those things they will lead you astray, they will cause heartache and problems and so forth. In fact, verse number 10 of that same chapter says, “For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil. And some, by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God who gives life to all things and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without staying a reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the proper time, he who is the blessed and only sovereign, the king of kings and the Lord of lords who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light whom no man has seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion.” Amen. Let’s pray.

 

Father we thank you for your word. We thank you Lord God for the opportunity Lord again to be able to share and to get into your word. And I just pray Lord God that you’d open our understanding, and Lord I pray that God as people listen to this message that Lord it will bring a challenge to us to realize what you have accomplished for us and how important it is for us to get connected to this truth. And so I pray Lord God today by your spirit that you’d help me Lord God. Illuminate my mind, may I be able to have a clear mind so I can speak Lord God under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and I receive it right now in Jesus name. Minister to your people today, cause them Lord God to rise to the place where they need to be, to live for God, to serve you. Lord I praise you and I thank you Lord God that we haven’t been called to be mediocre, but Lord God that we are people that have the supernatural living in us Lord God, and I thank you for that this morning, in Jesus’ name, amen.

 

I get excited. Praise God; hallelujah. Well anyway I just wanted to… just to mention I’m pastor Nick of course, most of you know. But I just want to say this too that I am approaching a certain – what will you call it? Time in my life where I’ve never been before. I’m going be 70 this week, I’ll be 70. 70, just a big number 7-0, praise God. But I’ll tell you what, I have an excitement for Jesus. I have an excitement for the Lord, hallelujah. Today’s message, All Systems Go – Part 1, and I want to really somehow help us connect with this truth. This is a very interesting phrase. This phrase “all systems go” has been incorporated into various areas of life. As I went to the internet I found out there’s a musical band called All Systems Go, there’s an office furniture in Scarborough, Ontario named All Systems Go. This is just a few of many. Then there’s a book called All Systems Go written by Dawn Richardson, sold by Amazon, it talks about fine-tuning your life and reconnecting to what really matters most. That sounds pretty good.

 

The origin, where did this phrase began? Well it began in the 1960’s. It was during the heyday of space flight and referred to the launching of missiles and other space vehicles. But when you think about the phrase, what in the world does it mean, all systems go? Well it simply means everything is ready for proceeding, a state of readiness for immediate action, example, your proposal has been approved so it’s all systems go. When missiles were launched, you might recall some of you that are old enough to remember this, I do, I’m old enough. When missiles were launched you might recall that when everything was checked, when everything was ready to go then you would hear the words “all systems go” and then the countdown. It would start at 10 and go all the way to 1, and then it would say “ignition” and then it would say “lift off,” and away it’d go. But when I think of this phrase, I wonder how can it apply to us, how can it apply to the spiritual realm of our lives, to the spiritual dynamics. Well, I want to demonstrate to you how this actually works. And this is kick off Sunday, and so we’re going to have a barbecue right after and there’s some other things that are being planned, and so everybody is welcome, you don’t even have to provide any kind of… the only thing you you’re welcome to provide is lawn chairs, and if you haven’t got lawn chairs well we’ll provide you with chairs because there’s plenty of chairs here as well. So everything will be ready and ready to go, amen.

 

But this is kick of Sunday, and when you think of all systems go I want us to really look at it and I want you to really pay attention. Don’t quit on me; please don’t quit on me this morning. I want you to really follow me and you’ll have to follow me this morning, and I really mean that, you’ll have to really follow me, because this morning there’s two important points that I want to talk about will illustrate about this particular topic called all systems go – number one, God’s plan unfolded, and number two, connection is required. So let’s begin – God’s plan unfolded. And where do we begin? We begin right in the book of Genesis. In Genesis chapter 3 there was a prophetic word that was uttered for redemption right after man had rebelled against God, and God said this in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” This is of course talking about one day, one day down the road when there would be redemption, a redeemer would come. A redeemer would come who would redeem mankind. This is a prophetic word that was started back then.

 

But you know what? If you study scripture you’ll find that it in the portals of heaven before creation ever came into being God already knew that man would fall, and God had already a plan. Way before creation ever came into being God had a plan that one day his son would come and he would be the sacrifice for our sin. But the ultimate plan of salvation really began later on and had started with Abraham. In fact, God – this is after the flood of course, and so we find these words in Genesis 12:2, 3, and this is what God said to Abraham, he chose Abraham, he called Abraham because God had a plan and this is where it would begin to unfold. He said, “I will make you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” It’s amazing, because this is not the only place where it says that, because when you flip over all the way to the New Testament in Galatians chapter 3 it talks about this very thing, it talks about how the blessings of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles; hallelujah. That’s what the Word of God says, so this is very important, this is where it began to unfold. And then some 500 years later we have Moses, called of God, and through Moses, God gave the law and the sacrificial system to deal with the sin question, the blood of bulls and goats will be used for cleansing, for purification.

 

But this was only a temporary measure of the ultimate sacrifice that would take place in the future. In fact, Hebrews 10:3 & 4, 9 & 10… by the way, let me just pause here for a moment. We give you handouts, and I know sometimes we look at these handouts and we just kind of take it and we do nothing with it. They’re given to you for a purpose so you can actually take it and follow, and there’s places, there’s blanks in there so you can fill it up or fill it in and then take it home. And in fact, I purposely chose this time not to have Bible… I just did just where you can find these Bible verses so you can go home and study it. Because you know what happens when you take this and study it, guess what? It will reinforce what I was talking about, and in fact it will help you down the road. It’s crucial that we are not just simply listeners but we are actually doers of the word. And how can you be a doer of the word? You’ve got to take the word and you’ve got to study it. Glory to God. It’s vital for you. Now, where did I stop? Hebrews 10:3, 4 and 9 to 10. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. Just think of it, back in the Old Testament when they had this sacrificial system every year the high priest again would come into the very Holy of Holies, and again it’s a reminder of the same sins year after year. And the Bible says this in verse 4, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” It was only a temporary measure. Then it says, “Then he said, ‘behold I come to do your will.’ He takes away the first in order to establish the second, but this while we have been sanctified to the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all. This was the ultimate plan of salvation; it would unfold in Jesus Christ.

 

But let’s go back to the Old Testament again. Then we come to the Book of Psalms. In the Book of Psalms again we have all these prophecies about Jesus, Jesus the Son of God. There’s something like 68 prophecies concerning the birth and his suffering, and what was the ultimate plan, why Jesus would come. Isn’t that amazing? All throughout the Old Testament God would reveal his plan, every book of the Bible in the Old Testament God would reveal his plan, what God was planning to do, because why? God cares for his people, he loves us, that’s why he would do this time and time again. Hallelujah. Then we come to the prophets, and you find in the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets you have different prophecies concerning Jesus coming down the road, and especially Isaiah chapter 53, which would be the messianic suffering of Jesus, the whole chapter is devoted to it. In Isaiah 53: 5 & 6 it says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” All of us like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the inequity of us all that’s what Jesus… this was prophesied that it would come to pass down the road; hallelujah.

 

And then amazing part, see God continued to unfold throughout the Old Testament. Then as we come towards the end of the Old Testament we have something else, God was preparing, he was preparing the people for this great event that was going to take place. And so it says this in Malachi 3:1, “Behold I’m going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple and the message of the Covenant in whom you delight, behold he is coming, says the Lord utmost.” God again is preparing because he wants someone to introduce the Messiah when he comes, hallelujah. This is how God is, he cares for us and so he’s preparing, because there needs to be a transition from the old to the new and God has called a specific person. Then in Malachi 4: 5 & 6, the very last chapter of the Old Testament says this, “Behold, I’m going to send you Elijah the Prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Hallelujah. This man was going to come in the spirit of Elijah, he was going to come and he was going to make a way for the Lord to come. He was going to communicate the message that the people needed to hear so that they would be ready to receive the Messiah when he came; hallelujah.

 

And so we then we come all the way to Matthew 3:2 & 3, the message, that very chapter introduces John the Baptist. He comes on the scene, he’s been called of God, and one of his first things that he talks about, he says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent, meaning that the hearts of the people at that particular time were living like in the wilderness and their hearts needed to get ready to receive Jesus who is coming; hallelujah. And the Bible talks about… in fact, verse 3 says, “For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said the voice of one crying in the wilderness make ready the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” And then he said this in verse number 11, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance. But he who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not fit to remove his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” See, what John the Baptist, he’s getting the hearts of the people ready, they need to repent, they need to receive Jesus. But then John the Baptist says “He’s greater than I. He’s greater than I who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Hallelujah. Something new is going to happen, something that never took place before is going to happen. And it’s going to happen through this Jesus, the Messiah, Yeshua Jesus Christ; hallelujah.

 

And then we have in John’s Gospel chapter 1, you see, he has to introduce Jesus to the world. And so we find in John’s Gospel chapter 1:29, the very next day he saw Jesus coming to him, it was in the single occasion, he says, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus being introduced to the world, this is who he is, he’s going to come and die for you, he’s going to deal with your sin. He calls him, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And then we come, we come to the ministry of Jesus, because it would start right after that. In fact, Jesus had to be prepared before he even started to preach, before he began to share, before he began to minister to people he was baptized with water, he followed exactly what John the Baptist was doing, he followed that. And then the Bible says he was filled or baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire, hallelujah. And then right after that he was sent into the wilderness for testing for 40 days; 40 days. Can you imagine being tested for 40 days, fasting and praying for 40 days? Wow. But that was because he was being tested for that period of time; then it’ll be all systems go for Jesus, he had to be tested. And when he came on the scene after that he chose 12 disciples. He would train them for three years, they would see the miracles that Jesus would perform, all the various events that would take place, all the dealings that Jesus would have with people individually, big groups of people, they would be exposed to the teachings of Jesus. All these various things they would be exposed to. They were being trained, they were being prepared because one day they would be the messengers of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

In fact, 1 John chapter 1:3 & 5 says this, John was saying this, he said, “What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us.” So that wasn’t just for them, it was for everybody. Whoever would hear the gospel would have to have the same opportunity and experience, hallelujah, same opportunity. And so he says, “And indeed our fellowship is with the father and with his son, Jesus Christ.” And verse number five, it says this, “This is the message which we have heard from him and announce to you that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.” Hallelujah. This is the message, the experienced they encountered, and now they were sharing with the people around. And they were saying as I’ve said already before, the opportunity is given to all of us to be able to experience.

 

Then we bring it down to the last week of Jesus life on this earth with his disciples before the crucifixion. He would spend the last week, and it’s recorded in John’s Gospel, chapter 13 to chapter 18 or 19. Amazing stuff took place during that time. Jesus would spend time with his disciples, there will be further teachings and the preparation because they needed to hear certain things, certain truths. He talks about, for instance, “I’m going to leave, but I’m going to send you a comforter. I’m going to send someone who’s going to be with you.” Hallelujah. He talks about love, an incredible amount of time is being spent in those chapters about loving God. “This commandment I give unto you, that you love one another,” he kept saying that over and over again in John’s Gospel in those chapters. And then we come to the last evening, this would be the Last Supper commemorating the Passover. It was in this particular supper that Jesus would institute the New Covenant; the New Covenant would be instituted, that Jesus was the one who was going to die, he was going to be sacrificed for all mankind.

 

And then we come to his sacrifice. After the meal was over and before he was captured he would spend his time in the Garden of Gethsemane agonizing. What was he advertising about? What was he troubled about? Because he was about to die for the whole world, he was about to face this, it was an incredible thing. And one particular gospel talks about that he was so much stressed that actually there would be perspiration that was in the form of blood coming out of him – that’s how he was agonizing over this whole situation. He was troubled, he was a human being like you and I, but he was going to die for us. Then he would be captured. He was tried, he was beaten, he was mocked, he was tortured, then eventually taken to Golgotha where he was nailed to the cross. And there on the cross he would suffer more.

 

When I think about this whole thing that Jesus went through, even before the cross, how he would be whipped. He would take 39 stripes in his back. Do you know what that means? Those stripes are for your healing, it’s for your restoration. He did it for you; he didn’t do it for himself. He gave his body to be broken for us, for us human beings, not just for those people back then but for all people of the world, whatever color people might be, what nationality, he did it for everyone. But the suffering would increase because between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon darkness would come upon the face of the earth. This is the most incredible suffering that Jesus would ever experience, because it was during those three hours that the father that he had a relationship for all eternity would leave his son, would turn his back on his own son, and Jesus would suffer alone;  for who? For us, because he loved us so much, and that kind of suffering was required. So Jesus knows what it means to be alone because he was separated from his father during that period of time; hallelujah. He loves us that much. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord.

 

And then after this, after darkness would be lifted he would cry out and say, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” The pain was incredible. And then just shortly thereafter when everything that he perceived was accomplished would cry out and say, “It is finished.” The battle for the souls of mankind has been completed. It is done, it is all done. But all I want you to know, yes, he was taken off the cross he was put in the tomb and we saw that tomb. I want you to know that three days later the story continues, it didn’t end when he died. The story continues, glory to God. Jesus would rise, hallelujah. He would rise from the dead, hallelujah, on the third day, glory to God. He did it, he defeated Satan, he defeated the grave, he defeated… what else? The grave. He would gain victory for all of us. Glory to God. I’ll tell you what, when this was done this was the pinnacle of all systems go, everything has been accomplished. Jesus rose from the grave after the resurrection, I’m not done, and before the Ascension Jesus would appear to many different people proving his resurrection as recorded in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. He would talk to his disciples again and again, reassuring them that he would never leave them, nor forsake them. Then he would give the Great Commission, then Luke’s Gospel chapter 24:44-47 he said this, “Now he said to them, ‘these are my words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'” Then it says, “You open their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, ‘thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.” He would open their understanding so they would understand all the things that they… the three years they spent with Jesus that they would have an understanding, all these things that Jesus talked about, and all of a sudden they would have an understanding.

 

There was also Matthew’s Gospel chapter 28 gives us the Great Commission, it says go ye into all the world and preach the gospel; that’s what it says. And in Luke’s Gospel chapter 24 he basically said, “Boys you can go, you can go and preach. But you won’t have the power.” And he says this, he says this to them, “Behold I’m sending for the promise of my father upon you, but you are to stay in the city until you’re clothed with power from on high.” They still needed the power of the Spirit of God to fulfill the Great Commission, without it they would be powerless. They needed the power of the Spirit of God; and then it would be all systems go. But I’ll tell you what, it’s not done yet. Acts 1:8, he said, “But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is upon you and you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Hallelujah. And then after he said those words then it says that the angels came. Well actually even before the angels came Jesus began to ascend, and he disappeared. The angels came, the angels came down and said to the disciples, “Why are you still standing here gazing up into the sky?” They said, “That same Jesus you saw went up, he’s coming back.” He’s coming back to this earth, hallelujah. See, that’s part of the message – Jesus came the first time but he’s coming back again, hallelujah. And you find this truth being explained, being talked about throughout the epistles, and it says… that’s another message at another time, but oh, hallelujah.

 

We need to have that kind of hope. We’ve got to understand and realize yes, Jesus came but he’s coming back again, hallelujah. He’s coming for his church, and if you’re born again you’re a part of that church. Hallelujah, glory to God, hallelujah. Come on, somebody get excited here. Hallelujah. We’ve got something to look forward to, hallelujah. One more thing, in order for all systems go Jesus talked about this, they had to wait another 10 days. In Acts 2:1-4, when the day of Pentecost had come they were all together in one place, and suddenly there came. Say ‘suddenly’, come on say ‘suddenly’. There came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested in each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the spirit was giving them utterance, hallelujah. Exactly what Jesus talked about they received that very day. When they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit I tell you what, they were ready, all systems go. That’s what the title of my message is. But all systems go is based on what God did for us, not because we have a program. All systems going is based on the Word of God. When we’re filled with the power of the Spirit of God we’re ready, we’re ready; ready to do the work of God.

 

In fact, we see it in in this particular chapter in Acts chapter 2. When they had that experience there was not a quiet voice anywhere, nobody was silent, nobody was silent. It was 120 in the upper room and they all were filled, and the Bible says they made some noise; they made some noise. And this noise was not just somewhere in the back room somewhere, this noise , they were in the upper room, and I’ll tell you what, they moved around. I think they were dancing, they were praising God because the people around that were outside they heard the sound, and some of them said, “These people must be drunk” because they probably look like they were drunk. But they were filled with that new wine of the Holy Spirit, not that old stuff that some always drink, but it was new wine, oh, that changed their lives; that changed their lives. Now we see Peter standing up, because the people were confused they didn’t understand what was going on, and so Peter stands up and he preaches, he talks about this was spoken by the Prophet Joel of old. This was spoken way back then in preparation for this day that would take place. Then he refers to the Book of Psalms and he says some other things, and then we come to Acts 2:36, 37 and 38. (I’m going faster than I thought I would be oh my goodness the time is… I got to say something else. Don’t laugh, it’s not funny. People that know me know that I love to kid around.) “Therefore he says, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” I’ll tell you what, when the real anointing of the Holy Ghost has come and Peter was standing right here, he was not afraid to tell them, you know what, you folks you were part of that crowd. You were part of that crowd when Jesus was crucified, you were the ones who said “Crucify him. Crucify him.” And Peter was not afraid to tell them, “You were guilty of that very thing that happened that particular day.”

 

Now when they heard this, it says they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And the Bible says also that this promise is not just for them, but to all that shall call upon the name of the Lord. And when you look at this, this is amazing because 3,000 got saved. Then later on in the book of Acts it said 5,000 got saved. Then there was others, the Bible says many were added to the church because all systems go was in place; everything that had to take place took place. But there’s another point to this, there’s another point. And I come to that point is connection required. Connection is required, because you have here the disciples could have actually walked, they could have gone ahead, they could have proclaimed the gospel before the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the Spirit of God, they could have gone out. But no, they had to be connected to what Jesus said, what Jesus said they had to be obedient to the last T; and then they were ready. Connection is vital folks, believe you me connection is important. It is true that there were ready as I mentioned before, before the day of Pentecost, but they needed the power the Spirit of God and they had to wait 10 more days. We have a problem waiting one day, 10 more days? Yes, it was 10 more days, and they were praying and seeking the face of God when this particular thing took place.

 

Folks it’s about time that we get connected; it’s about time that we get connected. Number one connection, we got to get connected with being born again. We got to get connected with being born again. Jesus said to Nicodemus, he said to him, “You must be born again.” Nobody can see the kingdom of heaven unless they’re born again. And then there was something else here that that was mentioned by Paul in 1 Timothy 6:11-12, and this is something that he reminded Timothy of, “But flee from these things you man of God, pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and you made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” I have a few moments. This is a big concern of mine, because a lot of times we hear people, “Yes, I’m a Christian.” And that term sometimes I wish we would stop using it. There’s so many people who say they’re Christians, but are you up born-again Christian? Because that makes the difference. There are many people who say they’re Christians but do not have any fruit to indicate that they’re truly a follower of Jesus Christ. Being born again, that matters.

 

Many of you that are sitting here today, there was a time in your life, yes, you truly accepted Jesus… there’s some of us who have received Jesus Christ at one time, but what’s happened since? What’s happened since? We get involved in so many different things in life, the circumstances of life, the struggles, the problems and so forth, we get involved with the things of the world, we get involved with possessions, we get involved with money and all these things. And born-again experience seems like it left you somewhere. You had an experience and my heart’s desire today is to stir that up again, go back to the time when you were born again, when you received Jesus Christ into your life. It’s time to get stirred folks, it’s time to be reminded when you accepted Jesus Christ what it meant to you. Did it mean something to you? Yes, it did at that time? It’s time to get this thing revived within us. You need to get back and say, “I thank you Jesus I am saved. That I am a child of God, I am born again.” It needs to become alive once again, once again, once again. I am tired folks of listening to people that talk about being Christians and they’re not Christians. It’s time to get connected because when you are born again you can get connected to Jesus Christ who is the son of the living God, the very reason why he came and died in the cross for you and me, he came so that you would accept him into your life and you lived that life.

 

The Bible says in 1 Timothy 1:15 (I hope I can quote it) this is a faithful saying and worthy of acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world, to do what? To save sinners, and we’re all sinners, we’ve repented. It’s time to revive this, get excited that you’re saved. “I am a child of God, I’m saved,” and don’t be afraid to say it; don’t be afraid to say it. And if you’re struggling with that, you say, “I’m a Christian” but when someone asked you, “Are you saved?” And you might say, “Well, I hope so.” No; you need to know. You need to know. I’ve got a man in extended care, but one day I led them in the sinner’s prayer, I do it every Sunday every time I’m there, I lead people in the sinner’s prayer, I just do it. This man after the service is over he said, “I prayed that prayer. “Two weeks later he says, “How can I know that I’m sure?” So I did it again, and then I had to do it again because he came back to me again, and now he’s not asking because it’s solidified. If you are in that place you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re saved, that you are saved, you belong that Jesus Christ. You’re no longer your own, you’ve been bought with a price. He came for that very reason, he loves you, he wants you to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you belong to him, that you’re saved. And so I’m going to pray shortly after I’m finished with this message.

 

Number two, we need to get connected with God’s Word. It’s time that we get connected with his word. We have more illiteracy in our country today, in our churches than we’ve ever had before because people do not know the Word of God; they hear it. That’s why that flyer has been given out to you so you can take it home and study it, get into your spirit get into your mind. 1 Timothy 6:13-14 he says, “I charge you in the presence of God who gives life to all things, and in Christ Jesus who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Take the word of God, it is God’s Word. Don’t allow the world to tell you what you need to believe. Get into the Word of God, he’ll tell you what you need to believe; it’s the Word of God. You need this, not only Sundays, every day.

 

I memorize scripture every day, same verses that I memorized 40 years ago when I got saved. I still go over it just about every day. I do it because I know how important it is, because back then when I got saved I was told I needed to get into the Word and I needed to begin to memorize scripture, and I began doing it. People say, “How did you do this? How can you remember all these verses?” Because I’ve worked at it. It takes work, it takes work to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Things don’t just happen, sorry to say, it’s not automatic.

 

Number three, get connected with prayer and the power of God. Jeremiah 29:13 and 14 says, “You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart, and I will be found by you declares the Lord and I will restore your fortunes.” The promises of this is in the word of God. Ephesians 5:18 says, “And do not get drunk with wine,” that’s not where our focus needs to be for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit of God. We need more filled spirited people, filled with the Spirit of God, filled with the power of God, because that’s when you are effective for the kingdom of God.

 

Number four, you need to be connected with waiting on him – waiting on him, not rushing. We need to learn how to wait, we need to learn how to wait on God. Psalms 27:14 says, “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart. Wait I say on the Lord.” Some of you have been praying for certain things and they’re not coming to pass. The Bible says wait, keep trusting God when you’re waiting and it will take place. I heard a story just recently, I was listening to CBN, this guy who was… it was a testimony, and this guy was praying for healing and he was praying for healing and nothing was happening. Week after week went by, nothing was taking place. Now one day as he was praying for others, he was praying for others, and all of a sudden as he was praying for this one particular person all of a sudden he sensed this back pain that he had for all those many years was gone; it was gone. You see, when you wait trust God, but keep doing something – pray for others, believe God for others.

 

And lastly, connect with God in the area of surrender. The Bible says in James 4:7, “Submit therefore to God.” In other words, surrender, surrender to God, surrender to his power, surrender to his will, then you can resist the devil and he will flee from you, otherwise he won’t; otherwise he won’t. You need to submit to God, surrender to Him, and guess what? You become a dynamite for God, because that’s what the disciples were, they were dynamites exploding everywhere, it was affecting everybody. Back then in the then-known world, the Christians the disciples scattered all over the place, there were many who got saved in various parts of that world back then because they were filled with the Holy Ghost and they believed in the power of God.

 

I want every head bowed and every eye closed. I want you to really think upon the first part when I talked about connected to being born-again. I’m serious about this, you need to connect with that truth, you to start believing that you are born again. If you’re not sure, you can be, beyond a shadow of a doubt you can know that you’re born again and you are a child of his. You belong to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, you need to have that truth sink into your heart, and it needs to really be stirred up within you and you need to stir it every day and be thankful to God that you are his, you belong to him. When you do that, that truth will manifest itself in your life in a greater way than you ever thought possible.

 

Father I pray right now for the people in this congregation. God I pray there would be a stirring, stirring about this truth that I just talked about. God when we give our hearts to you Lord God, it’s a real thing, it’s not just some fake, it changes our lives. And I pray Lord God that you would stir this truth within us Lord God. And God we get to the point where we get excited about the fact that we are saved, we know that, we know we belong to you, we’re not ashamed of it. Oh God I pray Spirit of God move upon our hearts, in this hour, in this hour that we’re living in Lord, when God’s Christians are being suppressed and Lord the message that we have is being pushed down upon. But God I thank you as Paul said to fight the good fight of faith, and I pray Lord God that we will, that we’ll do it. Right now Lord God I pray that God we are stirred and renewed again. I want you to pray this prayer after me please say, Lord Jesus I thank you. I thank you for the cross. I thank you for the resurrection. I thank you for salvation. I thank you for being born again. I believe. I’m born again. I’m saved. I’m a child of God. I belong to you Lord Jesus, and you are live in me today. I am not the same as I was. I’m a brand new person, with you in my heart. Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. I thank you Jesus, in Jesus name, amen.

For more visit our website Victory Church of Red Deer.

Fighting the Right Battles

September 3rd Sermon at our Red Deer church – Fighting the Right Battles – Pastor Chuck Roth

This morning I’d like to talk to you about fighting the right battles. Have you ever heard the saying ‘you need to know which hill to die on’? In other words, you need to pick your battles. If you’ve raised kids, or especially if you’ve raised teenagers there are some things that if you fight they will blow all out of proportion. So, when you’re raising teenagers you need to understand that there are some things you just need to let go, and then there’s also other things that you need to deal with. But this isn’t just a principle that’s true with raising teenagers, although it’s especially true with that. But this is a principle in life in general, this is a principle for you when you’re at work with your coworkers, or this is a principle that we need to work with each other in the congregation. As your pastor, this is something that I really need to learn as well. There are things in life that if you don’t deal with them they’ll blow up, and there’s also things in life that if you do deal with them they’ll blow up. And so, a person has to be wise enough to know the difference between the two. That’s why it’s so important that we pray for wisdom so we know which things to just leave and to just ignore, and we also know which hills or which battles that we need to fight on.

If you get this principle in life it will save you a lot of frustration. And I want to go to a story in the Old Testament. The story is about David, and the setting is that David has not yet became king, he’s between 25 and 30 years of age and Samuel has just died. Samuel was the last judge so it’s like an era has is over. David is running from King Saul, he’s fleeing for his life. And David settles in a remote isolated location to try to get away from Saul. And he has about 600 men, and I assume there are families that are with him at the time. And can you just imagine how hard it would be to find supplies for 600 men and their families in the desert? Well David remembers a very rich man that lived in the area and his name was Nabal. And so what David has done is, he’s camped out amongst Nabal’s flocks and he’s looked after his shepherds, he’s basically protected them probably from wild animals and even people that would try to steal the odd sheep. And David’s men themselves, although I imagine it would have been tempting for them, have resisted the temptation to take anything of Nabal’s. And David needs supplies and so he remembers all of this, and so he sends 10 young men to go to Nabal to ask for supplies.

You see, Nabel is shearing his sheep, and I don’t know but I would imagine it would be kind of like if we have a branding today. Have any of you ever been involved with a branding? I come from a country setting so that’s kind of a party –  you get all your neighbors and your friends and you get together, and yes you do the work, but it’s also kind of a fun time. And so I believe it’s kind of like this where David sends his 10 guys to go to Nabal and to ask him if he has any supplies for him, anything that he could spare. Well Nabal doesn’t take David’s men too seriously, and he sneers at them, and he basically belittles David in the situation that he’s in in life and he tell David’s men to get lost. And when David hears what’s happened to his men, David says, “I guarded this man’s stuff in the desert for nothing. Not one of his possessions was missing, yet he has paid me back evil when I was good to him.” In other words, David is mad, in fact, he’s beyond mad. He tells 400 of his men, he says, “Put on your swords.” And David put on his sword as well and he’s going to go and confront Nabal. And he’s basically going to wipe Nabal and Nabal’s family out. Can you imagine?

 

Well Nabal’s wife, Abigail, is a wise woman, and she hears how Nabal has treated these 10 young men of David’s. So she is wise enough to understand probably what’s going to happen. And so what does she do? She gets a bunch of supplies together really quickly and she sets out to meet David, to intercept David before David can come and do some stuff that he probably would regret later. So she gets a whole bunch of supplies and she meets David on the way, and she says to David, and I’ll just shorten it really briefly, but it’s in 1 Samuel 25, you can pick up the story. “Abigail says to David, ‘here is a gift I’m bringing to you. May it be given to the young men who were in your service. Please forgive my offence. The Lord will certainly give you sir a lasting dynasty.'” Now get this next phrase, “Because you are fighting the Lord’s battles.” “You are fighting the Lord’s battle” –  circle that line in your handout. And then she says, “May evil never be found in you as long as you live.” Abigail was a wise woman and she saw some stuff that other people missed. She saw that David would have a long-lasting dynasty. In fact, David always had a son and a son’s son etc., that was sitting on the throne. But it was because David was fighting the Lord’s battles. Which battles are the right battles to fight in life? God’s battles; God’s battles. And if you want to know if you’re fighting the right battle or not, make sure you’re fighting God’s battles, make sure his priorities are your priorities.

So the first point I have this morning, if you need to know what to do make sure it’s God’s battles you’re fighting, and make sure it’s not your own that you’re fighting. The second point is also equally important. I guess I’ve said it already – make sure you’re when you’re fighting God’s battles you’re not fighting them with your own efforts. In 1 Samuel 25 David replies to Abigail, he says, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel who sent you today to meet me. May your good judgment be blessed, also may you be blessed for keeping me from slaughtering people today” and this is the line to pay attention to – “and from getting a victory by my own efforts.” You see, Abigail stopped David from making a serious mistake. David was on the road to wipe out Nabal’s family, Abigail stopped him because what David would have been doing is he would have been getting a victory by his own hand. And we need to make sure that we let God fight our battles for us.

Now there’s some stuff that we need to do. Yes, of course, we need to be stewards of the resources that God gives to us. But it’s one thing to let God fight your battles for you, and it’s a whole other thing to take things into your own hands and make things happen yourself. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. We have to let God get things right, put things in order in our own life. It’s so easy. And what we want to do is take matters into our own hands to make things happen. But we need to fight the right battles and we need to fight them God’s way. So what is his way? What is God’s way? In 1 Peter 3:8-12, Peter says, “Finally, everyone must live in harmony, be sympathetic, love each other, have compassion, and be humble.” Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you, or ridicule those who ridicule you. Instead, bless them because you were called to inherit a blessing.” Whoever said Christian life was easy.

Really what we need to do, how do we fight battles? We fight them with love. We fight them with love. We live in harmony, we’re sympathetic, we love each other, we have compassion on each other, we’re humble, and we don’t pay people back the evil for what they do to us. In my life, I’m not saying I do this all the time, but I do get it right once in a while. Have you ever heard the saying even a blind hog finds an acorn once a while? Well I was thinking it was about 15 years ago, and I was pastoring in another community. And in the home church, in my home church that I grew up in there was a set of circumstances that happened – I’m not going to tell you what they were. But there was a set of circumstances that happened and people started to tell lies about me. And even my friends in the community that I grew up in, were still my friends but they bought in to some of these things that were said about me. And I realized really quick that I couldn’t win this fight, and so I didn’t fight it. I didn’t phone up people and try to defend myself, I just left it alone. And you know what’s so cool? God is so good. Within a few years of me doing nothing there was something that happened in that community and everything was exposed, and in one setting, in one church service my name was cleared; isn’t that cool? And I didn’t do anything.

You see, God is a God who looks after us, and we can let him fight our battles for us. We need to trust him enough to do that. A really good question to ask this morning is, “What are the battles that God has that I’m supposed to fight?” Because you could take what I’ve just said and you could think all I’m saying is go lay on the couch and do nothing, and that’s absolutely not what I’m saying; I wish I could say that. But what are the battles that God wants for us to fight? In 1 Timothy 6, the Apostle Paul told Timothy, he said, “Fight the good fight of the faith.”  And then he also says, “Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.” So fight the good fight of the faith, and take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. And then in verse 14 he says, “I insist that until our Lord Jesus Christ appears you obey this command completely, then you cannot be blamed for doing anything wrong.” The Apostle Paul isn’t just making a suggestion here, he’s telling the people to fight the good fight of the faith. We need to fight the good fight of the faith, and we need to take hold of the eternal life to which we’re called. And then if we do this we can’t be blamed for doing anything wrong. So we need to understand the significance and the seriousness of it.

So the first point is, the first thing I want to concentrate on for a little bit is that we need to fight the good fight of the faith. So what does it mean, and how do we do that? I’ve heard people who’ve talked about this in the past, and they say what this is a fight to get your doctrine right. Well, I’ll reluctantly sort of buy into that. But I really believe it’s so much more than that. And the Apostle Paul mentioned some things and the rest of the chapter. He says, “Don’t place your trust in wealth.” And then he says, “If you’re wealthy don’t be arrogant.” He says, “Do good and be generous.” He says, “Place your confidence in God, not in your wealth.” And he tells Timothy to “turn away from pointless discussions and guard the good news that has been entrusted to you.” And you can look at this and you can say, “OK, this is how we fight the fight of faith.” But I think what he’s doing when he’s saying these things is he’s just giving us a snapshot of different things of what fighting the good fight looks like. And I want to take it in a little different direction – I think the Apostle Paul is being really specific when he says these things, but I want to paint it with a little broader brush. And trust me, I’m not trying to improve on what the Apostle Paul says; I may be arrogant but there is a limit to my arrogance. So hang on to the thought of what we’re trying to do is understand what it means to fight the good fight of the faith.

Let me take you to 2 Corinthians 11:2. The Apostle Paul says, “I promise you as a pure bride to one husband, Christ.” And in Revelations 21:2 the Apostle John is saying, “Then I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven dressed like a bride ready for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, ‘God lives with humans, God will make his home with them and they will be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God.'” He saw the New Jerusalem dressed like a bride ready for her husband. Revelations 19:7, he says, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory because it’s time for the marriage of the Lamb.” The bride has made herself ready. What point am I trying to get across to you? We are the bride of Christ. And yes, this is a figurative thing. But I also believe it’s a literal thing, because I believe in the not-too-distant future there’s going to be a wedding ceremony where we as his church and where we as individuals are really his bride. We’re his bride. What does it mean to fight the good fight of the faith? It means for us to understand the reality that we’re his bride. Think of the implications of that for just a moment.

I just about hesitate to mention this because I know it’s going to be painful for some of you. But probably one of the most hurtful things that can happen in a marriage relationship is adultery, right? That is something that’s very hurtful. And if we’re the bride of Christ, and we’re supposed to be devoted 100% to him, do you realize when you look to things other than him in life to meet your needs rather than Jesus Christ, when you…  this nailed me between the eyes when I heard this, when I thought about this. When I realized that when I’m being rebellious against God and telling God that I just want to do things my own way and I want to head out and do things in my own time frame and do things by myself and not want him to be a part, do you realize that’s just like me committing adultery in my relationship with Jesus? It kind of puts sin in a different light. Do you know what sin is really? Simplified down, do you know what sin is? It’s trying to get our needs met through something other than Jesus Christ. But when we do that and when we say that and when we head in that direction, really what we’re doing is we’re committing adultery with a relationship that we should have with Jesus Christ.

And so, what is fighting the good fight of the faith? It’s grasping this concept that I’m talking to you about this morning. It’s grasping this concept and it’s saying I understand that. And as much as I am tempted a thousand different ways Sunday to go my own way and to do my own thing, I understand the reality of this and I am going to give my life with all of the grace that God gives to me. I am going to make Jesus the number one thing in my life, I am going to follow him, I’m going to do things his way. Do I get it right all the time? Do you get it right all the time? Absolutely not. And boy, if you’ve never been thankful for Jesus’ death on the cross, let me tell you this morning you need to be thankful. But your forgiveness comes at an incredible price, at an incredible cost is what I’m trying to say. We are the bride of Christ, and let’s be faithful to him, and let’s go all the way for him. And this isn’t me. I hope you guys know me well enough, and for those of you who are visiting with us this morning, this is not me hollering at you about sin. But this is me encouraging you to give yourself wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ, because there’s so much in store for you if you do. This is not about me telling you that there’s a whole bunch of rules and regulations that you need to have in life. If you know me you know that I don’t have a whole bunch of rules and regulations in my life. In fact, rules and regulations are just for people that don’t know any better, right? There’s some truth to that.

In my relationship with Joyce, and we’re going to celebrate 40 years this January together. [Applause] Give me a little freedom, huh? Thank you for being so… When you start there’s rules and there’s regulations, and as brain dead husbands we learn really quick there are some things that you don’t do. We hadn’t been married very long, maybe a month or so, and I come home and Joyce is having a shower, and so what I did is I snuck into the bathroom and I stood up on the toilet and I poked my head over top of the shower curtain. I learned really quick there is a rule against doing those sorts of things. I didn’t get the response I was expecting. I know you guys are a lot smarter than I am. But you know what, is it a rule that I don’t come home and scare Joyce when she’s in the shower by herself? That’s not a rule. But would I ever do that again? Absolutely not. And you know what, it’s not in my heart, it’s not even a temptation. And it’s not because of the consequences that I suffered at that time either. But you see, we don’t have a lot of rules. We have a love relationship for each other, and so we treat each other in such a way – do I always get it right? No. Does Joyce always get it right? Most of the time. But can you get the point I’m making?

You see, we’re the bride of Christ. He’s put his spirit inside of us, he’s forgiven us for the things we’ve done wrong. And so do I live by a bunch of rules and regulations and thou shalt nots and etc.? No. But this is who I am. And I want my relationship with Jesus Christ to be what it can be. And I haven’t experienced all there is to experience yet. In fact, I’ve only experienced about 5% or 2% or 0.1% of what there is to experience in my relationship with Jesus Christ, and so I want to go all the way with him. This is so much more. Maybe to start with, a person needs to have some guidelines set for you. But man, after you’ve been a Christian for more than about 20 seconds you understand that there’s so much more to this life, there’s so much more to this life than living by… God is so good to us, he’s so good to us. And we should have an incredible relationship with Jesus Christ. His love should compel us, and we need to recognize that we’re the bride of Christ.

My second point is we need to take hold of the eternal life. And as I’ve said before, eternal life is not just life without end. Eternal life, if you’ve study that in the Greek, which I don’t, but if you study that it’s talking about the quality of life that we have now, the quality of relationship that we can have with Jesus Christ. And we need to take hold of this. In Acts 17:28 it says, “For in him we live and we move and we exist.” We take hold of the fact that we’re the bride of Christ, we take hold who we are as a bride of Christ, who he’s made us to be. And we’re willing to even sacrifice for our husband. Reality is another thing that we don’t want to hear, but reality is that most of the time the kingdom of God advances through sacrifice. The kingdom of God advances through his people being willing to make sacrifice, make sacrifices of themselves and be willing to give themselves for Jesus, and in doing so be willing to give themselves for other people. That’s what God has called us to do, and God has called us as a congregation to really love each other and to care about each other. And you know what, this isn’t a congregation of superstars. I’m sure not one. But this is a congregation of people who are willing to overlook other people’s faults and be willing to love them anyways, and to accept them, and to make them feel loved and make them feel as if they’re a part of the body. And you know people, if we get away from that, if we just start to just spend time with people that we like and think alike and we ignore other people, we’re not going to go very far because this church is called to come alongside people and to love them and to bring life to them. This is who we are, and this is what we’re called to do.

We need to take hold of the eternal life, we need to take hold of Jesus Christ. And let me tell you that this is a way better way to live. It’s not taking things into our own hands like David was tempted to do with Nabal, but it’s letting God fight our battles, and it’s us grabbing hold of him and even be willing to sacrifice. And you know what reality is? Sometimes it even means pulling back and resting, grabbing hold of the eternal life that he has for us, living the life of faith. That doesn’t mean that we run. One of my favorites, we run until we’re dead – it means that we spend some time resting in his presence.

 

For more visit our website Victory Church of Red Deer.

Don’t Be Such a Chicken – Part 3

August 27th Sermon at our Red Deer church – Don’t Be Such a Chicken – Part 3 – Pastor Joyce Roth

It’s an honor to be able to bring a message to you this morning and I’m excited about what I have to share, and I’m excited to be a part of what God’s doing here in Red Deer with Victory Church. I’m excited for praise and worship and the excitement that that brings. I was telling Dave earlier, I was thinking as I was preparing the message, “I’m going to phone Dave and tell him to do upbeat. I need my good, fast upbeat songs.” And I thought, “Oh, no, I won’t tell him; I’ll pray.” It worked out great, those are exactly… the songs are so good and they tie in with what I’m going to be talking about. And so I am just so glad, and that last song that resurrecting, he’s resurrecting me. That life is inside of us, his life inside of us; we need to be more aware of that and all we’ll talk about that a little bit more. I’m going to do part 3 of Don’t be Such a Chicken, and you’re going to think, “How in the world does that all tie together?” But we will get it all tied together because we don’t want to look like that, we don’t want to be chickens. And Pastor Chuck has preached a couple messages on this over the last month, and you can check those out on our website to get up-to-date.

 

But basically what we’re talking about is that we need courage. We live in a time where we need courage. And God has something amazing, something special, something unique for each one of us as individuals and for this church here in Red Deer. We haven’t achieved everything that God has called for us to achieve, we haven’t done everything that God wants us to do. And I believe his plan and his purpose are exciting, this isn’t a boring time, a boring world that we live in, and so I’m excited about what God wants to do. But we’re going to need courage to fulfill those plans. God has good plans for us, he says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God has good plans for us, and we need courage to see them through. And we don’t just get courage by thinking, “I need more courage” – that might work for a little bit. But I think courage increases when our understanding increases. Our courage increased even as we sang those songs, and where the spirit come alive in us then our courage increases too. But I want to talk about the sovereignty of God this morning, the supreme power and authority that our God has. And when we understand and grasp these truth of his ultimate sovereignty it will give us courage. It will give us the courage we need to fulfill the special distinctly unique plans and purposes that God has for each one of us.

 

We talk about loving – love God, love others, and serve. It will give us the ability we will need courage to love like he’s called us to love. And we need a deeper understanding of what that even looks like. We’re going to need courage to go like he’s called us to go. We need to be intentional about sharing the good news. These are the days we live in, it’s time; the time is now, so we’re going to need courage to do that. And we’re going to need courage to live like he’s called us to live; like he’s called us to live. There’s more to it than just what we see and feel and touch right now around us, there’s more to it. And we need to understand the sovereignty of God in order to have that courage to be and do what he’s called us to do. And the Bible, it’s full, it shows us God’s sovereignty right from the beginning to the end. We see God’s sovereignty when he spoke the world into existence in Genesis 1; pretty amazing. Have you ever tried to speak things into existence like that?

 

God is sovereign. We look at the birth and the resurrection of Jesus and we see the sovereignty of God in that. And of course in the book of Revelation, the ultimate victory of good over evil, the ultimate victory of our God, the sovereignty of our God. And there’s many specific instances that we could go through – you look at Daniel in the lion’s den or the three guys in the fire, there’s so many, how God spared his people. The war, the enemy nations surrounding them outnumbered them, and yet God delivered them. And sometimes they didn’t even have to fight, and they got to clean up anyways, get all the goodies. So God is sovereign, and we can, like I said, list many different instances. But most of us are familiar with this concept. I haven’t really told you anything new yet, have I?

 

But our world is changing; the world around us is changing. There’s issues in the forefront in our nation and around the world that we never dreamed were going to be an issue. That’s just the reality of this world that we live in. And there’s bad things happening, there’s trouble in our world, it’s serious; and you know what? It’s getting closer and closer to home; that’s the reality of it. 2 Timothy says that in the last days there will be violent periods of time, people will be selfish and love money, they will brag, be arrogant and use abusive language, they will curse their parents, show no gratitude, have no respect for what is holy, and lack normal affection for their families. They will refuse to make peace with anyone, they will be slanderous, lack self-control, be brutal and have no love for what is good. They will be traitors, they will be reckless and conceited, they will love pleasure rather than God, they will appear to have a godly life but they will not let its power change them. Stay away from such people. Does some of that sound familiar?

 

Look at Matthew 24:6, it says, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Don’t be alarmed, these things must happen, but they don’t mean that the end has come. Nation will fight against nation and kingdom against kingdom, there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All of these are only the beginning pains of the end. Then they will hand you over to those who will torture and kill you. All nations will hate you because you are committed to me. Then many will lose faith, they will betray and hate each other, many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. And because there will be more and more lawlessness, most people’s love will grow cold. But the person who endures to the end will be saved.” These are some pretty tough scriptures, but they do sound kind of familiar, don’t they? It’s not like, “Oh, wonder what he means by that?” It’s like, “Oh, that’s what’s going on over there” and “Oooh, that’s what’s happening over there.” And sometimes we may even… or especially some of the immigrants among us have tasted of some of these things, have these tough things. But there’s many places in our world that are actually living in the physical reality of evil and wars, famines.

 

So like I said before, the times are changing, the world isn’t the same as it used to be, and we, the Church of God needs to be prepared. We need to be prepared, and that’s what I want to do today. In order to face our world with courage, the courage that we’re going to need in the times to come, the courage to stand in the difficult times and to still fulfill God’s specific purpose for our lives, we’re going to need a deeper understanding of the sovereignty of God. A deeper understanding of who God is, that will equip us to stand strong, to have courage and to face whatever is coming. I don’t want to preach doom and gloom, that’s not what I’m here to do. But as a pastor in this church and leader, it is my job to prepare you for what’s ahead, so that you can’t say when tough times come “Nobody told me this was going to happen.” What did they expect? We don’t want to go there, we can’t live in a false reality, what the Bible says is true. And years ago God gave me this verse from Jeremiah 33:3, this is my verse. Chuck got a whole chapter, I just got one verse, but that’s OK. Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you don’t know.” That’s my verse, and I’ve… It’s kind of overwhelming when you stop and think about it. And I can remember where I was standing in our house in Duchess when God showed me that, it’s been 20-some years ago. And often I’ve asked God for direction and I said, “Lord you gave me this verse that if I call to you and ask you, you’d show me stuff.” And he has shown me stuff – “What about this, what about that” in different situations in the church.

 

But last year he just put on my heart that he wants to take this a little bit further, that there’s a prophetic edge to this verse. And I kind of forgot about that, but as I was preparing the sermon I was reminded of this. We need to be prepared for the for the things that are to come, and I believe that’s part of what God has called me to do. And so it’s not about preaching doom and gloom, it’s about preparing a people, preparing a people so that our lights can shine brightly no matter what is going on around us. So how many of you know that when things get tough, when there’s crisis situations in your lives, that pad answers or clichés, they don’t usually help. In fact, they kind of annoy and you kind of want to, you know… But they’re kind of annoying. And even sometimes the biblical truths, our understanding of some of the biblical truths don’t seem to be quite enough either. We go back to that and we go back to the basics, and that’s good. But sometimes it’s not quite enough, and so we need to be growing in our understanding, because as things come up we need to be ready and we need to understand the sovereignty of God so we can stand boldly in difficult times. It’s easy to see his incredible power and authority and stuff when things are going well, when our prayers are being answered. And you look at the world around you, you go to the mountains, you go Bam for the weekend, or you go down by the ocean and you look out, whatever your place is where you can connect and you feel good with God. We go to those places and then we can declare easily with the Psalmist, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky displays what his hands have made.” Or the song that we sang with this morning, “How majestic is your name in all the earth.” We can do that, we can declare those things when things are going good.

 

But what about when evil and violence or crisis happen around us or to us? What about if we ever get to that place where we don’t even feel safe in our own homes, or in our church for that matter? There are places where it isn’t safe to go to church. What about when those signs of the times in those newscasts that we listen to, what about when they’re happening next door. There was a home invasion, a violent home invasion in Black Falls last week. It’s hard to think that way, but when things get tough, when things start hitting close to home then there’s a desperation, the world is desperate out there for whatever and they start demanding things, where do we turn to for hope, for peace? Where do you turn to for hope and peace? And will your understanding of God be enough to get you through those times?

 

I want to take us back to one of the darkest times in history for God’s people, and we sang about it in our last song, the death of Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus. Things were bad for the people of God in those times, they were basically living in exile in their own country. The Romans were running the show and had them basically as slaves, and they’ve been living like this for a while. The promise of a messiah, of a savior had been over time, and there was a few of them that had obviously tapped into that, like Hanna and Simeon, after Jesus was born they knew who he was. So Jesus did come on the scene then, and it took a while for people to recognize him. But as he went out and about and started doing pretty amazing things, his following increased, and you can see that hope would have been arising in those people. That their minds were thinking “Oh, I remember hearing or reading about that in the Old Testament and through the prophets and through the Psalms that that the Savior would come.” So hope was rising, and I’m sure they were thinking about their physical situation too, that this misery, this slavery, this exile, that this was going to end, because he was the Savior, he was going to be the king, and he was going to set us free, that’s what they said. And who wouldn’t think physically? That’s where we go naturally, and so I’m sure they were thinking that.

 

But after about three and a half years things turned kind of ugly, and the ruling religious leaders weren’t impressed with him at all. And so now Jesus was arrested, he’d been arrested and now they were going to kill him, he was condemned to die. And in Mark 14 it says that everyone deserted him and fled. So here were these people who hope had been arising in them, some of had been quite close to him for the last few years, and hope had been arising in them. And now he was arrested and going to be crucified. It was like, “Oh great, now what? I thought he was the one. Do we have to wait for another one?” Their hopes, their excitement that they’d allowed to rise up, just stomped on and dashed. There’s a quote I want to read because this kind of explains a little better than I can, more eloquently. Listen to this, “Never did God look more out of control, more at the mercy of the forces of evil than when his own son hung dying on the cross.” But on this side of the resurrection we now see that there was never a time when evil was less in charge and God was more in control. He turned what the devil intended for evil, Jesus death, into his purposes and our salvation, and that’s our God. It took the people a little while to figure that out, their hopes were dashed. But I wonder if people aren’t starting to wonder about that a little bit today, if God isn’t out of control, if he’s lost control. There’s stuff happening like I said that we just couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

 

Maybe you’re wondering, “Is God in control? Why is he letting all this happen?” It seems like Satan is having his way. Does God see what’s going on? Is he really in control? Is he sovereign? Because it doesn’t make sense to our human minds or our ideals, the way we think about life, the way we think life should be; it doesn’t make sense. Listen to John Piper in his book Spectacular Sins, he says, “The death of Jesus Christ was murder, it was the most spectacular sin ever committed. At the all-important pivot of human history, the worst sin ever committed served to show the greatest glory of Christ and obtained the sin conquering gift of God’s grace. God did not just overcome evil at the cross, he made evil serve the overcoming of evil. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil in the death of Christ. The powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil. But instead they found themselves quoting the script of ancient prophecy and acting the part assigned by God precisely, and putting Christ to death they put his glory on display, the very glory that they aim to destroy.” Isn’t that amazing? But we don’t often see it like that, do we? That’s why I put this down, and you might want to read that a few more times, it should be in your notes. John Piper calls this book Spectacular Sins, and that grabbed my attention because the two shouldn’t necessarily go together.

 

But you know what? When you put it like this it’s amazing. It’s a spectacular sin that God turned around and used for his purposes and for his glory, and the devil didn’t even know he was being set up. Do you know that? He didn’t even know it. God didn’t just overcome evil at the cross, he used Satan through the whole process, he was never out of control. He didn’t just overcome it, he made it overcome itself; he made evil overcome evil. What kind of a God is that? He had a plan and nothing… he had a plan from the beginning of time and nothing and no one is going to thwart that plan. I was listening to Bill Johnson a couple of weeks ago, and he said something that grabbed my attention too. He said sometimes we think that God and the devil are just opposites – God is good, the devil is bad. And while there’s some truth in that, they’re not equals, right? And we forget that sometime, we forget that the devil is no competition for God. The devil is a created being. The devil and Michael, or Gabriel, the archangel Gabriel, they’re opposites; but God and the devil are not opposite. God uses the devil as a pawn on his chessboard; we need to see that. And I’m not just here to diss the devil, but we need to understand this so we can see how great our God is and so that we can stand in difficult times and we don’t let the devil scare us.

 

There are three things that we can learn from this story of Jesus’ crucifixion, the first one is God’s plan will happen. God’s plan for this world, his plan from the beginning of time will happen. Isaiah 46:8 says, “Remember this and take courage, my plan will stand, I’ll do everything I intended to do. I have spoken and I will bring it about. I have planned and I will do it.” You can take that one to the bank. And what is God’s plan? God’s plan is to bring all of mankind back into fellowship with him; that plan hasn’t changed. The devil thought he changed it, he thought he’d knocked it out, but he never did, it hasn’t changed. God has a love for mankind that we can’t even fathom, that we don’t get totally. His desire is that all men would be saved. 1 Timothy 2 says, “Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That’s what this is all about, getting all men saved. Ezekiel 33 says, “I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people, I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live.” So it’s not just about us. God so loved the world, he cares about the wicked people too, so we need to be careful that we don’t forget that either and just worry about ourselves. But God cares about the wicked people, and the things that he does, he does to draw all men back to himself. Jesus death and resurrection was the plan, Satan tried his best to thwart the plan but he just played right into God’s hands and just resigned his doom death certificate kind of. Sin, evil, even unbelief, don’t change God’s plan; not then, not now, and not in your life or my life. Sin, evil, even unbelief, don’t change the plan, will or purpose of God. They will never, sin and evil will never change God’s plan. So get over the fact of what you’ve done and what you’ve been. God loves you; sin and evil don’t change that, never have, never will.

 

Job has an incredible response to a crisis in his life. Grief – he’d lost his family, he’d lost all his possessions, and now his physical body was sick, crazy sick and in pain. And in Job 19:25, look what he says, “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end he will stand on the earth.” We need to be able to say that, to declare that, to speak that out no matter what’s going on in our lives, because that’s the reality; that’s the reality of God’s sovereignty. I was reading the book in the last little while, it’s going through the book of Revelation, and the author used a phrase that grabbed my attention, and it’s this – that we need to be aware of the unseen realities of the present. We need to be aware of the unseen realities of the present. Life isn’t just about what we can see and feel and touch. Our God is alive and he is real and he is working on our behalf, he is fulfilling his plan, his call in our lives and in this church. Even though we can’t always see it, we know it’s there. The word says our God is working in the heavenlies. Jesus isn’t just sitting on the throne twiddling his thumbs told God says, “Time to go get them.” He’s working, he’s doing stuff. He’s preparing a place for us, but he’s also working on our behalf, interceding, it says he intercedes on our behalf, he’s working on our behalf till the time is right, till all men know of or heard about God’s love. So we can have that same response, we need to understand with our spiritual eyes, just kind of know deep inside their unseen realities of the present. I love that phrase. Know deep inside God’s got this, no matter what it looks like around us, God’s got this God is sovereign, his plans, his purposes, his will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. That’s right, that’s the reality of it. So the first thing is God’s plan will happen no matter what it looks like around us. It did at the crucifixion, and it will here in our lives today on this earth.

 

The second thing, God uses evil for his purpose. You got to love this. But it’s hard for us to understand this, because evil often scares us, and so we just kind of want to get far away and not… But the challenge is for us to see it through the purpose and plans of God. Are we always going to understand everything that’s going on around us? No, we certainly aren’t. And so maybe let’s not try so hard to try and understand everything, let’s leave it with God because we know he’s got this. He uses evil for his purpose, so stuff happens in our lives or as the world changes around us we can go back to the word and we can see how he used evil, he used it for his purpose. He always had a plan and purpose. The devil hasn’t got a got a line on that, he’s just a pawn in the hands of God. But we know our God is in control, and we can continue to stand for what is right and true. It’s not just about us being happy, but it’s about us letting our light shine in the dark. When the world gets dark we’re going to need a light to run to, and that’s the church, that’s us. That’s why we need to be ready for this, that’s what the whole thing is about so that we can let our light shine, so when all hell breaks loose out there they’ll know where to go because we’ve got the answer. We have hope, we have the future, we’ve got everything that we need to live and share. It’ll be the answer to what they need. We can continue to fulfill his purposes on earth because we know the end of the story, we know how this is going to work out.

 

God’s reasons for allowing hard times to come is ultimately to get people to turn from their wicked ways, to repent and worship him; that’s really what it’s all about. It’s hard for us to see that, but if you go to the word you’ll see that that’s what it is. And there’s many, there’s many examples in the Old Testament of God using evil kings and armies to oppress his people, but why? Because they’ve fallen into idolatry, they turned away from God. We think we can talk our way out of every situation; good luck. The fact of the matter is sometimes we need a butt kicking, sometimes we need a little pain to get us to you think straight again, to get us to turn back to where we need to be so God, he uses the evil for his purposes so that all men would turn to him. Even in Revelation, I noticed this a while ago when I was reading through Revelation, it says several times, but I’ll just share one example in Revelation 16 where it says, “The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the Beast and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People nod their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sorrows; but they did not repent of their deeds.” Several times. Bad things happen to people, and what do they do? They just get mad at God because they think they deserve to just live happily ever after and tiptoe through the tulips or whatever it is. But the fact of the matter is, we don’t get it right all the time; we do sin. But God loved us so much that he does whatever it takes to get us to turn back to him; that’s the reality, that’s the reality. And so let’s keep our eyes, our spiritual eyes open for those unseen realities so that we don’t get caught up and get mad at God for stuff that happens in our lives.

 

So God’s plan will happen, God uses evil for his purpose, and the third thing we can see through the crucifixion is that God is on our side. God is on our side. God’s love for people, for you and me is so real, it’s too deep for words, and it’s forever; it’s not going to change. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “I have loved you my people with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I’ve drawn you to myself.” We sang about the relentless love of God this morning, relentless; it’s always there. The fact that he would send his own son to suffer and die for us so that we could be free from our sin, from guilt and from shame, so that we could have a relationship with God and call him dad. I have a father. Even after all the stuff we’ve done and the things we’ve thought, Jesus died so that we could be free from all that stuff and so that we could… so God could just love us like crazy and we could receive that love and give it back to him. God loved us so much he gave us everything we need to live a victorious life until he comes again. Not just when everything is going good, but when it isn’t. And that’s just amazing that God would love us this much, it’s just overwhelming because I know what’s gone on in my heart on occasion, and when I repent he forgives me. And it’s the same for you, God’s promises are real so we need to let the reality of the love and the promises of God overtake us today; let that overtake you today.

 

The great thing about all this is that we don’t have to wait for the world to fall apart to take advantage of these truths, that’s the reality of it. In fact, it would be better if we tapped into it now and then we’d be even more ready for what’s coming. But these things apply to our situations right now. Whatever is going on in your life, whether it’s sickness, whether there’s a depression or a loneliness, whether there’s a relationship crisis or whatever, whatever crisis is in your life right now, whatever is kind of driving you nuts right now, the fact is that God loves you. God loves you. His plan will happen. He will continue to use evil for his purpose; he’s on your side. God is good, and anything that is causing you to wonder about the power or the love of God needs to come under the cross, we need to see that he really loves us, he gave his son for us. A while ago I read it a testimony of a guy who had gone on a canoe trip and there was a group of young guys and a few adults and they were in Ontario, some Algonquin Park or something like that, some of you may know what I’m talking about. So they were canoeing doing a few day trip, doing some lakes in that area and things were going really good, they were expecting God to just really minister to them, it was a Christian thing. And they got up one morning and there was a bit of a storm blowing, but they thought, “Well we’ll go across this lake anyways.” And they got out a little bit and the storm got nasty, and they thought, “Well we can still… let’s get to the other side.” Well not everybody made it to the other side, and this guy in this in the story, he said how he knew what he was doing when he was canoeing, and yet for some reason he got up and the storm was worsening and he stood up in his boat, in his canoe, and I guess that’s not something you should be doing anytime, but not in a storm for sure. And anyways, some of the canoes overturned and he ended up hanging on to a rock in the lake to survive it, but three people died, and one of them, his wife was pregnant with their first child – how do you make sense of that kind of stuff? And he was responsible for some of this, just with the different way he had responded, and the shame and the guilt, it weighed on him for years. And later on in his life he was studying to be a pastor, and while he was at seminary, the situation, whatever, he just finally let it all go and just laid it all out before God and just cried it out. And God set him free from that and forgave him and he’s a pastor today, and he’s written a book about that whole situation. It happened out in 1970, but it took him quite a few years to get rid of the heaviness and the pain of this whole situation. But there’s a statement that he makes in his book and it’s this – it’s because of who God is, things never go wrong, they only go different. Because of who God is, things never go wrong; they only go different. So it took him some time, but over time he developed a deeper understanding of the sovereignty of God. To be able to say because of who God is things never go wrong, they only go different means you got to know God, you got to know God for all that he is.

 

And God wants us to know him in that way. He wants us to understand him in that deeper way so that we can stand strong in times of crisis, whatever the crisis is, whether it’s today or whether it’s yet to come. God wants to us to understand his sovereignty. And so if you desire a deeper reality of this truth, all you need to do is ask. I love the way Dallas Willard says that, he says, “Emphatically and repeatedly express to Jesus your desire to see him more fully as he really is.” Let’s ask to see him, and not just as he’s represented in the Gospels, but also as he has lived and lives through history and now, and in his reality as the one who literally holds the universe in existence. If you’re struggling in a crisis today, or you just want to be ready for the future, just ask for a deeper understanding, ask to be aware of those unseen realities of the presence. Ask for a deeper reality of the sovereignty of God so you can stand no matter what, no matter when, so we can let our light shine for his glory at all times. We’ll have courage, but it’s not from us and our choice, it’s just alive in us through this power of God, through our understanding of who God is, through our allowing the Holy Spirit to just have his way in us; that’s where courage comes from. That’s where we’ll be able to stand no matter what.

 

Let’s pray. Father God we are in awe of you this morning, and we just humble our hearts before you God and we just thank you for how you showed yourself so strong at the resurrection. And even though the people fled away at that day and left your son alone, I thank you God that as your resurrected son came back into their midst that they understood, that they understood, and they went on in their lives and they defeated the power of darkness, and the power of doubt and unbelief. And they walked in a deeper understanding of your sovereignty, and they made a difference in the world that they lived in, and they give us, they encouraged us that we can make a difference in our world too. That we can stand and fulfill the call and the purpose and your will in our personal lives and in this church. You are sovereign, your plan will happen; it’s going to happen. Every ear is going hear. Thank you God. Thank you God that the enemy has no power over you, but that you use evil for your will, for your ways, for your purpose. And God most of all we are in awe of your incredible love for us. You’re on our side, you gave your son for us, how much more will you not give us everything, everything that we need? Thank you God. Thank you God. Father I thank you that we can be like Dwayne Miller and we can get to that point where we say that no matter what, no matter no what, because of who you are things never go wrong, they only go different. That we can trust in you because you are our God, you are a great God and worthy to be praised, so we acknowledge you as that this morning. Thank you God.

 

So if there’s a situation in your life this morning, if there’s a crisis situation that you’re going through, even right now and you need to know the sovereignty of God, you need a greater understanding of the sovereignty of God in your situation. I would just really like to pray with you. Just raise your hand so that I can pray with you right now, if that’s you and you’ve got a crisis situation and you need to know how great God is, how sovereign he is. Alright, thank you, I can see those hands. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Oh God I thank you, we thank you for your sovereignty. And you’ve seen each one of these people who raised their hands this morning Lord, and you know the situation that they’re in even better than they do. God I pray father for a revelation of your love. A revelation of your love to just fill each heart, each life. God, that you’ve got this. Life isn’t over, you’ve got this, you are in control. And so Father I thank you that even as they raise their hands Lord you will give them a deeper understanding of your sovereignty, of your power, your supreme authority, just everything that you are so that they can deal with this, they know how to deal with this situation and they can just trust you in it, just rest in you in whatever the situation is. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. God we just join our hearts together.

 

If you didn’t raise your hand this morning I’m just asking you to join with me and just speak life and love to these people who have raised their hands in their situations. Just join our hearts together and just speak life and speak love and speak hope and speak newness of life into these people, into these situations. Thank you God. Thank you God. We are your people, we are a family who stands together. Thank you God for calling and choosing us to be part of your kingdom, that we can stand with our brothers and sisters. And Lord I thank you that they know that they’re not alone. We praise you and we worship you Lord. If there’s anybody here who maybe hasn’t given their heart to the Lord, you want to tap into this understanding of God’s sovereignty, but you don’t even know God as your personal savior, now is a good opportunity. If you feel God moving in your heart and he’s asking you to just surrender to him this morning, why don’t you raise your hand and we can just pray a quick prayer? Thank you Father. Anybody here? Well praise God. I trust we’re all saved and we’re all going to grow in our understanding. Thank you Lord for just being alive and being real in this place. Thank you that we can trust in you. Thank you God that your resurrecting life is resurrecting. Thank you that as we declare that this week, we will feel it, we will know it, and God that you’re opening our understanding to the unseen realities of the present. For your kingdom and for your glory alone in Jesus’ name. Father we just bless this people, and thank you for opening their understanding to your truth today in Jesus’ name, Amen.

For more visit our website Victory Church of Red Deer.

Don’t Be Such a Chicken – Part 2

August 13th Sermon at our Red Deer church – Don’t be Such a Chicken Pt 2 – Pastor Chuck Roth

I really that, I really believe that God has a special calling for each one of us. And I also believe that God has a special calling for this congregation. And I believe what God has for us is not status quo, I believe what God has for each one of us will challenge us and what God has for us is exciting. In Jeremiah 29:11, Jeremiah prophesied, he says, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” And this was given to the children of Israel, not when absolutely everything was going wonderfully, this was given to the children of Israel when it seemed like everything was falling apart. God’s plans for us, not that everything’s falling apart here, but sometimes in life we struggle and we wonder if there is any hope for us. I want you to know that there is hope for you and God’s plans are for you.

 

God has plans of hope and a future for us, but to embrace the plans that he has for us we need courage. Do you realize that if you don’t have courage you can miss out on what God has for you? Last time I talked just really briefly about the tribe of Ephraim, and Ephraim lost their position of influence that God had for them because they lacked courage. It says in Psalm 78:9 it says, “The men of Ephraim, well-equipped with bows and arrows turned and ran on the day of battle.” We can’t be like that if we are going to enter into what God has for us to enter in. Rich going to Jamaica, he’s taking a step of faith that the finances will be there, he’s taking a step of faith that this is what God is calling him to do. And it’s not all about just having emotional goosebumps, he’s thought about this and he’s decided that this is something that God has for him. We need to come to that place where we understand that God has something special for us, and we need to head out so that we can attain what he has for us regardless of what the circumstances are. But to do that it takes courage; it takes courage. And you can lose your place if you refuse to have courage or faith to follow after God even when it doesn’t seem to make sense to you.

 

One thing that I never mentioned the last time when I was talking about the children of Israel, I don’t know if you realize this or not, but where Jacob first encountered God was at a place called Bethel. Bethel is in the territory of Ephraim. And God does things in such a way, God’s plans are always yes and they always will happen, but it depends on us whether we get to be a part of his plans or not. Ephraim didn’t rise up and be who they were supposed to be so God said this needs to happen, but I’ll choose Judah to lead. And I kind of wonder, bear with me a little bit, but I kind of wonder if Bethel wasn’t the original place and God said, “OK, if you guys aren’t going to do this then Jerusalem is going to be the place where I dwell.” That’s free, and please don’t meet me at the door afterwards and say, “It wasn’t 400, it was 300.” But, it’s really good to check what I’m telling you is true or not; it really is. Just don’t all do it at once. Anyways…

 

These guys lack courage, and what I want to talk to you about is an area that a lot of people struggle. Some of you don’t at all and some of you as I’m talking this morning will probably just want to fall asleep because you’ll think it doesn’t apply to you, and I just want you to know that there’s coffee in the foyer; actually there isn’t, Gerty keeps it locked up but… But it’s something, it’s an issue that I’ve had to deal with in my life as well, an area where it seems like it is really tough to have courage, And it kind of depends on the kind of personality that God has given you whether you struggle with this more or less. But for me I do anyways, and it’s the fear of man, and so I want to talk to you and I want to tell you not just to get over being afraid of people because that’s easy. But if I would just lecture you about how you’re not supposed to be afraid of people, I think we all get that. Sometimes fear of man keeps us from fearing God. What I’m saying is sometimes the fear of man keeps us from following God and doing what’s right even if we think it’s going to cost us. And so, I could just holler at you this morning, “Don’t be afraid of people.” But I want to give you a plan and I want to give you a strategy this morning so you don’t fear people.

 

To start with though I want to show you how important it is that we don’t let the fear of people keep us from being obedient to God. In Proverbs 29:25 it says, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” If you’re afraid of people to the point that it is causing you not to be obedient to God, you will find that this is a snare for you. I’m not talking about… when I’m talking about fear as well I’m not saying that that doesn’t mean you don’t get nervous sometimes, but it’s a whole different thing to get nervous sometimes and to have your heart race a little bit, it’s a whole other thing between that and then saying, “You know what God, I’m not going to be obedient to you. I’m just going to do what’s comfortable for me.” I’m not talking about being totally free of fear this morning, but I’m talking about being at a place where our fear doesn’t control us so we’re not obedient to God, makes sense?

 

Proverbs 29:25 in the New American Standard Bible, I like the way it puts this verse, but it says, “He who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.” Not just safe, but being exalted. And I really believe that if we can get over the fear of men it puts us in a place where God can use us to a lot greater degree than we can even imagine. Fear of people can be a snare for us. And this is incredibly serious what I’m talking about. Let me just give you a small illustration about what I’m saying. Do you know that the first king in Israel that God had ordained to be king was Saul? And God had in his plans, God was going to make a dynasty after Saul, so it would be Saul and his children and his children’s children that would be king. But Saul was afraid of people and so it caused him to act, his fear of people caused him to act in such a way that God said, “OK, I can’t use this guy, but I’ll go use this guy over here who is a man after my own heart.”

 

One example of this is when Saul first became king he attacked the Philistine outpost and he wins, and he knows that the Philistines are not going to be happy so he rallies up an army of a few thousand people. But the Philistines, they come with a huge army, and there are so many of them, the Bible describes them as being more…. the soldiers as being more than their grains of sand on the seashore. And they come with 30,000 chariots, just imagine 30,000 tanks, and then 6,000 horsemen, and I don’t know what to compare that to. But anyways, they come with this huge army and Saul’s few thousand men that he’s gathered together, they start to run away and they start to hide. The scripture says they start to hide in caves and cisterns and holes in the ground. And the prophet Samuel has said that in seven days time, or it’s been predetermined between Saul and Samuel that in seven days time Samuel is going to come and he’s going to perform a sacrifice so that the children of Israel would have the favor of God as they go to fight this incredible force. But Samuel doesn’t show up quite when he’s supposed to, and Saul’s men are starting to scatter, and so Saul is afraid of the Philistine army and he’s afraid of how things look, and so he takes matters into his own hands and he sacrifices… he himself performs the sacrifice. And just as soon as he’s done with performing the sacrifice, Samuel shows up.

 

Let’s pick up the story in 1 Samuel chapter 13. So Samuel asks when he shows up, he says, “What have you done?” Saul replied, “I saw the troops were scattering, you didn’t come when you said you would and the Philistines were assembling at Mishmash, so I thought now the Philistines will come against me in Gilgal, but I haven’t sought the Lord’s favor. I felt pressured into sacrificing the burnt offering.” “You did a foolish thing,” Samuel told Saul. You see, it was absolutely forbidden for anybody but the priest to sacrifice. The king was not supposed to sacrifice, only the priest could do that. “You did a foolish thing,” Samuel told Saul. “You didn’t follow the command of the Lord your God. If you had the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel permanently, but now your kingdom will not last. The Lord has searched for a man after his own heart and the Lord has appointed him as ruler of his people because you didn’t follow the command of the Lord.” Saul let his fear of people caused him to lose the anointing that God had for him. I just say this to you because we need to understand how serious some of this stuff is. Sometimes we just take it for granted, “Ah, it’s OK.” But, no. And then a little later on Saul lost again, I won’t get into that story, but a little later on there was another similar circumstance that arose, and Saul was not obedient to God and in verse 24 of chapter 15, when Samuel had confronted Saul and Saul told Samuel, “I have sinned by not following the Lord’s commands or your instructions. I was afraid of the people and listened to them.”

 

This is a huge snare for us. Fear of people is a crippling fear for us, and like I said it takes more than me just telling you to stop it. But I want to give you a plan and a strategy this morning to overcome fear of people. Back in the early days before I was in ministry, and I’ve been in ministry for about 25 years, but there was a guy who came and had a word from God for me, and the word simply was that you will never get over your fear of people until you know how much God loves you. And I’ve thought about that over the years quite a bit, so I want to show you some things from scripture this morning so you can have it cemented in your heart how much God loves you. And I’m not going to just preach the same stuff that you’ve heard before, because I think you know that stuff, but I want to take it in a little different direction this morning so you can know that God loves you. 1 John 4:18, “No fear exists where love is. Rather, perfect love gets rid of fear because fear involves punishment. The person who lives in fear doesn’t have perfect love.”

 

I want you to see how much God loves you this morning. Let me start this morning with one scripture that I know you’ve heard before, but I want to expound on a little bit. It’s Psalms 139, and I want you to realize that even though I think it was David that wrote this, I want you to realize that this applies to you, and he’s talking about you this morning. He says, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works and my soul knows it quite well.” He’s talking about himself. “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, in your book were written, every one, of them the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts oh God, how vast is the sum of them. If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I am awake and I am still with you.” David recognized that even before he was formed God had a plan for his life. God made him to be special; David was special. And even before he was created God had made him to be special.

 

And that’s what I want us to see this morning, the first thing is I want you to see that you are an amazing creation. And when we think about this, we think ‘yes’, our physical bodies, if you study that, and I don’t, but if you study that you’ll find out that how your brain works… this I did, I spent a lot of time, maybe 32 seconds, and I found out that the average person theoretically probably has about 10 thoughts a second. But an average person probably has about 10 thoughts a second; isn’t that amazing? About 80% of those thoughts are subconscious thoughts. But an average person has about… I don’t know who count it, I don’t know if the study is right or not, but that’s pretty amazing. And if you look at how our body fights off disease, how our body heals itself… I’ve been to the doctor, this is the third time so hopefully shortly here I’m going to be really pretty for you guys, these spots on my face will be gone, I don’t have an incurable disease. The doctor wanted to burn some stuff off with liquid nitrogen. But I am absolutely amazed at how he can put that on in one day, and it does sting a little bit, and then in just a matter of a couple days it starts to heal up; isn’t our bodies amazing? It’s just amazing to me how our bodies are made. And I think when we go to this passage that’s what we think about, how amazing our bodies are. But it’s more than that, it’s a personality that God has given you. Do you know that the personality that God has given you is absolutely suited to the calling that he has for you?

 

When we were… when Joyce and I were at this pastors’ retreat, about a month or so before we went we had to fill out a couple of tests so they would kind of know our personalities and know who we were. And I get a real kick out of this stuff. One of the tests that we had to fill out was a Myers Briggs test, it’s a personality thing, and I won’t go into too many details, other than to say that they divide personalities into four categories with two parts in each category. And this helps us to understand how we make decisions, it shows us our strengths and it shows us our weaknesses, because with every personality type there are strengths and there are weaknesses. And I know you’re horribly interested in who I am, right? I’m an extrovert. Who said that? I love it, I love it, don’t feel bad at all. Let me describe, there’s… like I said, there’s different categories. People are either extroverts or introverts, they either use intuition or sensing, they use feeling or thinking, they use perception or judgment. And I’m an extrovert, I use intuition, I’m a feeling person, and I’m a perceiving person. Joyce, I thought it was really interesting, Joyce is exactly the opposite. When she filled out her test, her thing was exactly the opposite. The point I’m trying to make to you is it’s not just our bodies people, it’s our whole being; we’re fearfully and wonderfully made. And God has given us our personalities. You don’t have to think very hard to understand that it’s not just life that tells you who you are, but I think God imprints on us our personalities even before we’re born, because our personalities are there for a specific reason to help with the calling that we have. And one is not better than the other, each one of them, each one of us are very special and very unique. Sometimes we try so hard to change who we are, but we need to embrace and understand that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and you’re made perfectly. You’re made perfectly so that you can fulfill the calling that God has for you.

 

Sometimes we wish that we would be different. If you were made different you wouldn’t be perfect. I could list some of my character flaws to you – I wish I had hair, I really do. I wish my nose wasn’t so big. I had an operation on my nose a long time ago, I was in an accident (I don’t know why I’m sharing this with you) I was in an accident longtime ago and it kind of crushed part of my face, and so when they went to open up my nasal passages they wanted to know… before you have an operation they always ask you what you’re having your operation for. So my response was, “My nose isn’t big enough, they’re going to make it bigger.” But I wish I was more of a decisive leader. It’s hard for me sometimes to make decisions and I over analyze things and I think things to death sometimes; that’s who God has made me to be. And I can look at these things and “You know God, I wish you would have maybe made me a little bit different.” But the older I get, the more I realize how that stuff just doesn’t matter. The first time my brother-in-law made fun of me because he saw that I was starting to go bald, that hurt; now… I’ve got my wife, who cares?

 

But when we can come to accept who God has made us to be, when we can love who God has made us to be, and when we can understand that God didn’t make any

mistakes when he made us, we’re made perfectly to fulfill the calling that he has on our life. We’re made perfectly to fulfill the purpose that we’re supposed to fulfill in life. And we need each other. And I’m so thankful that Joyce’s personality is absolutely different than mine, because it helps us to understand things, and I don’t just see things from an emotional point of view. Joyce can point out, “Well Chuck, these are the facts.” Sometimes we think that it’s just God speaking to us through our emotions, well maybe. But I was thinking about this, I wonder how often we think… because those of you that are built like me we think that God is speaking to us because we have a feeling about something. But is that any more valuable than Joyce evaluating things? “Chuck, these are the facts. Yes, you want to buy a new truck, yes you want to buy a new truck and I mean… but you know what, this is what your salary is. Yes, I know you want to buy a farm way back when, and I know you’re planning and scheming, but Chuck…” Actually she learned to just be quiet and then she wouldn’t fight with me and after a week I’d come to my senses anyways. But I’m so glad that God has made us differently.

 

At this pastors retreat they taught us that the proper way to make decisions flies in the face of what any individual personality is. The perfect way that people should make decisions, none of us are built that way. And that shows me the importance of the body, because we need to all come together. I want you to see how special you are and how important you are in the body of Christ; you are. God has made you to be a very special, unique person. Stop wishing that you were something else, stop thinking that God made any mistakes when he made you, he never, you’re perfect just the way you are.

 

My second point is, and this is really amazing when you let it sink in, you’re made in God himself’s image. It says in Genesis that God made mankind as his image, and this likely refers to such qualities as reason, personality, intellect and to the capacity to relate to hear, to see and to speak. Some Bible scholars think it simply means that we have the nature of God. As I was studying this this last week I was amazed at how often scripture says that we are made in God’s image or we’re made in the likeness of God, James 3:9 for example. I was kind of surprised when I saw the basic premise of the verses, it simply says people are made in the likeness of God. So who are you? You’remade in the likeness of God. You’re fearfully and wonderfully made, and you’re made in the likeness of God. Leave the sarcasm out of it, and turn to the person beside you and point to yourself and say, “Wow.” That feels a little uncomfortable, doesn’t it? But that’s reality, and if you want to get over fear of man, if you want to get over fear of people you need to understand that this is who you are, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. God has made you who you are. So oh my goodness, let’s just live and relax and enjoy life. Who cares that some guys are unfortunate enough to have hair? Do you know when I last you shampoo? Think of all the money I’m saving, and barbers, yes. Joyce gets to cut my hair once a week and she’s so blessed that she can do that. And it doesn’t take long and it doesn’t cost anything, a pair of clippers every few years.

 

My third point is understand who God has made you to be. In Psalms 119:73, and I just noticed this last week or the week before, never saw this before, but it says, “Your hands created me and made me what I am. Help me understand so that I may learn your commandments.” Give me a little bit of latitude here, but I believe I’m not taking things out of context. God has created me who I am, help me to understand who he’s created me to be so that I can serve him and I can follow him better. I think we spend so much time trying to be somebody we’re not, we spend so much time trying to convince people that were somebody we’re not, when all it does is lead us to a place of frustration, it leads us to a place of dissatisfaction with who we are. Understand who God has made you to be. You; understand who he’s made you to be.

 

If you look at the next number of verses, when you understand who God has made you to be and you’re just comfortable in who he’s made you to be, in verse 74 it says, “Those who fear you, those who fear God will see me and rejoice.” When you can understand who God has made you to be and you can be comfortable in that, people who fear God will see you and rejoice. You’re bringing God honor and glory when you can just accept who he’s made you to be, you understand that this is my role in life, I wasn’t called to be the Queen of England, but I’m just who I am.

 

And then if you jump down another few verses it says, “Let those who fear you turn to me.” This is about us, we need to understand who we are, and we need to not be ashamed that, “Hey, you know what, we’re special and we’re gifted.” This is not me trying to work on yourself-esteem, I’m not talking about trying to make you feel good about yourself. I’m trying to show you reality of who you are, each one of you.And you’re created in God’s image, and man I don’t know how much more I can say to help you feel good about yourself. Maybe I am appealing to yourself esteem, I don’t know. But I don’t know how much more I can say. We need to get this deep into our spirit. Let those who fear you turn to me so that they can come to know your written instructions. God wants to use us, and when we’re just comfortable with who we are it makes an incredible difference. What a better way to live. Just enjoy who God has made you to be. Society today, we’re on this thing that God has made us wrong; he hasn’t. God didn’t make any mistakes when he made you. You’re perfect and you’re just who you are. Sometimes we think men are supposed to act in a certain way and women are supposed to act in a certain way, come on. God didn’t make any mistakes when he made us. You know what? I’m kind of a feeling emotional guy, and I’m glad I am. And I can sit there and watch a movie and I can cry. And I’m proud of it. Well, sometimes I try to hide it from Joyce. Joyce never cries when she watches movies, right? I’m not sure to be honest. I’m so busy trying to keep the tears out of my own eyes.

 

I want us to get to the place where we’re comfortable where we are. When we understand how much God loves us, when we understand how special we are, the fear people won’t control us. When you know how much God loves you, fear of man won’t be a stumbling block for you. So I’m wrapping up, but this morning every eye open and everybody looking around because we’re dealing with the fear of people. How many of you would say, “Chuck if I’m perfectly honest I’ve let fear of people control me”? Good for you guys, good for you guys. How many of you want that to stop this morning? Yes. The first step to getting over something is to be able to admit where you’re at, and when you admit where you’re and you take it to the Lord and you confess it, he forgives you. He forgives you and he accepts you and he welcomes you, and he also will give you the strength and the power to get over that thing. And this is not something that you need 372 years of counseling to get over. Some of us may occasionally need somebody to help us through some stuff, if our parents have told us we were no good or something. But the basis of what I’m talking about here this morning is that you are a special person, and when you understand how special God has made you to be, when you understand how loved you are, other people won’t control you.

 

Father I thank you for each person here. I thank you Lord for a congregation that’s willing to admit where they are. Father I thank you that we can just be who you’ve made us to be. And Father I ask you that you would help each one of us here to be comfortable with who you’ve made us to be. Father if there’s anyone here who’s trying to be somebody that they’re not, Father set them free from that, set them free from that, deliver them from that Lord. And Father if there’s those of us here, and I’m sure it’s basically all of us, we’ve allowed what other people have said or how other people have treated us, we’ve allowed that to influence us more than what you’ve said about us. Father I ask that you would forgive us for that, and Father that you would set us free from that as well. And father I ask that this congregation, I ask Father. Father we’re coming to you as our daddy, and we ask Father that you would instill in us how much we’re loved and how special we are. And Father that we would get over the fear of people. Father I pray that we would always be obedient to you, and that would be what motivates us more than anything else. So we just praise you and we worship you this morning in Jesus’ name we pray, amen. Amen.

 

If you’ve never given your life to Jesus Christ, I would really encourage you to do that this morning. This isn’t complicated stuff, you just have to invite Jesus to come into your heart. And we’re going to close the service in just a minute, but there’s people who would love to pray with you and they would love to lead you into a place where you can experience this freedom that we’re talking about this morning. This freedom comes from being a child of God, that’s where it starts, and so you have to say yes to Jesus Christ, I want to give myself to you. And you know what’s so cool? The scripture says that Jesus never turns anyone away. So it’s here and it’s available for you today. Thank you so much for coming.

For more visit our website Victory Church of Red Deer.

Don’t Be Such a Chicken – Part 1

July 30th Sermon at our Red Deer church – Don’t Be Such a Chicken – Pastor Chuck Roth 

Father, I just ask Lord as I deliver the message this morning that I would be able to do it in a way Father that brings life to people. Father I pray that they wouldn’t get lost in the details of a message but they would hear what I believe your heart is for this congregation. And so Lord just minister to each one of us, help me to speak plainly, help me to speak with enthusiasm. And Lord I pray that for each one of us Lord that you would open up our ears so we would hear what you really are saying to us, so thank you for that Father, in Jesus name we pray, amen.

 

I’m going to start a new sermon series, it’s called Don’t be Such a Chicken. If I were to ask you a question this morning, what if God wanted to really use you to make a difference in the world? What if God really wanted to use you to make a difference in the world? What if he was calling you to do something that’s far greater than you’ve ever thought of before? What if God wants to use you to make an incredible difference? What if you just let your mind just wander for a little bit, not when I’m preaching but just after the message maybe, what if you just let yourself dream for a little bit about what God has in store for you as an individual and for us as a congregation? Because I really believe that God wants to take us someplace different and some place special that’ s probably more than we’ve ever even thought of. For some of you right now you’re thinking of all of the opportunities you’ve missed in the past and all of the things that have gone wrong; you know what? Today is a new day, so today is not a day where you look at the past and you think, “Yes, I made that mistake or this happened or this wasn’t fair to me” or whatever is going through your mind.

 

Yesterday is yesterday. Today is a new day and I believe that God wants to do something new and something fresh and something different in our church as well. I believe that God wants to build on what we’ve done in the past to a far greater degree than probably we can even imagine. The other week I was looking and watching some music videos of the Bethel Church in Redding California, and I mean that’s kind of the same as Hill songs or whatever, kind of the same type of thing. And I’m not talking about their message and I’m not talking about the way they do things or their structure, but those two churches have really risen up and are influential in building the kingdom of God, right? What if God wants to use us the same way? What if God wants to use us? As I was watching the video I saw the altars were just filled with people who are praising and worshiping God. Last Sunday or most of the time Jordan comes and Jordan sits in the front here and Jordan is up, what if Jordan is kind of a foretaste of what’s going to happen in our congregation? What if God is going to pour out his spirit afresh and anew upon us in a really new, startling way and and we’re going to see more miracles than we’ve seen in the past and we’re going to see God moved by his hand more than we’ve seen him move in the past? What if we’re entering into a whole new area? What if…? And not just what if, but what if God? What if God?

 

When Joyce and I first came to Red Deer 11 and a half years ago now, man time goes fast, but when Joyce and I came I remember I used to work out with Maureen’s husband Mike at the Calicut Center, and we would exercise very vigorously (how many of you believe that?) for a while, and then we would sit in the hot tub for just a very brief period of time. And I remember as part of our conversations were ‘what if’, what if we’re really going to be successful here? And at that time there was probably 20 or 30 people that met here, 20 or 30 people that said that this was their church. And we’ve seen God do amazing things over the years, we really have. And we’ve seen some of the ‘what-ifs we’re going to be successful’ here. Mike and I have seen some of that. Mike has taken mission teams, how often has he been, four times to Mexico, to Africa, to Thailand. And I don’t believe God is done with Mike in the missions department either. He stepped back for a bit here, taking a new direction in life, but that doesn’t mean life is over for him. We’ve seen a lot of the what-ifs, we’ve seen some of that stuff that we were talking about in the hot tub. That’s not funny, let’s move on.

 

We saw God bring to fulfillment some of those things that we could just imagine about. But we’re not done yet; we’re not done yet. And I believe it’s time to dream again, it’s time to let our imaginations go again, it’s time for us as individuals to just let ourselves dream about what if God really wanted to use me? What if God wanted me to do something? And I I really believe that he does. But just because God wants to do something doesn’t mean it will automatically happen. Just because God wants to use each one of us doesn’t automatically mean it will happen. If we just stay laying on our couches or we keep waiting for an envelope to come in the mail with a million dollar check from somebody. Come on, how many of you… yes a few more of you are getting real, becoming honest this morning. I used to dream as a boy that somebody would just come down the road and have a horse for me to ride on, and I could just picture them coming and I could… and you know what happened? My dad bought me horse later on, so I did get one. But my dream wasn’t fulfilled that way. Anyways I’m getting off track here.

 

God wants to do something new, but it doesn’t mean that it will automatically happen. You see, what’s needed is for us to have courage. It is so crucial and so important that each one of us have courage. If God is calling us to something new, if God is calling us to greater things, if God is calling us to a place of influence, if God wants to use us to really make a difference, maybe in our victory organization, in the city for sure, in the province and around the world, what if God really wants to use us for us to enter into what God has for us? Courage is going to be required, right? It may be God’s heart to use us in this way, but if we don’t have courage to step out and to do some stuff, well we’re just not going to see the fulfillment of what we want to see. The Apostle Paul told Timothy, he wrote a couple of letters to Timothy and he told Timothy, he said once, he said, “I’m reminded of the sincere faith that you have.” He said, “Your grandmother had it, your mother had it and now you have it.” And then in 2 Timothy the Apostle Paul said to Timothy he says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

 

You see, Timothy had this within him, but the Apostle Paul said fan it into flame. You build a campfire and it’s just kind of their smoldering and you’re hoping it will take off and so you start to blow on it, fan it into flames so this fire, this thing that God has put in us, this small thing that God has put in us, fan it into flames Timothy. And I believe it’s important for each one of us to fan it into flame in the same way. Then look at the next verse, verse seven, it says, “For God gave us a spirit, not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” God gave us, us here, us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Another version says God did not give us a spirit of timidity.

 

I like to look at the meaning of the words of this verse. If you look at the word fear it means a state of fear because of lack of courage or moral strength. God didn’t give us this a state of fear because of lack of courage or moral strength. We talked over the last couple weeks about how even if persecution comes, even if we suffer for doing what’s right we need to do what’s right, right? And God didn’t give us a spirit that’s afraid to do what’s right even if we suffer for it. God didn’t give us a spirit of that. But God gives us courage, courage to do the right thing, not a spirit of timidity. Instead he gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.

 

Look at the word love, guess what love means? Love. I’m going to leave it at that this morning. I mean you’ve probably heard 3072 sermons defining what love is. Well we’re talking about love here, I think everybody gets that OK. God gave us a spirit of self-control, that’s to behave in a sensible manner with the implication of thoughtful awareness of what is best, moderation or sensibility. How many of you believe I came up with these definitions myself? I didn’t. But the one I want to focus on this morning, the one I want to focus on this morning is the word power. Power means the potentiality to exert force in performing some function. The holy spirit that God put in us means that we have the potential to exert force and perform a function. Notice the word potential. Fan into flame Timothy the potential that God has given you. When I was a kid I used to be very proud of the fact when I would bring my report cards home to mom and dad, the teachers always put in them “Charles could do good if he wanted to.” Hey, I could get a good report card if I wanted to. I’ll leave it at that. And then it wasn’t until my daughter started to get interested in guys where I realize that really potential doesn’t mean anything. Unless you’re fulfilling your potential, unless you’re driving in a direction with the potential that you have, it really doesn’t mean anything. So just to have potential doesn’t mean much. God gives us the potential to be powerful, but that really doesn’t mean much unless we activate the potential that’s inside of us right.

God wants to activate the potential that’s inside of us. The Spirit of God has put within us the potential to be very powerful to accomplish the what-if God’s, we need to fan this into flame. And I want to share a story with you from the Scripture that’s actually kind of depressing in a way, because it’s about a group of people who have potential but they never reached their potential, and in doing so they missed out on their calling. And I’m thinking about a tribe from the children of Israel. Let me give you a brief history, the children of Israel started out with one man, Abraham. I think probably a lot of us recognize that fact. Abraham was the first guy, then Abraham had a son Isaac, Isaac had a son

Jacob, Jacob’s name was later changed to Israel. And the tribes of Israel basically, with a few exceptions, a couple of exceptions or whatever, the tribes of Israel were named after Jacob or Israel sons. There was a couple of exceptions but one of them was Joseph, remember the story of Joseph? Joseph was sold as a slave to Egypt, and then Joseph actually became a leader in Egypt, he became second in command to Pharaoh. Well Joseph had, two sons Ephraim and Manasseh, and before Jacob died he claimed Joseph’s sons as his own, he adopted them in a sense. Not in the sense that these kids are going to move into my house and and I’m going to raise them and they’re going to be mine, not like that. But basically what Jacob was doing was giving Joseph’s sons a real inheritance along with the other sons. The fact is that even though Ephraim was born after Manasseh, Ephraim was supposed to be the head tribe in Israel, Ephraim was supposed to have a tribe and it was supposed to have the rights of the firstborn son. Firstborn son always had a double inheritance, a double portion of the inheritance, and Ephraim was supposed to receive this. Ephraim was one of the, I’m not sure if not the largest tribe in Israel, and Ephraim was supposed to be the head tribe in Israel, that Ephraim had a problem. And it says…

Well one verse I missed here, Jeremiah 31:9 just in case you think I’m really getting off base here. Jeremiah speaking for God says, “I am the father of Israel and Ephraim is my firstborn.” Now let’s move on. Ephraim was supposed to receive the inheritance of the firstborn and then in Psalm 78:9 and 11 it says, “The man of Ephraim, well-equipped with bows and arrows turned and ran on the day of battle.” They had not been faithful to God’s promises, they refused to follow his teachings, they forgot what he had done, the miracles that he’d shown them. These verses in Psalm 78 it’s kind of going through a history of Israel and what’s happened there, and when it comes to the tribe of Ephraim it says even though these guys were well-equipped with the weapons of war, it says when it came time for battle these guys ran. They had bows and arrows but when the going got tough these guys left. In verse 67 it says, “He rejected the tent of Joseph, he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. But he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which he loved.”

You see, Ephraim lost their position as firstborn, even though they were the largest tribe they lost their position of leadership, why? Because they turned and they ran in the day of battle. The fact is if we run in a day of battle we’re never going to fulfill what God wants us to fulfill, right? If we take the safe route, if we take the easy route in life we will never fulfill entirely what God has for us to fulfill. There’s more to the story when it comes to the tribe of Ephraim. If you look at the verses it wasn’t just the courage thing, but I think the courage thing was the result of a few things that they did. They forgot what God had done in the past, the victories that he’d won over other nations. And if you look at the history of the tribe of Ephraim you’ll see that they never totally surrendered to God either. They never totally completely decided that they were going to follow his teachings. They were proud and arrogant, and this showed up but specifically in one battle.

Do you remember the story of Gideon? God came to Gideon while Gideon was hiding in a wine-press trying to thresh out a little bit of grain for his family. And God came to Gideon and he said, “Gideon, I’m going to use you to save the nation of Israel.” The Midianites had overrun the land, and every time there was a crop about to be harvested the Midianites would come in and destroy everything so the Israelites were poor and they’re suffering and they’re struggling. And God says to Gideon, “I’m going to use you to save the nation.” And so Gideon gathers together, goes through couple tests, gathers together a sizable group of men to fight the Midianites, nothing in comparison to the army that the Midianites had. But what he does, he gathers these men and God says, “You have way too many guys. You’re going to be able to claim the victory for yourself.” So to make a long story a little bit shorter anyways, they pare the group of men down to 400 men and God does a real miracle with Gideon and his 400 men. And the Midianites start to fight amongst themselves and then they run away.

And what does the tribe of Ephraim do? Gideon is fighting these guys, people are starting to join in, the tribe of Ephraim joins in for a little bit. But look at their attitude, they get mad at Gideon because Gideon didn’t include them in the battle plans in what was going on. They were proud and they were arrogant and they thought, “Hey we’re the biggest tribe here, we’re really somebody. God is really using us.” And so they get mad at Gideon, and Gideon has to now take on the tribe of Ephraim while he’s still fighting the Midianites. And in Judges 8:1 it tells a story a little bit, it says, “The men of Ephraim strongly protested Gideon’s actions. They said, ‘why did you do this to us?’ You didn’t invite us to go fight Midian with you.'” They thought that they were pretty special, but Gideon was following God and he didn’t involve the tribe of Ephraim. But Gideon is wise and in his response and verse 2 Gideon tells the tribe of Ephraim he says, “I haven’t done anything compared with what you’ve done. Aren’t the grapes that Ephraim picked after the harvest better than all of the grapes of Abihazer’s entire harvest?” God handed a couple guys, Arab and Zeeb – there, you can laugh at me for all of my pronunciations here – Midians commanders over to you, what have I done in compared with that? He appealed to their pride, and when they heard what Gideon said they weren’t angry with him anymore.

The battle is still going on, and because Ephraim’s pride is hurt they take on Gideon. It shows you who they were, it shows you their mindset. And if you fast forward in history and you look at David became King, the tribe of Ephraim, yes, came under David’s leadership, but they never totally surrendered to David. When there was trouble, when there was a issue Ephraim always went their own way. And then when it was David’s grandson Ephraim went their own way, turned their back on God and did their own thing. They never totally surrendered to what God wanted. And I believe in them not totally surrendering to what God wanted, then… and also it said in those previous verses it says they forgot what God had done. I believe if we do that then we’ll miss out on what God has, we’ll lack courage ourselves. You see it’s not just about us just deciding waking up one morning that we’re going to have courage, it’s about us doing the things today to be obedient to God to recognizing that he really is a king, to recognizing that he really is the Lord and I’m going to be obedient to him today.

I’m so proud of some of you. Gail isn’t with us this morning, but Gail was talking about how she went to the City of Red Deer Town Council and had some grievances with some of the stuff that they wanted to do, and that took courage for her to go into council chambers and to make a statement, right? Evelyn told me that she’s starting to to swim and she’s afraid of the water, but she’s getting over her fear of being afraid of the water. Some of these things we think are small things, but it’s setting us on a course where we can be brave and we can be courageous and we can tackle some of these things that God has for us. We need to have of a mindset of courage, we need to be obedient, fully obedient to the things that God has for us. And we need to be people that are willing to really submit to what God has for our life, not kind of hold things off like, “Yeah, I’ll be submissive but…” We really need to be submissive to the Lord. And we need to take the small challenges that he gives us now and do those things. Is there a neighbor that you need to call? Call them. This isn’t big stuff. If God wants you to do something do it. I wish I could bring you complicated messages. None of this stuff is big stuff, it’s just do the thing that’s before you, do it. And I don’t mean to be the dad that tells his kid “Do it.” I don’t mean to be that guy. What I want to be is the guy that encourages us. We can do this, we can do that. Take a chance, and yes, you’re scared, all of us are scared of stuff, but it’s not being fearful that’s bad, it’s being fearful and letting your fear control you and not stepping out and doing, that’s where the harm comes. Fear is a good thing, to a point; fear is a good thing.

We need to be people of courage if we’re going to do the what-ifs. We have the potential to really be powerful. We have the potential to really make a difference; but courage is needed. Think of great men of God in the Old Testament, or even the New Testament, think of the great men of God and what they did. When Joshua took over from Moses and he’s going to lead the entire nation into the Promised Land that’s filled with Giants and all kinds of obstacles, God told Joshua numerous times “Be courageous.” When a huge army came to fight King Jehoshaphat, a huge army that greatly outnumbered him, Jehoshaphat had courage and he prayed. And you know what he did, he sent the praise and worship team out ahead of the army; how would you guys like that? I think that’s a great idea, right? How many of you think we should do that sort of stuff ourselves here? But these guys had courage.

Sometimes I think we misunderstand. Here’s one prophet that stands up and tells Joshua God’s going to win this battle, all you need to do is show up and God’s going to win the battle. And so Joshua gets together his praise and worship team and they go out, and that’s exactly what happens God wins the battle for them, they don’t even need to fight. But put that in today’s language where we’re facing or we pretend we’re facing a real issue here, a life and death issue, and somebody stands up in the congregation, somebody who has a track record, but stands up in the congregation and says, “You guys don’t need to do anything, God is going to handle this for you.” And even though… it used to be when I was a kid “the Russians are coming”, it’s starting to become that again. But even though they’re coming you don’t need to stand up and do anything, God is going to win this battle for you. If somebody stood up and said that how many of you would just jump on board with that and you’d say, “Yeah.” I would be like, “Y-y-yeah.” I’m just trying to put it into context, but these guys had courage and they just did what they were told. They didn’t hide in the city, they didn’t hide behind walls, they didn’t try to run away. But they had courage and they went out and God won the battle for them.

I love the stories in the Old Testament. I love the stories of David’s mighty men and I think of the courage David’s mighty men must have had. I like to say this, on TV the hero seems to be able to stand in the street in full view with a six-shot revolver and take out all of the bad guys that are hiding behind rocks and in buildings and stuff who have AK-47s, right? Well if you don’t follow the story of David’s mighty men who had courage, they’re even greater than that. Here’s one guy Joash Bathshebeth, he raised his spear against 800 men whom he killed in one encounter. Here’s one guy armed with a spear in the middle of a battle, defeats 800 enemy. Can you imagine having people like that around you if you’re in a war? That’s what you want, right? But these guys had courage, they did incredible exploits. David said once, “Man, it’s hot and it’s dry here. I wish somebody would go over there to that well and get me some water” and the well is behind enemy lines. And what do David’s three… I think it was three of David’s mighty men, what do they do? They break through the enemy lines, go over, get a drink of water, and then I guess they have to break through the lines again and come and they give David this water. Think of the courage of these guys. Think of the courage of these guys. Do you know what David does? He pours the water out on the ground, he said, “This is a sacrifice to God.These guys risked their own lives. I’m not drinking this water.” But the courage of these guys, and look at the things they accomplished.

I think it’s time for us to dwell on the what if’s a bit, and then to have the courage and the strength and the boldness that we need to have to see God take us to a whole other new level. It’s time to rise up, it’s time to be people of courage, it’s time to take on those challenges, it’s time to do the stuff. It’s not time to run and to hide in our houses, it’s not time to pull back and to wither and to die. God wants to do something special for us, and and God has given each one of us potential. Let’s take advantage of the potential that he’s given to us. In 2nd Timothy 1:14, and I’ll close with this, it says, “By the Holy Spirit who dwells within you guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Guard the good deposit entrusted to you, the potential that you have inside of you, the potential that we have inside of us let’s guard that and let’s have the courage to be obedient to God, let’s have the courage to go forward and to do those things that God is calling us to do.

None of your lives here are over. There isn’t anybody who’s here by mistake this morning, I really don’t believe that. I believe God is calling each one of us, and even whether you’re part of this congregation or not God is calling you to make a difference where you’re at. Let’s rise up let’s take advantage of the opportunities that he gives to us, let’s go guys, let’s go. And we don’t have to look at yesterday’s failures or yesterday’s defeats, today is a new day, it’s a new day. It’s a new day. How many of you are with me? I just so believe that it’s time for us to rise up. And life may have beat us down for a while, but our lives aren’t over yet. Today is a new day and God is going to use us in a fresh, new way.

Father I thank you so much for each person that’s here. I thank you Father that you’ve given them incredible potential. I thank you Father that there isn’t any of us who’ve reached the potential fully that what you’ve been wanting to give to us. So Father I just ask Lord that you would bless us as we go forward Father, a new season in September, I pray Father that we would be people of courage, that we would be people that have strength, that we would be people that trust in you, we would be people that have faith in you. Pour out your spirit upon us here Father, may we receive, may we achieve the potential that you have given to us. Thank you Lord.

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