Excerpts from Easter season 2017
In a world that’s hungry for all kinds of revolutions, the most revolutionary thing ever has already been done. Jesus died for our sins, was buried and on the third day rose from the grave. This revolutionary act freed us from sin and death.
As FBCGL celebrates the Resurrection this Easter season we will be studying how this act of LOVE by Jesus indeed bore all the marks of REVOLUTION! As Jesus rode into the city with people crying Hosanna, they actually expected Jesus to lead a revolution in Jerusalem.
“As he rode along, the crowds spread out their garments on the road ahead of him. When he reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. “Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!”” (Luke 19:36-38 LT)
He rode in a victorious King and died an insurrectionists death. But the story doesn’t end there… Jesus is alive and His revolution is not political, social, or economic – It’s within your heart.
As we enter the Passion Week, or some say Holy Week, of Christ, I want to invite you (and you should invite others), your family, your neighbors and friends to all of our worship services and events. During the Easter Season we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper, celebrate several baptisms, and worship Him in Spirit and in Truth!
But there is also a request, no a command, He makes to all believers. As we accept His revolutionary love, we are also commissioned to preach His Gospel, to set up a church for Christ in the world, to bring the nations to the obedience of faith, and to build them up in it. ‘You shall receive power to do this, for you shall be filled with the Holy Ghost’ – Acts 1:8.
All Christians have business to do for Christ in this world. We are called to do business for Christ as he furnishes us with gifts necessary for his business; he gave us power and he expects service. He delivers the currency we need with this charge – ‘Go work and Go trade’.
We must continue to do our King’s business till our King comes back, whatever difficulties or opposition we may meet within it. Jesus has been exalted as King and will return in glory soon. We are his servants who have each received something to work with, to bring some return on investment.
It’s not too late to put all of our gifts and abilities to work for him. When your King returns will he say to you ‘Well done, my good servant’? (Luke 19:17)
Sunday’s sermon was entitled “In God We Trust.” As I closed out the “A Nation Under God” series, I challenged us to turn over the keys to God. Let Him have control! We so often “mess stuff up” when we try to take up His sovereignty.
I challenge you to give God control over your personal life, your work, your relationships, marriage, family and finances. The truth is, none of it is ours anyway. Control is a myth, an illusion; but you can make an active choice each day to give the keys of your life over to God…Will you?
During the message I shared a challenge with you all. I asked each family to consider adding $12 a week to their giving (for the next 12 months) – above and beyond that which they already give. Can you consider participating in the 12 x 12 challenge? Do you trust God?
I spoke with a church member this morning who shared their 12×12 giving story…
The story below is paraphrased but it really happened!
“I was taking notes Sunday morning during the service and I made a promise to God about taking the 12×12 challenge in giving. I go home and look at my budget on my yellow legal pad and it will never add up, but I trust God. I occasionally sell items online and have not had much activity but when I checked my accounts that night. I had sale….after sale….after sale…it’s all God. This is money I didn’t count on, but God provided a way.”
Miracle Math is what I call it…when we trust God, he shows us that He is trust-worthy.
So, what’s your 12×12 giving story? I can’t to hear more!
Summer 2016 Someone ask me for the list of scriptures I referenced in a recent sermon. The message was on our prayer life – ways it strengthens us and cases where our prayers may be hindered. Below is an excerpt from that sermon on prayer…
I have to share a difficult truth about prayer. Something that may be hard for us to accept: If prayer is communication with God, then one must have a relationship with God in order to pray to God.
Follow the reasoning of the Scriptures. Isaiah 59:2, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
The first prayer God will hear from us is the prayer that brings us into a relationship with Him. It is the prayer of a repentant heart and broken spirit that seeks God’s forgiveness and loving kindness.
The NT says, “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.” (John 9:31)
David said this, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;” (Psalm 66:18)
Q – What is our first prayer to God?
The one that opens our heart to receive God’s free gift of salvation, a prayer surrendering to God.
“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry;” (Psalm 34:15)
God hears the prayers of the righteous are no one is righteous before God without Christ Jesus as Savior.
Hear me on this, it is important to recognize that God is at work in the lives of both the just and the unjust.
But until someone enters into God’s kingdom, is adopted as a child of God through His Son, they have no prayer life with God.
This may sound really harsh and offensive to some.
God does not hear the prayers of those:
Who ask with personal, selfish motives (James 4:3)
Who forsake God (Jeremiah 14:10-12)
Who reject God’s call (Proverbs 1:24-25, 28)
Who will not heed God’s Law (Zech. 7:11-13)
Who turn a deaf ear to the poor (Prov. 21:13)
Who are violent (Isaiah 1:15)
Who worship idols (Jeremiah 11:11-14)
Who are living in hypocrisy (Luke 12:1)
Who are proud of heart (James 4:6; 1Peter 5:5)
Who are self-righteous (Luke 18:11-14)
Who mistreat God’s people (Ps. 18:40-41) and
Who have no faith (James 1:6-7)
_______ Join us this summer for our Wednesday evening Prayer Series_____
Why an Egg Hunt? – March 2016
Over the years I have heard believers express heartfelt concerns about the involvement of churches in egg hunts during the season called “Easter,” or Resurrection Sunday. After all, isn’t an egg hunt, and even the term “Easter,” rooted in pagan traditions?
Still others of you are surprised to learn that Easter, Christmas (including decorating trees), and many of our other celebrations are also considered “rooted” in paganism. So let’s unpack this idea.
While early church records affirm the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, this celebration was not called “Easter.” Why? Primarily because the early church did not speak English and “Easter” is an English term. The earliest use of anything similar to “Easter” seems to be from a variation on the name of a Germanic pagan celebration of spring, fertility, and new life.
So what about hunting eggs? This tradition is also rooted in the pagan belief that the egg represented fertility and life. Yes, I can show you pages upon pages of historical data proving that these, and many of our traditions (even Christian Traditions), are similar to ancient pagan traditions.
Are you shocked yet? So then, we must respond by asking: Why would the Christian church be involved in an egg hunt knowing these ancient origins? Why would the church celebrate EASTER at all?
Well, let me answer your question with a question: If many of you (believers) did not know these traditions were pagan, do you believe that the lost world attributes them to pagan rituals? Do you really believe that they even carry the same pagan meaning today as they did in ancient times?
The answer is, “NO.” In today’s culture, these are most often attributed to American tradition and carry little (to no) pagan religious (or any spiritual) weight. As a matter of fact, Barna (religious research group) found that 67% of all Americans surveyed* attributed Easter, and it’s traditional celebrations (including egg hunts), to the Christian celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, with no mention at all of paganism.
I hope you will hear my heart on this matter when I say that ‘I believe Jesus calls Christians to meet the lost right where they are!’ I believe that Jesus gave us this example by spending His time with tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes. When I question if God can turn someone’s heart toward Him by using a pagan tradition, I reflect on Paul’s visit to Athens, found in Acts 17: 22-33:
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.
Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” So Paul departed from among them. However, some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Paul used the idolatry and the god/demi-god worship that existed in Greece to point people to THE ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD!
As churches prepare to minister in their communities through the (now) American tradition of egg hunting, I pray you will mediate upon the above scripture and see that God can use whatever He wants to draw men unto Him. I pray we would all intentionally lift up Jesus at these events and use them as a means to connect with those who do not know Him.
In Luke chapter 5 the scribes and Pharisees murmured against the disciples of Jesus because they ate and drank with publicans and sinners. Those who murmured did not address their issues head on and they did not care that the publicans and sinners needed Jesus, but only about their own agenda against Jesus Christ. I pray that you will have the heart of the disciples (to meet sinner where they are) and not a Pharisee as you minister in your communities during this season of celebrating the Risen Savior!
*Barna is a professional research group focusing on Christian data and statistics. The quoted percentages were derived from a random sample of 1,005 adults selected from across the continental United States, age 18 and older, from February 7 – 10, 2010