Power of God

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.23.16

Rest in the Wisdom and Power of Christ        

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

In chapter 1, Paul tells the Corinthians they need to change their categories for “wisdom” and “foolishness”

Human wisdom is foolish, because it doesn’t bring anyone to God (1:21)

The gospel of Christ crucified seems foolish, because Jesus died! Yet, it is wonderful wisdom, because it solves our sin problem!

Until we see wisdom and foolishness correctly, our priorities of life will be mixed up. This point is so crucial, Paul doesn’t move on, he keeps digging into it in chapter 2

 

Paul uses the example of his ministry with them

He describes his ministry to them with two sets of contrasts

1. The 1st contrast, involves the wisdom he used (vs 1-2)

Paul did not present the gospel with “lofty speech” or with “wisdom”

This means he did not use the stylized oration of the time, and he did not try to make the gospel fit into their sensibilities

Instead, Paul made the “decision” to preach nothing but Christ crucified

This doesn’t mean he ignored all other doctrines (Acts 18:11), but that in all his teaching, the gospel remained central and foundational

2. Paul’s second contrast, presents the power he depended on (vs 3-4)

Acts 18 tells us his initial ministry to Corinth was strongly opposed. The opposition was so threatening, the Lord had to reassure Paul in a vision!

This helps us understand what Paul means by coming to them ‘in fear and trembling’

Paul recognized his ministry would only bear fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit

Only the Holy Spirit can give eyes to see and a heart to believe

“The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” John 16:8

“Unless one is born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5

Paul was not hesitant to admit his weaknesses, because they were not an obstacle

In fact, the opposite is a danger to us, when we rely on ourselves

3. Paul sums up the reason for his approach (v5)

He wanted their faith to rest on God alone, because he alone can sustain them

As Christians, we talk about relying on God’s strength and wisdom; but do we practice it?

 

What does it mean to rest on the “wisdom” and “power” of God?

1. Trust the Bible – where all wisdom for life and godliness has been placed (v5)

Do you have complete confidence in God’s Word?

Do you see it as being fully sufficient for your life and wonderfully good?

You must decide where The Truth is found

The Bible doesn’t allow for half-hearted approval or partial trust, God expects complete submission and obedience

Guard against the seepage of the world’s wisdom

The world’s wisdom is not only prevalent, it sounds good, because it elevates us

Since Eden, human wisdom has been pride based; it tells God to move aside

Be prepared to rise above the world’s mockery: 

Keep in mind who has last word

God’s word will never be popular with the world’s culture; because the Bible condemns it. But the gospel will always be powerful to save any individual who bows to it

Parents, are you protective of God’s Word in your home?

Make sure you allow nothing to keep your family from reading the Bible together

2. Depend on the Holy Spirit – who empowers us

Paul could not change his situation, and he felt overwhelmed (vs 3-4)

Yet, he did not stop persisting in his calling, because the Holy Spirit was the one enabling him

Your life is meant to serve God; so, we can serve him regardless of circumstances

Evidences, that we are not depending on the Holy Spirit

(1)  When we think if a famous person was saved, they would accomplish a lot for God. No, believer, if God has all your heart, He will accomplish a lot through you!

(2)  When we habitually walk through our day without spending time with God – it shows we think we can handle it

(3)  When we think we cannot change an attitude or a behavior – this denies the power of the Spirit 

(4)  When our first response to problems is to try fix the situation, or the person ourselves

 

3. Keep the implications of the cross at the center of how we live (v2)

The cross cuts against the values of human culture, because it cuts against the values of self

Life will drift, if the values of the Cross are not kept freshly in mind

The values of the Cross declare:

(1)  Sin is a serious issue! God hates sin, so we must not allow any resting place for it

(2)  Humility is the only path to a Christian lifestyle. Pride has no business guiding us

(3)  God’s commitment to us should overcome all doubt, fear, hurt or loss

GETTING THE JOB DONE

Jason is an 8-year-old boy coming home sweaty and filthy after a day playing outside. His mom asks him to clean up for dinner.

Jason obediently goes to the sink to wash up in order to be presentable for the dinner table. His mom calls from the kitchen, “Jason, are you cleaning up?” To which he cheerfully answers “Yeah”, and proceeds to take his seat at the table confident that he has fulfilled what his mother asked.

But what do you think are the odds that Jason arrived at the table truly clean?

It’s not that Jason was trying to be disobedient. In his 8-year-old perspective he had done a fine enough job. But his idea of clean is different than his mom’s, and his attention to detail is incomplete.

When it comes to cleansing ourselves from sin, we are like Jason and every other 8-year-old boy!

We ignore parts, miss parts, and then scrub some spots sore, but in the end we are still grungy.

How wonderful that God has stepped in to take over the job of making us clean! He carefully cleanses our soul with a thoroughness that leaves us eternally spotless!

 “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18)

God knows we are incapable of making ourselves clean to his standards, so he sent his Son to step into our place to take the punishment our sin deserves and at the same time wash us of the filth that had stubbornly clung to us.

If you are trying to make yourself presentable to God, it is not only an impossible task, it is also a task already accomplished by Christ when we repent and submit our lives to him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9)

As Christians, it’s essential that we keep ourselves from any sin that pursues us; and that we quickly brush off every sin that splatters us. But take joy in the wondrous reality that Christ has made our soul clean and that is how our God sees us.

If we only look at the job we do in cleansing ourselves, discouragement will quickly overshadow our hearts.

Instead keep your eyes on the job that Christ has done to cleanse you. And in faith rejoice, for the day is coming when we will sit at our Heavenly Father’s banquet table flawlessly, spotlessly, and forever clean!

 

THE INSANITY OF GOD

My book recommendation this month is inspired by Mission Conference week.

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken (recently released as a movie), tells some of the most powerful stories that I have ever read!

The author during a season of discouragement over the condition of the world, decided to initiate a couple year project in which he would interview Christians in the most persecuted places in the world.

He wanted to find out how they could persevere in such conditions.

The project ended up taking over 15 years!

Ripken tells extraordinary stories from believers in then Soviet Russia, China and the Middle East.

This is a book that will educate, inspire and challenge you.

I hope you don’t miss reading it.

 

 

THE UNENDING POWER OF GOSPEL PROCLAIMATION

 

The power of the Word of God can never be overstated.

God’s Word was not only given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it is the Holy Spirit who works through God’s Word when we speak it to ourselves and to others.

Even though we may feel the impact of our sharing the gospel to someone may have long since drifted away like smoke from a chimney – that is not necessarily true.

Here is my favorite story which captures these truths. May it encourage us to be faithful with the gospel and in our prayers for the unconverted.

A young boy named Luke Short once heard the eminent Puritan John Flavel (1630-1691) preaching in Dartmouth, England.  When that boy grew up, he immigrated to New England, going through his life without much thought of God.  

One day as Luke Short sat in a field reflecting upon his long life, he recalled a sermon he had heard in Dartmouth as a boy before he sailed to America.  The horror of dying under the curse of God was impressed upon him as he meditated on the words he had heard so long ago and he was converted to Christ – eighty five years after hearing John Flavel preach.    

From Michael Boland’s introduction to “The Mystery of Providence” by John Flavel. Published by Banner of Truth

 

QUESTIONS THE BIBLE ASKS YOU #4

Have you noticed that life so often seems to be a battle? Instead of out into the world, it can feel like we are going off to war!

A normal day can be like a walk through a briar patch with thorns clawing at us from every side. And who knows when the next monster is going to leap out of a hiding place to attack us.

These monsters are not just in the world, some of them are in our own fears, failures and accusations. God who has saved us forever and is committed to caring for us just as long, reminds us He is our greatest reality by asking us this question:

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Here is God’s question to us in its context from Romans 8:31-39  

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you have a confident answer to God’s question?

STOPPED BY AN EYELASH

This morning I was stopped by an eyelash

I was settling into my prayer time when I felt a stabbing pain in my eye which made it difficult to concentrate on anything, but the stabbing pain in my eye.

It was not a long interruption as I got up found a mirror and removed the offending rogue eyelash. But it was a reminder of how feeble we are. It only takes the wisp of an eyelash to bring my life to a halt.

The truth is we are feeble in all things. Pride blindly leads us down paths of self-sufficiency, unaware that God is giving us every breath and heartbeat. We ignore the experienced reality that at any moment a disturbance can rise up that totally overturns the applecart of our life.

We should find it easy to recognize how desperately we need God’s strength, direction, protection and grace in every step.But we don’t.

Don’t wait for a disturbance to call out to God for help.

Start with Him in the first place. Make this day an opportunity to do things His way, because your way just won’t do.

It would be like trying to carry all the water you need for the day, cupped in your hands – the supply simply will not last long. That fact is so obvious, we would not even try. So why would you try to make today work by what you can be or do?

When we consider the glorious fullness of God, why would we try to do life ourselves? All that God is – lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Do not waste this reality by ignoring Him. And don’t be so silly as to ask Him to just follow along in case you need Him in a crunch. Let’s live smart and follow Him.

When we are following God’s purposes we can say:

“I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:9-10


POWER

The sound is deafening

The power is deadly

The sight is awe inspiring

Niagara Falls conveys power!

Spread over the borders of United States and Canada, the combined falls form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world.

In high water season’s more than 225,000 cubic feet of water rush over it every second

Over 5000 people have died going over the falls

Yet, all the waters of the world came into existence by God simply calling for them to exist

The vast oceans are mere drops in His hands

If we want to talk about real power, we must talk about God, for no power exists except for what comes from Him.

God is the source of all power and He rules over every vestige of it. No power can escape from His rule or overthrow His control.

This is why God never fears or becomes anxious. This is how He can make huge and powerful promises that are always kept. This is why at His coming every creature on earth, in heaven and in hell will bow and declare He is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

We serve this God

We call upon this God

We trust this God

We are held by this God

We are kept by this God

We find rest in this God

We are confident in this God

Our God who is Power

SERMON LEFTOVERS 12.08.14

“Prayer and Healing”                       

 James 5:13-16

When I was 16, I watched a woman be healed dramatically! Since then I have watched many people die. The subjects of Prayer and Healing are connected and of deep interest to all believers.

James begins with an encouragement to pray (v13)

Whatever is going on in life, we are to respond with prayer and praise

Prayer and praise should be inseparable, neither one existing alone

Prayer and praise are the voice of the Christian life 

As Christians, how can life move apart from interaction with the Triune God?

Prayer and worship are not polite Christianity, or religious form

They are integral to how we think of God, the gospel, ourselves, and Christ’s kingdom

Prayer and praise is our starting place, our safe place, and where we find strength

Let’s look at the text through a series of questions

1.  Why are we told to ‘call for the elders’? (v14)

Elders (pastors) don’t have special power, they represent the Church (v16 tells us elders are not the only ones to pray for these needs)

God’s role in our lives is connected to our local church 

At Greentree we emphasize biblical community, because the Bible does

2.  Why are the sick to be ‘anointed with oil’? (v14)

Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit; it is a reminder of where the power comes from

The use of oil is not a sacrament (giving grace); and oil from Jerusalem is not more effective

Oil is used in the Bible for anointing to declare we are calling for God’s presence

3.  Why do we need to ‘confess our sins’? (v16)

It’s not because all sickness is the result of a sin; v15 says ‘if’ they sinned. And Job’s friends were rebuked by God for making that accusation against him

The emphasis here is that we must come to God with a right heart

This is similar to the principle behind John Baptist’s ministry; he prepared the way for Christ by calling on people to repent

Prayer for healing must be more than acknowledging God’s power

We are acknowledging His rule over all things, including our bodies and life

4.  What is the “prayer of faith”?  (v15)

This is prayer that trusts in God, by acting on what He has said

It is trusting that we have free access to God, that He is able to heal, that He cares for us, and He is perfectly good

This prayer is offered in Jesus name, which means it is offered according to his will

In Exodus 6:2-3, when God made his “name known” to His people it was to say “I am the Lord”. God was claiming sovereignty over their lives

Prayer offered in Jesus name fulfills what we are taught in the Lord’s prayer “Your will be done”

It follows Jesus prayer in Gethsemane when he said “Not my will, but yours”

Our faith doesn’t leverage God into acting on our behalf

Biblical faith can never involve the lessening of God’s sovereignty

5.  Why are not all Christians healed? (v15)

There is a measure of mystery to this, which we cannot fully answer – now

But Paul was told by God that his “thorn in the flesh” would not be removed.

Paul refers a few times to his co-laborers who he left ill

Concluding thoughts

1.  Sickness can come for different reasons

Sickness at times may be because of our sin, as a discipline from God (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

Sickness may not be because of our sin, but a test from God (2 Corinthians 12:7-9) 

Sickness may be the mercy of God to deliver us from this evil world (1 Kings 14:1 & 13)

Sickness may be so God can demonstrate his sovereignty (John 9:1-3)

2.  It is good to want healing, but remember those who are healed on earth will eventually die

3.  We are encouraged to pray for healing, expecting God’s activity

It is not more spiritual to accept disease and refuse to ask for healing

If we hide sin in our hearts we should not ask for or expect healing 

4.  Total healing cannot occur until our incorruptible bodies are changed at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15)

Aging, sickness and death are a direct result of the original sin. Our current bodies are affected by our sin nature

5.  As people of the gospel, we should recognize God uses our condition in His big plan!

The witness of spiritual fruit (godly character) is greater than that of miracles 

God will be good in our sufferings and He will use them well (James 1:2-3)

6.  God will heal all things perfectly and forever!

DO FAMILY CURSES EXIST?

Do family curses exist?

The idea of Family or Generational Curses has gained a lot of momentum is Christian circles. It is another disappointing trend that grabs a few verses and then ignores the rest of Scripture when defining them. I hope you will read this short article by RC Sproul Jr to get a clearer understanding on the matter.

Without question there are influences that are passed down by the generations. But the current teaching on generational curses minimizes the power of the cross for all have trusted in the saving and freeing work of Christ

IS ANYTHING GOING ON?

“Churchgoers all across the nation say the Holy Spirit has entered them. They claim that God has given them a supernatural ability to follow Christ, put their sin to death, and serve the church.

Christians talk about being born again and say that they were dead but now have come to life. We have become hardened to those words, but they are powerful words that have significant meaning.

Yet when those outside the church see no difference in our lives, they begin to question our integrity, our sanity, or even worse, our God. And can you blame them?”

from “Forgotten God” by Francis Chan