Tag: los angeles

Triumph Is Just Around The Corner

Gerard Long at Ascend Malibu on 2-19-17

It’s always was encouraging to get God’s confirmation of what you feel God has purposed in your heart to share this morning. What has already happened here has really been a confirmation of what the Lord has put in my heart to share.

Because I want to share this morning about the Balm of Gilead. Who knows what the Balm of Gilead is? Have your heard of the Balm of Gilead? Not many people know much about it, but it’s a fascinating description. If you are with your bible, you might want to just turn to Jeremiah chapter 8.

So I want to turn to share with you a little bit about the balm of Gilead. This was an ointment, a lot like homeopathic stuff today. This was the premiere homeopathic treatment in done in biblical times. And it came from the sap of the balsam tree, otherwise known as the Terebinth tree. Those trees were often described as the oaks of Palestine. The sap was collected, sometimes naturally but other times the tree would actually be cut and it will be sliced and the sap would come out and it had an incredible power in that particular sap and it was very very valuable and that they should fight wolves over getting to where those trees were. It was so valuable. So let’s notice that’s the balm of Gilead in v.20 – 22. It’s actually a prophetic word and I, as I was reading this. I thought the Lord already put it in my heart that this not only a word for us today to encourage us in our own works in who we are in God. But actually it’s a prophetic word for all times. This was said at a time when the children of Israel had consistently turned against God, consistently disobey God. And as God had foretold again and again, “If you go against me, guess what, judgement is coming and it won’t go well with you. And this was just before the Chaldeans, otherwise known as the Babylonians were gonna come and they’re gonna defeat the children of Israel and they’re gonna take them off in the captivity and God has forewarned them in Jeremiah saying that this is gonna happen. And the prophetic word, I think that God is speaking today this morning to us, to the church on a wider scale, is that God is real in the end days.

We’re in the last seconds of the age. And Jesus is just about to come back. Now, some of us would say “Wooh, Fantastic!” And I am one of those. But on the other hand, It’s a, when you think about it, it’s a terrible thing, really, in one sense because; there’s millions of people who don’t know Jesus. And they need the Balm of Giliead. So here’s what God is saying. So, some people would say that verse 20 is one of the most haunting verses in scripture because God is speaking about, (right). The time has come to an end. You see, God gives us, humankind, time, isn’t He? To repent and it is said that Jesus has been held from coming so that no one would perish. And every day, more people come to know Jesus. But there’s gonna be a time, when God says “That’s it; time has come to an end for this age”. And Jesus will come back and those who are in Christ will be with Him for eternity, those who aren’t in Christ will be apart from Him for eternity. Think about that.

And here, He is describing what’s happening now with the children of Israel, okay. The Chaldeans, the Babylonians are gonna come down. They’re gonna ravish the land it’s terrible judgement coming on the land. And God says. “Harvest has passed, time has come to an end, summer has ended and we are not saved. For the brokenness of the daughters of my people I am broken; I mourn. God mourns for people; you know God’s heart is broken for the lost. He feels for the lost. Dismay has taken hold of me, is there no balm in Gilead?” Now what’s this balm talking’ about here in this particular phase. It’s a prophetic word. What is he looking forward to? Anyone who wanna say, what’s that balm looking forward to?

Audience: Healing.

Preacher: Healing. And it’s healing that comes through the blood of Jesus. See, the balm of Gilead is a type of the blood of Jesus that’s when proper healing comes. It’s through the blood of Jesus which was shed on the cross. The healing for the whole world is available, through the blood of Jesus. So as you know, all though the Old Testament, who is he pointing to? Jesus. This is foretelling “Hey, there is a healing that’s gonna come and it’s gonna come thru my son Jesus Christ”. And it’s His blood shed on the cross, by His stripes we are healed. By the cutting of His body, by the brokenness of His body, his blood was shed, and this blood is the real healing that comes. This is picture of the blood of Jesus that was being set free. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored? So God’s heart is broken for what is about to happen. Is God’s heartbroken for today? You bet it is. God’s heart, it breaks over what He sees here on this earth. And He is looking for this healing balm to come. What is the healing balm? It is the blood of Jesus that we carry with us.

I wonder what I wanna share with you this morning is that we literally are carrying the presence of Jesus with us. And it’s through us that He wants this healing balm to come, through the very life of Jesus. That’s why your testimony this morning was so good. You brought life to that person, you brought encouragement. We are here to be salt and light on earth, to bring the very light of Jesus here in our community and in the world, to point people to God. The only media between God and the man is the man Christ Jesus, and we carry.

Colossians 1:27 says this – Christ in you, the hope of glory. So we are literally carrying the very presence of God with us. And so wherever we go, we carry this healing balm. It’s the balm of Jesus. It brings healing to the land. Just our presence brings a healing. Just being with people because Christ is in us, brings a healing. And guess what? God is determined to bring His son out through us.

So I want us to look this morning at how God has pre-destined us. In Romans 8:29, if we —- … could we just we bring that up.

We, He has pre-destined us. He is determined that Jesus will come out through our bodies. How many people know that?  God is working in us to will and to act for His good pleasure. Through our circumstances, through our lives, God wants to bring the life of Jesus so that more and more, we are manifesting His life. More and more, wherever we go, people get a touch of God through us. We, we carry the healing balm of Gilead, if you like. We carry it with us in a most remarkable way. Those for whom he foreknew, those of us who are with Christ Jesus, He knew us from the creation of the universe. He knew our names; He knew that we’ll be here this morning. And for those of us whom he foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son. So we see what Jesus is doing. That’s why it’s so powerful, we are praying for healing this morning. Because that’s what Jesus did. Wherever he went, he prayed for people to get healed. He cast out the demons, He set the captives free. He brought good news to the poor. He brought life to those who were in prison. And guess what? He is saying I want you to do the same thing, and He is determined. He has pre-destined us to have this wonderful worth he’s got in our lives. So we will be the firstborn among many brothers.

So, let’s just turn if we may to Matthew 16:21 to 27.

So it is, it’s a very interesting chapter this because it starts with some manifestation and revelation of what’s going on for Peter. They were trying to say, He said “Who do people say that I am?” and Peter said “You’re the Messiah, the Son of God” and Jesus say correct and I’m gonna build my church in this revelation and understanding of who I am. But He also warned them, He said; watch out for the leaven, watch out for the leaven of the teachings of the Pharisees. Watch out for the mindset that comes in that’s gonna spoil what I’ve plan for you in your lives. And so now, we get into this situation where Jesus began to speak to his disciples about things that was gonna happen. In Him is the lifeblood of creation. The very life of God inside Jesus is gonna be shed for us. And so He starts to speak about the fact that he has to go through brokenness. So He said (to his disciples), He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things form the elders and the chief priest and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Now imagine I’d be walking with Jesus during that time, Him saying that– is a bit shocking.  Peter took him aside, so Peter just had a revelation of which Jesus was, the Messiah, and now he feels embolden to take Jesus aside and that He rebuked him. Amazing in isn’t it? See, we can be up in the hill and we can be quickly down the valley as well. So he starts to say to Jesus, “Good forbid it Lord, this shall never happen to you”. But Jesus turned to Peter and He said “Get behind me Satan”. Quite a rebuke isn’t it? Quite a rebuke, “Get behind me Satan”. You are a stumbling block to me.

See, we can have God’s voice coming through us and God can speak through us but very easily, we can allow Satan’s voice to come through us, as well. The tongue can be a source of great life, for others, it can be a source of great death, as well and destruction. So be careful of what we are saying. For one minute he’s confessing Christ, the next minute he is trying to discourage him from the purposes of God.

But here’s what Jesus to him. It’s very interesting. You are a stumbling block to me for you are not setting your mind on God’s interest but on man’s. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after me,” … Who wants to come after Jesus? He’s turned to his disciples, you see we can be born again, but who wants to really follow Jesus? Yeah? We wanna follow Jesus, so okay. He said to his disciples – anyone would follow me, here’s what you got to do. “You are to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me. Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” And he said. “What will it profit a man if he gains world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the son of Man is going to come in glory of His father, with His angels and He would repay or reward every man according to his deeds.” I love one of the songs that we heard, we sang early on, when it says He is coming with his reward. So now, he starts to look forward to what’s gonna happen, when Jesus comes back. So he is saying to them, guys, if you really wanna follow me, guess what, you’re got to lay your life down. You got to take up your cross. You got to allow to this lifeblood within you, if you like, sad to speak— it’s the very life of Jesus. You would allow yourself to be broken to allow my life to come out you. Are you still following? You still wanna follow me?

And I believe that when you see the power of God released throughout the history is because people have laid their lives to Him. They followed Jesus in the way that He is saying here. They haven’t got in their mind the things of man. Because the things of man, the things of flesh say “Hey I wanna have a happy, tappy life.” Other one had gone the way of brokenness, another one had gone the way of the cross. Have you had any teaching like that in the west of world? Just a little bit. Why is there no power? Because the power is in the Cross. Jesus, he laid him down, he allowed himself to be broken. And he said if you wanna follow me, just like Christ you’ve got to go the same way. But when you do, the life, my life in you, Christ in you, the hope of glory is gonna come pouring now. And there’s gonna be a great outpouring of the kingdom of God. And you look thru history, if you look thru revivals, awakenings where people lay their lives to Him. So a lot of a great awakening is going on to China now and over Asia and Africa is on the backs of the martyrs of the real followers of Jesus Christ who allow Christ in them to come pouring out. So I wanna encourage us that God is determined that this will happen in our lives. That he will lead us in a way that we lay our lives to him. That Jesus will come out in a powerful way.

So we just turn into 2 Corinthians 4:7 to 18, and we just see when the apostle Paul went thru and you see all, every man and women of God. You won’t find anyone who was powerfully used by God who didn’t go through the cross and the Kingdom of God came pouring out. It’s not a popular thing to talk about, because the flesh, the things of man, they wanna go there. And our culture is no, look off yourself, protect yourself and yet Jesus came from the glory of heaven, laid his life, then that we may have life. Amazing! And so God is calling us in this way to say, hey I gona do whatever you want Lord, I surrender everything to you.

Pastor (Jonathan):  I got to say something

Preacher: Yeah,

Pastor (Jonathan): You know last week, I got, part way thru my talk which is typical come to a good break. The other passage I had that I was gonna talk is this one.

Preacher: Is that right? Is that so?

Pastor (Jonathan): We didn’t collaborate.

Preacher: Alright, that’s right, we didn’t (applause)

Praise God! God is saying to us this morning, a powerful way. So this is the apostle Paul, alright. An amazing man of God. Just have a look at some of the things he went through. “We have this treasure in earthen in vessels, surpassingness of the power may be of God and not of ourselves.” It’s got to be of God, of God pouring through us.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken, strucked down but not destroyed.” Any of us recognize any of those things? Yeah? Have you ever felt despair, in despair, yeah just a little bit? Guess what, you’re in the sweetest fall, you’re in the sweetest fall. God’s working in you. You are right where God wants you to be and he is bringing out the life of Jesus in you. Praise God. Crushed, “afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not despairing, persecuted but not forsaken, strucked down but not destroyed. Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, the life of Jesus may also be manifested thru us”. I love this passage. Paul is basically saying that as we got crushed as we are broken, as we pour our lives out. Guess what? The life of Jesus comes pouring thru us.

Now look what happens out here when he says, “for we who live are constantly being delivered over to death” okay, anyone who felt like dead? Having a tough time? You’re in the sweetest fall. You’re in the sweetest fall. “delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may also be manifested in our mortal bodies”: We’ll just go on there, just a little bit more, and it’s alright. So death works in us, but life works in you, you get the picture? We lay our lives down so that the blood of Jesus, the balm of Giliead if you like can come pouring out. Praise God. That’s what we are here for. We are our futurist, well and truly secured, we know where we are going. But we’re here as his hands and his feet to let his love and His power come out. “And having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I have believed, therefore have I spoken; we also believe, therefore also we speak; knowing that he who has raised the Lord Jesus shall raise us also with Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the grace abounding through the many may cause thanks, giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.”

So he‘s basically saying, as I lay my life down, grace is being released. This is on the unseen world. As we lay our life down, the grace of God is is being released. In an unseen world, it is reaching more and more people. What is the result of it? Thanksgiving unto God. Because when people get touched by the grace of God, thanksgiving starts to flow and it’s all for God’s glory.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.” Sometimes we lose hear a little bit, are we. Therefore we will not lose hear though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction are achieving for us an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all. Therefore we fix our eyes on what is seen, but to what is unseen for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal. And we fix our eyes on the things that really count. Those are the eternal things, Praise God.

So that’s how God is working in us, we are destined. I wanna just say this. We are destined to triumph. So can we put out 2 Corinthians 2:14 – yes, we go through these things? Yes it’s tough at times it seems to go on and on but guess what, our destiny us to triumph. Our destiny is to come thru into great triumph but thanks be to God who always lead us in triumph in Christ and look what it says here. And manifest through us the sweet aroma- that’s the Balm of Gilead, so wherever we go, the sweet aroma, the very presence of Jesus comes pouring out, of the knowledge of Him in every place. Hallelujah.

Time is running out, so I can’t go into a lot of details but let’s just turn into Genesis 37:25 Very briefly I wanna go through the life of Joseph and I’m gonna end up just talking about, how practically how it impacts our life. So, you know the story of Joseph, he wasn’t wise as a young man. Often, young men aren’t particularly wise. He started the boasting to his brothers in the — of all the great things that God is gonna do thru his life. But he didn’t deserve what he got, terribly got beaten out by his brothers, thrown into the cistern. And they were gonna kill him and thankfully they decided not to kill him. And they decided to sell him to a group of merchants. Now these merchants had come from Gilead. Interesting? What were they carrying? The Balm of Gilead. They were carrying the balm of Giliead? With some other things as well, but the Balm of Gilead. What does that picture speaking of? It’s saying that God was right with Joseph and he was just about to start working in his life. Preparing him for something great that is about to come. He is preparing us for something great that God wants to do in our lives.

Our destiny is to triumph. Our destiny is to do great things for God and even when we’re given over to the flesh, they were Ishmaelites, where they came from? Ishmael. Where did Ishmael come from? – The flesh. And sometimes, God gives us over to (thing) bad things happen to us. Things happen in our lives that aren’t good. It’s a broken world and God allows the brokenness of this world to impact us. Anyone being impacted by the brokenness of this world? Probably all of us haven’t we? God why are you allowing this to happen? He allowed it to happen to Joseph. Why was he allowing it to happen? Because He had a big vision of what He wanted to happen in Joseph’s life. And that’s what he wants to do in our lives; He’s got great vision for what he wants to do. So God is putting his hand on straight away his hands saying “Hey this is the sign that I am with you. It’s the balm of Gilead, it’s going with you.” And you know the story went off town. He was sold down to Egypt to Potiphar , who was in charge of Pharoah’s, Pharoah’s god, His security please if he like. And it says there that God prospered him so even when he was going thru a terrible trial God still brought prosperity into his life. God blessed him. And we can claim that as well. Whatever we are going thru God wants to bless us in that place. May not be the sweetest place you wanna be but guess what you can claim it. God wants to bless you there. You know what happened to him he was there ten years working for Potiphar and then all through that time, Potiphar’s wife had her eyes on Joseph and she tries to seduce him. You don’t remember the story and often for us when we’re going thru things it’s not so much the trial itself, it’s the voice in the trial which is the hardest thing.

Have you ever experienced that? God’s not with you? He’s not here anymore? Satan wants to come and beat you up. Well this woman was trying to drag him down and drag him into sin. And we know that he was walking with God because he said “How can I sin before God?” So he was holding on in faith. But you know what happened? She got hold of his cloak and she accused him of trying to sexually abuse her and Potiphar throw him into jail. Now it’s gotten even worse going from a slave now he is a prisoner. And he is in jail. And he’s in jail for at least two years, we know that, and the cupbearer and the baker for pharaoh were thrown into jail the same time. And they had two dreams Joseph told them what the answers to the dream he says, “By the way when you get out, get me out of here will you.” I don’t like it. We know from Psalm 105 he had around his neck he had this collar and he had shackles on. So it was a very restricting, constraining place to be in. And sometimes when we are going thru tough time it feels that though we are constrained. It feels though you are in prison. It feels though you can’t get out from it. It’s your constrained but guess what, you’re in the sweetest fall. God’s working in you in that time to bring you to triumph for him. So Joseph thinks this is great you know the story the cupbearer gets out, uhm, as Joseph had foretold the baker loses his life. He’s killed. The cupbearer forgot everything about Joseph. And two years go on, he is still in prison. Yes God blessed him in there and he still had favour but he’s two years on in that trial. Cause on and on and eventually you know the story pharaoh has a dream and the cupbearer says “Oh goodness, I forgot all about it. This poor Hebrew guy. Back in prison, I said I’d do something about and I forgot all about him.” And he comes out and he tells the pharaoh his dream and again he kept faith because we’re told when he had the opportunity to take a bit of kudos for himself, pharaoh said “To my understanding, you couldn’t give dreams.” He said, “No I can’t.” Only God can do that.” He had faith. He held on in faith as to what was going on. So he comes out. He, you know the story; he tells the pharaoh what exactly what the dream means. He goes from being a prisoner to being prime minister of the most powerful nation in the world that time. And that’s what God wants to do in our lives. Suddenly, things can turn around for us. Suddenly, God can bring us into great victory and great triumph. But guess what, it takes time. And that’s something that in our world that we live in, in our McDonald’s and well what you want, fast food and everything else. We want to hang on, do we? But you look to any person in the bible it took time. Abraham 25 years had to wait and till Isaac was born. Moses, 80 years he had to wait. David had to wait 15 years till he was crowned as king over all of Israel. Jesus, 30 years and we hear little or nothing about Him. And He then had 3 years of powerful ministry over see. Apostle Paul had to wait. And so it’s thru faith and patience that we enter into these promises.

So I want to just end up on a personal, now just go thru 7 keys for those of us who know that were going thru a time where God’s doing a deep work with us bringing us into our destiny, to triumph in Him. My experience, it tends to go like this in our Christian walk. Alright. He brings you to a promotion and then you go to another period of trial, into promotion another period and it goes on and on but guess what he’s taken us higher and higher for his glory.

So the first thing, the first message I want to say is, number one, lessons in the trial, God is with you and he will never forsake you. And that’s one of the great things of faith is that we hold on, even when every circumstance says, “God’s not here. He’s forgotten you. He’s abandoned you.” No he hasn’t. First thing you hold on in faith. “Lord I may not understand what you’re doing but I trust you. I trust you.” Hebrews 13:5 “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you.”

Number two. Expect favour even in the trial. Expect God to bless you. Look out for those blessings, whenever you are in that trial.

Number three. It’s a time of training for what is coming next. Make the most of it. It’s a time of training for what’s coming next. So when Moses was waiting for 40 years he was on the other side of the wilderness, guess what he was learning the ways of the desert. Why would that help him later on? Yeah? He got to know the lay of the land. He got to know the way of the desert. So when he was brought in to his place that God had for him, God can use it. Joseph was in Pharaoh’s, in Potiphar’s court, what did he get to learn? The ways of the Egyptians. The ways of how they worked. It was 10 years close to what was going on. David was learning to be a great man. A great warrior. Why was that? Because he was the king who cleared out all the enemy from the land. He learned how to fight. And where we are in our situation now, whatever God’s called us to do, learn what He’s teaching you in this particular time. What skills are you learning? Yes you’re learning patience. As maybe the most important characteristics is patience. And the fruit of the Spirit that comes out these in these times. But He’s preparing you for what He’s got later on. So be mindful. Don’t waste the time. Cause one time when you cannot get promoted, God’s gonna say right now you can use the skills I put in your life. Make the most of the time. Of this time wherever you may be. Learn in it.

Number four. Satan will attack. The voice in the trial can be worse, I mentioned this. One part of our ministry, waiting to God ministry is that we minister to the people who’ve gone thru broken hearts. And have experienced suicide in their lives. Cause it’s you know, we’ve experienced that. And one of the people we are helping, she’s struggled so much recently with the thought that her son who committed suicide has not given his heart to Jesus and was not in heaven. Satan was beating her heart and really messing her heart. Where’s all the evidence point to the fact that he had made a commitment to Jesus Christ. Yes he made a terrible mistake and it was heartbreaking obviously for her what had happened. But we could assure her he’s in heaven. And you’re gonna see him again. Praise God. You see, Satan was getting in there to try and beat her heart and give her a terrible time. And so somehow you can’t ask in those times that are really tough. The voice in the trial and he’s trying to beat us up in it. So be aware of that. He’ll try and kick us to pieces when we’re down if you like. Patience is really important in all of these. Haven’t always. Ok Lord, I don’t necessarily like all of these. I don’t like these chains around my neck. I don’t like these shackles on me. It’s not comfortable. But guess what, I will be patient and wait for your deliverance. I’ll try and not make deliverance out on my own. One of the ways we can mess up God’s works in our lives is if we go early. We don’t wait for God. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Let him bring you into promotion. We don’t try and promote ourselves. Praise God.

Number six. God would take you to your wits end corner. All right? Any who’ve been at his wits end corner? Well, actually it’s a Psalm. It’s in Psalm. It’s in Psalm 107. They were all out on the seas, and talked about they are at wits end. That’s where the phrase comes from.  Wits end corner. Why does God take us to that point? So that He knows what is in our hearts. So that our hearts can be prepared. Even Jesus, even though he was perfect, he was tested to prove that he was perfect. Talks about that in Hebrews, amazing. And it’s the same pattern for us. God would take us to a point where He says, now I know that you are ready for what I’ve got for you. So we see that in Abraham. God waited until he had that knife above his son Isaac. He was right out there with the knife and the angel called out and say “Hey, wait!” Now I know, God said, “Now I know”. You think, well didn’t God know before? Why he seemed to want to wait until he got to that point. So God will take us to wits end corner. Hang on in there. Wait for God. He’s just testing our hearts and preparing us. He needs vessels. He says he is looking for body whereby He can move by His spirit. He is preparing us for great moves of God.

And Number 7. Triumph is just around the corner. Now I just, we just, Virginia and I just been through a season of uhm, a tough time, tough time. And I wrote it down in my phone here darkest hours. Darkest hours. Well, in one sense, when our children went home, that is our darkest hour but that we carry that with us all the time. But this last several weeks, up until about a week ago. It was a really, it was a tough time.  And one thing after the other is going wrong. It was so, you know, God was just like Joseph at the end of 2 years. God moved me into this long enough, you know. It’s been 12 years, you know. We are looking for you to turn this frown for triumph and see our victory.  And just like Joseph at the end of 2 years in prison; “Isn’t it time now God?”, you know. We got enough of this saddest fate. And we, Jeanie was ill, I was ill. I had this huge yeast infection in my stomach and pretty rough with that. Jeanie was unwell, Jeanie’s mom’s gonna come off for Christmas and we are staying in a different house. It was all setup to be wonderful. Two days before she was due to fly out she fell and fractured her pelvis. My mom, she had this terrible migraine and we thought it was a small stroke, couldn’t speak. We have people who ran in our house in Chicago. They were going bad on us for not paying. You know the story of the app?

We‘ve got an app coming out for the–what we need God to do today. That was, that keeps going on and on. We have all this glitches. It wasn’t working on and on and on, one thing after the other after the other. It just seemed that there’s wasn’t going right. And so, we would just cry it out to God. Jeanie just reminded me this morning. We were walking on the beach and we said let’s, Jeannie had the other “Let’s put this stake on the ground, enough is enough of this fate. C’mon, enough is enough.” So we got this from the driftwood and we both put our hands and say  “That’s it, No more!” And that it’s time for that period of testing to come to an end. Praise God. And literally from that time forward, thing’s change. I have, I did say that Ben has been radiated my son in U.K. being radiated. Now, he is much, much better. He’s just about to get his amazing job in London. Jeanie and I are just feeling up a 100% which is amazing. Our mom is out of the hospital. Our rent is now paying off. Praise God! (aplause, thumbs up sign) O it helps

And we were down, where we live just along in Malibu Hill, and as we were walking down, this lady came running after us, called out “Jo, Jeannie, hey wait!” So she came running down to us and she said. “I just wanna let you know,” she said “I’ve been watching your video, twelve times”, she said.  Some of you might have seen in online. Talking about going through sufferings and everything and were just been giving our story. She said “It’s been so touching in my life; it has brought healing to me” she said “watching this video”. The next day we were going out with some friends over in West Lake and this guy –didn’t know this. He said, they are going into a tough time, they are in their darkest hour, he said over this last week, and he said “I’ve been watching all of your videos” he said. “And I felt this really healing touch coming out and felt restored from it”. And I was “Thank you Lord, thank you Lord.” You know, when we‘re weak there we are strong.  And you see we don’t realize how much God, this balm of Gilead, the very presence of Jesus is working thru us is working to bring healing to other people. Praise God!

Now, we are expecting way much more. This app, we’ve got good news on the app. We got a great team coming out. So have now peaked it up, they’re gonna completely do it in a beautiful way. I’ve already seen it. So it will be coming out early in March, probably around the 10th of March, we hope. Praise God! And our prayer, you can pray with us, our prayer is that, literally, there would be hundreds of thousands of people who would use that to draw near to God. And we’ll see a great breakthrough of the Kingdom of God. Uhmm.. Has it been tough? Yes. And I’m sure there will be some more to the going forward. But that’s what it’s about. That’s what we signed up for, isn’t it? We signed up to say I wanna follow you, Jesus. We signed up to say “Take this vessel, take it vessel and use it for your glory. And by your grace I’m gonna hang on until times out and you come back Jesus. And you finally wrap all this up”. And guess what, He’s coming back with some rewards as well. Hallelujah! A lot that’ll be, don’t you? Amazing rewards that goes through eternity. Praise God! Well, I’m looking for them now as well. I’m greedy, hahaha (laughs). No, because Jesus said it. He said whoever gives her houses and brothers and sisters and children and spouses will receive a hundredfold now and through eternity. We never lose out in God, do we? We never lose out in God.

So, God want everyone of us, this Balm of Gilead, the very blood of Jesus that we carry with us and in us. He wants us to be his hands and feet to bring healing in our days, in these last seconds of this age.  And Boy, do we need healing don’t we? Boy, we need healing in our land and across the world. We would be his very hands and feet. To be his priest,  to those who reconcile  between man and God so when Jesus comes back, they would be millions of billions of people who would go with Him and not perish and we will bring a smile to God’s face because through us, he will have more sons and daughters for His glory. That’s what this is all about isn’t it? Praise God, Hallelujah. So, let’s just… Do you wanna say something?

Let’s just be still if there is any…, just wait from the Holy Spirit from here. And let’s see if there‘s anything the Holy Spirit would want to do to bring any specific words of knowledge. We believe in the power of God here and the work of the Holy Spirit. Any healings, we will call them out.

[1:35 Prayer]

So, Lord, we thank you, we thank your faithfulness to us, even when we are not faithful, you remain faithful to us. But we thank you for your work in our lives, Lord. That you’ve committed to bring us into the image of your precious son Jesus. And Lord we want to just renew our vows to you again this morning. In your hearts you might wanna say “Lord, whatever, I wanna follow you, whatever that cross may mean to me, I wanna take it up, I wanna follow you, I want you to use me Jesus for your glory. Whatever that might be use me for your glory. Bring your kingdom in through me.” Thank you Lord. By His grace, by his grace he will enable us to do that. Thank you Lord.

So we thank you, Lord. Thank you for your Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit we just welcome you here this morning. We welcome you. And we just ask you to come. Come right now. Just so, come out and we would receive now.

Maybe, you’re feeling discouraged. I just wanna speak to discouragement this morning. The main ways which Satan works to undermine our faith is disappointments. Maybe people have let you down. Maybe situations have let you down. Disappointments, discouragements, I wanna name those things to deal with those things this morning. We brushed those things off. I wanna speak against fear this morning, fear of going forward, fear of entrusting everything to God. That’s where Satan works in fear, we don’t have that. Perfect love cast our fear. We just speak those things out. We are not gonna have fear in our lives. Thank you Lord, Thank you Lord. Hallelujah!

I wanna speak to those who’ve been unsettled, duly unsettled recently. God wants to bring you peace. As His promise, “My peace I give you, My peace I live with you. I don’t give you as the world gives.” We can have everything going wrong on the outside but we can have peace inside. Hallelujah! Peace this morning. Those who wanna receive peace. His peace, we receive it this morning. Thank you Lord. You’ve never let us go, you never will let us go, Lord. Thank you Lord. We have peace in that. In Jesus Name

Thank you Lord for the Balm of Gilead. Thank you that healing, healing flow through the blood of Jesus, this morning. Healing flow, if anyone wants to receive healing this morning, just be open.  We just thank you that healing flow. We pray for you, we pray for you for anything you need for healing. Thank you Lord, Jesus, Jesus. Hallelujah!

Lord, we thank you for the joy this morning, as well. We just like claim if you have been lacking joy recently, there’s a bit of joy for you this morning. There’s joy for you this morning. His joy is our strength. He has never promised us an easy life. In fact, he said he we will have trouble but He has promised us a victorious life and that includes joy. Hallelujah! His promise is a life of victory, a life of victory, love, joy and peace. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord!

I just wanna speak out reconciliation this morning. If there’s anyone here where relationships are being broken; maybe husband and wife, maybe with children, maybe with grandparents, cousins, friends, relationships are being broken. I wanna speak out for reconciliation. We are ministers of reconciliation, we speak healing, maybe some forgiveness is needed this morning, we just say forgive, forgive. Forgiveness is so powerful in the Kingdom of God. It releases, releases the Kingdom of God as we forgive. Some may need to forgive this morning say “Say yes Lord I wanna be a minister of reconciliation.” Thank you Lord.

What we are doing is that we’re allowing the Kingdom of God to break out through us. We’re allowing the Balm of Gilead to flow through us. To bring healing to our land, to bring healing to the land, Thank Lord, Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Thank you. Thank you Lord. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

You Can Change The World

“You Can Change The World” – Ascend Malibu Fellowship, Malibu, CA

– Robert Steele

August 7, 2016

 

What’s on my heart is for us to take a moment and really think about the fact that God’s plan for our lives is that each and every one of you can change the world. Not just your home, not just your street, not just your neighborhood, but each and every one of you is probably already affecting the world positively but this morning I really want you to think about what the Bible says about the scope of, not just in this generation, but for generations to come, how we can make choices that can bless and improve the state of mankind, both in this life and in the next.

Just think for a moment about all the people in our community. There’s roughly 13,000 people in Malibu, and within 10 miles, it expands to about 140,000 people if we go into Thousand Oaks, and Agoura and Westlake Village.

How many of them do you think right now, are struggling with something and could use some help and some hope and some encouragement? How many people are dealing with an illness? How many people are dealing with some challenges with a spouse or with children?

Imagine for a moment that you go and you get invited to a meeting and you hear this presentation and somebody tells you about a way that all of those situations can be impacted and improved? That’d get your attention, particularly if you’re going through something and you meet somebody that proposes that they’ve got the solution to whatever your particular problem is. You’d be pretty excited about that, right? And if they convinced you that it’s real, then you’d go home and you wouldn’t tell anybody about it, right?

No! No, it’s our nature. When we see something that excites us and particularly when it touches us and makes our lives better, we want to get out there and talk to people about it.

Jesus was the master story teller and one of my favorite parables is this one. So Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure, hidden in a field. When a man or woman found it, he hid it, she hid it, they hid it again, and then, his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” So the person in the story here, finds a treasure here, in a field, sees it, and then goes out and finds out what he has to do to possess that treasure. And he finds out how to possess that treasure, and he possesses it. Another way that Jesus describes the idea is that, again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and he bought it. So when we find something of great value, what Jesus is encouraging us to do, is to go after it with all our heart.

What I want you to think about today is why, in this story, is the treasure hidden?

And I’m encouraging someone to answer that question.

Yes, David Callis gets the gold star. Because Jesus created us and He knows the human heart. And He knows that if things come too easy for us, then we take things for granted. I take things for granted, if things come too easy.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the most precious thing in the world. And the reason why the treasure is hidden is because it’s human nature that if it was too easy, then we would take it for granted.

What I want you to think about this morning, is that, if you have accepted Jesus Christ as your savior, this treasure is hidden in you for your next door neighbor, and your aunts and uncles and cousins, and for people that you meet at the grocery store to discover in you. And this is what’s called the great commission. This is what Jesus said in many different ways. One of the favorite ways that I love that He said it is He said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” And what He’s talking about in this parable, you can preach a month’s worth of sermons on this parable or more but the particular aspect that we’re looking at this morning is this idea that we all have this treasure hidden within us. And it’s hidden there for a reason and we want to be paying attention to that, so that we can let those around us discover it.

Another thing that really interests me is I love how biblical concepts just work. And the word of God says that God sends His blessings on the righteous and the unrighteous, on the just and the unjust. So, there’s many, many concepts in the Bible that just work when you do them. And this concept of hiding things to make them valuable is a basic concept.

In my secular career, I have done a lot of marketing. So one of the best ways to launch a new product is to just give it to a select group of people and then have everybody else discover it from that select group of people. So, you all, are that select group of people that God has put His love and His message in your heart, so that the rest of everybody else can discover it through you.

The first time this concept hit the world was when Jesus died and rose again. Depending on which way historians keep track of it, it was somewhere between year 30 and 33, with this year being 2016, so this is about 2,000 years ago. So, by the year 197, the Roman Empire, which was the most powerful empire in the world, which crucified Jesus and persecuted Christians for many, many years, within less than 200 years, the Roman Empire, had Christians in all aspects of society, from the rich to the poor. So, by the year 197, there were Roman senators that were Christians, there were soldiers that were Christians, there were people in all walks of Roman society that were Christians.

That is the treasure that is hidden in you. And so, right now today, a lot of people talk the state of the country, the state of the world. So think about that because Rome was a brutal society. And in less than 200 years, the highest leaders of the land and the lowest people in that society had become Christians. And then only 100 years later, the emperor becomes a Christian. Emperor of the most powerful nation in the world becomes a Christian, and what does he do? He stops the crucifixions. So they outlaw crucifixions, and he outlaws the gladiatorial games. So he changes the culture. So I want you to think about that for a moment. As you’re driving home, as you wake up tomorrow, that by sharing the gospel with people, you can make the emperor stop wickedness in our nation, just by going out there in your community and talking to people about how Jesus is awesome.

Another great example of the power of just sharing the gospel with your neighbors is England. So my last name is Steele. So my people were British. And then way back when, they were German. But I also love history, and so America was once a British colony. And in the era when people were coming to America from England, they were fleeing a very harsh society. For instance, there’s lots of T.V. shows and movies made about Henry the VIII, you know, it was just normal that they would chop people’s heads off, they tortured people, that was the normal way that England conducted itself. But it was a very, very powerful nation. They eventually were the largest empire in the world, superseding the Spanish. So in the 1700’s, England was known as a pretty awful place to live. Just every kind of vice was rampant in society, plus horrific poverty and horrific child poverty. And the basic business of the country was the slave trade. So from top to bottom, England was a rough and nasty place. So how did it change? So what happened is there was a revival and these two famous Christian preachers that are known for this revival, one was George Whitefield the other was John Wesley. So with Wesley, we see his name today when you see Methodist churches but back in the day, John Wesley was a revivalist. He was a person that would have laid hands on people, he was filled with the Holy Ghost. He would have spoken in tongues. And I actually grew up as a Methodist but you don’t see much of that in Methodist church today.

But that revival that happened in England, fundamentally changed not just England but the world. So, those revivalists and that Christian culture in England, among other things, gave birth to a gentleman named William Wilberforce and William Wilberforce, like the story of the romans, was what was called a high-born person. He was born into a semi-royal family with connections, so he had access to the government and the lawmakers and he spent the last 20 years of his life convincing and petitioning all the lawmakers in England to stop the slave trade.

Now this was, the business. This was the thing that made England a world power. This is what gave them control over India. This is what gave them control over countries in Africa, all over the world. This was where their prosperity came from. And through the revival that happened from Christians, this man rose up and he campaigned with the British government and in 1833, they outlawed slavery all over the world. So the British stopped slavery in India, they stopped slavery all over the world, they ended the slave trade. And one of the things I think is beautiful about the way God works, is that the year, you can look it up, the slavery act of 1833, Wilberforce died that year. So God took him home and puts His fingerprint that yes, that’s my son, he’s done his work here.

It all started with people like us just sharing the gospel with our neighbors, and over time it propagates and changes the leadership of a nation and changes the lives and the freedom of people all over the world.

So go ahead and hit the next slide there. So isn’t that exciting?

[Responses]

Another thing that’s really interesting is that, if you watch the, quote, “news,” you know, they’ll tell you that the fastest growing religion in the world is Islam. But it’s very easy to find the truth and the facts that that’s not true, okay? So I’m actually going to start at the bottom of the slide. So, there’s a group called the Pew Research Center, P-E-W, it’s one of the most prestigious research organizations in the world, they did a study just last year where they found that Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world. And specifically they say that by 2050, there will be more Christians in the world than any other religion.

This church, Ascend, we are privileged to be connected with several worldwide ministry organizations. So we have firsthand accounts from leaders of churches in Africa, leaders of churches in Asia, leaders of churches in China, leaders of churches in India, and we know, for sure, that in China, that there are 100,000 people a day, becoming Christians and receiving salvation. We know, for sure, that in India there are 40 to 50,000 new believers. Think about it in the last 24 hours, 40 to 50,000 new believers coming to Christ in India. And in Africa, 47% of the African population is Christian today, in fact, in some of the nations that went through some horrific tragedies, 15 and 20 years ago, many of the people who were doing the evil deeds, are now pastors, men that had machine guns, the child soldiers have been transformed, and this is real, in fact, just this last week, I got to speak with one of our leaders in Ethiopia, so these are firsthand accounts of the radical transformation and healing of societies that’s occurring around the world and it all starts with just sharing the gospel with your neighbor.

What we’re going to do for a moment, we’re going to look at the very start of the Christian movement. So in Acts, Chapter 2, the Bible says, “And the Lord added to the number daily, those who were being saved.” “Daily,” that’s a good word. Those who were being saved. So Acts, Chapter 2, is written very, very shortly after Jesus’s death and resurrection. Then in Chapter 4, it says, but many who heard the message believed, so the number of men who believed, grew to about 5,000. And then, within the second year, we see in Acts, Chapter 5, so the word of God spread, the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Who were the priests? So in the second year, we’re still in Israel. So these are the leaders in society the people that largely petition the Romans to have Jesus crucified, the people who are the most unlikely to become Christians. So within two years of Jesus’s death and resurrection, so many people, the culture has been changed so much, that the most unlikely of the powerful are now coming to Christ.

For many years, when I’ve read this, I’ve tended to think, that this was primarily a supernatural phenomenon. But only within the last couple of months have I come to believe that it’s not actually so, there’s more going on here than just the supernatural phenomenon.

For instance, Jason taught a good sermon about David and Goliath, and how we can read that and we can think that it’s a miracle that David fell this big giant, but really when you look at it, God trained David to fell the giant. And if we look deeper into these passages, that’s what we’re seeing, is that the early Christians were doing certain specific things that was causing this rapid propagation of the word. Yes, we love the supernatural, we believe in the supernatural. I’m blessed to be able to walk with the Lord and I have seen hands laid on people and cancer leave their bodies and I’ve seen all kinds of miracles, but these passages are not talking about a miracle; they’re talking about choices that people made to bring the word of God to one another.

Jesus said, “All authority in Heaven and on earth, has been given to me, therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, Matthew 28, okay?

Who wants to do what Jesus told us to do? Sounds pretty good to me. My experience has been that life is a lot better when I’m doing what Jesus told me to do. So that word, “disciple.” So in our society today, how often do we say, “Disciple”? It’s, unfortunately, it’s become a church-y word. So let’s look at that word “disciple” there for a second, okay?

The word, Matheteuo, and if there’s any Greek speakers here, you know, I apologize. But the word Matheteuo, means, three English words, “And make disciples.” So literal translation means “enroll as students,” okay? So that sounds more the way we talk, okay? Sign up people for a class, okay? So he’s saying, sign up people for a class, get with them and teach them stuff. But when you read the context of everywhere where the New Testament talks about disciples, it’s clear that it didn’t just mean have our butts sit in a class, it meant learn, and go, and give. Take it in, give it away. Take it in, give it away. Take it in, give it away. And that’s what the Lord has put on my heart this morning, to share with you all, and it’s where I’m being convicted in my own life, cause I’ve even opened my house up for the last three years, to bring people in, but I know I still need to be more intentional about sharing this good news, has transformed my life, this treasure that’s hidden within me with more people, that I need to constantly get out of my own head, and take that risk, and tell more and more people about the good news.

Recently in studying this word and in receiving some very, very good teaching, I have really seen these concepts ring out in the New Testament. So the first thing is, that new believers were trained quickly, okay? So it’s a part of the modern church that we have great respect for people that decide to take three, four years and go to college and get degrees. But that is not the method that was used to change the Roman Empire. That is not the method that was used to change the British Empire. The method that was used to bring change to those huge societies was new believers were trained quickly. And I think, that modern America looks in many ways a lot like Rome did, and I think modern America looks in many ways a lot like England did. And the reason why I mention both of those is for just that reason. That it looks insurmountable, the challenges look so big, people seem so closed minded. But this is again why new believers are so important. Because new believers bring a fresh perspective, you know? I’m an old dog at this point, I’ve been in church every morning for almost 20 years, you know, helping out. I’ve got some preconceived notions. So the power of new believers was the power that propagated the gospel so quickly in all those cases. And additionally, one thing that really was fascinating to me, if you read all the stories of the baptisms, they were baptized the same day. In fact, there’s one passage where it’s clear that they didn’t even eat first. So they, heard the gospel message, they declared that Jesus was their savior and that they believe that He had been raised from the dead by the Lord and they went and they put Him in the water and they baptized Him right away. So, there’s something about the speed that’s important and if you think about it, hasn’t that notion and idea sort of been attacked in our minds, that we’ve come to believe that, you know, “Oh, only a preacher can baptize; only a preacher can lead people to Christ.” That is not what the New Testament says. The New Testament says, all of you can do it and the New Testament says that all of us are supposed to show other people how to do it. That’s how it propagates quickly and that’s how it changed those societies and that’s how it can change our society. So, new believers spread the message.

The next thing that’s interesting is that, in A.D. 34, 35, 36, 37, there weren’t any churches! These people were meeting in the homes, and they were meeting in the public square, okay? So think about it: They were meeting at Cross Creek. They were meeting at Neptune’s Net. They were meeting at the Trancas Market, okay? And are you hearing me? That’s how the gospel propagated, okay? They didn’t have brick buildings. They were out in the community. And they met in homes, okay? And think about the reality of culture in Malibu, you know? Homes, the society here, is very much happening in people’s homes. So, really what has come to my spirit, is, you know, I’ve been ministering in Malibu since 2003, on and off, and I’d like to see a home church, you know, in Trancas. And I’d like to see a home church in Solstice. And I’d like to see a home church in all of the canyons in Malibu and all the hill tops and in restaurants and stores, there’s no reason why we couldn’t have dozens and dozens of them. And I believe that this message this morning I’m hoping is going to start a spark in people’s minds about this.

So, they birthed new churches quickly so, it’s not really clear in the Bible, but there are historians that have analyzed the ancient records, and they believe the average amount of time was about 6 months. That a teacher would get a small group going, train them how to teach, train them how to, with the minimum church was, and then that church would then start a new church within 6 months.

In my life, what I’ve seen is, even in a home church, people get comfortable, and the group goes and it becomes about how fun it is to hang out and worship, and read the Bible and hang out with your friends. Well, that’s not what Jesus said, He said, “Go and make disciples,” okay?

No buildings, no seminaries, no professionals. So, in no way am I criticizing seminaries and theology schools. I have been blessed greatly by many, many well educated teachers and I stand on their shoulders but in terms of spreading the gospel message fast, it’s not needed.

So, “Whoever believes in me, will do the works I have been doing and they will do even greater things than these.” So how amazing is that? Think about the creator of the universe, says that you all can do greater things than He did. So what’s He thinking about? What’s He talking about? He was only on this earth in human form for three and a half years. Jesus never actually, based on what we know, based on what’s in the Bible record, never actually went outside the boundaries of Israel.  So what He’s talking about is He’s saying that, Nelson, and Nolan, and Adam, and Cassandra, and Philip and Tony, that you all can do greater things than He did because you’re in Malibu! As far as we know, He didn’t come to Malibu, okay?

[Laughter]

Now what I want to do is talk about how great the need is for this discussion. So in the state of California, this is a pie chart, I’m a computer, tech-y guy, you know, so this is how I think but hopefully you’ll be blessed by this.

This is current data, this is 2014, again, this is Pew Research, very prestigious research organization. So they say that in the state of California that 28%, when asked what their faith is, say that they’re Catholic. So that’s the biggest block of particular belief in California. But the second one is the gray area, which is unaffiliated. So 27% of the sample size, in California, when they were asked what their faith was, said, “I don’t have a faith,” okay? So they didn’t say they were Satanist, they didn’t say that they were scientologists, they said nothing, okay? So, to me, that sounds like fertile ground. That means one in every four people you meet, has not already made up their mind. So that one out of every four people you meet is waiting for that treasure inside of you, and we’ve heard great testimonies of people who have come to adulthood who said that no one ever came up to them and asked them if they wanted to hear about Jesus. So that’s the truth. Now, Christianity is, a large part of Christianity, is it’s a battle for the mind. And we have this thing that’s always trying to tell us stuff that’s not true. And one of the things it’s trying to tell us is, “Oh, they don’t want you to bother them with learning about Jesus,” okay? It’s not true. A quarter of the people in California have not made up their mind, what they believe. That is where He said to go. Now, while we’re at it, about 20% identify as what’s called evangelicals. So this church we would consider ourselves evangelicals. Roughly, it means churches that believe in a personal relationship with Jesus and churches that are out doing missions. So those people, you know, they’re already taken care of. But these other categories, you know, 2% Hindu, 2% Buddhist, 2% Jewish, that’s who Jesus said go make sure that they know about the gospel.

If you look at it in terms of people, the group that says that they haven’t made their mind up, is 8.6 million people in California. 8.6 million people. So next time you go to the grocery store, a quarter of those people haven’t made up their mind about Jesus. The next time you’re at a sporting event, a quarter of those people. The next time you’re going to see a movie, a quarter of those people. And I guarantee you that you might have to talk to five of them, or you might have to talk to ten of them, but some of them, have never had anybody tell them about Jesus and they actually are waiting for you to be that one.

If we go to the next slide, so nationwide, about 25% of Americans identify as evangelicals. So it’s possible, that in America, that there’s 245 million people who have not accepted Jesus. And it’s hard to say what the number is, but it’s possible that it can be that big of a number. So it’s certainly more than a hundred million. And so, my story of the Roman Empire and the British Empire, the point was, that you have the ability to affect those 245 million people because of the way that Christianity ended slavery in the British Empire worldwide, was not with us going to directly to the leaders, it happened by going to the culture, through the neighbors, love your neighbor as yourself.

David Callis, Cassandra, myself, we’ve all been trained in a method called T for T, which means training for trainers. So some of the concepts and the ideas that I’m relaying to you this morning are from these materials. So in the training for trainers, that buzzword is trying to highlight the fact that when Jesus said go and make disciples, in 20th century English terms, what he was saying is, “Go make trainers who can train other people.” That is why the gospel took over the Roman Empire so quickly, because what they were doing is they were training people to train other people. So the scripture that gives us this is second Timothy, two two. That’s pretty easy to remember, right? Two, two, two. Second Timothy, two two. Where it says, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others,” alright? So my good friend Owen is sitting up front. So Owen, probably didn’t even know it, that he is what we call, a Timothy. So Owen decided to take a little bit of the time in his life and he came to my house and he has been studying the Bible with me now for almost four years and one night he had a prayer, and he said, “Lord I want to be used. Help me to be used.” And he has ended up having his socks blessed off by making this connection to these Chinese scholars and many of them have come to my house, and other places, and they’ve heard the gospel message and they go back to China. And if Owen hadn’t stepped up and been a Timothy, then that wouldn’t have happened. And I believe in my heart that those people will affect China for generations and that seeds have been planted there that will propagate throughout that culture. So good job, Owen. Nice sunglasses too.

In this one scripture, we see three generations of what we call church planters. So Timothy said, “The things you’ve heard from me, teach to reliable people, who will also be able to teach others.” So it’s not just some supernatural thing where Jesus hops from one person to the next. It’s an intentional thing where we get trained, we train others, they train others. That’s the great commission. That’s what He meant when He said, “Go and make disciples.”

So, our Father’s heart, for you, is He said, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore with love and kindness, I have drawn you.” So part of my hope, when we do the worship music and we praise Jesus together, part of my hope is that, those of you that might not be feeling love, that you start feeling the presence of God and you start feeling some love and some care and some compassion. And I’ve been blessed to see so many people come in here, where I can see that they’re going through something tough, and they come in, they get the presence of the Holy Spirit, they receive some prayer and over the course of time, I see their face change, I see smiles where there was sadness before. So you have the ability to bring that to your street, to your communities, to your workplaces. The Jews call it shalom, among other things. So at a minimum, the gospel message could encourage people and can help them navigate difficult circumstances. So that’s the Father’s heart for you and it’s the Father’s heart for you to bring that to other people.

There is the issue of salvation, that the Bible teaches us, and I played a song this morning which tells a story, the Bible teaches us that He will take those that have chosen to be with Him, away. And He will do earth and everyone that chose to go with Him will be on that new earth. So, it’s not just about being able to bring the love of God to people, it’s about being able to bring them everlasting life. It’s a fairly simple thing that Jesus asks, He says in Romans Chapter 10, verse 9, He says, “Declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with all your heart that Jesus raised him from the dead.” That’s it. That’s it. And when that happens, when somebody believes that Jesus died for their sins and was born again, resurrected, and when they believe that He is Lord, their name is written in the book of life and they will be with Him forever and have everlasting life. So that is an amazing gift that you can give to people. So the Father’s heart for the lost is, He said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. For this is good and acceptable, in the sight of God, our savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to full knowledge of the truth.” So, who does He desire to be saved?

[Light response from audience]

Who does He desire to be saved?!

[Audience responds]

Who does He desire to be saved?!

[Audience responds louder]

Amen.

When Jesus taught us to pray, He said, “Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, as Earth as it is in Heaven.” So, His will is that you all, are the ambassadors of Heaven. So what does an ambassador do? An ambassador communicates, an ambassador opens doors, an ambassador helps keep the peace. So God has made each and every one of you an ambassador to the people, that he wants them to know that Heaven can exist on this earth, that life can actually get better and there can be peace and there can be joy. And he has made each and every one of you the ambassador of that peace and joy.

How many times in the Bible did Jesus mention the church? And I’m not expecting that anyone has this memorized. But he only mentions the church 3 times in two verses. But how many times does he mention the kingdom? Notice that in the story of the field and the pearl that he’s talking about the Kingdom of Heaven. That most of those parables, they don’t say the church is like this, the Kingdom of Heaven is like this. So 102 times, Jesus mentions the kingdom. So which one are we supposed to pay more attention to, the church or the kingdom? The kingdom. So the hint here, in the kingdom, we don’t just go to church, we are the church, okay? So there’s somebody in our head that wants us to think that the point is to try and get people to come here and hang out with us on Sunday morning. That’s not the point. The point is for all of us to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to them out there. And what I’m hoping happens, is I’m hoping that this is a meeting where we get together and we encourage people and we love on people and we teach people how to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to those out there and if some of them choose to come here and hang out with us on Sunday, that’s great but that’s not the agenda. The agenda is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to them, out there where they are. So in other words, if we do the Kingdom right, we’ll do church right.

On the next slide, so, don’t want to diminish that the church is important. The church is important. Christ shed his blood for the church to purchase us as his pride. The church is a part of His Kingdom. However, if we try to build the church exclusively, the kingdom suffers. Build the kingdom, and you build His church. Jesus said, “You make my disciples, I’ll build my church.” So that’s Matthew 28, Matthew 16.

[Clapping]

You make my disciples, I’ll build my church. Who’s clapping?

[Audience responds and claps]

Doesn’t that feel good? Can’t you feel the Holy Spirit there? Because one thing that’s fascinating to me about the spiritual walk, is that I’ve been playing piano since I was 5. I don’t forget how to play piano. But I need to come among you all, read the word, and be reminded of these things, because there’s something out there that’s constantly trying to get us to un-remember these things. And that’s one of the reasons why we meet and why we have teachers is because we have to constantly remind ourselves against that thing out there that wants us to get things out of order. And we do see this in Christianity, that there’s so much focus put on, quote, “The Church.” And Jesus said, “You make my disciples, I’ll build my church.”

The idea here, is that the big circle is the kingdom of God, okay? And the church is part of the kingdom of God. But this morning I want to focus your hearts because, think about how simple it is to ask somebody. Like for instance, one of the best, you can always look for the opener. So I have a good friend I grew up with and about five, six years ago, he said, you know, I’m thinking about taking Prozac. And, it was a common thing, and there was a time when such medicines have their place. But in this particular conversation, I was hearing the prompting of the Lord and I said, “Well, I’m here to support you in that. But why don’t you try going to church four times before you start taking medication,” okay? And this was a guy I grew up with so I was able to speak into his life, and that person went to church four times, somebody asked him if he wanted to receive Christ, he became a Christian and we’ve never talked about depression again and five years later, he’s never taken any medication and again, I’m not saying that there’s not a place for medication, but in that particular example, what I want you to hear is that I could hear the spirit in the question. He was coming to me, asking for advice, and I said, I felt that I had the Holy Spirit on me and I said, “Why don’t you try going to church four times,” and what he found was that the Holy Spirit and Jesus in him, solved whatever the struggle was that was happening. And we can bring that to everybody. That’s the kingdom of God. That person became a church attender and a tither, okay? But I didn’t say, “Hey, why don’t you come to my church.” He actually lived 400 miles away. I said, “Why don’t you try a church?” Now, I did Google some local churches and try and direct him but it wasn’t about me trying to get him in my church, it was about me bringing him the Holy Spirit.

Lord, I just thank you for this morning, I thank you for each and every one gathered here. I just thank you for this ability to come before you and to worship your name and to read your word. I thank you for the ability to share your love with our friends, neighbors, our communities, our nation. I just ask that you move in our midst Lord, move in our hearts. We just say this in Jesus’s name.

 

God’s Protection Is Also Beautiful

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” – Psalm 19:1

perseids-2015-denmark-merzlyakov

Getting out and enjoying nature is a great way to worship and connect with God.  Tomorrow night, Thursday August 11th, there is a going to be a spectacular display in the night sky.  The earth is passing through the tail of the comet named Swift-Tuttle.   Astronomers are predicting that there will be twice as much activity during this visit as normal.  As the earth passes through the comet tail, debris from the comet impacts the Earth’s atmosphere and creates “shooting stars.” This annual meteor shower is called the “Perseids” because we see it in the sky where the constellation Perseus is located.

In Los Angeles, finding a dark spot to enjoy this display can be challenging.  Here is a cool website that shows you where the darkest spots are on the earth for viewing the heavens.  The closest, darkest spot to Malibu is Rancho Sierra Vista Park at 4121 Potrero Road, Newbury Park, CA.  Look to the east after 10 pm.

David, King of Israel from 1010-970 BC was a warrior poet and the author of the verse above.  He only knew by faith that God had precisely crafted the heavens.  When we look up and really see the night sky we are not looking at an accident.  Two and a half thousand years after David wrote this poetry, Johannes Kepler, one of the inventors of modern astronomy and mathematics said, “I am merely thinking God’s thoughts after him” as he worked to document the laws that govern the motion of the stars and planets.   Kepler proved what David knew through faith.  That God’s hand designed the heavens with precision and order.  That is why we know that the Perseids will be back a year from now on August 12 & 13, 2017, and again the next year on August 12 and 13, 2018.  Stop for a moment and think about the majesty of all these heavenly bodies moving to make this beautiful event occur on the same date every 365 days.

In Genesis, “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years . . .’  Not only are the heavens beautiful but they clearly show us that they function with a precision and a purpose pointing the way to our Creator.

Not only are the heavens visually stunning, but these meteors are a visible reminder of God’s love for mankind and his protection.  Look at the moon and Mars.  The surface of these objects are visibly scarred with impact craters from similar events in space.  Unlike the moon and Mars, the earth has a significant atmosphere that goes up more than 30 miles to provide precious oxygen for our survival and to burn up meteors like the Perseids so they cause us no harm.  Think about the fact that God’s protection is also beautiful.

Photo Credit: Ruslan Merzlyakov/RMS Photography