The Bible is clear, 'we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. We note the power of our testimony from this and other Scriptures.
However, you can be assured that there will be a battle over your testimony. Circumstances may seem to be obstacles. Temptation may increase in intensity. Friends may turn a cold shoulder because they are jealous of your forward momentum in Christ. Family may not understand and still you as the 'carpenter's son.' Personal insecurities and past failures are not friends either and the devil will whisper these lies.
But for whatever challenges come your way to upend your testimony, you must not waver, you must contend for your testimony to last. You must fight the good fight. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus, the old things are passed away. Believe this by faith and declare your victory in Christ.
Know this, you will have the power of God inside you, the hope of glory, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, to help you keep and maintain your testimony to the glory of God. The greatest power the world has ever known resides within the believer. Be encouraged. Publish your testimony!
This post is part of a larger series of teaching we have been doing on the Letter to the Galatians. Free CD's are available through chapter five. E- mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 716.537.3222 and leave a detailed message.
This post is based on Galatians 5:16 - 26. The full message is on cd but there are a couple elements here that are not on that cd. The Spirit led me to have a twist on this that I found interesting and most certainly true to the Word and my personal experience. So I said to the Lord, 'I am going to give it shot and see where it goes.' This message is like a journal entry, flowing from His Spirit. Praise the Lord!
I could take at least an hour and share my experiences with people scared of the Spirit. Of course, they never admit to fear of the Spirit but friends that in large part is exactly what it is.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is a personal reality to be embraced and a corporate blessing to be nurtured. But, drawn from this passage, are reasons religious people are frightened of the Spirit.
1. BATTLE for the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh (17)
The Spirit scares folks because He makes one very aware of the battle for the soul of a person. The Spirit lets one know the flesh is rising up. This battle is daily and if you hear the Spirit then one has to aware of His voice telling us, strengthen yourself in the Lord, gird up the loins of your mind, put on the whole of God...
Too many religious people want nothing to do with the battle between flesh and spirit. They don't want change. they say old dogs can't learn new tricks. You want to know why people are scared? Because His stated intention is to change a person, to grow and mature a person.But these folk like their life just the way it is. It is their choice and what a sad one indeed. if we are have the fruit of the Spirit, then the battle for between Spirit and flesh must not be ignored. To ignore this battle is to put one's soul in grave danger, it makes the Christian life a kind of public show with no substance.
Can the Spirit transform a person? A thousand times yes! But the more pertinent question is if change and life transformation is desired. Too many religious people want only what is available at the lowest cost if not free. My friends, the battle is raging and the cost is high ... pay up or die.
2. AWARENESS but if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (18)
Religious people are scared of the Holy Spirit because it is their fear he will enlighten them as to the high level of faith and obedience that is possible in Christ.
Frightened religious folk do not want a light shining on their conceit, their provocations or the evil of envy at the prosperity of others. However, they are quite skilled at revealing these items in others. Very sad isn't it? And we wonder why the church is operating on such low appeal.
Religious people are scared of the spiritual gifts and they use Scripture to support their fears. This a famous retread, but when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away (1 Cor. 13:10) This is not telling us that there is no need for the gifts because we have a full canon of Scripture. So, unbelief and fear is set in stone (lol) because of a single verse of Scripture. Well, try these on,
pursue love and desire spiritual gifts(1 Cor. 14;1) now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you ignorant.(1 Cor. 12:1) and 1 Cor. 12 esp. 4 - 6 and 14:12 and on and on.
Frightened religious people use the Bible to support their fears. They find an expression of worship to support their laziness.
But HOTH will be zealous for the gifts, we will embrace, cultivate and demonstrate the advancing movement of the Holy Spirit, and the hope of Christ for the Church, the community and the world.
3. PERSONAL if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (25)
You know what frightens religious people? God living with them. God walking with them. These folks would rather leave God in the sanctuary. They have no intention nor do they want to give the Spirit a say, an influence in their walk, i.e. jobs, how they spend their money, decisions, values ... They may never tell the Pastor, but privately their thoughts can be summarized as doing well without any interference from God, I have it figured out quite nicely. Thanks but no thanks.
The Bibles of the frightened stay home, unopened and unread. WHY? Is it sloth? Is it enmity or apathy? Why do the Bibles of so many rest unattended and orphaned? The Bible remains a best seller but is it a best read?
But the untold story of the walk of the frightened is listed here in detail. And to some degree they are the reality of the frightened religious. Paul calls them the works of the flesh or the acts of the sinful nature. Their is no victory over sin for the frightened. Their is no victorious witness for the scared. No, but there lurks just under their surface, just under their religious and polite religious veneer the acts of the sinful nature and they are waiting to explode and most assuredly they will. They will find the high cost of fear.
4. TIME - you know what frightened religious people like? Short worship and convenient sermons. They like the microwave religious experience. I have heard a lot of lousy excuses covering a fear that has way too much power in the frightened religious folk.
CLOSE - my friends, there is only way to live an authentic Christian life and it is to embrace the Spirit and turn away from fear. I break the grip of fear over your mind and soul now in the Name of Jesus. I plead the blood over you now in His Name. Now Live and walk by His mighty, powerful, awesome Spirit! AMEN.
HOPE on the Hill
WEEK OF PRAYER
APRIL 9 – 13, 2017
The focus of our prayers and declarations this week are the 7 mountains of a culture of a nation, a state, or a local community. For our purposes this week we will focus on our local communities.
· Why are these important to us?
These mountains of influence shape the culture and establish the spiritual climate of a nation and even a local community.
· Why hasn’t America experienced deep Christian renewal?
Because it takes more than one mountain to influence a nation for Christ in a long-term, generational manner.
· What is our strategy?
First, we take territory from satan in the place of prayer, with the power of the Holy Spirit, through the mighty weapons available to us.* Specifically, the weapons we will employ are listed in Ephesians 6 and we add to that the Word of God and worship. Each mountain has Scriptures for prayer and declaration. You may add others by finding the specific mountain on a blue sheet and write in the verse with a Sharpie that is provided.
Second, as we pray for a specific sphere of influence, God may them choose to use us in the very mountain for which we have prayed and declared the promises of God.
Scriptures may be applicable in more than one sphere.
Sunday – Business, Tuesday – Entertainment, Science and Medicine
Wednesday – Education and Government, Thursday – Family and Church
We will focus on our local community in each of these mountains. This is very important and we have to keep our focus on Jerusalem and Judea. This will, I believe, shift the spiritual atmosphere here like nothing we have ever done or seen. Frankly, I believe our communities get overlooked and forgotten. The Lord is no respecter of persons and places, so join us as we focus like a laser on our localities and the seven (7) mountains of influence.
The focus of this post comes from Matthew's Gospel chapter 9:35 - 10:1. We have the full sermon on cd available by calling 716-537-3222 or email us at email@example.com.
Too often we are missing the point of Christ's compassion. The point in this passage is clear. Jesus did not leave the recipients of His miracles the same as they came. He lifted people. The problem with so called compassion that continually gives and gives is that activity could be making folks dependent on the giver. The goal of our ministry is to lift people to health and activity that is making a difference for someone other than self. But the problem is we feel good about ourselves when giving. But the focus should not be me in giving. Especially when equipped with the Name of Jesus and all that means, it is obvious our compassion can lift all kinds of people in so many situations.
I am about to write something that is politically incorrect but is Jesus correct. This brief passage tells us Jesus encountered all kinds of people in all types of settings. But they were healed of every sickness and every disease. We know from the root word of disease that there were some in the crowds were effeminate men. And the Scripture is clear that Jesus healed them. Compassion moved His heart to lift them from their homosexuality. This is heresy in today's social climate. This is a radical example but shows us the power of His compassion.
Jesus healed all types of sicknesses and diseases during His ministry. He still does through His Body. He loves people and wants the Father's best for them. He has lost none of His power or compassion. He gives His Name to the Church to exercise His compassion to lift people to live dependent upon Jesus Christ.
The NAME of Jesus is the greatest name ever. the name of Jesus is above every name. The name of Jesus has the same power to save, heal and deliver as it did when our Master walked the earth and the apostles took over when He ascended. The Heavenly Father lifted Jesus to the highest position in the universe and he is seated at the right hand of the Father far above every known authority. The Father has bestowed on Jesus honor, power and glory. Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and given Him the NAME which is above every Name, that at the NAME of Jesus every knee should bow of those in heaven and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9 - 11.
Here are a couple amazing verses about the Name of Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate them to your heart and mind. They are amazing words of hope.
and in that day you will no longer ask me anything. i tell you the truth my Father will give you whatever you ask in My Name. Until now you have not asked anything in My Name. ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete. John 16:23-24
Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give you: in the NAME of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. Acts 3:6
And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the NAME of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by him. Colossians 3:17
The Name of Jesus touched every part of the early believers' lives. the Name of Jesus filled a place in their thoughts, in their prayers, in their preaching. I have the idea that we may have relegated this wonderful Name of Jesus as a tag line in a prayer and missed the power and authority given as joint heirs with Christ to declare His Name and pray with authority to the Father in His Name. We belong to the Name of Jesus. Everywhere we go His Name comes along. That concept opens up wonderful possibilities for us in the "routines" of life to make a great difference.
May the Lord open our eyes and our hearts that we may know the riches of the glory of God which are hidden in the Name. I pray also that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you ... Ephesians 1:18
You belong to His NAME. The most wonderful Name in all the heavens and the earth! As the commercial says, "who settles for less when you can have more."
Era is a period of time marked by Distinctive character or events
This Psalm marks a new era in the history of Israel. The United States is living in a new era when a businessman is elected President. This Psalm is about the Jews returning from exile and our most recent election has given me hope that America is returning from a long exile. From the hijacking of the Biblical rainbow to unprecedented expansion of government to government funding of organizations selling human body parts ... yes I pray we are coming home to our Judeo Christian roots.
This Psalm refers to the deliverance of the Jews from the oppressive grip of Babylon. The man used of God to affect their deliverance is Cyrus, King of the Persians. He is an unlikely candidate from a strictly human perspective. But God calls Cyrus by name in Isaiah 45. Ultimately, he lead a national resurgence in Israel for the next 50 years. The book Chaos Candidate by Dr. Lance Wallnau gives much more information on this remarkable King as it relates to the President - elect. I believe Mr. Trump is the Cyrus of a new era. His election surprised the "pundits" and "experts". He confounded the polls at every turn. The election has brought unbounded encouragement of answered prayer. The Psalmist expresses the feelings of many evangelicals, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. (2)
I hope I share the thoughts of many in the Body of Christ, that God may have given America a reprieve. We were quickly travelling down the broad path to destruction bu God has given us an opportunity. The Psalmist is writing about a tangible life event. He is talking about the intervention of God in a tangible way. He is writing about an historic event, we are filled with joy. May the President - elect (the 45th President) be a contemporary Cyrus(Isaiah 45) to restore the fortunes, underwritten by our unique, long lasting Constitution.
Like streams in the desert(4) may the rain of God's Spirit rain upon us and bring living waters for thirsty souls in our communities. May King David's declaration echoed in this new era, You, O God sent a plentiful rain, whereby You confirmed Your inheritance when it was weary. Your congregation dwelt in it, You, O God provided from Your goodness for the poor. (Psalm 68:9)
Now the challenge to fulfill the promise of this election begins. Dreams of national renewal and revival are rising in the hearts of God's people. These are like the days of Nehemiah rebuilding the wall in ancient Jerusalem. Prayer and hard work lay before us. We must be diligent in the values of our American citizenship. We must be the ambassadors of His good Gospel. We declare with our worship - Jesus is Lord. We enter the presence of Christ to proclaim the increase of His government will know no end! Let us hold fast to our confession of faith.
The election is an end to a chapter. Let us begin to write a new chapter, of a new era in America. Let us work to restore what has been lost, let us restore a firm foundation of righteousness for our beloved nation and the generations who follow.
Have you been in your own Babylon? Have you been in a place of spiritual confusion and disarray? Ask Christ into your life, repent of your sin, recieve His forgiveness and let's walk together in a new era of God's wonderful grace.
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 Alexis DeToqueville was a Frenchman who came to America early in the 19th century to see first hand the vitality and heart of the American democracy. I quote from his classic Democracy in America , "I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers and it was not there ... in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there ... in her rich mines and vast world commerce and it was not there ... in her democratic Congress and Constitution and it was not there, not til I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power."
I am guided by these principles in casting my vote on Election day 2016. I believe this is a consequential election, the most important of my lifetime. Here are the values that serve as my guiding light in casting my ballot.
1. Which candidate has the will to stall the march to a progressive Armageddon?
2. Which candidate has shown the drive to expand government, to further the legislation of immorality, expand the killing of the unborn and increase the national debt, thereby making our dollars worth less and less?
This Election Sunday sermon is available on cd.
Next post - Isaiah 45, the election of the 45th President and King Cyrus
Let's look at Ruth and discover how the Church could become more and more like her in relationship to the Jewish people.
Ruth clung to her(Naomi) Ruth would not be stopped by rejection. She would stick to Naomi, even if she wasn't wanted.
How can any Christian who is called to conform to God's character ever love His people conditionally, when He loves them unconditionally and according to an everlasting covenant?
Are you ready to hold on to Israel in her time of greatest need? Or walk away when she is universally condemned by the nations?
Three times Naomi insisted that Ruth return to Moab. (11,12,15) Ruth remained.
What we need is God's love for Israel. Take a look at Psalm 89:30-34 and Romans 11:28 to see the kind of love demanded of the Christians for the Jews. The kind of love God pours into our hearts demands nothing in return.
To be a Ruth means being willing to stand with the Jews even if it means making a sacrifice. Marriage offered security during these times. Ruth knew going with Naomi meant giving up opportunities to remarry someone in Moab. Few Jews in Judah would ever consider marrying a Gentile woman.
How many of would have risked going with the Jews into the gas chambers by hiding Jews during the holocaust? If we have the heart of Ruth, we will.
How many of us are ready to serve sacrificially by holding up and supporting the Jewish people?
The Ruth Blessing Any sacrifice we make on behalf of Israel is far outweighed by the blessing given in return. Ruth sacrificed much but she was richly rewarded for her humble service to Naomi. (Proverbs 15:33) After many years of barreness she was given a son. (Ruth 4:16-17) We know from Obed's loins will eventually come the Messiah. This may also foreshadow a day when Naomi (Israel) will embrace the Messiah. The Bible tells us the Jewish people will one day openly receive the Messiah and His forgiveness. (Romans 11:26-27)
Like Ruth, we the church have a central role to play in the salvation and deliverance of Naomi (the Jewish people). But it will require more than kind words and an occasional offering. Eventually, it may come to unconditionally and sacrificially loving the Jewish people because we love the God of the Jews.
This is a shortened version of a sermon. The complete message is available on cd upon request. Simply email us firstname.lastname@example.org or call 716-537-3222.
The Story of Ruth and Naomi is a beautiful picture of the kind of relationship that should exist between the Church and Israel.
Orpah's relationship to Naomi as a picture of the way much of the church has often related to the Jewish people. Orpah is a picture of much of the Gentile segment of the Church that has not been able to understand the inseparable bond between the Church and Israel. Instead of identifying herself with the Jews, the Orpah church has maintained a religious culture that is virtually cut off from its Hebrew roots.
Although the church owes its very salvation to the Jews (John 4:22) too often, abandons the very same Jews in their time of need.
Some of this may be difficult to accept but consider these words for the history is painful and undeniable.
Within a generation of Jesus' crucifixion, the Roman army ransacked Jerusalem and totally destroyed the Temple and much of the indigenous Jewish culture of Israel. Like Naomi in Moab, the Jews found themselves in foreign lands.
within a few hundred years, the Church, for the most part, came to disregard the significance of the Jewish people. There arose a number of Christian theologians who saw the Jews in cooperation with the Romans in the crucifixion of Jesus and the destruction of the Temple as a sign that God has rejected Israel once and for all. God would now form a new chosen people. A belief was formed and still exists that Israel is the new Israel of God.
Anti- Semitism was justified - all done in the name of good theology. John Chrysostom wrote; "they are murderers, destroyers, men possessed by the devil ..." And to think Chrysostom is deemed a saint.
Six centuries later the Crusaders unveiled a virulent hatred for the Jews while claiming to be Christian. By the time the Crusaders left the scene less than 200 years later only 1000 Jewish families still remained.
Anti- Semitism is evident in the writings of the Protestant Reformers. Martin Luther, at first sympathetic to the Jews, believing they would gladly receive his gospel of justification by faith. But when they rejected the message, he became deeply embittered against the Jewish people. He called for the expulsion of Jews from Germany and the destruction of their synagogues and books.
It should come as no surprise that when the Nazis came to power in Germany, they used the writings of theologians like Luther to justify their policies.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 11:11, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. However, in reality, the Jews do not envy our faith.
Will the Church be like Orpah and turn our backs on Israel in her time of need? Or will we be like Ruth and cling to Israel, always ready to give her support and encouragement, especially as God is bring her back to her homeland and ultimately to her God?
Go to the Upper Room
Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high. Luke 24:49
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father … Acts 1:4a
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet near Jerusalem, a Sabbath’s day journey (about ¾ of a mile). … they went up into the upper room … Acts 1:12 -13a
They went to the upper room after a series of remarkable events that have changed the course of all history, the Cross, the Resurrection, then after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days … while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight
Jesus was specific in His instructions. The disciples joyfully obeyed Him, to the letter.
What is our upper room?
What did they do? These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplications … Acts 1:14a
There is a time in Scripture that most if not all of us are familiar. It too was a time to wait.
God called Moses to the top of the mountain to receive the commands and ordinances that would guard their nation moving forward. Geographically, Moses stood on a mountaintop but the intent of God in it is similar to that of the upper room. Moses obeyed God to, come up to the Lord … then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain, the sight of the glory of God was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel. So Moses went into the midst of the cloud … (Exodus 24)
The children of Israel grew weary in their waiting. Exodus 32 gives the full account of what happened. This simple summation suffices, they corrupted themselves(7). That generation did not pass the tests of waiting on the Lord.
The 120 stayed in the upper room, when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were (all) with one accord in one place.
They still waited for the promise of the Father.
How much do you like to wait? Is it a hobby? Is it a lifelong aspiration?
I don’t know if anyone likes to wait. Much of the time we wait only as a steppingstone to get what we want whether it is credit approval, programs loaded, appointments met or destinations reached.
Perhaps John Ortberg writes, “when we wait for something, we recognize that we are not in control.”
My brothers and sisters, the upper room was their act of defiant faith for the increase of His kingdom here on earth as it is on heaven. Their presence and participation showed they got the heart and passion of Jesus’ message and ministry, certainly more than when He was physically present with them.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting, then there appeared to them divided tongues as of fire and sat upon each of them
And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in their own language
But Peter standing up with the eleven raised his voice and said to them …
and that day about 3000 souls were added to them.
Would it have happened without the joyful obedience of the leadership and followers in the New Testament church to get to the upper room and stay there until the promise of the Father was poured out?
Today the Holy Spirit is saying;
We need the ‘upper room’ today and in the coming days. We need to hear the call of the Lord to the Upper Room, for prayer, worship, boldness and the impartation of His Spirit. I suggest we apply the command of Jesus to wait in the upper room to our life together.
I believe the upper room goes beyond Sunday. It starts with servant leadership from the pastors, to church council, worship team and HOPE Generation. It means your service includes and requires at least a monthly visit to the Upper Rooms we have made available.
As we endeavor to push out the boundaries of our ministry the upper rooms become more critical. If we show greater unity through greater participation then I believe and I want your faith to partner with mine HOTH will see greater momentum for Kingdom growth than ever before.
My friends, we were put here to make a Holy Spirit empowered impact and influence. God didn’t put us here to be freeze dried Christians that are opened only on Sunday mornings.