Monday, October 27, 2008

A Faith Building Message

I often tell the people we now fellowship with planting a church is just part of the blessing we enjoy as we engage the Lord and each other here in Charlotte. The other wonderful blessing comes from the international family of churches we're relating to. A few weeks back we had Tommy Stanley with us from Lees Summit, Missouri. Last night, we were blessed by the prophetic sharing and teaching of Isaac Olagunju. Isaac and Holly are members of Jubilee Church Atlanta, a church that has played a vital role in what's happening here in Charlotte, under the leadership of Carl Herrington. I can add that Isaac and Holly have been a tremendous blessing to Debbie and I, including the hours of iron sharpening fellowship we all enjoyed this weekend.

At our gathering last night, Isaac brought greetings from Carl and encouraged us by sharing how much this body of believers has been a blessing to them. He described the love and warmth that energizes them as they head back to Atlanta each time they visit.

Isaac also challenged those of us who may be minimizing any contribution we may have to the church plant by reminding us we are all significant to what God is doing here.


During Isaac's message we learned

-belief does not rest on legal proof or material evidence
-Faith includes hope, but hope does not necessarily include faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see

Another version: the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives assurance about things we cannot see

As we reflect on the "faith" Chapter, Hebrews 11, Isaac challenged us to consider the question: "what story is the Lord writing about our lives?"

What is faith?

Faith is:

-believing God even when there is seemingly no evidence. Hebrews 11:7 Faith produces obedience

-believing God even though you may not know where He is leading you. Hebrews 11:8-10

-receiving God's promises, even when medical opinion says "no way" Hebrews 11:11-12

Phillipians 4:19 God has promised to supply every need. God has obligated himself to provide every need. Isaac reminded us there is a difference between our needs and our wants

Matthew 6:33 defines those needs: food and clothing
(I also remembered I Timothy 6:6 Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and [3] we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. Wow! I know I have a great deal to learn here)

II Corinthians 12:9 His grace is sufficient

I Cor 10:13 Jude 24 He will not allow anything into our lives that we cannot handle

Romans 8:28 The Lord is working all things together for our good

Joshua 1:9 With all these promises, we're challenged to "be strong and corageous"

In the midst of our struggles, we have to learn to be real before God. Isaac reminded us that Jesus prayed "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me". We are not going to hurt God's feelings by being honest.

Faith is also:
-Making Costly sacrifice. Abraham shows us that faith is making the ultimate sacrifice. We learn in Hebrews 11:17-19 that God did not withhold his only Son.

-Praising God. Job shows us faith is praising God even when everything important to us has been taken away Job 1:20-22

In this Isaac encouraged us with the idea God is our biggest cheerleader. In the midst of trials, He is cheering us on. He is not sitting back as an uninterested bystander.

Final questions to consider:

Do you trust God to follow Him even when you don't know where he's leading?

Do you believe God enough to act upon what He has spoken to you, even when it seems impossible to human eyes?

Are you standing on God's promises as they pertain to His will in your life?

Faith is ultimately a renewing of our attitude. We must give up our fears and trust that GOD IS IN CONTROL!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Cultivating the Fear of God

Revelation 6:15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave [5] and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

No, I'm not plunging back into a preoccupation with eschatology. Actually I'm meditating on the fear of God. Some weeks ago I talked about this in the context of Ananias and Sapphira and the church. Today I'm focused on that dreadful season on earth when cataclysmic events occur that make it very clear God is on the throne. After a great earthquake, the darkening of the sun, the moon becoming like blood, stars falling to earth, a vanishing sky, and the movement of mountains and island, what do men do? They immediately realize who is behind these events and they beg creation to hide them from the wrath of the Father and Son.
First isn't it interesting that their plea is not even to the Lord to have mercy on them? They appeal to inanimate objects to protect them from their Creator. In this age of "earth worship" this kind of desperate cry to creation is very much in line with increasingly popular thinking, even among professing Christians.

But more importantly here is the cessation of religious profession, spiritual theory and postulating. In these days ahead, none of those things will matter. God will manifest Himself in pouring out His wrath upon a people who have rebelled against him. (Thank you Lord for your grace to your people!) All the doubt about who He is will be erased. In speaking of the Lord judging His people Paul in Hebrews 10 says this: 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God". Do we really fear the Lord? I believe this is one of those areas where our carnality compels us to quickly turn to grace and wrongfully say we don't have to be concerned about this. Its like the argument about people being so heavenly minded they're no earthly good. I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone who excels so much in heavenly mindeness. The same is true for the fear of God. So many of us are so far on the other end of the pendulum.

I watched "Evan Almighty" last night (for the record, kicking and screaming... I was the lone vote against in a room with 2 other adults) It was an entertaining movie on many levels, but if you are able to get by the potential blasphemy of Morgan Freeman as "god", the movie itself still leaves you with a picture of what sinful man wants to do with the Almighty God... turn him into a trifling, silly old grandfather type of character who requires not even the slightest measure of reverence before him. Yes I know this is just a movie, but what is displayed in this film is a god we can live with our way. Its been said that after God created us in His image, we try to return the favor and create him in ours. So So true.

The bottom line here is this. As Christians, we need to recapture a sense of the glory and majesty and greatness and "otherness" of God. He is NOT like us. This must be shaped by a correct theological understanding of who He is. But it dare not end there. Our time alone with Him, and our Christian gatherings must be to gather "in His presence". Mere intellectual assent will not do. When we gather, we should have a sense of awe and wonder about his manifest presence in our midst. If this is not happening, we need to ask why. Because if we who profess to know Him are not AFFECTED by who He is, something's desperately wrong. How can we possibly preach a gospel to an unbelieving world and tell them to obey and revere a God we truly don't believe and tremble at His presence. Would we not be much like the sons of Sceva who speak of Jesus "whom Paul preaches about" in their doomed attempt to cast out demons?

In Isaiah 66 we read this: 66:
1 Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool;
what is the house that you would build for me,
and what is the place of my rest?
2 All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.

I don't know about you, but I need to be a lot more humble and contrite, and do a lot more trembling at his word. In that context I recall wise words from Terry Virgo who declared its not enough for us to be "purpose driven". We must be "presence shaped". I have a feeling that as we cultivate time in His presence, we will grow in our reverence for the Sovereign God, and rightly project that in a way that will make the world take notice of our God. And like the story of Ananias and Sapphira, His presence in our midst will not always be for joyful experiences in the Spirit (though most will be), His hand of judgment is part of the package. We dare not forget!

I Peter 4: 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Sunday, March 2, 2008

About the Author

The author is a man driven to walk in the power of the Spirit, with a vision to establish a new genuine New Testament church in Charlotte. That vision includes a heart to establish a true International body of believers committed to follow Jesus' command to go into all the world and preach the gospel, and to teach those who follow to obey all He commands.