Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Mysteries of God

The Mysterious Ways Of God

Acts 8.1-7

Story of William Cowper

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

When things happen that we do not understand it is so important that we have these pillars to fall back on that we do understand and know to be true.

1. God is Good.

Psalm 16.13-14 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

2. God Loves Me.
I John 4.7Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not knowGod, because God is love. 9This is how God’s love was revealed among us: God sent His one and only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.

Jesus Loves Me this I know for the Bible tells me so.

3. God Is In Control.
Romans 8.28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

Stephen had been stoned to death. The church had its first martyr. What appreared to be its darkest hour turned into one its finest. As Cowper wrote, “God works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. He sets His footstep in the Sea and rides upon the storm.”

We have all experienced things that makes us wonder, things we do not understand, ways of God beyond our finding out. As with Stephen they are in death or other unexplainable issues. This is a sin in the American Church today: Trying to explain the mysteries of God. 18 years later people still saying to me, “God did heal your brother.” No, my brother died. He was not healed. Just ask his wife or kids. People meaning well, said to my oldest nephew, in his teens at the time, “Good is going to come out of this.” He responded, “I haven’t seen one good thing yet!” Why do we feel we need to explain the mysteries of God when zhe Himself told us that right now we see through a glass darkly?

It maked me sick to my stomach and heart today how prayer and being baptized with the Holy Spirit are on such a low level of priority in the church in America. When I see the strategies and programs so many of which end up replacing prayer and seeking to give human explanation to the ways of God.

Listen, there are times when we simoly do not understand what God is doing or what He allows. Habakkuk had that problem, but he submitted to the LORD. Davis certainly lamented that many times. Joseph had troubles for 13 years and never complained or tried to explain what was happening to him.

What was the result of this persecution?

1. The LORD Got People To Where He Said He Would Have Witnesses.  Acts 1.8

Acts 8.1 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 

Jesus had told them they would be witnesses for them there. Some feel that they were not apt to leave the wonder of the fellowship of the church in Jerusalem so God used this persecution to get them there. That is possible. It could be that they were willing but had not yet moved out. Either way we look at this Stephen’s murder was a martyrdom was used by God to accomplish His purposes, to fulfill His Words.

The overruling Hand of God is seen in the movement. The wind of persecution scattered the good seed of the Gospel throughout  the nation of Israel.

I want to be in His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12.1-3
I want to be willing, not for God to make me willing!
Like a child, much better to obey immediately and willingly than to be disciplined and have to do it the hard way! 
Ex/ Pick up your room.

Chairman Mao... we may find out something soon about the the Church in North Korea,  something very good.
As with the death of Stephen this seemed to be a defeat for the church.  It resulted in great victory for the church and the Kingdom of God. There is a truth here. 

Death in the church always results in new life!
*The martyrdom of Stephen and all who have followed is the seed of the Gospel.
*The surest thing to make something grow is to persecute it.
*Believers, nothing quite as powerful as a funeral of a saint! Often results in people coming to Jesus like the thief and the centurion.
*Places of devastation result in new buildings and greater impact.

2. God Had A Great Witness Through His Servants

Acts 8.4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.

This is a move of God like we need to see today in America. A movement among all of God’s people.

They preached the Word as they traveled, going and returning.

There was a shattering of prejudice and ethnic barriers. When God’s Spirit works this the result. We need it again in our nation.
They went to undesirable places and they became places where God poured His Spirit out.

3. The LORD Turns Weeping Into Joy.

Acts 8.Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed Christ there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.

In verse two and three we read  Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

In verse 8 There is great joy in that city in Samaria. Notice it did not confine it to the church. The whole city was effected.

The joy of souls being set free from the bondage of sin and brought into the life of God.
It reaffirms our faith and brings us back to the time we asked Jesus to for our sins.
It stirs things up. “A baby can change your life.”- Milo Arnold   Babies upset the routine in a beautiful way... Emma when she was born and she would come once a week to my home.
It is beautiful.

In verse 1When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria.

I love what is happening here. A place once the avoided now became their mission field, a place they were prejudiced against became a place where they went and laid hands on the people.

Philip left the revival in Samaria to go to Gaza, a dry desert place out of a deep desire to do God’s will.

Haiti has become that to everyone who goes. All nations become that to those who go. 

God breaks our hearts, pours His Spirit out and because our hearts are tender we go.

This is how we can rejoice in persecution. Being identified with Jesus and seeing what the results are!
Romans 5.Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Matthew 5.11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sov’reign will.

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Facing Our Troubles

Acts 7.8-15

I love the story of Joseph! He is one of my favorite characters in the Old Testamant, Daniel  and David being the others. Nothing bad is said about Joseph or Daniel.

Joseph is an example of faithfulness in suffering. As a teenager of 17 he was taken away, actually sold into slavery by his brothers! For 13 years his father, who was lied to by his sons, thought Joseph was dead! Brothers sell him. Father thinking he is dead. A slave, then a prisoner for a crime he did not do, it is simply amazing that Joseph did not become bitter.

He submitted to the circumstances. 
Genesis 39.The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concer

We are told that even in prison, God blessed him.
Genesis 39.20b But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

So you know the story... 

After Joseph was released from prison and promoted to second in command of all of Egypt...
Genesis 41.41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

There is no record of Joseph ever trying escape. He simply submitted to the circumstances and stayed true to God. Sometimes that is all we can do. It was God’s will. He testified about that at the end of Genesis. But for the moment, for the time being, he thought he would never see his family again.

Can a person really forget their family, their father? What if they were abusive like his brothers were? Different kinds of abuse... sexual abuse, forgiveness can be found and cleansing... don’t have to be ruined for life as we used to say.

Joseph was horribly mistreated. His brother’s actions stole his late teen years and the entire decade of his 20’s. Yet they were not wasted. God was teaching him to be a good manager because soon it was not going to be over the flocks of sheep, or his master Potiphar’s house or even the prison. It was going be all of Egypt and then when the famine came, the world... to the saving of many souls.

The trials and the difficulties that we go through are never wasted if we are walking in step with the Spirit. God has a way of working all things together for good for those who love Him and are the called according to His purposes.

One way of handling our troubles is to deny them, refusing to admit they existed or that they cease to exist...

1. Denying Our Troubles

*Denying Reality
Positive Thinking. Remember you need a negative ground to produce power. If we are just positive there is no power. Take the ground wire off your car battery and you will have no power!  If we never face the darkness in our lives then we wll miss vauable lessons. It is often in the darkness we see Jesus. It is in the Valley of The Shadow of Death He walks with us and comforts us. I told a group the other day, “There is something about God that you will not know until death comes.” I never understood those words of Paul Martin until death came to our family. We grow closer to the LORD in the things we do not understand. Our faith grows and is refined. We see a side of God in our darkness we do experience in the sunshine. Truly He does give songs in the night.

*Everything is great. “I am telling grief to get away from me,” is not realistic.

*Embrace your pain. Live in the reality of it.

*Enabling others is often trying to get them to not face the consequences of their actions and is playing God, at least interfering with what God wants to do.

My friend, Dr. Steve Hurkens, pastor of East Rockaway Nazarene, lost his brother this past week, suddenly, without any warning he dropped dead on a golf course. We faced this together in prayer. We talked about grief and pain and sorrow.

*Embrace the cross in your life.
If you were completely dead to your old nature you would no longer feel many of the pains that now bother you. Endure the aches and pains of your body with patience. Do the same thing with your spiritual afflictions (that is, trouble sent to you that you cannot control). Do not add to the cross in your life by becoming so busy that you have no time to sit quietly before God. 

Do not reject the full work that the power of the cross could accomplish in you. Unfortunately, you will be forced to go over the same ground again and again. Worse yet, you will suffer much, but your suffering will be for no purpose. May the Lord deliver you from falling into an inner state in which the cross is not at work in you! God loves a cheerful giver. (II Corinthians 9:7) Imagine how much He must love those who abandon themselves to His will cheerfully and completely—even if it results in their crucifixion! -Fenelon

Don’t deny your troubles. Embrace them by self abandonment. Embrace them by surrendering to the LORD.

Joseph’ brothers were living in a denial of their troubles. Jacob did favor Joseph... bad move! He learned it from his parents. The seed was with Abraham and Ishmael. Instead of talking with their father they allowed jealousy to burn and thought they got rid of Joseph and lied to their father. Lying and denying go hand and hand. They are cousins. Denying is lying to yourself. This leads to lying to others.

2. Forgetting Our Troubles
Particularly in a family

Forget= to forget, deprive

We cannot truly abandon the family we were born into.
Adopted children often want to meet their birth parents.
The Mancinis in Italy. Not the Macminara’s in Ireland.

Joseph figured that he would never see his brothers or his father again.
He thought this is my life now. But the mere fact he was talking about them showed them he did not forget.
This was brought to bear when he met them! He wept loudly.

He believed that God had extracted or removed the memory of them.
Steve Hurkens’ brother Hans... my message to him.

3. Being Rescued From Our TroublesGenesis 41.51

Rescued= a pressing, pressing together, pressure, metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

Trouble= mischief

Face them head on

Do deny them or try to forget them. In the end the most valuable resources God has in your life is the pain He has allowed to come into it. You can take that pain and allow God to use it to understand what others are going through. Joseph came out of all these experiences with a tender heart. What better person to bring relief in the time of trouble?! Jesus went through our experiences of temptation so He is able to help us! God uses broken hearts. He usually crushes someone before He uses him.

It is God Who rescues us! 
Note Joseph just served faithfully in the position God has allowed him to be placed in. As we mentioned before he did not try to escape. He did not complain... he did not complain! If he did he would have been complaining against the LORD! God help us.

He found out and he tells of this in Genesis 50.19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

God can take the evil done to us, if we submit to Him, and intend it for good! 
The LORD God knew what was coming as far as the famine. He was getting Joseph ready to be the savior, the one who would oversee the saving of many souls, in that terrible time. He did this by allowing Joseph to suffer and also learn management skills in Potiphar’s house and in the prison. What valuable experience! The things which you cannot control can be schools of great learning that you could never get in a university. Times of scarcity teach us to be frugile. Times of suffering give us a heart for those who are suffering. Times of pain teach us the valuable lessons of hard work. I am so thankful the LORD has not made life easy for me, that He allowed me to go through pain. Now as I look back I see His Hand in it all!

How do we face our troubles.
Don’t deny them or forget them.

Embrace them.
Walk with God in them.
Learn the lessons He is teaching you.
Submit to Him.
He will rescue you.
He will make you a blessing. 
He will use you in ways that if He had told you about you wouldn’t believe it.
He will welcome you into His eternal Kingdom.

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Destroy This Temple

Destroy This Temple

Acts 6.12-14

As we read the end of the Gospels and the beginning of Acts, events center in Jerusalem.
Jesus Triumphal Enty, The LORD’s Supper, His Death on the Cross, His Resurrection, His Ascension, Pentecost amd the Day of Pentecost

Let’s talk about this city.
The first time it is mentioned is in the Book Of Genesis, Melchizadek, King of Salem
The final time it is mentioned is in the Book Of Revelation.
The current situation is very interesting but we do not have the time to go into that this morning, except to say to this day it is a very intense city. This is due in part to its past and its future.

Let’s take an overview of it
Abraham sacrificed Isaac there.
David captured it from the Jebusites and set it up as the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago
The Temple was built there.
Jesus died there.
He rose from the dead there.
He ascended back into heaven from there.
He is coming back again and will reign from there.

What Jesus Actually Said

This Temple

This City

Moses never contradicted, rather upheld by Jesus and His followers.

We see from the trial of Jesus, if you can call it that, misunderstanding and outright distortions about what He said about the temple in Jerusalem.
Here are some instances:

1. They Loved Their Temple And Missed The LORD!

Two Matters:
1. Loving the building.
Big issue for them
Samaritan Woman
Disciples impressed. Not one stone, will be left standing on another.
The building came more important than the LORD.
John 11.45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did,believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

I am learning so much from that little church in Haiti. Their “temple” was destroyed and God is raising a wonderful one up! In part because they loved the LORD more tha the “temple”

2. Worshiping the Worship
Worship has changed for the better since the advent of the Jesus Movement.
With the advent of worship bands we have a problem. Things I have heard and hear a lot.
*The worship was fantastic.
*They have a great worship band!
*I love the worship in that church!
Awesome night of worship with this group. Amazing! What is amazing the worship of the LORD? Satan is so subtle!
Music has become elevated above the proclamation of the Word and you will never find that in the Book of Acts! Not even a hint of it!

This was a concern with Solomon in building it.
The heavens cannot contain You!
II Chronicles 6.18 “But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place.

3. Missing the LORD!
Luke 19.41 As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it 42 and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Now He was speaking about the destruction of Jerusalem and with it the temple.

2. There Is Great Ignorance Concerning Jerusalem and Israel Today.  Romans 11.25-27

The Middle East is the scene of last days prophecies. Another reason to believe! How could men who wrote 2,000 to 2,700 years ago possibly know that the population of the earth would be over 7 Billion today, around the world and that that area of the world they wrote about would be in the headlines. We know Paul was on his way to Damascus. We will read about that in Acts next week. The Headlines today are about military action taken this week in Syria. Russia is threatening serious consequences. Syria and Israel and Iran continue to be part of the world’s headlines after being written about in the Bible. Of course Jerusalem, as Israel’s capital for 3,000 years since David captured it remains in the news as well.

What about the Promises of the Old Testament concerning the nation of Israel (btw any Jew returning there automatically becomes a citizen). How do they fit in under the New Covenant?

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
    he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”

Israel is a mystery. Billy Graham said he could prove the existence of God in one word, “Israel”.
We try to figure out mysteries. We must simply believe.
Mystery= hidden thing, secret, mystery, a hidden purpose or counsel, secret with

Jerusalem and His Promises about the Promised Land are part of His Last Days plan for the world.

There will be a New Jerusalem. Revelation 21.1-6

3. Destroy This Temple And I Will Raise It Up In Three Days.  John 2.19

Jesus said these words in the beginning and  they were brought up at the end of ministry.
 Mark 14.55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.
57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.
It didn’t agree because they were fabricating what He said and twisting His Words. See how far the rumor spread into Acts. Rumors continue to enlarge lies.
Of course Jesus was talking about His Body. He was crucified and rose again on the third day.
This is the Gospel.
Jesus died for our sins.
Jesus rose again.
I Corinthians 15.For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,and then to the Twelve.After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

He prophesied His own death and resurrection.

Hebrews 9.27 It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement.
From 25 years of age our bodies stop growing start the slow process of decay. One day we will die if Jesus does not come back first.
We have the promise of the Resurrection of the Body.
I Thessalonians 4.13-18
Paul the apostle wrote to the Church at Corinth... 
For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by the hands of man. II Corinthians 5.1

Destroy this temple and He will raise it up, just like His Body was raised!r