Sunday, March 18, 2018

Opening The Windows of Heaven Through Prayer

Prayer and The Windows of Heaven

Acts 4.29-30
29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Prayer is the secret of spiritual strength.
The three greatest needs in the church today are to experience the Power of the Resurrection, the Baptism With the Holy Spirit and the Power of Prayer. In the first four chapters of Acts we see all three of these components dominating the early Church. In fact, in  each chapter in the Book of Acts you have heard me say, “They were either on their way to a prayer meeting, at a prayer meeting or coming from a prayer meeting.”

After this first persecution we see their prayer in vs.24-29. I love how they begin by addressing the LORD God as the One Who created the heavens, the earth and the sea and everything in them. It was His power that did this. It is recorded for us in the first words of the Bible, “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Then the next verses give the order of how He created everything in that first week of the earth’s history. Very important that we accept this for what it says. If we can’t we are going to have trouble with the rest of the Bible.

Proverbs 8.22-31
The Lord brought me forth as the first of His works,
    before His deeds of old;
23 I was formed long ages ago,
    at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
24 When there were no watery depths, I was given birth,
    when there were no springs overflowing with water;
25 before the mountains were settled in place,
    before the hills, I was given birth,
26 before He made the world or its fields
    or any of the dust of the earth.
27 I was there when he set the heavens in place,
    when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
28 when He established the clouds above
    and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
29 when He gave the sea its boundary
    so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when He marked out the foundations of the earth.
30     Then I was constantly at His side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
    rejoicing always in His presence,
31 rejoicing in His whole world
    and delighting in mankind.

So wisdom and prayer and the Word of God are all tied into His Creation... the admonition finishes: (vs.32-36)
“Now then, my children, listen to Me;
    blessed are those who keep My ways.
33 Listen to My instruction and be wise;
    do not disregard it.
34 Blessed are those who listen to Me,
    watching daily at My doors,

    waiting at My doorway.
35 For those who find Me find life
    and receive favor from the Lord.
36 But those who fail to find Me harm themselves;
    all who hate Me love death
I imagine these apostles seeing Jesus instantaneously heal helped them accept the Creation Account as it is written. They certainly used it as jump off in their prayer for power. When we see God work it builds up our faith. When we see the Word of God confirmed the church is strengthened in its faith.

Notice they did not pray for protection. They did pray politically. This is a very non politically correct prayed prayer! They named names!

This prayer was addressed to the LORD God Almighty. It was calling on Him to grant help on the earth in their endeavor to obey the LORD. We need to pray this more!
This prayer is a wonderful model. It opened up the windows of heaven! Prayer originates in the heart from the throne of God. Then it goes back up to heaven and the windows of heaven are opened and blessing flow.

We need to realize that the spiritual blessings are above the material blessings. We are well off here in America. We pray more for physical blessings. Go outside the USA and you will see the church crying out to God for strength, for souls to come to Him, for His Name to be glorified. We need to learn from our brothers and sisters in the third world on how to pray.
Jesus said that His Kingdom was not of this world.
What was it about this prayer that shook the place where they were praying?
What kind of prayer opens the windows of heaven?

1-Believing prayerHebrews 11. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
His existence... He was, He is, He always will be.
His Goodness in action (rewards) = One Who pays wages promised.
When believing prayer is offered and it unites with God’s will mountains are moved! 
We have seen God’s Hand upon us, upon our lives.   We have  seen some amazing answers to prayer. 

Faith is persistent. Luke 18.1-8
The day before yesterday the doctor told Carolyn that she had a leak in her stomach due to a perforation intestine and if it wasn’t repaired immediately she would be dead by morning.. Because the prognosis wasn’t good they life flighted her to a hospital in Columbus for the emergency operation they had to preform on her due to stomach acid that was draining into her abdomen and causing sepsis!   They did 2 scans that showed the perforation and prepared everything for surgery,  Then they did another  scan but this time the perforation was closing.    The doc ordered another scan.   He showed Carolyn and Ray both scans and the doctor told them "  I don't understand,  it seems to be healing itself"   (I love it when doctors say this!)  But it is clear that all the prayers being offered that it was GOD doing the healing.   Tomorrow she’s leaving the hospital! She didn’t have to have the operation because SOMEHOW her perforated stomach/intestine is no longer perforated! Somehow she’s healed....THANK YOU GOD YOU ARE SO GOOD.. thanks for all your prayers from friends and family. 
Many of you probably didn’t even know what was happening. Mostly because everything happened so fast and we were all an emotional wreck.  I cant imagine life if I lost another child. I cant stop thanking God for HIS healing Carolyn and for His wonderful love.  Pearl.

2-United Prayer v.24
United believing prayer is one of the mightiest weapons God has out within reach of His Church. They raised their voices together in prayer to God... they were in one accord...with one mind, with one passion.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4.3)
Coming together in prayer, uniting our hearts together around the purposes of the Kingdom of God is an amazing thing.
The results are out of this world!

3-Definite Prayer v.29
They were specific. They knew what they were asking for.
They were asking for what got them in trouble with the authorities! Christian Sarmiento, “Don’t pray for the presecution to stop. Pray that they will continue to be faithful in it.”

We ought to be specific. We have not because ask not.  (James 4.2)

We have blessing from asking. “Make this Church a Lighthouse to the community.” Thursday night...

3-Christ Honoring v.30
All for Jesus!
This means that the answer is going to be according to the will of God.
This eliminates selfish prayers.
This means that people are going smell the aroma of Christ. II Corinthians 2.15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.

4-Answered v.31
The joy of answered prayer. 
It shakes things up!
It accomplishes it purposes!

Our prayers need to change, take in the lost more. Pray over souls!

Seth Rees
May God give us enough religion to stir things. I would rather make folks mad than to have them go to sleep. It is an awful thing to think of people going to hell as they are, and I put the matter to myself sometimes, and say: "Seth Rees, do you believe there is a hell? Do you believe people are going there? Do you preach and act as if you did?" Most of us do not half believe that the people we come in contact with day after day are going to hell. I frequently preach to men who stand on the border lines of eternity, who hear me preach the last time they ever hear any man preach.
Mad at praying!
The early church depended upon prayer. They prayed to a Sovereign God Who can do anything! 
Let’s pray!
May there be a demonstration of the Spirit’s power!

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Church The Way It Ought To Be

The Church, The Way It Ought To Be!

Acts 2 .42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

There is much being made out of what the church ought to be in the United States today. Conferences, Books, Seminars. 

You will notice this chapter is all about Jesus. He said that He would build His Church.

I get concerned when the church is spoken about before Him. He is the head of the Body. I am impressed with what He is enabling us to accomplish but if we get the church before Him, if we talk more about a certain gathering or group or even association or denomination than we do about the LORD then we have missed the mark! It is all about Jesus. 

Another way of putting this is in the question, “What is exalted in the Word of God?” The LORD Jesus Christ.
We have worshiped the worship rather than the LORD in statements like, “The worship is wonderful!” We are exalting the instruments. Now we are talking about how spectacular of great a particular church is and we are missing the mark of exalting Christ. God help us. 

If you took away the building, the ambiance, the lights and the technology and were just left with the people you would not change it one iota that is church! People loving Jesus and loving one another is the church. He is supreme! He is the One! He is what we are all about. He is building His Church.

 Believe this comes from believers who are more experiential than they are grounded in the Word of God. How we need to fix our eyes on Jesus these days!

What are we to do with the church?

Where then is a description of what the church ought to be? Right here in God’s Word!

1. A Devotion To The Word of God.
The Apostle’s teaching was about what Jesus began to to teach, the “opening up of the scriptures” like on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24)  and things the Holy Spirit were showing them. “Did not our hearts burn while He was on the road with us and opened the scriptures to us?” Luke 24.32

We have the Apostle’s teaching  (Paul, John, James and Peter and Matthew. Mark and Luke) in our New Testament.

We need a steady intake of His Word, everyday. Would that we could go back to meeting everyday!

The church, the believers, there in the first church to form at Jerusalem devoted themselves to the Word of God.

If that is not present then it is not the way God intended for the church!

Many teach from the Word. We have attempted to teach the Word.

God’s Word is under attack today within the church!
Educated men who ought to know better questioning God’s Word.
Believers not grounded in the Word expressing opinions.

Our culture is shaping the view of the Word many have rather than the Word shaping our culture. Our own nation has laws against God’s Word. God help us. We do our best to speak out but as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “I’m talking about Christ and the church.” 

2. A Devotion To Fellowship

fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation
  1. the share which one has in anything, participation
  2.  intimacy
    1. the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office)
  3. a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship

Bind Us Together
We Are One In The Bond Of Love
The Family of God

This is a caring and loving group being described by this word. The church ought to be the Safest Place On Earth. Here people should come and not be afraid to confess their sins, share their burdens, open their hearts to the things that they are hurting over. They should be able to do that and be fully excepted and loved as a follower of Jesus Christ.

New Spirit Group for recovering alcoholics... “LORD, I messed up this week. Please forgive me.”

Everyone who is part of the Body of Christ gets an equal share. Everyone’s opinion is important, who loves the LORD.

We are Christ’s Body.

3. A Devotion To Sharing Meals

We don’t see it here is much But in many places in the world where I have traveled eating is more than just taking in food. It is sharing in the lives of the people. It is eating their food and drinking their tea or coffee.

Hofstra law school graduation for Rudy Jr. 2015
“If you cannot drink my tea, you cannot have my business.”
-Justice Sallie Marzaret Daniels, quoting a business person in the Far East

First We Have Coffee book about Norwegian Immigrants to America 1900

What happens in our Bagel Time downstairs is important. It may be one of the most intimate times we have. Ladies are baking and cooking and preparing with their own hands and bringing it for all of us to eat. Then we sit down and talk to each other.

Eating together in the time if the early church still hallens in much of the world. Meal times are not hurried. Their main purpose is to take in nutrition but right behind that is taking time to talk, to listen, to stop, together.

Ordering Chinese Food vs. McDonalds when I was growing up is a perfect example!

4. A Devotion to Prayer
Colossians 4.2
to adhere to one, be his adherent, to be devoted or constant to on
to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing
to continue all the time in a place
to persevere and not to faint
to show one's self courageous for
to be in constant readiness for one, wait on constantly

So much could be said of this. The church is to be a house of prayer for all nations.
We seek to do that when we meet during the week and in our homes. When we are together let’s pray, not forced but if the LORD is leading us to...

Pastor Johnson this week... beautiful! Right outside the nurses’ station. PA excused himself for interrupting. 

It is so important...
For us
For our faith to be expressed
For our faith to be strengthened

  1. Let’s continue to seek to be this kind of church!

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

All that Jesus began to do and to teach

All That Jesus Began To Do And To Teach

Acts 1.In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.

The Bible is full of beginnings.

It begins with a beginning! 
The Beginning of Creation in Genesis 1
The Beginning of the Hebrew (Jewish) Nation in Genesis 12
The Beginning of the New Covenant in the Gospels
The Beginning of the Work of Christ Building His Church Acts 1
The Beginning of the New Heaven and the New Earth Revelation 21-22
The Bible ends with a Beginning!
He is the beginning and the end!

All that Jesus began to do and to teach...
The four Gospels... so much more John 21.25
v.2 Began
Outline of Biblical Usage:
to be the first to do (anything)
to be chief, leader, ruler

"began" is the key word here.
The Gospel of Luke is the story of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus Christ in the earth. His teaching, His works. The idea conveyed here is that the ministry of Jesus Christ did not end with His ascension into heaven. But He continues to work and teach, only now, it is through His apostles. “I will build My Church.”

What Luke is saying is that the works of Jesus and the teaching of Jesus continues. He continues to work and teach, only now it is through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the lives of the believers.

Thus the book of Acts of the Apostles is an open ended book. It continues to the present day, and will continue until He returns.
The work of Jesus continues today throughout the world.
 Jesus said in John 14, "He that believeth on Me, the works that I do, shall He do also, and even greater works than these shall He do, because I go unto My Father."
The book of the Acts of the Apostles is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke/ the work of Jesus.

1. Jesus is the Trailblazer/Author of Our Faith.  Hebrews 12.2
Author= one that takes the lead in any thing and thus affords an example, a predecessor in a matter, pioneer
He did.
He taught.

We do it through His power.
Ephesians 2.10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We find our greatest contentment and joy when we are walking and working in these things. Now your greatest work could be prayer. I am convinced that much is accomplished by those who lift up prayers to heaven.

These prayers and God answering them enable God’s servants to do His work through His Spirit. 

We teach through the Spirit
Billy Graham had a prayer team praying each time He preached.
Whenever anyone asks me what I need I say, “Pray that I will have wisdom.

What an Amazing Teaching and Healing Ministry He Had!
Continuing to work through His Church 
Hospitals around the world
Bible Colleges

2. Jesus Opened Up the Way to The Father.

John 14-17 detail that. 

The curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Matthew 27.51

We can come boldly to Throne of Grace. Hebrews 4.16

There is one Mediator between God and man- the  man Jesus Christ. I Timothy 2.5

3. It is the Beginning

It is a time for missions and what a time it is! vs.6-8

It is a time to be concerned about the whole world.
That is what Jesus is saying to the disciples then and now. His Eternal Word.

Just here in this little church... Our Sunday Morning Message is being read around the world and used in places by pastors. France, Italy, Russia, The Ukraine, Germany,  Romania, Brazil, South Korea, Poland, Argentina, VietNam, China, Spain, Sweden, Norway, United Arab Emirates, and many other places.

Mission vs. settling

New Beginnings

Haiti 3 1/2 years, my 7th trip a week from Tuesday. 

Friday,  February 9th
I woke up with this song in my heart:
Come, let us worship the LORD,
For we are His people, the flock that He shepherds

My thoughts had gone several times before and after as I laid in bed thinking about the upcoming trip to Haiti. My mind went back to that meeting downstairs in the living room, when I was 14 years old, sitting in that rocking chair at that Teen Missionary Council Meeting with Dr. John Stark, Hope Crawford and Don Arey and myself. 14 years later I became the Pastor and moved into this house. They did not even have Work and Witness trips back then.

16 years later I went on my first Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic. We stayed with Pastor Lyswa Renee, a Haitian refugee who had come to the Dominican to work for a $1 a day plus housing in Dominio Sugar Cane Fields. He planted the Church of the Nazarene there on the Lima Bayta.  On that Sunday in January, 2000 when he was bringing us to meet up with the other pastors to go back to the mission station he pointed to the mountains and said, “Haiti”

14 years later I went to Haiti for the first time. It was God’s plan, although I had no idea what He was going to do. A week from Tuesday, Pastor Maurico and I will leave around 4:30am and head into Kennedy and prayerfully, God willing land in Port Au Prince by noon and meet up with Pastor Jorge and another brother.

Added to that my daughter and son-in-law and grandkids and nephew and niece have all joined me on trips prior to this one along with about 40 souls now.

1988 Cairo, Egypt conversation with Art about short term missions.

Technology into Muslim nations
To the ends of the earth!
Michaelle, the cook, with a little cell phone, showing me a Christian song on her phone.

Here too! Drug Crisis, Immigration, Dessert Social
Pray we will find that place God wants us in and that this fellowship would touch the hearts of the people in the heart of the South Shore of Long Island.

God is still working beginnings, 2nd chapters, new things


Sunday, February 4, 2018

From Nothing To Everything

From Nothing To Everything

John 21.1-14

Family Feud Game
Name something that would make you rich overnight.
Going from nothing to everything.

Night fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

After His Resurrection He revealed Himself to those He chose to reveal Himself to. It was not for public viewing. It still is that way.  We need to submit to His Authority here, with ourselves and others we are praying for. He is an all wise God.

His Revelation is Amazing. 
He comes at times when we desperately need Him.
He shows up when we reached the end of our hoarded resources.
He meets us where we are.

We see Christ revealed in this account as we close our journey in John’s Gospel.

1. After  A Night Of Failure vs.1-5

Following Peter, they caught nothing. 
Peter was making a career decision here, leading others with him. With so many of my friends retiring I am being asked the question about my own retirement. Being led down a path that is not for me would be letting others or myself make the decisions, not God. Jesus told them He would see them in Galilee when they were in Jerusalem.
They were waiting and wondering. Peter got restless. We have to do something!

We know at least three of these were fishermen who left their nets to follow Jesus. Thomas, we are not sure of, Nathaniel definitely not as Cana is about 20 miles from the Sea of Galilee.

Disappointment, defeat, struggles, even pain prepare us for new manifestations of God’s Wonderful Grace.

Failure in business can be good preparation for spiritual and future success. 
Lessons they learned in failure:
*We cannot do it on our own.
*We need direction from the LORD and faith in His Word.
*We need to continually look to Him.
Their work was a failure because the LORD was not with them or in this venture.

Night, not just a time for fishing, but a season in the disciples’ lives. That morning as the sun rose there was the darkness of their failure.

Notice a few things.
Weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30.5

Jesus was standing there but they did not recognize Him.
That was Jacob’s story. Genesis 28.16
Too often it is true of the followers of Jesus.

God loves to write last chapters. He puts commas where we often put periods.

What seems like an end can be a new beginning.

What was a wasted night turned out to be a complete turn around.

Don’t let failure be the end. Look to Jesus!

2. Jesus works miraclesv.6

I love the way He asked them if they had any fish... anything to eat.
Totally honesty here.”No”

He was turning their failure of fishing all night and catching nothing into a complete success. 

Their obedience and faith produced a great catch.

Total defeat turned into unprecedented success. Joseph is an example, a grand example. 

In a moment He turned their failure into an overwhelming success. 

Joseph went from the prison to the palace in a day.

God brought his family to him... in His Time.

Genesis 41.50 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.”

The difference between success and failure was the width of the boat! You never know how close you are to victory, to a tremendous blessing! It could be just a few feet or inches!
Spurgeon told how he got depressed right before a great blessing came from God.

3. We can see Christ in Everyday life.  vs.7-14

Supplying our daily bread. We need to recognize that He is the provider, the supplier. So much easier to recognize it in third world countries. We have a problem. Our wealth has an appearance that we have all we need. Conversation this week with some young people

The Laodecian Church thought that way and actually bragged about it. Israel fell into that trap. God had warned them. They serve as examples for us.

There is always a new day when Jesus shows Himself to weary souls.

His Providential provisions.

Philippians 4.19

The hopeless things in our lives and in our nation and in the world can be changed in a moment by Jesus. All that is needed is His Word or His touch. It may be closer than we think. He is able to take us from nothing to everything!... in a moment, in a few steps across the boat... if we listen and obey.