Category Archives: Bible Studies

AN URGENT WARNING TO HEAVEN’S CITIZENS


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A person becomes an automatic citizen of a country by birth. Our first child born in Africa was Austin.  He was born in the Kalalushi Mine Hospital.  After Austin was born the hospital gave us a hospital report of birth.  We took that report to the Office of Births and Deaths in Lusaka and received a Zambian Certificate of Birth.  Those documents then went to the US Embassy in Lusaka were we were issued a Report of Consular Birth Abroad and a US Passport with Austin’s picture and details.  Austin was born in Zambia yet he possessed all the rights and responsibilities of a United States citizen even though for the first four years of his life, he did not step foot in that country.

This is an illustration of what Paul is writing about in our text in Philippians 3:17-21.  Philippi was a strategic Roman colony located in northern Greece along the land route to Asia Minor. Though far from Rome, this colony enjoyed all the rights and privileges of Rome.

Paul is making that case that this is true of us as Christians!  We are born-again abroad! But we are citizens of heaven – right now!  We are living as visitors, aliens in a foreign land because our citizenship is in heaven.

This being true, it is very important how we conduct ourselves!  We all look at people we know from other countries and take into account who they are, how they live, and what they do to give us a point of reference – right or wrong – to identify that country.

Citizens of heaven are responsible to live lives equal to their privilege and position. (Eph 2:4-6). Citizens of heaven are to live holy lives because of who they are and because of what they hope to be!

Paul here issues three instructions that carry with them a degree of warning for all Citizens of Heaven:

IDENTIFY THE DISCIPLES (17)

To identify disciples, you must identify the right pattern of living!   Paul instructs them to watch him life and example and then find others who believe and live like he does:

  • Paul was not trusting Inherited privileges or personal achievements rather than Christ (4-7).
  • Paul was not a proselyte from paganism,  he was circumcised on the 8th day – an 8-dayer. Paul was an insider by birth.
  • Paul was racially a pureblood of the People of Israel. He was of theTribe of Benjamin – only tribe to remain faithful to David, also the tribe that returned to the land after the captivity.
  • Paul was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” which simply meant he would have received the best education he spoke Hebrew and Aramaic.
  • Paul was a Pharisee, a separated one who voluntarily committed himself to keeping hundreds of commands from the oral law.
  • Paul was zealous! He led a terror campaign against the church, hunting down those he viewed as heretics, arresting them and seeing many of them executed.
  • Paul was blameless, he led an exemplary life according to Pharisaic traditions.

Paul was not trusting in His own righteousness (8-11).  He was not trying to make himself acceptable to God by the keeping of the law.  Rather he was trusting in the imputed righteousness that Jesus Christ gives.

Paul was passionately grasping after Christ (12-14). This speaks of an intentional straining toward the goal, a reaching out to grasp the thing that Christ grasped me for… (Ill: 4×100 relay). When we lean on His power (10), learn from His pain (10) and rest on His plan (12) we grow closer to Christ.

Watch for others who walk in the same way!

A call for discernment – note those who walk like Paul in relation to the gospel. Discernment – to tell the difference between two things. The sound judgment that takes possible the distinguishing of good from evil and the recognition of god’s right way for His people. (1 Ti.4:2)

  • Word – speech, how you used your tongue
  • Conduct – how you conduct yourself in your daily affairs – in your home, with your children, at work.
  • Love – selfless love that reflects the nature of God.
  • Spirit – the internal motivating force that controls the inner man.
  • Faith – how you respond to God in the midst of trials
  • Purity – holiness, living lives separate from the world.

Follow their teaching and example!  This is a call to fellowship – “join in following” and a call for evaluation – following my example.

So let’s apply what we have looked at so far:

  • Is your obsession Christ?
  • Are your friends those who are obsessed with Christ?
  • Have you discarded the rubbish in your life – desire for position, confidence in achievements, so that you can really know HIM? People who hug garbage are not considered normal by citizens.

IDENTIFY THE ENEMIES (18-19)

To get the full weight of what Paul is saying here we must understanding the severity of the term used:

  • He didn’t say they were nice guys, just confused theologically. He didn’t call them brothers in sin. He termed them enemies!
  • They are inwardly and overtly hostile to the cross – what the cross means, what it accomplished!
  • The word is directly associated with war!
  • Their hostilities are directed toward the very essence of all Christ is and what He accomplished! These people are at war with the cross! (1 Co 1:18 thus the power that brings us salvation, Gal 6:14 the power that gives us victory over the world, flesh and the devil.)

The warning is to be taken seriously!

They are many! The danger is so serious that the warning is repeated often!

Jesus

Mt. 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Mt.24;11 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.

Paul

2 Ti.2:16-18 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

Phil. 3:2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

Col. 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Peter

2 Pt. 2:1-3 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

John

1Jn.4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

I Jn.2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

Jude

4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Identifying the enemies of the cross

Let’s consider them in reverse order: Paul begins with their end and moves down toward the root cause of them being enemies of the cross:

  1. Their mind is rooted in earthly things – all of their thoughts, desires, dreams, priorities and ambitions are earthly, fleshly. (19c)
  2. Because of this they glory in the things that they ought to be ashamed about (19b) – specifically sensual excesses especially sexual ones. They return to the immoral pagan practices of the their former life. (Rom. 1:32, Jude 18)
  3. Their god is their belly – bodily desires and sensual delights push out the Divine and takes his place as the god that they serve. The pursuit of comforts instead of pursuing Christ. Beware of any pleasure that stands in the way of your passionate pursuit of Christ!
  4. They end in destruction – the war that they wage will be lost, the cross will prevail and these will be eternally damned in the lake of fire, separated from God throughout all eternity – No wonder Paul’s throat got tight and tears welled up in His eyes! Weep my friends, weep! (Jude 14-15)

Their walk indicates that they are enemies of the cross. Their lifestyles deny the claim they once made as children of God. They view as foolish the passionate pursuit of Christ and cross-centered suffering. How can you say you love someone and not warn them?

Now note the CONTRAST between these enemies and the true citizens: “BUT”

LIVE LIKE CITIZENS (20-21)

Remember where your citizenship is located!

You belong to a place with a different ruler – serve a different master. The place where Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  You belong to a place with different laws, you are expected to live a different way. Defines the expectations of how we are to live. A place with different rights and privileges – The place where you enjoy all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the homeland.

Remember you Savior Jesus Christ is coming for you! (1 Cor. 15:52)

We live in eager anticipation of the return of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is coming at any moment – imminent return of Christ. The dead will go first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet him in the clouds. (I Cor. 15:51)

Remember that your earthly body will be transformed into a glorious one!

His work on that day to transform our fallen, sin-prone bodies into glorious bodies like His!  No more sin, no more pain, no more death, no more temptation, no more crying, not more weakness, no more decay! We will be like Him for we shall see Him as He is!

I can’t wait for Jesus to come! O come Lord Jesus is the deep cry of my heart! The only reason why I would hesitate to plead for Him to come back today is that some of you are not yet citizens of heaven! When He comes it will be too late for you, and I love you and so much want you to be in heaven with me!

A final exhortation:

  • Beware of false teachers who afflict the church today!
  • Don’t be tempted to trust in some earthly or fleshly achievement for your salvation! This is a false hope and a false gospel!
  • Live like a citizen of heaven! Are you setting an example that others can follow?

Today Marks Two Years Of Ministry For Kitwe Church!


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Kitwe Church exists to glorify God by making gospel-centered, reproducing disciples of Jesus Christ.

Our identification as Christians is not national, ethnic or cultural, our identification is that we are children of the King. The church is the place where the world can see in microcosm what the Kingdom of God looks like.  People from every “tribe, tongue and nation” together in gospel unity for the purpose of bringing glory to God!

There are people in Kitwe and its environs who are not being targeted by any existing church. Some are Zambians who have been turned off by “the church” and have nothing to do with it. There are also people living in our city who are from Chinese, Indian, South American and European backgrounds who are effectively unreached by an intentional gospel witness.

Kitwe Church sprang from a burden to reach out to all of these groups with the gospel. In 2014 Philip Hunt family and the Nathan Washer family banded together with the blessings of Faith Baptist Church of Riverside to begin an evangelistic Bible study outreach. Kitwe Bible Study Fellowship held the first meeting on February 23, 2014 at the Polo Club next to the Agricultural Showgrounds in Kitwe. A small handful of unchurched people attended that first Bible study.

For the first three months an apologetics approach was taken that answered questions and arguments about Christianity. The remainder of the year was Bible studies from the Gospel of John explaining the deity of Christ and the need to submit to Him for salvation. During this same period the children were being taught a survey of the Bible using the various stories from Creation to the return of Christ.

A variety of people began to attend the study, and began to invite their friends and acquaintances. Visitors came to the study from Kitwe, Chingola, Mufulira and Chiliabombwe. Attendance grew during the first year from a handful to between 40-50 people each week.

In December 2014, the executive committee from the M.O.T.H.S Club in Parklands reached out and invited our Bible Study Fellowship to use their hall at no charge. The change in venue coincided with a spike in weekly attendance.

Jamie & Mandy Smith joined the leadership team in December 2014 and plans were made to transition the ministry from a Bible Study Fellowship to a church plant that would be known as Kitwe Church (www.kitwechurch.com). In early 2015 the Bible study transitioned from an informal Bible study to a more structured service format. A music team was organized and congregational singing was incorporated. Attendance continued to grow through the year with a high attendance in 2015 of 135 attendees. By the middle of 2015 Kitwe Church opened a bank account, began to collect offerings, instituted Small Group Bible Studies and began a monthly teen activity and Bible study.

Several people have professed faith in Jesus Christ, and in December 2015 the first baptism service was held with 9 persons following Christ in believer’s baptism. A series of messages were presented the second half of 2015 that dealt with all aspects of local church membership, structure and duties. During the last quarter of 2015 the Elders completed work on a doctrinal statement and adopted a Church Covenant, Mission Statement, Core Values and a Church Constitution.

The first Membership Orientation will be held the first three Sundays of March 2016 followed by a Chartering Service scheduled for Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016.

We are thankful for what God has done over the past two years and eagerly anticipate what He will continue to do in the years to come!  Our goal is to Know Truth, Love God & Serve Others! If you reside in the Kitwe area and do not have a church you call “home” please join us this Sunday!

Sermons From Kitwe Church Available For Download


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Each week the sermons preached at Kitwe Church are uploaded to our SermonAudio.com church page.  These mp3 audio files are available to stream online or for free download.

Here are links to the three sermons from our most recent short series on Qualities Required In Church Leaders.

 Qualities Required in Church Leaders Part 1

Qualities Required in Church Leaders Part 2

Qualities Required in Church Leaders Part 3

Please get in touch if you have questions or if we can be of help to you.

If you are in Kitwe and don’t have a church home, please visit us this Sunday!  We meet at 10h at the MOTHS Club on Kuomboka Drive in Parklands directly across the street from ZNBC Television Studio.

 

The Prerequisite for Spiritual Passion


alivebright_1024x1024The Prerequisite of Spiritual Passion

Text:  2 Kings 4:1-7

Since we have arrived in Zambia, I have heard several people make comment about wanting to experience a spiritual breakthrough.  It seems to be a common expression here and around the world, but what do people mean by it?  Well, there are many things, but here at Kitwe Church, what do we mean by it?

What is a Breakthrough? A breakthrough is a major advancement in your life.  Breaking past an obstacle that once hindered you.  Shattering that glass ceiling in your spiritual life to reach new heights. Some of the people who have said this to me were people who were not yet believers.  They know they need something bigger than themselves to make sense of the circumstances they face in their lives. Others who have said this to me are people who are genuine Christians.  They have experienced God’s power.  Many of them have even experienced great victories in their personal spiritual lives.  God has even used them in great ways for ministry.  However, they are now going though a spiritual slump.  They feel like God is far from them.  They want to experience God’s closeness and power again.  They want to be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others…but they have become discouraged and disillusioned and wonder if God will ever use them again.  They need a breakthrough.

Often in sports we use a different phrase to express this desire for a breakthrough.  When you see an athlete who wants to move to the next level from secondary school team to the university team, from University to the professional teams, from the minor’s to the major’s you will often here the coach ask, “How hungry are you?”  They are asking about passion.  They don’t want someone who just wants to look good in a uniform.  They want someone who is passionate for success.  They want someone who wants to give what it takes to be a winner, not just reap the rewards of being a professional – the fame, the fortune, etc.

Well, as Christians, we should be hungry for victory also, not just satisfied to look over past victories.  We want spiritual breakthroughs.  We need to be hungry for God.   The question for today is: Are you hungry for God?  How bad do you want spiritual victory? That is what we will be looking at today.

Today we will examine our hearts to see if we are hungry for God; to see if we have a passion for God and His kingdom.

When there is a transition of power in Lusaka, there are new occupants that enter the State House.  The old residents leave and the new ones move in to make their home there.  Not long ago President Sata’s family moved out so President Lungu and his family could move in. I don’t know how much changes in the State House during such a time of transition, but in America almost everything changes.  There is always a period of transition designed to allow the new residents of the White House, particularly the First Lady, to redesign, remodel, redecorate and refurnish the White House according to her personal taste. It is understood that the taste of the new first lady is often very different from the taste of the previous one and so part of the transition is to allow her to reconstruct the internal elements of the White House according to her particular liking. But for that to occur, the old must first be emptied out so the new can come.

Years ago an American Pastor named Tony Evans preached a series on this topic that greatly impacted me and I later adapted it for a series of my own that I preached in the States.  Now I want to pass these truths on to you.

Today we are going to consider the prerequisite of spiritual passion.

As you probably know, the word prerequisite is just a big way of saying a requirement that must be met before you can participate in something new.  For example, in school before you can enter a university program there are some prerequisite classes that must have been taken and the student is required to have already completed grade 12 of secondary school.  Finishing grade 12 is a prerequisite for starting school at a university. Well, today we are going to look at the prerequisite for spiritual passion.  What do you have to have in your life before you can truly have a passion for God and be used by him?  What is the prerequisite that you must have before you get your spiritual breakthrough?

In order for you to have a break through; in order for there to be room for the new thing that God wants to do inside of you, the old things must go. You see, it is hard for a new thing to happen inside of us if we are still crowded out with the old things.

In our passage today of 2 Kings 4:1-7 we have a short but powerful story of scripture.  It is about yet another lady in crisis.  She is in a desperate situation.  She needs to hear from God in the most urgent of ways. Join me in seeing how this woman faced 5 struggles that tempted her to doubt God – to lose faith in His goodness and power.

1. The Problem v. 1-2 The first two verses outline the problem for us. Let’s look at this crisis a little closer.

A. She is in emotional pain – her husband has died.

B. She is in financial pain – the creditors have come.  She didn’t have enough money after his demise to make the payments.

C. She is in physical pain – she was hungry.  The refrigerator was empty.  There is physical debilitation when there is no food.

D. She is in maternal pain – the creditors have come to take her children as collateral to pay her debt.

E. She is in spiritual pain.

When she comes to Elishah, listen to the pain in her voice.  “My husband, your servant, feared the Lord…”  In other words, my husband’s spiritual beliefs and our present condition don’t match up. (He was an adult son of one of God’s prophets). Perhaps you can identify with this lady in one or more of these areas.  If you are in any of those categories and any that I have not yet mentioned, then this message is for you. We are told that this woman cried out to Elisha.  Her pain drove her to the preacher because her need was from the Lord. Her pain drove her to the Lord as her final option.

Now, what the text does not tell us is whether she went to Elisha first or if she went to him last, but this is something worth considering because there is a difference – a big difference. I don’t know whether Elisha was the first stop on her road to recovery or if she had been to the bank already and been turned down.  Whether she had already been to government agency and been declined, whether she had been to friends and family and been rejected before it occurred to her, I better go to church. I don’t know whether it happened that way or if it happened with her realizing the desperate situation she was in and then turning to God immediately.  But I know it was serious because she was not calling for an appointment. I know someone has a serious concern when they show up at my house in tears.  I know they are serious when they call and ask me if I can come to them at that very moment.  What they want is to hear from God and they are hoping I can help deliver that message. The text says she cried out to Elisha.  Why? Because she wanted Him to tell her a message from the Lord.  In the midst of her problem she focused her eyes on the problem solver – Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides.

2. The Problem Solver – God

Now, you will notice that this point is not addressed in any specific verse in our passage, but it becomes clear when we understand the core values of the Jewish culture of that day and the mindset of the Jewish religion.  So, let me share some details of the Jewish worldview with you. In Judaism you could not approach God directly.  You always went through a mediator.  If you wanted to speak to God then you went to a priest who would pray for you.  He would intercede on your behalf and offer sacrifices for you to communicate to God.  However, if you wanted to hear from God you would go to a prophet, because God spoke to His people through prophets. This woman thought – a prophet speaks on behalf of God. Sine the prophet spoke from God, she wanted to know from the prophet what God had to say and what God was going to do to alleviate her pain, solver her crisis and give her a breakthrough.   She went to Elisha to get to God because her situation was bigger than any man could fix.  Her situation was larger than the normal programs of life could resolve.  The creditors were at the door to collect her most prized possession – her children.  She had nothing…absolutely nothing…except God!

Now, here is an important lesson for us all. You will never discover that God is all you need until He is all you have.  No, as long as you have your own resources and ideas you will rely on them.

So let me say it again, You will never discover that God is all you need until He is all you have.

When you get to this point in your life you don’t pray formal patterned prayers anymore – you cry out.  You don’t conform to “high church” culture.  You abandon protocol and you cry out.  When you get in such a desperate situation that you recognize God is all you have, you don’t care what people think of you.  You don’t care if they think you are professional and sophisticated anymore – you cry out.

When you hear the Bible talk about crying out you are hearing desperation.  Sometimes the Bible says someone spoke or someone said.  But when you hear the Bible say that someone cried out you are hearing someone who is very serious, someone who is desperate.  This person recognizes their need and will not stop until that need is met. Think of how a baby acts when it is hungry. When that baby gets hungry enough it is not whimpering.  It is crying out.  It wants all to know that it needs to be fed.  It wants food..not a pacifier. God tells us in His word, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit.  Blessed is He who hungers and thirsts after righteousness for he shall be filled.”

Let me tell you now the principle that we must not to lose sight of and that principle is this:  The amount of your emptiness will determine the amount of your filling. 

So, why are we not seeing more of God’s power, more of God’s presence, more breakthroughs’ that can only be as a result of the hand of God? The answer is simple…We’re too full!  Now the question is, “full of what?”  Usually it is good things that we substitute for the best thing. When God allows a problem or a trial to come into your life, one of its primary goals is to make you hungry.

The problem is that when God brings things into our lives to make us hungry for him, too often we will settle for something less than God.  It is like being filled with ice cream & cake instead of being filled with meat and potatoes.  Both will make you feel full, but both will not satisfy your need for real nutrition.  Sweets are what, we call in America “junk food.”  We settle for a sermon snack here, a song snack there. We settle for encouraging words and compliments from others.  We look to our husbands and wives to meet the needs that only God can fill.  Is marriage a good thing?  Of course!  But not if we let it become an idol.

All of these good things will only disappoint us when it comes to times of trial, but God will not.  In our times of trials, too many of us settle for spiritual sweets instead of the bread of life!  Our trials are meant to drive us to Jesus Christ – the bread of life! God desires negative circumstances to drive us to Him.

Before the age of digital cameras, people used to take photographs with film.  The film would produce an opposite picture of what actually had taken place.  Things that are really black would look white on the film and things that were really white would look black.  A professional photographer would have to take his film into a dark room.  The reason he had to take it into the dark room where it is pitch black is because a photographer’s goal is to turn a negative into a positive.  He goes into the dark room in order to take raw material and turn it into a finished product.  It is dark inside there.  It is lonely inside there, but it is purposeful inside there because the darkness is designed to get you ready for the dark. But not only is there darkness in there.  There is often cutting and pasting of the photographs.  They are being cropped to get the desired result.

That is a good description of how things are for us when we go through trials.  It is like we are the film and God has us in a dark room.  When God has you in a dark room and there is no light it is because he is trying to take a negative and change it into a positive, but the question is how hungry are you. This woman was in the dark room.  So she cries out to the preacher.  Why?  Because she wanted to hear from God the prophet’s job was to say “Thus says the Lord.” The prerequisite to spiritual passion is spiritual hunger –  the prerequisite is emptiness.This woman was empty!  Her emptiness made her hungry for God!  She wanted her breakthrough.

The question for today is: are you hungry for God?  How bad do you want God? This woman wanted it so bad that she cried out and she was serious.

So what answer did she get?  She was about to go through a faith building process.

Let’s take a look at the process.

3. The Process v.3-5

Get jars from your neighbors. Get more than just a few! That sounds like something we preachers would say doesn’t it?  Leave it to a preacher to tell you to do something that doesn’t seem to have any connection to the circumstances you find yourself in, right? Can you imagine what was going through her mind?  “Elisha, come on now.  Are you crazy?  I came to you for help and you give me this.  I don’t think you understand.  I need money, not a bunch of borrowed pots.  I am empty!!! “And Elisha says, “I know.  Now I want you to get all the additional emptiness you can.”

Now please follow what I am saying.  I am going somewhere with this.  He says, Call you neighbors and multiply your emptiness.  Take your emptiness, go to your neighbors to get their emptiness, and then bring their emptiness into your house. Some of us have multiplied emptiness.  I know my family does right now.  Another way of saying that would be, You’ve got a mess, your family’s got a mess.  Have you ever said, “Everyone wants to bring their problems to me and I’ve got my own.  I have enough to deal with myself.  I don’t need their emptiness.”

Remember the principle; the amount of your emptiness determines the amount of your filling.  If you are empty and there is emptiness that surrounds you – your neighbors, your family, your church family – when God connects your emptiness with their emptiness what God is doing is increasing the possibility of your filling because the amount of your emptiness determines the amount of your filling. What the preacher did was give her a new perspective – a new way of looking at things; a different approach to a normal problem.

We all have debts of some kind, we all have pain, we all have crisis; but his answer was not the same answer that she would have gotten at a bank or a psychiatrist or from a politician.  He comes up with the thought of increasing your emptiness.  And now she is faced with a question:  Do I believe the man of God?  It all boils down to that.  “Do I believe that what he is telling me God is what God is telling him?”  Do I believe that what he is saying comes from the mouth of God?  It is a matter of faith!  Without faith it is impossible to please God. All those that come to God, even those who come crying out, must first believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.- Hebrews 11:6

The question now is, do I believe Him – do I believe God, because when it comes to getting your blessing or your breakthrough God will often use odd methods to validate…to prove whether you trust Him or not.

If you are looking only for logic when it comes to living the Christian life you will find yourself often confused because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, as high as the heaven is above the earth so is the difference between us and God.  So when it comes to your spiritual breakthrough, when it comes to seeing God do what you need done in your life He may get you to take on new emptiness and new problems before He fixes the things you came to him for and you must step out on faith.  You must obey when you don’t feel like it.

How many of you use an alarm clock to wake you up in the morning?  I am not a morning person.  I have to use an alarm or I will miss appointments.  I love staying up late and working into the late hours of the night, but you see, especially in Zambia, everyone else seems to be an early riser.  When your alarm went off this morning saying to you it is time to get up, many of you, particularly those of you who are not morning people, decided to obey the alarm even though you didn’t feel like it.  You didn’t want to get up at that particular time, but the alarm went off and said it is time.  So even though you did not feel like you wanted to, you crawled out of bed and started getting ready to come to the church service.  Even though the alarm went off and may have interrupted one of your nicer dreams perhaps keeping you from the full 8 hours you desired to have you decided to obey the clock and got up because you wanted to come to worship God and hear from Him.

Well, trials are God’s alarm clocks for our spiritual breakthroughs.  Often God’s alarms go off at what we would consider the wrong time.  Often God’s methodologies seem to ring in the wrong way.

The question of faith is never the question of feeling.  The question of faith is never “how do I feel right now about what God has said to me.”  It isn’t that those feelings aren’t real.  They are real, but the question of faith is a matter of believing God.

Faith is always acting like God is telling the truth.  By the way, God always tells the truth!  We must then take action based on his truth.  That is faith – ACTING like God is telling the truth. If you get up when the alarm rings you have acted properly no matter how you feel.  We have to get to the point where we trust God to change our feelings when He asks us to act in faith.  We have to trust Him to change our attitudes from not wanting to do what He tells us to do because we believe that if we do what He tells us to do He will change how we feel about it. Well, this lady was hungry – literally and spiritually – because her crisis was deep.

You say, “I’ve been hungry for a long time.  I’ve been waiting a long time for my blessing – and it only gets deeper.  Things seem to be worse rather than better.”

Well remember, the amount of your emptiness will determine the amount of your filling.  So if your emptiness is getting deeper that means God is going to poor more into it when He fills it. So Elisha says to her, lady you go out and get your neighbors empty vessels and don’t miss the point.  Don’t get a few!!!  You go get additional emptiness. Have you ever noticed that when you get hungry enough sophistication doesn’t matter anymore?  You do not care what people think of you.  Have you ever seen sophisticated, important, serious people real hungry?  You know, beggars on the street aren’t concerned about how they appear.  They aren’t worried about how begging is not the appropriate way to get the money they need to get their next meal.  They are out there on the street in the cold, in the hot, letting you know that they are desperate.  They have a need! When you get hungry enough you aren’t worried about what everyone else thinks.  This woman became a public spectacle.

How do you get your neighbor’s vessels? You have to ask. Everyone knew she had nothing and yet her children came around asking for empty vessels as if they had something to put in them.This woman was so hungry that the text says in verse 5 that she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons.  They were bringing the vessels, the pots, to her and she poured.

She was hungry enough to obey the word of God.  Therefore they began pouring the oil into the vessels. How does this apply?  What does that mean? If you are going through a trial, I know you are hurting yourself, but the problem is that if you are like me, often when you are hurting you think there is no one who exists but me, myself, and I.  When you are hurting yourself it is then time to become a minister to others, specifically others who are facing the same thing you face. When God sees that you are willing to not only cry out for your emptiness, but willing to pick up the emptiness of others then you’ve given God that much more to fill up for you.  You see when we are so focused on our own needs we forget everybody else, but when we desire not only to receive a blessing but to be a blessing God sees within us his own heart.  It is more blessed to give than to receive.  We have joined Him in His desire to bless those in need. Go to your neighbors find how you can be a blessing for them too, how you can intercede for them too, how you can minister to them too.  Increase your emptiness. You know, we don’t collect emptiness.  We don’t look for opportunities to go to our neighbor and see their empty pots; after all I have the same problem.  But oh, when God sees He can minister through you and to you He can’t wait to pour out those blessings, which is exactly what he does for this woman! Well, this woman stepped out on faith and she engaged in the process that God laid out for her.  Now let’s look at the result.

4. The Product v 6-7

In verses 6-7 it says, And it came about when the vessels were full that she said to her son bring me another vessel and he said to her there is not one more and the oil stopped.  Now you’ve got to picture this miracle.  This is what I call a breakthrough.  She has one little jar of oil.  That is all she has, but here is what God did.  As her sons brought in the pots that they had borrowed from the neighbors she poured the oil into the pots, but the oil kept coming.

All she had was one jar of oil but when she cried out to God for herself and was willing to take on the emptiness of others God multiplied the little that she had.  Now little was not little anymore.  Just like the song says, “Little is much when God is in it.” Pot after pot after pot is filled with oil.  She calls out for another pot because she got the point.

The oil will keep flowing as long as emptiness keeps coming.  When that is happening who wouldn’t want more emptiness?  But her son said there are no more pots and then the oil stopped.  Elisha said don’t get a few because he knew what God would do.  What was once empty is now full.

Then Elisha gives her a business opportunity because faith never means sitting down and doing nothing. Waiting on God does not mean being inactive.  It means being trusting.  It means do what you should do while you wait for Him to do what you cannot do.  Be active while waiting for Him to do what ONLY He can do. So, Elisha says, “Go sell the oil and pay the debt.”

Now, where is this oil located? In the pots.  Who do the pots belong to?  The neighbors.  Who is she going to sell the oil to?  The neighbors because the oil is in the pots and every housewife had to have oil.

Here are a few lesson we can get from this story:

A.  When God blesses one person that blessing flows out to meet the needs of others. At this time in Israel’s history the kingdom was going through tough times.  It is likely that most of these neighbors were lacking sufficient oil also.  Some might have had maize, some might have had tomatoes or other plants, but been lacking oil.  Now, by meeting this woman’s need God has also met the need of those around her.

B.  God had the solution before she came with her problem. Here’s another truth here that applies to our situations as well. The solution to her problem already existed before she cried out to God.  In other words, the answer to her prayer was already in her house and she didn’t even know it because she didn’t have the eyes to see it yet.  It was there all along but it just hadn’t been sanctified or set apart of God yet.   The answer was already there she just didn’t have the spiritual eyes to see that the prophet Elisha could already see. She hadn’t gotten empty enough yet.  She thought that just because she was hungry that she was hungry enough but until her hunger broadened beyond her, to consider others beside her, she did not see the depth of how hungry she could be nor the miracle that God wanted to perform. But when she got God’s divine eyesight everything changed.  You see, some of our breakthroughs are already in place.  God has already got it situated.  We just don’t see yet.

C. The blessings stop when the emptiness stops.  When we get filled with things then the blessings stop.  We need to view ourselves as clean and empty pipes that the blessings of God can flow through to meet our needs and the needs of others.

D.  When the blessings come, we must take care of our obligations first. She said, HELP!  I have no money. The creditors are coming to take my boys. Now notice what Elisha tells her.  Elisha said, get out of debt and you and your sons can live on the rest.You know, the tendency when you get a blessing is to forget your responsibility.  He says, You go and pay your debt and when you do there will be enough money left over for you and your sons to live on. She went to God for a debt break through, but he gave her that debt break through with a bonus.  That’s when you know it is from God, because it is exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask or think.  He gives you what you requested, but because your emptiness increased by taking on the emptiness – the needs of others – He multiplies that.

So here we are at the end of the message and again I return to the big question.

How hungry are you?

Now, I know you want God’s blessing.  But are you hungry enough to passionately pursue God and be used by God to passionately help someone else.  Are you that hungry as an individual?  Are we that hungry as a church? Are you hungry enough to go into God not caring about what others think of you and cry out to God because you view Him as your first and last resort or are you still trying things without Him because if you are you aren’t hungry enough yet.

So, what are you going to do with what you have heard today.  Have you recognized the things that you have been settling for?  Have you recognized the things that are crowding out what God wants to do in you?  Are you ready to get ride of them?  Are you ready for some emptiness?  Are you willing to take on the emptiness of others? Or are you going to leave here the same as you came.  You got your sermon snack for today.  You will be back for another next week?

I hope we will all leave here having met the prerequisite for spiritual passion.  I hope we will all be empty enough to be hungry because the amount of your emptiness determines the amount of your filling.

So again I ask, Do you want God? Are you hungry for Him?

To listen to the audio of this message go to http://tinysa.com/sermon/719151242202

(I am appreciative to Dr. Tony Evans for his message by this same title which inspired much of what you have read here.)

How To Walk Worthy of Your Calling


Walk Worthy.001

In our series on Discovering the Church we have looked at four pictures of the church. We have seen the church as a family and the goal is maturity.  We also saw the church as a field – the goal being the quantity of our fruitfulness. We have seen the church as a building the temple in which God dwells and the goal here is quality! Last week we saw the church as a body and the goal is unity.

The church is a called out assembly (ecclessia) of people who share one thing in common – faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls. Those of us who are in the church are there because God sought us and called us out! So how do we live up to our calling as the body of Christ and walk in unity?  This brings us to our text for today, Ephesians 4:16:

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

  • The Person – I. He is the founder of the church
  • The Promise – Will
  • The Process – Build
  • The Possession – My. Jesus is the owner of the church, he is the Head of the Church.
  • The Product – Church
  • The Power – the gates of hell will not overcome the church!

The book of Ephesians is about what the Father is doing: In the Heavenlies – Through the Church – In Christ – By His Spirit – For His glory – forever (3.21)

What He is doing through the church is calling and redeeming a group of people and:
• Forming them into a Body for His Son to lead (1.22-23)
• Building them into a Temple for Himself (2.21-22)

So that by the Church which is His body and temple, He can:

• Display His grace, kindness, power and wisdom
• Dwell in her fully in such a way that all of this results in the praise of His glory!

In Chapters 1-3 Paul explains what we must “know” about what God is doing in through the church. Now in Chapters 4-6 he explains what we must do based upon what we know!

In Chapter 4.1 Paul beseeches us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

  • Walk – speaks of our way of life, conduct. A constant and consistent manner of living
  • Worthy – corresponding to. This word is used of the balance beam on a scale. Put something on one side, put something on the other side that will equal or balance it.

Let me be abundantly clear at this point: Conduct does not precede conversion!

Phil. 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

This morning we want to consider how we can walk worthy of our calling in the church. The main thought of this section is found in v1 & 3:

“Walk worthy of the calling (1.1,3-6,11,2.5-6) with which you were called… endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

A walk worthy of our calling in the church is one that maintains the unity of the Spirit. In our text Paul gives three ways to walk worthy of our calling in unity in the church.

YOU WALK WORTHY WHEN YOU REFLECT THE CHARACTER OF GOD IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE. (2)

Forbearance

To endure, to kindly tolerate. William Barclay describes this attitude as what you would see in an old dog being pestered by a smaller, younger puppy.

Romans 2:4  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

We express this when we are wronged, when others have an unreasonable complaint or grievance or quarrel with us:

  • We are to put up with those who complain against us
  • We are to put up with those who irritate us
  • We are to put up with those who argue against us.
  • We are to put up with those who sometimes attack us.
  • We do all this because God has rooted and grounded us in love! (3.17)
  • We will have to love one another enough to put up with each other when we are irritated by someone else in the body!

Long-suffering

Long-suffering means to bear under for a long time, to delay wrath, to not break forth with angry words or violent deeds.

1 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

We are to patiently endure these difficult people in the way God patiently and graciously endures wicked rebellious men over a long period of time. (Ga5:22)

We must respond to those who irritate us with long-suffering, we do not respond with resentment or retaliation.

Gentleness

Reluctance to avenge wrongs. To suffer long will require that we develop a gentle and controlled response at all times toward others.

Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Lowliness

This gentleness requires that we think biblically about ourselves this is the essence of humility.  Lowliness was a degrading term in Greek culture used to refer to a groveling servant.  This term was taken by Christians to represent a distinctly Christian virtue.

Two examples:

  • Jesus – I did not come to be served but to serve…
  • Paul – “a bondslave of Jesus Christ…

To rightly esteem other people in the body and their opinions and ideas as more important than your own.  All this because we love them!

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

YOU WALK WORTHY WHEN YOU BELIEVE IN THE GOD OF THE BIBLE (4-6)

This “one body” – the visible church (1.23) has a theological foundation. It is founded upon spiritual truth – doctrine!

One Spirit (4)

It is the Holy Spirit that gives life to the body. That Spirit is the soul of the body without Whom the body cannot exist.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

The Spirit is the pledge of our inheritance (1.14)

One Lord (5)

One Jesus Christ – to whom all true Christians owe allegiance.  There is one faith in one Lord unites all believers. There is one baptism by water is the external seal of incorporation into Christ’s body

This includes all people of every race, color, language, background, both Jew and Gentile.

Acts 4:12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

One Father (6)

There are not many gods but one true God and Father of all – all speaking of His paternal relationship through creation (1Co.8:5-6).

  • Above all – He reigns over all
  • Through all – In His creative activity
  •  In you all – He is everywhere present. Specifically he dwells in those who have trusted Him through His Spirit.

1 Corinthians 8:5-6 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

YOU WALK WORTHY WHEN YOU ARE DOING THE WORK OF MINISTRY (7-16)

People – Equipping by gifted men (7-12a)

  • Apostles and prophets – laid the foundation of the church (2.20).  A foundation is laid only one time.  Jesus is the cornerstone for that foundation.
  • Evangelists are the missionaries who pioneer outreach in areas where the gospel has not yet been proclaimed.
  • Pastor-Teachers are the shepherds of the flock, teachers of the Word. Speaks of local church ministry.

Process (12)

Pastors perfect > Saints serve > Body builds

Product (12c-16)

Equipping results in spiritual maturity (12c-13,15)

The body of Christ is built up (12c). Each one comes to the Unity of the faith – This is a goal to be reached

The depth of a church is determined by the quality of worship and instruction. The breadth of a church is determined by its commitment to fellowship and evangelism.

This unity will come with an increasing knowledge of Christ. In this way the church comes to maturity. Individualism is seen as a mark of immaturity. “Perfect man” – manhood.  To the full measure of perfection found in Christ. When a baby is born the head is unusually large in comparison to the rest of the body, as it develops the body grows in due proportion to the head.

Spiritual Maturity produces spiritual stability (14-15)

We are to abandon childish attitudes. We are to grow out of childish instability in what we believe. We no longer are tossed around by every wind and wave of doctrine. We are no longer susceptible to the deceit and craftiness of false prophets. We understand there is no unity in compromise, there is no unity in false teaching. The church cannot allow falsehood to go uncorrected yet the truth is vindicated in accents of love (15)

Spiritual stability results in spiritual service (16,12b)

The aim of these ministries is the equipping of all God’s people for service. (12b) Christ is the One out of whom all Christians grow. As each part works properly the whole body is supported in the way it needs. We must be what we are in the body, not for ourselves but for the benefit of the other members of the body.

“Half-hearted Christians are the most miserable people of all. They know enough about God to feel guilty, but they haven’t gone far enough with Christ to be happy.” – Ortland

It is time to grow to maturity!

Each of us would do us well to place ourselves on God’s scale to see if we are walking worthy of our calling. May we “endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This means we must collectively work hard and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Do you need to commit to growing up spiritually – to maturing in the body of Christ so that you do your part in supporting the other members of the body.

Download the mp3 audio for this message here.

Download the .pdf notes for Walk Worthy Of Your Calling

BIBLICAL BAPTISM – AN ORDINANCE OF THE LOCAL CHURCH


Biblical Baptism.jpg.001I have entitled this study: “Biblical Baptism – an ordinance of the local church” (listen or download) because my intent this morning is to appeal directly to Scripture to get a clear understanding of this important and often misunderstood subject.

An ordinance – authoritative order, a religious decree. There are two ordinances given by Christ to the Church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

There is much confusion about what baptism represents and what baptism does. Today we are not appealing to traditions or opinions we want to go directly to Scripture with a heart that is open to God showing us His truth.

John 7:17 says “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.”

Just to be clear about what I am referring to when I use the term: baptized or baptism. The word Baptism or Baptized in the New Testament means to place a person under water.

Baptism has beautiful spiritual significance as we will see in our study.

In order to discover what Scripture teaches about baptism let’s answer a series of six questions:

What Is Biblical Baptism? (Romans 6:1-8)

Baptism is a picture of the DEATH, BURIAL, & RESURRECTION of the Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor. 15:1-4)

The Holy Spirit baptized each of us into Jesus Christ when we were saved. (Gal. 3:27)

Baptism is the believer’s confession and identification with the Lord Jesus Christ. ILL. Wedding Ring

Biblical Baptism is the believer’s statement of faith that in Christ they are “dead to sin” and intend to “walk in newness of life.” (Ro. 6:4)

Baptism is an act of obedience on the part of the believer. (Mt. 28:19)

Baptism is also an expression of the believer’s love for God. (Jn. 14:15)

Who Should Be Baptized? (Acts 2:41)

Those who are saved by believing in Jesus Christ. (Acts 16:25-33).

What is Biblical Salvation? (John 3:14-18,36 with Numbers 21:9, Romans 10:9-11,13)

You can be saved and not Scripturally baptized (thief on the cross), but you can not be scripturally baptized and not saved. (Luke 23:39-43)

This is Believer’s Baptism. In the Bible, water baptism always follows salvation.

  • Cornelius – Acts 10:47-48
  • Ethiopian Eunuch – Acts 8:35-38

How Should One Be Baptized?

Understanding the terms: In the Greek language the language most of the New Testament was written in, there are three different words used:

  • “Echeo” – pouring water
  • “Rantizo” – sprinkling water
  • “Baptizo” – to dip under the water, to immerse.

In the New Testament, the only word ever used for baptism is “baptizo” – meaning to immerse, dip under the water.

  • Jesus was baptized by immersion. (Matthew 3:16)
  • John the Baptist baptized by immersion. (John 3:23)
  • Philip baptized the Ethiopian by immersion. (Acts 8:38)

Baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and can only be pictured by immersion. (Romans 6:3-6)

Comments on baptism:

Martin Luther (Lutheran) – “Baptizo is a Greek work and may be translated immerse. I would have those who are to be baptized to be altogether immersed.”

John Wesley (Methodist) – “Buried with Him in baptism – alluding to the ancient manner of baptism by immersion.”

John Calvin (Presbyterian) – “The word baptism signifies immersion. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the early church.”

For the first 250 years, the early New Testament church always baptized by immersion. Scholars of all denominations admit that in the original meaning and in the New Testament use, baptism meant immersion.

It was not until AD 1311 that the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Ravenna made sprinkling or immersion allowable.

It was not until 1644 that the Church of England adopted sprinkling by a vote of Parliament.

When Should One Be Baptized?

As soon as you can after you are saved. (Acts 2:41; 16:31-33; 10:44-48)

Where Should One Be Baptized?

In the local church. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion) are the two ordinances of the local church. There are no private baptisms in the Bible, with the exception of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8.

Why Should One Be Baptized?

Jesus has commanded you to. (Mt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 10:48)

  • Command given by Jesus.
  • Command relates to all nations.
  • Command is given to the local church.

Jesus did as an example to us. (Matthew 3:16)

The early New Testament Church did. (Acts 2:41)

REVIEW:

Believer’s baptism:

  • Baptism by immersion is ESSENTIAL not to salvation, but to obedience. (Jn. 15:4)
  • Baptism by immersion is IMPERATIVE – it is not optional (Acts. 2:38).
  • Baptism by immersion is a BLESSING to be enjoyed not a burden to be endured. (Acts 8:39; 22:16)

BAPTISM BY IMMERSION!

Here is the pdf download Biblical Baptism