Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sin, Repent, Repeat...*not the definition of grace*

Today, we are a generation and a nation of privilege. We are also a generation of people who preach one thing and yet live another. We are constantly misusing God's mercy. We sin...we repent from our sin...then we repeat the process...this is not what God's grace was intended for.

Have you ever been told an outrageous or ridiculous story so many times that you began to believe it? If you can't think of one I'll help you out a little...SANTA...The Tooth Fairy...The Easter Bunny...We've all believed a crazy story just because everyone else believes it. The modern church tells people that God's grace is enough for us to sin, repent, and repeat.
Romans 5:1-21 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
People think it's okay to accept that it is okay to sin, repent, repeat. Sin introduced humanity to death. One sin. We tend to put that first sin on a whole other level but the sin of the apple is no different than our sin. The wages of that sin and the wages of our sin is still death and hell. Sin brings separation from God. There is nothing okay about sin, repent, repeat. It's not God's plan for you. Sometimes we'll get into a rut where we see ourselves as the worst of sinners...we can't see why or how God loves us...but even in that, it's still not okay. Sin brings eternal damnation to our lives. The sin of one man screwed up all of humanity...sin is a BIG DEAL.
Ezekiel 18:23-32 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die. "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
Sin has the same consequence for a regular sinner as it does a saint. The end result of sin is the same for the world and the church. Having the title of Christian doesn't make it okay to sin now. You might have God on your side but you still have to fight the battle. If a righteous man becomes like the sinner in his lifestyle then he will suffer the same consequence as the sinner. Just because you prayed a prayer it doesn't give you license to do what you want and say that God's grace is sufficient. Think about the woman at the well...he didn't just forgive her sins he told her to "go and sin no more". We have to make an effort. We cannot live a lifestyle of sin...knowing what God says and doing the opposite.
Hebrews 10:26-39 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
He will judge his people. This is a sobering reality to hear God address his people...those who were born again. When we sin we trample on Jesus and his blood. We cannot make excuses for our sin by saying, "His mercy is new every morning" or "His grace is sufficient". We constantly reject him and his commandments to choose our own way. What is a Christian supposed to do? We are supposed to follow Christ...to be a follower of him and not doing our own thing.

Jesus was without sin. He was God but also man...he faced the same temptations and desires and struggles...he dealt with those just as we do...but the difference is that he remained blameless. He is not just our Savior but our example. He showed us how we are to live our lives and that we can overcome our struggles and temptations. We have no excuse to sin.

If you keep repeating...you will never move in your life. If you follow your flesh and your feelings you will end where they lead...hell. Jesus overcame sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is alive and he empowers us to overcome sin and he gives us holy desires.
Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Our sin doesn't reveal a physical problem, it reveals a heart problem. When we sin we are saying "I knew better...but I wanted my own way instead." Who are we to go up against God? God is sovereign...we will fail every single time. He wants us to be free of sin so that instead of worldly things, we will be addicted to him and in love with him.
Romans 1:25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Stop falling in love with the creation and fall in love with the Creator! Stop focusing on what was made and love the one who made it! You were created to go deeper than a cheap counterfeit!
Romans 1:26-2:8(NLT) That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness.
Enough said.
1 John 2:1-6 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Not everyone who calls themselves Christians are believers. So how do you know? Keep his commandments. In a marriage relationship, if a woman says "I love you" and then runs off...the man is crushed...he says "I thought you loved me." She says, "Oh, I do." If she loved him, she would only do good to him. When we sin it's not one consequence it's infinite. If you really do love God then be true to him. If you sin, repent, repeat then you are just like the woman saying, "I love you God" and then running out on him. We will be judged for our actions...we have to give an account.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

He took our place. His blood and his grace IS enough. He didn't free you from sin so that you can go back. He freed you once and forever. He didn't give you license to go back to your sin. That's where the Holy Spirit comes in.
Luke 3:16 John answered them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

The Holy Spirit can often be an after-thought to us. We cannot separate him from God though...he doesn't just empower us...he changes the desires of our heart. He separates the flesh and the spirit...the old and the new. The bible says "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness." That desire is not a natural desire...we don't naturally hunger for righteousness. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to hunger. He fills the void in our lives. You can do your best but even that is not good enough...remember that his strength is made perfect in our weakness. Lay down your pride and realize that you can't do it...when you realize that, the Holy Spirit will be able to come and guide you.

The Tough Side

One of my favorite things it to see young men taking a stand for their faith and stepping up into leadership positions. I had the joy of seeing this happen last Tuesday at the weekly CRU meeting. My friend Logan Canipe taught a wonderful message on the tough side of God. Following up two messages on God's love and God's mercy, Logan wanted to remind us that there is another side of God.

God is our father...and if my dad is like most, then he's fun and loving and caring...but he's also stern. He has authority over me. God is no different. He loves us, pours out his grace and mercy upon us...but he is also our judge. He is a just God. There are several examples of God's justice and authority exercised throughout scripture.

No one ever spoke like Jesus did
John Piper in his book Seeing and Savoring the Gospel says this: "We need to listen to the stunning severity of Jesus’ mercy. It caused people to marvel in his own day. Even his enemies admitted that he was amazingly indifferent to the approval of others.
Jesus didn't care what people thought of him because what he spoke was truth.
Matthew 23:27 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness."
This verse was spoken to religious people. He called them out...used very harsh language. So what is he saying? Many Christians are living lives that are outwardly beautiful but they are spiritually dead. They are doing all the right things but their hearts are not in the right place. He sees right through us. Hypocrites! The exclamation point makes me think that he was raising his voice...it makes me want to pay attention to what he means by this. A hypocrite is someone who says one thing and does another.
Matthew 23:2-3,5-7 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice...They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.
Whatever you are most concerned about is derived from what your heart is most concerned about. Unless your heart is concerned about the things of God, you are spiritually dead and acting as a hypocrite. Nothing we can do on our own will bring us life...we have to dive into God with everything we've got...heart, mind, life. What does your heart desire most?

His justice is also shown when it comes to hell. Hell is a severe place of punishment. It was not meant for us but when we sinned, that was the just punishment for our sin. God could have sent us all there and he would have done nothing wrong...but he chose instead to send his own Son to die so that we wouldn't have to experience the severity of the consequence of our sin.
Matthew 13:47-50 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It is a fiery furnace...eternal torment. Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone else in the Bible....he is concerned with our eternal well-being. God will judge our hearts and lives when we die. If you aren't all-in, then his just punishment is eternal separation and division. Sin makes us spiritually dead. If we are spiritually dead then we can't experience eternal life.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A wage is something earned...we have earned the punishment for our sin which is dead and eternal separation. We were all headed for hell but then Jesus did something radical...he died.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Because he died, we are called to repent and believe. Not just that but we are called to rejoice because we are justified. God is merciful, God is good, God is loving. He is also just and has all authority over everything. Our only response to him should be complete obedience and praise.
Hebrews 12:5-14 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Heaven's Release

Last Sunday I visited CrossPoint Worship Center where Pastor Theron leads. You might remember reading about him last month in the post about Feet. He did an excellent message on Sunday that fit right in with the Thanksgiving holiday.
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Thanksgiving is more than a holiday...it's more than turkey and stuffing...it's a lifestyle. We are thankful to someone.
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
Anyone can say "Thank You" but those are just words. Thanksgiving is about our heart. It's not about what we have in our hand...our stuff...things don't make you a grateful person. Some people have nothing but they are the most thankful people you'll ever meet. Thankfulness is a condition of your heart.
Mark 4:3-9,13-20 "Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."
This parable compares our hearts to soil and the word to seed. The condition of our heart may or may not be conducive to bearing fruit.
Isaiah 55:10-13 "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  "For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off."
Our heart condition determines the outcome of the word in our lives. Things in our life compete for attention(thorns) and smother the seed. Our hearts may be hard and unreceptive...it will not bring forth joy but an ungrateful spirit. Do you have a thankful or an unthankful heart?
2 Timothy 3:1-2 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy
An ungrateful heart is a complaining spirit. Are your thoughts full of joy and thankfulness or are they grouchy and ungrateful? Israel had an ungrateful spirit. God had delivered them out of Egypt and slavery and abuse...but they complained because they wanted to taste the food...they wanted a taste of the world. They magnified the past but forgot that they were in bondage. They would rather go into slavery to have a certain type of food than follow God.

We constantly desire 100% out of life. Anything less and we are not satisfied. The thing is, because this world is tainted by sin...we will never get 100%. We have to learn to be happy with what we have. Don't expect 100% from an imperfect world and sinful people. There's something called the 80/20 rule. We get 80% out of life/relationships...but we are so focused on the 20% that we don't have that we forget what we do have. People will leave the 80% they have to go after the 20%. It applies in work, marriages, and all other aspects of life. We need to learn to focus on what we have...not what we don't have.

We are inflicted with a wrong spirit. We need a new heart to be able to receive what God wants to release into our lives.
Philippians 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
With. Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving(the heart condition, not the holiday) will bring a release in your life. When you release thanksgiving into your life...Heaven releases power into you. Think about when Lazarus died...Jesus stopped and offered up a prayer of thanks to God. After expressing his thankfulness...Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Now remember when Jesus fed the crowd? There were only 5 loaves and 2 fish...but after they prayed and thanked God for the food...it was enough to feed the crowd with much left over.  So often, all we do is complain and tell God just how bad things are...but he already knows...so have faith and thank him for the good and the bad in your life. He will give you the power to walk through.
 
Thankfulness also brings a release of peace in your life. Pastor Theron told the story of his sister praying over the meal and only thanking God for the food she liked. We cannot be selective in our thanks...we must give thanks for everything...including the green beans(or whatever it is in your life that you don't like). There are far greater things to be thankful for than things of this world. The woman who anointed Jesus feet and washed them with her tears had much more to be thankful for than just "things". She was forgiven. The more you are forgiven for, the more you should be thankful for. This woman was thankful for forgiveness.
 
God wants to release his power and peace into our lives but he requires more of us. He won't just snap his finger and save us. Read John 8...the story of the adulterous woman...the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus, no matter his answer. Jesus was slow to respond: "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." The Bible clearly says:
Leviticus 20:10 If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
What gave Jesus the right to send her home in peace? Jesus didn't pick up a stone...even though he was the only one qualified to punish her...because he was on his way to Calvary to die in her place. We are all guilty but we don't have to die or suffer because Jesus became our substitute. The Prince of Peace gave us his peace. He took our guilt.
 
Why are we thankful? Not because of the things we have...but because Jesus is our substitute. He has taken our guilt and given us his righteousness.  Thank God there was ONE without sin. Heaven released Jesus...the greatest gift of all...so that we could live.
 
Not only does he release to us power and peace...but he releases to us his presence. He inhabits in the praise of his people...all the more reason to be thankful.
 
Holy Spirit
by Bryan and Katie Torwalt
 
There is nothing worth more
That will ever come close
Nothing can compare
You're our Living Hope
Your Presence

I've tasted and I've seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart becomes free
And my shame is undone

Your presence Lord

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence Lord

Your presence Lord

There is nothing worth more
That will ever come close
You are our Living Hope

Your presence Lord

I've tasted and I've seen
Of the sweetest of loves
Where my heart is set free
And my shame is undone

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence Lord
(Repeat)

Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
(Repeat)

Lord
Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence Lord

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guilty and Free

Guilt. Shame. We've all felt it and we all deal with it on a regular basis. Maybe it's something that happened a long time ago...maybe it's something that happened 5 minutes ago. Whenever it happened, whatever it was...we all know the dark cloud of guilt over our lives. As Christians, our lives are supposed to be characterized by joy and light not guilt and shame. I've been a Christian for 13 years now and it's something I still do battle with. Sometimes looking at your spiritual life and trying to grow and abide seems nearly impossible when guilt is overshadowing everything. But no matter how heavy your shame...there is hope.
2 Corinthians 5:14-17 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Before you became a Christian...whether you were a church kid or just recently met Christ...your lifestyle was characterized by sin. Maybe now that you are a Christian...or maybe now that you're thinking about becoming a Christian...you feel like you can't or shouldn't be because your past still defines you. You feel like you can't move forward because you are so aware of where and how you've failed that you don't have faith to follow God.

There is a feeling of regret towards our past sin. So much so that we become more and more aware of our past especially when surrounded by fellow Christians/ministry people. We feel like we are out of place...like everyone else is more Christ-like or a better disciple. Let me define disciple for you...a disciple is someone who used to live for themselves but now lives for Jesus. There is a transformation that takes place. You used to live for your own pleasure and gain but if you are now living for God then you have been transformed.

You might be thinking 'That's a great definition but it doesn't help me get rid of this feeling.' I get that...I understand, I really do. Even though you aren't living for yourself anymore, your past still weighs on you. When you try to approach God and abide in him...you feel like your past still haunts you. The memories, the sin, the parties, the brokenness, the sexual sin, the reputation...it all leaves you reluctant to go to Him and be used by Him. Guilt keeps people from faith...from being used.

Our guilt is the result of living selfishly. Jesus died for every single person who is guilty...he died for all of us, for our sin, for our past, and for our shame. As a result, we have all died. The penalty for our past, our sins, and our rebellion is death. Christ died for us and all those who put their trust in him have died along with him. We used to live for ourselves but because we have put our faith in Christ, we have died to ourselves...our desires and we have been transformed into a people who live our lives for God.

We were born into a sinful state. We didn't have to be taught to live for ourselves or run after the things of this world. Think about kids...you don't have to teach kids to complain...they do that naturally. Jesus came while we were still stuck in that sinful state of living for ourselves and he died so that we could live for him.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus took our sin and bore the wrath that our sin deserved so that we could have his righteousness.
Isaiah 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are like crimson, they shall become like wool."
When our sins were paid for we received a new purpose for our lives. We are called to live for him. We can not continue to live selfishly if we are going to live for God. Be "others-focused", be kingdom-minded...these are places to occupy your mind to help you live for God rather than yourself.

If we are Christians, we no longer regard Christ as just a human being...he is our Savior and our King. Before we knew Jesus personally, he was just another person in a history book. We didn't feel him or know the intense weight of who he is or have a desire to live for him. When we become Christians, our view of Christ changes and out of that change, our view of the people around us changes as well.  Are your friendships and relationships all about you and what you gain from them? Your relationships should be about Christ and what the people around you do with Christ. You are to love them as Christ loves you. View the people around you as souls that will spend eternity somewhere. We are to be ambassadors for him...to tell people how we went from being self-centered to Jesus-centered because of what he did on the cross for us.

That's all well and good but it doesn't exactly deal with that gloomy cloud hanging over your head. You love God, you know God and you're trying to grow...but it doesn't find traction in your life. You don't think your life is any different other than not doing 'that stuff' anymore. You don't feel connected or like you can fulfill that purpose because you can't get over your shame and what you did.

Stop. Hold that thought. Or actually...let that thought go. Know who you are in Christ and what happened when you were saved. You have a new identity! You were transformed, your perspective is different. You are a new creation!

Do you see yourself as a new creation or do you see the old you that doesn't seem to have changed?  If you're looking for a huge change in personality to make it obvious to you then you are looking in the wrong place. It's not about a personality change (although that does happen for some people)...you are still going to be you...but you are now you in Christ rather than just you. If that makes any sense. You are a new creation, you are different...you have a clean slate...a fresh start. Your old, selfish, self-centered person is gone and you have a new heart and new life in Christ.

We take our past and guilt and assume that God looks at us as completely guilty. But when our identity is now found in Christ, he sees us as he sees Christ...righteous. He doesn't deal with you based on what you've done. Trust me. If he did that, we'd all be dead. But he is good and sent his son so that we could live a new life for him. We can come to Jesus free of guilt because his righteousness is ours. Your old life is gone...what you did is gone. Push it away...continually, in faith put on your new identity. Leave all of your old life behind...all the activities...but all of the guilt too. Trust God...trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. The old you, trying to do right is gone...the new you has a new affection and love for God and new power through the Holy Spirit.

We died when we became Christians. We were born again...just like you age physically, you also age spiritually...we have to grow into that maturity. Even though I'm 20 years old, I've only been a Christian for 13 years. Your life has now been fundamentally changed...God wants to use you. Satan will try to tell you that you are defined by your past...what you used to do, love and be...but if your faith is in Christ then you are a new creation.

Go to him based off what HE has done and who you are NOW and not what You did and who You used to be. Don't let condemnation shrink away from letting him use you. He dealt with your guilt and shame already...don't try to take it back from him. You are free because of what Jesus did on the cross. Let go of everything that you are holding onto because when you cling to him there is no room for guilt.

Climb
by Will Reagan

I lean not on my own understanding
My life is in the hands of the Maker of Heaven

I give it all to You God
Trusting that you'll make something beautiful out of me

There's nothing I hold on to
There's nothing I hold on to
There's nothing I hold on to
There's nothing I hold on to

I will cimb this mountain with my hands wide open
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open

There's nothing I hold on to

And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who donated to baby Isaac's medical fund!
Over $5100 was raised through your generous support!
Congratulations Katie!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Win a pair of TOMS!

Hey all, I'd like to take the time to spread the word about a couple in my church. Daniel and Mindy Coleman are probably the sweetest couple you'll ever meet.  They just had a baby boy named Isaac who has been diagnosed with Fanconi Anemia. I've known Daniel and Mindy for quite a while and it's been such a testimony to watch them walk this journey with baby Isaac.

God is doing such a work in and through this sweet little family. Thank you so much for those of you who have been praying and following their journey at http://colemansinlove.blogspot.com/ 

We have an opportunity to bless them...Baby Isaac's hospital bills are quite numerous and we want to serve them by helping out. Please check out http://www.knoxmccoy.com/2011/11/who-wants-free-pair-of-toms.html to find out how you can help(and win). Thank you, thank you, thank you! Please continue to pray for them and take a moment to spread the word about Baby Isaac's fundraiser!

Abide In Me

Last Thursday night at Mission 28, we were so blessed to have Tyler LeVan back to speak to us! Tyler is such an inspiration and truly loves the Lord. We definitely miss him while he's at Seminary!
John 15:1-11 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
God. He is more real to us than our own skin.

Verses 1 through 6 implore us to abide. Look at your life...if you aren't bearing fruit then you are not connected. To abide is to keep an unbroken union, to remain, to stay, to continue to cling to, to be constant, to be lasting. God called us to be content, humble, fruitful, and prayerful...there is no room for us to be self-dependent.

We are dependent on the vine for life...and if we are not attached to the vine we become spiritually dead. If we do abide, the fruit will come. In verse one it describes the Father...God...as a vinedresser. He prunes different aspects of our lives and though it may be painful at times, he is pruning so that we will be able to bear more fruit than before.

It's so easy to abide in him when everything is going well in our lives but are you still worshiping God in the misery?
Hebrews 12:5-11 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
We are to rejoice in the discipline of the Lord - when we feel his discipline in our lives, we should be encouraged because a Father only disciplines his children. We are his children. So often our attitude is one of confusion and self pity: "Why is this happening?"/"Why is this happening to me?" It really comes down to will we abide in and through all things? You are as close to God as you want to be...he invites you and is ready and waiting but you have to let him draw near to you.

How do we become more like Christ? Ultimately, this is how we are to live our lives and how we are to abide.
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
 Bible intake. Charles Spurgeon once said, "Prick [a Christian] anywhere and he will bleed Bible." 
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 
 Do you spend enough time soaking up God's word? Do you love to hear God speaking? Do you know his voice? Check out Psalm 19...the whole world is full of creation listening and responding to God's voice.

Another way to abide is prayer. The more we pray, the more of God is in us. If we are all about us then our lives will become disoriented and chaotic. The world never satisfies or fulfills us. God wants to be the delight of our lives.
Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
 He is our reward. Intimacy with him should be our delight. Prayer can be a way to show how much we are abiding...in essence it is our barometer of dependence. Meet with God...spend time with him. 
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
 Do you approach your prayer time in this manner? Do you invite him in? Do you say, "Lord, feast with me today."? Meet with God because your life becomes stale without it.

Obedience is another form of abiding. We must obey...our intimacy is sustained by our obedience to him.

So that's how we can abide...but what is God's heart behind it all. Re-read verses 9 through 11. Joy and love seem to be a recurring theme.
Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
 Do you believe that infinite joy is found in him?
Psalm 4:7 You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.
Even Paul when he was in JAIL...was so full of joy he sang! God is our only source of true and lasting joy.

Love. Just as the Father loved him...so He loves us. The Father is infinite and so is his love. It has no bounds and it is a holy love, passionate and fully sinless.
Isaiah 62:5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
That moment when the groom sees his bride as she begins to walk down the aisle...that overwhelming burst of love is similar to the constant love and delight that God feels toward us.
Zephaniah 3:15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
1 John 4:9-10 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
His response to our sins could have been, "Sorry...you screwed up." and for God to respond that way would have been just. He would have done nothing wrong. He has an anger for sin but a love for us. Ephesians 3 speaks of a love that surpasses all understanding. He could have just sent us to hell for our sins but his love is so great that he sent his own precious son so that we might live.

Your response to his love? Prune off anything in your heart that hinders intimacy with God. Abide in him, read your Bible, pray, and obey.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baptism

This past Sunday night was C4 Charlotte's 2nd baptism service. A number of people were baptized and it was wonderful to see these people make a public declaration of their faith. Tyson opened the service by talking about before Jesus was crucified...when the people chose Barabbas. 
Matthew 27: 25-26 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream." Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified!" And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!" So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves." And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
 For a moment...place yourself in that crowd. Imagine that you are making that choice. You might be saying to yourself, "Oh, I would never choose the most notorious criminal over a man who lived a perfect life." But stop. Every time we choose sin...every time we choose our own way, every time we give in to our addictions...we choose to release Barabbas and send Jesus to the cross. Every time we sin we are releasing calamity and chaos into our lives.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The wages of our sin...the penalty for our sin...it's death. When we choose sin, we release death into our lives. When Adam and Eve sinned, they released death into the human world. I had a nerd moment when I was thinking about this...I think I've been spending way too much time doing math...but it kind of helped me think about it.
Sin = Death
Death = Hell
Therefore: Sin = Hell
Sorry if that doesn't make any sense to you...What I was trying to get at is that ultimately the wages of sin is hell.

So what do you choose? Seems like a simple question and it seems easy to choose the right response...but it's what happens in that moment that matters. We choose Barabbas time after time. We fall into habits and go back to our old ways. We think it's okay because there isn't always an immediate consequence. The problem is that the consequence for our sin may not be immediate but it is eternal.

Thankfully we have a God who loves us enough to send his son to take our place so that we don't have to suffer the consequences that our sin deserves. Death has no hold because of Jesus.

Barabbas was the worst criminal you could imagine. He was every bad thing you could think of...a murderer, a rapist, a thief, a liar...all balled up into one human being. He deserved the worst punishment imaginable...but Jesus was the one crucified. Jesus became Barabbas...he became sin...so that all the punishment that we deserve...that Barabbas deserved...was directed at him and not at us.
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
The debt that we owe for our sin was so huge that we could never even begin to repay it. Jesus paid it for us...in full. Don't let your past sins, your shame, your reputation or your guilt overshadow your future. Don't let it keep you from coming. Don't think that you have to go change everything before you can come to God. Remember that HE is the one who makes all things new. Don't wait...we are not promised tomorrow. Don't put it off. He died and he lives for you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Magnitude of Mercy in the Man Jesus Christ

Tuesday night at CRU, we were privileged to hear from Tyler Miller. He spoke on the mercy of God in response to Darren Russo's message on the love of God. 
John Piper in his book "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" says "The universe exists primarily to display the wealth of the glory of the mercy of God for the enjoyment of his redeemed people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation."
Mercy is defined as "compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power" The end result of mercy is that it provides relief from suffering.God's mercy isn't about making your life easy, it's about preventing the worst suffering you could have ever experienced. The love of God is most greatly displayed in the way he gives us mercy through Christ. We are not able to place our faith in Christ apart from the mercy he shows us.
Ephesians 2:1-5 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
Lets walk through this verse by verse. 

Verses one and two describe our old life. We were dead. Lifeless. Powerless. Sin has the power to hold us accountable of the wrong we do towards God and by all accounts we are guilty.We have all lived this life...this spiritually dead life. No one is born into a relationship with God. You might be born into a Christian family or grow up going to church but that doesn't mean you have a relationship with God. We all have a problem. Pleasure is our driving force and we typically only move toward our current desires.

Verse three talks about the nature of mankind. Everyone inherits something from their parents...whether it's eye color, hair color, or disposition...we all get something from our parents. In verse three we are described as children of wrath. We were to inherit God's wrath...God is just. He has to punish sin...if he didn't he wouldn't be just and if he isn't just then he isn't God. 

Verses four and five are where his mercy is displayed. God averts the coming judgement and makes us alive. We have to be shown his mercy to experience life in Christ. 

We go from spiritual death in verse one to being alive with Christ in verse five. God supplied the mercy...we had the need. Our works don't save us...anything that we try to bring into our relationship with God is nothing more than filthy rags. Jesus is the only sufficient payment. God bought our freedom and paid our debt. 

Think about this for a while...where is your life? Are you dead or alive? Look to God...trust, believe and follow him. Live it out. Are there areas in your life where you make his mercy look cheap? Does your life display the fact that you have been ransomed? What does that even look like? 

There are three ways that we can live it out...
  • Be Mercy - You have been given mercy.
    • Have you ever had someone cut you off in traffic or a roommate who continually does stuff that makes you mad? Extend mercy to them instead of getting upset or yelling. Show them patience and favor.
  • Be Transparent - You are not your own.
    • How many of you truthfully answer the question "How are you?"? Do you hide your problems and put up a facade? Keep yourself accountable. Don't give out the impression that you have it all together. Be honest and let people see the light of God through your struggle.
  • Be Humble - What did you do to deserve this mercy?
    • We did nothing to deserve his great mercy. It is all a gift. Does your life reflect that gift? What you are given is not your own...don't be proud with what you are given.
God's mercy is magnificently displayed in the man Jesus Christ. Let's display that magnificent mercy and show the world.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Rebuild the Altar

Has your mom ever been after you to clean your room? To pick up things and put them back where they go? Sometimes we need to do the same thing with our spiritual lives.
1 Kings 18:20-39  So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, "I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God." And all the people answered, "It is well spoken." Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it." And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened." And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, "Israel shall be your name," and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood." And he said, "Do it a second time." And they did it a second time. And he said, "Do it a third time." And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back." Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, "The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God."
It's a showdown by fire. The God who answers will be the true God. They did everything they could to get their gods to answer but there was no response. When Elijah's turn came to call upon God...before God would answer - he first had to rebuild the altar. The altar is where the physical goes to die and the spirit is born. God's glory is revealed at his altar and it's where he chose to reveal his power.

We want to know, feel and experience God. When we were first born again, we felt him...but along the journey it seems that something shifts, life gets busy and we don't feel him anymore. You have to put the holy things back in their place in our lives so that God will move.

It was only when the altar had been rebuilt and water had consumed the altar that God sent fire. The water is symbolic of God's Spirit. Water is essential for life and the Spirit is essential for our spiritual life.
Luke 3:15-16 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
John the Baptist spoke of Jesus...the one who baptizes in water and fire. With water, you can get dirty again...but fire consumes us. The Holy Spirit gives the power to change, to overcome the enemy and empowers you to speak the truth and take a stand. Don't be lukewarm. Until his fire manifests in your life, you haven't tasted the fullness of life in Him.


1 Kings 18:30-32a Then Elijah said to all the people, "Come near to me." And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, "Israel shall be your name," and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD.
 If you take a look at the tribes of Israel...you'll find something pretty cool.
Reuben - friend/companion
Remember to be careful who you surround yourself with. Don't go back to who you were before by continuing to hang out with old friends. Be careful of the company you keep. (Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.) The company you keep affects your life...don't run away, spend time with believers who are rooted in their faith. You will end up where your friends are going.
Simeon - hearing
What you listen to, what you let in your soul, your music...it affects you. Music was created to worship and glorify your creator...anything else is not okay. Don't think "well, what I listen to is better than what they listen to." We aren't called to be holy as someone else is holy...we are called to be holy as Christ is holy. Be careful what you listen to.
Levi - a joining
Levi refers to something that is joined to. What do you join your body to? The world is out to steal your purity. Satan lead Jesus into the wilderness and offered him the nations of Jesus would only bow to him. Satan offered Jesus something Jesus already had. Satan wants to tempt you. Don't bow to sin to get what is yours in Christ. (and as Tyson says...just put a ring on it first!)
Judah - Praise Yahweh
Take your praise and worship back. As humans, it is our nature to worship something...but what is number 1 in your life? Worship is a lifestyle not a 45 minute jam session at church. Worship is also fear and reverence to your creator. Wholehearted fully attentive surrender.
Dan - judge
When we come to Jesus we recognize him as the sovereign, holy, righteous judge of all creation. But in our sin, we become the judge. Stop judging everyone else. God is your judge...give it back to God.
Naphtali - wrestler
Genesis 32:22-30
Jacob wrestled a man but God was with him. Hold onto God. Don't let go. Don't wrestle to hold onto fears and doubts. Have a passion to keep God.
Gad - good fortune
Remember not to rely on your own strength. Even in the good times when life is easy...remember that God is still sustaining you. Thank him and bless his name even in the good times.

Asher - happiness
Delight in him, remember who He is. Your joy and happiness should be found in him and nothing else.

Issachar - man for hire
Remember that it's not just at church where it matters...In your job too...commit it to God. Don't complain, give your job to God, delight in him and work as you would work for God.

Zebulun - elevated dwelling
Don't focus on the material world...worry about dwelling in the presence of God. We are called to live according to his word, not according to what the world tells us we need.
Joseph - added
Joseph is the one whom God added to. Take your past, your future, your dreams, and your life and give it to God. Stop trying to plan your own way. God is the one who perfects all things.
Benjamin - Son of right hand
Who is at the right hand of God? - Jesus. He is at the right hand of the Father. 

An altar is where you go to die. To restore your life you must lay your flesh down so that the Spirit can live. Take the time to put the things that are holy back in place in your life...rebuild your altar and let God consume you once more.

all night long...part 2

The messages. I'm gonna try to get them all in here so bear with me...might be a longer post than normal. Tyson, Roshan and Chris did an incredible job bringing the word to us.

Tyson spoke first and his message was called "What Burden Do You Carry?"

When Jesus was in the Garden praying before he died, he began to sweat blood as he interceded for us. The burden he carried for us, carried him to the cross.

We are all so good at being busy but are often neutral and lacking motivation when it comes to prayer. We don't carry a burden. Genuine prayer begins with a burden...but often our burden becomes us. When our burden is all about us, our prayer life dies. Our burden should be that of the campus, the city, the lost, our generation and an urgency to see the lost reconciled with our Creator. But do we pray according to our burden?

Almost everyone has at some point heard the Lord's Prayer. But have you ever thought about the deeper meaning behind it?

We pray to our Father in heaven...not on earth...in heaven. Prayer connects heaven and earth. This speaks of the communion between your soul and God. Our God holds everything in his hand...the number of lightyears between the earth and the edge of the galaxy is a number we cannot comprehend, but 1 prayer goes beyond the distance. Even when we don't feel like it...he still hears us.

Why do we pray in Jesus name? If we ask in his name, it will be done. There is no other way to the Father than through the son. Through his son we have access and all authority is in the name of Jesus.

We don't pray TO Jesus - we pray to the Father. Jesus' work is done. He gave his life, he healed us with his stripes and as he took his final breath he said "It is finished." So we pray to the Father in the name of Jesus.
Isaiah 52:13-15 See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness—so he will sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand. 
The servant spoken of is Jesus. Even though he is unrecognizable now, he will once again startle the nations.

So often we pray for healing and deliverance. But we have to realize that we are praying for something that he has already done. He has healed our diseases...for by his stripes we are healed.
Isaiah 53:3-5 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
IT IS FINISHED

We ask him to do something that he already finished. We have to have faith that he has finished it and that his blood is enough. Enough to heal our illnesses, enough to get us through trial, enough for our generation...enough for it all. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't pray or that we should just expect that God will automatically take care of whatever is going on...it means that when we pray we must have faith that God's blood is enough
.

Sometimes we feel like God doesn't answer us. Remember though that he told you what he did. He came, he died, he shed his blood for our sins, our shame, and our disease. He promised he would hear us. Remember also that God might have a different answer than you want. Don't give up because your prayers weren't answered how you wanted it to be answered.

It's not up to us to do anything except pray and trust. This side of eternity isn't always pretty and doesn't always make sense...but one day we will see fully and know that God had each of us in his hands.

Tyson's second message was called "You Are Abel/Able"
Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
God formed man of  dust and then took his breath and put it in us. When you breathe you give up what is inside. When God gave up what was inside of himself, we began to live. Everything you need was placed inside of you from the beginning.
Genesis 4:1-9 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD." And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it." Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?"
Most people know the story of Cain and Abel but do you see the connection between the first passage and these brothers? Adam had already sinned so these brothers were born into sin. Cain was the firstborn...he was a tiller of the ground...the dust came first. (Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground). Abel was the second-born. In it's original language, Abel was pronounced "Ha-bell"...you literally have to expel your breath to say his name and that's what it means.

When we are born we are like Cain - we are born with a sinful nature. Cain is the personification of sinful nature. Abel was pleasing to the Lord and gave God his best. We are sinful to the core but because of Jesus we don't have to live like Cain any longer. With Him we are Abel/Able. When the blood of Jesus is applied to your life...when you are born again...you have full access to the breath of life.

You were spiritually dead until Jesus gave you life. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus...our lives are now pleasing to God. You are able to overcome anything in your life. What is in you is greater than anything in the world. God gave up what was inside of him. He sent his son to us. Jesus died to give us life. We accept Jesus into our lives. He lives in you.

When you have the breath of life in you, you have to let that breath out into the world. This is one point where God reveals himself through creation. In order to physically live, we have to continually inhale and exhale. You have to breathe or you die. That is God reminding you that you are constantly receiving his breath and his spirit but we also have to breathe it back out. There is the power of life and death in your words. We have to be a bold and passionate people who speak life into dead places and situations.

Go after your dream and vision in spite of anything that rises up against you. We have been given everything and more than enough to be the people we were created to be because he breathed into us. The world doesn't have what they need or what it takes. Christians! Wake up and breathe out! Breathe out where you are...you are able to bring hope. Don't wait for the perfect setting. Use your life, use your story to bring hope...breathe him in and breathe him back out into the world.

It's here where my notes start to taper off a bit...Roshan and Chris did fantastic jobs...just hard to take notes after 4am. 

Roshan spoke a message entitled "And Again I Go Unnoticed"

Where is God's favor in my dark place? Sometimes you go to church and see God dramatically in everyone else. But where is God's favor in my life? Sometimes our lives are lives that go unnoticed. We aren't moving or growing. God is there but he doesn't always move in our lives. We are the reason we aren't moving. We become a stumbling block to God's plans. It's up to us to go after God.
Mark 5:24-34 And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, "If I touch even his garments, I will be made well." And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" And his disciples said to him, "You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, 'Who touched me?'" And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease."
This woman had faith...when all else failed, when she was out of money and there seemed to be nothing left for her...she still had faith. Notice that she doesn't wait for Jesus to come find her and heal her, She goes after him!
Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.
Jesus had compassion on this woman. This outcast. Even though the rest of the world had shunned her, he reached out and touched her. She took the initiative and he responded.
Luke 18:35-43 As he drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. And hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what this meant. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." And he cried out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" He said, "Lord, let me recover my sight." And Jesus said to him, "Recover your sight; your faith has made you well." And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Once again, here is an outcast. A blind and dirty beggar. This man began to scream for attention. He knew that Jesus was here and he had faith. Jesus responded to his screams and intervened.

When we feel stuck, like everyone else is experiencing God while we just watch...it's often times up to us to look at our own lives and question if we are pursuing Him. Don't wait for him to show up...he's already here. Initiate the movement and don't let your life pass by unnoticed.

Chris closed us out by talking about trials.
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
It's so easy to pray and praise God when everything is going great in our lives. It's easy to praise him when we are happy. But do you thank him for the rough times in your life? Do you praise him when you are in the midst of struggle and strife? It's important that even when we don't feel like it, even when life is hard that we still give God the glory and thank him for giving us trials that will help us grow.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


All in all it was an incredible evening! God was definitely present and speaking to us. I am so thankful for C4 and the people who faithfully sacrifice their time to serve and follow God's will. The best is yet to come!

Friday, November 11, 2011

all night long...part 1

This past Friday/Saturday was my first experience at an all night service and I have to tell you it was the most amazing experience. We began Friday night at 10 and spent the next 12 hours worshiping God, praying for our campus and our generation and listening to some great messages by Tyson, Roshan and Chris. It was definitely an anointed time and God was very present.

Worship was amazing as always and it was so cool to see so many different people serving and leading us. Many thanks to Ashley, Son Tan, Joel, Omar, Greg, Shawna, Chad, Leigh, Egypt, David, Ben, Kayla, Cara, Tyson and all the others whom I don't know. You were such a blessing.

I've got to talk about some of the songs we sang...they are definitely good songs and I'd highly recommend that you take the time to listen to them. 
Holy Spirit
and many more that I either can't remember or can't find links to =D I think worship was probably my favorite aspect of the evening. Worship has always been kind of my way to talk to God. I grew up doing worship dance and in highschool/college I began to sign during worship. It was so special to me to be a part of 12 hours of worship and I feel like God really touched me during that night.

Another aspect of our evening was group prayer and testimonies...we prayed for the campus of UNCC, the staff, the students...we prayed for revival for the campus and that it would begin in our hearts and spill over. We prayed for our generation that we would rise up and take our place as children of God and not be silent and not fall to the low expectations and standards of the world. There was a time to share testimonies about what God is doing in our lives and at one point we all just stopped to listen to God. We spread out and turned all the music off and just listened. It was a powerful moment and you could really feel God's presence touching each and every one of us. 

Part 2 coming soon...the messages.