Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Passon 2012: Session 4 - Taking God At His Word

I can't help but think that God is doing crazy things...only halfway through the sessions and already I feel like a different person. After listening to Francis Chan, I've never been more excited about getting in the word and reading the Bible myself.

It was also cool to learn that not only were there 45,000 people in the audience, but there were another 45,000 people tuning in online! 50 different states and 96 different countries! The word is being spread! Praise God! Not only that, but we were reminded that human trafficking and slavery isn't just an international issue...it's a local issue. It's a real problem in America. Passion met with the Mayor of Atlanta...and told him that we wanted to get behind him on the issue of stopping human trafficking in Atlanta. So we are helping to fund a brand new police task force in Atlanta, Georgia. A special victims unit for child exploitation to help stop and prevent human trafficking in Atlanta. We are going to be able to give $100,000 to this cause. It's the church, serving our leaders to the ends of justice. How good is our God! He goes beyond all we can ever imagine! God doesn't just speak English, he speaks the World!

Francis Chan spoke tonight and I have to say that he is probably one of the most passionate men I've had the privilege to listen to. It took a bit to even get to the message because of how excited he was about what God was doing just through worship. The beauty of it is that he hears us! He hears us when we worship him and he is coming again! Do you understand the weight of that? Jesus Christ coming down in all of his glory with all of his angels. He's really coming back like that! Picture that! He quoted from Revelation 5, talking about the hundreds of thousands of angels worshiping God and then saying how beautiful was the sound that 45,000 young people make when they worship God. Think about worship from God's perspective...he has thousands of angels all singing out their worship to him and then he looks down. Does he see a people who are concerned with ourselves...if we look dumb or not? Or does he see a people who says "forget about me, I just want to get lost in the crowd and tell you that I believe Jesus really died and rose again and that's why I'm here."? We need to forget about ourselves and want everyone else to forget about us and just see God. We need to be so focused on God that others can't help but see him when they look at us.

Let your prayer be that of surrender. Surrender your day to God...allow and ask him to interrupt your life and show him what he has for you. Desire him, believe that he hears you. Pray for enlightenment. Open your hearts and your eyes as you open his word. Pray for clean hands and a pure heart. We get so concerned with other opinions and when we care about things other than God, our hands are unclean and our hearts are impure. We are too reserved and we care too much about image. But we are an army of believers and we see 27 million people enslaved right now...we could end this thing...if we refuse to be reserved. Human trafficking is an ugly thing to talk about...you're going to have to get ugly to put a stop to it. Even calling it human trafficking is too nice of a way to deal with it...call it what it is...little kids are being sold and raped right now. We can't be casual about that! We have to do something! We have to give our lives! We can't be concerned with how we look, we have to get out there and be unashamed.
Romans 1:16a For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
We like to think about ourselves as being unashamed. But there are a lot of times when we are ashamed of the gospel..when we're in the grocery store ore on an airplane, or out in the yard talking to our neighbors, or at work talking with our coworkers. We certainly aren't ashamed of the gospel when we are with other believers. But we have to want to be a people who are never ashamed of God. We should be a people who are so excited about God that we can't help but talk about him all the time. Pray that you would be unashamed...pray that you could be God's mouthpiece...and that he would take away all sham and image and concern from your mind.

I think that one of the most important things for you as a Christian is to read the book for yourself. Just read the Bible. Read it over and over again. We hear so much noise all day long...and so many lies from the world. The word of God...we need it in our minds. We have to be consumed with the word. We need the word so much in our minds that we act like someone from the word. What have the believers in the Bible done? Let your mind be that of those in the Bible. Get serious about it and believe in the promises that are in there. Have faith that it really did happen. You need to believe that there really was a dead man...being carried out...and that Jesus really did step in and say 'arise' and we can talk to that same God right now. Believe it! Believe that you can reach out and touch him too. You need it. Read. it. Live it. People will lie to you. Religious people will lie to you...but unless you are in the book, you can't tell they are lying.

Francis Chan told about the time two Jehovah's Witnesses came to his house. He listened for a minute and then asked if he could tell him about the things that God was doing in his life and how God was answering his prayers. One of them responded that God doesn't listen to everyone. He agreed that she was right...in James 1 it says that if we don't have faith he won't listen, or if we have selfish motives he won't listen. In 1 Peter 3, if you don't treat your wife with honor your prayers could be hindered. Or in Isaiah 58 that you could fast and pray but if you don't care about the poor he won't listen...so you are right...he doesn't listen to everyone but he listens to me. He told them that the week before he was preparing for a conference where they go and care for the poor and make 10,000 hot meals but they didn't have any meat or any money. They have been praying all week...and an hour after the announcement was made that they didn't have anything to give...Trader Joe's called and said that all of their freezers had broken down...and could they use all of the meat. Then a giant U-haul pulled up loaded down with chicken and pork chops and steaks. Isn't God awesome!? The lady looked at her friend and said lets get out of here. They started walking away...and he went and walked with them! He cared about those ladies...he wanted to tell them about what God has done...story after story...asking them how they could explain that God answered prayer after prayer. One of them said "What are you...a Pentecostal?" He responded with "It doesn't matter, all you need to know is that I'm a human just like you and I read the Bible for myself...study it and then I pray to God and that God listens to me." She responded "Well that's your problem...you read it for yourself. You can't understand it unless one of our leaders explains it for you." But that is the real problem. They didn't believe that the Holy Spirit is real...and there is power in the book...he can speak to you. You put your faith in people to tell you what it says...but you can't trust people to tell you the Bible, you have to read it for yourself. God will tell you what it says when you open the book for yourself.

Don't look down on those ladies for not reading it for themselves. Do you know the book well enough? How  do you know that your pastor or Louie Giglio or Francis Chan or John Piper or Tyson Coughlin or Jon Shea or Mickey Connolly or Joe Lechner are telling you the truth if you don't know it for yourself?! I'm not saying that you can't learn from those men, they are all incredible men who study God's word for themselves...but for you to be able to own scripture for yourself, you have to know scripture for yourself! Don't spend time searching for the best preacher or the most popular or passionate or scholarly or entertaining or expressive pastor...read it for yourself! God tells you himself! You have to be on your guard and know the Bible well enough to know when someone lies to you.
1 Kings 13:15-24 Then he said to him, "Come home with me and eat bread." And he said, "I may not return with you, or go in with you, neither will I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place, for it was said to me by the word of the LORD, 'You shall neither eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by the way that you came.'" And he said to him, I also am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you into your house that he may eat bread and drink water.'" But he lied to him. So he went back with him and ate bread in his house and drank water. And as they sat at the table, the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back. And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, "Thus says the LORD, 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD and have not kept the command that the LORD your God commanded you, but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'" And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back. And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body.
Francis Chan made me laugh when he said he read that and thought 'well that sucks'. But it's true! Here is a man of god who had heard from God...but then another prophet came along. There is deception! This is what happens when we rely on men instead of the word of God.  I don't want to be like Adam and Eve...deceived by the devil who tells me that God wouldn't really do that_____. We as humanity tend to try to beautify everything. Take Noah's ark...every picture ever drawn is this cute little painting of the ark with two giraffes sticking their heads out of the window and everyone is happy. But does anyone paint a picture that includes all of humanity drowning? Where are the dead bodies in that nursery mural? Did we forget that it's a story about God killing everyone on earth? It flows with his nature. He tells us what he is going to do and then he does it! Take him literally!!
1 Kings 22:6-23 (story continues until verse 40) Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?" And they said, "Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king." But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?" And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Ther eis yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil." And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say so." Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, "Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah." Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them. And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, "Thus says the LORD, 'With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.'" And all the prophets prophesied so and said, "Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the kind." And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, "Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably." But Micaiah said, "As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak." And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, "Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?" And he answered him, Go up and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king." But the king said to him, "How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?" And he said, "I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, 'These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.'" And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?" And Micaiah said, "Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, 'I will entice him.' And the LORD said to him, 'By what means?' And he said, 'I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' And he said, 'You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.' Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you." 
All 400 of those 'prophet's were liars! Don't ignore the truth just because it isn't what you want to hear. Do you know God's word well enough to hear and say 'That's a lie' or do you trust what you hear? You can learn from people but we can so easily be trapped into thinking that someone is telling the truth because they have a PhD or they say something in Greek or Hebrew and we don't know the difference. Listen to what they say but look at their lives too. Do they remind you of Jesus? To answer that, you have to know what Jesus looked like...you have to read the book. You simply have to read the book.
2 Timothy 4:1-4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
Too many people have stopped paying attention to scripture and instead are searching for someone who will just tell them what they want to hear. You might be doing this already. If you work hard enough, you can justify anything with the Bible...you twist what the Bible says to fit you. You fight for what you want but you don't want to know what the book says...you just want to use it for what your heart desires. Do you care about truth or do you want to twist the truth to justify your selfish desires?

Just read the book. God is faithful throughout the book. We make everything in the Bible so controversial. There were probably people in Noah's day that when God said he was going to flood the earth they tried to say that he didn't mean a literal flood. They told people what they wanted to hear instead of listening to the word of God. Then hat happens? The flood came and everyone dies. There were probably preachers in Egypt saying, "Yeah right...what kind of loving God is going to come and kill the first born of every family? No loving God would do that!" Then we see all the children who died because they did not listen to the word of God. There were probably preachers in Sodom saying "What'she really going to do...send fire from the sky and burn us all? God's not going to do that." Then it happened.

We learn throughout scripture that God is a literal God. What he says he will do he does! So when he says he is coming back with all his angels...I can't help but believe that is true too! He's really going to separate the nations. Because I believe the Bible is the word of God, when I read Revelation, I have to believe there is a literal lake of fire where everyone whose name is not written in the book gets thrown into! I don't want to be there! I don't want to be thrown into that pit because I listened to someone and didn't read for myself!
Luke 14:12-14 He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
Don't try to complicate it or over-spiritualize it...have a banquet! Invite the poor and spoil them the way God spoils us! Is this how God sees us? We truly have no idea how good God's banquet is for us. Do you take the word of God literally? Do you believe you are commanded to make disciples? You have to start doing what he says! The solution to human trafficking is making disciples...changing hearts. People you are surrounded with could be the victims of human trafficking and some could be the culprits of it. But if you look  someone in the eyes and be unashamed...you will change hearts and give life. We've all been in a place where we were living for ourselves...but God made us alive. The people who surround us daily are dead...we have to believe that God was being literal when he commanded us to go and make disciples. This is the word of God...go and do it.

In 1 Samuel 13:5-14:1, 6, 7, 11-23we read about all of these men who are going up against the Philistines. All of these men hid. But Jonathan and his armor man got up and went. Those 2 men, with God on their side, began to defeat the Philistines. With 1 strike they killed 20 men. These 2 young guys realized that God didn't need tons of men...that he could do it with or without the men. So they believed that God could defeat the Philistines adn they went. Then when the earth began to shake, Saul took his 600 men and started fighting when they realized that God was fighting with them. Then all the men of Israel, when they heard the Philistines were fleeing, then they came out and began to fight too. See what happens when someone believes and goes?

I don't want to be in that last group. So often this happens in the church. There are a few people who take God at his word and go after it. They look people in the eyes and tell them about Jesus and are unashamed and believe they can lead them by the power of the Lord. Then as those do something, others look on and see what God is doing and jump on board. Then there are the others who wait until there are thousands of people on board and come behind saying "I knew that would work."  But I don't want to be in that last group. I want to be one of those 2 guys. I want to stand for the word of God...I want to study the word of God and make disciples.

There are people who are Jonathans today. They believe everything God said he did and they believe that God can do things through them. People try to tell me that God doesn't work like that anymore but I believe that God still works today just as he did in the Bible! I believe that God can raise the dead and bring healing. Christ has died and has risen adn he is coming again and I want to be ready for that.

Remember that when you pray, you are praying to the God of the Bible. There are stories of people praying and the ground beginning to shake. There are stories when a guy would pray and fire would come down from heaven. We pray to the same God who can raise someone from the dead after three days. We pray to the same God who parted the sea and spoke the entire world into existence. We get to talk to him. Pray. Pray that God would speak to you through his word. Pray that we would see more of him...just like in the Bible..that we would see things that no one can explain apart from Him. Pray that he would shield us from the lies of Satan and that we would believe him at his word. Open his word...read it...believe it...go and do it.

No comments: