If a supernatural being shows up and points to themselves or to anyone or any being other than God – or if they tell you something contrary to the Bible – then that being is NOT from God. Period.
Every single angel in the Bible sent from God pointed the glory, the praise, the attention to God. They did not take any attention what so ever. Remember that.
I Kings 13 give us a good example to those who ignore this warning.
In this passage a prophet of God goes to King Jeroboam in the Northern Kingdom and warns against sinning against God. After some signs and wonders, King Jeroboam gets the message and asks if the prophet wants to have a bite to eat before going home. Let us pick the story up in verse 8:
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.
19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”
21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.
When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.
25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.
The first thing that came to my mind when I read this passage was a testimony I read about Brother Yun of the Chinese church. In his book “The Heavenly Man,” Brother Yun describes an event almost identical to Acts 5 – only this event took place 2,000 years later on May 5, 1997.
This is the main reason why the Bible encourages people to give financially.
Pretty much everyone knows that people will spend money on things that they value. Therefore, if you want to know what someone values, look at where the majority of the funds are going.
As follower’s of Jesus, we are to give our entire lives to Him. What we do, where we live, what job we have – all of these are decisions He makes. The same is true with our money.
As such, we give a tithe to the Lord as a statement to the King that all we have is His. Here’s a tid-bit, the word ‘tithe’ means a tenth. However, this is not really a diehard number – is it just a handy number that is used to help folks out. Lord willing, you will be giving the Lore MORE than 10%!!
Breaking the Power of Money
Jesus said that we could not serve both money and God. Yet, most of us try to serve both….
About five years ago a pastor friend suggested that I read Richard Foster’s book, The Challenge of a Disciplined Life (originally published as Money, Sex, and Power). In this book, Foster made a point that will stay with me till I die. He said (my paraphrase):
Christians are not to be controlled by money. We are not to ask whether or not we can afford something. But whether or not God wants us to do/have that.
Practically, this means not asking whether or not we have enough money to buy a new boat – but whether or not God wants us to have a new boat. Asking, not whether or not we enough money to go on a mission trip, but whether or not God wants us to go on a mission trip.
Good Morning everyone. Today is going to be interesting…mainly because we are going to be dealing with one of those passages preachers avoid. It is not a simple passage; but it is in the Bible so we are going to talk about it. 🙂
Let us read Acts 5:1-11
1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.
7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
So what is happening here? What is the Lord saying?
As you can imagine, there are many different lessons to be learned from the mistake of Ananias and Sapphira. The lesson that God brought to my heart this week comes from a conversation I had with a member of the local community. This community member felt that churches – like this one – were simply ‘bank accounts’ used to acquire money for a few people.
Unfortunately, this is a view that a lot of people outside the church have – and even more unfortunately, there are abuses within many churches that make these concerns valid…
This, however, does not mean that we as a church are to shrink back from what God has spoken. No – we are speak the words of the Bible and draw closer to Him. This is why I am willing to jump out of the frying pan this morning and into the fire. Today we are going to be talking about our attitude towards money.
Did the air just drop a few degrees in here?
Don’t worry – I’m not going to tell you what to do with your money – that’s God’s job, not mine. I’m just going to talk about our attitude.
Peter could have walked past that beggar that day. He could have refused to look at him. He could have even refused to have opened his mouth and speak the words that God told him to speak. He could have. But he didn’t.
God is looking for willing vessels. People who are willing to be used by Him. He is not looking for perfect people – for if He was, He would never do anything for there was only one perfect human, Jesus Christ.
No. God is looking for people who are willing to be used by Him. His blood alone cleanses us and His Spirit alone flows through us – changing lives and destroying the works of the evil one.
All that we must do is be willing. We must be willing to be a fool for God. To open our mouths – to move our legs – to move our arms – to walk where He says walk and say that He says.
Yes, it will be hard. Yes, we will fall on our faces sometime. Ah…but there will be times when we will hit the ball out of the park. One thing I guarantee, you will never see God work if you never pray for the sick or never open your ears and listen to Him.
The blessed thing is that He is willing to work with cracked pots – for He….
God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, (1 Corinthians 1:27-28)
9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9-10)
God is not looking for superstars. He is looking for normal average day people who are willing to trust Him – to look past their weaknesses to God’s strength. Peter said in Acts 3 that it was faith that comes through Jesus. It is only through Jesus that see God work – it is His strength, His power that flows through us that changes the world – that changes our circumstances. Continue reading Sermon: Willing Vessels (Part 3 of 3)→
16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
Peter said that it was by faith in the ‘name of Jesus’ that the beggar was healed. Let’s take a minute to unpack this as there is a lot of misgiving about the role of faith in the Christian walk.
First off, what did Peter mean by the phrase, “faith in the name of Jesus”? Is there something magical about the letters J-E-S-U-S? NO! It was not about five letters in the English language – besides the book of Acts was written in Greek not English! It was about the person of Jesus – the living God.
Here’s another way of looking at this.
When I was in college I worked as a security officer patrolling the campus, giving out tickets, unlocking doors, etc. One evening I was locking up a computer lab when a student refused to leave. He said he was working on a project and had permission to be in the lab – however, his name was not on my list and he did not have written proof. I explained this to him – but he still refused to leave.
Things were quickly getting heated…I remember standing there thinking about how in the world was I going to force him to leave if things got physical….then he ask, ‘by whose authority are you kicking me out?”
“By the name of Frank, the Director of Security. You are not allowed in his room.”
I had a choice: I could let him stay or I could believe the word of my boss that the list I had was correct and that he wasn’t supposed to be in there. In other words, I had to have faith in my boss. I had to believe that Frank had given me the authority to decide who stayed and who did not. Continue reading Sermon: Willing Vessels (Part 2 of 3)→
Last week Brian spoke about the healing of the beggar at the Gate Beautiful; about how Peter looked at the beggar and saw the hand of God on him. Today we are going to look at the story once again as there are a few more gems for us in this passage.
Let us read Acts 3:11-26 and see what the Word of God has for us this morning.
11While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
17″Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’
24″Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
While there is a ton of good stuff in this passage, there are three things that I would like to dwell on today.
I have discovered a method of preparing that helps me stay on track and finish each thought or point. Namely, I have figured out that by writing down my sermon as a blog post and then creating a detailed outline off of the post helps me think through each items without stumbling.
In the past, I have simply studied the material and then created a simple outline – which allowed for too much freedom on Sunday morning. Instead of flowing, the sermons would be a tad broken as my mind would jump two or three steps ahead of my mouth – leaving everyone else wondering what was happening.
This ‘new’ way helps keep my brain and mouth on the same page. 🙂 And it worked. Emily and I listened to the recording yesterday evening and it was sweet (BTW – does anyone know how to compress an audio file? I would love to post my sermons online but the files are way, way too big!).
The added bonus to writing everything out first is that I can simply copy and paste my notes into a blog post and upload it. Simple. Easy. And a huge success.
God is good. 🙂
Living In Expectation
Setting the Scene
Today we have the pleasure of looking at Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. It is 53 days after Jesus’ crucifixion; 50 days since He rose from the dead; and ten days since Jesus’ Ascension. During those ten days, the eleven disciples gathered together with 109 other believers in Jerusalem to await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Continue reading Living In Expectation: My Best Sermon Yet!→
I just finished preaching this morning about the Holy Spirit being upon us to be witness of Jesus to the world. I was a little nervous today considering the topic and some other items…but God showed up and granted me peace during worship. Peace that carried through the sermon. 🙂
The main text of the sermon was Acts 1:1-11 – today was the first day of a series going through the book of Acts. It is kinda of strange as we have tried to go through the book of Acts two or three times over the last 4 years, but we keep getting distracted fairly early on. I pray that this time will be different. Besides, God must have something for us if we keep getting directed back to Acts.
His life as a preacher’s kid has started early. Now, for the record, I did ask his permission before I used his story in my sermon Sunday. He grunted at me – which I took as a “yes” (two grunts are ‘no’). 😉
As some of you know, I am now preaching the fourth Sunday of every month – giving the church 12 weeks a year to bring ear plugs (at least they are not bring rotten veggies). 😛
No – in all seriousness, I am trilled to be able to share with the congregation and they are loving and kind. It is a blessing to be in a place where I can refine my public speaking abilities.
This past Sunday (four days ago) was a special day as it was the first time my Dad and Stepmom had the opportunity to hear me preach. They live down south and only get to visit every few years – this year, God worked things out nicely and they were able to be at church the day I was scheduled to share. Thank you Lord. 🙂 Continue reading Adopting Jadon’s Life Into a Sermon→