Walk Humbly With Your God

We began this sermon series under the great conviction of our desperate need for a complete renewing in humility.  This series is less of a “comprehensive” series on the subject, and more about the seeds God has placed in our hearts that are growing to bear fruit in our lives.

Our desire is to walk humbly with our God; and I ask my brethren to consider whether or not it is even possible to walk in any other way but in humility with God?  Will He even walk with someone who isn’t walking humbly with Him?

I will continue to build on this post, adding more text and audio lessons as they develop.

FEATURED SERMON

SERMON SERIES

The Sacrifice of Praise

My heart burns to see spirit-full, truth-full worship being offered to God from the Church!  I long to see our oft heartless worship give way to the continual worship that God is worthy to receive!

WORSHIP IS NOT WITHOUT COST

King David refused to offer sacrifices to God that cost him nothing; he even refused to take a discount!  He wasn’t looking for the cheapest way to get around a duty-bound sacrifice to God, but came with a heart groaning deeply to please his beloved LORD!

Worship costs something; if it doesn’t, then it is not worship.

Churches have become so concerned with maintaining their tax-exempt status because they know that most of their constituents won’t give unless they can claim it as a tax-write off and get a discount on their giving.  But I am so very concerned with the defilement of our offering to God!

If you will worship God in this age, it will cost you something- not only of your monetary gains, but of your heart and your self-will!

THE SACRIFICE OF PRAISE

 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. ~Hebrews 13:15

Our lips are altars of God: from them we offer praise to the God of all creation!

Priests always seek to offer the most holy, pure, and perfect sacrifices to God.  No priest would ever take dung and offer it on the altar of God because it would be an abomination to Him! Yet, when we grumble, complain, backbite, slander each other, and gossip, that is exactly what we are doing.

When we enter trials and difficult times, we have a decision to make: will we offer up to God a worthy sacrifice from the fruit of our lips with thanksgiving to His name, or, put dung on the altar of God and offer up grumbling and complaining to the God who shed His own blood to save our souls?  Will we be like David who refused to offer up to God sacrifices that cost him nothing, and offer praise to God even in the pain of our darkest hour?

COMING TO WORSHIP

I was worshipping this week with a song that began by saying “we come here today to worship you”, and I pierced through the heart by the Holy Spirit because that statement did not feel true of me; I did not “come to worship”.

I was overwhelmed by the reality that my heart is not prepared enough to continually offer the sacrifices of praise with thanksgiving to the name of Christ to the point that I can say, wherever I am, that “I came here to worship God”.  But oh how I desperately want to be able to say from my spirit in truth, “I came here to worship God”, wherever I am!

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

I have great hope for the future because I know that my Christ is a refining fire and a purifying soap, who has come to purify us so that we can make offerings to God in righteousness!

I am calling on Jesus to purify my heart, whatever the cost, so that I can give Him the fruit of my lips with thanksgiving to His holy and worthy name!

Spiritual Disciplines- Denying Self

This is the first lesson on denying self in our spiritual disciplines series.

Spiritual disciplines are those practices by which you nurture spiritual attributes.  They are not self-empowered, nor do they come from the will of man, but are spirit-empowered according to the will of God.  It’s for the lack of regular spiritual disciplines in our life that we so often experience dryness and weakness in our spiritual journeys.

Redefining Dangerous

The most dangerous place on earth is the safest place for you to be if it is God’s will for you, and the safest place on earth is the most dangerous place for you if it isn’t.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. ~Luke 9:24

It is always a curse to God’s people whenever they begin to trust in the elements of this world for their safety: weapons, walls, geographic locations, or money- all these uncertain things prove to be a bitter cup of woe and disappointment in our hour of trial.  But, whoever understands what Jesus said here will be full of peace in their season of trial because they are standing on the Rock.

Recently there have been a lot of news reports interviewing U.S. generals about American military preparedness= something I think the U.S. should try to maintain- but, there is a tremendously deep-seeded foolishness among our people that believes we can sow abundant wickedness and reap anything less than destruction and injustice.

No military, no great wealth, no place of refuge can hide you from the wrath of God.

Speaking to my brothers and sisters in Christ now, you cannot hide from your woes, nor can you find peace in any stronghold if you are not walking the path God wants you to walk.  To you whom God is saying “go”, do not fear because of what may be ahead of you if you do go, rather, fear what will overtake you if you do not!  And to you whom God is saying “stay”, do not fear the wild beasts in the land where you reside, rather, fear the plagues that await you in the stronghold to which you seek to run to!

Brethren, it is not for us to reason with God, nor make plans of our own, saying “tomorrow or next year I will go here and there”, rather, it is for us to listen and obey.

Be of good courage- you are in mighty hands!  Simply trust Him.  Seek not your life, but seek Him!

Mission Update and Prayers

Grace and peace in Christ, my brethren!

Spring appears to be here already and things are moving quickly here for us!

I want to give an update to those who are praying for and supporting us.

GRANDVIEW, MISSOURI

My wife and I are in Grandview, Missouri, which is considered part of the Greater Kansas City area.

We’ve spent our time here since December ’14 seeking God and preparing our hearts before Him.  He’s been dealing with us on humility, love, and holiness.

In addition to the preparation that God has been working in our hearts, He has also been moving in astonishing ways to connect us with brethren from around the area and knit our hearts together in the love of Christ.

SPRINGBREAK

Springbreak is coming up next week, and with it comes a new season in our mission work here:

CHANGES TO THE WEBSITE

We’re going to give more attention within this website to a wider range of mission-work related things.

I’ve felt the need to express the things that are written deepest on our hearts and clearly articulate what God has called us to in a manner that doesn’t confine or narrow the work God is doing in people’s lives around us.  So you can expect to see some pages coming that meet this need.

I’ve been running this site since 2010, and have grown in the grace of God over the years (I was born again in 2008).  So I am going to begin to comb through my posts and look for posts that do not demonstrate the heart, doctrine, or knowledge of God, or that may need a little revision.

DOOR TO DOOR

Mary and I are going to begin going door to door in our area to ask people if we can stand with them in prayer and help them in any way.

We pray, and invite you to join us in this prayer, that the Holy Spirit would go before us to bring healing and reconciliation to the hearts and lives of our neighbors.  It’s the desire of our heart that people’s faith would rest in the demonstration of the Spirit and power (1 Cor. 2:4).

And, it’s important to understand what is meant by “power”:

  • “the gospel of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16; Luke 4:14-19)
  • “The strengthening of the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16)
  • “The resurrection” (Ephesians 1:19-20; Romans 6:1-6)
  • “Godliness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

We’ve decided not to go under any pretenses: we’re not collecting anything from anyone, and we are not trying to win people to our assembly.  Our only aim is to see hurting and dying hearts experience healing, reconciliation, and the life of faith that comes from Jesus Christ our Lord.

BIBLE STUDIES HERE & ABROAD

We are having weekly Bible studies both locally and abroad with our brethren in China with the joy that He gives to the body for nourishment in His word.

For a while we were not sure that we would be able to do a Bible study online with our brethren back in China because the methods we were going to use were blocked, but, a way was found and we have been able to continue helping them.

Locally we have been blessed and encouraged to be studying God’s word that builds and nourishes our souls for a sound mind and faith, for correction, and training in righteousness and godliness, and the equipping for His every good work.

PRAYERS & SUPPORT

Every day I am asking the Lord for a sound mind.  I feel completely and utterly insufficient for the work before me- and I genuinely mean that- my only desire is to exalt and glorify God with every fiber of my being.

We are also asking God to continue to bring us like-minded and like-faithed brethren to co-labor in His service with.  We so desperately need the fellowship and strength that comes with those brothers and sisters who are willing to stick with you in the Lord’s service and suffer through the trials and temptations that are certain to come.

So, my wife and I ask for your discerning prayers.

We also need brothers and sisters who are willing to give cheerfully from the love of their heart to help supply the lack we have financially.

 

I thank God that He has abundantly poured out His grace upon us and I look forward to the things that are coming, though I relinquish control over how these things will come to be.

May the grace and peace of Christ abide fully upon you all, amen!

 

LOVE

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?  If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. ~Matthew 5:43-48

I want to say first that the kind of love we’re talking about here is impossible by the hand of man; only that you are purified by the refiners fire is Jesus’ love possible in you.  Therefore, this kind of love is not for someone who has no interest in sanctification, or who is repulsed by godliness and holiness.  Neither is it fitting for cowards and those who refuse to count the cost of following Jesus Christ.

However, for anyone who is discontent with the bumper-sticker, Facebook-status, Sunday religion, and who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, the love of Christ is a perfect fit!

The love of Christ is real, sacrificial, gentle and lowly- it’s a neighbor loving, darkness confronting, mercy rejoicing, brother serving kind of love.

THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS

My heart wells up with praise and worship for the God who made love “perfection”!  This is the beauty of holiness; love is the highest gem in the crown of holiness.  Preaching holiness without love is a self-contradiction.

This strikes a beautiful chord of worship in my heart when I think of God’s standard of perfection- and I hope it does in yours too!  I hope we have not become past feeling and no longer capable of being moved by the love of Christ.

A NEW COMMANDMENT

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~John 13:34-35

Christian’s are especially identified by the love we have one for another.

This is a familial, brotherly kind of love unique even to the sacrificial love by which we are compelled towards our neighbors.  This is a shining testimony to the world around us that we are the children of God- and no other testimony is worthy for the Bride of Christ that was purchased by the blood of Christ!

It’s because of this love that I am able to travel to any country in the world and find family as loving to me as those from where I came from!  And, indeed, this was the case when we moved to China and found Christian brothers and sisters who embraced us with immediate warmth and love that knit us together forever.

But the commandment is not just “love one another”; it is holier than that.  The commandment is “Love one another as I have loved you”.

Jesus loved His disciples first and foremost by calling them into the name of God- and our presence in each other’s lives ought to be such that calls one another into greater and greater fellowship in the name of God!  Likewise, Jesus served His disciples with a gentle and lowly heart, proactively caring for them in every way- spiritually and physically.

But Jesus never tolerated sin; to the harlot, for whom He stood as her sole defender against those who wanted to put her to death and end God’s precious gift of life to her, He commanded to “go and sin no more”!  Yet in the Church today we are hard pressed to even find a preacher who will condemn sin, let alone go this far!

AN EXHORTATION

My exhortation to you, my brethren, is that you “find out what is acceptable” love to the Lord- to search out how He has loved us, and to diligently love one another as He has loved us!

May you go in grace, mercy, and peace as you walk in this new commandment!  Amen!

Lawlessness

As lawlessness continues to grow and abound in our society and throughout the world, we are gleaning a clearer and clearer picture of the Man of Lawlessness.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.”

ACCOMPANIED BY DEPARTURE

The Man of Lawlessness is accompanied by a great departure from the truth; “ἀποστασία” (GK-apostasia; ENG- apostasy) means to “forsake” or “turn away”.  Lawlessness is the corrupting work of the spirit of the anti-Christ, who has already long been at work in the world (1 John 4:3).

Look at how the apostasy comes about and what the spirit of anti-Christ produces in people:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 “Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared.”

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But know this: Difficult times will come in the last days. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!”

This turning away from the truth is able to grip even those within the faith because they turned their ear and attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons that lying men and women hypocritically preach with seared consciences.

The apostasy gives way to people adhering to a form of godliness but denying its power; being powerless, they will become;

  • lovers of self,
  • lovers of money,
  • boastful,
  • proud,
  • blasphemers,
  • disobedient to parents,
  • ungrateful,
  • unholy,
  • unloving,
  • irreconcilable,
  • slanderers,
  • without self-control,
  • brutal,
  • without love for what is good,
  • traitors,
  • reckless,
  • conceited,
  • lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

This is the spirit that will grip the world to bring about the apostasy- that great abandonment that falls the whole world into irreconcilable darkness- this is the spirit that is gripping the world even now!

It is the reason why these times will be difficult for anyone who will live in true, powerful godliness.

MYSTERY OF LAWLESSNESS

2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, and then the lawless one will be revealed.”

What we see reflected in those who are deceived by the mystery spirit of the antichrist is the essence of the Man of Lawlessness; it is as yet unknown in completeness- but, the drunkenness of its wine is seen throughout the whole world:  we see it every time we witness a Christian’s defiant and rebellious heart towards God- and even more as the Church becomes comfortable with this kind of rebellion- we see its mystery in the mocking of authority and demeaning of purity witnessed throughout both the professional and entertainment realms of life.  And the mystery of lawlessness is also present in the advance of tyranny and injustice throughout the world.

What is being birthed out of this mystery, however, is the abomination of desolation yet to be revealed.

EXHORTATION

Let me first exhort you all, my brethren, to “pay careful attention to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  Don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is, and don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:  ‘speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ’.”  Give yourself entirely to such things as these; let your spirit, soul, and body be sanctified through and through, and persevere in these difficult times- even rejoicing at the loss of money, relationships, and even life that you may suffer as the days grow darker- and always remember who is faithful to preserve you blameless until the end.

Know that you are loved dearly by the Father who is in Heaven, and He is faithful, amen!

Unity: Perfectly One

“I do not pray only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that you sent me.  The glory which you have given me, I have given to them; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be perfected into one; that the world may know that you sent me, and loved them, even as you loved me.” ~John 17:20-23

I pray that the gravity of Jesus’ prayer would strike our minds and pierce our hearts; I hope that His words alone will bind our hearts in irrecoverable conviction for unity!

This unity is a witness to the world of God in Christ!  It is a witness of faith, of glory, and of abiding!

Jesus did not ask God that we would have the appearance of unity; He asked God to make us perfectly one!  And He asked God to apply His glory to this cause!

UNITY IN OBEDIENCE, NOT MYSTERY

“The secret things belong to Yahweh our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” ~Deuteronomy 29:29

The great mysteries of God are His- His inner workings, reasons, and hidden counsels- they all belong to Him exclusively.  But, the revelation of His divine will belongs to His children for obedience.  Unity among the Church thrives in obedience to God’s revealed will.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I would neither discourage anyone from thinking deeply on the wondrous mysteries of God nor despise prophetic utterances (1 Thess. 5:20); when we come to our Father in the secrecy of our prayer closet, we are consumed with worship, admiration, and love in the glory and wonder of God!  And the prophetic utterances of the Holy Spirit are the timely expression  directly into our life of God’s love and will.   I do not see holding fast to the sound doctrine of God’s word as in any way opposed to the mysteries of God or the  current moves of the Holy Spirit; in fact, I see the former as a necessary prerequisite to the latter.

I am talking about when these contemplations become the teachings of the Church and a motive in our heart to look down on others who do not see the mysteries of God the same way as we do.  This always brings division!  It always diminishes fellowship!  Just consider how many Church splits have occurred because someone introducing the speculations of men into the Church, or how many brothers have been distanced because speculations about the mysteries of God took precedence over their drive to do the will of God.  And the same can be said of doctrinal teachings that are divorced from obedience in the Church; just think about how many Church divisions have occurred because someone was trying to get out of simple obedience to the doctrine that was clearly delivered to us by the apostles.

Unity and fellowship flourishes in the environment of obedience to the revelation of God’s divine will; His word was never intended to entertain and titillate our academic curiosities or to be subjected to the judgments of our divisive speculations; it was given to us for obedience to the heart of God’s divine will.

AS I AM IN YOU AND YOU ARE IN ME

Jesus prayed that we would all be one, even as the Father and He are one.  It was Jesus who was “about His Father’s business”, whose “food is to do the will of the Father”, and who “did nothing of my own will”.

Jesus said, “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50).

Jesus walked on this earth in unity with the Father from a position of absolute humility, as it is written, “being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted him…” (Philippians 2:8-9).

AN EXHORTATION

Therefore, brethren, let me offer this exhortation to “purify our souls in obedience to the truth through the Spirit in sincere brotherly affection” and “love one another from the heart fervently: having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever” (1 Peter 1:22-23), and let us rejoice in knowing that “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Nothing is impossible for God.  Genuine unity and fellowship among brethren of diverse backgrounds, even of diverse doctrinal persuasions, is wholly possible where souls that have been purified in obedience to the truth through the Holy Spirit in brotherly affection exists.  If we will walk in the light, we will have fellowship with one another.

CONCLUSION

Certainly as God moves to answer Christ’s petition for unity among us who believe, Satan also moves to offer a counterfeit unity; there is a cup of abominations being mixed in the name of unity by which people all around us are being made drunk with tolerance and filthiness, rather than being filled with the Spirit in love and holiness.  Have no doubt, Christian unity does not exclude the separation of holiness that we’re called to by Christ (2 Cor. 6:11-7:1)!

My hope and desire is that our hearts will be stirred up for true unity and fellowship in the body of Christ, and that we will be strengthened in love for patience with one another so that we will no longer look to the default position so many have taken in the past of distancing ourselves from those who we are called by the love of God to be one with!

Meaningful fellowship will thrive in obedience to the truth!  Even if there are certain brothers and sisters who you can share a deeper experience of fellowship with as you worship God in His mysteries, perfect fellowship is accomplished by God among all who walk in the light!

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ abound to us all!

The Kingdom Sword

Do I want peace with the kingdom of darkness so much that I am afraid to pick up the Kingdom Sword?

We know that we will be at war with this world the moment we pick up the Kingdom Sword.  The Kingdom Sword not only threatens those who in the world, but it also threatens the way of life of any Christian who picks it up!

Jesus said,

Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword.” ~Matthew 10:34

While many Christians have been sheathing their Kingdom Sword to make peace with the enemies of God, the spirit of this age knows that it is at war and has been busy trying to take as many captives as possible!

THE KINGDOM SWORD

What is the Kingdom Sword?

“And take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ~Ephesians 6:17

The Kingdom Sword is the Sword of the Spirit; it is a living double edged sword that divides the righteous from the unrighteous.

There are whole families still accommodating devils because they would not take up the Sword of the Spirit to fight the enemy in their own home!

But Jesus said,

Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword.  For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  A man’s foes will be those of his own household.  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn’t worthy of me.  He who doesn’t take his cross and follow after me, isn’t worthy of me.  He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” ~Matthew 10:34-39

The Kingdom Sword will set you at odds with those around you who are still capitulating to the kingdom of darkness.  The Sword of Christ divides families!  That is why the “family focused” gospel in America is so false!

Have you signed a truce with the devil?

The kingdom of darkness never honors its treaties; it seeks a backdoor into your life and will come at you through your family, your friendships, or your employment.  But it never honors its treaties.  The kingdom of darkness wages relentless war until it accomplishes its goal to “steal, kill, and destroy”.

If you pick up the Kingdom Sword, you will be at war with the kingdom of darkness, and trust me, the kingdom of darkness is relentless.  But, if you set down the Sword to make peace with those who are hostile to the Kingdom of Light, then you will be found weak and defenseless when the kingdom of darkness breaks its treaty with you and attacks.

Let me exhort you, my brethren, to take up the Kingdom Sword against the kingdom of darkness; do not be ashamed of the gospel of God, for it is His power for salvation to all men- proclaim it in life, proclaim it in power, proclaim it with your lips- take the gospel of God to those who are bound in the kingdom of darkness and set the captives free!

 

 

Pray & Support the Stanley Family

One of our friends and brother in Christ from Louisiana shared a news report about the abduction of Hal and Michelle Stanley’s 7 children by Arkansas deputy Sheriffs because an anonymous caller reported the presence of toxic chemicals in their house that were endangering their children’s lives.

I do not know this family, but, I encourage you to read the above linked report and begin praying immediately for the Stanley family; my heart breaks at the thought of DHS breaking into my home under the ridiculous charge that we have toxic chemicals in our residence (but, I’m sure if you didn’t own any toxic chemicals like bleach to clean your home, they would break in to abduct your children because you were not keeping your home clean enough).

I also strongly encourage you to go to their gofundme.com page and support them there.  The Deputies said they would only be holding their children for 72 hours, and it has now approached a full week.

 

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