July 14, 2019

July 14, 2019 How to Experience the Working of His Divine Presence in Our Lives

How to Experience the Working of His Divine Presence in Our Lives

Luke 20:1-8

Sometimes it is very easy to turn our church life into a meaningless ritual. When we gather as Christians, we need to ask ourselves what is it that God wants to speak into our lives.  Then we need to act on what God speaks to us. Ignoring these lessons or thinking that the lessons are for someone else.

The Pharisees encountered Jesus, but saw him as an adversary. When Jesus entered Jerusalem in Luke 19, we could see that the Pharisees were jealous of Jesus’ reputation with the people. They were more offended when Jesus went in and cleaned out the temple and thus claimed the temple was his. They certainly didn’t like Jesus preaching in the temple a different message from what the Pharisees advocated.

Jesus had gone beyond the traditions of the Jewish people in order to return to His father’s true message. Pharisees couldn’t accept Jesus’ challenge against the traditions. They even started to plot to destroy Jesus to protect the traditions. 

Are the Pharisees very different from modern day Christians? As Christians, we have our traditions and prejudices. Some of these traditions are keeping us from God. Sometimes we do things to benefit ourselves but not God or expand God’s kingdom.  We need Jesus to challenge our thinking, our traditions and our prejudices.

The Pharisees were not willing to let go of their traditions. We need to be willing to experience the working of God, so we may be able to let go of our traditions to move back to God. Jesus expects us to be willing only. If we are willing, then we can be changed supernaturally.

Faith is different from willingness in that willingness allows faith to exist. Willingness opens the door to faith whereas faith is set on an object.

What happens when we are unwilling to God?

1   1. Persisting in unwillingness will lead to God abandoning those who are unwilling (Luke 20:8). God examines our hearts and knows who is willing to submit and not. Pride can shut the door to be willing to listen to God. Because the Pharisees were very proud of their religion and their status, they would not listen.

2. Persisting in unwillingness will develop a resistance to things that are righteous. We end make making our own kingdom which is different from God’s kingdom. Then when we are confronted with righteous correction, we treat as an attack and not God trying to bring us back

3. Persisting in unwillingness will eventually start to spoil what little knowledge of God we have.  It will eventually blind us from the truth because we are so set on our own reality. The Pharisees could not see Jesus as who He really was.

God will not give up on those who are willing. But if we persist to resist God, He will give up on us. God will become insensitive to us. Jesus is challenging us to change. Let’s be willing to surrender to Jesus’ will.

July 7, 2019

July 7, 2019 The Call to Actively Endure for the Kingdom

The Call to Actively Endure for the Kingdom 
Mathew 24:4-14 

The time that the Lord was crucified was the beginning of the end, and the people who were following Jesus needed to be prepared for the end. The Holy Communion has been given to us so that we may be reminded to endure and wait for the end. It sounds like a blessing but also a warning for us to be ready for the end. In today’s sermon Pastor Donald preaches about Jesus’ warning of the end times and the importance of actively waiting in obedience for Jesus’ second coming found in Matthew 24:4-14.

Those who accept these words of Jesus are His servants. As servants to the King who has conquered we are also victorious. So then why do we suffer? At times, it seems like Jesus is not here with us. If Jesus is the lord of the universe and has defeated evil, then why is there still so much evil? 

The world is full of suffering and injustice, and there are many examples of these. One example is the current civil war in Syria. By 2016, this civil war had seen 400,000 deaths. Sadly the war continues and so do the unnecessary deaths continue to rise. This is one item on a long list of grief, unfairness and strife in our world. 
With so much suffering and wars going on, some Christians are giving up while others are just living for themselves. Jesus’ second coming is tarrying too long for some people. Some of these people have lost faith or just see it as a reason not to believe. However, Jesus tells us that this is evidence of the coming end. When a prophecy is given there is usually indicating signs. We see this is in verse 6.  

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 
Matthew 24:6 ESV 

There is a real problem here. Will he come back early or will it take longer. Actually, this is not the problem. We need to be actively waiting for his coming, yet many of us are passively just waiting. 

And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 
Matthew 24:22 ESV 
We need to understand that Jesus tells us in this verse that He is fully in control. He will shorten the days for the sake of the chosen ones. Make no mistake, His timing is to save the righteous and as many righteous as Jesus can.

But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 
Matthew 24:13 ESV 

In this verse we see that the believer must endure in order to be rescued. What does this mean?

Here are three things that believers are expected to do while waiting for Christ’s return.
We are expected to wait but to continue to behave like followers of Christ. As servants of Jesus, it is not enough to call him Lord but we must act like servants of Christ.

These perilous times are not going to end to tomorrow. We need to accept this and patiently endure with faith. We are expected to confront the evil that comes up, so we need to ready. As a believer, you will be rejected by the world. Many will fall because it seems Jesus is not coming back, but if you endure, you will be saved.  

And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 
Matthew 24:10 ESV 

Even in our congregation there will be those who will make us stumble. This is part of life. We are expected to learn to forgive and grow beyond such petty issues. Someday, we will all meet Jesus as individuals. We are responsible for our actions and choices. 

Jesus will surely come again, but before that happens there will be an increase in false teachings. We are expected to know the Word so we will endure and not be dissuaded from the truth. We also need to strengthen our faith. False prophets will come with objective and subjective arguments. This can lead us to questioning and doubting our faith, so we need to be aware and confident in our beliefs. 

Jesus will come back and until He does, we have work to do. Let’s encourage one another to do the good work set before us to expand the kingdom of God and be careful not to fall into the traps of the enemy.

July 1, 2019

June 30, 2019 The Absence of Divine Shalom

The Absence of Divine Shalom 

Luke 19:37-44 

We read In Luke 19 that as Jesus is entering Jerusalem, his disciples and the crowds praise God for the great things Jesus had done. The Pharisees retort and tell Jesus to silence the crowds. Jesus responds by saying that even if He did, the stones would cry out. Later when Jesus sees the city of Jerusalem, he weeps. 

This is the second time the Bible records Jesus weeping.  The word "weep" from the original language means to cry out in lament. The  first time we read about Jesus weeping is when he arrives to find Lazarus buried in a tomb. (John 11:35). With the case of Lazarus, we see how much he can love people and has  emotions like the rest of us. But why does Jesus weep when He sees Jerusalem? Perhaps it is because of the divine peace or Shalom has been removed from Jerusalem. This is the peace that is given only by the presence of the Lord. 
The city of Jerusalem was a renowned city at the time and in that area. Despite the fact that in 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the city wall and the Temple, Jerusalem still was considered formidable. It was fortified by a great wall which had been rebuilt by returning exiles. The wall was twelve meters high and ran about 4000 meters. No wonder that other kings had tried and failed to take Jerusalem, such as King Sennacherib of Assyria.  

Not only was Jerusalem strong, it was the center of the Jewish faith. It held all the religious treasures of the Israelites. Moreover, the temple was magnificent. One could not help but stand in awe of the temple. The Jews at that time would face the temple to pray because that is where God dwelled.  We know that Jerusalem is the Zion of God, or the dwelling place of God. As long as the temple was standing, God was with them.  

In 33 AD Jesus made the prophecy that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Later in 70 AD, Just as Jesus predicted, Jerusalem falls. Emperor Vespasian sends his son Titus to finish the job he had been commissioned to do by Emperor Nero. The Roman army completely destroys Jerusalem and the temple. 

Going back to Luke 19 vs 38-39 the disciples of Jesus and the crowds praise Jesus, but it is the Pharisees and the elites who resist Jesus. These elites do not want to acknowledge Jesus as the king. Much like some of the servants in the parables of the ten minas, the elites did not want Jesus as their king.

How else did the people fail? There was religious decay in the temple. The holy place for prayers had been turned into a commercial centre. The temple was turned from a house of prayers to a den of robbers (Luke 19:45-46). Do we value the presence of God in us? Do we just observe rituals and ignore the presence of God?

In Luke 19:11-27, the parable describes different kinds of servants to the king.  There were those who rejected the king, those who invested for the kingdom and those who invented ways to avoid glorifying the king. Later the king needs to maintain the peace in his kingdom through promotion and punishment. God demands obedience and not sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22).  

Jesus implies that if the people followed closely the commands of their King. They would not lose their peace. What does Jesus do in the life of a believer?

Jesus brings peace to us. 
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" 
Luke 2:13-14 ESV 

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 
Luke 4:18 ESV 

Jerusalem rejects Jesus as their King. They lose the temple in 70 AD and by then it was too late to see that they had lost the presence of God and the divine peace. 

For those who accept Jesus in their lives, Jesus guarantees a guidance to expand the kingdom and give peace. Jesus desires to reign in our lives which will gives us divine peace. 

1. Jesus will lead us but we need to be obedient. 

Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah 
Psalms 32:6-7 ESV 

2. Jesus will not abandon those who follow Jesus.  Jesus will keep us in perfect peace. 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 
John 10:11 ESV 

3. Jesus is faithful, but we need to trust in Jesus.
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. 
Isaiah 26:3 ESV 

Much like we can gain peace by letting Jesus reign in our lives, we can also lose the Peace of God? 

1. We lose peace when we reject Jesus or resist the reign of Jesus. Luke 19:12. 

2. We lose peace when we continually disobey Jesus instructions. 

3. We lose peace when we consistently fail to repent.  

There is nothing worse than losing the peace of God. Although we are not perfect yet, we are expected to go back and repent. If we resist continually, we lose the peace of God. 

As we tarry in this world, let Jesus reign completely in our  lives.