The first few chapters in the book of Leviticus contain instructions for presenting sacrifices to the Lord as an act of worship. Two things stand out to me in these chapters. First, the worshipper is called on to present his very best to the Lord. Notice in chapters 1 and 4 the Lord repeated the instruction that the sacrifice presented was to be without blemish. Second, whatever was presented at the altar stayed at the altar.
1 Peter 1:19 teaches that we no longer need to present animal sacrifices to the Lord because our redemption is secured through the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord! Though we do not present animal sacrifices today, there are principles we can apply to our relationship with the Lord. First, God deserves our very best. Second, what we give to the Lord we release to Him without expectation of retaining partial ownership of what was given.
Our praise and worship belong to Him. Our property, finances, time, talents, family, dreams and our future all belong to Him. Whatever we keep is limited only to what we can do with it. Whatever we give to Him is subject to His authority and power. Give Him your very best today.
Let’s sing: “Lord I give you my heart, I give you my soul, I live for you alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord, have your way in me.” (I Give You My Heart, by Reuben Morgan)
Religious leaders heard that Peter and John healed a man of paralysis (see Acts 3). In their investigation of the matter they asked Peter & John: “By what power or by what name have you done this?” (Acts 4:7). We learn a great deal from Peter’s timeless and powerful response that begins in verse 8.
The One whose power healed the man was Jesus. There are over 100 names of Jesus recorded in scripture, and if you don’t mind I would like to share a few of those names with you here. He is Advocate (1 John 2:1), Almighty (Rev. 1:8), Arm of the Lord (Isa. 51:9; 53:1), Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb. 12:2), Source of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9), Beloved Son of God (Matt. 12:18), Blessed and only Ruler (1 Tim. 6:15), Bread of life (Jn. 6:32), Author of salvation (Heb. 2:10), Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:4), Christ of God (Lk. 9:20), Cornerstone (Ps. 118:22), Counselor (Isa. 9:6), Creator (Jn. 1:3), Deliverer (Rom. 11:26), Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5), First and Last (Rev. 1:17), God (Isa. 30:3; Jn. 20:28), Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11), Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14), Holy One (Acts 3:14), I Am (Jn. 8:58), Immanuel (Isa. 7:14), King Eternal (1 Tim. 1:17), King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15), Lawgiver (Isa. 33:22), Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29), Light of the World (Jn. 8:12), Man of Sorrows (Isa. 53:3), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), Messiah (Jn. 1:41), Prince of peace (Isa. 9:6), Redeemer (Job 19:26).
He was the One who healed the lame man in Acts 3, and is the same One whose authority and power we invite into our circumstances.
Let’s sing: “His name is Wonderful, His name is Wonder, His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord. He is the Mighty King, Master of everything, His name is Wonderful, Jesus my Lord…”
Acts 2:41 “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” Acts 2:47 “…And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. Acts 4:4 …many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
In Acts 1:8 Jesus said a Christian who has been baptized with the Holy Spirit will become an active and effective witness of the Christian faith. Jesus taught this truth and His followers demonstrated it.
We don’t know for certain how many people considered themselves followers of Christ at the time of His death, but we know He appeared to over 500 of them between his resurrection and ascension (1 Corinthians 15:5). On the Day of Pentecost 120 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit and over the course of a few months the number grew from a few hundred to over 5,000
I long to see thousands of sinners come to Christ. I am not interested in numbers but I am interested in people. I want to see sinners set free from the addiction to alcohol and drugs. I want to see sinners living in bondage to pornography, gambling, gluttony, gossip, pride, jealousy, and unforgiveness come to Christ. I want to see people who have been complacent about Church, the Bible and eternity get saved, filled with the Holy Spirit and become active in leading their friends to Christ. I pray for a revival to sweep through our community — a revival characterized by sinners being set free from sin and Christians being empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Let’s sing: “There shall be showers of blessings, oh, that today they mighty fall. Now as to God we’re confessing, now as on Jesus we call. Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need. Mercy drops round us are falling, but for the showers we plead.”
Acts 2:42 “They continued steadfastly…”
The man who continues steadfastly quietly and faithfully goes about his business and gets the job done; he is the type of employee you want to hire because you know you can count on him. Acts 2:42 states the early believers continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, in breaking bread and in prayer. In verse 46 it states the church enjoyed perpetual growth.
In Acts 2:1-4, we read of the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit on a group of people who were steadfast in their commitment to prayer. The rest of the book of Acts shows that the Holy Spirit continued to be outpoured upon the Church. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not a one-time event, but rather became a characteristic of the early church. In fact, it became a focal point of the Church. As the apostles continued steadfastly in their spiritual disciplines the Holy Spirit continued steadfastly convicting sinners and empowering believers.
Someone one asked me why Christians tend to receive more from a revival or church conference than a typical Sunday service. My response: “expectation”. Many in our congregation spent weeks fasting and praying for the revival services with evangelist Randy Ruiz last weekend. As the days drew closer to the weekend a sense of expectation began to grow. In our Saturday evening and Sunday services, we were blessed by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the altars because we prepared our hearts and expected to receive.
Let me encourage you to continue steadfastly in prayer and cultivating a spirit of expectation to receive from the Lord. Remember, what the Lord has done before, He is doing again!
Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow (uncultivated) ground, for it is time to seek the Lord till he comes and rains righteousness on you.”
Hosea began his prophetic ministry to the northern kingdom (Israel) at the height of its power and prosperity. Over a period of four decades he watched the gradual spiritual deterioration of the country and wrote our text as a call to action. Sadly, his fellow countrymen did not heed his call and a short time later the Assyrians invaded and brought an end to the kingdom.
Hosea’s call can be summarized in one phrase, “Seek the Lord.” Do a search and see how many times you find the phrase “seek the Lord” in the Bible. It is an interesting study. The scriptures admonish us to seek Him with all our heart (determination), to seek his face (His presence), to seek his strength (His power and provision), and to seek with urgency.
Evangelist Randy Ruiz will be our ministry guest this coming Sunday. He will be ministering in both morning services and in a special 5pm service that evening. I have no doubt the Holy Spirit has big plans for this weekend in the house of God, and I hope you will make it. Through my 40 years of pastoral experience, I have noted a consistent pattern: People who seek the Lord in advance of the revival are the ones who receive the most during the revival. Let me encourage you to interrupt your schedule and participate in the 7pm Wednesday evening prayer meeting and the 5:00 Saturday evening prayer meeting.
It is time to seek the Lord till He comes and rains righteousness on you.”
Isaiah 36:4 “…on what are you basing this confidence of yours?”
The Assyrian empire spread from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. With their eyes set on Jerusalem, the Assyrian general told King Hezekiah to lay down his arms and surrender. Hezekiah was understandably shaken for he knew in the natural there was no hope.
In our journey of life we wrestle with issues that challenge our faith. If we fix our eyes on the problem we can find ourselves intimidated into spiritual paralysis. If you find yourself in such a battle let me encourage you to consider how Hezekiah handled the situation in chapter 37.
First, he did not ignore the problem, but went to the temple and laid out the threat to God in prayer. In verse 16 he prayed, “O Lord Almighty…you have made heaven and earth.” We begin by acknowledging that as a child of God we have the power and authority of Almighty God on our side. In verse 17 he prayed “Give ear, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord and see…” We ask God to take note of our circumstances and give heed to our prayer. In verse 20 he prayed “Now, O Lord, our God, deliver us…” We ask God to grant us victory and crush the enemy.
God responded to Hezekiah’s prayer by sending an angel who struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. The victory took place swiftly and silently, for the Assyrian general did not discover the carnage until he awaked from his sleep the next morning. Think of it; in a matter of a few hours one single angel from God struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and their general was not even aware of it until the battle was over. It makes you wonder what incredible thing God is doing on our behalf right now that we are not yet aware of.
Be encouraged my friend, for as a child of God you are supported by the power and authority of Almighty God. He is aware of your circumstances and is working in ways even now that you are not yet aware.
Matthew 6:13 “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
The word temptation in our text has a dual meaning. It can refer to an inward solicitation to sin, or a testing through external circumstances. Since the source of the temptation is the evil one (Satan), we know the temptation is designed with the sole purpose of threatening our relationship with God. Be encouraged with the thought that victory in the time of temptation means we demonstrate commitment to God and His values.
One of the interesting facts about the Lord’s Prayer is that it does not contain the personal pronouns I, me, my or mine. Instead, it is a request for God to give us this day our daily bread, to forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors, and to lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” For me to pray this prayer is to pray for you, not me. It is a demonstration of putting the interest of others ahead of my own. The prayer of Matthew 6:13 is to pray for God to lead our family and family and friends to spiritual health, that they will honor Him in their thoughts, words and actions.
On this day I pray for you and your family to prosper spiritually. I pray for you to remain victorious in every struggle of life.
Let’s sing: “Praise you, praise you, let my life praise you…”
Matthew 6:12 “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
Forgiving the person who offended us is a big deal. It also is a big challenge. I suspect one reason we struggle forgiving is because we do not want the person who offended us to be free of consequence. The irony is that when we forgive others we actually free ourselves.
Harboring unforgiveness results in the loss of the Fruit of the Spirit, damages our relationship with other people, nullifies our testimony and can even hinder our own prayers from being answered (see Matthew 6:15).
The Lord wants us to walk in freedom from bondage to sin and hurts from our past. Our physical, emotional and spiritual healing begins by making the conscious decision to forgive those who have offended us.
Scripture:Mark 11:25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
Colossians 3:12-14 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Let’s sing: “Jesus, be Jesus in me, no longer me but Thee; Resurrection power fill me this hour, Jesus be Jesus in me.” (JESUS BE JESUS IN ME, by Eddie Carswell, Gary & Shawn McSpadden)
Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.”
There is something comforting in this verse; it speaks of daily provision. Conversely there is something strangely disconcerting, for it speaks of daily need. I suspect we all prefer provision over need.
David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel and noted scholar of the Bible, estimated there were up to 4 million Jews who marched out of Egypt in Exodus 12. It didn’t take long for the deliverance to subside as the people dealt with the challenge of where to find food for 4 million people.
The Bible tells us God provided manna, a small wafer made of honey and delivered it to their camp 6 days a week for 40 years. Now I confess there is something inside me that wonders why God didn’t make it easier for the people by providing a week supply of manna every Monday morning. Wouldn’t the people have preferred to go to bed 6 nights a week without worrying about whether there would be provision the next day? Well, I figure God knew it may have been easier and preferred but not necessarily better. Not everything necessary is easy and not everything easy is necessary.
There are important principles to learn about God and ourselves that require daily trusting God for provision. We face each new day with the assurance the same God who provided our “manna” yesterday will provide it today. As we like to say around our congregation, “What God has done before He is doing again!”
Let’s sing: “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee…”
Matthew 6:10 “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
The word Kingdom refers to the territory subject to the rule of a king. So what would it look like for our community to be subject to the rule of God? First, consider God’s kingdom is characterized by His power and authority. Read through the Gospels and take note of the many times and ways our Lord demonstrated His authority over demons, sickness and sin. Also consider Romans 14:17 where it states “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
As we pray for the kingdom of God to come and for His will to be done, we pray for God to rule the heart of every family member, coworker, neighbor and friend; we pray for the Church to demonstrate spiritual authority over sickness and demonic powers. I can imagine such a community because our Lord told us to pray for it.