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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Jesus Enters In

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:14 – Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men – this is what happens when Jesus enters in to the scene.

When we celebrate the Incarnation, we celebrate the fact that Jesus entered into our world, but not only for that. Jesus entered in to our world and made the way for us to enter in to His. When He was about to leave, He told the disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them (John 14:2-3). He came in with peace, and He left us with peace (John 14:27).

Jesus had deity and humanity, the Son of God and the Son of Man (Psalm 2:7 / Hebrews 1:4-14 / Philippians 2:5-11 / John 1:14 / Matthew 10:1 / John 3:34 / Acts 10:38). Kinsman redeemer – His divinity possesses power, righteousness, and life, which by His humanity are conveyed to us.

Because He lives, those who will dare believe, live also.

Jesus partook of humanity that we might partake of divinity. All of the Apostle Paul’s writings proclaim this fact (Romans 5:5, 8:9, 15-16, 23 / 1 Corinthians 2:10, 3:16, 6:19 / 2 Corinthians 1:22, 3:18, 5:5, 13:14 / Galatians 2:20, 5:22-23 / Ephesians 1:14, 4:3-6, 4:30 / Philippians 1:19-21, 2:1, 3:3 / Colossians 1:9-11, 27 / 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6, 4:8, 5:19 / 2 Thessalonians 2:13 / 2 Timothy 1:14 / Titus 3:5), not to mention Peter and John’s as well. Jesus left and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us and to empower us. The New Testament is replete with this fact.

Jesus entered in to the human race that we might enter in to the Holy Place. Jesus carried His cross and went into the presence of God, so that we might also carry our cross, follow Him, and enter in (Hebrews 9:12, 24, 10:19-22). We can enter in to fellowship intimately with God.

Just as it was back then, Jesus enters in by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not only your destination, but your destiny; the end of the road and the road itself (John 14:6, 17:3).

Jesus is always entering in on behalf of the Father, and on behalf of His children. When sin entered into the world, God already had a plan for His Son to enter in (Genesis 3:15). Abraham knew the plan (John 8:56 / Galatians 3:8), Moses knew the plan (Deuteronomy 18:15-19), Isaiah knew the plan (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, 11:1-4, 53:1-12, 61:1-3), and all the prophets spoke of the plan (Acts 3:24).

Mary was a virgin but had a baby (Luke 2) – with the favor of God, nothing is impossible (Romans 8:32). Mary was from the line of David yet she was obscured; it took Jesus to fulfill her destiny. How did this happen? The world will keep your identity down, but Jesus!

When Jesus enters in, things change. When we think about Jesus we think about the Virgin Birth, but this isn’t the only time God brought about an unusual birth. Sarah was barren and too old and yet she had a baby (Genesis 11:30, 16:1, 21:1-3) – God is faithful to His promises.

Abimelech obeyed God, turned from evil, and the wombs of his people were opened (Genesis 20:1-18) – repentance brings healing.

Rachel had a closed womb, but God remembered her and she had a baby (Genesis 29:31, 30:1-2, 22-23) – He takes away disgrace and gives much grace. He causes you to be fruitful.

Hannah had a closed womb but had a baby (1 Samuel 1:1-11, 19-2:10) – She promised and praised; she received a child and God received the glory.

Elisabeth was barren and too old but she also had a baby (Luke 1:7, 13, 24-25) – He hears our prayers and He brings joy and gladness.

Jesus not only entered in by the Incarnation, and not only in the lives of the saints of old, He also enters in to our struggles today. He showed His sympathy by coming to the world, and He shows His empathy by His role as our High Priest.

Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone.
Empathy is feeling the sorrow of someone.

Sympathy – Hebrews 2:14-18 – He has compassion for you – He has a pro-attitude toward you – He entered in to the pain of the world – He felt the pain and discouragement (Isaiah 49:1-6) – He was motivated to trust God and continue in action – we are called to action, to enter in for others (Romans 12:15 / 1 Corinthians 12:26).

Empathy – Hebrews 4:14-16 – He can feel your pain now – He knows what we are going through – Empathy refers to the ability to perceive and experientially feel another person's emotions – He identifies – Our pain enters into Him – we should enter in to Him and for others because He has and does enter in for us (Hebrews 7:25 / 10:19-22 / 13:3).

Jesus entered in to the world situation that He might also enter in to your situation. Your dream, and your “baby being birthed” in this next year is about Jesus becoming “incarnate” in your life. It’s about Him living big on the inside of you (Galatians 4:19).

James 5:7-8 is primarily about the Second Coming of Christ, but it also applies to His coming to fulfill His word in our lives now, as does 2 Peter 3:9, and Hebrews 10:35-36.

When Israel was delivered out of bondage in Egypt, they had a battle to fight at Jericho, and Jesus entered in on God’s side (Joshua 5:13-15). After you have been delivered out of bondage, but still have battles to fight, Jesus will enter in, so be on God’s side (Isaiah 59:19).

He enters in like He did for Sarah, Hannah, Rachel, Elisabeth, and Mary, and He will enter in for you too. The Gospel isn’t just for those who are lost, but for those who are on the way and those who have lost their way. The Gospel, Jesus entering in, is about salvation; but it is also about sanctification, our growth in grace in this life. When we enter in to the resting of the Gospel then the resting of the Gospel enters in to us (Hebrews 3:6-4:11).

We can enter in through baptism, communion, foot washing, prayer, studying the Word, fellowship with saints, worship, thanksgiving, praise, persecution (Romans 8:17 / 2 Corinthians 4:10-11 / Philippians 1:29 / 2 Timothy 1:12), and the baptism with the Holy Spirit.

Don’t be hindered and don’t hinder others from entering in (Luke 11:52).

Jesus entered in.

Will you enter in?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

REVOLUTION

Hebrews 11:1-10

We don’t need another New Year’s resolution; we need a New Year’s revolution!

Jesus was a revolutionary, but not the political kind, or the social kind. What Christ did and still does to those who will receive by faith is to revolutionize their life by “taking over”. Instead of the same old practice of sin management, we can have (and we certainly need) the Holy Spirit to make manifest the life of Christ in our mortal bodies. Indeed, the life of Christ made manifest in our flesh is God’s perfect design for our lives (Romans 8:29 / 2 Corinthians 4:7 / Galatians 2:20 / Ephesians 3:17 / Philippians 1:20-21 / Colossians 1:27).

In order for us to become what God wants us to be we must have faith (Hebrews 11:6). Grace spreads the table, and faith helps itself. We can harness the power of faith by concentrating on and developing four specific areas. We need our faith to blossom in these four facets for it to operate to its full potential in our lives. We need to guard those areas where we are strong and focus on those that are weak. We need to be set apart, wholly other (holiness), and growing together in the community of believers. The just shall live the abundant life Jesus promised (John 10:10) by faith (Habakkuk 2:4 / Romans 1:17 / Galatians 3:11 / Hebrews 10:38).

Exodus 28:36 / Leviticus 20:7-8 – Holiness is the key to faith – God instructed Moses to engrave “HOLINESS TO THE LORD” on the ministerial garments.

Four Facets of Faith

Verse 4 – Abel had a faith to worship God – John 4:24 / Psalm 5:7
– We are to worship in the beauty of holiness – 1 Chronicles 16:29 / 2 Chronicles 20:21 / Psalm 29:2 / Psalm 96:9 / Exodus 15:11.

Verse 5 – Enoch had a faith to walk with God – Galatians 5:16 / 2 Corinthians 5:7
– We are to walk on the highway of holiness – Isaiah 35:8 / Jeremiah 2:3-5 / Genesis 17:1 / Deuteronomy 5:33 / Deuteronomy 13:4.

Verse 7 – Noah had a faith to work for God – Ephesians 2:10 / James 2:17-18
– We are to work to perfect holiness in the fear of God – 2 Corinthians 7:1 / 2 Chronicles 31:18 / Ephesians 4:24 / 1 Thessalonians 4:7 / Hebrews 12:14.

Verse 8-10 – Abraham had a faith to wait on God – Isaiah 40:31 / Hosea 12:6
– We are to have patience to wait for the promise of holiness – Zechariah 14:20 / Isaiah 23:18 / Isaiah 62:9 / Obadiah 1:17 / 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

What is it going to take to cause a revolution in our lives this year? It is going to require faith, and holiness is the key to faith. How do we set ourselves apart? How do we become holy, or wholly other? What is it that will make us different: different from others, and especially different than we used to be? It is our worship, our walk, our work, and our waiting that will revolutionize our faith, which will revolutionize our life.

Do you want to worship in a way you’ve never done before? Do you want to walk closer than you’ve ever been before? Do you want to work for God in a way that no one has seen before? Do you want to be able to wait on God as he brings you to the place of his promise to you? Yes? Then how will we do it?

Abel was different in his worship. Our worship must be based on what God has done for us, not what we have done for God. Worship is worth-ship – we tell God what he is, and praise him for what he has done. Worship remembers the past – look at Psalm 136, which we read a few weeks ago. The bottom line with worship: we are set apart when we set Him apart – a life of worship (1 Peter 3:15). Worship with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Enoch was different in his walk; men had stopped having such close communication with God since Adam and Eve were put out of the Garden of Eden. Enoch knew who he was and who God was; he knew God’s majesty and his misery without him. Blaise Pascal: If a man knows God but doesn’t know his own misery, he is lead to pride. If a man knows his own misery but doesn’t know God, he is lead to despair. If a man knows Jesus Christ, he knows both God and his misery in Him. Now this is how you preach or evangelize: law to the proud, grace to the humble. This is revealing how to walk with God; it is by humility, in repentance and faith (Micah 6:8 / Colossians 2:6). Think about Saul – how God anointed him, he had power from God, and he knew God, he was changed into a different man (1 Samuel 10:6). He was humble (1 Samuel 9:21,10:22), but he lost that humility and he lost his way. When we lose our humility, we forget God, and our pride will lead us to despair in the end. When we keep our eyes on Christ we can walk that line between pride and despair; it is the straight and narrow path. Walk: we are set apart when we walk a different path, we walk the straight and narrow path between pride and despair – we walk humbly (Micah 6:8) in repentance and faith (Colossians 2:6). We acknowledge His majesty and our misery. When we walk the fine line, we can also walk the line between cynicism and sentimentalism. Walking with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16).

We are talking about revolutionizing our faith so as to revolutionize our lives. We said that holiness is the key to faith, and that faith is defined in four facets: faith to worship, faith to walk, faith to work, and faith to wait. We covered worshipping and walking; now we are focused on a working faith. When we work to perfect holiness (and our faith) in the fear of God, what we are doing is finding new ways to see, rather than new ways to flee. We need a revolution that leads to an evolution; our faith is shocked into a continual process of growth. We learn to obey instead of disobey.

Noah was different in his work; he was doing something that no one else would even dream of doing, addressing a need that never existed before. God allowed Noah to see how his work would impact his future. Noah was doing the prophetic, but the world called it pathetic. Who was right? Noah was of course. Is your work prophetic or pathetic? It doesn’t depend on the type of work; it depends on your perspective. Is your faith one that sees your work, no matter how trivial or mundane you think it may be, as holy? Working with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16).

Sometimes we don’t work because we are lazy, and we’re lazy because we are not motivated. But everyone is motivated by something, even if it is despair or bitterness, spite or struggle. You are motivated by whatever energizes you. Most people are not truly energized by Christ, and so therefore are not motivated to work for him. Anger, regret, sadness, or other negative emotions energize them, and they work to feed their soul with these things, sometimes in the name of Christ.

Wade Boggs recently was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. When asked what was the secret of his success, he stated, and so did his coaches, that he was driven by an “I’ll show you” mentality that he carried throughout his career. Well, that may seem all well and good, but what will spur him on now? Who will he have to show up or what will he have to prove that will drive him?

Why do you think Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson kept coming back to play basketball after retiring more than once? They have a driven mentality. They have to have something to prove. Folks, the “I’ll show you” mindset is of the devil. Think about it: what did the devil say to God, “I’ll show you, I’ll be as great as you are”. The world feeds off this today, we are being told to do what drives us; but we are to be Spirit led, not driven.

What is it that energizes you? Most people work in the strength they already have. (Isaiah 50:10-11 / Jeremiah 2:12-13 / 17:5). This is what I call the “altar of adrenaline”. Are you living out of the energy of your flesh, or has God begun redefining the way you live by renewing your energy in Him? We’ve said before that bitterness is what energizes some if not most people. You see if we are being energized by our bitterness, we are not and indeed cannot be energized by God.

Do you have an altar of adrenaline? Some people are so used to being sad, they have learned to derive energy from it. They resign themselves to living in that state, and draw their power to live from it. When they hear a little bit of bad news, they immediately go into their adrenaline mode to be able to cope, and actually bring on more pain to give them more energy. Being sad spurs them on in a sense.

The same goes for anger. We create situations where we are angry at something that didn’t even happen. We imagine for a moment the “what if it did”, and become adrenalized and feed off the only source of energy that will satisfy us. We may even get up in the morning and dream up a scenario that will raise our ire, just because it gets us going. This is the reason for the road rage drug and its disproportionate response. This is why some people get high; they instinctively recognize a problem but don’t know how to deal with it other than muffle it through drugs, legal or illegal.

We have got to get a new workplace – the prophetic and not the pathetic. We are not victims we are victors. We are always to be working for the Lord. We need the right source of energy to do the right kind of work; otherwise all our work for God is wasted and becomes mere words.

People may not believe a word you say, but they will believe everything you do. When your actions line up with your words the conviction that people will see in you will herald the revolution to those whom God would call. You become greater than mere words, and larger than life. This principle holds true for churches too. We say that we are a loving fellowship, but will we prove it by loving the undeserving? Many can talk the talk; will we walk the walk?

We walk the walk by working together. Working together – the net example. Instead of using our linked arms to pull each other up all the time (we do it when necessary), we need to get together on the same page. When we are walking and worshipping at the same pace, our linked arms are much more than a support device, they become a net to catch others. Casting a line catches one at a time; casting a net is better yet. Jesus said I will make you fishers – plural – of men.

Holiness is the key to a revolutionary faith. Holiness is being set apart, and Abraham was set apart, called out, and became a sojourner in his land of promise as a stranger (Hebrews 11:9). Abraham was different in his waiting; he went forth, waiting for God to lead him to a place he had never been, for a promise that seemed out of this world. We are going to wrap this up by showing you how Abraham used his worship, walk, and work to have a revolutionary faith!

Abraham waited by getting up, not by sitting down. He didn’t always know exactly where he was going. He had moments of doubt, but he also must have spoken to himself about what God had said to him. His faith grew in “steps”. Just like you and me, he and Sarah also had their moments where they didn’t wait, and suffered for it. Abraham saw famine, and went to Egypt, and he saw himself getting older, and went ahead of God with Hagar. But Abraham learned and became the father of our faith (Romans 4:11), passing his ultimate test (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Again, do you want to worship in a more passionate way than ever before? Do you want to walk closer than you’ve ever been before? Do you want to work for God in a way that no one has seen before? Do you want to be able to wait on God as he brings you to the place of his promise to you? Yes? Then how will we do it?

I want you to understand that no matter what your situation is the answer is to wait on God. Whether you’re in riches or rags right now, your perspective on God makes all the difference. You can be in prosperity and get it wrong, and you can be in poverty and get it right. And you can wait in the wrong way.

Two gardens – one was tragic, one was triumph. In the one, Adam couldn’t wait, was removed, and we all died. In the other, Jesus did wait, was renewed (Luke 22:42-43), and we all live.

Two wildernesses – one was tragic, one was triumph. In one the Jews wandered for forty years, and suffered. In the other, Jesus waited for forty days, and was strengthened (Matthew 4:11).

Think about it. In both cases, both parties knew the will of God; one did it, the other didn’t. One waited on God, the other didn’t. When we know and act upon the will of God, we will have waited on God. To wait means more than to simply be passive. It can also mean to serve. When we wait on (serve) ourselves, we think and speak about our circumstances. When we wait on (serve) God, we think and speak about Him and His power in us. Then we can actively “wait” by faith.

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Notice what this verse is saying. When you wait on the Lord you will renew your strength. It says that those who wait on the Lord will mount up with wings as eagles. Let me ask you, are you tired of growing weary in certain areas of your life? Do you want to renew your strength? Do you want to soar as the eagles? Well, today you are going to learn how to do just that.

For a while I questioned the reason why this scripture related us to the eagles. When I learned of the molting period of an eagle I got a revelation of what it means to lose strength, to give up and to grow weary, and what it takes to rise up with new wings. Like the eagle, we all go through a molting period.

People are not sure why it happens but all eagles experience molting sometime in their life. The eagle that flies high in the air – above the mountains – goes to the bottom of the mountains and lives on the ground in the woods, at its lowest point. While down there three things happen:

1. They begin losing their feathers.
2. Calcium deposits build up on their beaks.
3. They lose their ability to tear up and see properly.

When these 3 things happen, the strengths and abilities of the eagle diminish. What begins to happen is that because of the thickness of the calcium deposits, the eagle cannot hold up their head, nor can they search for food, therefore they do not eat and might eventually end up dying in that state of molting.

What the eagle relies on are other eagles who are familiar with what is happening to them. These eagles will swoop down and drop them fresh meat to eat. If an eagle will find enough energy (remember last week) to eat this meat they will live. This allows the eagle to gain strength and fly to the top of the mountain where they break the calcium from their beaks on the rock and begin to fly high again and gain their vision again as the tears begin to flow from the strong wind in their eyes. That is how the eagle renews their strength.

You might say that it’s different for us. The verse says you have to wait on the Lord if you want to renew your strength. However, I venture to say that most people quote that verse, rely on it and have been waiting on the Lord for a long time, yet still are not seeing any results.

Remember our demonstration about working together and strength, and about motivation and energy? We need to get that meat (the Word of the Lord) and be renewed by it. Others can help us with the Word of God and it energizes us because we know his will and can act on it. We get fed and then we fly! Then we help others who are “molting”.

The problem is how we have been waiting. When someone tells me that they are waiting on the Lord I mostly see them sitting quiet doing nothing, arms folded saying that, "I am waiting on the Lord." This turns out to be the same people who are not renewing their strength. They are frustrated and ready to give up. So is God's Word a lie or is the way people are waiting not the proper way to wait? We need to wait actively sometimes and not just passively.

We all need to go through this period of “molting”, where we shed off our old feathers, our old man, and we put on the new man, which renews our strength. Romans 12:1-2 – a renewed mind helps us to know the will of God; that’s what we are waiting for, to know His will so we can act on it! Ephesians 4:22-24 – a renewed mind is the key to holiness, and holiness is the key to a revolutionary faith! Colossians 1:6, 3:9-10 – a renewed mind helps us experience what God has for us. Feed on the Word of God, and it will energize you, and set you soaring!

You might say what about Mary and Martha? The difference was what energized them, just like we talked about last week. Mary was seemingly passive, but was actively attentive to Christ; she was energized by His word, while Martha was energized by her own service. See the difference?

I went out to eat with some friends a while back and we decided to visit a well-known and very nice restaurant in the area. Once the hostess sat us at our table our server arrived and shared with us the specials and proceeded to take our order. She continued to be very pleasant with us and we enjoyed the way she served us the entire time. Upon paying for dinner we continued to linger on the way we were served. When we left the tip we left her with more than she would have expected!

Why did we do this? Because the server did a good job serving us. In other words, she did a good job waiting on us. That’s another name for a server – a waiter.

Do you want the blessing enough? Do you really want to renew your strength? Do you want to come out of that molting period of your life? Well then, it is time to wait on the Lord. It is time to serve the Lord. We know and can know even better what God wants; we can actively “wait” on him. Don't sit around doing nothing and call that waiting – how would you tip the server that treated you that way? No, when God tells you to do something you do it. When He asks you for something you get it. A minister is also a servant (Acts 13:2 - same word we get liturgy from). It is our duty to serve the Lord.

And He’s told us what He wants us to do – it’s what we’ve been studying. To wait means to serve, and we serve by worshipping, walking, and working. That’s how we wait with revolutionary faith, we act on what God has already told us.

Now catch this as we relate it back to waiting and mounting up with wings. The Hebrew word for wait in Isaiah 40:31 is qavah, which means to bind together by twisting. It gives the impression of a rope that is bound together. Not one cord that wraps around the others, but interwoven together so that when its is used, it stretches and each cord gives the other its strength. A string will break, but a rope will hold. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says a three fold chord is not easily broken.

Those three strands are our worship, our walk, and our work. So we do what we have been saying for the last three weeks, that is how we wait on the Lord! We weave all the strands of our faith into one strong rope. It doesn’t lose its strength when it is not being used. Continue to worship Him, to walk into His presence, and work to please Him and do everything He wants you to do, being renewed in knowledge and true holiness. That is how you wait on the Lord.

This is how Abraham waited; he had a revolutionary faith! He worshipped as he waited; he built altars as he went (Genesis 12:7, 13:18, 22:9-14): remember Jehovah Jireh? He walked as he waited: remember he went where God was sending him (Genesis 12:5). He worked as he waited; remember Noah and his work; Abraham also interceded for those about to be destroyed (Genesis 18:23-33).

That is when you begin to soar like the eagles! You build that three-fold chord; you wait on God by actively pursuing Him. You renew your mind and become energized by Him. When your mind is renewed you begin worshipping in the beauty of holiness, walking on the highway of holiness, working to perfect holiness in the fear of God, and waiting on the promise of holiness. Now we have a revolutionary faith, and faith is the key to Christ being made manifest in our lives!

REVOLUTION

FAITH IS THE KEY TO CHRIST BEING MANIFESTED IN OUR LIVES

HOLINESS (BEING SET APART) IS THE KEY TO FAITH

A RENEWED MIND IS THE KEY TO HOLINESS (OBEDIENCE)

WHILE WE “WAIT” WE HAVE PASSIONATE PATIENCE

Our worship must be based on what God has done for us, not what we have done for God.

We are set apart when we set Him apart – a life of worship (1 Peter 3:15).

Worship with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the pride of life (1 John 2:16).

We are set apart when we walk a different path, we walk the straight and narrow path between pride and despair – we walk humbly (Micah 6:8) in repentance and faith (Colossians 2:6).

Walking with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16).

Is your work prophetic or pathetic? It doesn’t depend on the type of work; it depends on your perspective. Is your faith one that sees your work, no matter how trivial or mundane you think it may be, as holy?

We walk the walk by working together. Working together – the net example.

Working with revolutionized faith is how we begin to fight the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16).

When we know and act upon the will of God, we will have waited on God.

Like the eagle, we all go through a molting period. Feed on the Word of God, and it will energize you, and set you soaring!

You build that three-fold chord; you wait on God by actively pursuing Him.


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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