At the beginning of the year you get to see lots of resources on the web in how to be a better person; people pledge themselves to obtain certain goals in life and so forth. You are probably familiar with the book “Become a better you” by Joel Osteen. His book and many other books have great advice for people whether you are Christian or not. Things like don’t worry, be kind to yourself and others, set goals, forgive those who offended you; always love people more than things, work diligently, etc. However, why is it so hard to implement these things in our lives?
I am sure you have heard many sermons or lessons about faith, trusting God. The Bible is filled with passages about trusting God, We all may profess to trust God but our actions don’t reflect it. Why is trusting God so hard at times? It doesn’t come naturally; it requires us to not be in control at times and most of us don’t like that. Trusting God goes against our reasoning; it goes against our comfort. Therefore it’s hard. Would you trust God even when it doesn’t make sense?
Before an army goes to war against another, it studies the enemy to see how it can defeat it. Sport teams do the same thing; they analyze and study another team strengths and weaknesses in order to defeat it in the competition. You and I are in the battlefield; we are at war. The moment you chose to pledge your allegiance to Christ, you enter into this conflict, this war. As Christians, we need to know our enemy in order to prevail against its attacks.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to a church in Ephesus, one of those churches he planted in his missionary endeavors.
We talk about love a lot in church; most church people know how much God loves them. We know this without a doubt. All we have to do is to look at the cross to see God’s love poured out for us. The question is not does God love? But rather, how much do you love God? Do you truly love Jesus? God demonstrated his love for us in this, while we were sinners Christ died for us. Therefore, love must be shown and Jesus said that we show we love him when we keep his teachings
It must have been awful for the apostles and disciples of Jesus when their leader was nailed to a cross. You know that time when things don’t go as you expected; when your hopes and dreams come to a halt. Jesus was the one they thought would restore the kingdom to Israel. This hope and dream was shattered on Friday by a wooden cross, but three days later, the unexpected happened…
Today is what is known as Palm Sunday in our calendar. A week before Easter or Resurrection Sunday. What is significant about Palm Sunday? The story is recorded in the four gospels as the triumphant entry. The day Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey; this was the day that Jesus openly identified himself to the world as the expected Messiah.
God was ready to fulfill his promise to Abraham of freeing his people from slavery and embarking them on the journey to the Land he promised to give to them. God sent Moses to Pharaoh with the command to let his people go, but Pharaoh didn’t listen. God had sent nine plagues or catastrophes to Egypt; through these plagues God showed his power humiliating the Egyptian gods. The LORD told Moses he was going to send a final plague on all the land of Egypt. However, God provides deliverance, he gave instructions to Moses for the people to follow and escape his judgment.
We have discussed and preached about getting to know God; last week we talked about knowing Jesus, and today I would like us to get to know the Holy Spirit better. Part of knowing God is knowing the persons in which he is revealed. There are so many stereotypes when it comes to the Holy Spirit. If you talk too much about him some people think you are charismatic. Some think that to have the Holy Spirit is to shout, speak in tongues or fall backward when pushed by the preacher. In some churches you hardly hear about the Holy Spirit; he is the forgotten God that Francis Chan talks about in his book.
People have so many different ideas about Jesus’ identity. Today people think Jesus was a great teacher; the founder of Christianity; a Jewish rabbi. There are religious groups that have certain beliefs about Jesus. Jehovah Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the arch angel; Mormons view Jesus as a god, but again everyone can become a god in their theology. They also see Jesus as Satan’s spiritual brother. For Islam, Jesus was a prophet like Muhammad.
With so many beliefs about Jesus, don’t you want to shout: Would the real Jesus please stand up?
It seems to me that there are lots of people who have not idea who God really is; the God that Scripture talks about. There may be a lot of people worshiping the Lord and not know who he is. You can be very religious and still not know God. You could have been raised in the church or a particular religion and do religious duties and still not know the one you claim to worship. The Bible tells us that you can be religious and still not know God and therefore not make it to heaven. Religion won’t get you there.
Some people struggle with their own identity. People’s identity may be tied to their career, accomplishments in life, spouse, parents, looks, etc. A person whose identity is connected to their job or career may suffer an identity crisis when they lose their job.
In the movie “The Bourne Identity” stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from extreme memory loss and attempting to discover his true identity amidst a clandestine conspiracy within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Jason Bourne doesn’t really know who he is despite the skill sets he knows he has.
The Bible tells us of people who experienced identity crisis in their lives. However, these people were used by God in mighty ways, once they got passed their struggles with whom they were.
Last week we talked about God giving leaders in his church for the purpose of building it up. When we talked about the nature of the church we said besides being global, it is also local. We are told in the book of Acts how these local congregations came about. Paul and Barnabas were apostles and they traveled preaching the good news of Jesus. They established churches in every city they went. These churches were led by a group of elders. Acts 14:23 (They appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed