Saturday, October 14, 2017

GETTING TRACTION

GETTING TRACTION

CONNECT During my senior year of high school, I had several opportunities to travel and preach to groups in various places in Texas and New Mexico. One weekend, I went back to my home town and preached at the church where I had been dedicated to God as a baby. I was staying out in the country and it had rained. As we started to town for Sunday morning services, we were soon spinning our wheels on the wet dirt roads and going nowhere. One of my friends and I got out to push. We got them going, but made the mistake of pushing right behind the rear tires. We got covered in mud!  We had to go to my Grandma’s house in town and wash off with a garden hose before we could even change clothes!

TENSION Some of you may feel like you are stuck or spinning your wheels. How do we get going again? How do we get enough traction to move on into what God has destined for us?

How do we move on as a church? Last week Pastor Galen Woodward challenged and encouraged us to increase our capacity and fulfill the purpose God has called us to and to live out the dream we had 15 years ago.

SOLUTION God gives us a clear key to getting going again!

PRAYER

INSTRUCTION Israel stands ready to go into the land of promise. Moses and Joshua remind them of some things.

1.     They had a great history to encourage them. 

Moses kept reminding them to remember what God had done; not because he wanted them to live in the past, but to build their faith for what God would do in the future!

 Sometimes, I get discouraged because we have not become all I thought we would become. Feelings of failure stick their ugly faces in my business and accuse me. Then I remind myself of all that God had done! I encourage my soul in God!  I remember how God led us to begin; how He provided a job for me so we could plant the church; how we got into this property; how God supplied the resources supernaturally; how He provided so we could buy this property and continue to develop it for the Kingdom.

I remember all the lives that have been touched, the marriages healed, the ones who have been physically healed of sickness and disease, the ones who have been saved and baptized, the scattered sheep who have found a home, and all the people who have found hope, who have been restored, refreshed, and rebuilt!

2.     They had great mistakes to instruct them.

They worshipped the golden calf; they murmured against God and His anointed leader; they rebelled against God and refused to enter into the Promised Land the first time.

We have made many mistakes of our own; we have not done everything right. But praise God, we have not made any mistakes that were terminal!  When we started, we did not know what we were doing and really did everything backwards. We had no help; no sponsors; no core group; no launch plan; just a bunch of people hungry for what God might do.

3.     They had great leaders to inspire them.

Moses led them out but Joshua will lead them in. We have had, and continue to have, great staff and leaders to inspire us. We have wonderful volunteers. We have givers that are unselfish with their resources. We have people who are willing to do whatever it takes, whenever it takes, however it takes, to accomplish what God wants!

4.     They had the great God to empower them.

The Bible makes it very clear that what Israel would accomplish was because God went before them and gave them the power to do what they did.

Without a doubt, we know that whatever has happened here, it is because God was with us, is with us, and will be with us!

Let’s see how God gets them moving.

TEXT Joshua 3:5 NKJV And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”

There it is; can’t be simpler than that…

God says if we will sanctify ourselves, He will do wonders!  Now, what does that mean?

Let’s look at some other translations.

Joshua 3:5 NLT Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.”

1.     Sanctify means “get the sin out”!

A later passage in Joshua makes this clear. Israel would defeat Jericho, a large city with huge walls and military fortifications. God said to not take take anything out of Jericho. All obeyed, except one, Achan. After Jericho, Israel went up against the little town and Ai and were soundly defeated. God told Joshua the problem was hidden sin.

Joshua 7:13 NKJV Get up, sanctify the people, and say, “Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, because thus says the LORD God of Israel: There is an accursed thing in your midst, O Israel; you cannot stand before your enemies until you take away the accursed thing from among you.”

Joshua brought all Israel before the Lord by tribe and by family. Achan’s sin was revealed. The punishment? Death… When people are connected, the actions of one will affect all.  Think about a sports team.  One player not taking care of business can bring defeat for everyone. So, if we are going on, we have to get the hidden sin out of our lives.

The root word for sanctify is ‘holy’. God wants us to be holy.

Luke 1:74-75 NLT We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

Righteousness is granted to us by grace; holiness is our obedience to God’s will.

Peter says it this way…

1 Peter 1:14-16 NLT So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

Now, how do we get there?  I think most of us are like Paul…

Romans 7:17-20 MSG I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

There it is, that think that keeps tripping you up… Something is wrong with us on the inside. We call these things iniquities.

Paul goes on…

Romans 7:24-25 MSG I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?  The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.

Romans 8:1-2 MSG With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

You can’t do it by yourself! You cannot meet the holy standards of God! You may think, “I’ll just have a bunch of rules that protect me; I won’t do this; I won’t do that; this will make me change! No, it won’t. When you don’t see it coming, the desires will sneak up on you and take you captive!  It’s like trying to keep a balloon under water. It keeps popping up!

Colossians 2:23 NLT These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.

You have to depend on Jesus!  You must be filled with the Spirit!

Galatians 5:16 NKJV I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Now let’s look at another translation of Joshua 3:5…

Joshua 3:5 AMPC And Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves [that is, separate yourselves for a special holy purpose], for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

2.     Sanctify means “show up for duty”.

You see, we are saved from sin, but to ministry!

Acts 13:2 NKJV As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

APPLICATION/ACTION STEPS

Now let’s get down to it in our lives and in our church. If we want God to show up and show off, we must…

1.     We must deal with sin individually.
a.     What’s in the closet?
                                               i.     We already know…
                                             ii.     God will expose it!
b.     You can’t beat it.
                                               i.     Get filled with the Spirit
                                             ii.     Get help.
                                            iii.     We can help!

2.     We must all work collectively.
a.     What do you have in your house?
                                               i.     What floats your boat, lights your fire, turns you on…
                                             ii.     How can you use it here?
                                            iii.     Do it!
b.     We need you!

INSPIRATION Moses wrote a poem during the events of Numbers 20, a time of great conflict in his life: his sister, Miriam died; his brother, Aaron died; Moses disobeyed God, costing him entrance into the Promised Land, and a journey was beginning that would take the life of all adult Israelites.

Look at what he wrote…

Psalms 90:16-17 NLT Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!”

This verse has been on my desk for several years. It is still the cry of my heart. Lord, let our children see your glory! We are doing all this for the children, the next generation.

Psalms 71:17-18 NLT O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.


Sunday, October 1, 2017

DRIFT

DRIFT
Sunday am, October 1, 2017
Restoration Fellowship

CONNECT Have you ever had an infection?  I have had several bouts with cellulitis that required long antibiotic regimens… The temptation was to stop before the treatments early. After all, I was feeling OK. It was a pain to go in everyday for the antibiotic IVs. If I had done this, I would not have gotten well.

TENSION We have all done this. The half empty antibiotic bottles in your medicine cabinet are mute witnesses to this tendency in all of us.

As a Pastor for many years, I have had people come to me for help. We would start a process and their lives would improve; their marriages got better; consequences were avoided.  In the vast majority of cases, people never finished the process. When they entered the promised land, they quit doing what they were doing that brought them in.

There is an old country saying, “Dance with what brung ya!” This means, when you get where you want to go, keep doing the things that got you there.

As a football coach, I made a critical mistake in this area some years ago. We had a great defense we had used all year. When we got to regionals, a coach from a very successful program suggested a defense he had used against our next opponent. I scrapped the defense we had used all year and had taken us into the playoffs for a defense we could only practice three days. The result? We got killed!

SOLUTION When you enter a time of fulfillment, you must keep doing what got you there.

INSTRUCTION

TEXT Hebrews 2:1 NLT So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

PRAYER

Last week we saw Israel come to the border of the land God had promised them only to not go in. They were stopped by the gate of fear that blocked their way. This led to years of wondering in the wilderness just out of reach of the promise.

After forty years a new generation stands at the same gate of fear. What will they do?

Now brothers and sisters, that question is before us today. Fifteen years ago this week, a small group of dreamers launched a new church. We didn’t know what we were doing; we did everything wrong. But God blessed in spite of us. We didn’t want to perpetuate mediocrity, but be an influence on the city. We didn’t want ‘church as usual’, but longed for a bold move of God, a new touch of the Lord, a fresh anointing with the oil of the Spirit!

We have been on this journey together, but our generation has not gotten us there. We have prepared the way and set the table, but it is a new generation that will take it in! 

Moses saw the promised land, but Joshua took Israel in.

Deuteronomy 31:1-3 NLT When Moses had finished giving these instructions to all the people of Israel, he said, “I am now 120 years old, and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan River.’ But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy the nations living there, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua will lead you across the river, just as the Lord promised.”

Martin Luther King spoke on April 3, 1968, at the Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters) in Memphis, Tennessee. On the following day, King was assassinated.  In the final sentences, Dr. King speaks about dying…

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So, I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. Dr. King led the way, but others led them in.

John Kennedy stood at his inauguration in January of 1961as the youngest President in the history of our country at that time and spoke these words…

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world. Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge--and more. 

And as if we needed any more sterling examples, recall one of the greatest movies of this year, “War for the Planet of the Apes”!  Caesar, the chimpanzee who led the apes to freedom, dies on the mountaintop at the edge of the new Homeland. He sees his family and his nation enjoy the fruits of his labor, and he dies in peace on the shoulder of his most trusted friend!

What am I saying? We all want to get to the dream that is Restoration Fellowship. Some of our older generation will get there; some will not. Whether we get there is up to a new generation. We are not alone in this. Across the nation, longtime pastors are turning their ministries over to a new generation of leaders that really understand the paradigm we live in. They understand the culture; they can relate to the young of our nation; and they have a unique anointing! It is exciting to see. What will this generation do?

What did this new generation of Israel do?  They went in!  GOd led them in and gave them victory.  God also gave them some very specific warnings about what lay ahead of them.

1.     Don’t quit fighting!

Deuteronomy 7:22 NLT The Lord your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little. You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals would multiply too quickly for you.

Judges 3:1-2 NLT These are the nations that the Lord left in the land to test those Israelites who had not experienced the wars of Canaan. He did this to teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle.

New levels, new devils! The wind is stronger the higher you go! Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier in 1947 piloting the Bell X-1. He had to deal with turbulence and loss of control until he punched through Mach 1.  We will face stronger battles the farther we go in God toward our possessions.

2.     Don’t forget God!

Deuteronomy 8:10-11 NLT When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. “But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.

3.     Don’t get proud!

Deuteronomy 8:14 NLT Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Don't think you did it by yourself!

How did they do? Before they went in, Moses told them…

Deuteronomy 12:8 NLT Today all of you are doing as you please.

Joshua and Judges record the story of the conquest. They conquered all the land God promised, but not all the people were driven out because God allowed them to stay to teach Israel how to fight. However, their hearts were still not right. The last verse in Judges says this…

Judges 21:25 NLT In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

The people did exactly what God said they would do. They forgot God, became like the nations around them, and worshipped their gods!

Deuteronomy 31:16 NLT The Lord said to Moses, “You are about to die and join your ancestors. After you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods, the gods of the land where they are going. They will abandon me and break my covenant that I have made with them.”

Deuteronomy 31:20 NLT For I will bring them into the land I swore to give their ancestors—a land flowing with milk and honey. There they will become prosperous, eat all the food they want, and become fat. But they will begin to worship other gods; they will despise me and break my covenant.

INSPIRATION

God gave them the land even though He knew what they would do!  That is love!  God blesses your life because He loves you; not because you deserve it!

Deuteronomy 9:6 NLT You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people.

ACTION STEPS

When we come into the land of promise, there is a natural inclination to return to our old way of life. This is spiritual drift.

Wind boarding in Miami… We must stay intentional…

We must finish the process. We must reverse the downward spiral one step at a time.

The spiral begins with an external trigger. Sow the trigger, reap a thought. Sow the thought, reap a temptation. Sow the temptation, reap a sin. Sow a sin, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a stronghold. Sow a stronghold, reap a demon.

We stay the course by reversing the process. Get rid of the demons. Tear down the strongholds. Identify habits. Deal with the inner desire that feeds temptation. Take your mind captive. Guard the external triggers.

INVITATION

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NLT Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Joshua 24:15 NLT ...Choose today whom you will serve… But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.