“Enter Into His Rest”

29 Jul

This particular post marks the first in a series of sermons I have delivered on Sundays since March 10, 2013. The Lord called me to preach with one verse: “Woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 9:16). This verse burned inside of me with a call I cannot and do not want to deny. My call to pastor came around the same time with one verse: “If you love me, then feed my sheep.” (John 21:17). I will never forget the evening this verse struck me and stuck with me in a permanent fashion. It has been about five years since those transformational days of Christ calling me to pastor and preach, though I had the unquenchable longing to pastor and preach even as early as middle school. This journey of responding to Christ’s call, “Follow me,” has sustained only through God’s grace: His grace which eradicates our sin, His grace which empowers us to live with His Righteousness inside of us, His grace which “keeps us from stumbling and presents us blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.” (Jude 1:24)

On our “launch” Sunday, I preached on John 10 and Hebrews 3-4, concerning the vitality of hearing God’s voice, being called by name, and being baptized in the Holy Spirit. For this post, I will cover Hebrews 3-4 on rest.

Hebrews 3:6 “Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope [firm to the end].” We are God’s house, we are a walking Temple of the Holy Spirit. That is why it does not matter whether we worship on the mountain at Jerusalem or Samaria. John 4:20-21 “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say in Jerusalem is where people ought to worship. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…(23) But the hour is coming , and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.”

Let us continue on in Hebrews 3:7-9. “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years…” We do not want to be like that generation, of whom it is said, “They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known my ways.” A vital key to unlock the door of entering his rest is listening to God and knowing His heart. Hebrews 3:19 says, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” The other key is faith, for “it is impossible to please God without faith.” Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” How gracious that a treasure of our reward in believing God is the gift of entering into His rest.

Hebrews 4:1, “Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.” If you are going to choose to fear something, then fear this: have you yet entered His desirable rest? Is this Holy Scripture advising you to remain in fear? No! “Perfect love casts out all fear (for fear has to do with punishment).” Allow His Perfect Love, Jesus Christ, to extinguish your fear with the gift of receiving and entering His rest. Hebrews 4:2, “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” Notice how crucial it is to mix what we hear with the element of faith! Brothers and sisters, drink deep right now the gift of the faith of Christ which is in you! Hebrews 4:3, “For we who have believed do enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:4, “For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; and again in this place, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'” Notice that if you take these verses out of context, one might go away discouraged. Let us rightly divide the word of God, take the whole of biblical counsel and thereby learn of the good news of God’s grace: Hebrews 4:6, “Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, (7) again He designates a certain day, saying in David, ‘Today,’ after such a long time, as it has been said: ‘Today if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts.’ (8) For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. (9) There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. (10) For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.” Praise God for this scripture! Let us thank God even now for giving us this revelation of rest!

I pray for all those who read this, that even now, while it is still called “Today,” you would enter His rest with newness of heart, for He gave you a completely new heart through Christ’s work on the cross so that your work may cease. Enter His rest with thanksgiving and praise, enter His rest with abandoned worship in holiness and gratitude, enter His rest with a new identity as a child of God, the righteousness of God; enter His rest with abiding faith and communion with Christ: Hebrews 4:11, “Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience…(14) Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Amen.

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Holy Spirit Fellowship Arises in Eugene, OR

25 Jun

My wife and I are deeply joyful in planting a new fellowship in Eugene, Oregon with close friends and family. The Lord is inspiring us to cultivate a fellowship which is addicted to His Presence, Holy Spirit in the midst of His people. This results in abandoned spirits worshiping our Perfect Father and Lord Jesus Christ. Our worship does not end with the music; our worship to God is sustained throughout the preaching, the prophesying, the praying, and the overall fellowship time. The gatherings have a flexible structure, depending on the leading of Holy Spirit in the moment- that is to say, Holy Spirit relational guidance is our “Structure.” What does the Lord have to say about “structure?” Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…”

For the past three months, almost each week, the Lord graciously gives me a direct scriptural teaching from both the Old and New Testament that magnifies the grace of God in the sacrifice of Jesus. My heart for this fellowship is real revival and deep love. The meeting is meant not as a Socratic classroom, but a family room of believers who surround the Presence of God. Usually, one or two of our members will have an edifying prophetic word for the group or individuals. This fellowship is set up in a way that each person can commune with Jesus and receive rich edification. Our group consists of many musicians who  bask in worship and enjoy His goodness through musical worship. Sometimes, the body edification occurs during musical worship, and at other times we sit in the stillness of delighting in God: “Be still and know that I am God…” God has also inspired us to create an environment of love and acceptance wherein the church members can practice or utilize their various gifts of the Holy Spirit without feeling judged or out of place. This is possible through the real friendship and family dynamic we have with each other, doused with peace, joy, and righteousness in the Holy Ghost. We embrace humor, laughter, lightheartedness and joy; we have permission to be a joyful Bride of Christ- He is worthy of our affection (Psalm 33 says to “shout for joy in the Lord”). It is also vital that I mention the exciting aspect of healing. Yes, we believe in physical healing and miracles. We have had some major healing miracles occur and have verified them with doctor’s documentation (stay tuned for details). How thrilling to see God’s purpose prevail: Psalm 103:1-2 “Bless the Lord, O my soul… Forget not all His benefits. He heals all our diseases and forgives all our iniquities.” This verse is amazing: our Lord heals all our diseases and forgives all our sin. Wow. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come. The Lamb is worthy to receive all praise, honor, and glory, forever and ever. Amen.

The calling of God on our lives and our fellowship is simple: love relationship with Jesus Christ. The richness of the Word is also simple: the Bible comes alive with the voice of Holy Spirit and the listening hearts of His servants. Christ is the Word, therefore we understand and digest the Bible through a Christocentric perspective of God’s loving heart and sovereign plan of grace. We have entered the New Covenant. Our members come from a myriad of Christian traditions and streams: former Catholics, Baptists, Foursquare, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Calvary Chapel, Vineyard, Assembly of God, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Charismatic, and more. Yahweh is bringing together His Bride from all kinds of denominations and backgrounds. Here is one of the theme verses of our fellowship: “And I [the Lord] will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.” Jeremiah 32:39-41. The Father finds joy doing good for us! Did I forget to mention that we believe in the unchanging, scandalous goodness of God? This fellowship drinks of His goodness in Holy Spirit experiences, happy theology, and deep pleasure in Christ: “At His right hand are pleasures forevermore,” and “In His presence there is fulness of joy.” One of our elder-pastors gave the following benediction at our first gathering which the Lord reiterated through a visiting minister’s prophetic word two months later: Romans 15:13 “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Amen. 🙂 Hope to see you at our fellowship as the Lord leads.

Healing On A Bench

27 Feb

November 14, 2012, I went to Walmart for lunch and to visit my older brother here at Lebanon, OR.  Eric was asking anyone and everyone (as God led him) if they wanted healing. Many of them were not ready to receive something like that and declined. Eric never used to be bold in this manner of confronting strangers. He is now a lion with unmatched courage.

Some of the Walmart shoppers were, however, ready for healing. For instance, a teenager, maybe 16 years old, was humble and willing to receive prayer from Eric the Dynamite. This shy-looking teen was limping on one leg and all of a sudden I noticed both he and my brother were out of sight  (after I turned around and finished paying for my subway sandwich). I asked the clerk where my brother went (she too had received prayer from this same lion-healer). She motioned outside, and there I went.

The teenager was sitting on the bench outside while Eric and his toddler were at the boy’s leg level. Eric was praying for his leg to come into alignment (they were apparently uneven). As Eric was commanding the leg to be healed and to grow out into alignment, the boy explained and reacted to a hot sensation in his foot. He expressed awe and was very shocked and excited all at once. I was interceding and then realized he also began to feel the Holy Spirit come upon him- he said he felt something like shivers (a good presence of Holy Spirit) across his shoulders and body; at this point, he was overcome with the goodness of Holy Spirit and was touching his arms and shoulders in amazement, wondering where this ecstatic goodness was deriving from.

His legs evened out and the boy was magnificently blessed and amazed (I watched all of this happen and confirm it as an “eye witness”). We explained God’s love for him in Jesus Christ, and he received these words gladly.  His mother then came out and joined him on the bench, and we got to pray for her as well (she welcomed it). As we drove past them, the boy waved kindly and put his thumbs up in response to mine. It was a wonderful , miraculous, heavenly AND down-to-earth experience. My brother’s boldness inspires me.

“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles…None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them in cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” Acts 5:12-16

New Year Devotion

2 Jan

It is on my heart to write a sermon for the new year. Why? As we enter 2013 with dreams of revival and hopes of renewal, we also must enter the year with a small-scope personal revival. What is it to be set apart, to be holy as He is holy, and why is it worth our time to consider? With gusto to see the heavens open up (as if they were closed), and to see miracles and healing and large-scale revival in our midst once again, we must remember the soul-scopic scale of revival in our hearts.

Christ said clearly that the Kingdom of Heaven is inside of us, within us. If we allow an ounce of darkness to enter, the entire light will be muddled. Is there a cure? Indeed. His name is The Resurrection. His Name is Holiness Himself. Christ became sin so that we would become the righteousness of God. The cure is called substitution. Christ became our Substitute.

So what shall we do next? Shall we continue to sin so that grace may abound? Hell, no! Grace ought to inspire us toward righteous conduct. Freely you have been given, so freely give. If you live in the Spirit, then also walk in the Spirit. If the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead also lives in you, then you will have life to your mortal bodies. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world from sin. What good is a physician for the healthy? For Christ did not come to save the healthy, but the sick. The body of Jesus Christ was offered as a sacrifice for our sin, once for all. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law! There is no law against the amount of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control that we can have! Let the new wine flow! Life and that more abundantly is ours.

He is the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Him! Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not easily angered, it is not self-seeking; love hopes all things, endures all things, believes all things; Love never fails. In the end there is faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. The revival is inside of us! It shall pour forth from within. God is love.

Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for pursuing dry cisterns, for not finding our fulfillment in you and you alone. You are worthy of it, you are worth everything we can offer and more. You are worth our full attention and devotion. Please set us apart for your glorious purposes, and give us great gratitude for this. Give us joyful and thankful hearts and rid us of our tendency toward complaints. Rid us of our tendency toward jealousy, envy, lust, greed, and pride. You have replaced these grotesque former tendencies with your very own heart of purity and righteousness living inside of us. You have taken out our hearts of stone, our stubborn sinfulness, and have replaced it with a beautiful heart of flesh, our new sensitivity to your Spirit and His desires. You have granted us the nature of Your Holy Son, Jesus Himself. You have placed in us a newness of being, a regenerated being that realizes in full potential, glory upon glory, its image of God. You are my Revival.

 

The Joy Will Come in the Mourning?

21 Mar

From the straining of labor,
The staining from blood,
Life given: a favor,
The striving of love,

Will Joy come from the mourning?

By morning time joy will come,
She cries from the depths,
dark caves, dark clefts,
By mourning time will joy come?

When pain persists, love insists
That sunshine flows from panes of grace.
Joy will come from the mourning.

The night is still, is it still night?
In quietness and stillness is rest.
The day breaks forth, it dawned on me,
After mourning birthed joyfulness.