Sunday, June 21, 2020

Would you like a do-over?

Have you ever wished you could have a do-over?

Life throws us curve balls, things happen, and we are not satisfied, either with ourself or our circumstances.  Looking back, we may wish we could have grown up in a different place, a different family, perhaps more affluence, better school, etc.  

Of course wishing will never make anything happen.  It is good to review occasionally, even regularly, with a view to managing the path of our future.  If we want to change our future, action will be required.

Let's explore this a little.

What things do we wish had been different?  Here are some ideas:
  • Perhaps home was not a happy place.  We wish we grew up in a different family.
  • Perhaps we grew up in poverty.
  • Maybe school was a bad experience - I'm thing of deeper stuff here than whether or not we liked the classes we took.
  • Maybe we did things, or made choices in the past, that we wish we could change
  • Those words we said to our wife, husband, son or daughter.  We wish we could somehow take them back.
We cannot undo what happened in the past.  

That thing I said twenty years ago, has happened.  I cannot change this fact.  It is indelibly recorded in history.  The choices I made in my history have ongoing repercussions in my present and future.  I would like to keep the good things of my past, but somehow erase the negative things.

You know, such an erasing is possible.  In fact it is offered to each of us.

No matter what the things we have done or said, Jesus stands ready to forgive us.  

"Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow" Isaiah 1:18.  
"You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" Micah 7:19.
"Purge me with hyssop (soap), and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow" Psalm 51:7
"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" Psalm 103:12
"Repent (turn from your sin) ye therefore, and be converted (changed), that your sins may be blotted out" Acts 3:19

Our sins can be blotted out, because Jesus paid the price for us.  Why don't you pray the following prayer with us?

"Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on a cross for me, so that my sins could be forgiven.  Would you please forgive and blot out my sins.  I welcome you into my life as my Savior and Lord.  In Jesus name, Amen."

When we take this step, Jesus starts to transform our life, giving us purpose and a future, both in this life and the life to come.  Amazing!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Reacting to provocation ...

INTRODUCTION

On the news the last couple of weeks we have watched scenes of unprecedented violence and anger.  Shops have been looted, property vandalized and destroyed, and anger has boiled over into full-scale riots.  The event that precipitated this violence, was the tragic murder of George Floyd.  The perpetrator will be facing the courts and hopefully will never again be in a position to repeat his crime. The way in which the mobs reacted though, was totally out of proportion and indiscriminate.  These riots are an example of out of control anger and rage.

Anger affects all of us.  It is an emotion we all experience, at one time or another.  Hopefully we do not express our anger in the way the news has portrayed recently, but it is normal to experience this emotion, from time to time.

So today we are going to take a look at the issue of anger, examining what it is and how to deal with it.

WHAT IS ANGER?

Here are some definitions of anger:

"Anger is a natural, though sometimes unwanted or irrational, emotion that everybody experiences from time to time. Anger experts describe the emotion as a primary, natural emotion which has evolved as a way of surviving and protecting yourself from what is considered a wrong-doing."  https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/anger.html

"Anger is one of the basic human emotions, as elemental as happiness,happiness, sadness, anxiety or disgust. These emotions are tied to basic survival and were honed over the course of human history."  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/anger 

Anger is a basic emotion God gave us.  There is nothing wrong with this emotion of itself.  Where it goes bad, is in how we express our anger.  It can be expressed in a good way or a bad way.  Throwing rocks through store front windows, or beating someone up are obviously not the way God wanted us to use this emotion.

Ephesians  4:26 tells us "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath".  The Greek word orgizo used for 'angry' in this verse refers to being provoked or aroused to anger.  We have no control over other people.  People provoke us, get under our skin.  It is not sinful for us to become provoked by someone's actions or words.  Where the sin comes in, is in how we now deal with this.

So how should we deal with anger?

HOW WE CAN MANAGE ANGER

1.  Manage the anger

At one level, we can be aware of when anger is escalating.  We can notice what is happening in our body: is our heart beating faster, does our face feel flushed, are we breathing faster, are our muscles tensing up?  These are all ways in which the body is preparing for a possible confrontation, our in-built "fight or flight" mechanism.

When we recognize our danger signals, it is time to act. We make a choice to allow the anger to build up.  Or we choose to not go down that route. It is all about choices we make.

There are things we can do to de-escalate.  The first one is, be watching our reactions.  This in itself slows the process down.  Secondly, we can choose to create space between ourself and the person provoking us.  Later, when we have cooled down, we can go back to the person and talk things over more calmly.  In talking with them, do not judge them or impute motives.

2.  What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)?

At a deeper level, think about how God would want you to react.  Would God want you to cause harm to a fellow human being?  Would He want you to retaliate, rebel against the government, destroy property, become angry and violent?

What does it say about Jesus?  "He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth ... as a sheep before her shearers is dumb (silent), so he opened not his mouth" (Isaiah 53:7).

Jesus told us "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9)

Fruits of the Spirit include "love, joy, peace, long-suffering (patience), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23)

So, we can choose to not react angrily to provocation, but instead think of the other person as a fellow human being, made in God's image just as we were. They are deserving of our love and kindness, just as God has shown us that same love.

Notice that I have not discussed the rightness or wrongness of the other person's position.  Our reaction as a Christian is not determined by the nature of someone else's provocation. It does not matter who they are, or even if they are Christian or not.  We unilaterally decide to react in a Christian manner, no matter how much we may feel provoked.

In this way we follow Jesus' example, walking in his steps.

CONCLUSION

In the face of all the chaos and confusion around us, it is our job as Christians to show the way.  We are to be lights in the world, not stumbling around in the darkness.  There is hope for humanity, and we are privileged to share it!  Jesus is alive and well, and cares about every human being on this planet, whether they know him yet or not.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Our besetting sin?

"Leaving behind the sin that so easily besets us" (Hebrews 12:1)

Do you have a sin that so easily besets you? A sin that you fall into time and time again? Is it time to lay down that weight and hindrance in your walk with God?

King David had such a besetting sin. That sin was lust. In 2nd Samuel 11 and 12, we are told about an incident in David's life when he caved in to the sin of lust. It is the story of David's adultery with Bathsheba, and the sins committed in attempting to cover it up, deception, betrayal, murder.

Many of us have a problem with lust. Here are some startling statistics about pornography:


  • 25% of search engine requests are related to sex
  • 35% of downloads from the internet are pornographic
  • 40 million Americans say they regularly visit porn sites
  • 70% of men aged 18 to 24 visit a porn site at least once per month
  • The largest consumer group of online porn is men between the ages of 35 and 49
  • One-third of all internet porn users are women
  • Sunday is the most popular day of the week for viewing porn (https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/process-addiction/porn-addiction/related/pornography-statistics/#gref)
  • 55% of married men say they watch porn at least once a month, compared to 70% of not married men. 
  • The following percentages of men say they view pornography at least several times a week:
  • 18-30-year-olds, 63%
  • 31-49-year-olds, 38%
  • 50-68-year-olds, 25% (http://www.provenmen.org/2014pornsurvey/)

David's incident with Bathsheba was not isolated. It was the culmination of years of sexual self-gratification. David's first wife was Michal. Then he married Abigail, then Ahinoam. Then followed Maacah, Haggith, Abital, Eglah (2 Samuel 3:2-5). This was while David still lived in Hebron, during his first seven and a half years as king over Judah (2 Samuel 2:11). He took even more women as wives and concubines when he reigned from Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:13). David was never satisfied sexually. David had a problem with lust.

Gods intention for us is that a man would have only one wife, to whom we would cleave and have a faithful close relationship, until death do us part (Genesis 2:24, Malachi 2:14-16, Matthew 19:5, Ephesians 5:31-33, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12, 1 Timothy 5:9, Titus 1:6).  When we disregard this, like David did, it has repercussions.  

This is why it is so important that we confess our sin, and repent to God for having broken God's marriage laws, and damaged our relationships till it has become the norm to divorce and remarry.  This is not God's way. His way is the way of repentance and reconciliation, not abandonment.

"Lord, please forgive us for being unfaithful to the wife of our youth, and for having indulged in sexual addiction.  Please forgive us and cleanse our minds and hearts. In Jesus name. Amen."

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Worship With Us! - May 3, 2020

Good morning everyone!  The weather is great, and we have a chance to worship together, on our laptop, phone, tablet or TV!

Join with us as we worship the God who is totally in control of this planet,  including out of control viruses!


Let it Rain - Michael W Smith - 

Do it Again - Elevation - 

What a Beautiful Name/Break Every Chain - Hillsong Worship - 


MESSAGE

Title:          Dealing with my anger
Scripture: Ephesians 4:26
Date:          May 3, 2020

INTRODUCTION
  • "A father of three won a shouting contest with a roar louder than a passing train. "If you want a war, you go!" Yoshihiko Kato shouted. The sound meter registered 115.8 decibels, louder than the racket of a train passing overhead on an elevated railroad. For that winning shout, Kato won the $750 grand prize of the 10th annual Halls Year-End Loud Voice Contest. Kato admitted that he probably built up his loud voice shouting at his children."  (Resource, Jan/Feb 1991)
  • How many of us can echo this story?  
  • How many of us have a problem with anger?
  • Statistics don't lie.  "Asked about their feelings the previous day, the majority of Americans (55%) in 2018 said they had experienced stress during a lot of the day, nearly half (45%) said they felt worried a lot and more than one in five (22%) said they felt anger a lot." (https://news.gallup.com/poll/249098/americans-stress-worry-anger-intensified-2018.aspx
  • These statistics indicate anger is a stated problem to over one in five Americans. Let  alone those who were not willing to admit to the issue.  Another statistic says that around one in three people knows someone who has an anger problem 
  • This morning we are going to examine the problem of anger 
WHAT IS ANGER?
  • Anger is a normal and natural emotion which can be triggered in different ways.
  • "Common roots of anger include fear, pain and frustration.  For example, some people become angry as a fearful reaction to uncertainty, to fear of losing a job, or to fear of failure. Others become angry when they are hurt in relationships or are caused pain by close friends"(http://www.markmerrill.com/3-ways-to-get-to-the-root-of-anger 
  • Anger itself is not a sin. It is how we express that emotion that could be sinful.
  • "Be ye angry and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil." (Ephesians 4:26)
  • We can choose to ignore the emotion anger.  But if we do this, it stays there, pent up inside.  
  • "Whenever we ignore or bury an emotion, it is buried alive. At some time and in some way, that ignored or buried emotion will express itself – physically, psychologically, or spiritually.” (http://www.markmerrill.com/3-ways-to-get-to-the-root-of-anger/)
  • Situations continue, more anger is triggered, till the pent up emotion explodes like a volcano, hurting ourselves and the people around us.  That is not God's way to deal with anger. God is a God of love, uncontrolled anger is selfish.
SO HOW CAN WE DEAL WITH ANGER?
  • Reacting angrily results in hurt feelings, pain and damaged relationships. 
  • This is not the way God would have us respond to others
  • God's way will be one that is based in love for the other person. 
  • The initial emotion of anger, however, is usually a defense against 1) the object of our fear, 2) the source of our pain, or 3) the reason for our frustration. It is not motivated by love for the other.
  • So how can we deal with these triggers?
  • 1. Replace fear with love
  • "Perfect love casts out fear" (1 John 4:18)
  • When we are afraid of someone, our thoughts are centered on ourselves and how we feel. Fear is selfish. We may think the fear is justified, but ultimately it is all about me.
  • God's love on the other hand is outgoing, totally selfless. 
  • John here tells us if we truly love the other person we will not be afraid of them. "He that fears is not made perfect in love"(1 John 4:18)
  • So, learn to love the other. See them the way God sees them. See them as a brother, not an adversary.
  • 2. Forgive and let go of the source of our pain
  • There is so much hurt and pain. 
  • Many of us experienced the pain of abuse while growing up. 
  • This pain led to us building walls to prevent that pain happening again.  Our anger is a way we protect ourselves.
  • But ultimately, that anger hurts us more than the other person. It robs us of inner peace, it robs us of relationships that could have been, and it robs us of our health.
  • Gods way for us to deal with the pain, is to forgive the one who hurt us, and then let that debt go. (Matthew 6:12, 5:43-45, 18:21-35)
  • This then enables us to move on with our life. We no longer need to be angry at that person.
  • 3. Recognize others are answerable to God, not us.
  • Frustration with others usually comes from us expecting them to see things the same way we do.
  • This however is unreasonable. 
  • Each person has their own family background,  their own set of experiences, which created their own perspectives and frame of thinking.
  • We can't expect them to see everything the way we do.
  • Ultimately, they are answerable to God, not us.
  • "Who are you that judges another man's servant? to his own master he stands or falls." (Roman's 14:4)
HOW CAN I MANAGE ANGER?
  • "Abraham Lincoln's secretary of war,  Edwin Stanton, was angered by an army officer who accused him of favoritism.  Stanton complained to Lincoln, who suggested that Stanton write the officer a sharp letter.  Stanton did so, and showed the strongly worded missive to the president.  "What are you going to do with it?" Lincoln inquired.  Surprised, Stanton replied, "Send it." Lincoln shook his head. "You dont want to send that letter," he said. "Put it in the stove. That's what I do when I have written a letter while I am angry. It's a good letter and you had a good time writing it and feel better. Now burn it, sand write another." (Today in the Word, February 1991, p. 9.)
  • Another way you can manage anger is to delay your reaction. You can do this by taking a walk, do some gardening, watch a movie. Just dont respond in the heat of the moment.
  • Another way is to sit down and list the other person's good qualities and actions, so you see them in perspective
  • Finally, think about long term consequences.  Do you really want to risk destroying a relationship? 
CONCLUSION
  • Each of us is able to control our anger
  • We are able to manage our tongue and respond to other people around us with love and consideration. 
  • We are able to deal with people Gods way. 
  • We may feel this is asking too much. 
  • God says "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27)
  • You can do this! Be encouraged!
PRAYER
  • "Lord, please help me as I face my anger and learn to react to it in the way you would. Thank you that all things are possible with you. In Jesus name, amen."

Friday, May 1, 2020

Christians and Politics ...

"Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." (1 Chronicles 16:22)

In context, this verse is speaking of God protecting his chosen people, he fights on their behalf. God's people are to be looked out for more than the ungodly (1). God takes care of his own. Is this because these people are somehow better than the rest? No, we all sin. Every child of God sins. The Christian however has surrendered to God and his sins are forgiven, blotted out. This is as opposed to the ungodly who will die in their sins, and reap the consequences of their actions (2). When a person turns to God in repentance, they receive an anointing (3).  This means they are set apart, for God's purpose (4). So there is an anointing on the Christian. The Christian thus is under God's protection.

There is another category of people who also are under God's protection. This category is those people God has set over us to rule us (5). Governing leaders are placed over us by God. We may not be totally aware of this, but God takes an active interest in our politics. God in fact decides who our rulers will be (6). We may think it is our choice through the democratic process, but ultimately God decides who will be in charge over us (7).  Our rulers may or may not be Christian. They may be good rulers or evil.  God however has placed them over us. As such, they have a specific purpose in God's plan. David recognized this when he had the opportunity to get rid of king Saul, and remembered the verse which says "touch not mine anointed" (8). Even Paul recognized this after having been slapped across the face by the high priest, when he quoted "you shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people" (9).

So as Christians we should respect those God has placed over us. In fact, we should pray for them. This applies to all those in authority over us (10).  King, governor, employer. Whether they are good or evil.

"Lord God, who reigns supreme over all authority and power, we ask that you would lead and guide those you have set over us. Help them make wise choices and create and maintain an environment where your worship can flourish. Thank you Jesus. Amen"

--------------------
NOTES
1. Galatians 6:10
2. Ezekiel 3:18-21
3. 1 John 2:27
4. 1 Peter 2:9
5. Romans 13:1-7
6. Daniel 2:21, 37
7. Daniel 4:32
8. 1 Chronicles 16:22
9. Acts 23:5
10. 1 Peter 2:13-18

Monday, April 27, 2020

God's love inside us - Matthew 14:14

Matt 14:14 "Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick."

If we want to be used by God to do mighty things, it has to start inside us. The impetus to heal starts with compassion inside, empathy for people in their hurt and pain. This is not something you can "fake it till you make it". It comes from the inside out.

God is love (1). When we surrender to Jesus, he comes to live inside us (2), and our spirit is transformed to be like his. We are encouraged to have the same thought motivation that Jesus had (3). The sacrificial love that led him to leave heaven, become a person like us, and ultimately pay the supreme price for our total healing in spirit, soul and body (4).

How do we get that love? It is something that God shares when he makes his home in us (5).  It is the primary fruit of having the Holy Spirit dwelling inside (6). So this evidence of God's presence should be evident in the Christian life.

Now, maybe we have truly received Jesus into our life, and yet do not feel that compassion for the hurting.  How could this be?

We are a product of our heredity and our past.  Many of us have experienced emotional hurt and pain, and as a consequence built up protective walls to stop us being hurt in the future. These are not literal walls, but thought patterns in our mind. At some point we learned to shut off emotion and feeling, as a protection. As we progress through life we now find difficulty feeling and expressing emotion. 

If we are to be God's hands and feet, we need to feel his love for this hurting world (7).  This inability to feel compassion for others needs healing, if we are to move forward in God's purpose for us. How?

Jesus paid the price so we may be healed. Both physically and emotionally. 

Just as forgiveness for sin requires confession and repentance, healing of our emotions also requires confession that we have a problem, and a determination to live differently, allowing God's love to shine through.

We may need pastoral counseling to work through this.  We may feel ashamed that we, as a Christian, need help with something seemingly so basic. Please know there is no shame in changing to be more like Christ.  But it may require taking a step, reaching out for help. Feel free to contact us if you need this.  

--------------------
NOTES
1. 1 John 4:8
2. John 14:17, 23
3. Philippians 2:5
4. Philippians 2:5-8
5. Colossians 1:27
6. Galatians 5:22-23
7. 1 John 4:10-11, 20-21

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Worship Service - April 26, 2020

Welcome to the Freedom Fellowship online worship service!

"Lord, as we come together online this morning, would you please touch our hearts and help us receive all you have for us at this time!  Encourage us with your word.  In Jesus name, Amen."

WORSHIP

Please click on the following worship video links, and worship with us!



Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) -

Our God -

Do It Again -




MESSAGE

Title:     Our Heroes!
Text:     Hebrews 11
Date:     April 26, 2020

INTRODUCTION

When I was growing up, I used to devour the Sunday comic section of the newspaper!  There were all kinds of goodies there, like crossword puzzles, fun jokes (at my level!), problems to solve, tests of my observation skills.  What I especially enjoyed, was the comics, especially Prince Valiant.  I would look forward to each weeks new installment of Prince Valiant's adventures!  He was my hero!

There is something inside each of us that wants heroes.  We want someone to look up to, someone to copy, a role model for us.  As we grow older, our need for comic book heroes goes away, and yet there remains a hunger for people to look up to, role models to show us the way.


Today we are going to take a look at some of the qualities of heroes of the faith!

HEROIC SUPERPOWERS

Hebrews 11 gives a short list of some of the heroes of the faith, people like you and me!  These were flesh and blood people.  They did not have the super powers of our comic book heroes.  But they had other much greater qualities, which became evident in the fires of trial and persecution.

They had the quality of courage

Moses grew up as a prince in Pharaoh's court, was exiled for killing an Egyptian.  Forty years later, God calls Moses to go back to the place of his humiliation.  He returned not to wallow in self-pity, but to courageously stand up to Pharaoh, and lead the Israelites to freedom!  This took incredible courage!  And Moses won a place in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame. (1)

Daniel was captured by the Babylonians, while still a young man.  God works in his life, gives him opportunities, and then starts to speak to him in his dreams.  Daniel has to stand up and courageously speak the prophetic dreams, which then come to pass.  In doing this he makes enemies.  These opponents try to engineer his death.  Daniel is faced with a choice, continue his walk with God, or be thrown to the lions.  Courageously, he makes his choice, and is hurled into the lion pit.  That took courage! (2)

Many others are mentioned:  "And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground." (3)  

They were men and women of courage.

They had the quality of faith

This courage was not a quality they necessarily grew up with.  It may not have been a courage born of training and development.  This courage come from their faith!

This chapter, Hebrews 11 is known as the Faith Chapter.  This is because each of these heroic examples is introduced by the words "By faith [name] [what we remember them for]."  These are heroes of faith!  This is the source of their courage!

What is this faith?  This chapter explains that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (4). 

This faith comes from not believing only in the physical or tangible, but also believing that things promised will happen, that the spirit is just as real as the physical.


We look at the circumstances around us and we may be fearful and scared.  But God's promise is to be with us continually, never leaving our side (5)  If we believe God to be trust worthy and faithful, we trust that he is with us in the fire, "the pestilence that walks in darkness" (6) , that he promises to provide for our needs (7) and to heal our sicknesses (8) 

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgives all thine iniquities; who heals all thy diseases; Who redeems thy life from destruction; who crowns thee with loving kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's". (9)

They kept their eyes on Jesus

Just like Peter who walked on the water to Jesus (10), in an amazing example of faith, it is when we keep our eyes on Jesus (19) that we can live the life of faith.  When we take our eyes off Jesus, that is when we focus on our surroundings and our faith falters.

Faith comes from seeing that our life is all about Jesus.  He is the author and perfecter of our faith (11).  He is the one who walks with us through everything we experience both good and bad. It is Jesus who calls us to an amazing future, both in this life and the life to come!

Our heroes of the Hall of Fame, looked beyond this life, beyond the here and now.

They looked toward a time when they would live forever in a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God (12). They were not concerned about preserving their physical life, as long as their future was assured!  (13)

These Super Heroes had special powers,  Their powers were birthed out of a vision for the future that could not be quenched, a faith that whatever God had promised was as good as done, and a courage that was not afraid of standing up for their testimony (14)!

THE SEARCH FOR SUPER HEROES

This world is searching for heroes, people who will lead them to a better and a safer future.  People are parched and thirsty for things of true value.  The fields are white, ready for harvest, but God says, where are the laborers? (15)

God is looking for super heroes, who will stand up and say "Send me!"  People who have caught the vision of the big picture, a life that goes on into all eternity, an inheritance in heaven, pure and undefiled (16).

God is crying out "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (17)  Who will go out and fearlessly stand for me?  who will shun the pleasures of sin, for the sake of obeying the call?  Who will say, "Send me!" (18) 

Are you a super hero?  Have you been waiting quietly in the shadows, but now you itch to obey the call? To step out in courage, to fearlessly stand on the side of right, to fight the fight of faith, and to prepare a people to meet their God?

PRAYER

"Lord, I come to you today, knowing that you have been preparing laborers for the harvest.  Give me the vision, the faith and the courage to step forward and respond, Lord, send me.  Raise up an army of workers, laborers who will bring in the end-time harvest.  Let me be one of them Lord.  In Jesus name, Amen."

Let's listen to the final song again:

Do It Again -




NOTES
-------------------

(1)   Hebrews 11:24-29
(2)   Hebrews 11:33
(3)   Hebrews 11:32-38)
(4)   Hebrews 11:1
(5)  Hebrews 13:5).
(6)   Psalm 91:6
(7)   Matt 6:33
(8)   Exodus 15:26, Psalm 103:3, 1 Pet 2:24
(9)   Psalm 103:2-5
(10) Matthew 14:25-32
(11)  Phil 1:6
(12)  Heb 11:10
(13)  Matthew 16:25
(14)  Revelation 12:11
(15)  Matthew 9:37-38
(16) 1 Peter 1:4
(17)  Isaiah 11:6
(18)  Isaiah 11:8
(19)  Hebrews 12:1-2


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Worship Service - April 19, 2020

Good morning everyone! I pray you are doing great, despite social distancing and limitations on your normal activities!

However, if you are not well, please feel free to email us at freedomfellowshiponline@gmail.com. I promise that we will pray for you, and ask for the Lord's intervention in your life.

WORSHIP

Here are today's worship songs. Please feel free to just listen to them, or to sing along as you wish, wherever you may be.



The Blessing (Live) - Elevation Worship 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6aygmvzM4  



God of Revival - Bethel Music 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFWF9rSAWF8  



Way Maker (Live from Passion 2020) - Passion  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idJgysaRKXU  



Message Title: Let Revival Come!
Scripture: 1 Kings 17-18
Date: April 19, 2020

INTRODUCTION

It was summertime. The sun beat down mercilessly on a dry and thirsty land. Streams and pools of water had dried up, the crops had failed, and food was scarce. The population of Israel was hurting, badly. No doubt vulnerable people were dying then too, just like today.

Why was this happening? Wasn't this nation known as God's chosen people? Why had God seemingly turned his back on them? Why did it seem as though the nation was cursed by God, rather than blessed?

Today we are going to look at how God used a terrible time of hardship and turned it into blessing. There is hope for us as a nation, too.

BACKGROUND

Elijah the prophet was God's messenger to the Israelites during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab was one of the worst kings the Israelites had had during their checkered history.

Greatly influenced by his Phoenician wife Jezebel, Ahab had spread the worship of Baal the sun-god throughout Israel. Baal worship was rampant in Israel's neighboring countries, and now this sick religion had spread its tentacles throughout Israel, God's chosen people.

Baal worship involved both men and women, and was centered around worshiping the sun, the God of fire. This was a fertility religion and promiscuity was a central part of worship. Possibly the worst part of these pagan practices, was that the people would sacrifice their children by burning them, as an offering to Baal (1).

No wonder that God forbade the Israelites to worship him like the surrounding nations did (2). Yet the Israelites had combined their worship of God, with the worship of Baal, creating a religion which was a travesty.

However, God does not give up on his people, despite the terrible things they were now doing.

So God sends Elijah to king Ahab, telling the king that God is going to impose a drought on Israel. This drought lasted three and a half years (3). The land suffered (4), and as a consequence in an agrarian society, people went hungry, there was famine in the land (5).

TIME FOR CHANGE

After the allotted time, God sends Elijah back to Ahab to announce that God was now going to cause the drought to finish - rain was coming. We see from this that God is a merciful God. The nation had not yet turned back to God, or away from Baal. Yet God said, I am going to send rain (6).

Then, having pronounced an end to the drought, God sends Elijah to call for national repentance.
Elijah calls the prophets of Baal to a show down on Mount Carmel. Elijah challenges them to an epic duel, to determine who is real - the God of their fathers, or Baal?

Elijah gets the prophets of Baal to build and altar and prepare a sacrifice, without lighting the fire. Elijah also, prepares an altar and a sacrifice. He, however, drenches the sacrifice and the altar with water, even filling a ditch around the altar with water. Now, God's prophet challenges the Baal worshipers to call on their God to send down fire from heaven. Nothing happens. They dance around the altar, cutting themselves, calling out for an answer from the sun-god. Nothing.

Then Elijah utters a short prayer. God responds immediately, sending fire from heaven onto the altar and the sacrifice. The fire consumes everything!

A CALL TO REPENTANCE

When the Israelites see how the God of their fathers responds, while the god called Baal is obviously just a figment of their imagination, they repent. "The Lord, He is the God, the Lord, He is God" (7).

God does not deal with us according to our sins (8). If God did punish us for our sins, nothing would be left of us. We murder our unborn children - 862,000 abortions in the United States in 2017 (9), around 56 million abortions each year worldwide (10). How does this compare with the child sacrifice of Ball worship? No, we do not burn them alive with fire. Instead we dismember them while their hearts are still beating, and throw them out with the trash.

Thankfully God is a merciful God. And there will be an end to the current epidemic.

It is time that we as a nation, and world-wide, turn back to God in heartfelt repentance. We have the blood of millions of unborn babies on our hands, quite apart from having left God out of our society.

We as a nation, and as individuals, need to beg the Lord for forgiveness.

PRAYER

"Lord, we turn to you on behalf of our nation and for ourselves and beg for your forgiveness. As a Christian nation we have turned away from you and slaughtered our children on the altars of convenience. We have thrown the Bible out of our public places, our schools have taught our children perverted sexual practices and abolished prayer, and we have rebelled against you.

"Please forgive our many sins, and bring the rain of revival upon this land again. There has been a drought of the Holy Spirit, please return and draw your people back to you.

"Thank you Lord, for your unending and totally undeserved mercy. Help us turn back to you. In Jesus' name, amen".




NOTES
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1. "The Canaanites worshiped Baal as the sun god and as the storm God - he is usually depicted holding a lightning bolt - who defeated enemies and produced crtops. They also worshiped him as a fertility god who provided children. Baal worship was rooted in sensuality and involved ritualistic prostitution in the temples. At times, appeasing Baal required human sacrifice, usually the firstborn of the one making the sacrifice (Jeremiah 19:5). The priests of Baal appealed to their god in rites of wild abandon which included loud, ecstatic cries and self-inflicted injury (1 Kings 18:28)" - https://www.gotquestions.org/who-Baal.html
2. Deuteronomy 12:30
3. James 5:17
4. 1 Kings 17:7
5. 1 Kings 17:12
6. 1 Kings 18:1
7. 1 Kings 18:39
8. Psalms 103:10
9. https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2019/09/us-abortion-rate-continues-drop-once-again-state-abortion-restrictions-are-not-main
10.  https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-worldwide

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Slaying our giants! - 1 Samuel 17

It is summer. The creek in the valley has slowed to a trickle. Tension fills the air. The Israelite soldiers fearfully gaze across the valley, at the opposing army. Suddenly they see the object of their fear, the giant Goliath, striding out to taunt them. Goliath is 9 1/2 foot tall, probably 4 foot taller than the rest. He challenges the Israelites to send out their strongest warrior to fight him, one on one.

The Israelite soldiers tremble with fear. David, a shepherd boy, has a divine appointment that day. He has experienced God's intervention before. He knows God wants him to do battle with the giant.

David clambers down to the creek, and selects five smooth stones, as ammunition for his sling. He was adept at using the sling, it was part of his skillset.  He climbs up the opposing hill, till he stands before his enemy, Goliath. David takes a stone, places it in the sling, then throws it with all his might at the giant. God guides the stone to exactly the right spot, the forehead,  and the giant is knocked senseless. David pulls the giant's sword, and slays Goliath!

Quite a story.

We all have giants in our lives.  Maybe it is the fight against addiction. Maybe it is some other issue like anger or anxiety.  Or something else.

It is Gods will that we overcome our enemy (1). This will take courage, our giant is not just going to play dead (2).  It will take standing against the enemy's attack (3).

But as with David, God stands ready to fight alongside us (4). There is a partnership principle in our relationship with God. When we draw near to God, he draws near to us (5). David said God teaches his hands to war (6). We are responsible to fight. But it is God who gives us the victory (7).

Whatever our giant,  we can overcome it, with God at our side. We were created to be slayers of giants! Both physical and spiritual.

Continue reading this blog to learn about how to deal with the issues in your life!

Keep on fighting the good fight!

Notes
1.  Revelation 3:12
2.  1 Peter 5:8
3.  Ephesians 6:13
4.  Exodus 14:14, Deuteronomy 1:30
5.  James 4:8
6.  Psalm 18:34, 144:1
7.  1 Corinthians 15:57

Monday, April 13, 2020

You can conquer! - 1 Samuel 14:6

1 Samuel 14:6 "... for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few"

The Philistines assembled to squelch a perceived threat from the Israelites. The Israelite king Saul and prince Jonathan commanded three thousand warriors. Only Saul and Jonathan had swords. The Philistines assembled an enormous force: thirty thousand chariots, six thousand cavalry, and warriors numbering "like the sand on the seashore". Overwhelming odds!

The Israelites hunker down on one side of a pass, the Philistines camp on the other side. The sides of the pass are steep.

Meanwhile, Prince Jonathan is a believer. He trusts God. He knows Israel is God's chosen people. Jonathan decides to step out in faith. He tells his armorbearer God is not worried by the huge size of the enemy. He will ask God to show his will by a very specific sign.

Jonathan takes a step of faith. He immediately springs into action. He and the armorbearer clamber up the opposite side of the pass. They reach the top, and now directly face the enemy. It is at this moment that God responds! He clearly answers Jonathan's prayer. Jonathan commences battle. One man against millions. He strikes down twenty warriors. But how can he destroy a whole army?

God answers Jonathan's step of faith by going to battle on his behalf. A tremor of fear goes through the enemy's ranks. The ground quakes. The Philistine warriors start fighting each other. The Israeli lookouts see the Philistine army melting away. Saul mobilizes the troops and they pursue the Philistines. God gives the Israelites an amazing victory.

We too face huge enemies. Today we face the coronavirus and many other enemies too. Like addiction, emotional issues like anger or fear. Depression and hopelessness. These enemies may seem impossible for us to conquer. But we can be sure it is God's will that we overcome these overwhelming enemies.

It takes a step of faith. Like prince Jonathan, we must recognize that God wants us to vanquish the enemy. We can't do it on our own, but God plus us are a majority! With God nothing is impossible (1). We trust God and he gives us the victory (2). The battle is the Lord's (3).

So whatever the battles we face, God is ready to give us the victory! All it takes, is a Jonathan taking a step of faith!

Will you be that Jonathan?

Notes
1. Luke 1:37
2. 1 Cor 15:57
3. 1 Sam 17:47

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Resurrection Day!


Happy Resurrection Day!

Most of us are self-distancing and taking precautions against coronavirus. Many of us are afraid of the future. We may have lost our job and are fearful of bankruptcy. We may be afraid of becoming ill, and dying.

There are a host of issues we could name here.

But today is Resurrection Day! This day we celebrate hope for the future!

3 days before

Let’s go back 2000 years

3 days ago twelve men sat around a table, and observed Passover. Part of the meal was roast lamb, symbolizing Jesus our Passover (1). After the meal, they went to the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was arrested. The disciples scattered. After a mock trial, Jesus, who was innocent, was scourged and then condemned to crucifixion.

At 3pm, Jesus cried out “It is finished” and died (2)

Disciples took down Jesus body from the cross, wrapped it in burial cloth, and laid it in a nearby tomb.












What did Jesus mean by saying “It is finished”?

“It is finished” referred to many things Jesus came to do.  He came to preach good news, he came to heal the sick and set people in spiritual bondage, free.

The biggest thing he meant, though, is that as his final act, he was now dying on our behalf.

Why is it that Jesus had to die for us?

It is because since Adam and Eve, mankind has sinned, broken God’s laws.  All of us have sinned. I have and you have. Our collective sin and guilt allowed Satan to bring suffering and death on this planet. This would include the current coronavirus pandemic.

By Jesus dying on our behalf, if we wish to receive it, our guilt can now be removed. He paid the price for us.  The wages of sin is death (3) - Jesus had to die.

Resurrection Day 

Sunday morning some women went to the tomb where Jesus had been buried. They found that the stone blocking entrance to the tomb had been rolled away.

The tomb was empty!


Later on, Peter and John ran to the tomb and verified that the tomb was empty. That evening, Jesus appeared to the disciples, showing he was truly alive. For over five weeks, Jesus appeared to the disciples. Over 500 eye witnesses! (4)

Resurrection day reminds us that Jesus did not stay in the tomb. He was resurrected to new life!  

Not only did he die so we could be forgiven, he now lives to walk with us on this journey

Psalm 139:5 says You are all around me, in front of me and behind me. You have put your hand upon me”. So in this time of fear and uncertainty, Jesus is the Rock we can depend upon. We are not on our own in the face of impending calamity. Whatever we go through, whether it is loss of a job, fear of financial disgrace, if we are sick and even if we die, Jesus is with us. He told us “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (5)

Conclusion

So Resurrection Day is a day of hope.

We are not on our own as we face the challenges of life, no matter how insurmountable they may seem. Our hurts, hangups and addictions have an answer.

Jesus is not still hanging on the cross, or buried in the tomb.  Jesus is alive and truly with us. He welcomes all who want this relationship with him, to turn to him.

Do you want to start this relationship with him today? Please pray the following prayer together with me.

“Lord Jesus, thank you for dying in my place so my sins can be forgiven.
“Please remove my guilt from me and give me a fresh start.
“I surrender my life to you and ask you to come in and transform me from the inside out.
“Thank you for hearing and responding to this prayer.
“In Jesus’ name, amen”

If you prayed this prayer today, please let us know by emailing us at healingshepherd@yahoo.com or by commenting below.  We will send you literature to help you on your personal journey with the One who is the true shepherd of your soul.  

Prayer:  
“Lord we come to you this morning on Resurrection Day.
“We celebrate the fact that you were raised from the dead, walked out of the tomb, and have been transforming lives ever since.
“We pray that you would be with each one of us and walk through our individual storms with us.
“Please cause the coronavirus epidemic to come to an end, and keep your people safe from the pestilence that walks at noonday.
“We ask that we as a nation would have a change of heart and turn to you.
“And we pray for your blessing upon us this day.  
“Thank you for your incredible love for us. In Jesus name, amen.”

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NOTES
1.  1 Cor 5:7
2. John 19:30
3. 1 John 3:4
4. Acts 1:3, 1 Corinthians 15:6
5. Heb 13:5