Thursday, March 31, 2011


SPLASH 1 Matthew 9:35-38


(The powerpoint in pdf format may be found here in the downloadable media player


35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  36  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Why are you so passionate about your faith?
Why won’t you let me believe what I want to believe and let it be?
Why won’t you give a little, and stop saying Jesus is the only way?
Why are you so persistent about sharing your faith?

I can actually answer all of these questions with the same reply, “The cause of God is too valuable!”

Some would say, “There are a lot of good causes in life, but you don’t find those involved in them being as zealous as some Christians.” That’s true, because there is no other cause as valuable as God’s cause. I want to spend the next several minutes explaining why God’s cause is more valuable than any other cause in life.

It Saves!        The first reason why God’s cause is so valuable is that it is the only cause that saves. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Then, Romans 6:23 explains the consequences of just one sin saying, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Realizing that we have all sinned and can’t save ourselves, God came in the person of Jesus Christ to rescue us from our fall and pay the price for our sins. Jesus knew this was His cause, for in Luke 19:10 He said He had come to “Seek and to save that which is lost.”

Do you realize that Jesus had several opportunities to give up the cause? Before He ever started, Satan tried to stop Him by tempting Him to go another direction. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the people laid palm branches before Him and were ready to crown Him king, but He valued God’s cause over their crown. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to God wanting to avoid the cross, but understanding His sacrifice was the only way we could be saved, He stayed with God’s cause.

Then after His resurrection, Jesus did something spiritually significant. He took the cause God had given Him and passed it on to His followers. In John 20:21, Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus said a lot in that short statement. He said, “The Father sent Me to seek and to save that which is lost, and He sent Me to sacrifice Myself that the lost might be saved. Now … that cause is yours.” And for the cause, like Christ, you must be willing to be sent, willing to be spent, for you carry with you the only means of salvation. Acts 4:12 makes this clear saying,

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

I believe more would understand our passion to share Christ, if Christ were the cure for cancer. People would understand why we race to the hospitals, homes, and hospice centers. We carry the only cure that will save their lives – if Christ were the cure for cancer.

Yet, Jesus didn’t come to save us from cancer, but to save us from our sins. His death and resurrection didn’t produce a physical antidote, but a spiritual one. A physical antidote may keep you alive for a while, but Jesus gives you life now and forever.

Therefore, try to understand why we would go across the street to a neighbor, across the hall to a co-worker, across town to a friend, and across the world to a completely different culture. Jesus has given us the same cause God gave Him. We carry the only cure for the soul – salvation through Jesus Christ. That’s why God’s cause is the greatest cause of all. It’s the only cause that saves.

It Simplifies! Another value of God’s cause is that it simplifies life. Before ascending into heaven Jesus tells His followers in Matthew 28:18-20, 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The cause Jesus passes on to His followers is clear. We are to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

It Fulfills!            In John 4, Jesus is tired and hungry so He stops at a well while His disciples go get food. A woman comes to the well. When Jesus tries to talk with her, it’s apparent that life has left her bitter. Jesus, who knows all, tells her that she has had five husbands and is now living with a man and that life has left her empty. When He tells her that He’s the Messiah, she surrenders her life to Him and runs to tell others what has happened. As she’s running from Jesus, His disciples walk up to Him to ask if He wants something to eat. Listen to what Jesus says in verses 31-34. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” 34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

It’s as though Jesus is saying, “I may have been tired and hungry before, but I’m fulfilled now.” Nothing can compare to the fulfillment of fulfilling God’s cause by meeting a need.

Everyone can experience this on a smaller scale. Depression causes one’s eyes, emotions and energy to be turned inward. One way to change depression is to change the individual’s focus. Tell them to look for someone else in need and help them. It’s surprising how meeting a need in someone else fulfills a need in you. This was evident during both World War 1 and World War 2 when many of those suffering depression found the current crisis enough to help them lift their eyes from themselves to the crisis.  Psychiatric wards emptied.  If this happens on a small scale, consider what happens on a spiritual scale. Consider the fulfillment you have when you help someone resolve the greatest need in his or her life – establishing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The fulfillment is indescribable, not only because you met such a great need, but because you did it working beside an awesome God. Jesus expresses this truth in John 5:17, 19-20. 17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” 19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”

It Lasts! There’s one last aspect of God’s cause that makes it valuable. Much of what you do working by God’s side on God’s cause will last. Jesus made this clear in John 15:16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last.” Some have given their lives to building a financial empire. Yet not one has lasted. Others have dedicated themselves to great works so their names are attached to a building somewhere. Though some of the buildings have stood for a long time, none will last forever. In fact, there is only one effort that will produce fruit that lasts forever. It’s fruit produced by working on God’s cause.

The Compassion of Jesus Motivates Us Over The Slowness Of the Heart

For many months, everywhere Jesus went, He was followed by large crowds. If He got in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee, they would either follow in other boats or run around the shore and meet Him on the other side. They followed Him from town to town and even house to house. Jesus, rather than becoming angry with them saw their real needs. Their needs went way beyond a crippled body, blind eyes, deaf ears, and paralysis. He saw that as a result of their sin, they were spiritually blind and had spirits that were dead to God. The text says that He was moved with compassion for them. This Greek word translated “compassion” is a strong word. It is actually from the word for intestines or bowels. When this word is used figuratively (as it is here), it refers to the seat of strong emotions. We usually use the heart as the seat of our emotions, but the Jews centred the emotions in the stomach. As you know, intense emotions affect our stomach and intestinal tract. When we are emotionally torn up, we can’t eat and our stomach churns. We say, “This thing just ripped my guts out”. That was where the word for compassion came from. We know that emotional distress over time can cause or certainly make worse things like ulcers and colitis. We also see His compassion in Matthew 14:14 (NKJV) “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” Throughout the history of Christianity, we see that those who were greatly used by God were men and women of deep compassion. We see the compassion of the Apostle Paul in his gut wrenching words about his fellow Jews who had rejected their Messiah. Romans 9:1-3 (NKJV) “1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh”. Again he says in Romans 10:1 (NKJV) “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” The great British Pastor of London of the 1870’s Charles Spurgeon was deeply motivated with this same compassion as he worked with hurting and lost people. “I long for your salvation most vehemently. I would say anything and say it any way, if I could but win you to immediate faith in the Lord Jesus. The desire is so strong upon me that should I not succeed on this occasion, I will try again. And if, unhappily, I should fail again, I will continue at the work as long as you live and I am able to reach you. I will go before God in secret, lay your case before Him, and beg Him to interpose. We cannot let you be damned! It is dreadful. We cannot stand by and see you lost”. On another occasion he said, “Love your fellowmen, and cry about them if you cannot bring them to Christ. If you cannot save them, you can weep over them. If you cannot give them a drop of cold water in hell, you can give them your hearts tears while they are still in this body”. This compassion that characterized our Lord and all of His servants mightily used by Him is unique to Christianity.

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said, “We may force our Lord to punish us, but we will never have to force Him to love us”. His love and compassion toward us is the only explanation for the cross and the suffering of Christ in our place. If this compassionate Christ dwells in you, your life will reflect that same type of compassion. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  9  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ”  Ezekiel 18: 23  Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

The Compassion of Jesus Motivates Us over the State Of The Hordes

Do you see them as the Lord sees them?

We see the Left outs of society, those who are just overlooked, the ill, the aged, the neglected, the poor.  The Lord Jesus spent most of his ministry with these folks in the poor society surrounding the Sea of Galilee.  They were the unlearned!

We see the Drop outs of society,  like the prostitute of Luke 7 who wiped the Lord’s feet with her hair!

We see the Locked outs such as Levi the  tax collector and Zaccheus the tax collector who the Lord called out of his tree to eat with at his table.

We see the Opt outs. We see the Lord reaching out to people like the woman at the well (of John 4). On her 4 and half husband. She was so ostracized that the only time she could draw water was in the midday heat, where the Lord determined to meet her at lunch time.

What did Jesus see as He looked at the multitudes that dogged Him everywhere he went? Did He see a bunch of self-centred people who were just following Him for the personal benefits they might receive? Well, He certainly knew what was in the heart of men. Did He see them as a bother and a drain on His time? No, He saw down deep to their real need. They were weary and scattered like sheep with no shepherd. Let’s look at some key words and phrases here.

* “weary” – This word means to be harassed or distressed. It is the idea of being mangled by wild beasts (A. T. Robertson). Other translations translate it distressed or harassed.

* “scattered” – This word has the idea of being thrown down prostrate and utterly helpless. Other translations say downcast, helpless, worn out, and fainting.

* “like sheep having no shepherd” – The shepherds (religious leaders) sought their own power and did not care for the people. The shepherds who should have been leading them beside the still waters, making them lie down in green pastures, and leading them in the paths of righteousness were neglecting them, using them, putting heavy loads of legalism on them, and scattering them. The failure of religious leaders is often pictured in the Old Testament as shepherds who are not leading the sheep. An example would be Ezekiel 34:2-4 (NKJV) 2 "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.’”

Matthew 23:37  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The city who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicksunder her wings, yet you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will never see Me again until you say, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Luke 19: 41 As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come on you when your enemies will build an embankment against you, surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44 They will crush you and your children within you to the ground, and they will not leave one stone on another in you, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

The Compassion of Jesus Motivates Us Over The Situation with the Harvest (V37)

Over the years, I have changed my view as to what is meant by the harvest. The traditional interpretation is that it the mass of lost people that need to be “harvested with the presentation of the gospel”. That could be, but as I look at the context and compare Scripture with Scripture, I believe that the harvest is the judgment that is surely coming. The picture of the judgment as a harvest is an oft used one in the Old Testament. Here are just a few examples: Isaiah 17:10-11 (NKJV) “10 Because you have forgotten the God of your salvation, And have not been mindful of the Rock of your stronghold, Therefore you will plant pleasant plants And set out foreign seedlings; 11 In the day you will make your plant to grow, And in the morning you will make your seed to flourish; But the harvest will be a heap of ruins In the day of grief and desperate sorrow.” Joel 3:12-14 is speaking of the judgment of God and we read in Joel 3:12-14 (NKJV) 12 "Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow-- For their wickedness is great." 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” We see this analogy continued into the New Testament. In the parable of the wheat and tares Jesus said in Matthew 13:30 (NKJV) “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" When Jesus later explains that parable, He clearly says that it is referring to judgment (v40-43). We see the analogy of the harvest as judgment in Revelation 14:14-16 (NKJV) “14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. 15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." 16 So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.” The context here is clearly the judgment of God. When Jesus said that the harvest was great, He was referring to the great number headed for a final irrevocable judgment. While we realize that God is sovereign in salvation, He has chosen the means of our sharing the gospel (which is the power f God unto salvation according to Romans 1:16) as the means of people being saved and escaping from judgment. We are not emotionless bystanders. We are to be passionate about those headed for the harvest, the judgment. We are to be consumed with getting the gospel to them. Again, to quote Spurgeon, who certainly believed that God was the One who did the saving in His sovereignty, saw that we are to be filled with passion and compassion for the lost. He said, “If sinners will be [condemned], at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for” [Quote Book P67]. We don’t coldly present the gospel just out of obedience and then check that off of our list. There is a heart filled with compassion that sees an awful harvest of judgment coming and the horrors of hell serve to intensify our compassion. Yes, our highest motive in sharing the gospel is the glory of God, but it is not without compassion on those who are lost.

I love what Adrian Rogers once said, Life is too short. Eternity is too long. Souls are too precious. The gospel is too wonderful For us to sleep through it all.

I love Amy Carmichael’s parable of the daisy chains.

The tom-toms thumped straight on all night, and the darkness shuddered round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:

That I stood on a grassy patch, and at my feet a ravine broke straight down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.

Then I saw forms of people moving toward the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding on to her dress. She was on the very edge. She lifted her foot for the next step... Then, to my horror, I saw that she was blind. Before I could say anything she was over, and the children with her. Their cries pierced the air as they fell into the inky blackness of the ravine!

Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; all walked straight toward the edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly, and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered, with a wonder that was sheer agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not. I was glued to the ground, and I couldn't even yell; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come out.

Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals.

But the intervals were too large; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and the ravine yawned like the mouth of hell.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned towards the ravine. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it was a rather crude noise. And if one of their group started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. "Why should you get so excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven't finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish," they said, "to leave us to finish the work alone."

There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no sentries for miles and miles along the edge.

Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for awhile; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls. Once a child grabbed at a tuft of grass that grew at the very edge of the ravine; it clung convulsively, and it called - but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, its two little hands still holding tight to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which her friends reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; "The gap would be well taken care of!", they said. And then they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew that it was "The Cry of the Blood".

Then a voice thundered. It was the voice of the Lord, and He said, "What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."

The tom-toms still beat heavily, the darkness still shuddered and shivered about me; I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and weird, wild shrieks of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.

What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it? God forgive us!

God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!

The Compassion of Jesus Motivates Us Over The Solution For The Harvest (V38)

The workers are those who know the Saviour who are commanded to go into the highways and hedges and among the weary scattered sheep and see people escape from the judgment to come. Notice the characteristic of the kind of workers that we are to pray for. They are not self appointed, but sent out by the Lord. “Sent out” is better translated “thrust out”. It is a compelling call. This ought to be one of the main focuses of our prayer. Pray that God would thrust out workers into the fields before the final harvest of judgment comes. This is not just a prayer for missionaries and Pastors though it includes them. This is that God would thrust out the whole church into the fields where a harvest is coming.

Will you pray?           When Hudson Taylor arrived in Shanghai, China, in 1854, the city was under attack from rebels. The Chinese regarded Westerners as "foreign devils" and did not allow them into the interior of the country. Taylor had failed to finish medical training, knew no Chinese and was the first missionary in a new, non-denominational society. Undeterred, he studied the language and culture and defied the government by taking the gospel inland. He also adopted Chinese dress and customs so more people would listen to his message.  By prayer he raised up hundreds of missionaries to work in China in sacrificial roles through the then China Inland Mission.  He would pray and God would send.  he would pray and the Lord would supply the funds for these folks. Will you pray? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Wilberforce Parish Church Retreat


Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.


Our parish retreat this weekend shall bring into focus some essential perspectives that shall help us move forward in our experiential relationship with the God.

Today some of us at this retreat may be Searching.  We are not yet sure of our relationship with God and we want to find out more about how to have a purposeful relationship with our Creator and Saviour. May you discover for yourself that the Christian life involves a real relationship with the Living God.

Today some us may have moved to a Commitment of our lives to Jesus Christ. We know we need God’s Word to grow us as Christians, as we need the fellowship and love of other Christians in our fellowship. May you discover this weekend some vital principles that will help you to grow in your spiritual maturity.

Today some of may be progressing in our spiritual journey as Followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. However sometimes we encounter roadblocks that hinder our relationship with the Lord. May you discover that those roadblocks are not insurmountable, but steps to lead you on in your relationship with God.

No matter what age we are, we are continually warned of the dangers of heart problems.  Recently I described to a doctor friend that I had an all-round ministry as I tapped the shelf that I carry around my middle each day. She didn’t see the humour.  She said, “While you are still young you should do something about that!”  Ouch!   I know she is right. I need to do some things to avoid the heart problems I know will be coming one day. We (she) talked about foods that should be avoided to avoid the problem of arteries getting clogged with Cholesterol.

There is spiritual cholesterol that can block the inner life of your heart relationship with God.  Difficulties in our past, handicaps in our present, self-perceptions that pull us away from our relationship with God, can all act as spiritual cholesterol hindering our heart relationship with God.

This weekend we shall examine how the spiritual cholesterol of :

a. The fear of failure may be answered by being  Strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man

b. The fear of Rejection may be answered by being Indwelt by the Saviour.

c. The Shame factor may be answered by the cross and realizing we are loved with an everlasting love

God’s desire for every believer is that those blocked arteries be cleared so that you and I may be “Filled up with all the fullness of God.”

Consider these questions privately.

  1. Do I often feel isolated and afraid of people, especially authority figures?
  2. Have I observed myself to be an approval seeker? Do I lose my own identity in the process?
  3. Do I feel overly frightened of angry people and of personal criticism?
  4. Do I often feel I’m a victim in personal and career relationships?
  5. Do I sometimes feel I have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, which makes it easier to be more concerned with others than with myself?
  6. Is it hard for me to look at my own faults and my own responsibility to myself?
  7. Do I feel guilty when I stand up for myself instead of giving in to others?
  8. Do I feel addicted to excitement?
  9. Do I judge myself harshly?
  10. Do I have a low sense of self-esteem?
  11. Do I often feel abandoned in the course of my relationships?

If you feel free to discuss these questions in your small group, then for this questionnaire only, please share your thoughts.

Study 1 The Strengthening Of His Spirit

In the course of our time together this weekend we will ask ourselves some deep questions that reflect our personal inner world. While the answers we give to these questions will differ from person to person, please keep your answers to these questions to yourselves.  While the answers you give may reflect your inner understandings, others may not see things the same way as you do.  The gospel impacts upon our self-perceptions as we allow the grace of God to touch our lives deeply. The purpose of the 4 tests provided in these pages is to assit you in making the theological truths you have learnt this weekend personal and relevant to your spiritual life.  The purpose of these questionnaires is to point us to Christ who is “the hope of Glory” (Col 1:27), and who alone can meet our deepest needs. 

Fear of Failure Test

On your own, while in your small groups consider this questionnaire and fill in your score alongside each numbered question.             

1= Always                           2 =Sometimes                                                   3= Seldom                                          4= Never

  1. I avoid participating in some activities because I am afraid I will not be good enough.
  2. I become anxious when I sense I may fail.
  3. I worry.
  4. I have unexplained anxiety.
  5. I feel I must justify my mistakes.
  6. I feel I must succeed in some areas.

7. I become depressed when I fail.

  1. I become angry with people who interfere with my success and who make me appear incompetent.
  2. I am a perfectionist.
  3. I am self-critical.

Total (Add up the numbers you placed in the blanks.)

Why is it important for each believer to be strengthened by the Spirit in the inner man?

The Holy Spirit is a Person. He is divine (Acts 5:3-4); He is the third Person in the Trinity (Matthew 3:16-17). Read later today on your own John chapters 14, 15 and 16, and notice all the references to the Holy Spirit in which He is clearly presented as a Person, one with the Father and with Christ Himself.

The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian. This is clearly taught in Scripture – compare John 14:16-17; Romans 5:5; Romans 8:8-9; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:8. In these references the Holy Spirit is said to dwell ‘in’ the Christian. He has been ‘given’ to the Christian. The Christian ‘has’ the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can fill each area of our lives; our worship life (Ephesians 5:18-20), our Wedded life (Ephesians 5:21-33), our home life (Ephesians 6:1-5), our work life (Ephesians 6:6-9) and our spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18), and our witness (Ephesians 6:19,20). Sometimes the Holy Spirit may strengthen and fill us for unexpected and unprepared for situations (Acts 7:54-60). He is more likely to strengthen someone in the extraordinary circumstances of life if they have already learned the principle of being strengthened for the ordinary circumstances of life. 

The divine standard that God has set for Christian living and service is so high that it is impossible to reach that standard without the enabling ministry of the Holy Spirit.

What characteristics will be evident in the life of a Spirit strengthened believer?

Compare Galatians 5:16-21; with verses 22-26.

What do you notice about the characteristics of a Spirit strengthened life?

Why are these characteristics more important than flashy theatrical spectacles?

How will these characteristics be evident in the local congregation of believers?

How may we encourage others to be strengthened by the Spirit?

What are the hindrances to a Spirit-filled life?

Study 2.  My Heart Christ’s Home!

Have you ever considered that your relationship with God has so changed that remarkably Christ dwells in you?  And because He dwells in you, you can know that you are accepted by God.

Ephesians 1:  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,  6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.  7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;  KJV

with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.   ESV

that He favored us with in the Beloved.   HCSB

Fear of Rejection Test

On your own, while in your small groups consider this questionnaire and fill in your score alongside each numbered question.              

1= Always                           2 =Sometimes                                                   3= Seldom                                          4= Never

  1. When I sense that someone might reject me, I become anxious.
  2. I spend lots of time analyzing why someone was critical or sarcastic to me or ignored me.
  3. I am uncomfortable around those who are different from me.
  4. It bothers me when someone is unfriendly to me.
  5. I am basically shy and unsocial.
  6. I am critical of others.
  7. I find myself trying to impress others.
  8. I become depressed when someone criticizes me.
  9. I try to determine what people think of me.
  10. I don’t understand people and what motivates them.

_____ Total (Add up the numbers you have placed in the blanks.)

You have been accepted by God, so far that the Lord Jesus Christ has made His home in your life.

The Miracle Of Christ’s Indwelling:

The Indwelling of Christ is the Source Of Our Conversion. 

Read Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.  13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

What does this passage indicate concerning the Holy Spirit’s work in each believer?

The Indwelling of Christ is the Source of our Communion. 

Read Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

The idea of eating together carries the idea of close friendship and communion.  Jesus said of His disciples

John 15: 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.  14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.  15 I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.  16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you.

How does the consideration that Jesus calls you His friend affect your thinking, feeling and actions?

The Indwelling Of Christ Is The Source Of Our Consecration

Read Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Compare this passage with the Lord’s words

John 12: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  25  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

How does this dying to live take place?

The Indwelling of Christ is the Source of our Courage.

After the disciples had been gaoled and threatened by the Pharisees and Saducees, they prayed with the church in Jerusalem;

Acts 4: 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,  30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

Would the knowledge of the Indwelling of Christ make a substantial difference in your personal witness?

The Indwelling Of Christ is the Source of our Comfort.

Col 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

In what way does the Indwelling of Christ give you comfort?

Study 3 Filled To Overflowing

Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height-- 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

We are to be filled with the Spirit.

Eph 5:18-19 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,  19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

We are to be filled With Christ

Eph 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Col 2: 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, "He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'"  16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 

We are to be filled with the fullness of God

This seems overwhelming and scarey when we consider our own sinfulness.

Shame Test

On your own, while in your small groups consider this questionnaire and fill in your score alongside each numbered question.             

1= Always                           2 =Sometimes                                                   3= Seldom                                          4= Never

1. I often think about past failures or experiences of rejection that have occurred in my life.

2. I cannot recall certain things about my past without experiencing strong, painful emotions (such as guilt, shame, or anger.)

3. I seem to make the same mistakes over and over again.

4. I want to change certain aspects of my character, but I don’t believe I ever can successfully do so.

5. I feel inferior.

6. I cannot accept certain aspects of my appearance.

7. I am generally disgusted with myself.

8. I feel that certain experiences basically have ruined my life.

9. I perceive of myself as an immoral person.

10. I feel I have lost the opportunity to experience a complete and wonderful life.

Total (Add the numbers you have placed in the blanks.)

Read Luke 19:1-10

1He entered Jericho and was passing through.
2 And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.
3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature.
4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.
7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”
8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Which aspects of this story touch your heart the most?

Which verses encourage you and why?

Is there something incomprehensible about the love of Christ to Zacchaeus?

How deep does Christ’s love reach?

Pastor Steve mentioned his own testimony of discovering the love of Christ from 1 Timothy 1:15

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

Some people have difficulty perceiving the love of Christ or the love of the Father towards them.  What problems may hinder them from feeling and experiencing love in this way?

One of the most potent passages speaking of the Father’s love to us is Luke 15

11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.  14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!  18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19  I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Which aspects of this parable touch your heart and why?

What significant memories will you take from the passages we have discussed this weekend?

Paul reminds us in Philippians 4

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

What do you need to practice this week?

Thursday, March 03, 2011


"Cyrus Brown's Prayer" by Sam Walter Foss:


"The proper way for man to pray,"

Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes,

"And the only proper attitude,

Is down upon his knees."

"No, I should say the way to pray,"

Said Reverend Dr. Wise,

"Is standing straight with outstretched arms,

And rapt and upturned eyes."

"Oh, no, no, no!" said Elder Slow,

"Such posture is too proud;

A man should pray with eyes fast closed,

And head contritely bowed."

"It seems to me his hands should be

Austerely clasped in front.

With both thumbs pointing toward the ground,"

Said Reverend Dr. Blunt.

""Last year I fell in Hodgkin's well, head first,"

said Cyrus Brown, "With both my heels a stickin up and my head a pintin' down,

And I made a prayer right then and there; best prayer I ever said.

The prayin'est prayer I ever prayed, a standin on my head.”

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