How to connect with God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

Romans 10:8-11 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

 Romans 10:8-11 (NLT)
8  In fact, it says, “The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:
9  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of His Holy Word.

If you were with us in our last sermon from the epistle written to the church at Rome, you may recall that we shared a sermon in which we addressed the issue     of failing to connect with God

I shared with you a personal story about how Sister Cecile and I missed a flight when we were very young. We showed up a Logan, International Airport with the intention of going on a trip but we missed the flight because we didn’t understand that an 11am departure meant that you had to be there at 9:30am.

We missed it; we failed to connect because we were ignorant of how things worked.

In that teaching Paul took us through a diagnostic analysis of how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with the God of their fathers.

It was both interesting and upsetting to learn that a group of people, actually ended up missing God, because they failed to understand and were blinded to the truth of who God is and how he operates.

In their human efforts at connecting with God through the keeping of their laws, they failed to grasp the fact that man in his own efforts, no matter how sincere, can never work his way up to God.

They had zeal and a desire to connect with him, but they were untutored, they were unlearned, they were ignorant says Paul of God’s way of making a person righteous.

Ultimately their efforts and their commitment to those efforts caused them to reject the Messiah, Jesus Christ God’s own Son.

If you were not here for that sermon, I very much want to encourage you to take the time to request the notes by e-mailing me at Pastorjharp@gmail.com, or going on our you-tube channel to watch the sermon.

Today we are going to talk about how to connect with God and we are coming from one of the most well known passages in the bible.

Now this passage is really the crème de la crème of salvivic scriptures.

It is a clear and no none-sense answer to the question of what it takes for a person to be saved.

In fact I would urge each and every one of you to take copious notes and to keep these notes in your bible, because these doctrinal truths, will keep you grounded AND they will help you to share the gospel with anyone who asks you, what it takes to become a born again child of God.

So let’s walk through these 4 points

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. A person must believe that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

Romans 10:8 (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

Psalm 14:1-3 (NKJV)
2  The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
3  They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.

Romans 6:23a (NKJV)
23  For the wages of sin is death,

John 3:17 (NKJV)
17  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 6:38a-b (NLT)
38a-b  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me

Matthew 26:28 (NKJV)
28  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

In this first point of the sermon, we want to look at and answer the question that is posed today within the context of the title of this teaching and we also want to examine the comparison between what we learned in the first part of this sermon in which took a look at how Israel actually missed connecting with God.

Now in the Jewish approach to reaching and or connecting with God, the focus was upon man’s efforts as evidenced in the zealousness of the nation of Israel, as it pertained to the LAW.

Remember now, we learned a few weeks ago that there were over 613 commandments and or directives that were on the books.

The concept that one could qualify; the notion that one could obtain the acceptance of God by reason of effort, was rooted in the notion that if you were really serious and really focused and really intense and committed to the law, that you could literally scale the heights of heaven and be accepted by God as a result of your own works.

Paul in his teachings knocks that notion out of the water, and he says that the way to connect with God and the way to become acceptable to him, was literally and I quote “in their mouths and in their hearts”

All that they needed to do was to hear and believe the core message of the gospel, which declared that Jesus came down from heaven, to save men from their sins.

That is what Paul meant when he said and I quote ““The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):

In order to be saved, in order to connect with God and become acceptable to him, the first thing that a person has to do is to believe what is being preached or shared with you, concerning who Jesus is and the purpose of his coming.

You as a listener have got to believe that what you hear IS TRUE.

Israel for the most part could not accept this, no matter how hard Paul preached, they rejected the gospel and responded to it by trying to kill Paul.

Everything that they had in their customs such as the sacrifices and atonement, was pointing to Jesus and the need of man, to have a SAVIOR who would be the sacrificial lamb who paid for their sins, it was all pointing to Jesus but they missed it.

Thought:

People today can miss the simplicity of the gospel, by failing to believe the good news about why Jesus came.

You see gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ must be responded to not with doubt, or skepticism, but by faith.

You don’t have to know the bible.

You don’t have to agree with everything in the bible, you don’t have to be able to access the Greek and Hebrew text to be sure that King James got every word correct, all you need to do is to embrace the simple message of the why Jesus came and what he did for you.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who always falls short in terms of measuring up to the righteous standards of God. When God looked down from heaven, he sees that there is NONE righteous no not one.

You must believe that man is a sinner, who has earned a wage for HIS sins, which is death. This is why every man, women, boy or girl is born with a death sentence on their lives.

You must believe that God so loved the world and he loved man so much that he sent his SON Jesus to pay the wages of sin. He sent Jesus to die on a cross as a sacrificial lamb who would take upon himself, the sins of all man.

That is the reason why Jesus came to the earth, to shed his blood for many, as a payment for US, so that our sins might be remitted.

To be saved, to be born again, to be accepted by God, You have to respond in faith to the gospel (good news)

Thought:

Now for some here today who are sitting in the sanctuary and perhaps for some who are tied in to the video stream, this is where you get stuck.

It’s too simple and you won’t accept it. It doesn’t sound appealing or you won’t believe because you want to argue and keep on searching on line.

You won’t accept the gospel because in order to do that, you’ve got to admit that you are a filthy sinner, just like the rest of us.

In fact you didn’t even react, because as soon as you heard the word sinner, you shut your heart and mind down.

You want to be stroked. You want your ego lubricated. You want to be sold, you want to be pampered and I understand why the flesh needs that, but I am here to tell you this morning that the good news is about Jesus redeeming you from YOUR sins.

It is not about him getting you a job, or making you feel good about yourself.

The message of the gospel it is about the unmitigated act of love and mercy, where God himself, sent HIS sinless SON, to die on a cross and the ugliness of that event, which was caused by each one of us.

The good news is that in spite of that reality, WHILE WE WERE yet sinners; Jesus came down from heaven to do something incredible for the benefit of those who could not appreciate it, nor in any way deserved it.

If you want to be saved, if you want to connect with God you must believe that Jesus came down from heaven to save men from their sins.

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/Saved/Born again)?

  1. Declare (confess) your spoken acknowledgement that you truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Romans 10:8-9a (NKJV)
8  But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9a  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus

John 6:38 (NLT)
38  For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.

John 6:33 (NKJV)
33  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

John 16:30 (NLT)
30  Now we understand that you know everything, and there’s no need to question you. From this we believe that you came from God.”

John 1:1-2 (NKJV)
1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2  He was in the beginning with God.

I really enjoyed preparing for this sermon that we are sharing today, because I have found that some of the most interesting and enlightening things we learn together, often come from scriptures that we are already familiar with.

This passage from Romans Chapter 10:9 specifically looking at the “a” portion is a perfect example of that.

Now from time to time I’ve heard Pastor Winston refer to this particular web-site called got-answers.org and I was directed there by a Google search.

When I asked the question as to what exactly what was meant by that portion where it says that a person must confess that Jesus is Lord, I found some interesting information.

Now in the scripture we see the use of the word confess.

I’ve added the word declare, based on what I learned from my research.

I did that because the word DECLARE helps to communicate the necessity of acknowledging him verbally and doing do in a way that makes it clear that you understand and believe in Jesus as GOD.

I also looked at and did some research on the word LORD.

In the bible the word Lord isn’t used only in reference to Jesus.

The term Lord can apply to ordinary human being.

If you own property and your rent your property to others you are a Landlord.

If you are a member of the House of Commons in England, you might have the title of Lord.

But when it comes to declaring and acknowledging Jesus as Lord, it means more that just giving him a title of respect.

When you declare that Jesus is LORD you are acknowledging to others and declaring to others that you understand and embrace the deity of Christ and that you acknowledge Jesus as God.

Jesus isn’t just another prophet.

Jesus isn’t just or another religious leader, like Muhammad or Buddha.

Jesus is the bread of God who came down from heaven.

Jesus is the WORD of God, who was with God and is God, and was from the beginning.

I don’t know how it works. I don’t fully understand the complexity of the Godhead.

I only know and believe with all of my heart and I am willing to confess and declare it to anyone, that Jesus is God and God’s own Son who came down from heaven and that he is LORD, Master, creator and sustainer of the universe and that he came DOWN from heaven to do HIS Father’s will.

Thought:

This my friends is non-negotiable.

You can’t soft peddle his LORDSHIP when it comes to salvation.

You can’t be saved by any one else other than Almighty God.

If you are still struggling with seeing and believing that Jesus is GOD, my friend, I am here to tell you, that you are not ready.

You can’t come to him as a fan of Jesus.

You can’t come to him as an admirer.

Jesus cannot be just another great historic figure that you have decided to become acquainted with.

Jesus won’t fit on your shelf right next to the other mere men, whom you look to for advice or direction or suggestions.

Jesus must be God and LORD of your life.

Thought:

This by the way is why a lot of folks lack passion and love and fire when it comes to Jesus

It’s the reason why there is a lack of Joy. It’s the reason why, you cannot be thrilled and in love with Jesus, because he is NOT your LORD.

It’s not that lack of preaching, it ‘s not programs, it’s not doctrines; it’s that Jesus doesn’t occupy that place of deity in your life; he’s an action figure that we’ve placed on the shelf, along with our other self-help books and advice.

When Jesus is embraced and taken into your heart as LORD and GOD, it overwhelms you.

  • He fills you.
  • He thrills you.
  • He turns you upside down

Thought:

Paul was an example of that; he was a person who was overcome, with the awesomeness of having Jesus as GOD in his life.

It’s not just saying the words, “ Jesus is LORD”, but it is believing in your heart, that Jesus is GOD and then you speak, you declare, you confess out of your mouth, what is in your heart.

Thought:

Have you done that my friends? Have you gotten to the place, where Jesus is the LORD who has completely taken you over.

Does your heart still skip a beat, when folks start calling his name?

Do you get dizzy, when you think about Jesus?

Do you know him as LORD and God…..or are you just an admiring a fan

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved/born again)?

  1. Believe in your heart, that Jesus died to pay for the sins of mankind, that he was buried and that God raised him (Jesus) from the dead.

Romans 10:9a-b (NKJV)
9a-b  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead

Isaiah 53:5a-c (NKJV)
5a-c  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

Romans 4:25 (NLT)
25  He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

1 Corinthians 15:4 (NLT)
4  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. 

Hebrews 10:4-5 (NKJV)
4  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.
5  Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.

A person connects with God; a person becomes born again, by believing in what God did for them, through the death burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ HIS Son.

That is how a person gets saved.

Earlier in point number one we spoke about the reality of man’s sinfulness and the actions needed in terms of the salvivic process, whereby the issue of sin and the payment for the wages of sin, were dealt with through the process of payment and remittance, by reason of a blood sacrifice.

Someone had to pay the price for our sins and Jesus did it.

Thought:

The nation of Israel was familiar with this principle.

In their laws and customs, there was an established formula of dealing with the issue of sin.

When a sin was committed or when a person offended God, they would offer the bodies and blood of bulls and goats and doves, as a payment for their sins.

Now problem with that was, that these offerings never did the job; because they would find themselves coming back year after year, time after time, offering that which clearly could not completely nor once and for all, take away the stain of their sins.

A person connects with God, by hearing the gospel message and by believing that Jesus was born into this world, that he lived on the earth as a man and that he went to the cross and was crucified “as the sinless lamb” of God, who gave his life as a sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.

In other words, a person must believe that Jesus was crucified.

A person must believe that Jesus died, not that he fainted. Not that his disciplines hid him away for a few days, until he recovered.

A person must believe, that Jesus died AND that GOD raised him from the dead and in that raising HE signaled an acceptance of what Jesus did on the cross as a PAYMENT IN FULL.

And once you have that settled into your heart, it becomes a reality that transforms your heart and mind completely.

That is why you see folks shouting. That is why you see them getting happy at the funeral of a loved one who has died in Christ.

Folks act like that because they have placed their FAITH and trust not in a new or interesting idea, but rather they have placed their FAITH in the power of almighty God, as evidenced in the reality of the risen Lord. 

This is another area, where we must stand and believe in a non-negotiable reality.

Jesus died and he rose again, and he GOT up with all power in his hands.

This is where the rubber meets the road baby, this is where faith in Jesus makes all the difference between what other folks says about their faith.

This is what I am hanging my faith on. This is what you must believe and know as a reality in your heart.

That Jesus died and he stayed in that grave for three days. They beat him, they killed him, but he got up, with all power in his hands…. 

How do you connect with God (How does a person become accepted by God/saved by/born again)?…4th and finally you ..

  1. Place your faith and trust in him Jesus as the one who has secured a right standing of acceptance with the Father.

Romans 10:10-11 (NLT)
10  For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with

God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
11  As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”

John 7:37 (NKJV)
37  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink

1 Peter 3:18 (NKJV)
18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

Romans 5:1 (NLT)
1  Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.

CLOSE:

In the beginning of the sermon, I told you that it was important that we have an opportunity to compare and contrast the response of Israel to the gospel and to look at that as a model for how a person can miss God.

Israel missed it on several levels. Firstly they missed understanding that the key to a right standing with God was not by works but by faith.

Israel also missed the message because of their pride and their prejudice.

They missed the messiah, just like people today can miss HIM because of pride, or arrogance or just being rebellious.

The scripture says “ that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame

To be accepted by God you have to, humble yourself, you have to accept the truth about who you are as a sinner and you have to embrace the gospel and believe in Jesus as Lord with all of your heart.

You have to abandon the notion that you ever can save yourself and instead you must place your faith AND trust in Jesus, believing, counting on, putting your firm confidence in God’s love as expressed in the life of and in the work of JESUS the

SON of righteousness who has secured for you a RIGHT STANDING of acceptance with the Father, NOT because of YOU, but because of HIM.

And when you do that, you can rest and have complete confidence that you will never be left hanging and never be put to shame

That is HOW you connect with God that is how you get born again, that is how you become saved and accepted, NOT through works but through faith.

AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed….

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How to miss connecting with God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper                  

How to miss connecting with God

Romans 10:1-4 (KJV)
1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the HEARING of HIS Holy and mighty word.

We are delivering a sermon today, that will in some places sound familiar to some of the doctrines and truths that were shared in our sermon last week which was entitled who are the children of God.

As we go through this letter, I get the impression that Paul teaches us sometimes by repeating and or bridging certain concepts and molding them together, so that we will often find ourselves, being reminded of points and or of thoughts we’ve learned about earlier, which in fact work together, very much like what happens when you are dealing with mathematics.

You learn addition and subtraction, but then those principles are molded into and Algebra and calculus, so when you hear things that you’ve learned about before, just embrace them as being part of what is required to help you as you move into more detailed teachings….if you follow what I am saying here say AMEN.

Today as we continue our studies through the epistle written to the church at ROME, we enter into this 10th chapter starting with part 1 of a two-part sermon, having to do with the issue of missing or failing to connect with God.

When my wife and I were very young, I remember the first time that we missed an airplane.

Our intention was to connect and get that flight, but being new to air travel we were ignorant of the rules and realities of the airline business.

We didn’t understand that an 11am departure meant a 9am arrival and so because we were ignorant of how the airlines operated we missed connecting with the airline.

Paul here in this teaching uses the nation of Israel to help us understand the realities and truths concerning God and how he operates.  

Paul shows us in these first verses of chapter 10 how it is possible to actually miss connecting with God and his righteousness.

Paul as we learned earlier was very concerned for the salvation of the nation of Israel.

In fact he was so concerned that at one point Paul states that he would be willing to be accursed and cut off from Christ, if it would save his Hebrew brethren.

Now as he begins this portion of the letter, he paints for us a very powerful and tragic example of how the nation of Israel actually missed connecting with the very God that they loved.

And for us there are some cautionary notes in looking at the example of Israel, which can speak directly to us.

So that is what we want to focus on today in this 4-point sermon entitled, HOW TO MISS CONNECTING WITIH GOD.

Israel shows us how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Having an enthusiastic desire and effort without correct knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2 b-c (KJV)
1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.

Romans 10:2 (NLT)
2  I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal.
Romans 10:2 (Weymouth New Testament)
For I bear witness that they possess an enthusiasm for God, but it is an unenlightened enthusiasm.

John 16:2b-c (NKJV)
2  yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

In this first point of the sermon, I’d like to talk about how a person can have a sincere effort and desire for God, yet miss connecting with him.

Paul in his writing is giving us a bird’s eye view of one who would be personally and intimately be familiar with the Nation of Israel’s enthusiasm and desire to please and to connect with Almighty God.

Before Paul was converted he himself was a Pharisee, he was a Jew of Jews, he know about the law, he knew about the passion that the Jewish people had for God.

These were the oracle people who had a great deal of knowledge about God.

They had the law of God, they had the prophets, they had personal history with God and they had committed themselves to applying a level of attention to the matters of God, which were totally heads and shoulders above other nations.

They were Zealous for God.

They had a burning passion, they had an enthusiastic and YES even fanatical level of interest in God, but Paul says that they were lacking because their knowledge was misdirected and incomplete.

And because their knowledge was incomplete, as fired up as they may have been, it was not enough to enable them to connect with God.

Thought:

This is something that brings three thoughts to mind and these thoughts may challenge you and the may even make us uncomfortable.

Here is the First thought.

Being zealous for God and having a strong desire to connect with God, without actually knowing the one true God, will not get you anywhere.

This is a word that applies specifically to those who rely on their religion, whatever that religion may be.

Thought:

I have members of my own family who are very devout and sincere in their Mohammad-dean beliefs.

I believe that those who follow the Prophet and the Koran are incredibly sincere and zealous for God at level, which puts to shame, the devotion and fervor of most western Christians.

These folks are serious. I remembered the first time I encountered that particular branch of the family.

My own cousin cannot shake my hand because she isn’t allowed to touch any man but her husband.

These folks pray like no ones business. Their prayer regimen is based on FIVE prayers a day; pre-dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset and night, where ever you find these folks from Mecca to Michigan; you’ll find them on their faces with their mats laid out every single day, if you go to the mosque; no one is sleep while the I-man is giving his sermon.

Yet their zeal, because it is a misdirected zeal will never connect them to the one true God.

Admirable as they may be, it is zeal without correct knowledge.

Second thought:

There are many folks who are trying to connect with God, through a pursuit of knowledge and they are doing so by studying and checking out all kinds of religions.

This of course is a phenomenon that is active across our nation and it is rampant in our information over-loaded society.

People are sincerely looking for him and are doing so, by reason of their own personal quest for knowledge.

And so you have people with all kind of messed up and mixed up concepts and beliefs.

You have people who search and constantly ask questions.

You have people who read the latest books and pursue the latest fad and philosophy, pursing God with zeal and intensity that puts a lot of believers to shame.

These people are serious.

And while it sounds good to say that all paths lead to God and that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere, when you end up standing before God on that great day, you’ll find that you were sincerely wrong.

Third thought:

You can be religious and have a zeal for the things of your religious organization and still miss God.

You can study books, you can listen to all kinds of teachings, you can enroll in a college or special university and be the most ardent dedicated student.

But if that organization is relying on anything other than salvation through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Chris all of your ZEAL, all of your memorization of the special books of revelation, will mean absolutely NOTHING.

For in-spite of the doors that you knocked on doors and the tracks you handed out, in spite of the fact that you were up bright and early on Saturday morning; on that day when you stand before Almighty God, Jesus himself will say I don’t know you, depart from me you who work iniquity, I never knew you and you certainly didn’t know me.

Look at Israel; hear what God is saying to us.

Hear what God is saying in his word to you.

Israel shows us how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Failing to understand (being ignorant) of God’s righteousness.

 

Romans 10:2-3a (KJV)
2  For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3a  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness..

Isaiah 51:1-2a (NLT)
1  “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.
2a  Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation.

Romans 1:17 (NIV)
For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 4:3 (NKJV)
3  For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now we touched on this thought just a little bit last week, but here the thought that we want to focus upon today is the issue of ignorance.

Ignorance is a word that many people find insulting, but it really isn’t meant to insult, but rather it describes a state of being.

It means untutored, untaught, unlettered or uneducated, lacking not intelligence, or sincerity, or desire, or good intention, but rather lacking in an area of knowledge or understanding.

Paul said that Israel was ignorant of God’s righteousness, because they did not understand that this righteous God, embraced and accepted people (Abraham and Sarah being examples) who would be seen and accepted as righteous, not because of what they did, but because of what they believed.

We read from Isaiah chapter 51 verses 1-2a and let me just quote that again; it’s there on the screen and you can read it too

Isaiah 51:1-2a (NLT)
1  “Listen to me, all who hope for deliverance— all who seek the LORD! Consider the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were mined.

2a  Yes, think about Abraham, your ancestor, and Sarah, who gave birth to your nation…

In other words, the prophet Isaiah is telling the people of Israel to recognize the patterns and examples set by Abraham and Sarah.

The scripture declared in Romans 4:3 that “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Now according to the Apostle Paul, this is where Israel missed it.

They were untutored, untaught, unlettered, ignorant of the fact that the righteousness that God gave was a free gift given in response to a man’s faith and trust in God.

Israel had the law, but they didn’t trust and have a loving faith in the God of that law.

Israel provides and example of how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God by…..

  1. Trying to establish your own way of reaching God.

 

Romans 10:3a-b (KJV)
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness,

Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)
6  But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

Amos 5:21-22 (NLT)
21  “I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
22  I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.

Romans 9:31-32a-c (NLT)
31  But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.
32  Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him.

Very likely most if not all of you here today are familiar with the TEN commandments.

Now we know that God gave Moses a set of TEN commandments that were written in stone and then there were many rules and regulations that were built up, over the years.

My research indicated that there are over 600 laws in the Talmud, which is the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and traditions.

248 of those laws are positive commandments and 365 of the laws and directives are negatives, or do not do X or Y commands.

Over time the Jewish system of laws ballooned to become a massive system, in which they attempted to establish their own righteousness, through rules and regulations and festivals and activates.

In other words it was a man made ball of wax.

God looked at all that STUFF and he rejected it, because he realized that no where in all that man made stuff, was the kind of righteousness that he desired.

No where among all that MAN stuff was thing that he wanted and that was faith and trust in HIM.

He God hated the pretense.

He hated the hypocrisy, he hated the legal approach of doing things, while inwardly the heart was wrong, it turned his stomach, it repelled him, so much so, that he said that their attempts at approaching him with their own righteousness, offended him and looked degusting.

It was so distasteful that he likened it to a used menstrual cloth.

Thought

To me, this thought troubles my mind tremendously because; there is a part my flesh that struggles with religiosity.

And if you are honest about it, you’ll admit that this may be a problem in your life too.

You see the flesh likes rules and regulations and things that you can do because they provide feedback to your ego and sense of self.

As Christians we must be careful to avoid developing and or coming to rely on a set of RULES that we lean on to make us feel that we are right with God.

Now I am not saying what some bone headed person is thinking right now in their mind, I’m not saying cut loose and go PARTY…

I’m saying that we have to avoid religiosity.

We have to be careful to avoid coming to have faith in the things that we do or do not do, as evidence of our relationship with God and our right standing with him.

And we can fall into that trap very easily, because working off of a rule book is a lot easier than trusting God.

Working off a set of rules is a lot easier than leaning, searching, seeking and listening to him and HIS Spirit.

If we are not careful we can just like Israel, focus on building our own route to God, rather than flowing in the never-ending reality, that we are completely incapable of doing anything, to bring our selves up to God on our own.

Each and every day we must embrace and flow in the reality that we are the recipients of God’s unmerited grace, who loved us, called us and justified us because of faith and faith alone, in the work of his beloved SON.

Thought:

To the unsaved, to those who may be here today, or connected electronically let me also speak to you here in this point before we move to the 4th and final.

There are some of you here today; some sitting here and some who are watching by Internet or got this message from a DVD or a shared file that someone gave you.

I speak to you also my friend because you too may be in danger of missing the one true God, because you are trying to go about it in your own way.

I say that because from time to time, I meet a lot of people who are from a human perspective, quite nice and good people.

These are folks, who do not commit heinous crimes. They are law abiding people who love their families, pay their taxes, treat people fairly, give to charity; people who by most HUMAN measurements, would be the kind of folks that God would accept.

You might be one of those good people.

You’ve done all the right things, but I am sorry to tell you, that your best efforts, although laudable, will always fall short; for God knows everything about every single person and when he looks down from heaven upon the children of men, what he finds is that there is NONE righteous, NO NOT ONE.

No one can measure up to God’s righteousness as a result of his or her efforts that is not how God works.

If you believe that God will accept you because of your good works.

If you believe that you are a “good” person and that you’ll qualify for heaven based on your goodness, you are flowing in IGNORANCE and you’ll miss him and end up in a devil’s hell right along side of the worse no account bum you could think of.

I am not trying to insult you, I am simply describing your state of being and I am letting you know that it won’t work and you’ll end up missing God, even if you are the best person that you can try to be.

Israel provides and example of how a nation (or a person) can miss connecting with God 4th and finally by…..

  1. Refusing to submit to (accept) God’s way and instead clinging to your own way. 

Romans 10:3-4 (KJV)
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
 

John 1:11-12 (NLT)
11  He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.
12  But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

Philippians 3:9 (NKJV)
9  and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

The tragic mistake of Israel was and is, that they had everything at their fingertips, but they missed the coming of God’s anointed one, because they were determined to do things their own way.

Pre-Close:

In the opening of the sermon, I told you a story about the time that my wife and I missed our first airplane when we were young…

It was a bad feeling, because we failed.

We didn’t understand how the airlines worked. Even though our bags were packed and we were excited to go, we missed it.

You might be one of the folks who are doing your own thing; maybe you’ve developed a cornucopia of ideas and thoughts that form your own personal religion.

Maybe you are a proud person and understandably so.

In your mind God would accept you because you are a lot better than Johnny the wino or Julie the sleaze at the office.

You can be sincere and still be sincerely wrong and miss him.

CLOSE:

Today we’ve shared some things about how God works.

You’ve been shown an example of how to miss connecting with God.

I’ve laid our all of the details so none of us have an excuse when it comes to the issue of salvation and your response to the gift of God through Jesus Christ.

Right now we Gentiles have the blessing of being able to understand and accept the beauty and simplicity of the Gospel.

And if you haven’t heard it, here is it. All people are lost in sin.

We can never reach the level of perfect required by God.

We cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we may try.

But God loved the world so much, that he gave his only SON Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our sin.

Through faith in God’s only Son Jesus, who suffered bled and died on the cross and who rose from the grave, you as a person who is not perfect and who is guilty of sin and worthy of death, can instead be accepted as righteous and washed from your sins, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

If you openly declare with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord and you believe that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

For it is by believing in you’re heart, that you are made right with God and by openly declaring your faith in him that you are saved.

Having heard the gospel we are without excuse.

My friend if you are unsaved I am here today to tell you that we don’t have to miss God.

But rather we can all come to a saving knowledge of him through Christ…AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed.

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Who are the chosen people of God?

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

                  Who Are The Chosen People of God? 

Romans 9:25-27 (NLT)
25  Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.”
26  And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”
27  And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy word.

Who are the chosen people?

Who are those who form the group of individuals whom God whom has determined will be the beneficiary of his love, grace, mercy and blessings.

This of course is a question that raises all kinds of feelings and reactions in our minds, just by asking a question about or raising the specter of “chosennes”

When I was a child I must have been exposed to and or heard something about the fact that the Jewish people were the chosen people of God.

And as a child I remember vividly that I did not like the idea of there actually being a “chosen people” especially when I was not one of them. 

It didn’t seem fair; it rubbed me the wrong way, because in my childish mind the idea that God would have a chosen people, who I presumed would all go to heaven and inherit all kinds of blessings, based on their ethnic background or racial heritage, just didn’t sit right with me.

Again, remember that I as a child presumed this.

Here the apostle Paul gives us a teaching that sets the record straight and he outlines the context and reality of God’s “choosing”, letting us know that his choosing of and or having a chosen people isn’t about playing favorites, no in fact his choosing and how he chooses is a reflection of his great love and mercy and HIS plan, laid out before the foundation of the world.

Now the subject very much seems like a repeat of the sermon I shared two weeks ago from Romans 9:6-13 entitled “who are the true children of God.

But here the Apostle Paul is teaching us more about this idea of “chosennes”

God does in fact have a chosen people.

This was part of his plan from the beginning, he has chosen, he has elected people according to his foreknowledge and that includes some people who are part of the nation of Israel, but it also includes people like you and me AND others who come from the other nations of the earth.

So let’s learn about that today; let’s get a clear understanding of the wonder and blessings of being one of God’s chosen.

Four points to the sermon today and then we are finished …AMEN.

Who are the chosen people of God? 

  1. They are a mixed group of people, chosen from among those who were called God’s people and those who were not called God’s people

Romans 9:25b-c (NLT)
25 “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.”

Hosea 2:23 (NLT)
23  At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

1 Peter 2:9-12 (NKJV)
9  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10  who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

Revelation 7:9 (NKJV)
9  After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

In answering the question as to WHO are the chosen people of God, we find number one that the chosen people of God are people of Jewish heritage as well as those who are of a Gentile background.

Now what exactly is the meaning of the word GENTILE?

From got questons.org we harvested the following:

The word Gentile is an English translation of the Hebrew word goyim (“people, nations”) and the Greek word ethne (“nations, people groups, people”). The Latin Vulgate translated these words as gentilis, and this word was then carried over into English as “Gentile.”

The term refers to a person who is not a Jew.

During Jesus’ time here on earth, many Jews took pride in their cultural and religious heritage and they considered Gentiles as being “unclean”

In fact they looked down on non-Jews so much that that called them “dogs” and lumped all non-Jews in to a group that they simply referred to as the un-circumcision.

This may in fact explain why among people there is generally a negative reaction to the idea of a group that is identified as the chosen people.

And some folks use this as an excuse for the an·ti-Se·mit·ic, prejudice.

Now the truth of the matter is that the Gentiles, in comparison to the religious standards of Judaism, were incredibly depraved and morally corrupt on a level that was way over the top.

The Gentiles were people who practiced human sacrifices.

These were the folks who burned their children on the fire to Moloch.

These were the folks who were involved bestiality, cannibalism, and sexual perversions that defy description.

These were a group of folks who put the eeky in freaking.

Gentile societies and practices were steeped in idol worship and demonism.

Yet here we read in the word of God, that God said I am going to choose a people for myself, I am going to raise of a crop of folks, in which there will be a mixed multitude, of Jews and Gentiles.

Thought:

Now when I first got this clear in my mind, I was floored.

This new understanding made God’s grace shine even brighter.

This reality spoke to me concerning the incredible grace and plan of God, in which he determined before the foundation of the world, that his grace would be demonstrated in HIS choosing folks that could on no level qualify as being good in God’s eyes.

God is calling a NATION of chosen people comprised of Jews and Gentiles and he is combining them into one group.

We read just a bit earlier the words of the Apostle Peter who defined that group as a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, his own special people “who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

His love and mercy are so great that he “chooses” to express his great love to Gentiles, who were known to be the most morally evil people in the world.

God puts us all together AS HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE, making us ONE with the very people he had chosen and blessed to be the oracles of his word and the ones through whom the Messiah had come.

His plan was to choose, not on the basis of ethnic or racial heritage, but to create for himself a new nation, chosen to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Who are the chosen people of God?

  1. They are group that includes a remnant of the nation of Israel (Jewish people

Romans 9:27 (NLT)
27  And concerning Israel, Isaiah the prophet cried out, “Though the people of Israel are as numerous as the sand of the seashore, only a remnant will be saved.

Acts 2:37-39 (NLT)
37  Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”
38  Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39  This promise is to you, and to your children, and even to the Gentiles—all who have been called by the Lord our God.”

Romans 11:4 (NKJV)
4  But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

This second point helped clear up some things that I had in my mind from the time I was a child.

Some how or another, I had lived for many years with the impression that all Jews would be saved and would automatically go to heaven.

In answering the question as to whom the chosen people of God are, we learn secondly that concerning the nation of Israel, the chosen who will be saved, are a remnant of the nation of Israel.

Thought:

Not everyone who is born Jewish is automatically going to go the heaven; just like God doesn’t have a family plan that gets you into heaven because of your parents, he does not have a plan that automatically gets a person into heaven because of his or her ethnic or racial background.

Remember now what we’ve learned in point number one.

The chosen people of God are among a group that is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles.

The prophet Isaiah declared that only a remnant would be saved.

Even though the Nation of Israel and the descendents of Abraham would be as numerous as the sands of the sea shore, not every one who is born Jewish would truly believe and trust in God and therefore not everyone who was born Jewish would be saved or counted among God’s chosen people.

Thought:

Now you might say, I’m not Jewish so WHY does this matter to me?

Well if you love people, it should matter to you.

Some of you may have Jewish friends or family members who are Jewish.

And if you listen further you’ll see that there is something for you here, no matter what your background may be.

Thought:

The passage we read from Acts 2:37-39 is an interesting passage to consider and listen to, especially if you are from a Jewish background or have Jewish friends.

You see Peter was preaching that day and speaking to a crowd, which was primarily Jewish.

After the miraculous events of Pentecost, Peter steps up and begins to preach to the crowd.

The scripture records that the words of Peter cut them or pierced their hearts and they said to him “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins, turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ to show that you have received forgiveness for your sins.

  • Peter was preaching to JEWS who had the privilege of having the laws of God.
  • Peter was preaching to religious folks.

Peter was preaching to a group of people who were morally heads and shoulders above the Gentile world, but to these Jews, Peter would communicate the truth and reality that every one needs to repent and turn to God in order to be saved.

He didn’t tell them that they had an automatic ticket to heaven.

He told that that everyone needs to come to JESUS and embrace him as LORD by placing their faith in him, expressing by the act of being baptized and declaring publically, that they understood and believed that it was only by placing their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, that they could be and would be saved.

Does that sound familiar to you ?

Peter told them you’ve got to make a choice to embrace the reality of what it takes to be among those who are truly God’s chosen people.

Thought:

On that day, Peter was talking to his fellow Jews, but what he said then applies right now to us GENTILES.

You see, God is still in the business of choosing a people for himself.

But each of us has to position ourselves to be chosen.

Each of us must repent of our sinful rebellion and pride.

Each of us must recognize our lost-ness without the love and grace mercy of God.

Each of us must come to the full realization that we cannot save ourselves and then having come to that realization, we must open our hearts, fall upon our knees and them come to Christ and ask him to save us.

Today and this morning, the question I want to lodge in your mind is this.

Have you done what Peter said that we must do?

Have you repented, have you declared your faith in Jesus, have you made a public declaration by being baptized according to the commandment and authority of Jesus Christ and confessing with your mouth HIS Lordship over your life.

Who are the chosen people of God?

  1. They are people who understand that they cannot pursue righteousness by the works of the law.

Romans 9:31-32c (NLT)
31  But the people of Israel, who tried so hard to get right with God by keeping the law, never succeeded.
32c  Why not? Because they were trying to get right with God by keeping the law instead of by trusting in him.  

Romans 3:20 (NLT)
20  For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.

Romans 10:3 (NLT)
3  For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.

Ephesians 2:9 (NLT)
9  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Matthew 7:22-26 (NKJV)
22  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’
23  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

For the third point of this teaching, the answer to the question of who are the chosen people of God, is given to us in the negative and it really builds upon and explains why it is that only a remnant of Israel will be saved.

Thought:

Israel was the nation that was identified as God’s own people; they had a special relationship with God.

They had the law and the prophets.

They were given the honor of being the nation through which the Messiah would come.

But they as a NATION they never succeeded at flowing in the reality of there chosen status, because they failed to trust God.

They didn’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself.

They didn’t understand the example of their father Abraham, the father of faith.

Thus in answering our main question that we posed as the basis for the sermon, we can simply say, that the chosen people of God are those who pursue righteousness by faith.

Thought:

Now there is a tough warning for us in the church today….

Tells your neighbor, hold tight, it’s toe stepping time…

What Paul teaches us about the nation of Israel is not just a teaching for the JEWS, it is a warning.

If we are not careful, we in the church can miss “God’s way”, just like Israel missed it.

This is especially true and applicable for those of us who are quite comfortable in our own religion and or self-righteousness.

The chosen people are NOT those who think that they can get into the group or be accepted by God because of their own religion.

The chosen people of God are NOT those who presume that they are in because of their spiritual pedigree.

The chosen people of God are NOT those who believe that they get in because of the good deeds or works.

And this is a warning and a danger to every one.

To Jews to Gentiles. To Christians.

To Muslims, To Baptist. To Pentecostals. To Catholics, To non-denominational Christians, In fact it is a warning to anyone who presumes to rely upon their own goodness or their own works, or thier own religion.

It didn’t work for the nation of Israel and it won’t work for you.

In that day, when we stand before God, I fear that there are going to be a lot of people who are shocked by what the Lord says.

I fear that there may be many who consider them selves to be part of those who are the chosen of God, who will stand before the master on that day.

Some will give a run down of their works and religion.

Some will give a resume of their accomplishments as preachers and teachers of God’s word.

Many will say to Jesus that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in your name.

Lord have we NOT cast out demons in your name, and done many wonders in your name?’

And then the LORD himself will declare to them, ‘I never knew you.

You didn’t put your trust in me.

You didn’t learn God’s way of making people right with himself.

You didn’t learn that salvation isn’t a reward, but instead you missed it, because you failed to put your faith and trust in me.

Who are the chosen people of God, 4th and finally….

  1. They are those who embrace the “stumbling stone” and place their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

Romans 9:32d-e (NLT)
32d-e   instead of by trusting in him. They stumbled over the great rock in their path

Romans 9:33 (NLT)

33  God warned them of this in the Scriptures when he said, “I am placing a stone in Jerusalem that makes people stumble, a rock that makes them fall. But anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 

Matthew 13:57 (YLT)
57  and they were stumbled at him. And Jesus said to them, `A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, and in his own house:’

John 5:24 (NKJV)
24  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Here we come to a close, looking again at Israel and the Jewish nation, as a teaching example that speaks to us and answers the question that we posed and are addressing in this sermon today.

We learn 4th and finally that the chosen people of God are those who by faith “embrace the stumbling stone”.

Jesus came to the earth as a humble servant; born into poverty.

He didn’t have great material wealth or anything attractive about him at all.

He talked about giving up all that you had.

He talked about turning the other cheek when someone strikes you.

He spoke of forgiveness and he told people about the reality of their sins.

Instead of marching into town on a great big stallion, he came riding on a donkey’s colt.

And worst of all he died on a cross, stretched out naked between two criminals.

So when it came to embracing Jesus as Lord and savior, a lot of folks stumbled.

This is what happened to Israel.

Only a remnant could get past the stumbling block that Jesus represented and the offense of all that he stood for, when he said trust in me.

The chosen people of God, are the ones who embrace the stumbling stone, who’s name is Jesus Christ and the beauty of this blessedness is that anyone, from any background or any racial group can place their faith in and embrace Jesus Christ.

Today my friend, no matter who you are or where you’ve been, I want you to know that God is still building and planting and raising a nation of chosen ones, who will place their faith and trust in HIS precious Son Jesus Christ.

God is still seeking to save the lost.

God is still building a nation of chosen ones, called forth to show the praises of him, who has called you from darkness and into the blessing of his incredible light

I wonder this morning if there is ONE who is ready to be among the chosen.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed.

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God’s “Rights” as God

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper  Senior Pastor, Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

                                    God’s “Rights” as God

Romans 9:15-19 (NLT)
15  For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
16  So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
17  For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth.”

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

When we were last here together in our series through the epistle written to the church at Rome, we talked about and examined the question of who the true children of God actually are.

This was a fascinating study because it spoke to the reality that God has chosen people to be a part of his family and he has done so, using parameters and qualifications that are completely the opposite of the methods that make sense to us.

We learned in that sermon that the true chidden of God are not defined by their ethnic heritage or religion, for all who are born into the nation of Israel are not necessarily members of God’s people said Romans chapter 9:6 .

Being a physical descendent of Abraham doesn’t make you automatically one who is counted among God’s children.

No in order to be among those who are part of God’s family, a person must be a believer who places their faith in Gods’ own Son.

It is faith that defines who is a true child of God and through faith we become children of the promise as we flow in that same example of Abraham, for it was because of faith and HIS belief in God, that he was counted as righteous; not because of HIS works, not because of his pedigree but because of faith.

Today, we’ve picked up our study at a point in which Paul discusses one of the realities about God, that many people often have a hard time excepting.

And that is the fact that as God, he can do what he wants, when he wants to do it and he can do what he does for whatever reason he wants to do it.

This would of course address some questions that might be raised both inside and outside of the church.

And I am not saying that people have the right to question God.

But I am acknowledging that we as humans often don’t understand what God does. 

And on some level some of his actions and or decisions may seem unfair to US.

What does God have the right to do as God?

Well certainly as human we couldn’t address or define God’s total rights, but we can learn from HIS world, five things that the scripture offers us as points of information to help us understand him better.

If you are ready to learn about that, say AMEN

God is God and because he is God……

  1. God has the right choose to be merciful to the just and the unjust.

Romans 9:15-16a (NLT)
15  For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.”
16a  So it is God who decides to show mercy..

Psalm 103:8 (YLT)
8  Merciful and gracious is Jehovah, Slow to anger, and abundant in mercy.

Micah 7:19 (YLT)
19  He doth turn back, He pitieth us, He doth subdue our iniquities, And Thou castest into the depths of the sea all their sins.

1 Timothy 1:15 (NKJV)
15  This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Here in this first point, looking at the rights of God we read firstly that God has the right to be merciful and to be compassionate towards anyone he chooses.

Because he is God and he answers to himself alone, he chooses to show mercy to anyone and he has the right to do so, even if and when it does not make sense to us as human beings and even if it doesn’t seem fair.

Here Paul accesses a conversation between God and Moses in which he quotes from Exodus chapter 33:16.

You see Moses had gone up into the mountain with God to spend some time with him one-on-one and while he was gone the people of Israel starting acting up.

This was the time that God had delivered them with a powerful hand and with many miracles, which resulted in the Exodus of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt.

Now Moses goes up into the mountain and the folks decided to do something that was completely over the top and was on every level, one of the most egregious offenses that you could commit against God.

Remember now, that these people had seen God’s power.

They saw the red sea parted for them. They lived through all of the plagues and the Passover experience.

But in spite of that they decided to make themselves a golden calf and to fall down before that idol and to worship it.

Now my friend you need to understand this was a slap in the face of God, this was an act that should have drawn the fire of God down from heaven itself.

The people were guilty, the people had committed a serious sin and they deserved to vaporized off of the face of the earth.

Yet God in his perfect holiness, out of which he could have destroyed the people, answers the request of Moses, with a demonstration of MERCY…in which he showed us how different God is, from human beings.

Thought:

Now I think you can see where I am going here

You know how folk are. You know that people who will respond to any kind of offense, by coming down on the offending party, with rage, anger and fire like no body’s business.

Just say the wrong thing, just fail to speak, just fail to acknowledge, just leave them off the party list…and BAM

But look at God….

Because he is God, he with holds what they deserved.

Because he is God he shows compassion.

Because he is God he shows and mercy, when his actions from a human perspective make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Thought:

This is something that we need to understand and embrace, as an answer to the uncomfortable feeling we sometimes have with the realty that GOD shows mercy to folks who are incredibly evil.

Thought:

You and I are living in an incredibly evil day.

Mankind raises his fist in defiance of God.

Mankind has turned it’s back on God and he has built himself idols made with hands.

Our country, which has prospered and flourished under the blessings of God, has instead shaken off the creator and turned to the pursuit of self and sin, to the exclusion of all else.

Evil reigns and men arrogantly offend and even curse God.

And there is a part of us that says WHY ?

Why don’t you come down on evil people Lord, why do you allow those who defy you to rule and to reign?

Why does evil seem to go unpunished and how long must we cry out to be avenged.

The answer is that God is God and he has a right to show mercy and compassion even when it doesn’t make sense to us.

Thought:

As Christians and as forgiven and justified Sons and Daughters, we might have to check ourselves a bit.

You see, if God were to actually apply things in a way that is fair, mercy and compassion would never have been extended to any of us.

Truth is the last thing that we really want is for God to be fair and thank God for that.

Thank God for not being willing that any should perish, thank God for being slow to anger.

Thank God for not holding us accountable or being offended at the nerve of man, to question him or have doubts about his goodness.

God is God and because he is God……

  1. God has a right to execute justice in the manner he deems to be most appropriate 

Romans 9:17-18 (NKJV)
17  For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”

18  Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

Exodus 8:15 (NLT)
15  But when Pharaoh saw that relief had come, he became stubborn. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had predicted.

Galatians 6:7 (NKJV)
7  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

James 1:13 (ESV)

Let no one say when he is tempted, “ I am being tempted by God” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

This second point requires a bit of explanation, because the language here can be confusing, so bare with me, if you would please.

Again Paul is going back to Exodus, but here he reaches in to the events that occurred in History in the nation of Israel before the Jews were liberated and set free from their bondage.

Moses had been visiting Pharaoh and trying to negotiate the release of the people.

Each time that the Lord would bring a plague, Pharaoh would react to the pressure of that and he would get Moses thinking that things were going to change.

But when pressure from the latest plague wore off, Pharaoh would change his mind, he would become stubborn, he would refuse to listen to Moses and Aaron and he would reject God’s word and actually choose to harden his heart towards God.

In Romans chapter 13, which we will eventually get to, Paul says and I quote “all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” ( NLT)

This is what Paul was talking about as he quotes the word of God as recorded in Exodus chapter 9:16.

Here we see Pharaoh the mighty ruler of the world’s most powerful empire.

Here we see Pharaoh who sat as the undisputed ruler of a massive structure in which Pharaoh was worshipped and feared as one who was thought to be a god.

His empire had complete dominance over the latest technology and scientific tools and medicine, these are the folks who built the pyramids.

In other words, this was one BAD mamma jamma, he was all that and a bag of chips.

But the scripture says, that the God was the one who put this man in the position he held. 

God put him in the chair. God gave him the corner office.

God put him in on the throne, God made him successful, God give this man tremendous wealth and glory within the earth realm, for one reason and one reason alone.

He put this man in the position that he was in so that God could make Pharaohs life to be an example of God’s justice being executed.

In other words, God raised him up, so that he could take him down.

Thought:

Now it is important to understand something, so listen closely.

God gave Pharaoh multiple chances to repent of his stubbornness.

God gave him many chances to repent of his pride, but he continued to defy God and to harden his mind towards him, and so God executed his justice on this man, by returning the hardened heart he had sowed towards God.

Thought:

God does not make people do evil things, nor does he tempt man to do evil, but he will allow a person to reap what they sow.

Thought:

This is something that we need to remember and not forget.

This is something we need to remember when we are trying to figure out what God is doing and or when we are trying to make sense of what we perceive he is doing.

We must be careful not to apply our human understanding to God and his divine status

God is operating on a level and on a plane of reality that is far beyond our ability to comprehend.

As his children, we must not doubt his right or his wisdom, nor his ability to execute justice and to make decisions and choices about how he orders the lives of men and events of time and space.

We must not doubt God’s wisdom.

My friend even in the face of what may seem to be a complete contraction, know that God is in control of every king.

Know that God is in control of every prince.

Know that God is in control of every President.

He’s in control of every boss; he may have raised that person up, just so the world could see God’s mighty justice when he brings the person down.

God is God and because he is God……

  1. God has the right to do as he wills, for whatever reason he wills.

Romans 9:21 (NKJV)
21  Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

Job 38:4-5 (NLT)
4  “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.
5  Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line?

Romans 9:20 (NKJV)
20  But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”

Revelation 19:6 (NKJV)
6  And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!

This third point seems to be an obvious one, but because there is much confusion and dishonesty in the hearts of men, it is important that we examine and discuss what the bible teaches us about the divine sovereignty of God.

God has the right and power to do whatever he wills, for whatever reason he wills and that independent power applies to any situation and any person that he decides to apply his right and power to.

This word sovereign describes an attribute of God in his “God-ness” if I could use that word, which speaks to his undisputed status of dominion, power and supreme authority over everything.

You see it is important that we examine and discuss this, even as Christians because the fact of the matter is that the FLESH of man, rejects and objects to this very issue, when it comes to God and his “God-ness”

Thought:

You see from the human/fleshly perspective God is good and welcome in the lives of men, when we can see and use God like a great big Santa Clause or Sugar Daddy, or Bank or a slot machine.

God is welcome as God when he can do something for us, when he can give us something when he can do what we want, when he can make our desires appear like a Jeannie.

But in reality the flesh does not really want God to be God

You see man’s flesh desires to be his own God.

His flesh want to determine his own fate and to call the shots for himself.

His flesh wants to set and define the parameters of measurement and to be in charge.

His flesh is self-centered.

This is the primary struggle that took place in the garden and it is at the heart of what causes friction between God and man.

The self-centeredness.

The I-will-ness.

The rebellion and yes even the offense that man feels at the idea a God who does not report to him, nor is accountable to the whims, desires, expectation or the standards of man.

God has the right and power to do whatever he wills, for whatever reason he wills and that independent power applies to any situation and any person that he decides to apply his right and power to.

Thought:

Romans 9:21 poses a powerful question and it is one that we need to have at the forefront of our minds, whenever the FLESH tries to exalt itself and question God.

And here is what the words says “

Romans 9:21 (NKJV)
21  Does not the potter have power over the clay ?

Listen to what God said to Job in Job chapter 38, which we read together just a moment ago.

Job 38:4-5 (NLT)
4  “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.
5  Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line?

Where were you pal?

Who is man to question God ?

Does God not have the power as the potter, to do whatever he desires to do with the clay?

It is the 800-pound invisible gorilla, that is at the root of why we as Christians many times are struggling in bridging the gap between what we know God’s will is and our actually living out and or carrying out HIS will.

I heard that a young lady said in reaction to something that was shared in a sermon, that she didn’t agree with that….

No it didn’t matter that the word came right out of the bible, what mattered to her was weather she agreed with it or not..

Does not the potter have power over the clay?

If there is anything that you learn today or become convinced of in your mind my friend, let it be this.. “God has the right and power to do whatever he wills, for whatever reason he wills and that independent power applies to any situation and any person that he decides to apply his right and power to; he is GOD and he is the undisputed supreme power and authority and his dominion and position is held within himself and he reports to no one but himself.

God is God and because he is God……

  1. God has a right to tolerate evil and to do so for his own reasons.

Romans 9:22-23 (NKJV)
22  What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
23  and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

Romans 9:25-26 (NKJV)
25  As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.”
26  “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)
9  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

God has the right to do as he wants he and that includes the reality that God seems to tolerate evil and evil people in this world.

Here Paul is helping us to understand and to process that, as he teaches us an important point about the nature of God and the grace and plan of God.

Now make sure you understand that God does not have to explain any thing to us, but he does so because he loves us and wants us to appreciate just how good he is.

Thought:

Many times we as human beings look at and witness the rise and dominance of cruelty and evil in the world and we will ask ourselves, why does God allow this?

Why do evil people seems to prosper.

Why does rape and violence occur?

Why do evil people and evil governments and evil systems appear to be chugging along and nothing stops them?

Why can godless Hollywood types curse God and thumb their noses at him.

Why doesn’t God just come down and stamp out the evil people of this world who seek to defy and disrespect the living God?

It makes no sense to us, but in reality, God has a reason and his reasoning flows out of his divine goodness as God.

Listen to Romans 9:22 and let’s hear the words again but let’s do it within the context of the reality that God in his “God-ness “has a bigger plan than we can understand.

The scripture says “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23  and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

The new living translation puts it this way…

Romans 9:22b-25 (NLT)
“even though God has the right to show his anger and his power, he is very patient with those on whom his anger falls, who were made for destruction.
23  He does this to make the riches of his glory shine even brighter on those to whom he shows mercy, who were prepared in advance for glory.
24  And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.

In other words GOD in his sovereign and independent “god-ness” has the right to let evil and evil people go ahead a flourish and to let them hang out there.

And he does so number one because it is his will that no one perishes (we read that in 2nd Peter) and secondly his grace and mercy and kindness and glory will shine even brighter, on those whom he has chosen and selected to be the vessels of HIS MERCY, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

Thought:

You and I as born again Christians, who have placed our faith and trust in God’s own Son Jesus Christ, are part of the group of vessels God has predestined and prepared for glory.

This is what we need to keep in mind, when we find ourselves becoming frustrated with evil and evil people.

God isn’t slack, God is not sleeping, God is not being “chumped” he’s not slow but rather he is fulfilling His plan.

5th and finally God is God and because he is God……

  1. God has a right to choose people and he has made that choice for reasons known only to himself.

Romans 9:24 (NLT)
24  And we are among those whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles.

Romans 9:25-26 (NLT)
25  Concerning the Gentiles, God says in the prophecy of Hosea, “Those who were not my people, I will now call my people. And I will love those whom I did not love before.”
26  And, “Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

Because God is God he in HIS complete power and authority has chosen to save us.

This is a question that often comes to the mind of the believer, even though we understand all of the scriptures and can tell you the biblical basis for the plan of salvation.

Truth is, that is still blows my mind.

Thought:

There is a popular Song by Gospel Singer Anthony Brown, which goes like this…

You thought I was worth saving, so you came and changed my life, you thought I was worth keeping, so you cleaned me up inside, you thought I was to die for so you sacrificed your life…so I could be free…

And the song’s music just burst with emotion in the crescendos of the music, but the fact of the matter is, nothing could be further from the truth.

God didn’t see anything in me worth saving and he didn’t save us because we were worth it.

The bible says that God looked down from heaven upon the children of men and he saw nothing that was worth saving.

He saw that there was none that did good.

He saw that there was none righteous no-not-one…and certainly not me..

Yet out of his incredible goodness and in-spite of our nothingness, God in his “God-ness” because he is GOD, selected for himself a people out of all nations and tribes and tongues.

He chose people who were not the people of God to be with him in heaven forever…and he did so for his own reasons….

But before we could be with him, the sin problem had to be handled.

That sin issue needed to be remitted.

The sin issue needed to be reconciled because there was and is a wage associated with sin and that is death.

Romans 6:23 said and I quote “ the wages of sin is death”

That means that there is a due bill.

There is an unpaid invoice associate with man’s sinful rebellion.

That is WHY God sent his only begotten Son to deal with the problem.

He sent Jesus to pay the price by sacrificing his life, not because we were worth saving…but because God so loved the world, that he would do this, out of his “GOD-NESS”

CLOSE:

If you died tonight and every person here is a candidate for death, can you say for sure, that your are part of God’s chosen one’s because you’ve accepted his plan and provision by faith in Jesus Christ God’s only Son.

If you cannot say YES and you want to be able to know YES, then today is the time to get it right.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed.

Click here to view the full service and sermon.

 

 

 

God’s Great Gift

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

God’s Great Gift

Isaiah 9:6-7a (NKJV)
6  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7  Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy word.

What an exciting day it is today, the eve upon which we will gather to prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

This week for many there was a press to get to the store and to take care of last minute gifts; in fact I predict that today the malls will be over flowing with folks looking for deals, some who are planning to give gifts to others, or some who will take this opportunity to give a gift to themselves.

Gift giving is the topic that we’d like to discuss this blessed Sunday, speaking to you on the subject of God’s great gift.

We’ve accessed the prophetic writings of Isaiah who penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as Isaiah looked into the future and spoke of the birth of Jesus.

And he spoke about the birth of God’s own Son and the fulfillment of a promise made long ago, to shower mankind with a great gift.

That is the title of the sermon this morning, God’s great gift and today we want to celebrate and thank him for his wonderful gift as outlined in these four brief points.

AMEN.

God’s great gift to humanity is

  1. A child born to us who is “God’s only begotten Son”

Isaiah 9:6 (NKJV)
6  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given

Luke 1:35 (NLT)
35  The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

John 3:16 (NKJV)
16  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Luke 2:11 (KJV)
11  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

We note in this first point the words of Isaiah 9:6 and the words of the Angel who announces the birth of Jesus to the Shepherds as recorded in Luke 2:11 taking note that the address and good news of the gift of God is given, to US, that is to humanity and to the world.

God’s great gift to humanity is a gift that he did not give to the Angles, nor to the

principalities of heaven, but rather he gave US the gift of HIS only begotten SON.

Think about this for a moment and embrace the massiveness of this thought that God gave his SON to us.

Isaiah said it was unto US, the Angel said for unto YOU is born, this day.

On this Christmas Eve Sunday, one might ask the reason why God would give such a wonderful gift to us.

Thought:

Earlier in the opening of the sermon, I mentioned that very likely there would be among those shopping at the mall today, a number of shoppers who would be taking advantage of the last minute sales, so that they/we could get something for our selves.

It’s not that we don’t care about our husbands or wives, it’s not that our children or grand babies are not important to us but the way that most people are wired is that there is a tendency to think about ourselves, even in this time of gift giving, in which so much love and good cheer is spread.

You don’t have to raise your hand or even nod your head, if you happened to hook your self up with a little something-something that is hidden in the closet, garage or in back of the trunk of your car, Yes while you were out there getting presents for others, you made sure to take care of yourself.

We are wired to think about ourselves so much… 

So when we think about and consider that God would give this incredible gift, how he could be so “self-less” and give such a wonderful gift for US?

John 3:16 said that God so loved the world….

This is kind of difficult to process if you really sit down and think about that and consider this great love in the light of how people in the world today reject and be-little and dismiss God.

On the eve of the celebration of the birth of that great gift, some would never think of taking the time to honor and celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, by attending a gathering at a church service such as this.

I’ll bet if you go over the Salt Creek Grill right now you’ll find the place packed out with people celebrating Christmas.

In fact the idea of going to the Lord’s house to celebrate the gift of HIS Son, never even crosses the minds of most worldly folks.

It’s difficult to process and to make it connect in your mind, why God would love a world like this, that has literally taken the Christ out of Christmas.

John 3:16 said that God so loved the world that he gave.

And this is part of Almighty God’s nature, it is part of how God is wired; because at the core of who he is, God is one who’s very nature is that of a “giver”.

God gave his SON because he was concerned about the sin that effects and infects the lives of people.

God gave his SON because he cares about those who are suffering

God gave his SON because he cares about what SIN has done to the hearts and minds and souls of men.

Thought:

Christmas time is probably not a time when most people think about Sin, but it is important for me to tell you that Sin is a great concern.

Sin is what makes us selfish even when we try to be gracious and think about others, try as we may; we are still drawn to self.

Sin is what makes us ungrateful.

It’s built into our DNA. It’s the reason why your child, who one minute seems like a joyous gift from heaven, and then like that SNAP they will turn and throw a tantrum, because they didn’t get the toy or game or gadget they demanded for Christmas.

Sin will be at the root of some arguments that burst out at the table tomorrow where hurtful things are said and tongues become deadly, having been loosed by the influence of one too many beers or shots.

Sin is at the heart of what separates man and God and the presence of the sin issue, broke our relationship with the one who created us.

You see SIN has a price and the price or wages of Sin is death.

God gave HIS son, to deal with that.

He sent his SON take our sins upon himself and to sacrifice HIS life on the cross, to pay the price that we should have paid, so that we wouldn’t be condemned to eternal damnation, but rather through faith in HIS Son Jesus, we who believe in him, should not perish but have ever lasting life.

God’s great gift to humanity is secondly…

  1. A Savior sent to deliver us.

Isaiah 9:6a-b (NKJV)
6  For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder

Luke 2:11 (NKJV)
11  For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Matthew 1:21 (NLT)
21  And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Luke 1:69-70 (NLT)
69  He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David,
70  just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago.

God’s great gift to humanity is that he sent us a great deliverer.

This is a point that may take a little more imagination for us to really embrace and see the power of, because we live in a time of relative freedom and we might not be able to clearly see our need to be delivered.

You see in the Ancient world, government was viewed by many as a burden to be borne upon the backs and shoulders of people.

Most people in the ancient world were extremely poor and over-taxed.

The rich and powerful ruled the masses with great authority and they lorded their power over the weak and helpless.

People were oppressed and over-whelmed by kings and princes and they needed someone to deliver them, not only from the oppressive nature of world government, but people needed to be delivered from the hand of our greatest enemy who’s name is Satan.

Thought:

Christmas Eve might not seem like a time to talk about Satan, but since he has much of the world blinded to the fact that he has burdened the backs of people with such incredibly destructive weights, I feel compelled to address this.

I told you earlier that it might be hard for us to relate to the idea of needing to be delivered.

But the fact is, that we in the world today, are struggling under the oppressive weight, that comes for the very gates of HELL itself.

  • The world is full of hate and hating people who are burdened by a sense of resentment and anger towards their fellow man, that is why you see the alarming rise of hate groups today.
  • The world is burdened down by greed and a lust for power that places money and possessions over the lives of human beings.
  • The world is burdened down by hypocrisy and hopelessness; our institutions are crumbling under the weight of leaders who lack integrity.

There is fear in the streets and in our homes.

There is crime everywhere.

Folks can’t even get a box delivered to their homes without some thief waiting in the wings to steal their Christmas gifts.

We need to be delivered from the oppressive weight, that is being carried on our backs, but we cannot deliver ourselves.

That is why God gave us the gift of our great deliverer.

On this Christmas Eve morning I am here to tell you that there is only ONE great deliverer and that is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Come on a give God some praise !!!!!

God’s great gift to humanity thirdly is….

  1. A deliverer sent to rescue us.

Matthew 1:21a-b (NKJV)
21  And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS,

Mark 10:45 (NKJV)
45  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Titus 2:14a-b (YLT)
14  who did give himself for us, that he might ransom us from all lawlessness, and might purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works;

Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)
7  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

In this 3rd point, I want to spend a little time talking about the name of Jesus.

Thought:

One of the things that I like about Christmas time is that the name of Jesus is spoken of by many people who never think of him at any other time than this.

Now don’t get me wrong.

I understand that for many business and various organizations, the name of Jesus is spoken or used because it’s good for business.

But on this day, on this Christmas Eve Sunday we want to embrace the gift of God and to see that in the name of God’s only begotten Son.

Thought:

The name Jesus is an Anglicized form of the Greek name that I cannot pronounce, which is derived from the Hebrew word Yeshua.

Yeshua is a verbal derivative from the word which means” to rescue”, or “to deliver”

In the previous point we talked about God’s great gift to us as sent in the form of Jesus his Son as our deliverer.

Here in this 3rd point, we want to talk about God’s great gift of sending a “deliverer” to “rescue” mankind.

Thought:

You see this world is in great danger and in dire need of a rescuer.

Man is not only oppressed by the enemy who is Satan, but he is bound and deceived as to the dangers of HELL that hang over his head each day.

Many do not believe nor understand what happens to your eternal soul if one should die in this world without Christ the redeemer.

And no matter how good you may think you are, each one of us is born with a first class ticket, which is marked and headed towards hell without the intervention of Christ.

God sent the gift of HIS Son, to redeem man and to save him and rescue him from a devil’s hell and eternal hellfire.

This was his mission; this was the plan of God who gave us HIS Son as a gift.

Jesus came to this earth as God’s great gift to ransom the souls of human beings and to rescue us from the prison we were held in.

Jesus came set things in order and to rescue us from the stain of sin that separates us from Almighty God.

Jesus came to do exactly what his name means…to rescue us and to give his life as a payment for the sins of many, so that we who were bound in chains and fetters would receive redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

God’s great gift to humanity 4th and finally is….

  1. A mighty God to be with us forever.

Isaiah 9:6c-7b (NKJV)
6 c And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 b Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end,

Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)
23  “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

John 14:23 (NKJV)
23  Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

We close our Christmas Eve sermon today, celebrating God’s desire to be with us.

If you have not already come to the conclusion or recognized it from the previous points, let me make sure that I state it plainly.

God loves us and wants to be with us. He wants to be with you.

This is the message that is contained all through out the bible and it is the reason why he gave us the incredible gift of HIS Son.

To us he was sent and to us he was given and to us he shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

CLOSING:

In Matthew’s account of the birth of our Lord he said that they shall call his name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

John records the words of Jesus, who spoke of a relationship that would come together in which The Son and the Father would join with the person who believes in the Son and that these would make a home with that person.

For those of you who know Jesus as your personal Lord, let this day be to you a reminder of the great gift that God bestowed upon an undeserving world.

His grace and his love was so incredible, that he chose us and drew us to the SON before we were born.

To those of you who may be here or are listening on line the invitation on this Christmas Eve Sunday is to come to know God’s great gift for yourself.

Come and get to know HIS only begotten Son for yourself.

Come and embrace by faith the great deliverer, our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

Come into that blessed relationship of cleansing forgiveness and peace with God, though the SON who he sent to rescue you and bring you safely home to him.

AMEN.

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed…

 Click here to view the service and sermon

Paul’s Great Love for Israel

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship

                           Paul’s Great Love for Israel

Romans 9:1-5 (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,
4  who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
5  of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy word

The sermon we delivered two weeks ago, which closed out Chapter 8, was one of great encouragement to the child of God.

If you were not here for that teaching I strongly encourage you to go on-line to our you-tube channel and listen to it.

In that sermon we learned that Paul declares and affirms our position in Christ as believers, noting specifically that nothing can separate us from God’s love; not Angels, nor powers nor people, NO nothing can separate us from the love of God, for Christ died for US and was raised to life for US and praise God our Lord is seated at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for US…AMEN.

Today the topic and the subject of Paul’s letter mark a very stark and striking change.

In the next few portions of the letter he turns from talking to the believing Church, to addressing his concerns and cares regarding the challenges and issues of HIS brethren the Jewish people.

Paul loved the people of Israel, not only because he was born as one of their own brethren who shared a cultural and spiritual connection, but also because the people of Israel shared and special and unique place within the plan and workings of God.

The Jewish people were God’s chosen people; AND through them had come the very messiah Christ himself.

Today, we are going to look at and explore Paul’s great love for the people of Israel as noted in these Three (3) points.

IF you are ready to go say AMEN

Paul’s great love and passion for Israel was rooted in…..

  1. The spiritually lost condition of the people of Israel and his estrangement from them.

Romans 9:1-2 (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.

Exodus 32:9 (NLT)
9  Then the LORD said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are.

Psalm 119:136 (NLT)
136  Rivers of tears gush from my eyes because people disobey your instructions.

Acts 23:12 (NKJV)
12  And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul.

2 Corinthians 11:24 (NKJV)
24  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.

In this first point of the sermon today, we note the words of Paul, as he expresses and proclaims his great love and passion for the people of Israel.

A people who were chosen by God himself and blessed by God, yet these very people were suffering, because of the choices and decisions they had made in life.

The Israelites were an extremely rebellious people.

All through their history starting from the very days of their fathers, to the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of the Egyptians, to the Judges and kings, to the prophets that they rejected and killed; the history of the people of Israel is replete with examples of a hard headed, rebellious people who fought God and disrespected his love and blessings, time after time after time.

And then most notably as it regards the down right act of rejection; the scripture declares that having come to his own, his own people rejected him and Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, God’s only Son was crucified and killed by the leaders of the Jewish nation.

Thought:

To some, it might make sense that Paul would be an enemy of the ones who had rejected Christ.

He had every right to be angry and bitter.

When Paul was converted and became a believer in Jesus Christ, some of the Jews banded themselves together and took a vow that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.

Paul had been the subject of hatred and physical abuse at the hands of his own people.

He was beaten on several occasions and the cumulative total of stripes he received was 195 lashes

Yet this man was in heaviness, his heart was distressed, his mind was occupied and tied up with a deep concern and HE was driven with a sense of urgency to communicate the gospel and the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ to these very same people who mistreated him tremendously.

Paul felt an intense pain and longing within himself, because he understood the heart of God towards the people of Israel and towards the people of the earth.

Thought:

As I look at and process the intensity of Paul’s concern here, I cannot help but be reminded and moved by what must certainly be the heart of God and the love of God and the passion of God towards the unsaved world that we live in.

Israel in many ways is simply a microcosm of the people of the world at large and an example of the sinfulness that plagues and defines this world.

And Paul with his incredible passion and desire for the people of Israel, for me pictures God’s great love and passion for a world full of people who reject him.

That is why it is hard sometimes to process the bold statement of truth as recorded in John 3:16 which declared that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but instead have everlasting life.

Vs 17 would go on to say, that God did not send his SON into the world to condemn the world, but rather that through his Son the world might be saved.

Thought:

I as a preacher of the gospel I have a concern and indeed I have a passion and great sorrow for people who are lost today.

You and I my friends are living in a desperate world of lost people.

It is painful to see young folks who are confused and lost and who have given up on life, even though they haven’t lived very long.

It is painful to see men who lack purpose and direction, struggling to find themselves and to find meaning in life, frustrated by pursuing money and pride only to find an empty pot of nothing at the end of their pursuits.

It is painful to see, families broken and destroyed by substance abuse.

When you hear the stories of children as young as 9 years old, being strung out on drugs, looking for attention, looking for validation, looking for love in a pill or bottle, or pipe when you hear about that it just breaks your heart.

It is painful to see people’s marriages struggling, because of the choices that people make, wives don’t know what to do, husbands don’t know what their role is, and children don’t know, what they don’t know, they only know that they hurt.

I have a passion to preach the gospel to the lost because I know that the only thing that can help this world is Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten SON.

I believe that we as Christians ought to be moved with great passion and heaviness.

I believe that we who know Jesus as Lord ought to have a burning desire to see that our kinsmen, our children, our spouses our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our aunts and uncles and neighbors and every person we meet, we ought to have a burning desire to see that they come into a saving knowledge Jesus Christ and his shed blood on the cross at Calvary.

  • Only the blood of Jesus Christ, the precious SON of God the Father, can save this lost and dying world.
  • Only faith in Jesus and Jesus Christ alone can set men and women free.
  • Only Christ himself can solve the incredible challenge of saving NOT only Israel, but of saving lost sinners who are living in the world today without hope.

And for every preacher in the house today and for those listening online, I’m here to issue a challenge, because the word of God says in Romans chapter 10 verse 14…
14  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

If you are a preacher the word to you today is that we must stir up a passion within ourselves, even to the point where it becomes for us a personal issue of great heaviness and sorrow.

Paul’s great love and passion for Israel was rooted in…..

  1. His deep love & great concern for their need of salvation.

Romans 9: 3 (NKJV)
3  For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.

Exodus 32:32-33 (NKJV)
32  Yet now, if You will forgive their sin–but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”
33  And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.

Galatians 3:10 (NLT)
10  But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.”

Romans 10:2-3 (NKJV)
2  For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
3  For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

We kind of explored this a bit already in point number one, but there are details here in the declaration of Paul which bring his passion and concern to a more intense picture or illustration and we want to dive in and explore that further.

Notice if you would please the words from Romans 9:3, the a-c portion Paul says, that he’d be willing to be accursed from Christ, if that would lead to the salvation of the people of Israel.

The New Living Translation says … 3  for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.  

Paul I believe was speaking here, from the depths of his intense emotion; I don’t believe that he wanted to be separated from and or cursed in the eyes of the Christ he loved, but he had an intensity of desire and he was extremely motivated.

We read a passage taken from the book of Exodus, where the words of Moses were recorded and we see in the person of Moses, that same passion and level of emotional connectedness to the people.

Moses petitions God to forgive the people and their sins and in that petition Moses simply says God please forgive these people and if you won’t forgive them, blot my name out of your book.

Paul’s passion and love for the people of God and his concern for their salvation was not just an intellectual thing, it wasn’t just because he understood the theology of the need, but his concern was based on love and what he knew in his heart.

Paul understood the Spiritual realties and the hopelessness of living life under the law.

He understood the frustration of trying to obtain favor with God by works, declaring in Galatians 3:10 that those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law

Paul understood that on some level the people of Israel had zeal for God but not according to knowledge for they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

And it was from that burning emotional connectedness, that he would declare his willingness to give up his own relationship with Christ, if it would save the people of Israel.

Thought:

I want to take you back to point number one for a moment and the place in which we spoke about the pain that people are going through in the world today.

My friends I believe that many of you here identified with that, many of you know and understand that pain.

But here as I examine Paul’s words more deeply, I am convinced and convicted that it is going to take more than just reacting to or being sympathetic towards the pain of others.

In fact if we do nothing more than do what Bill Clinton did…and just say hey I feel your pain, then we in fact will miss the mark.

If you as a child of God simply clap your hands and so GO preacher, go tell “those people” about Jesus, I feel you bro, I feel the pain, then we have fooled ourselves and have fallen into the modern trap of having feelings with out action. 

We need to have a passionate fervor that is willing to put ourselves and our time and our resources and our schedules at risk.

If you are an altar worker, it is going to take more than an encounter on Sunday morning.

If you are a preacher, it is going to take more than just a sermon delivered at a time and at a setting that feels good to you.

If you are a church member, it is going to take more than just handing out an invite card, or putting a flyer on someone’s windshield.

We need to challenge and ask ourselves to be willing to risk it all.

What would we be willing to give up if it would help save the souls of our loved ones and friends and neighbors?

From what…… would we….. be willing….. to be accursed?

Paul said that his passion was so great that he’d be willing to give up his relationship with Christ.

Again as I said earlier, I believe that those words were spoken emblematically, but we too ought to be willing to give up __________X, to go beyond sympathy, or empathy, to do everything in our power to see that those who are bound and under the curse of sin and death are instead set free.

God help us to move beyond the surface and the low hanging fruit and the easy convenience of a microwave Christianity.

Paul’s great love and passion for Israel was rooted in 3rd and finally in…..

  1. His great respect for Israel and their place in God’s plan.

Romans 9:4-5c(NKJV)
4  who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises;
5  of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came,

Romans 11:17 (NLT)
17  But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.

We close our thoughts this morning with the words of Paul who wrote about his love and respect for the people of Israel and the role that they played in God’s redemptive plan.

Paul understood that in spite of the sinfulness of Israel, that these were special and chosen people.

Israel was the name of Jacob the father of the nation, who received that special name when he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord.

This name Israel means Prince with God or one who rules with or contends with God, this would indicate that the people of Israel were to be respected and that they were to be honored with a great sense of worth and value.

God chose Israel out of all of the people of the earth, not because they were more numerous, not because they were better than other people, but he called and declared his love for them, because of the faith of their father Abraham.

  • The Jews were chosen.
  • The Jews were given the law and through the law, we came to know the will and love of God.
  • The Jews were given the privilege of serving and worshipping the one true God.
  • The nation of Israel hey saw things that no other nation had ever seen.
  • They saw the pillar of smoke in the day and the fire by night.
  • They saw the Shekinah glory of God that covered the tent of meeting.
  • They heard the voice of God when he came down on mount Sinai.

And then of course there was the reality of the blessing of Jesus Christ who came in the flesh.

From the Jews came Jesus Christ, Son of Abraham, Son of David, and Son of God.

Paul never forgot, that in spite of their back-slidden and spiritually blind condition, that these were special people who were to be loved and respected.

And so also must we never forget to love Israel too.

Thought:

From Romans chapter 11:17 I harvested these words as noted in the New Living Translation because these words speaks so strongly to us today.

And I’ll read them again.

Romans 11:17 (NLT)
17  But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree

You see, you and I are the wild ones.

We are the branches that have been grafted in.

Israel was swept aside, to that you and I might be given a place and a chance to obtain salvation.

Think about the wonder of this and let it sink in for a moment.

That God so loved the world, he so loved US that he broke off a place to graft us in.

We who were not a people have become a people, because he loved the world so much, that he opened a place for us in his family, that we who were not a part of the commonwealth of Israel, might come into HIS family of beloved and chosen people.

This Christmas season, as you are scurrying along and engaged in gift giving and gift receiving, stop for a few moments and give into the passion, stir up a desire within yourself, to see men and women, boys and girls…..to be grafted into his blessed family, for this is the heart and will of God.

AMEN.

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God’s Great Assurance Part 2

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

God’s Great Assurance to Believers

Part 2

Romans 8:31-38 (NLT)
31  What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
32  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?
33  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.
34  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?
36  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)
37  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

We are returning with part II of our previous sermon, which was entitled God’s Great Assurance to believers.

In that sermon there were three points we explored which were incredibly uplifting and encouraging.

We learned firstly as Christians that we can be assured that God is working all things together for our good.

All things, mean that whatever twists and turns and unexpected developments that may come into your life, no matter what it looks like, will be handled and managed by God himself.

And that is a word that we want to hold on to in good times and bad, so that as you navigate through the treacherous waters of life, you can take peace in that reality.

We learned secondly that God has a plan to fulfill his purpose in you, for the scripture declares in Romans 8:29 that he predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son.

We learned 3rd and finally, that the believer should be assured that God is going to bring us to glory.

I want to encourage you to review and or pick up that sermon on our you-tube channel and be blessed by the word.

AMEN.

This morning, there are four points to the sermon, regarding God’s great assurance to the believer and again these are very practical and relevant to the trials and struggles that we go through today.

God’s great assurance to the believer number one is that…

  1. God is on your side and the evidence of his favor is overwhelming.

Romans 8:31 (NLT)
31  What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
8  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 Romans 8:32b-c (NLT)
32b “he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all”

 1 Corinthians 6:11 b-d (NKJV)
11 b-d But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

In this first point of the sermon this morning, I’d like us to talk about the concept of EVIDENCE and to do so within the context of something that Christian’s sometimes struggle with, yet this struggle and fear is rarely addressed openly and taught about or discussed with others.

Paul here is teaching and assuring the believers in the early church that they had favor with God.

And he offers a series of evidentiary statements of fact, for the purposes of doing just that and the first three points that we discussed last week should be considered as part of the evidence that Paul presented, that documented and confirmed our status with God.

Remember now that Paul is writing and speaking to Christians in the early church who were going through tough times, and persecution and struggles.

Paul writes of calamities and hunger and threats, as you saw just a moment ago in Romans 8:35

And he is talking to them about that, because he doesn’t want them to be overwhelmed by those things.

You and I don’t have the same kind oppression that the early church was going through but we do have our day-to-day struggles and stresses in modern life.

Thought:

First of all there is often the struggle to survive. Now this may not apply to some of you here today, but I want to let you know that not everyone in the church today is sitting pretty, some folks who look good and who have a talent for covering up the realities in their life, are in fact struggling to survive,

Some struggle in the church today with hunger, some with calamities or troubles in this life of one sort or another.

Some folks struggle with the flesh and the mind and these issues can become to you….. overwhelming.

And finally there is a constant struggle and the trick of the enemy, who is very crafty and works on the mind and emotions of the believer, so that he or she begins feel weighed down as though it’s not just the world that is against you, but a person can feel as though God himself is also against you.

Thought:

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this in your life, but I feel that many believers today can relate to having a sense of carrying a load and that load at times seems so heavy, that it feels overwhelming.

And here is where the trick of the enemy comes in…

If you are not careful you can start to believe that God is part of what makes life tough, because God is always stretching and challenging you.

We can become confused, we can become discouraged and insecure thinking that God really doesn’t favor or find favor in us, but instead he’s just another bell that we have to ring, another task you must meet, another set of accusing and condemning eyes that you need to think about along with the other mountains and issues of life.

And to that perception Paul assures the believer that NO, that is not what the evidence says.

He is not against us, we don’t have to strive to be accepted by him, we don’t have to worry about our standing or favor with him, in fact the evidence is over-whelming that God is FOR US and he is completely on our side and with him we have tremendous favor.

Romans 8:32 declared that God didn’t even spare his own Son.

He favored us so that he gave up his only begotten Son for us.

Romans 5:5 said that God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 8:33 said that God has chosen us for himself.

Don’t forget what we learned in the sermon, last week.

You’ve been washed.

You’ve been sanctified.

God has given you right standing with him, not because of works of righteousness which you have done.

Not because you hit another goal in the list of biblical deliverables.

Not because you’ve rung another bell or hit another mark.

He is on your side and in your corner because you’ve been given a firm standing with HIM and you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

God’s great assurance to the believer 2ndly is that…

  1. Christ does not condemn the believer, in fact his actions demonstrate the very opposite of condemnation.

Romans 8:34 (NLT)
34  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

1 Peter 2:24a-d (NLT)
24a-d  He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right..

Romans 4:25 (NLT)
25  He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

1 John 2:1 (NLT)
1  My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

In point number one we were talking about the weightiness, the struggle, the feeling that leads us to began to relate to God as though we have to make sure that he’s stays on our side and to somehow have to earn that.

Here in this second point, I want to address the idea of living and existing as a Christian, and the reality that we as Christians are often living under the feeling of being condemned.

And this feeling of condemnation happens because we sometimes struggle with sin and temptation.

Now again I understand that this second point may not apply to everyone who is listening today.

I understand that there may be those among us, those who have the unusual experience of having a Christianity that is characterized by a perfect record of achievement in which everything works out.

But to everyone else including myself, the issue of sometimes feeling condemned, is what we are going to talk about here.

God’s great assurance for you child of God, is that God is not in the business of hovering over you with condemnation.

God number one is ON your side and the evidence is overwhelming, that is the first thing we need to be assured of, secondly be assured that God is not hovering over you as a God of condemnation.

Now don’t get me wrong God is not pleased when we sin or give into the weakness of our flesh, he’s not saying, YES I understand that a brother or sister has needs.

What is being shared here in this second point as noted in the words of Romans 8:34 is that he is not condemning us, but rather he has done and is doing everything in his power to keep us from being in a place of condemnation, even as the words says, that Christ is pleading for us even as he is sitting at the place of honor at the right hand of God.

Listen and embrace it and let faith fill you heart…embrace this wonderfully awesome word of encouragement.

Though you may fail and fall short of God’s desired and deserved standard for your life, there is no Lord of condemnation hovering over you; on the contrary Jesus took care of the sins and failures that He knew you were going to be struggling with and he nailed the issue to the cross, so that we could be dead to the power of sin and set free to live for God.

I like how the Apostle Peter worded this as recorded in 1 Peter 2:24, where it said that He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.

Think about this reality as reflected in the life of Jesus Christ when he came here to live on planet earth.

When Jesus lived among us, he didn’t waste his time condemning folks.

He didn’t spend his time being a policeman, but rather his placed his effort on securing our salvation.

He allowed himself to be handed over to evil men, for the purpose of securing your salvation.

When they stripped him down and tied him to a stake and began to tear the flesh off of his back, he could have stopped the entire thing.

But he humbled himself and gave his body to be slain, because it was you who was on his heart.

It was you child of God.

It was you that he saw in the realities of your struggles.

He died for YOU so that He would be raised by God and taken into heaven and HE would be seated at God’s side……to be there….at the moment you messed up, some two thousand years later…NOT to condemn you, but to intercede with the Father on your behalf.

Thought:

When the flesh fails you once again, don’t believe the lie of the devil who generates condemnation.

Yes you messed up.

Yes you missed it, but our mediator, our advocate, our attorney who represents us, is there in heaven at the side of God advocating on your behalf.

I don’t know what he is saying about you, but what I do know is that you don’t have to worry, because Jesus is there on YOUR behalf, standing between God the Father and whatever the failure may be.

I don’t know what Jesus is saying about me, but I don’t have to worry because Jesus is there on my behalf and because of that God processes me not through the weakness of my flesh, but through the goodness of HIS Son and therefore I am not rejected by him, but instead I am declared to be IN RIGHT STANDING because I’ve accepted and trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord.

The scripture says in John 2:1 “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Thought:

This is what it means to be born again.

It means having a right standing with God, in spite of the fact that nothing about you is worthy of being in that position.

My unsaved friend I want you to know that you too can come into this reality, by first by acknowledging your sinfulness BEFORE JESUS THE SON OF GOD; repenting of your independence; giving your heart and life to Christ Jesus as Lord, knowing and believing that he died for your sins and rose again to bring you to God.

We who are born again exist in this blessed reality, where condemnation is not a factor; but for the person, who dies in this life, without having given their heart to Christ in faith, condemnation is real and the result is eternal separation from God almighty, with life eternal in a devil’s hell.

God’s great assurance to the believer 3RDLY is that…

  1. Victory is ours through Christ and nothing can cause Christ to turn away from the one who believes in him.

Romans 8:35 (NLT)

35  Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?

Romans 8:37 (NLT)

37  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

John 10:28 (NKJV)
28  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

Romans 10:11 (NKJV)
11  For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

This third point of assurance is written to those who are suffering.

Again there are two different ways that you can process and or think about the idea of suffering.

Suffering can be seen within the reality of the issues and things that were addressed in verse 35, where it speaks about calamity, persecution, hunger, danger and or threats of death.

Suffering can also be processed within the context of those forces within the world and in our lives, that seem to be pulling us apart and putting pressure on our relationship with Christ.

Now again, remember that I am not saying that the things we go through can in fact cause us to become separated from Christ, what I am doing is addressing the reality of the feeling and fear of the danger and struggles, that can be processed in such a way as to cause a Christian to fear, that loss.

In this third point the message that we want to communicate is a faith building declaration, which embraces the truth that victory is ours through Christ and that nothing can cause Christ to turn away from the one who truly believes in him.

Thought:

Today, I don’t know anything about the personal of your life, but based on my experience with people, I can pretty much guarantee that someone under the sound of my voice is worried that they are not going to make it.

You see the evidence from your perspective is that you are DONE and you don’t have a chance.

Maybe it is the circumstances and struggles in your life.

Maybe it is that sinful relationship that you are hiding and praying that no one knows about.

Maybe you went back to an old habit and now your life is messed up and full of troubles, that you brought on your own self.

To this reality, to this suffering, to this level of trouble in your life, I believe that Paul would say if he were standing here today…can anything separate us from the Love of Jesus Christ?

Because you messed up and did that, does it mean that God no longer loves us?

Because the pressure is so thick you can cut it with a knife, because you stopped talking to God and stayed away from the fellowship does it mean that you’ve been separated from the love of God?

Does the fact that hell is breaking loose, does it mean that the devil has won and you are on your ways to a devils hell?

To this the word of God says NO…despite all these things; victory is our through Christ who loved us.

I don’t care what you think; I don’t care what your heart says, my bible declares and documents the words of Jesus Christ himself.

Jesus said in John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand”

Even when you get knocked down, even if you knocked yourself down by your sinful disobedience and rebellion you my friend are not destroyed.

No devil can snatch you out of God’s hand.

No demon in HELL can take the child of God away from him who bought you with the blood of his precious Son.

Though your sins are as scarlet, Christ has already died to wash away the stain of everything you could bring to the table.

Thought:

I’ve got to tell you folks that this kind of provision, is too much for me to process because even though I am a preacher and teacher of God’s word, when it comes to the level and love towards me that God declares here in his word, my flesh cannot process it.

How could God be so good to me a filthy sinner who stinks up the room with the very breath of his thoughts?

How could God declare in such strong and undeniable terms, victory and peace for those who constantly fall short?

It’s hard for me to process it, until I bring it back to his love.

The lack of condemnation, the evidence of HIS favor and his commitment to our victory, can only be understood and embraced within the realty of God’s love.

You were NOT worth saving, I was not worth saving, he didn’t do it because there was anything worthy in US, but it was his LOVE that lifted me and lifted YOU.

4th and finally…

God’s great assurance to the believer is 4th and finally that…

  1. We will be protected and kept eternally secure; nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God.

Romans 8:38 (NLT)

38  And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

Romans 8:39
39  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I kind of got ahead of myself in the previous point, but it’s ok as we close, for the word of God pretty much sums up the previous thoughts and points.

Here we see that the Apostle Paul was totally SOLD OUT and locked into this conviction with complete and unshakable faith.

To the question posed earlier in point # 3 when Paul asked about the possibility of being separated from God’s love, we see the answer broken out in the crescendo of truth.

Paul was convinced, that nothing could frustrate and or defeat God’s plan concerning the born again child of God.

He says neither death nor life can separate us.

That is extremely powerful if you are willing to embrace it, because it points to the issue of our greatest fear and our greatest hope.

Then he talks about the reality of “worries” and I love that because it speaks to the struggles we have often that people cannot see, but worrying about things are real and we are often tortured our minds and emotions, by the things we worry about.

Then he says that not even the powers of hell itself; no power in the sky, no power in the earth or below the earth, not the future not the past, not your failures not your successes, indeed NOTHING will ever separate us from the love that is revealed in Christ Jesus.

  • This is what made it possible for Paul to go through such incredible trials and still to count it all joy.

He was convinced because of the love of God that was revealed to him through and in his relationship with Christ.

Paul said in Philippians 3:10 that he counted everything in his life as worthless rubbish, that he might know Jesus Christ.

He was convinced. I am convinced; we are convinced because of what is being revealed to US in and through our relationship with Christ.

What about you my friend ?….

Do you know him as Lord of your life and as your savior  and God ?

Do you have that assurance? Do you have the right standing, do you have the favor the acceptance that we learned about today…

If you don’t have this reality you can come into it today, by making the most important decision to ask Jesus into your heart by acknowledging your sinfulness.

Then having acknowledge the sinfulness of your life you must repent of your independence; giving your heart and life to Christ Jesus as Lord, knowing and believing that he died for your sins and rose again to bring you to God.

Today while all eyes are closed and heads are bowed we are going to give you an opportunity to do just that.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ENTIRE SERVICE AND SERMON

 

God’s Great Assurance Pt 1

Sermon  by Pastor Julius A. Harper, Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

Part 1

Romans 8:28-30 (NKJV)
28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30 (NLT)
28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
29  For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
30  And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of HIS holy and mighty word.

We are continuing our studies through the epistle or letter written to the church at ROME.

The last time we were together and going through this series, we spoke on the topic of how the Holy Spirit helps us.

And the context of that sermon, is very much related to what we are going to share with you today, because both of these teachings are designed to let the believer know about the provisions and mechanisms that God has for us, as we struggle and suffer and try to make our way though the tough waters of this life.

Being a Christian is not just a walk in the park; there is a struggle involved, there are forces which are aligned against the child of God; we don’t have the government against us and folks are not oppressing us for being Christians, so we don’t have the kinds of struggles that the early believers were going through, but we do have the pressure of the world and problems of the FLESH.

So when we spoke on the last topic, having to do with how the Spirit helps, we did so, placing the teaching within the context of what the Spirit does to help us in this modern day life.

We learned that the Spirit helps us in our prayer life, specifically helping us to pray, as we should. The Spirit intercedes for us with groanings that cannot be uttered.

And that is very important because we often think that we know what to pray for and how to pray, but the fact is we really don’t know what to ask for and often our prayers, sincere as they may be, simply miss the mark and so the Holy Spirit helps us in that area.

We learned also that the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses; even as we endeavor to walk with Jesus and live for Jesus, we are struggling with our various weaknesses and those issues and or problems can affect our prayer life too.

We learned also that the Holy Spirit pleads for us, in harmony with God’s will and that is important as we will see today, when it comes to the issue of working all things together for our Good.

If you missed the sermon, I encourage you to go online and listen to it, as your schedule permits.

AMEN

Today, we are going to explore an encouraging word regarding God’s great assurance to the believer.

Again, this word today is to be embraced within the context and reality of the struggle we have as believers in this life.

No doubt each you love God and YOU are doing your best YOU can to live for him, but sometimes it is TOUGH.

There is the constant battle with the FLESH and the mind. And for those of you who don’t have that problem, just consider yourself unusually blessed, but most of us have a struggle of one sort or another.

Many times it seems as though there are so many things are lined up and aligned for the express purpose of frustrating the child of God; and in the midst of these realities, there can be even among the most mature Christians, discouragement.

If that is you today my dear friend, I want you to know that God’s got a word for you, a word of assurance and if you are willing to embrace it and believe it, you’ll walk out of here today, clicking your heels.

Three points of assurance for every child of God, if you are ready SAY AMEN

God’s great assurance to the believer is NUMBER ONE…THAT

  1. God is working it out (He’s got you)

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Psalm 37:23-24 (NKJV)
23  The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.
24  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.

Micah 7:8 (NLT)
8  Do not gloat over me, my enemies! For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light.

Isaiah 43:2b-c (NLT)
2 b I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

The first point of assurance that I want to share with you today Child of God, is that God is working it out.

What a mind-blowing statement, what a comforting word of assurance to Christian’s who are struggling.

Tell the person next to you, God’s got you….

I love the fact that God in this first point of assurance, made it pretty clear and easy for us to digest and imbibe, because nothing could be more important than knowing that regardless of what it might seem like, God is going to work this OUT and that God himself, has GOT you.

My friend today I want to remind you that God causes everything in our lives to work together and that HE “God” is working things out for you.

In other words God has got the back of those who love him.

Thought:

The statement in itself is chock full of boldness and faith building juiciness if you are willing to embrace it by faith, but if you dig down a little deeper and break out the individual details, you find that the passage becomes even more impactful.

Go back to our main scripture text in point # 1 and notice if you please the portion of the passage that says “ all things”

Repeat that phrase if you would just say that…”ALL THINGS”

Let that sink in for a moment and just ruminate…ALL THINGS”

That my friends is a bold and bodacious statement that only God could make and it is particularly impressive, because it speaks of and draws upon God’s unlimited power and knowledge.

Thought:

Child of God listen and let’s make it clear; You see your friend can have your back and really be in your corner, but your buddy, your homie or your BFF can’t cover all things.

So when God says all things, he means something that is inclusive and powerful in every single way that you could imagine and then some!

All things mean that God is working things out and that applies to whatever there may be in your life is that is on the table right now.

All things mean whatever the future may hold and that includes what you see and cannot see.

All things mean that whatever twists and turns and unexpected developments that may come into your life, no matter what it looks like, will be handled and managed by God himself.

Someone ought to give God some praise !!!

Let’s look a little deeper and notice if you please the words “work together” you’ll see it in the “b” portion of the passage

The word used here in the text is Sun-er-gie.

It’s an interesting word because it kind of makes you think of the word synergy, but the meaning is much more powerful.

When you see the words “work together”, it speaks of God’s ability to connect and interchange and repurpose things.

It speaks of the intermingling of things, the reshaping, the pressing the forging, the controlling of and the guiding of things.

Working together means God himself is actually doing that with the events in your life, even as you struggle with a cornucopia of events and happenings that make no sense to you God himself is in the midst of things super-navigating and super-arranging, all of these things to make sure they work together.

This of course could only be done by an omnipotent God, who knows the beginning from the end and who sees all time and space as one complete package, which he designed, and controls.

I know it’s wonderful I know it’s exciting, but let’s drill down even more into the “c” portion of the passage and notice the word “good”

This word good, which is interpreted from the word “agathon”, doesn’t mean good in the way, we may tend to think of the term good.

Good for us means right now, good for us mean it feels good, good for us means that it agrees with my wants and desires.

But here the word agathon which we read as good means, your ultimate good and this is vitally important my friends because many times, when we pray and when we petition God for something, we absolutely do not know what the ultimate good is.

That is what we talked about in the last sermon; that the Spirit HELPS us in our prayers, because we often pray amiss.

God is working it out, for agathon” for our ultimate good and he is doing that because we cannot see the future, but he can see the future and HE controls the future.

God is working things out for your ultimate good, so rest my friend in this peace and blessedness.

Embrace and celebrate the wonder of this provision, even though you may be going through HELL itself right now, just let go, trust God and know that he is working it for your ultimate good.

Thought:

Tell someone that He’s working it out.

He is handling it, he is reshaping and reconfiguring what seems to be ugly and making it work for the good to those who love God and are the called according to HIS purpose.

Thought:

I am aware even as we celebrate and share the good news, that there may be those among us here today or listening online, which are in fact not among the group to which this assurance is made.

Now truth be told, that I cannot look at you and tell if you love God or not.

You might like him, you might think of him and even say a little prayer if you need something but that does not mean you love him.

And if you don’t love God, God knows it.

He knows also that you don’t love him, because you reject HIS SON as LORD of your life; You might be a fan of his SON, but you don’t submit to Jesus as LORD.

You might LIKE God the father, but you don’t make him a priority in your life; he is at the bottom on your list of priorities and he knows it.

So hear this and hear it clearly, if God is not the center of your life, if God is NOT God in your life and you don’t love God, don’t think for a moment that he is going to make everything work together for your good.

This word does NOT apply to those who DO not love God, but it only applies to those who LOVE him; to those who are the called according to HIS purpose.

God’s great assurance to the believer SECONDLY is that….. 

  1. God has a plan, to fulfill HIS purpose in you. 

Romans 8:29 (NKJV)
29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ephesians 1:4 (NKJV)
4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
5  God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 

Ephesians 1:11 (NLT)
11  Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

In this second point, I’d like to approach this passage by talking about the concept of predestination and foreknowledge, not in theological terms but rather in terms of the issue of struggling and the reality that Paul has been addressing throughout the letter.

God’s great assurance to the believer (and again I want you to embrace this with vigor, if you are going through any thing tough in your life) is that he has a plan to fulfill HIS purpose in you.

Thought:

God knows what the believer is struggling with, he knows about the pain associated with having this old man, on your back.

He knows what it is like for you and I to have to wake up and crucify this flesh daily and he knows the frustration and groaning that goes on inside of us.

And even though there are times of frustration and times of weariness and times of struggle, God wants HIS beloved to know that he has a plan for you.

You may not be able to see it, you may have a hard time imagining this being fulfilled because you messed up again, but be assured and take comfort and peace in the fact that God has a plan and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop his plan for you.

In fact, his plan is not just a plan that he came up with when you were born, but it was and is a plan that has been in his mind and in his will, even before the foundations of the world.

Notice if you please the “d” portion of Romans 8:29 you’ll see the word conformed.

“For whom he foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed”

Thought:

Part of God’s plan and vision for you my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is that we might be conformed.

Now again, if you are anything like me, or if you are honest with yourself and try to process this vision of God for you, within the context of your own failures and weaknesses, it will be hard to see this as a reality for yourself, but again we have to lean not on our own understanding but in all our ways, acknowledge him.

God says, that he has purposed and planed to conform us into the very likeness of Christ.

In fact the scripture uses the word image, this again is a mind blower for sure, that you and I are predestined, we are in the plan of God himself, to become something completely different than what we are now.

To be in the image of, means to have a likeness that is derived, from something other, it means to be made to look just like Christ, to be holy just as he is holy, to be changed and transformed, to become a Son of God or a Daughter of God, to be the brothers and sister of Christ who is the first born.

This is the MASTER PLAN of God concerning the believer, which he foreknew.

Acts 15:18 tells us that “known unto God, are all HIS works from the beginning of the world”.

God’s plan is going to happen, because he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.

God’s will, is going to happen because God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure

God’s vision will be fulfilled in you, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

So my dear beloved friend, hear this and embrace the comfort of what God is telling you and rest in this reality: for God himself is going to cause his plan to be fulfilled in you.

It’s a done deal my friends, and nothing that God has envisioned for you will fail to become a reality, for God himself cannot lie, nor can he fail.

Somebody ought to be praising God and giving him the glory.

God’s great assurance to the believer is…..

3rd and finally, that

  1. God is going to bring the believer to glory.

Romans 8:30 (NKJV)
30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

1 Peter 1:2 a-c (NKJV)
2a-c  elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:.

1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)
9  But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Ephesians 2:6 (NKJV)
6  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

This is our 3rd and final point for today, but it is really just a pause in the teaching, which will require us to return again for the rest of the sermon next week.

As we are walking through the realities of navigating the struggles and trials of life, the believer here is given these great words of assurance as noted in this letter.

God is working things out, he is making all of the pieces as crazy as they seems to may be, to function in a way, that ultimately are forged and managed and directed in a manner that lines up with the plan for good that God has set in place.

His purpose is going to be fulfilled in the believer; his vision, his plan and his goals were written in advance of our appearance here on earth.

And now we come to the coupe de gras, now we see God’s stroke of grace that ends the suffering of mankind; now we come to the high point of God’s assurance and the words of encouragement to the believer and here it is…

God has determined, he has pre-destined, he has foreordained and marked off the end game in time, space and eternity, that we who are here on plant earth, we who are struggling with the old man, we who in no way appear to be what we shall be, ……..shall be glorified.

This child of God this is the ultimate weapon that you’ve got to take out and smack the devil over his head with, even when you struggling.

You are already saved. You’ve already got the victory; you have already been justified and declared right with God; I’m just traveling through time and space to meet a pre-determined and predestined end.

  • What God has said concerning each and every child of God has already happened.
  • He called you before you were formed in your mother’s womb.
  • He called you to be a part of the royal priesthood.
  • He called you to be a member of the chosen generation.
  • He called you to be a special people.

He called YOU to show forth and proclaim the praises of HIM who lifted you out of darkness and into HIS marvelous light.

God himself wants to glorify the child of God and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

It’s a done deal baby and nothing; no nothing will stop his plan. He set this up a long time ago, so that in the ages to come he might show the incomparable riches of HIS grace as expressed in his kindness towards us.

Come on and give God a hand of praise !!!!!

Click here to review the sermon and service on line

 

 

7 Reasons To Be Thankful

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper   Senior Pastor Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Church

(Psalms 107:1-3)

107:1 O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

3 And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south.

May the Lord add a blessing to the reading and the hearing of His holy and mighty word.

Good morning and God bless each and every one here today, it is hard to believe how quickly the season is upon us, yet we praise God for keeping and allowing us to see this Sunday and to celebrate another year in which the Lord permitted us to be on the land of the living.

This Thanksgiving week, as the Lord allows, we will gather with our various families and friends, in a time of celebration and sharing.

I’ve determined that this year I will do my absolute best, to bring in the Holiday season, with as much fun and enjoyment as is possible, because the best day that we have to celebrate is the day that we are alive to see it and live it….AMEN.

Those of you, who have been around Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship for some time, will be familiar with the sermon I am delivering today.

It’s one of our evergreen offerings and I am delivering you an updated and revised sermon based on one that I shared with you last year.

I hope that this sermon and the special GIFT BOOK-HOLDER we’ve shared with each of you will become a kind of traditional Holiday gift, in which we remember some important reasons WHY we ought to be especially thankful this season.

I know that this has been a tough year for many people, but I am here this morning to tell you, that if you have breath to breathe you’ve got a reason to be thankful even if this was the toughest year you have ever endured in your life.

Be encouraged my dear friend, tough times don’t last always and God will come through AMEN.

In this holiday season, we ought to be especially thankful to God…

  1. Because of HIS enduring mercy.

Ezra 3:11

11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

 Exodus 34:6-7

6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Lam 3:22-23

22 It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning; great is they faithfulness.

This year as we’ve been studying and reviewing the series from the epistle written to the church at ROME, I’ve been especially impacted with the awesome wonders and powerful things we have learned about God’s incredible mercy.

Ezra chapter three encouraged the people to SHOUT, with a great shout, which means to CRY out with a load voice of praise and I think that on this pre-thanksgiving Sunday, that would be most appropriate for us, so lets shout halleluiah and give the Lord a hand of praise.

God has been incredibly gracious towards us. The more that we learn of his grace, the more clear and pronounced his mercy towards us becomes.

Thought:

God has always been a God who is defined by his incredible mercy.

In Exodus chapter 34, we read just a snippet of the story that recorded the appearance of God on mount Sinai.

The Lord descended in a cloud and he passed by his servant Moses, declaring that he was The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

For me this declaration is at the heart of what impresses me so much about the mercy of God, for he shows himself consistently to be a wondrous Lord, who is still in the “mercy extending” business.

And then in Lamentations chapter 3 verse 22, the writer simply says, that it is BECAUSE of his MERCIES, that we are not consumed, in fact HIS mercies are new every morning.

Child of God, you and I have a lot to be thankful for, because if it were NOT for the mercies of GOD, you and I would have been consumed a long time ago.

Thought:

The thought of being consumed may not be one that was in the forefront of your mind this morning, as you casually opened your eyes to see another day that the Lord gave you.

Fact is that each of us is no more than a hair’s breath away from destruction and such would be the case if it were NOT for God’s mercy.

Every day when God looks down upon humanity, he is confronted by the sickening reality that there is NONE righteous no not one.

In our thoughts in our deeds, in the very way we live and move and exist we, as human beings are continually sinning against and offending God.

And so the world slept soundly last night, having gone to bed, laying down in peace, not knowing that if GOD simply removed his HAND of mercy, the breath of life that they took for granted would have been replaced with the cold and dark dampness of eternal damnation.

Some times when think about the goodness of Jesus it BLOWS MY MIND.

When I think of some of the things I fooled around with, playing games with God, taking my own time to finally come around and accept his love.

But in his MERCY, he waited for me and he waited for you, just as he does for undeserving people today.

We should be thankful to GOD number one because of and FOR his mercy, we should thank him secondly…

  1. Because HE has made us partakers of the inheritance of the saints:

Col 1:12-13

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

1st Peter 1:3-4

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Romans 8:15c-d (NLT)
15   you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

Part of what we studied in our series from the epistle written to the church at Rome, focused on the subject of Adoption,…..Say that word…ADOPTION.

As we consider and pause and give thanks this week, we should stretch out our hands in appreciation to God, because through his love and incredible provision you and I have been ADOPTED into the family of God.

You and I as believers have been grafted into that blessed group; we were NOT his people, but we’ve been made to be his people.

As an act of his love, he has made us partakers of his incredible blessings and he has called us to be a kingdom of priest and saints unto him.

Thought:

Now an unsaved person here today may bristle at this concept and I understand why, especially because of what you know about people.

Being a saint, being adopted, being embraced as a SON is a blessing that God bestows upon flawed humans like the FOLKS that you know AND that reality flows out of the power and purpose of HIS completed work on the cross at Calvary AND in response to faith as expressed by unworthy HUMAN beings.

Now I know that what I just shared was really theological and holy sounding so let me break it down this way.

A filthy sinner such as myself though not righteous in any way, is accepted AND adopted as a SON; not by my works, but because of FAITH in the soul cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, which he shed on the cross for me, as a payment for my SINS.

That is why God can embrace me as HIS son and why we can be called saints of God.

And this is a reality that can only be celebrated by a person who truly understands within himself, that God did what would seem to be impossible.

We didn’t deserve it; it didn’t happen because you were smarter or better than the person down the street from you, it happened because God chose you….to be a part of HIS chosen ones and to receive an inheritance among the “called out saints of God.

And for that SOMEONE OUUGHT TO SHOUT THANK YOU GOD.

In this holiday season, we ought to be especially thankful to God…

  1. Because of HIS Deeds:

Psalm 105:1 (NLT)
1  Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. 

 1st Chronicles 16:8-9

8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.

Psalm 9:11 (NKJV)
11  Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people.

This is a special week of thanks giving, for which we ought to laud and applaud and praise God because of HIS DEEDS.

Dictionary.com defines the word DEEDS as being related to unusually praiseworthy acts or actions.

I’m pretty sure that we could pause, though we are not going to do so because of time and open the floor to an impromptu testimony service.

Those of you who grew up in a traditional Baptist or Pentecostal setting maybe familiar with the old time format in which they regularly opened the floor for people to stand up and proclaim the good deeds and or actions of God.

And you’d hear some pretty amazing stores of healing and deliverance.

And those who heard the stories would be greatly encouraged and applaud with thunderous acknowledgements and hearty Amen’s..

Now again, we are not going to open the floor, but I wonder if there is ANYONE who is prepared to just give the Lord some praise for the wonderful deeds that he has done for them or for their family and friends this year.

I know, that I’ve got a lot to thank God for, just for the incredibleness of me standing here in this place and for the doors he has opened for me and how he has kept our family these 54 months since I retired from the corporate world.

I know that God has done some wonderful DEEDS in my life, because I am standing here preaching his word, when friends of mine have died left this world.

God has done some absolutely astounding DEEDS this year.

God kept and allowed us to be able to have great health care, even though they raised the prices once again and cut the benefit.

God healed some folks that MAN said could not be healed

God did some wonderful things in more than just a few marriages.

He brought you back from the brink of divorce and breathed new life and love into you both.

He kept you on the job and extended your benefits well beyond what you should have received.

He kept you from the kind of grief that you didn’t think that you could handle, but God made away and he showed himself strong.

All this week, we ought to be telling somebody, what GREAT DEEDS the LORD has done.

All this week, we should be talking of and singing about and thanking him for his glorious acts and his wondrous deeds, towards the children of men.

In this holiday season, we ought to be especially thankful to God…

  1. Because of his HOLINESS 

Psalm 22:3 (NKJV)
3  But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. 

Psalm 97:9,12

9 For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.

12 Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)
15  But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.
16  For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

God’s HOLINESS is something that we can thank him for, because HIS HOLINESS, reminds us of the awesome superiority and perfection of the one in whom we put our trust.

In this 4th point we are going to pivot just a bit for a word of teaching and exhortation, that I encourage you to embrace even as we celebrate and thank God for HIS holiness.

My friends we can thank God for HIS HOLINESS, because it gives us confidence in his power and might.

God’s holiness separates him from any other so-called god… and his HOLINESS is something that we ought to honor.

I am thankful; that we serve a GOD, in whom there is neither variableness nor shadow of changing. 

I am thankful that we serve a God who hates EVIL and is not a respecter of persons.

He is perfect, he is set apart, he is SPECIAL and when we look at his perfection, we are reminded that we serve a GOD who cannot and will not fail.

All the great truths concerning God are yes and AMEN, but his Holiness is also a call to a standard of living and being.

This is what Peter was talking about in his letter as recorded in 1st Peter 1:15 and I quote “you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy”

The ultimate expression that we appreciate and embrace with the wonder of HIM choosing us to be his, is to respond to him by presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him.

In other words we declare HIS holiness by responding appropriately to it, with a sacrificial gift.

Romans 12:1 says that it is our reasonable service, therefore by the mercies of God, my dear brothers and Sister I beseech you, I plead with you my beloved to present your bodies and your life to him and him alone, as a LIVING sacrifice.

Seven reasons to be thankful to God, here we are at reason number 5…we are thankful to 5thly God……

  1. Because of his Righteous judgments.

 

Psalm 119:62 (NKJV)
62  At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, Because of Your righteous judgments.

Deut 10:17-18

17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

18 He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.

Deut 32:4

4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

In a world where trustworthy people are few and hard to find, we can be thankful, that our God is a GOD of righteous judgments.

Thought:

My friends, I believe that people today, are looking for honesty and genuineness.

As I survey and take in the facts and realities of this world I am sad to say that in American there is a dearth of such.

People are discouraged.

People are afraid and confused because of a lack of moral leadership at every level in our society from politics to the pulpit.

People are looking for integrity; they are looking for someone that can be trusted.

Even with the world’s hunger and desire for filth and sinfulness, integrity and honesty is still longed for and wanted by people.

I truly believe with all of my heart, that man wants and needs a SOLID rock upon whom he can depend and trust.

I believe that we, who know Jesus as Lord should be grateful and thankful that we have that solidness in our lives.

I’m glad to know a God upon whom we can depend and trust, as being fair and honest on all points.

I’m glad that He’s in not in anyone’s pocket.

He has no favorites.

He is fair and good.

Righteous are his judgments.

Perfect are his Laws.

And to sum it all up, he is a ROCK.

In this holiday season, we ought to be especially thankful to God…

  1. Because God has made us part of the church family.

Ephesians 2:21-22 (NKJV)
21  in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
22  in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

You may recall this 6th point as being one, which I took directly from a teaching; we shared earlier from the mini-series out of the study in Romans.

Here I’ve updated and amended to sermon to include this point of gratitude that talks about the fellowship and blessings of being united with other saints of God.

Over time, as you live, you will find that your values in life become simpler.

I’ve come to really appreciate and be thankful to God for the blessings of being a part of HIS church family, as many of you would agree.

To be a part of God’s church is something incredibly special.

I really like that visual picture that the words from Ephesians 2:21 paints here of being a building that is fitly framed together.

That means that the Spirit of Almighty God is organizing and orchestrating our lives towards a master plan that is designed to bring glory and praise to God and that he has called you and I to be a part of that incredible work.

That means that as a member of this church, he is working IN and ON ME.

That means that as a member of this church he is working IN and ON YOU.

And he is not just building a CLUB, but rather he is doing something that has spiritual implications.

He is not building a place for folks to just hang out.

He is not building a place for folks to just socialize and enjoy themselves, but rather HE is making us to be a HABITATION FOR HIS PRESENCE

 And for that blessing, some body ought to shout praise God.

7th and finally, in this holiday season, we ought to be ever so thankful…

  1. Because God has chosen us to Salvation.

2nd Thes 2:13-14

13 But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We ought to be THANKFUL that we have been chosen from the beginning, unto salvation, for that every child of God ought to give the Lord a hand of praise.

Thought:

This is something of course, that can only be embraced as a point of thankfulness if you are a born again child of God.

As a Son as a daughter as his beloved and adopted child, God chose you for himself, before the very foundation of the world.

God saw you. God loved you and he wanted YOU to be with him forever.

Now to the person here who does not know Jesus Christ as LORD, what I am saying about God choosing people may seem unfair, but the fact of the matter is that GOD is still in the choosing business. 

And we want YOU to know that he wants more people to come into his family.

That is why we’ve been praying for you. We’ve been expecting you and we are anxious to share the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus 

If you are here today whether listening on line or here in this house, we want you to know this Thanksgiving week that God loves you.

He loves you so much that he sent his only SON Jesus to give his life.

He sent his only Son to pay the wages of our sins, which according to Romans 6:23 is death. 

He gave his life, so that we, who believe in him and give our lives to him, might be free from the penalty of sin, which is eternal death and damnation. 

God sent his Son to give us this gift, but he still left the free will decision to US, to make a choice to come into his arms and embrace by faith, the things that he had prepared for us, LONG ago

While all eyes are closed and heads are bowed…

Click here to see our full service video

 

 

Salvation

 

Recommitment

 

Baptism

 

Joining

How the Holy Spirit Helps Us

Sermon by Rev. Julius A. Harper, Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship

                                    How the HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)
26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

May the LORD add a blessing to the reading and the hearting of HIS holy and mighty word.

In our last sermon entitled the confident HOPE of the believer, we looked at and examined Paul’s teaching regarding the burning desire or groans of anticipation that are part of the life of a child of God.

The teaching was one that flowed out of an earlier lesson in which Paul talked about the earth and all of creation that groans or eagerly anticipates the redemptive plan of God.

All creation with outstretched necks waits for the earth and man to be restored and made new.

And as creation groans, we too as Christians eagerly and confidently look forward to the complete fulfillment of God’s plan, including the release of our bodies from pain and suffering, the realization of our full rights as his adopted children AND the new bodies that God has promised us.

Again, I encourage you to go on line and listen to the sermons and this series, which is available on our you-tube channel but also on our internet radio station, which you can find linked into our website at www.mysccf.com

Today, we are going to talk about how the Holy Spirit helps us.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the blessing and the honor of being designated as living and breathing sanctuaries for the Spirit of God.

When you received Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, the Spirit of God literally moved into your body and took up residence in you.

He tabernacled in you; you became a habitation of the SPIRIT; the very Spirit of God and the Spirit of truth, who works within your life at purposes which are directly related to God’s plan to fill the life of the believer with truth and goodness.

The spirit of God leads you and directs you towards God’s purpose.

He Speaks and communicates TO YOU what is in the heart of God and in the mind of God, showing us the way to please God and to live in accordance with the father’s plan and will.

Here Paul introduces us to a most compelling and mind blowing reality; that being the Spirit’s role in helping us to be effective in our prayer life.

Prayer of course, is one of the greatest resources that the believer has in his or her arsenal.

And I use that word arsenal because I want you to think about the warfare that we are engaged in, as we walk and navigate living day-by-day in these fleshly bodies.

Make no mistake about it my friends, you will need to pray and you will need to engage the weapons of our warfare of which prayer is paramount; so it is wonderful and timely that today we find a teaching about the reality that the HOLY SPIRIT, not only resides in us, but He is here to help us in our prayer life.

AMEN.

Four points of encouragement and celebration that we will share this morning, speaking of how the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayer life.

The Holy Spirit helps the believer in his or her prayer life…

  1. By helping us to pray, as we should.

Romans 8:26b (NLT)
26b  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for.

Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)
5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.

James 4:3 (NKJV)
3  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

1 John 5:14 (NLT)
14  And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.

Prayer as I said in the opening preamble of the sermon, is one of the greatest resources that a believer has in his or her arsenal.

If you have sickness in your body, you can pray and that prayer of faith can result in you being healed.

If you are discouraged and need encouragement, you can pray and that prayer when heard and acted upon by God, can result in a lifting of and or a release of whatever may be ailing your heart or mind.

If you are short on resources you can pray and God can release miraculous things to you, as a result of prayer.

In fact God himself has declared that we have the right to come to him boldly and to approach our great God in prayer at any time day and night.

All that is entirely true; but here is the problem and it is a reality for each of us,……listen closely “ we” don’t always know what to pray for and “we” are not always praying for that which is in line with God and God’s will.

Thought:

Now I want you to notice something.

I want you to notice the word “ WE” and to see that the one who is writing this letter is the Apostle Paul himself.

When he wrote these words, he wasn’t saying YOU PEOPLE, he was saying US, me, myself, you and I all of us because of our broken human nature, don’t know what to pray for.

In our humanity, although we are saved, we are still housed within these broken and weak vessels of FLESH.

Now I am not saying that we can’t ever get it right, but it is likely that we often get it wrong and fail in our prayers, because of the weakness and struggles of our flesh.

Let’s take some jumping off thoughts from the words of James, as recorded in James Chapter 4:3.

James said and I quote “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss”

The Berean Study Bible puts it like this “ and when you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures

We often pray with the wrong motives and wrong goals.

And because we can’t understand our own minds, or the underlying currents that are driving our desires and prayers at a subconscious level, we may be praying for something that seems motivated correctly, but at the heart of it, is a lust and desire to have something because it pleases our FLESH.

We often do not know our heart’s true intention, but we wrap up our prayer request in a nice religious looking box and it sound so good that we even fool ourselves, but at the heart of it is a desire for consumption.

Let’s talk about proverbs 3:5 and what it says “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding”

This of course speaks powerfully to a descriptive analysis of many of our prayers and conversations with God.

We want to tell God what to do.

We use our own understanding to illuminate God.

We want to provide the commentary and direction to the Lord as we pray, we don’t mean anything by this, we are not trying to boss to God, but in fact, we are processing our entire prayer to God via a one way conversation in which we explain and tell God what is happening and what he should do as we lean upon our own understanding of all the players and pieces involved in the play.

So we pray with all sincerity, giving God direction, making our request based on our view and understanding of what we think is needed and then we say then OK, “ Lord go do it, sick em, get em

Thought:

Truth is that if we were left to our own devices, we’d be in a world of trouble, which is why we need the HOLY Spirit to help us in our prayers.

I am sure and have NO doubt, that if I were to open up the microphone, I’d get a least two testimonies about how someone prayed for something and looking back all you can do is say THANK you God, for not giving me what I was asking for, because I had no idea what in the world was coming down the pipe.

The Holy Spirit helps the believer in his or her prayer life…

  1. By helping us to pray in our weakness.

 Romans 8:26a (NLT)
26a  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.

Luke 18:1 (NLT)
1  One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.

Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)
15  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Mark 9:24 (NKJV)
24  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

In this second point the thought I want to focus on this morning, is the issue of our weaknesses. (PLURAL)

Your version of the bible, depending upon which translation you are using may say infirmities.

Each of us, as believers in Jesus Christ, although we are saved, justified, cleansed and forgiven, because we are living in this FLESH are praying “out of our infirmities and weaknesses”

Every time you open your mouth in prayer.

Every time you bend your knees to approach the Father, every time we pray as HUMAN beings, we are praying within the context and reality of our individual weaknesses.

Let me say it this way.

When I go down on my knees to pray. When I go to the prayer closet, I am coming to God, with every and all of the weaknesses that personally effect ME…watch this…….AND the HOLY Spirit is there to help me, in the midst of whatever weaknesses I may be struggling with.

The HOLY SPRIRIT is there to help me, as I come to God in prayer, as I come to God with all of my ignorance, with my distracted mind, with my fears and mixed up emotions, the HOLY SPIRIT helps me, by strengthening me to control and get past my weaknesses, so that I can connect with God.

Thought:

Listen very closely now because this is a word for some folks here today and the word is just for you.

You see many times the Holy Spirit is HELPING us in our weaknesses, but we don’t realize what he is doing.

Watch this…..sometimes when you go to the Lord in prayer; when you start off, it feels like work; it feels like a struggle, it feels like a battle with your mind and the distractions of your mind.

But as you persist and pursue him in prayer you’ll start to feel your help coming through.

You’ve heard the preacher sometimes say…OH I feel my help coming and indeed you find that same experience as you persist in prayer.

You see the Holy Spirit is there to help you in all of your infirmities and weaknesses what ever they may be.

Sometimes your emotions are going crazy.

Sometimes you can’t seem to get settled down in your prayer.

Sometimes you keep in losing your place and your mind goes blank.

Sometimes at that moment, your weakness may be that your mind that is full of worry and fear.

But what you’ll find, is that as you CONTINUE to pray and not quit, there comes a peace; there comes a settling if you please. And that comes about because of the work of the Spirit of God, who is there to HELP you in it.

Though:

Some times it’s a faith problem.

This is what the father of the young boy was dealing with in Mark 9:24.

If you go back and read the details of the account, it tells of a father who’s Son was suffering terribly. The father wanted his Son to be delivered of the oppressive Spirit that was attacking his child, but he had a weakness, which was unbelief.

And so he declared to the Jesus, Lord I believe, but I need your help, because I struggling with unbelief.

Now this is something that hits Julius Harper, right where I live, because I know about this and I struggle with this as a weakness.

Like the father in the story, I’ve prayed and continue to pray for my daughter’s divine healing.

And I know that I know, that God can do it no doubt.

But some times, I need the HOLY SPIRIT to help me in my weakness, because IT HAS gotten a lot tougher to hold on to faith, after 30+ years.

You my friend may be struggling with weaknesses in yourself…

Maybe the infirmity or weakness in your life revolves around your emotions.

Maybe your mind is like a twisting storm that is of out of control and you are locked in the trap of circular thinking.

You fill in the blank because you know what it is..——–

This is YOUR weakness and it is a factor that effects and comes at you when you pray, because the adversary knows how to strike at the area of your weakness.

But child of God, I am here on this Sunday morning to tell you in no uncertain terms, that the Spirit of God is here to help you, even in the midst of your weaknesses.

The reason that I can assure you of this my beloved, is because my bible tells me that “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testing’s as we do

What that means my brothers and Sisters, is that Jesus Christ himself, knows what it is like to struggle with emotions that seem like they are going to tear your world apart.

It means that Jesus understand and can sympathize with thoughts that circle around your head like a storm.

That is why he sent you a comforter to live in you called the HOLY SPIRIT, who has taken up residence in your life and has the mind of God.

This comforter will help you in the midst of your weaknesses by soothing your mind and bringing you peace.

This comforter will strengthen and enable you, to shake off the weight of that thing, so that you can concentrate on praying and seeking God with fervor and persistence.

The Holy Spirit is there to calm your mind so that you can pray with consistency and never give up.

Because at the end of the day, we must still believe.

Faith is still required, because nothing will happen without faith.

And at the end of the day, we must pray and never give up, never give in, for the scripture declares, that we shall reap if we faint not. 

The Holy Spirit helps the believer in his or her prayer life…

  1. By interceding for us with wordless groans.

Romans 8:26e (NLT)
26e  But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers (Romans 8:26)

When the Christian’s prayers are too deep and too intense for words, when they are rather a sigh heaved from the heart than any formal utterance, then we may know that they are prompted by the Spirit Himself. It is He who is praying to God for us.

This third point speaks specifically to those under the sound of my voice, who have experienced heaviness and or struggles that were so intense we could hardly bear them.

Thought:

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience of going through something, that is so heavy that you can’t do anything but groan.

Some folks will tell you, OH no it all good all the time. I never have any of that kind of thing, I’m always the head, and I’m always UP.

But I am here to tell you that a person who knows GOD, can go through these kinds of experiences that make you want to groan; and it doesn’t mean that you are not saved and that you are not blessed or you don’t have faith.

It means that some times, in this life you may encounter things that you have to walk through or are dealing with or going through which utterly defies words.

Some times the thing is too much for your words.

You can’t pray even though you want to pray, because the pain is going all the way down to your toes.

OH, but watch this. God doesn’t leave the child of God hanging and drowning when he’s too worn out to pray and doesn’t have the words or know what to say, but watch this.

The Spirit of God, will take over and pray for you.

He will intercede on your behalf, he will act as a go-between, he will make a petition, he’ll advocate, he will barge in, he will speak up and actually communicate with God the Father on our behalf, THE SPIRIT will speak directly to the FATHER for you.

Thought:

Think about the goodness of God and all that he supplies and provides for the believer and how HE comes to the aide of the believer.

You are worn out.

You are DONE and can’t say a word, but the Spirit of God who knows the heart of God and knows the plan of God and knows the future, is praying for you with groanings that can only be understood and embraced in the very throne room of God.

So don’t worry about the fact that you don’t have the words.

Don’t worry about the fact that you’ve run out of Christian talking points, in fact be happy, because now that we’ve stopped talking, the Holy Spirit has taken over and it’s all good.

4th and finally…

The Holy Spirit helps the believer in his or her prayer life…

  1. By pleading for us, in harmony with God’s will

Romans 8:27 (NLT)
27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

This 4th and final point just expands upon and caps the thoughts we touched upon earlier.

The work of the Spirit as an intercessor, is defined and magnified in it’s purpose and plan as noted in these words and I quote “For the Spirit prays for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

Thought:

The Spirit of truth is the Spirit of God, at work in the life of him in whom he dwells, working at purposes and doing his work at ways which are directly related to God’s plan to fill the life of the believer with truth and goodness.

The Spirit of God is at work in all areas of our life and he is always communicating with heaven on our behalf, pleading for us in harmony with God’s will.

We don’t know what to pray for, we don’t understand our motives, and we often pray amiss, but thankfully God doesn’t leave it up to us to be out there on our own.

He sent a comforter, who never leaves nor forsakes God’s child.

 He’s connected directly into the throne room of heaven and communicates with groanings, concerning you and me.

The Spirit knows the plan.

The Spirit of God knows what is within the heart of God for each and everyone of God’s children.

His purpose is to see that day, to see us presented faultless before the throne of God.

He wants to see that day of exceeding great glory.

He wants to see each of us presented to Christ himself, without a spot, without blemish; as precious gems and objects of God’s love, for all to see.

So whatever you may go through as a believer, you may in spite of the pressure, know that you know, that you know, that the Spirit of God is HELPING you, he’s part of the plan to work all things together for the good of those that love God and are the called according to HIS purpose.

AMEN

Give The Lord hand of praise.

What a mighty God we servce, what a wonderful Lord and savior. What a Joy to know the blessedness of being God’s beloved.

 

Click here to view our service and sermon on youtube