Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Happened at the Cross Part 2

This week we continued our series, “What Happened at the Cross?” In this part we examined what happened when Jesus took the stripes upon His back.  This event was foretold in Isaiah 53:5. The prophet saw that the messiah would be wounded for our transgression (or sinful actions). That wounding, in the Hebrew, is described as being pierced or bored through. It goes on to say He was bruised for our iniquities. The word for transgression in Hebrew is defined as “guilt of transgression, punishment of transgression, offering of transgression and payment of what is owed.”  The letters in the ancient Hebrew for transgression show an open mouth (the words that have been spoken—the things we’ve said that we regret or that did bad without us knowing), a symbol that means “to consume” and covers the actions we do, and an eye (symbolizing the mind’s eye and the thoughts that are not in line with the Word).  This word for transgression was used in Daniel 9:4.

God is less concerned with the action of sin but instead cares more about the result of our sin.  God never wanted us to be punished for or to have to pay for sin but to instead fix the cause behind the sin so it doesn’t continue.  Initially, God set up animal sacrifices to pay for sin.  Two goats were offered once a year.  One was killed and the other had all the sin put on it and was released to the wild.  Jesus came and had to be without sin, so He would only be paying for our sin, not His.

The word bruise in Hebrew means “crushed, made contrite, broken down or crushed by calamities or trials.”  Bruising is blood under the skin. Iniquities are the inner struggles we face as well as the guilt and shame we carry because of our sin and sinful ways of thinking.  The word iniquities in Hebrew means “guilt, consequence or punishment for guilt, or guilt contracted through sin.” In the ancient Hebrew, it shows an eye (mind’s eye, how we see things), tent peg (shows what we are connected to), and our seed.  This has to do with generational curses (although digging for stuff out of our past isn’t always what God desires but instead to move on…usually He just wants us to know He paid for it, but sometimes God wants us to see why we keep falling into patterns).   Also, what manifests in our life is created from seed.  Our words and actions are seeds, among other things.  God wants to fix the seed, so the fruit will change.  It goes on to say that the chastisement of our peace was on Him. Chastisement is the punishment and correction (it means in Hebrew discipline, chastening, correction), specifically those that lead to “shalom” peace (in Hebrew, complete, nothing missing and nothing broken—health, wealth, peace, joy, highly favored). He, being the Word made flesh (John 1:14), will correct us and teach us until we achieve total peace. 

Then, it says that, by His stripes we are healed. This healing represented not only physical healing, but a fixing of anything broken that needs healing. 1 Peter 2:24 echoes this verse.  This shows that our healing is now in the past because of Jesus.

A little history about the Jewish custom of “stripes.” Jewish law provided that any breaking of God’s commands (thou shalt stuff) that did not have a specific punishment was to be punished by stripes upon the back and breast of the accused. The number of stripes given was to be determined by the judges. They considered the infraction as well as the individual’s ability to withstand pain. It was important that the person “felt” punished but that the beating would not take their life.  The stripes were administered in set of three, and the weapon was a calf-skin whip doubled over twice. It was against Jewish law to give any more than 39 stripes, as it was believed any more would kill the receiver.  There was also to be a watcher who could say stop if it looked like the person could not take any more.

Finally, as the stripes were administered, a bystander was assigned to recite three verses as the stripes were administered in groups of three (2 to the back and one to the front). I have been unable to locate a definite answer as to what the first two were; however, research revealed that the third verse in the set was Psalm 78:38 – “But He, being full of compassion forgave their iniquity and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned He His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath.”  This had special meaning in the process because, any criminal being beaten was to be received as completely forgiven by their peers after the punishment. They were restored to full citizenship as if they had never broken the law. It obviously takes on a greater meaning as Jesus was beaten.  Jesus received 39 stripes. That means He heard this verse 13 times – once for each of the 12 tribes of Israel and once for the Gentiles (or all of us). How powerful is the love of Christ!

Jewish law was not entirely obeyed in the beating of Christ. The weapon used to beat Him was a cat of nine tails – or a whip laced with metal, bone and rock designed to tear flesh. It was also administered by Romans and not Jews.  Additionally, after the beating, He was not completely restored but was punished further.  Why, after the Pharisees were so set on sticking to Jewish law, was this act not administered in as strict a manner? I believe this punishment was a combination of Jewish and Gentile custom because Jesus was taking this on for ALL of mankind. 

  To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Happened At the Cross Part 1

This week, we began a series called “What Happened at the Cross?” In preparation for the Easter holiday it is important for us to grasp what exactly was accomplished at the cross by the blood of Jesus Christ.  There are seven specific places and ways in which Jesus shed His blood. Each one is significant in what it represented and what part of the curse it addressed. In this first part, we talked about Jesus’ bleeding in the Garden of Gethsemane. The account is given in three of the four gospels. Oddly enough, the one in which it is not mentioned is John (and John is the only of the gospel writers who was actually there).  We focused on the account from Luke 22.

Jesus went “as usual” to pray (are we known for such routines in our lives?) to the mount of olives.  This is where the olives were pressed to get the oil out.  So Jesus went there when He was under pressure, and we saw what came out of Him when that happened.  Notice that Jesus didn’t ask them to pray for Him but to pray that THEY would not fall into temptation.  Then He asked for another way and then was strengthened by angels.  God will always strengthen us for whatever we have to endure.  Jesus then became in great anguish and sweat blood. 

We spoke about two main things that this event addressed. First, we need to understand exactly why Jesus was under so much strain that he actually bled out of His pores. Certainly, there was worry over the physical punishment He was destined to receive, but His stress was much greater than that. I believe that this time in the garden is when the weight of man’s sin was placed upon Him.  Think of even just one time where your sin caused you grief, pain and regret. Now multiply that by every sin and mistake in your life. Then multiply that by the many billions of people who have lived on this planet. All of that was on Jesus. We were not designed to have sin on us.  This stress and worry causes our bodies to break down over time, but Jesus took so much that His physical body was literally breaking down under the strain.  He took all those sins and their consequences upon Himself.  It is important for us to remember that all of the consequence of our sin was ON Him. As is says in 1 Peter 5:7, we should cast all of our cares and anxieties on Him. In fact, He already took them. For us, we need to not take them back!

The second significant part of this story we focused on was the restoration of all that was lost in the curse of Adam’s sin. This is why this occurred in a garden.  In Genesis 3, God cursed Satan for deceiving Adam and Eve. If you read closely you see that God never cursed man. That is important. You never were and never will be cursed by God! What was cursed was the ground – the dirt. Your body is made of dirt. You are a spirit and God sees your spirit, but the dirt breaks down.  The only other thing He cursed was the Enemy.  He said He will bruise the heel of Adam’s offspring and that Adam’s offspring will crush the enemy’s head.  I’ll take a bruised heel over a crushed head any day.   He also told Adam that by the sweat of his brow he would work the soil and have it produce thorns and thistles.   The dirt of this earth was cursed. That was until Jesus changed it. You see, I believe that this time in the garden was a second temptation. He was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4 for himself and He defeated the enemy with the Word. Here, in His most vulnerable time, he had to resist the temptation to not follow through. This temptation was for us. He resisted the temptation, but did not speak to the enemy. He had to take the sin with him to the cross.

 But when that blood came out of His pores as He sweat (like the sweat of the brow), it hit the earth, the dirt, and that temptation-overcoming blood began to heal the dirt – to reverse the curse. I picture it like one of those Hollywood special effects. As those drops hit the ground they began to spread and bring life to the earth once again.  Our job is to continue the spread of that life to all the corners of the earth – redeeming that which had been lost.  Jesus overcame everything we will ever face for us.

In all of this, Jesus reversed the curse. You are not cursed. The enemy wants you to think you are cursed, get you to speak “cursed” words and live a cursed life. But he has already been defeated. Jesus paid the price for the curse of sin. We will not truly live a victorious life until we remove all of the curse thinking from our lives.   

To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Don't Have Ugly Feet Part 3

As we finished the series, we talked about the importance of the assignment for all of us.  Sometimes we think that only certain people are gifted in spreading the Gospel, but if that was true, Jesus wouldn’t tell ALL of us to do it.  Living a Christ-like life can be just as powerful as sitting down and sharing with someone.  After joking last week about the grocery store being a great opportunity to share the Gospel, I was at the store buying curtain rods. There was a lady in front of me seemed to have miscalculated and did not have enough money to pay for what she had gotten.  I decided to say God bless you and pay for the rest of her purchase (just a few bucks).  I later heard her talking to a friend about what had happened.  No one who is a believer in Christ is exempt from this assignment—we are to spread the Good News.  

Many people feel that they need to hear from God before they step out and speak into someone’s life. The reality is that you already HAVE heard from him – Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15 show this. We don’t need a special prompting, because the task has already been assigned! We should always be on “green light” and being open to the Spirit if there is a “red light.”  We should “go always and listen to the Spirit for when it’s time to stop.”  (Acts 16:6 shows the Apostles doing this and obeying the “no” of the Spirit.  When we do what the Word says, we are being led by the Spirit.  Sometimes we think we are waiting for the perfect timing. There is no such thing (in the natural, anyway). Ecclesiastes 11:4 says that he who considers the wind will never sow and he who studies the clouds will never reap. The Word shows us that, when we step out of our comfort zone and do what we know we should, God will then direct us to do even more amazing things.

 A great example is in Acts 8 with Philip. He is traveling along and preaching the Word and seeing signs and wonders. There was no specific direction to do so. He was simply doing what he knew he was supposed to be doing. Many are being saved and healed.  Miraculous signs draw people, but the Word of God changes people.  Then, in verse 26, God gives him a specific instruction to go speak to an Ethiopian man sitting on the side of the road, reading. It turns out that man was reading a scroll of Isaiah 53 and did not understand it. When Philip explains it, the man is saved and baptized. You see, when God leads you to someone, that someone is looking for what you will share. He always leads you to success. Understand that, even if the exchange you have does not appear to have led anywhere, if God directed you and you were obedient, it was successful.  God sends you to success and victory.  We can be confident if we are following God’s leading.

 Jesus further demonstrates the process in Matthew 10. He sends His disciples out with this direction – firstly, where to go and not to go (again, setting them up for success). Next He told them what to say – that the Kingdom of heaven was near (though now we are in it). Lastly, He told them to heal, help and set people free. But, the important thing was the three words He preceded the instructions with – “As you go…”  Now, the disciples were setting out on a purpose given by Him. So are you. We all have a purpose and plan that God has for our lives. Some of us are in full-time ministry. Most are not. Either way, as we go, we should remember to do these things. We should not get so focused on our own lives that we forget that God is concerned with ministering to others.

 Jesus demonstrates this for us. His purpose was to go to the cross. Along the way, He was led to minister to and heal many people. He did not let His purpose distract Him from the things to do along the way, but He still kept focused on His purpose.  Understand that, as Jesus Christ, He could have ministered to every single person who crossed His path. But that was not His purpose here on earth. He stayed focused on His purpose, yet was moved by the Spirit to minister to certain people. That is what we need to do as well.  We need to continually look at the people around us as Jesus did – as those who NEED the love of the Gospel. Remember, it’s not all about you.  It is not our responsibility to reach everyone, but it is our responsibility to reach someone.


To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit

Friday, March 8, 2013

Don't Have Ugly Feet Part 2

This week we continued our series.  We are talking about the call and responsibility of EVERY believer to spread the good news of the gospel.

 The Great Commission in Matthew 28 is essentially Jesus’ final instruction for His disciples (and us). There are many great things we have been told to do as the church and many that Jesus displayed while on earth, but there is one that is the most important of all – to spread the gospel. All of the other things we are to do will follow the execution of this first and most important task. His final instructions were not “go ye and feed the hungry” or “go ye and heal the sick.” Those are great things we should indeed do, but not the most important thing we should do.

 It is like a boss who is going to leave the country for a prolonged period of time. He leaves his manager in charge and gives him this one task – make sure you mail this package. When the boss eventually returns and meets with his manager, he asks how things went in his absence. The manager raves about how he reorganized the entire filing system to be much more neat and efficient. He brags about how he streamlined the staff and increased sales. But the boss has just one question – did you mail the package? The manager stumbles and fumbles sharing that he was so busy… He thinks he remembers assigning the task to a “mail packages” team, but he’s not sure if it got done.

Jesus has left us in charge with all His power and authority, and we have a message we need to send. Are we doing it?  This was not just the thing most important to Jesus at the end of His earthly ministry. It was His first words to His disciples as well. Matthew 4:19 says Jesus found Simon and Andrew fishing and says, “come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Did you ever wonder why Jesus chose fishermen? Ezekiel 47 gives us some insight. In verse 1 of that chapter, Ezekiel gets a vision of the future (today) where the living water flows out from the temple and out to the world.  The funny part is that the further the water goes out, the wider and deeper it gets (the opposite of what we would expect). The church is the temple, and that living water should be flowing out of our doors and into a thirsty world, multiplying and growing God’s kingdom.  

We should even be like a nozzle, channeling the water in a specific direction, with power as it leaves us.  John 7:37-38 echoes this also.  Streams of Living Water should be flowing out of us.  We are also the temple of the Holy Spirit. That living water is to flow out of every one of us! Psalm 1:3 we see the results of this living water.  Later in Ezekiel 47, in verse 10, he sees fishermen along the river casting nets to catch the great harvest of fish. And so we see why Jesus chooses fishermen. The picture in Ezekiel is of a massive number of fish to be caught. We can often think that there is no one around us who is open to the gospel message, but that is not the case.  Fishermen are wise about when and where to cast a net.  We still also need to be sensitive to God’s voice when He tells us to “cast a net” even though the time and place (and person) don’t seem right.

 In Matthew 9, Jesus sees all the lost and hurting and is moved with compassion. He turns to His disciples and says that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. There are far more people open to the gospel than we realize. Our job is to be led of the Spirit to be used when we encounter one who is ready.  In Acts 1:8, Jesus says that the power of the Spirit in us will make a witness for Him. This shows us how we find the ones who are looking. We operate in the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and self-control. If we exude those things, we will draw the lost and minister to them.

 This is not a hard thing to do. Sometimes it is just a smile or a kind word to someone who needs it. It is listening to that voice inside us that tells us to reach out to that mom at the grocery store or the man in line at the post office. Also, we do not measure our success on how many people accept Jesus in our presence. Our success is based only on whether we were obedient to the voice of the Spirit. That person may walk away appearing unchanged or even annoyed, but you do not know what that kind word or gesture meant to them as they walked away. Sometimes we are the harvester, and sometimes we are planting or watering a seed. Just be obedient!


To listen to the entire sermon go to and click on online media.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit