Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Freedom! Part 1

Today, we began a new series titled, “Freedom!” that is about our transition out of slavery to the sin and the world to freedom in Christ.  In this first week, we discussed the importance of embracing positive change in our lives as well as the various enemies that will attempt to stop us from changing.

 People around you don’t want you to change. There are a couple main reasons. First, it forces them to either to change themselves or to admit they are unwilling (or think they are unable) to do so. The second reason is that it messes with their nice little box with a label that they’ve put you in. If you change, it messes with their world. When they put labels on you, they will define what you can or cannot do based on that label (that THEY gave you). There is only one label that is important for us – the label given to us by God as his beloved children!

 The biggest hindrance to our changing and growing in Christ is usually us. We have many reasons why we are unable or unwilling to change. Change is uncomfortable. God wants us, as we grow in our knowledge of Him, to realize it is simply uncomfortable NOT to change.  Changing can certainly be uncomfortable, even painful. Hebrews 4:12 says that the Word (the thing that does the changing in us) is sharp and cuts and divides the things inside of us that need cutting and dividing. Understand that God does not use a machete or hatchet but instead a double-edged blade that is fine and precise. Verse 13 goes on to tell us that we are accountable for what we accomplish in this life – and what we accomplish is directly related to whether, and to what extent we allow the Word to change us into His image.

 We also looked at 2 Peter 1:3-11. In this passage we are again exhorted to allow the Word to make us into His image so that we can be fruitful and productive in accomplishing His work.  Don’t allow the flesh and others to convince you to jump of the train to your change before it reaches its destination. This summer we are taking a trip to a better us. As we continue this series, God will be showing us not just what things in us need to be changed, but how to do it.

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

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

All I Want is a Couple Days Off Part 3

In this final part of the series, we wrapped up all the pieces and concepts of Sabbath and rest that we have been discussing. What we find is that Jesus Himself is the piece that brings all the others together. In arriving at this conclusion, we looked at three facts about Sabbath related to the New Testament:

 1.       Of all the 10 Commandments, the fourth related to observing the Sabbath is not repeated in the New Testament.

2.       There is also no equivalent in the New Testament

3.       Jesus makes a point of doing His work on the Sabbath

 Does all of this mean that the Sabbath is no longer relevant? Did Jesus do away with it? Actually, quite the contrary.  The Sabbath, for us, is not about a 24 hour period of time, and it is not about which day of the week we choose to observe it. It is now a status that we should aim to live in at all times. It is a place where we rest from our works and live in the confidence of His works. We still have to do work, but we are no longer justified by our works. We are also not limited by the power of our own work. When we hit the wall of what we are capable of doing, we need to rest knowing God’s work and power is more than sufficient.

 There are two main reasons that it is so important to God that we get to the place of rest. One we discussed last week – that we can only truly build the Kingdom from a position of rest. In that we compared the kingships of Saul, David and Solomon. Each represented a different part of the total picture. In that picture, Solomon operated from rest and was the one who could build the house of God. He didn’t do battle with the enemies that David (type of Christ) defeated. He lived in that victory as we should in the victory of Christ Jesus.  The second reason is discussed in Isaiah 66:1-2. God is at rest, but he is looking for a place to rest. He wants that place to be in us, but it will require us operating from a position of rest as well.   

We also find that the reason that observing Sabbath is not commanded in the New Testament is that Jesus IS the Sabbath. He didn’t observe it, he WAS it. But why did Jesus work on the Sabbath? The answer lies in paying attention to the kind of work He did on the Sabbath. He wasn’t plowing fields or building barns. He was healing – bringing rest and peace to others. He was doing what He does to allow us to have peace. 

 Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 that we should enter His rest, but then immediately talks about putting on a yoke and getting to work. This may seem like a contradiction, but it is not. When we enter His rest and get connected to Him, we work, but our work is fruitful and productive. Jesus didn’t do fruitless work. He didn’t have to cancel ministry opportunities because there weren’t funds. He didn’t walk around constantly beat up by the enemy, sick and tired. His work was robust, fruitful and successful.  Get connected to Him and you will work, but never grow tired. You’ll succeed and not fail. That is operating from a place of rest.

 Now that we have done our best to define what the place of rest looks like, we will get back to the reality of our own lives that may not look very much like rest. We’ll start looking at what God needs us to change in us to bring us closer to that destination.

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


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

All I Want is a Couple Days Off Part 2

This week, we looked deeper at the importance of Sabbath rest to God. Sabbath is actually the very first principle God establishes for us on earth – even before the command to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This “rest” is established in Genesis 2:2. The word for “rest” in Hebrew was “shabath,” which is where we get the word Sabbath. God was not resting from His work because He was tired. He was doing so because it was finished. The concept we should get is that we need to enter into the place where God’s work is finished. If He is finished, then it is perfect. That’s where we want to be.

 Of course, we realize that the true and total perfection does not happen on earth; however, we should be striving to obtain as much of it on earth as we can. And I know we are capable, by the power of God, to obtain far more of it than we generally do.  There is a physical side of Sabbath. We are spirit, but we live in a dirt body. Dirt needs rest. In Leviticus 25, God instructs Moses to tell the people that the land is supposed to have rest one year out of every seven. We know that today’s fruits and vegetables have far less nutrients in them than they did in the past. This is in large part because we no longer let the land rest. We plant different crops all year round, and we never give the land time to heal and build up nutrients.

 The funny thing about Sabbath rest is that, whether you give the dirt rest or not, it will take it. Land eventually has nothing to give to the food. Your body eventually stops doing what it is supposed to do. Physical rest is very important.  Spiritual rest is even more important. Until we get to a place of Spiritual rest, it is very difficult to produce the way God intends for us to produce. Throughout the Word there are pictures and imagery that illustrate the process of getting to rest. Certainly the Israelite’s journey is a primary example.

Another example of this is the progression of Israel’s kings. Before King Saul, God was their king. This is a picture of grace. There was no unneeded and unnecessary rule and law between God and His people. 1 Samuel 8:11-18 is God’s warning to His people as they asked for a man to be their king. It was a warning of what has come to pass every time man rules over man.

Next, King David ruled. He is a type of Christ and actually finally, generations later, conquers the entire Promised Land. He is the picture of Jesus conquering sin for us.  David didn’t get to actually build the house of God, but instead Solomon did. Solomon is a picture of living by grace (yes, I understand the Law of Moses was in effect – this is just a picture or shadow). He lived in what his father, David, had accomplished. His rulership was a time of peace and prosperity for Israel. There were no wars.

It was in this environment of grace and, of course, the wisdom that he asked God for, that he amassed all the resources to build God’s house. Now, I know Solomon blew it later in life when he decided to build his own house bigger than God’s, but the picture is that the rest allowed growth of the kingdom. Solomon gave, of his own personal treasury, the equivalent of over $40 billion by today’s standards to the building of the Temple.  I believe one of the biggest hindrances to the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth is His people not entering into rest. As long as we continue to fight and battle against an already defeated foe – not to mention battling against each other – we will be unable to amass the resources needed to rapidly grow and expand the kingdom. The resources end up going to the “war efforts” instead of to the building of His kingdom. The war is over! Jesus won! Let’s enter into the rest and start building!

 Finally, that word in Genesis 2 (shabath) has even deeper meaning when we look at it in the ancient Hebrew. Shabath is made up of shin, beyt and tav. Shin means consume and destroy. Beyt represents the house of God. Tav is the mark or sign of covenant and the symbol was a cross (3500 years before Jesus!). Put together, we see how we get to Sabbath rest – it is John 2:19 where Jesus said, “DESTROY this HOUSE and I will rebuild it IN THREE DAYS (cross).” We have to enter into the completed work of Christ. That is the only way to get to rest!

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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

All I Want is a Couple Days Off Part 1

This series is about defining what it means to be in God’s rest and how we get there.  Before we can set out on this quest to get to God’s rest we have to calibrate the GPS – know where it is we are trying to get. That’s what this series is about. Matthew 7:7-14 talks about a wide road that leads to destruction and a narrow one that leads to life that very few find. We may have thought this was talking about salvation, but I do not believe this is the case. In the vision John has of heaven in Revelation 7, he sees a “great multitude” that is beyond ability to count in white robes entering heaven. That doesn’t sound like a way that VERY FEW found.

Instead, I believe this narrow road that few find is living a life in the rest of God. Outside of that rest, we live lives of heartache and destruction. In God’s rest, we have peace and life.  This is not to say that there aren’t attacks when we are in rest. The enemy and our own past will frequently attack. The difference is that, in rest, we are not shaken. Our trust is in God and the assurance that, in Him, we will always be victorious.

 Fear, worry and anxiety are what pull us out of that rest. Jesus says in Matthew 6:25 that we should not worry about what to eat or wear – not to even worry about our own lives. Now, he did not say that those things are not important. He said not to worry about them. Our natural tendency is to worry about the things most important to us. Ask any parent if they worry about their children and they most assuredly do. But, in God’s way of thinking (His Kingdom and way of doing things – Matthew 6:33), if something is important to us, we should NOT worry about it and instead trust in God.

When we have done all we know to do and have still not achieved victory, our tendency is to enter fear and worry. But God wants that to be the point that we resist fear and give it over to Him. It’s hard for us to do, but important for us to learn. If something is important to us, it should so much so that we do not limit our ability to protect it to our own capabilities.  The Bible states in various different ways to “fear not” 365 times. Is that number a coincidence? Probably not.   Joshua 24:13 and also echoed in Deuteronomy says that we will be given cities we did not build.  We will still work, but our work will be in God’s strength and be productive instead of troublesome and worrisome.

 There is one thing that God says we should fear (not talking about the fear, reverence and respect for the Lord). In Hebrews 4 we are actually told to be afraid of not entering into His rest – leaving His gift unopened and unused. In the Old Testament, God was actually angry with the Israelites for this very thing. Their fear kept an entire generation from entering the Promised Land.  There is a story in Exodus 17 about the Israelites being attacked. From the time they left the captivity of Egypt until Moses receives the Law at Mt. Sinai is a time of pure grace – meaning they were free and there was no law to live up to. This is kind of a picture of where we now stand because of what Jesus did. (Law is still good for us – we simply are no longer justified by it.)

 This one attack is the ONLY attack that happens during this span of time. We’ve probably heard this story before. The Amalakites had attacked. As long as Moses had his arms raised, Joshua and the army would be winning. When his arms went down they would begin losing. When Moses could no longer keep his arms raised Aaron and Hur come alongside him. First they have him sit down (rest) and then they hold his arms up. Aaron was not only Moses’ brother, but he was the high priest. Jesus is our high priest and, if we allow him to, he will come along side us and lift us up so we can carry on. Hur was presumed to be a family member – married to Moses’ sister Miriam. He also served Aaron and his grandson was an architect of the tabernacle.  Aaron and Hur represent where we need to turn to for support when we can’t do it anymore – Jesus and our church family.  

One more piece to this story – in Hebrew the word Amal (Amalakites) means “painful, worrisome labor.” That is the only thing that attacked a people in pure grace – worry. Even after the victory, it goes on to say that God would war with the Amalakites from generation to generation. “Amal” is still the enemy that we fight. The word “steady” here in Hebrew (they held his hands steady) means faith.  We must allow Jesus to come along side us and lift us up and defeat fear and worry in our lives in order to enter His rest. It is a narrow path that few will find. Choose to be one who will! 


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