Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Power From On High Part 3--Praying in Tongues

Today, we tackled the difficult and tricky topic of praying in tongues.
We started by discussing 3 Things Satan Tries to Keep Believers from Having:
1       1)  Prosperity (not just money)– health, wealth, joy, peace, highly favored
2       2) Grace – wants to keep you (feeling) separated from God.  Grace is our assurance that sin cannot separate us from God or keep us from being used by God.
3       3) Praying in the Spirit – because it is prayer that he can’t stop
We also discussed our makeup as Christians:
    1) Body/Flesh – Temple of the Holy Spirit
    2) Soul – Holy Place – mind, will emotions – where understood prayer takes place
    3) Spirit – Holy of Holies – where praying in the Spirit takes place
Why does the enemy hate praying the Spirit?  Sometimes we wonder why he cares, since we don't even know what we are saying.  Neither does he!  We do tremendous damage to His kingdom, because Satan can't counteract what he doesn't know is coming.  We are praying the Word of God and the enemy doesn't understand what we are praying.  Also, when we pray with understanding (which is important to do also), we can doubt what we are praying.  When we pray in the Spirit, we can't doubt what we are praying because we don't know what we are praying.  When we pray with understanding, often Satan is right there to put doubt in our heads.  We can then pray the perfect will of God without any doubt entering in!
Why all this babbling?  We looked at Genesis 11.  We noted this passage last week also.  God said that with one common language nothing will be impossible.  At this time, he was worried because they weren't employing God.  When we pray in the Spirit, we don't sound the same, but we are speaking God's word through His Spirit. 
Sometimes we don't pray in tongues because we don't understand it.  Do we all completely understand how our cellphone or our car works?  Does that hinder us from using it.  If we know it works, why not utilize it?
Why tongues?  We looked at James 3:1-10 and Proverbs 18:21.  These speak of the power of the tongue and our inability to tame it.  In Acts 2:2-4, the Spirit takes control of the tongues of the disciples.  Finally, our tongues can speak His words.  Then will I just babble all the time?  We must submit to the Spirit to allow this to flow, so we can discern when it is necessary and when we should refrain.
Why an unintelligible language?  Wouldn't be less weird that way, and I'd understand it better?  That's the problem.  Once we understand, we either start doubting or try to take over and do it our way. 
Does praying in the Spirit really mean praying in tongues, or just "really intense prayer?"  If that was the case, we'd see praying in the Spirit mentioned in the Old Testament, but it doesn't appear until after Acts 2.  We looked at Jude 20 and 1 Corinthians 14:14-19.  We edify ourselves by praying in the Spirit, and there is a proper place and time for the use of this tool.  We are to pray with understanding and with the Spirit, depending on the situation.  Paul says that he does both, but in their proper time and place. Praying in tongues doesn't edify others because they, like us, cannot understand what is being said (this is different than the gift of speaking in tongues with interpretation). 
Is praying in tongues really essential?  We looked at Ephesians 6:10-18.  The list of the armor of God is usually listed as 6 items (belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the Gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit), but verse 18 INCLUDES praying in the Spirit.  God's number of perfection and completion is 7, not 6.  Day 7 was the day of rest.  Praying in the Spirit allows us to enter His rest.  We don't have to worry about what we pray or how God is going to do it.  We are told to make sure to put the FULL armor on.  Without praying in the Spirit, it is not complete.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Power From On High Part 2--baptism of the Holy Spirit

This week, we continued our series on the Holy Spirit.  This week we started in Acts 1:8.  There are many questions about receiving the Holy Spirit that we addressed that are critical.

Who is it for?  We looked at Acts 2:17.  The gift of the Holy Spirit is for all people.  Just like salvation, we have to choose to receive the gift to have it, but anyone who believes can have it.

When is it for?  Some believe that the Holy Spirit was only for a certain time in history, but Joel says it is for "all flesh" in the "last days," which is the time after Jesus until He comes again. 

What is it for?  It's to empower us to achieve our God-given purpose.  We have provision to walk out our purpose for each day, no matter how big or how small it may be.  Some days our purpose may be just living for God in what may seem to be small ways, and others bigger, but all of them can be huge when done with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  God's power to do all those things is available to us through the Holy Spirit.

Didn't I get the Holy Spirit when I got saved? Why is there this other thing I am to receive?  John 20 says yes, the Spirit is "in us" at salvation, but the baptism of the Spirit is the Spirit "upon us," which is God's power on us.  Jesus breathed on them here to signify the Holy Spirit in them.  The word here is the same word used elsewhere for the soul that God put within us that makes us different than other creatures.  This was restoring the life and relationship with God Adam and Eve had in the garden.  Then Jesus tells them to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come.  We also looked at Luke 4:18, which shows that the Spirit "upon us" empowers us to fulfill our God-given purpose.  In the Old Testament, the power of the Spirit came upon people for specific purposes (Samson is one example).  Back then, it wasn't always available, but only in certain situations.  Since we now have the Spirit in us, we can have that all the time!  We also looked at John 14:16 and following.  Jesus adds to the Holy Spirit in and upon us, "with us."  We could also call it "among us."  This is when believers come together in unity and connects us to each other and to Him, like in worship, where we can even "feel" His presence.

Why do we call it the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  If it is in, with, and upon us, we are immersed completely in it. 

How do I receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  Many times we as Christians have made it difficult to receive this by putting rules on how and when we can receive the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but it really is as available to us as salvation is to anyone who believes.

Do I have to pray in tongues to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit?  Tongues is one evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but not the only one; however, it is still an important part of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  We looked at Genesis 11:1, where the people were unified with one language, and God said nothing would be impossible for them.  Praying in tongues gives us one language, God's language, to pray in.  It may not sound the same, but we are praying God's words, and that unifies us toward His purpose. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Power From On High Part 1

This is the first part of a series about the Holy Spirit, to help us understand how to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Adam and Eve in the garden had the Spirit living in them, but once the fall occurred, a separation took place so that man could not house the Holy Spirit.  Now, the blood of Jesus has made us pure before God, so that because of Christ in us, we can have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  The Holy Spirit gives us power and authority to equip us to do the assignment God has given us.

Today, we looked at the coming of the Holy Spirit.  When Jesus went to the cross He:
1) Gave us salvation, restored us in our relationship with God.
2) Allowed us to have the Spirit of God dwell inside us.

We went to Joel 2:25 and following.  This shows how the things that were being destroyed because of sin would be restored because of Jesus.  God doesn't only restore what we lost, but He restores more (see Job).  Joel also talks about how God truly satisfies our hunger and is the only one who can. Verse 28 then alludes to what happens after the Holy Spirit comes.  We then looked at Acts 1 and 2, the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  This exemplifies one of the elements that put us in an environment where the Holy Spirit's power can flow: unity.  The disciples were in unity, and then the Spirit fell upon them.  Unity is not complete agreement, but a choice to be unified despite whether we agree or not.  Without this kind of unity, we miss a lot of the power that God can display in us through the Spirit. 

This is the foundation for the messages in the coming weeks.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Two Kings Two Thrones Part 16

This week, we looked at how David handles an attack by the Amalekites on his people.  1 Samuel 30 opens with David and his men coming upon Ziklag, a Philistine outpost where he and his men have been hiding from Saul. When they get there, they discover that the city has been burned down and all of their families and possessions were gone, stolen by raiding Amalekites.

How could this happen? David is out trying to defeat Philistines, doing God’s work. Let’s look a little at what David was doing that kept him away from protecting his family. In chapter 29, we find David was in a year-long ploy to double-cross the Philistines. He had been hiding among them, and they were about to attack Saul. David offers to go into battle with them, all the while planning to double-cross them.  The advisors to the Philistine leader express that they think it is a bad idea to bring David and his men with them, so David is sent away. It seemed like such a great plan, but it was all for naught. Why?

Remember that Saul is a type of the law, while David is a type of grace. There are also a few other important types to understand. In the Old Testament, Egypt is a type for the world, the Philistines a type for our sin, and the Amalekites a type for unprovoked attack.  Law and grace do not mix. You cannot battle sin with a mix of law and grace. You can’t succeed in defeating sin with law, and you cannot do it mixing grace with some law.

David is prevented from going into battle against the Philistines in conjunction with Saul. That actually never happened in the story of these two kings, they never went into battle together against Philistines.  While David was out trying to do something that was outside of his purpose – specifically attempting a futile battle against “sin,” the Amalekites attack. This was an unprovoked attack. Have you ever been cruising along and felt like you were attacked for no reason?  I have always taught that there are three sources of trouble in life. There is certainly our sin that produces trouble. Sometimes the enemy is attacking. The third is “Amalekite” attacks, those troubles we face simply because the world is a mess, and other people do things that make a mess for us.

When David and his men see what has happened, it says that they wept until they could weep no more. All of their strength was gone. I know we have all been there before. The book of Psalms records David’s struggles in dealing with the troubles in life. He often asks God “what gives?” That is my paraphrase, of course. God knows we are human and that we get tired and frustrated with the things that happen in life sometimes. In the Psalms, we frequently see how David moves from that emotion to confidence and victory by reminding himself of how big God is and what He had done in the past.

David does the same here. His life was at a low point. Since he was anointed to be the next king, the current king sought to kill him and now he had lost his family. If that was not bad enough, now David’s men, in their frustration, want to kill him. Instead of doing what condemnation would do – which is recount all the ways in which he may have failed that caused this turn of events, he “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”  That is the first step. After we’ve cried it all out and dealt with the emotion, we need to find strength in the Lord. That will only happen when we have a revelation of grace. We must know that, by the blood of Jesus, we deserve God to strengthen us.

David did not do what we so often do – make an emotional decision to take revenge on the Amalekites. It would have satisfied his emotions and might have appeased his men who wanted to kill him. Instead he found strength in God and then went right to God’s presence to inquire of God what to do next.  He goes to the priest and says, “bring me the ephod.” The ephod was a priestly garment made of precious metals and gems. In its center was a breastplate that was used in seeking God’s direction for the people. David was not a priest. He had no business under the law being near the ephod, but he needed to talk to God and saw the law as no obstacle.

David took a breath, let the emotions cool down and asked God what to do. We would have so much less trouble if we would follow that model. God tells him that he will be successful if he attacks the Amalekites.  Ultimately, David does successfully attack and recover all that was lost including all of their family members and all the plunder that the raiders had taken from other Philistine camps.

 How powerful we can be in this world to redeem it for God’s kingdom if we will walk in the grace He has given us!

 To listen to the entire sermon go to http://ahwatukeechurch.com/media.php.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit http://ahwatukeechurch.com/.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Part 15 Two Kings Two Thrones

This week, we looked at an interaction between David and a man named Nabal in 1 Samuel 25.  Nabal lives in Carmel. In Carmel, Saul had built a memorial to his own glory. This is the same place that Saul was told that he would no longer be king because he disobeyed God by sparing the life of King Agag the Amalekite. At the time, it seemed that was a harsh punishment for one mistake. When we read our Bible, we find out that King Agag’s life is spared, and he continues having children. Out of those children descends Haman. Haman is the one in the book of Esther who nearly destroys ALL of the Jewish people. Saul’s disobedience almost caused the destruction of God’s people – if not for God working through Esther and Mordecai.  Sometimes we don’t realize the significance of obeying God. It is not the act of disobedience that is the problem, but the fruit of that act. God’s grace and his mercy overcame Saul’s disobedience.


Nabal is devoted to King Saul who, as we have been studying, is a type and picture of the law, while David is a type and picture of grace. David sends his men to ask Nabal to share food with them from a festival that is about to be celebrated. Nabal refuses and insults the name of David. Remember that law (and those committed to it) hates grace and is jealous of it.  David’s men return and report what Nabal had said. David’s response was “grab your swords,” and let’s not let him disrespect us like that. Now, this is not in the character or in the purpose for David. He is about to make a grave mistake. vowed to destroy every male in Nabal’s household, which was the ultimate humiliation of a family name. 

Word of Nabal’s response to David gets to Abigail, Nabal’s wife. She is infuriated by her husband’s actions. She sets out to make things right with David. She arrives and convinces David that attacking Nabal is a foolish idea. She reminds him that doing what he plans makes him no better than Nabal or Saul and that his actions could adversely affect his purpose.  In this story, I believe Abigail is a picture of the Holy Spirit. You see, first we are told that she did NOT talk to Nabal. The Holy Spirit is not able to talk to law or reason with it. It talks to and through grace. She warns David in the same way that the Holy Spirit warns us when we are about to step outside of God’s will for us.  

In John chapters 14-16, Jesus talks a great deal about the Holy Spirit that would come to man after He completed His work. Among the things that we are told about the Holy Spirit is that He is a Counselor to us. The word used here for counselor is not like a person you go to for a counseling session. It is a legal term. It is best defined as one who assists those in trouble with the law, not just a lawyer but something beyond that. Isn’t that what we need? Our sin puts us in trouble with the “law.” 

Jesus also said that the Holy Spirit will convict us in sin and righteousness. Convict does not mean to condemn. Convict means to point you to the truth. The Holy Spirit not only tells us when we have already messed up, but it warns us when we are moving in the wrong direction. He is also there when we mess up and do that wrong thing anyway. That is when He reminds us that we are still righteous before God because of what Jesus did for us. He also reminds us to run to God when we sin and not hide in condemnation.   David heard from this voice of the Spirit in Abigail and heeded her warning because he lived by grace. Living by grace allows us to hear the voice of the Spirit, not just the voice of the law that condemns. He thanks her for her words, which allowed him not to make a grave mistake.  In the end, when Abigail tells Nabal, his anger burns so strongly that within a few days he is dead.  Law’s anger again is directed at grace in a very severe way.

Finally, there is another important detail in David’s story. Nabal, who was committed to Saul/law, refused to give David what he requested. When Abigail goes to meet David, she brings an abundant gift – far beyond what David had requested. The Spirit, by grace, can bring us abundance that law cannot. When we receive grace abundantly, we can also give it! What a great story that illustrates for us how God interacts with His people.

   To listen to the entire sermon go to http://ahwatukeechurch.com/media.php.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit http://ahwatukeechurch.com/.

  To listen to the entire sermon go to http://ahwatukeechurch.com/media.php.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit http://ahwatukeechurch.com/.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Part 14--Two Kings Two Thrones

In this part, we looked at the first of two opportunities that David has to take Saul’s life. This is in 1 Samuel 24. Before we went there, we backtracked just a little bit because I believe the Holy Spirit gave me deeper understanding on something we discussed a while back. 

In 1 Samuel 9:16, where Saul is about to be anointed by Samuel to be Israel’s first king, his purpose is stated. Previously we stated that his purpose was to destroy the Philistines. Technically, though, he was not destined to destroy the Philistines, but to “deliver my people from the hand” of the Philistines. There is a subtle, but important, difference. To deliver from the hand is more a defensive or reactive action.  When you examine Saul’s life as king, you find that he never initiates conflict with the Philistines. He either reacts in defense of Israel when they are attacked or joins in the fight already started by his son Jonathan.


This is not only in line with his purpose as king but also with his being a type and picture of the Law. The Law was never intended to defeat sin. It was a defense against it until grace, the power to defeat sin, came. King David, the picture of grace, defeated Philistines everywhere he went. In fact, when we look at his appearance on the scene, we find Saul and his army powerless against Goliath. David shows up, goes on the attack and is victorious. 

Law cannot defeat sin. Trying to make yourself not sin does not help you overcome it (though that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to have a little self-control). Only grace operating on the inside of you can change your heart so that you no longer desire to sin. Law is a defensive tool, and grace is an offensive weapon against sin. 

There are 3 reasons law seeks to destroy grace.  The first is jealousy.  We have discussed this quite a bit.  Law is jealous of what grace can do.  The second is that law thinks grace is undoing all its hard work.  The third is the opposite point of view on how to deal with sin.  Law thinks grace is dangerous.

Now, let’s get to 1 Samuel 24. In verse two, it says that Saul was pursuing David with 3000 men. The number 3000, especially in relation to law and grace, is important.  In Exodus 32:28, just after the giving of the 10 Commandments, 3000 people die. In Acts 2:41, when the Holy Spirit filled those in the upper room, Peter preached his first “Spirit-filled” sermon and 3000 people were born again – or received eternal life. Both events happened on the “Day of Pentecost.” In Exodus, that feast had not yet been established, but we can trace the day to 50 days after the first “Passover” as they were set free from Egypt. Of course, the coming of the Holy Spirit also happened on that 50th day after the true Passover Lamb was slain.  The coming of the Holy Spirit was the true completion of Christ’s work. His death, burial and resurrection paved the way for the Holy Spirit to be able to come in power upon all believers. It is the sealing of the Covenant of Grace.  In 2 Corinthians 3:3 and 3:6, the Law is called a ministry of death and the Spirit a ministry of life. What amazing pictures the Lord paints for us!

In 1 Samuel 24:2 it says that Saul is looking for David in the “Crags of Wild Goats.” Remember that Saul was a donkey herder. God saw that His people were stubborn and needed someone accustomed to dealing with donkeys. Goats are much like donkeys in their stubbornness. They require strict boundaries – i.e. LAW.  David, the one who was a shepherd, was hidden in the caves along the way where the sheep grazed. Sheep are not stubborn but know the voice of their shepherd and obey. Grace leads sheep. We know His voice and do not need to be ruled by lists of rules, but His voice. These caves are where the sheep would be hidden to protect them when predators were near. This is also where Saul goes to “relieve himself.”

In 1 Samuel 24:4 David’s men tell him that Saul coming into this cave is confirmation that God was delivering his enemy into his hands. This is a great example of why it is so important to hear from God and not men. His men were getting it all wrong. First of all, the “enemy” God spoke of was not Saul, but the Philistines. Second, David was not called to destroy Saul.  David sneaks up and cuts a corner off of Saul’s robe. A king’s robe was an extension of themselves. It was also symbolic of their victories. When a king conquered another king, it was common to take a piece of the robe of the defeated king and attach it to his robe, thereby growing the “train” of his robe. This is why the train of God’s robe fills the temple. He has been victorious over ALL!

Immediately after doing, so David is “conscience stricken” (verse 5). He realizes he had declared before Saul and God that he would never harm Saul, even though Saul was trying to kill him. His guilty conscience did what it is supposed to do and can do only under grace – deal with the problem. A guilty conscience, under law, will bring condemnation and separation. Law-mindedness would have cause David to declare he was no longer worthy to be king. Grace says your mistakes do not cost you your future – not if we bring them to God.  David ends up apologizing for this in the end. 

Hebrews 9:14 tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from a guilty conscience. Hebrews 10:22 says much the same. Grace does not cleanse us from the need of a conscience all together, just a guilty conscience. Grace leads us to bring our failures to God, not hide in fear and condemnation. This is a hallmark of David’s life. He deals with his failures head-on before God and finds grace and mercy.   Just as Saul did not provoke attack against the Philistines, David never attacks Saul. He continued to serve a king who wanted to kill him. Meanwhile, he continued destroying Philistines.

In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus talks about how He did not come to destroy the Law, but fulfill it. David did not destroy Saul, but served him faithfully (with Saul as a picture of the Law). Going on, Jesus says that not one “jot or tittle” of the law would pass away until all is fulfilled. The law-minded like to point to these words directly from Jesus as evidence that we must still uphold the Law. What is missed is the fact that He said that it was until all was fulfilled. He had just stated that He came to fulfill the law. He is saying this before He had finished that work.  Praise God, He DID fulfill all the righteous requirements of the Law.  The law is there for instructions about how to interact in life, but it does not rule us any more.  He did what we could not. He delivered us from the ministry of death!  Don’t ever let your failures disqualify you from your purpose. Continue to run to God with your failures and see what He will do with your life.

   To listen to the entire sermon go to http://ahwatukeechurch.com/media.php.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit http://ahwatukeechurch.com/.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Part 13--Two Kings Two Thrones

In this part, we saw David run from Saul.  We noticed that David attracted the distressed, those in debt, and the discontented to him when he goes home to the tribe of Judah.  I believe these 3 categories are the people who need grace the most.  Distress comes when we are faced with situations where there is no hope. Grace gives these people hope.  Those in debt are imprisoned, often literally, until it is paid.  They are held back by these burdened.  Grace offers freedom to those who are in bondage.  Discontented person are those you are usually told in leadership to remove from your team.  People who are disenfranchised from the church are mad at God and are in need of His grace.  They are mad at Christians who lived judgmentally and in condemnation.  Love doesn’t ignore sin, but it does cover them up.  These people became a mighty army (started with 400 and constantly grew) because they didn’t stay distressed, in debt, and discontented.  This army is not used to fight Saul but to fight the Philistines.  He is still serving Saul.


We looked at Luke 13:10.  Jesus sees a woman crippled, not by God, but just by life.  He immediately acts and speaks that she is set free from her infirmity.  He is setting her free from her prison.  He lays hands after setting her free.  Then she straightens up and praises God.  Jesus healing people involved them believing and receiving healing.  He doesn’t say “I have healed you” but instead “you are set free.”  They still have to believe what he says to receive it. The synagogue rules say the Sabbath is not the day to be healed.  They are angry both with Jesus and with the woman. 


In Mark 5:21-43 we see a synagogue ruler who by approaching Jesus, with whom other synagogue rulers are angry, is risking his position, seeing his daughter healed.  In the midst of the story, the woman with the issue of blood is healed by simply touching the edge of Jesus’ robe (a robe was considered the extension of a person’s power). 

   To listen to the entire sermon go to http://ahwatukeechurch.com/media.php.  To learn more about Living Word Ahwatukee, visit http://ahwatukeechurch.com/.