Christmas Message Series


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If you missed our Christmas series you can view them on demand at the links below.

This Christmas we focused on the fact that God is inviting us to join him in fulfilling His mission. He wants to use us individually in our unique situation. The fundamental reason for the season is the gift of salvation. We must not forget to focus on this fact.

First Sermon  – God Remembers Me: Accepting God’s Invitation – Luke 1:5-24 (Zechariah & Elizabeth)

http://betheltempleofpraise.org/?wpfc_sermon=accepting-gods-invitation-christmas-message-part-1

Second Sermon – Divine Interruption: God wants to interrupt your life for his Glory – Luke 1:26–38 (The Virgin Mary)

http://betheltempleofpraise.org/?wpfc_sermon=divine-interruption-christmas-part-2

Third Sermon – The Wait is over: God is going to reward your faith but not how you imagined it to be – Luke 2:22-38 (Simeon the prophet and Anna the prophetess)

http://betheltempleofpraise.org/?wpfc_sermon=the-wait-is-over-christmas-message-part-3

These three stories surrounded the Christmas story was centered around individuals that possessed certain qualities. They were invited to partner with God to bring salvation to the world. They demonstrated:

  • Faithfulness
  • Devotion
  • Patience
  • Righteousness

The greatest thing that one can be involved in is to be involved in the mission of God. In these stories we saw how God used people who were not in the mainstream of things but those who were on the margin. God saw their heart and desires and invited them to allow him to use their current circumstance to help advance his mission.

Just because you are following God does not means everything is going to be alright or that all your desires will be met or met according to your timing. When your time has come it does not matter where you are or the odds surrounding your success. When God gets ready to use you, after you have been tested and tried, nothing, no one or no circumstance will stop you from getting your invitation.

As we think of Christmas our minds are filled with plans. We are often times consumed with passion that drives us to be centrally focused. Our plans often times do not focus on God’s plans for our lives.

We become preoccupied with the day-to-day plans that we have for our lives. This often resulted in impatience.

I want to challenge us today to see that the God of the universe wants to partner with us to bring salvation to the world. The reason for Jesus entrance into this world and for him to take on the sinfulness of mankind is because he wants to bring salvation to us. In turn he invites those that have tasted this salvation to become the conduit of this message to those who have not yet received it. God used a man, a prophet named Simeon and a prophetess named Anna to help advance the story of Christmas and the message of salvation that has come to the world.

As a child we would often sneak a peek at the gifts to see if we could tell which one was ours and what was in the box. The impatient child was not going to wait until the appointed time but was willing to risk whatever punishment was to come because of their impatient. In this world we live, waiting has become a bad word. Kids are driven with an untamed impatience. The instant gratification is the badge of honor they live by. They want quick money and fame. This is even more pronounced in the popular hollywood sagas. The life of the entertainment world has now become the bench mark of the excellent. In the Christian world we are encouraged to wait on God. Waiting, patient and faith are all words that describe a devout Christian. Unlike the characteristic of the world we are challenged daily to wait on God.

We know that with God there are no time limits. 

Can God Interrupt Your Schedule For His Glory


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Luke 1:26-38

History has demonstrated that God is always seeking to interrupt our lives to accomplish his Divine purpose. In the process of interrupting and us not resisting he releases blessings.  Sometimes these blessings come in ways of miracles. I strongly attest to the fact that when we allow God to use us, even in our broken, busy state, not only does his will manifest but also we are recipients of divine blessings. Just as he interrupted Elizabeth’s bareness and reproach he wants interrupt your bareness.

We should understand that we could be serving faithfully, performing all that is required of us to advance the Kingdom and still not accomplish some of our dearest desires. So many believers are serving God faithfully but are living in the shadows of their unfulfilled dream.  Some persons have given up on hope and have resolved to remain in their position of reproach and unfulfilled dreams.

There are some persons that have resigned from their service to God declaring that they are left alone with unanswered prayers.  They lament how can I serve God when my problems are ever present. It is worth noting that Zechariah was still faithful in his service, he never stopped serving.  In the end a lifetime of barrenness and delayed answers to his many prayers, God showed just in time.  He was going to break his unproductive state to be the father of the forerunner of the Messiah.

Let us not allow our years of living in the valley of unanswered prayers prevent us from walking into the new year of production. Sometimes the length of our unproductive years places us in a state of disbelief.  It has not happened yet why would it happen now?  The reason is this, God is in charge; he will do what He will, in his timing.

God want to also interrupt your productive season as with Joseph and Mary. In this area of your life things are going according to plan. Progress is seen and there is at least momentum. Mary unlike Elizabeth was in the prime of her life.  Her future looked great.  She had a man that loved her and wanted to marry her.  They were in the stage of preparing for this wedding and God stepped in and asked her to help in advancing His mission.

Can God interrupt your period of prosperity?  Can He step into your seasons of hope and expectancy? Can He interrupt your planning and blissful moments?

To some degree it is easy to allow God to step into our barrenness but when things are going good, that is a different story. Let us understand that this was not an ordinary interruption.  What God was asking Mary to do, in her position, means she could loose her life.

God wants to interrupt your period of barrenness and or prosperity, will you let him. When God step into your life, in order to advance his mission, the residual effects is that our lives are forever changed for the better. Will you allow him to use you in order that his mission can be accomplished here on earth?

 

 

 

 

The Art of Worship


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We have been experiencing great changes in our churches. The worship experiences have transitioned from traditional to contemporary worship styles. This has caused many rifts in churches, the older Christians vs. the younger Christians. We now hire full time professional musicians and worship leaders to lead these worship services. We sing along to professionally arranged music that seemed to usher us into the very presence of God. Everyone seemed to have entered into his or her own worship experience with God. By all account the worship seemed to be right on target. Let us first define worship. What is worship, according to The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible?

Worship: that is, worthiness, dignity, or merit, thus the recognition accorded or due to someone, the paying of homage or respect. In the religious world the term is used for the reverent devotion, service, or honor paid to God, whether public or individual. The church building is a place of worship and the forms of divine service followed by various Christian groups or congregations are forms of worship.[1]

For the past couple of years my spirit has been troubled by what I am witnessing in the world of “Praise and Worship”. For the record I am musician at heart, I love good music and I admire worship teams that are well rehearsed. I enjoy a well-put together worship experience. I strongly believe that praise team and worship leaders must spent quality time in preparation for the worship experience. I even teach my church that the praise team and worship leaders are held to the same standard as the pastor is with regard to preparation and readiness. For some it seem that worship is just the time of praise and as soon as it is time for prayer and the sermon they are turn off, some even sleep.

I submit to you that we can get a similar feeling or experience of euphoria and emotional high in sports arenas or in secular concerts as we sometimes feel in the worship services. What are the distinctions between the two experiences? These are some questions that have resulted from my concern and my internal questioning:

  • I am concern and I wonder aloud are lives been changed for the better or are we aiding and abetting people in their sins?
  • Does the type of worship we offer, a direct reflection of our relationship with God?
  • Are our services allowing for people to identify their sins and provide a place for confession of their sins, before, during and after these services?
  • I am concern that all we do might not be acceptable to God. I have to keep asking myself is God pleased with our presentation today?
  • Are lives being changed during the time of worship?
  • Does our lives activities during the weekdays reflecting of a true worshiper?
  • Do we live the same way during the rest of the week as we do for the 30 to 40 minutes we sing and participate in what we call “Praise & Worship”?
  • Do we tend to sleep just as the pastor is giving the sermon but we are wide-awake during the praise and worship segment?
  • Can a person live a different lifestyle during the week and come before God in worship on Sunday?
  • How do we know that what we are feeling or experiencing is the presence of the Holy Spirit?
  • Some songs are sometimes written with a crossover appeal versus those that are written solely unto God. How do we know the difference?
  • Can those songs written with a crossover appeal be acceptable unto God?
  • Can worship that incorporate secular singers be acceptable to God?
  • Do we still need to gather at a central place in order for worship to take place or can we just ignore church communal worship?
  • A person can leave a worship session and would get involve in a fight by the “drop of a hat.” Many worshiped and go right back into the same sinful lifestyle they were in before. Attitudes seemed to not being affected by what we are calling “Praise & Worship”. Is God really please with our Worship Experience?

The scriptures declared in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” And also, in 1Cor. 6:15-17, Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of a harlot? God forbid. Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” ESV

It is now acceptable to intermingle different forms of worship from other religions with that of Christian Worship Experiences. Many are ignorant of those things and have gladly accepted this and I have to wonder if God is please. I have been drawn into this desire to find out more of what God wants and what are the requirements for worship. Let us spend the next two to three months and examine this this theme: “The Art of Worship”. As I examined the Old Testament (OT) for clues into the requirements of worship what I am discovering and being reminded about humbles me. Clearly the religions of the day have similar rituals and practices, as did those of the people chosen by God. Therefore, rituals and feelings do not provide clear unequivocal evidences of the Divine presence of God in our worship services.

Here are some points that I have noticed in reviewing the scriptures concerning a worship experience that pleased God.

God desires to have full-unhindered fellowship with His creation.

  • In Genesis we see God would come down on a daily basis to have fellowship with Adam at a certain place at a certain time.
  • God is expecting us to be at a certain place at a certain time.
  • God who is omnipresent allow himself to be revealed in a certain place so that we can know more about and develop a relationship with us.
  • He came down and met the patriarchs of old; they did not have to ascend up into heaven to worship God. Those who ascended into heaven their earthly worship were completed.
  • He came down to the Children of Israel in the Tabernacle and the Temple and allowed his presence to be seen at times confined to the mercy seat.
  • He sent His Son down to earth to die for us as the perfect sacrifice; He fulfilled all the requirements of the law and paid the penalty for sin.
  • He came down to the Apostles and the brethren on the day of Pentecost and left His Holy Spirit with us.
  • He still desires to dwell among us on a daily basis.

God is not expecting us to ascend into heaven to worship Him; He is waiting for us to prepare our lives and a place so He can come to us. In the process of preparation we should consider what are God’s requirements for a genuine worship experience. Here are some points to consider as we seek to understand what God wants or requires for those that seek to worship Him:

  1. A place to fellowship with his people in Worship.
  2. A people to have fellowship with Him in Worship.
  3. Like the Children of Israel our approach to worship has to be different than that of our neighbors, the world.
  4. God requires preparation of the worshipper for worship: the worshipper’s attitude and his offering should be in a position that is acceptable unto God.
  5. There is a process that God requires when worshipping Him; it is not just a “free for all”, according to Gaebelein, Morris, Burdick et al., made these points in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. [2]
  • When we enter into a worship experience we must recognize who we are worshipping; we are having and encounter with the Supreme Holy God – (Exodus 3:1–6)
  • God clearly set forth through Holy Scriptures that Worship is reserve for him alone – (Exodus 34:14)
  • The process of worship requires us to ascribe God all the glory that is due to him – (Psalm 29:1–2)
  • Our worship should be motivated by the fact of the sacrificial demonstration of love by Jesus Christ on the cross – (Hebrews 10:1–10)
  • There must be a posture of reverence and fear when we enter our worship experience – (Hebrews 12:28)
  • If we desire to have a personal encounter with God then we must deliberately draw near to God in return he will draw near to us – James 4:8).

One writer said that worship is to the audience of one that is God. God said that He would never share His Glory with another. Therefore, we must be very careful not to allow worship to be about ourselves or to please the worshippers. We can see many OT shadows of what God ultimately requires of those that desire to worship Him. God does take worship seriously. When we examine the OT we can see how specific and very detail God was in His requirements for worship.

We notice this from the first sacrifice in the Garden of Eden for the sins of Adam and Eve to the sacrifices in the magnificent Solomon’s temple. God left nothing to the imagination, from the specification of measurements, the type of materials, the food and sacrifices, times and process all were detailed by God and given to His people.

Are we planning our time of worship around what we desire or what God requires?

It is in the NT that we see the fulfillments of those symbols that were in the OT. Through Jesus Christ and His work here on earth we see him as the perfect sacrifice, the ultimate high priest and the soon coming King. He left us with a personal aid, our helper the Holy Spirit, who will guide us into what God the Father is expecting from us. John put it this way, in the Gospel of John 16:13, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.” ESV

Believers God’s expectations of us are clearly outlined in scriptures we do not have to turn to a professional to write directions for us. The scriptures have detailed God’s requirements. God’s has a constant desire to have fellowship with us. He desires a people that will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

For the next couple of post I will look to identify the principles of worship as laid out in the Scriptures. As a guide in this journey I will look at the Letter to the Hebrews as well as to the Corinthians while collate it with the instructions given to Moses for the Tabernacle worship and extended to Solomon for the Temple worship. I strongly believe that if we can make the connection and understand the nature and expectations of the God we worship then our worship experience will be different.

Join me on this journey as we rediscover the Art of Worship. The next post will examine the Tabernacle worship experiences and relate it to our current time.


[1] Moisés Silva and Merrill Chapin Tenney, The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume 5, Q-Z, Revised, Full-Color Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corporation, 2009), 1126.

[2] Frank E. Gaebelein, Leon Morris, Donald W. Burdick et al., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 12: Hebrews Through Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 21.

Easter Challenge: The Cross and the Grave


The challenge of Easter that Jesus faced was a triple challenge; He faced the Gethsemane Challenge involved submitting to His Father’s will, Calvary’s Challenge was about paying the ultimate price and the Grave’s Challenge was to leave a lasting evidence of the completed work of redemption and His promised return. Luke documented this in Acts 10:38-42,

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on he third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”

Our response to these challenges is to first submit ourselves to God’s will even when it does not seem clear.  As we face the challenges of our various situations let us imitate Jesus’ behavior.  We can apply these 6 principles to any challenge that we are facing.  I pray that you will allow the Easter Challenge to realign you to the will of God.  For this realignment to occur you must (Matthew 26):

  1. Find a place where you could meet God – verse 36
  2. You must meet your challenges with prayer – verse 36-39
  3. You should have people around you during your challenge – verse 37
  4. You should share your burden or challenges with your intercessory friends – verse 38
  5. You should separate yourself in order to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39
  6. Once you are alone with God submitted to His will for your life – verse 39-46

This Easter will you face your challenge with a resolve like Jesus did, will you say I would do what God’s will is for my life.

Good Friday is a day that we focused on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  What a challenge Jesus faced on that cross.  This is the Calvary’s Challenge (Matthew 28:21-59) as documented by Luke in Luke 23:39-43, One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Calvary’s’ Challenge was that Jesus had to pay the ultimate price for mankind’s redemptions.  This payment is to bring us back into a right relationship with God.  This was not an easy task; only one that was perfect could have satisfied this ransom.  On the cross Jesus faced:

  • Rejection
  • Loneliness
  • Betrayal
  • False accusation
  • Pain physical and spiritual
  • Death

His disciples abandoned Him; the people that were healed were outnumbered by the shouts of those that were in the crowd; crucify Him.  Those that did not abandoned Him followed close by but it was a stranger that helped Him carry the cross.  They humiliated Jesus, they beat Jesus, they cursed at Him, they mocked Him, and the rejected Him.

John writes in John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”

We have to respond to Jesus’ death on Calvary.  This response is both active and passive.  Whither we publicly acknowledge or privately deny or turn away from the call of Calvary we are responding to the Calvary’s Challenge.  This challenge says I died for you, I paid the ultimate sacrifice so that you can become one with God the Father.   Jesus faced death for you and I and we must respond to this demonstration of LOVE.

The two thieves that were crucified with Jesus, one on the right and one on the left both had an opportunity to respond to Calvary’s Challenge.  In their response one was ushered into paradise and one was ushered into eternal damnation (Luke 23:39-41).  In a society like the one we now live in, we are faced with a selfish spirit that seems to permeate the atmosphere.  Like the first thief many are only seeking their own pleasure.  They do not consider your plight.  All they want is for you to satisfy them.  Like Jesus we Christians are commanded to love others and look out for the wellbeing of others.

Jesus demonstrated this on the cross, in Luke 23 verse 27-31, Luke state, “ and there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say,  ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” ESV

He also commended His mother and brother into each other care.  In His death He was looking out for others.  John said in John 19:26-27 “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” KJV

As an indication that the price was paid, Jesus told the thief that today you would be with me in Paradise.  This indicated that salvation purchase was complete. The symbol of the cross is one that constantly reminds us that ultimate love is calling us into a relationship. Today, what will your response be?  While there are many debates as to the resurrection the fact that Jesus died is never in doubt.  I will even dare to say that if Calvary was the finale we still would have to answer the call of Calvary.  While Jesus’ death paid for our sins, the grave left us an evidence of this purchase.

Grave’s Challenge was to left us a lasting reminder of the purchased redemption and Jesus promised return.  If Jesus had only died and not rose from the grave many would dismiss His deity and power.  They would say many prophets and great leaders lived, they did good deeds, and died but their bodies are in the grave they are still dead.  But thank God the empty grave is evidence that Jesus is the risen Lord.  The challenge was his to face on Calvary but the rest was for the Father to do.  Jesus’ obedience to the Fathers’ will led Him to Calvary, His Father exalted Him by raising Him from the Grave and accepted Him into heaven to His rightful place at His right Hand.  Once you have met the Gethsemane and Calvary challenges then the Grave is no challenge for you.  You and I must know that our responses to God’s overt demonstration of love will put us in a position where we do not have to fair Sin, Hell, Death and the Grave (1 Corinthians 1:50-58).

Jesus rose triumphantly from the Grave.  When we inspect the grave we can see that there was no fight to get out of the grave.  Jesus rose with all power.  The Roman elite solders were gone, the sealed tomb was open, the burial cloth was wrapped neatly and laid to the side, and most of all Jesus was not there, He was raised.  Many saw him and touched Him after the resurrection.  The evidence is clear, the empty tomb and a risen body. The Grave’s Challenge for Jesus was to leave a lasting reminder of the completion of the restoration process and to leave us a reminder that He will return for those that have accepted the challenges of Easter.  With the empty grave Jesus demonstrated that He has all power, He accomplished the plan, He was victorious over man’s three greatest enemies sin, death and the grave.

The evidences are glaring; we placed a dead body in the grave, left the best guards to watch the grave on penalty of their lives, the disciples were all disperse because of fear and now three days later we have an empty grave.  We cannot deny the evidences and these evidences have left us a constant reminder that Jesus loves us so much that He paid the ransom for us thereby bringing us back into a right relationship with God the Father.  And He has sealed our redemption and secured our place in eternity in the presence of God the Father.

In Conclusion we must respond to the Easter Challenge.  What then is the real meaning of Easter?  Why was it necessary for Jesus to have left Heaven, lived among humans, demonstrated His power and love, died, buried, raised, ascended and promised to return?  It is about the Full Gospel Message.  The challenge you face today is to respond to the challenges of Easter and accept Jesus Christ as Lord of your life.

Therefore, Easter is about the Full Gospel Message.  It is about the Creation, the Fall, Redemption, Restoration & Consummation.  God created the world and all that inhabits it.  There was perfection in the beginning.  Man had unhindered access to God and daily interaction with God.  The perfection of the Garden was given with the stipulation that Adam obeys God.  He could partake of everything in the Garden except from one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  In this state man had no need for anything; his every need was provided for.  Picture man with ultimate dominion over all creation.  The sea had no limit and outer space had no limit.  Dominion means he had ultimate control over creation.  He lost that when he disobeyed God.  He died spiritually, separated from God and He lost his ultimate dominion and he entered time and now would eventually die physically.

Since that time God has always long to be in relationship with us.  It is this desire that has moved God to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our transgressions and mend the relationship between God and man.  The penalty for disobedience is death and only the shedding of blood can remedy the sin problem.  That is why in due season Jesus Christ died for the human race.   This process is the redemption and restoration phase of this glorious message, Gospel.  That is why only through Jesus can we be made whole or right with God.  It is only Jesus that has declared His deity and He said that His death remedied the sin problem.  The Bible declared that He would die, He would be buried, He would be raised from the grave, He would ascend to Heaven and that He would return for those that believe and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.  Five of the six events have already come to past only one is left and that is Jesus’ return, are you ready to meet Him.

Easter is more that just about salvation from hell but it extends to a new relationship with God.  Restoring what has been lost.  Since there was dominion and access to God, provided in a place that provided for all man’s needs.  Restoration then is returning back to the original form.  This process of restoration begins with salvation and continues in a relationship with God.   While we do not have the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God, only the inauguration, one day we will have the full access to the Kinndom of God in all its glory, and that is our lively hope, that we will live and reign with Jesus.  We will inhabit the place Jesus went to prepare for us, that place where there will be no more dying, no more sickness, no more goodbyes and no more suffering.  The Bible describes it as a place where the lion and the lamb will play together.  This is a place of peace.   Since Jesus has promised this kind of place wouldn’t be best to try to get to this place by obeying Him and following His instructions as to how to get to this place. Campus Crusade for Christ lay out what they call the four spiritual laws documenting how we can come into relationship with God.  We must recognized and accept that God LOVES us and offers a wonderful PLAN for our life.  We are SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, we cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.  Jesus Christ is God’s ONLY provision for man’s sin. Through Him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.  We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.   This will help us to meet the Easter Challenge in a way that is pleasing to God.

Will you respond to the Easter Challenge.

The Challenge of Easter: The Gethsemane Challenge


Acts 10:38-41 & Matthew 26: 36-46

Have you ever had to perform a task that was very challenging? This task tested your will power, you were not sure that you could accomplish the steps but you determined that you would pursue the task no matter how difficult it might get. I remembered accepting the task of leading a team of 4 families to plant our current church. The magnitude of the task overpowered me, just after I signed the lease for the new worship site.

The weight of the responsibilities seemed to multiple. How am I going to do this? What if it fails? Those were some of the questions that came to mind. But in that moment of feeling powerless the Holy Spirit whispered to me that He is in charge and He will give me what is necessary to perform the task. My requirement was to remind in prayer and be faithful to the task.

This Easter season I want to focus on the challenges that Easter had on Jesus and how we can embrace the challenges that this God of Easter is calling us into.

For many of us Easter has become a ritual. We look forward to fasting through Lent, worshipping on Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. We have often focused our thoughts and worship around the Resurrection Morning. This truly is the focus and it is the resurrection that has sealed our hope of eternal life in Christ. But I want to take you a little deeper past the resurrection because indeed there was a struggle before the resurrection. The challenges to get to the resurrection were many but Jesus faced them and was victorious because He determined to do the will of God the Father.

Every challenge is manageable when viewed through the will of God. So, what is the challenge or challenges that God has placed at your feet? Accept it and fulfill the will of God.

Luke documented this in Acts 10:38-42, How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.  And we are witnesses of all that He did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on he third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.  And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead.”

Our Christian walk is filled with challenges. We are always endeavoring to accomplish something. Let us look at the Gethsemane Challenge and see what truths can be applied to our everyday Christian walk.

Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem marked the final moments in His journey to Calvary. It is in the last moments leading up to fulfilling your task that the burden gets extremely heavy. The days following the triumphant entry Jesus gave may hints as to his intending purpose. His ultimately challenge was to do his father’s will. In the garden of prayer documented in Matthew 26:39, Jesus cried, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Here again, Jesus demonstrated that His purpose was to fulfill the will of God the Father. On the cross, He declared that it is finished, indicating that his mission was accomplished. The ultimate mission was to become the substitution for you and I.

Jesus was not afraid to die but I believe that the humanity of Jesus was on display in this passage. He knew of the pain of isolation. He would be isolated from his close friends and most of all, His father. This was going to be happening at the time of his greatest need. The weight of the sins of the world and the separation from his father was too much to bear. In thinking about this hour Jesus found a way to deal with the pain that he was experiencing. He found a way to always realign himself with the will of the Father. Here are six (6) things Jesus did in His effort to realign with the Father’s will.

1. Jesus found a place where he could meet God – verse 36

The verse tells us that Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane; Jesus found a place that was symbolic and meaningful but at the same time provided Him some isolation. It is important that as we continue in our journey that we find meeting places. These are places that we can pour out our heart to God. Places were we could be real with God. These are places that you will not be judged and looked down on. Jesus found a place call Gethsemane, a place of submission versus resistance. As with every aspects of Jesus ministry the significance of this place cannot be overemphasized. The meaning of Gethsemane is “oil press”. “At the Mount of Olives was a private garden which Jesus often had used as a retreat (John 18:2). Gethsemane means “oil press,” a significant name in the light of our Lord’s agony in that Garden.”[1] Your meeting place will provide room for you to be pressed into pure oil.

2. Jesus met his challenges with prayer – verse 36-39

The verse continues to say that Jesus told his disciples to “Sit here while I go and pray over there.”[2] Jesus wanted some personal time with His Father. As demonstrated throughout Jesus’ ministry, prayer was a key ingredient in his ministry. It was so pronounced that when He asked his disciples for what they wanted him to teach them they said teach us to pray. Prayer is a key ingredient in our Christian walk. We cannot face our daily challenges without prayer. We must get in the habit of praying for everything no matter how insignificant. Develop a prayer list and watch God answer those prayers. Everywhere Jesus went and no matter what he was going to do He always makes time to pray. He began his ministry with 40 days of prayer and fasting.

3. Jesus had people around him during his challenge – verse 37

Verse 37 indicated that Jesus had people around Him that He could share His burdens with. The scripture states, “And He took with Him Peter and kthe two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.”[3] In the middle of our challenges we should find people that can help us pray. Sometimes they might fall asleep during the intercession but the fact that they have come to your Gethsemane is important. Not everyone can be with you at your Gethsemane. This is a place pressing. It the pure oil is going to come out of your soul you will undergo a pressing. If you could see past the pressing and see the end you will cry out press me Lord.

Jesus took Peter, James and John with him. These three have seen Jesus up close and personal. They have witnessed His glorification on the mount of transfiguration; they have had intimate discloser of Jesus ministry. And now at the time of the ultimate fulfillment they were the ones that Jesus took with Him. Not everyone that is around you can witness your moments of challenge. These challenges sometimes push you towards the point of giving up. Therefore, you must take care as to who you share your struggles with, because it can have lasting impact for both you and the hearer.

4. Jesus shared His burden or challenge with His friends – verse 38

Once you have Identified trusted intercessors do not be afraid to allow them to help you bear your burden. In verse 38 Jesus said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”[4] Oh how we all need to have people in our lives that can hear and bear our burdens. Jesus found this in Peter, James and John. Leading up to this moment there was a sense that something was on Jesus’ mind. And now he was revealing it to His friends. Jesus recognized that His time remaining with His disciples was limited and He realized that they did not fully understand His purpose. It was here in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus was going to fully reveal the struggles He is facing.

When facing ones own mortality you can understand the pain but when you have to face your mortality in place of others imagine the pain you will experience. I believe that Jesus was at this point, the weight of what He was about to undergo was heavy and He needed time with His father to walk through this part of the journey. When we are at our point of ultimate challenge as we turn to others for comfort and consolation we should turn to God first, who alone can help us accomplish the task. As we form these small groups I pray that lasting and meaningful relationships will develop. We need others to stay and watch with us. There is strength in numbers. Do not think you can fight the battle by yourself.

5. Jesus separated himself to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39

In verse 39 the Bible stated, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and mprayed, saying, n“O My Father, if it is possible, olet this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, pnot as I will, but as You will.[5] Even in the company of his closest disciples Jesus still needed a more personal time with his Father. He went a little further and prostrated before God. The sense of insufficiency must have overcame him. He recognized that He needed His Father to help Him through the next level. You and I must not think we can fulfill God’s plan without God’s help. It is sometimes perplexing to see Christians claiming to be doing God’s will but pursuing it on their own terms. There is no greater help that that which comes from God. The Psalmist echoes this by stating in Psa. 121:2, “My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” Oh how we can learn from this example, Jesus found a place and the time to be alone with God the Father. At the moment of deepest testing He found comfort in the presence of God the Father.

6. Jesus submitted to His father’s will – verse 39-46

Imagine knowing that you have ultimate power to counter any challenge. You have full knowledge of the severity of the task or challenge and you know with just one word you can stop it. You even know, that those you are going through this process to help do not even know they need help and even when they know they will turn their backs on you. How would you react? The pressure was great but Jesus submitted to the will of the father.

We too should learn to submit to the will of the Father. Even if we determine that it is not worth the effort we should still submit to the will of the father. Three times Jesus prayed if it is possible, olet this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, pnot as I will, but as You will. That should be our constant cry; Lord, I which this too will pass, I wish I do not have to do this and Lord please pass on me this time never-the-less whatever you want, Lord your will be done. In the end Jesus was able to face his challenge he said to his disciples in Matthew 26, “Behold, the hour 9is at hand, and the Son of Man is being sbetrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” [6] He face is destiny with a resolve; no matter what I will face I will go forward in the power of the Lord. You and I can learn from Jesus’ challenge and move forward and face your destiny.

As we face the challenges of our various situations let us imitate Jesus’ behavior. We can apply these 6 principles to any challenge that we are facing. I pray that you will allow the Easter Challenge to realign you to the will of God. For this realignment to occur you must:

  1. Find a place where you could meet God – verse 36
  2. You must meet your challenges with prayer – verse 36-39
  3. You should have people around you during your challenge – verse 37
  4. You should share your burden or challenges with your intercessory friends – verse 38
  5. You should separate yourself in order to be alone with God the Father – verse 38- 39
  6. Once you are alone with God submitted to His will – verse 39-46

This Easter will you face your challenge with a resolve like Jesus had one that said I would do what God’s will is for my life.


[1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996), Mt 26:31.

[2] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:36.

k Matt. 4:21; 17:1; Mark 5:37

[3] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:37.

[4] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:38.

m Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; [Heb. 5:7–9]

n John 12:27

o Matt. 20:22

p Ps. 40:8; Is. 50:5; John 5:30; 6:38; Phil. 2:8

[5] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:39.

o Matt. 20:22

p Ps. 40:8; Is. 50:5; John 5:30; 6:38; Phil. 2:8

9 has drawn near

s Matt. 17:22, 23; 20:18, 19

[6] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:39–46.

Speaking into the Next Generation (1 Samuel 3: 1-21)


The church is faced with a challenge, this challenge will determine the kind of church that we will have in the future.  The ability to speak into the next generation is crucial and the challenge we face.  It is hinged on the relationship between the “now” generation and the “next” generation as demonstrated between Eli and Samuel.

It is even more crucial in this transition because the current generation is facing serious challenges and they are living in a fast pace informational time.  We call them the Millennials those 35 and younger.  The most important group in this generation is grouped between 18-35.  As David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins said in the book, You lost me, “The story –the great struggle-of this emerging generation is learning how to live faithfully in a new context, to be in the world but not of the world.”[1]  This generation he contends, is about doing their faith not just hearing their faith or doctrine; it is about faith in action.  The important thing that the older generation must accept is a new mind as Kinnaman, Hawkins stated, “Christian community needs a new mind to pass on the faith to this culture and future generation”.[2]  We can still speak into the next generation; the door is not yet closed.

So here is the challenges; how can the now generation speak into the next generation?  Are the Millinnaials willing to hear from their predecessors?  We turn to the Bible for answers to these questions.  I will tell you the story of a boy that became a man and had a tremendous impact on the course of history.  This was possible because he had a relationship with is parents and guardians.   In the book of Samuel we find a man, a prophet and a priest selecting and anointing the first and second kings of Israel.  David the second king of Israel became the symbolic forefather of Jesus Christ.  To this day, David remains the greatest leader in all the history of Israel.  His life was ministered and poured into by this little boy that became a man, a prophet and a priest.

How did this happened?

Let us step back into time into the 1st & 2nd chapters of Samuel.  The parents of Samuel were God-fearing parents (Elkanah & Hannah).  They practiced their faith, in particularly Hannah, Samuel’s mother.  Her faith in God was unshaken even when Eli, the priest, in charge of the temple worship did not understand or recognized her earnest prayer.  She kept on praying and interceding year after of year.  Her request was her simply request, Lord I need a child and if you give me this child I will give him back to you.

Parents and guardians must practice what they preach and teach.  They must remember their vow to God.  Their fulfillment of this vow or pledge will have an impact on the next generation.  When Hannah’s prayer was answered she remembered her vow and brought little Samuel back to the priest, Eli, so he could raise him in the service to God.   We should not hold back our service to God through the church because leaders are not living right; we are serving God not the leaders.

Let us concentrate on the 3rd chapter of 1 Samuel.  The church has been witnessing a mass exodus from its pews of those between 18-35 years old.  The transition between the now and next generation, as we will see in Samuel’s life, was crucial.  The relationship between those in charge and those that will be in charge is critical.  Understanding this relationship, I believe, will help us to be more effective in the ministries of the church.  Bridging this gap is fundamental to speaking into the next generation.  Let us focus on the two main characters in this chapter, chapter 3, Samuel and Eli.  The next generation must listen (hear and do); they must pay close attention to what is being transmitted (hear) and they must follow these Godly instructions carefully (do).

The now generation is represented by Eli.  Here are four (4) things that the Eli Generation should consider as they endeavor to speak into the lives of the Samuels’Generation.

  1. The Eli Generation must not cover up the bad behaviors of their children, (1 Samuel 1:3 & 3:11-14).  Eli knew of the bad behaviors of his children and did not corrected them.  He allowed them to defile the temple and God was not pleased with this behavior.  One might wonder what it would be like if those two boys were mentored properly by Eli.  Here we see that Eli was no able to effectively minister into the lives of Hophni and Phinehas.  Parents and leaders should not cover up the bad behaviors of your children.  Some parents sacrifice the ability to directly speak into the future of their children for the opportunity to be liked.  This is a lie from the pit of hell.  You are only damaging your children’s future.  Parents if you see and know of bad behaviors speak up do not keep quiet.  God will hold you accountable for your inactions.  In verse 13 and 14 God spoke to Samuel about what he was going to do to Eli and his family because of his sin of inaction.  Parents you have a responsibility to speak into the next generation do not avocate your responsibility.
  2. The Eli Generation should recognize that there is always a second chance, (verse 1-3).  1 Samuel 1:1, samuel said that, “The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli’s direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Eli was sound asleep (his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see). It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested.”[3]  If you have messed up in the past by not speaking into the lives of some of your children you still have a second chance.  Even if you are old and have began to loose some of your strength as long as you have life you can speak into the lives of the next generation.  The caution here is that inaction or turning a blind eye can cause spiritual decline.  Even thought Eli had failed at speaking into the lives of his sons the Bible said that Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli.   Samuel provided another opportunity for Eli to speak into the lives of the next generation.  As leaders of the church we must allow room for the younger generation to minister unto God.  Recognize the opportunity we have been presented with to speak into the lives of the next generation.  We can walk along side them and help them to serve God.
  3. The Eli Generation should be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the Samuel generation, (verse 4-10).  This is a crucial time in the lives of the next generation.  It requires the older generation to accept the changing of the guard.  We have to understand that God is at work and his grand plan has you and I working at different time and place.  We have to recognize when it is time to past the baton to the next generation.  The fact that Eli a man of God, old, and seasoned could not understand the call of God on Samuel’s life, not one time but twice, is a serous revelation.  Leaders and parents we must prepare our lives in order to hear and discern when God is leading and calling the next generation.  It might be that what God has hidden from you He is now ready to reveal it to the youths.  Jesus said in Luke 10:21, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.”  We have a glorious opportunity to help the Samuel Generation discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  We who are familiar with the voice of God must make it our duty to help others discern the voice of God in their lives.
  4. The Eli Generation should Recognize God’s call on the person’s life, (verse 9-10).  As the Holy Spirit is speaking there is a call of appointment on that life.  Our responsibility is to help the next generation discern the call of God on their lives.  We have little time and it is imperative that we waste no time in helping the next generation answer the call of God on their lives.  What is God leading them into is the question to answer?  Help them discern the call of God on their lives.  Samuel sought and received the instructions because he “did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”[4]  After two times of failure Eli was able to discern that it was God that was calling Samuel.  His instructions were clearer go and lie down and if you hear the call again this time answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”[5]  What a joy to know that you have walked beside a Samuel and help them discern the call of God on their lives and see them live out such call.  This is one of the most important responsibilities of the Eli Generatiuon.

Samuel represents the next generation.  Here are four (4) things that the Samuel generation should consider as they endeavor to walk into their calling and take over leadership of the church.

  1. The Samuel Generation must Serve faithfully in the church, (verse 1), regardless of the failures of the now generation.  While Eli was busy covering up for his boys, Samuel was serving in the temple.  He must have seen what Hophni and Phinehas were doing but he did not succumb to that presser.  The Bible said he ministered unto the Lord before Eli.  It is key as you serve to recognize that you are serving God first and that those in authority are second.  Therefore it does not matter what those in authority are doing.  Even if they are sinning you should not give up on your service unto God.  God might be calling you to reveal to you his plan for the future.    He has a work for you to do.  There are lives awaiting your prophetic words.  The anointing you carry is for a greater impact on history.  It is often sad to hear of people leaving the church because they were offended by what others did.  They gave up their relationship with God because of others.  Do not let anyone or anything stop you from serving and from walking into your calling.  Young people, Samuel, you have a responsibility to prepare yourself for the future.  Do not stop serving God regardless of who is not working and doing the right thing.  Your life has been ordained for this time so that the Glory of God will be seen.
  2.  The Samuel Generation should seek counsel from the older generation, (verse 4-10).  You have a glorious opportunity to get counsel from those that have past your way before.  Do not despised the older generation because they might not readily accept your way of doing church.  Seek their counsel because they too had to deal with similar issues like you are now facing.  The Bible said in 1 Samuel 3 verse 7, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”[6]  As much as you have been serving in the church there are certain things you have not yet learn.  Do not think that because you are more educated and fluent in the technology of the time that you do not have time for the older more mature generation.  The issues you face has embedded in them certain principles that are evident in every generation.  Those Elis that have past where you are can speak with more authority because of their experiences.  The wise man Solomon can teach us a few things on this matter.  Even the Apostle Paul in his instruction to Timothy and the Early Church admonished them to develop a relationship between the older and younger generations (Titus 2 & 1Timothy 3).  You might be serving but you might not have full understood of discerning the call of God.  Let those that are mature in the Lord help you discern the call of God on your life.  It is even more imperative to be able to discern God’s call in this generation.  So many false prophets are risen up and are confusing and clouding the voice of God.  Samuel you need the tutelage of the Eli generation.  Making the distinction between the voice of God and that of the world is crucial therefore seek the advice of those that are mature in the Lord.  Do not turn your back on the adults because you are aware of their past.  Listen to the wisdom and learn from it.
  3. Samuel should always Recognized your potential.  Wrapped up in all of us is a level of potential to do Gods’ work.  As you serve in the church you will begin to understand and discern what are the gifts that God has given to you.  Do not allow external sources that you do not have control of control you and limit your potential.  There are Saul and David to be anointed.  There are many people waiting to hear from you what God has to say.  There are many lives that you will impact.  You are a bungle of potentiality.  People will fail, leaders will fail, friends will fail, families will fail and your finances will fail but for heavens’ sake you must keep going on walk into your calling.  You can do all things, through Christ who strengthen you, (Philippians. 4:13)
  4. The Samuel Generation must be honest and speak, as God will let you.  No matter how harsh the truth, the truth must be spoken.  God is preparing you to be bold.  Eli was able to lead Samuel into identifying the voice of God and to ultimately speak the truth regardless of the circumstances.  It was this training that allowed Samuel to become such an effective leader.  The time you live in will witness an avalanche of people that will want you to compromise by offering position, money and prestige.  They will want you to not correct them but to stand with them knowing quite well that your very presence will signify your endorsement of their behaviors. When it was time to face the great king Saul and to look him in the eyes and tell him the harsh truth about his demise, Samuel did not relent.  I cannot help but think that the morning after Samuel’s revelation and Eli’s willingness to hear from the young boy helped developed his character.  Samuel, understand that God has put you in place to clean up the mess of the Eli Generation.  He is not looking for a compromiser like Eli; he is looking for a truth teller.  Samuel you have seen first hand what happens to those that fail in their responsibilities and now you can learn from those experiences without going through them yourself.

I conclude with these two reminders.  In order for the Eli Generation to impact and speak into the lives of the Samuel Generation it is imperative that they develop a relationship.  The common thread in this story was that there was a relationship between the older graying priest and the younger boy; the now and the next generation.  Samuel could feel okay with approaching Eli with questions and Eli was able to speak into his situation.  It was that relationship that allows Samuel to follow the instructions of Eli.  Both generations must make it a priority to develop a relationship between them. Dallas Willard, author of Knowing Christ Today, said “we must connect spiritual wisdom with real-world knowledge and teach through experience, reason and authority if we are going to pass on the values and principles to the next generation”.  While there is an effort to classify groups of people around birth year I believe that what we should be focusing on are the principles that can impact any generational transition. Kinnaman, Hawkins said in their book, You lost me, All is not lost, they said, the ‘Millennaials’ (Samuels) are looking more to historical forms of their faith and the younger generation needs the older generations to help them identify the voices of God like Eli and Samuel.  It is about helping fewer people go deeper in their faith rather than mass evangelism.


[1] David Kinnaman, and Aly Hawkins. You lost me: why young Christians are leaving church– and rethinking faith. Grand Rapids, Mich.: BakerBooks, 2011, Kindle location 128.

[2] Kinnaman, Hawkins. You lost me, Location 3432. 

[3] Eugene H. Peterson, The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 2002), 1 Sa 3:1–3.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Sa 3:7.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Sa 3:9.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Sa 3:7.

A Higher Call to Love


The fundamental principle of our Christian calling is LOVE.  This love is one that brings us into a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savor.  This is not an abstract love rather it is a practical love.  To truly love, we have to first experience the love of God.  This now holds us to a higher level of our calling.  This is greater that our consciences and motivations.  Since as Dr. Mohler stated that one would not know oneself to a level that you separate yourself from our motivations. This idea says that the judge or the politician cannot ignore his religious and non-religious worldview and make decisions in an abstract way.  John laid it out this out in 1 John 3:20 & 21, “Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence.”  Therefore, the call of love is greater than our own desire.  This call has to respond to the demand of God to love God and our neighbors.

It is this higher calling that requires us to love.  This love is demonstrated in our daily acts, loving God by keeping his commandments.  Jesus said that the greatest commandment is this, Matt. 22:37-39, Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we truly love God then our actions are filled with obedience, our lives are free from willful sinning and, we love our neighbors. I trust we can truly live up to this standard of living.  Love is the foundation of our faith.  Can we find someone in our community to truly love?

It is this love that will allow us to fulfill the Great Commission and practically demonstrate the Great Compassion.