Series: General | Title: Hold onto your Faith until something happens | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, Oct 8, 2017
Lets turn our Bibles to Romans 4:13-25
13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; 18 who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”19 And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, 24 but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
We are reading from Romans, obviously Romans has a little tough tone. Its little deep theology, at times we find it difficult to understand when Paul writes to Rome. The scripture portion that we read, it talks mainly about Abraham. I would like to title my sermon as: “Hold onto your faith until something happens”.
This morning God is asking us to hold onto our faith until something happens. All of us are waiting for something good to happen in our lives. That’s why God is sending his word to us because God is asking us to hold onto to our faith until something happens in our life. This morning all that what is going on in our life, just think and bring it to the surface with the hope that God is about to do something in our lives.
Let’s read again from Roman Chapter 4 verse 13. We are just going to do a verse-by-verse analysis quickly before really get into the word of God.
Verse 13 says For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Word of God says the promise that God gave to Abraham, it was not the promise to Abraham, it was not the promise to all his descendants, it did not come through the law but it came through faith. This morning I want to talk about righteousness of law and righteousness of faith. We all know, what is law in the word of God.
Righteousness of law
If you take the first five books of the Bible, it were written by the Moses. They are called Torah. 613 laws are there in the five books of the Bible. If I have to found righteous according to the law, I can never break the law. I can never sin. Then who is found righteous according to the law? Nobody is found righteous according to the law. Paul is saying that, the promise that God gave to Abraham was not promise of law, it was a promise of faith.
Righteousness of faith
God is willing to accept a sinner like me, when I put my faith on the work that Jesus accomplished at the cross. When I obey to God, when I look at Jesus and I tell him, Lord I believe you, I put my faith in you. When we do that, God is willing to accept. Forget those laws. Christ is willing to accept, when we put our faith in Jesus, that is righteousness of faith. You can do that, I can can do that, people who are living out in sin, they can do that. They can just walk into the presence of God and say, Lord I trust you, I believe you, you are the son of the God, you came down to this world for me, I accept you. They become righteous. Yesterday, they were living in sin but today they are righteous. If that part is not given in the word of God, we cannot touch this book because this is a holy book and we are sinners. The law always condemn us but the righteousness of faith accepts us.
- The law was given to make one righteous, but people end up breaking the law, nobody could be made righteous.
- But the good news of the Gospel makes somebody righteous, because of our faith in Christ.
- We are made righteous because of our faith in God. When we trust God, when we put our faith on Christ, the work that Jesus did at the cross, we become righteous. Otherwise who can go to heaven? If you are not made righteous, nobody can go to heaven because sin does not enter in heaven. We are made righteous because of our faith in God.
Caution:Righteousness of faith
- God is willing to accept my faith rather than my works as the basis of justification that doesn’t mean that obedience is not necessary. As a person of faith, I will obey God, I will try my level best to obey all the 613 laws but I will fail for sure but God will pick me up. Jesus will accept me still, that is the righteousness of faith.
- Righteousness of faith does not mean that repentance and baptism are not necessary for complete salvation of our souls.
- Righteousness of faith begins with believing in Jesus, confessing our sins, repenting and be baptized.
Verse 14 if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,
What if God wanted to find if Abraham as righteous according to the law then only I will give him a son. If that was a promise, Bible says, our faith is empty and the promise is of no effect.
Verse 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.
Where there is no law, there is no transgression. There is sin, then there is law. Why law came into existence for the first place, because people of the God were sinning and God wanted Moses to give laws. If there is no sin, there is no law. Bible says law brings wrath of God, but faith brings grace.
Verse 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
Paul says the promise is not just true for only those who follow the law strictly, the promise is also true for those who become righteous by faith.
Here is someone who is made righteous by God by his faith.
Verse 22, And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
When God promised, the promise came true because of the faith Abraham had in the God. Abraham was holding onto that faith until he saw the blessing of the God.
What made Abraham, the father of many nations? The faith in which he was holding onto. That’s the reason he was called “Father of Faith”. He was a great man of God. He was great man of faith.
Characteristics/ Reasons why God found Abraham as a righteous man according to faith that he had.
1. Abraham knew his God
Abraham believed in God. What kind of God he was?
Verse 17 – in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.
- Abraham believed that God gives life to the dead and God calls things which do not exist as though they did. Because God speaks, things came into existence, Abraham believed in such a God.
- Abraham knew that God is the one who is capable of bringing something into existence even though they don’t exist.
- Abraham Knew God according to his situation. He was in need of a child and he knew his God gives life to the dead. He knew very well Sarah’s womb was dead. He knew very well that God is about to give life to Sarah’s womb. Isaac did not exist at that moment. Abraham knew very well that God is going to bring something into existence even though they don’t exist.
- Think about Hagar, she was in the wilderness because Sarai treated Hagar harshly and Hagar fled taking the child, sitting near to spring and an angel of God appeared to Hagar. Hagar realized her God as El Roi – means God who sees me, even in my lowliness, even when I am just all alone. That kind of understanding about God.
- Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac and God provided and he said you are Jehovah Jireh – you are a provider Lord.
- Moses lift up the banner of the God and said – Jehovah Nissi.
- Children of Israel in the wilderness, when sickness was coming, they said you are Jehovah Rapha and God said I am the Lord who heals you.
- Gideon said you are – Jehovah Shama, you are the Lord, who brings peace in my situation. In this morning what ever your situation may be, can you just visualize our God, that is relevant to situation Abraham did. Abraham knew God is life giver. He bring things into existence even though they don’t exist.
What do we know about this God?
Do you know about your God concerning about your situation today? Do you know your God? Do you know what God can do? Because there is nothing that God cannot do. Everything is possible by God but God wants you to think and know him, the way he can help you.
2. Abraham did not look at the circumstances
Verse 19 says – his own body, that is already dead and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
Abraham did not look at the circumstances. He looked at Sarah and looked at his own body, there is no way under the heaven they can produce a child. But Abraham did not do that.
Remember the story as the disciples were crossing the sea, there was a great tempest and they were also afraid and Jesus asked them Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?
Faith does not obey based on what you see. I wish faith has eyes through which you can see but unfortunately faith does not have eyes, you cannot see through it. You can just only believe because faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence that’s not seen yet. That’s what is faith. Abraham was asked to believe that God is about to fulfill the promise in his life, there was no doubt for Abraham.
This morning God is telling you, do not look at the circumstances. Things are going to change in your life. You are not going to be same that you are in today. You are worried about your family situation. You think that your family is so low, you think how Lord I can bring my family up, that is your burden. With that burden you came to this nation. But God is telling you this morning, don’t look at the family situation today. God is about to do something.
3. Abraham did not waver through unbelief
Verse 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
Faith is not 50 / 50. There is nothing like faith may work or faith may not work. Faith has to work. The more you hold onto your faith, it works the more. Faith is not Lotto 6/49. It may fail. It will take you to bankruptcy in fact. It doesn’t work but faith works. Its not an option, it is a must. It has to work.
Abraham had no doubt that God is going to fulfill his promise.
James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
God is telling you to hold on it, do not waver. If God promised you something ever, he will do it for you.
4. Abraham was strengthened in faith
Verse 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
In fact, another version says, his faith grew stronger. As he was waiting more, his faith was growing stronger. In our life happens the contrary, more you wait our faith goes down but Abraham was not like that. The more he was waiting, his faith was growing.
Can you imagine,
- God first revealed to Abraham and spoke to him saying that he would become a father of many nations when Abraham was 75.
- 15 years later God renewed His promise, Abraham was 90.
- Ten years later, at age of 100, Abraham and Sarah finally had their son.
25 long years Abraham had to wait. But during these 25 long years, his faith was growing.
- At times, when delay come in our life, we get really agitated, we get really irritated and we complain everything that we could see around, but Abraham grew stronger in faith.
- God is telling us do not lose your faith, do not just look at the surroundings. Look for the opportunities to strengthen your faith.
- Just being alone, handling things alone is going to kill you. Its going to bring your faith down. The moment you feel your faith level is so low, just run for a prayer meeting. Some body can pray for you. Just go for a Bible study that may encourage you, just go for group prayer, go and listen some sermon that will encourage you. But always keep your faith level high.
5. Abraham was giving glory to God
Verse 20 He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
Abraham was waiting for the promise, there was no sign , no trace of the miracle happening in his life. But he was walking as if nothing happened to him. He was a joyous man in the world. I could imagine Abraham and Sarai holding hands together and walking to church on Sunday morning. People just laughed at them and mocked at them. Bible says Abraham and Sarai was glorifying God.
Lack of faith, fear and anxiety tells that we don’t trust our God. That’s not glorifying God. God wants us to trust in him, God wants us to believe in him, know that the one who promised, is faithful and he will do it. Whatever your need may be this morning, God is telling you, glorify me. The way we can glorify him, is by trusting in him.
Hebrews 11:6 says, without faith it is impossible to please God.
We can be Christian, we can be born-again Christian, we can be anointed with the Holy Spirit, but God wants us to have faith within us. Without that faith we cannot really please God. But when we look at the circumstances, we always get discouraged, we always feel that we are loosing your hope. This morning God is telling you, the one who promised is faithful. God wants us to glorify him.
Don’t stop praising God, things may get delayed, don’t stop coming to church, don’t stop praying, don’t stop giving to God. But we need to glorify God. The more we come forward to glorify God, the more miracles just on our way. Learn from Abraham, he did not stop praising God.
We need to give the glory to God which is due unto Him. Never stop glorifying God.
6. Abraham was fully convinced that God is able to perform
Verse 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. 22 And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Man who was made perfect, righteous by faith:
- Abraham knew his God.
- Abraham did not look at the circumstances.
- Abraham did not waver in his faith.
- Abraham was strengthened in faith.
- Abraham was giving glory to God.
- Now finally, Abraham was fully convinced that God is able to perform a miracle.
Are you fully convinced this morning that God is able to perform a miracle?
- Abraham did not ask a child just for fun. Everyone is playing with child. I want a child.
- He did not ask as everybody is blessed with child, I need a child.
- He asked for a child because it was promised to Him. It was will of God in his life.
1 John 5:14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
What is the confidence that we have in Christ? This is the confidence, that if you ask anything according to His will, He hears us. Are you asking something according to the will of God? We need to ask God something according to the His will. God’s will is His purpose in your life. God’s will is your future. When you ask anything according to the will of God, he gives us, he hears us.
When believe in God, when you put your faith in Him, you are found righteous to stand before God.
Genesis 15: 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Bible says Abraham believed. Lord you are going to bring generations after generations through my seed. God promised Abraham and Abraham believed.
Abraham was holding onto his faith until he could see that. Bible says Abraham was 100 years and Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born. They were just holding onto the promise, holding onto the faith until they see a miracle.
Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Noah – Obedient and Willing | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 21, 2018
Noah – Obedient and Willing
When we go through the leadership list of the Old Testament, we find Noah towards the end of the list. The way Noah moved, operated and the way he brought forth the kingdom of God on this Earth shows that he is a mighty man of God.
Genesis 6:1-8:4 and Hebrews 11:7
Hebrews 11:7 – By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
The author of Hebrews commended Noah for his faithfulness, righteousness and for the fear of God. Genesis records the historical section of what happened when God instructed Noah to build the ark.
The highlights of Noah’s story of the ark and the flood as found in Genesis:
- God saw that there was a great wickedness happening on the face of the Earth. He decided to wipe away mankind from the face of the earth including the earth. But He found only one righteous man – Noah. God wanted to preserve Noah along with his family. When the head of the family is righteous the family has a covering. The head of the family is the husband and the head of the husband is Jesus.
- God has decided to wipe away humanity, both the head and tail because of wickedness in the world.
- God gave Noah specific instructions on how to build the ark. That was designed so that Noah and his family could escape the catastrophic effect of the flood that is about to come upon the land.
- God instructed Noah to bring two of all living beings – male and female; 7 pairs of clean animals, all the food required for the animals and for Noah and his family. God did not mention the number of days for which they should bring their supply.
- After they entered the ark, rain fell on the ground, the fountains were broken open, and the whole Earth was flooded. It was flooded for 150 days. There was 40 days of continuous rain. Every living thing on the face of the Earth was wiped away.
- As the water receded, the ark came to rest in Mount Ararat. Noah and his family continued to wait inside the ark before they could step out into the land, for the land was not dry.
- Finally, after a year, God invited Noah to come out o the ark. The moment Noah came out of the ark, he built an altar and he sacrificed a pair of clean birds that he brought.
- God really loved it, and he was pleased by the sacrifice. God established the covenant with Noah, saying, never again will I wipe away the face of the Earth by flood. His sign of the covenant was the rainbow.
What was the task at hand?
Noah was given a specific task – to build the ark. God instructed him on how he should make the ark –
- The length of the ark shall be 300 cubits, width 50 cubits and its height 30 cubits. The length of the ark is almost 500 feet – the size of one and a half football stadium. If we lay flat three NASA space shuttles from head to tail, it is equivalent to the length of Noah’s ark.
- The height of the ark is equivalent to that of a four-story apartment. The ark had great storage capacity. The ark can contain about 450 semi-trailer trucks of load. The movers usually can fit in about eight to ten houses inside one truck. God interested Noah with a great responsibility of building this Ark.
- When we imagine Noah building this ark all by himself, it surely looks like a tough job. Adding to that, the Bible says Noah was 500 years old. At such an age he was given the responsibility to build the Ark.
1. You are never too old to build:
- Noah built at the ark at the age of 500 years old. He also begot three sons Shem, Ham and Japhet (Genesis 5:32) at the age of 500.
- When Noah was 600 years old, the flood waters came on the face of the Earth. (Genesis 7:6)
- After the flood, Noah lived for another 350 years. (Genesis 9:28)
- He lived on the face of the earth for 950 years and then he died. (Genesis 9:29)
It took 100 years for Noah to build the Ark. When we convert those years into today’s human lifespan, we can say that Noah was asked to build the ark at the age of 45 to 50 years old.
- There is no age limit to start something for God
- There is no retirement from the purpose of God
- It takes the whole life, till the last breath to fulfill God’s purpose in our lives
Noah’s life was an amazing life, it tells us that we are never too old to build. What would have happened if some of those leaders in the past had taken retirement at the age of 45-50?
- Noah would not have built the ark.
- Abraham and Sarah would not have had Isaac.
- Moses would not been used by God to deliver His people.
- Joshua would not have led the children of Israel into Canaan.
- Caleb would not have possessed the mountain.
- Simeon would not have seen the salvation of the Lord.
- Paul would not have made his second and third missionary journey.
We are not limited by our age.
At times we may feel if God can do something through us. We turn back and see the years we have wasted and now we are in a certain phase in our life where we think if it is too late for God to use us at this age. But Noah was not reluctant to go when God called him at such an age. But when we think about Moses, we see that he was reluctant to go according to God’s call. The Bible says, Noah was readily obeying to the call of God in his life.
In our lives, when we question ourselves, we may be 30-35, 40-45, how many souls have we brought to the kingdom of God, how many people have we shared about Christ, and through our ministry, our words, and our life, how many of them are brought into the kingdom of God? We really get disappointed by that answer. So, the question is, Lord can I do something in my life because I have only few years ahead of me. What can I do Lord? But in such a situation – Noah is an encouragement. When we look at the life of Noah – God can use anybody. He is a restorer – He is a God who restores our life.
Joel 2:25 – “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.
When we turn back and look at our lives, we see different kinds of locusts were living in our life. We were not spending our time for God. We were not giving the way we are giving today. We were not bringing up children the way we are bringing them up today. We were walking away from God through many years of our lives. Our years were eaten by these locusts. But the Bible says that our God is a restorer. He will bring those years back in our life. What does that mean? If we decide to move forward the way Noah was, God will bring back those years in our life. Our life will be extended, and God will speed up your ministry for the rest of our life. What is the most important thing is – how Noah obeyed the call of God instantly and even at such an age, God entrusted Noah with such a great responsibility.
- To build the Ark, there were several instructions that he had to follow.
- We do not know how many people really helped him build the Ark.
- The kind of help he got to transport timber from one location to another location is unknown.
- It was a massive vessel, how Noah managed all this by himself is very astounding.
- But the Bible says Noah did everything according to the instructions given by God.
We are never too old to build; What we need today is the zeal, the courage and determination.
It is the obedience to the call of God and God is going to take care of the rest of the year. God is going to bring everything on our way, but we could do something for God before we end our lives on this Earth. Learning from the leadership ability of Noah – we see that a leader does not worry about his age, all that he worries about is hearing from God. The moment he hears from God, he is right there onto the business of obeying God.
2. You don’t need to rely on your past experience:
The instruction was to build the ark, and God is about to send rain on the face of Earth. If we ask Noah about how he could build an ark, he will very well say that he did not know anything about rain and that he has never heard of rain in his life. All that he will know is that he heard from God. He will say that God spoke to me and God asked me to build the ark. The second characteristic of a great leader is the fact that we do not have to rely on our experience.
God will often ask you to do what has never been done before:
God is going to ask us to do certain things in our lives which we have never done. You would have never preached, probably never sang, but when God asks, we are going to do it.
- Noah had never seen rain in his lifetime, before the flood there was no rain in the history. Rain was a new thing for Noah, he did not have any clue about what rain is.
- If we research all the way from Noah to Adam, there is not even one person who could verify what God spoke to Noah.
God said that He is going to send rain on the face of the Earth. If we were to ask Abraham, Abel or Cain if they had seen rain before, they are going to say they have never heard of it. When we think about it, Noah heard from God, but there was nobody who could verify what he had heard. Nobody was there to support Noah on what he had heard from God. This shows us that we do not need to rely on our experience, it may be good, but we do not need to rely on it. Instead, we need to rely on the Word of God (not on our feelings and experience).
Rely on the Word of the Lord, not your feelings or past experiences:
- Noah would have been discouraged during those 100 years during which he was building the ark, he had never experienced a single drop of water falling from heaven.
- But the Lord spoke to him about rain. It will surely be disappointing if he tried relying on experience as he had never experienced rain before.
- He probably could have payed saying Lord I do not want to see rain, but please send a few drops of water from heaven. He did not do that because he did not want to rely on his past experience.
- But he never got discouraged, he was holding onto the word that was spoken to him.
We rely on our past experience:
- Today the leadership experts say that you lead based on the success you gained in the past – something which you tried and worked out and if you try today it will work out.
- Church builders say that you build a church in someplace now you try to replicate what you did to build the church. So, if you are successful in building in one, if you replicate or duplicate the process you will be able to build 100 churches based on past experience.
- For example, somebody is sick, and you are called to pray for them, you go to the house with an idea of how you prayed when someone else called you to pray in the past. You could have prayed to someone who is sick, and they will be raised from their bed. With that same idea, when you walk into another house and you are called to pray for them, but now when you start praying the demon in her/him started manifesting. You cannot pray in the same manner; your past experience may not help here for this situation.
- Most of the time God wants us to rely on the Word of God – on His promises. Not on our past experience.
Noah, not having experienced even a single drop of water from heaven and he did not have any idea about what a flood was. Yet he was depending on God’s Word not on his feelings and experience. That means God can use anybody – as long as we receive from God and hear from God and obey what God says. Most often there is a danger about going by our past experience – our past experience will not allow us to believe what God says. It will not really help us believe in the Word that God has spoken to us. When we pray for our healing for instance, we feel better and start praying more, and then we feel much better than before and as we keep praying, we keep feeling better and based on that we pray more. That prayer is based on our feeling, not on our faith. Faith is – I know this is what God said and I claim the promise of God, in Jesus name I am healed; and just walk out of that situation. That is faith. When you try to base faith on feelings and experience it is not going to work. We get discouraged. At such times we try to question God and doubt God whether this is really happening. That is the reason we cannot rely on feelings and experience, we need to rely on the Word of God. It is challenging to put our faith in God and move forward. When we do go by our feelings and experience, most of the time we do not obey God. We will do what we feel like doing it or repeat what we did in past.
The definition of faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things that are not seen. You don’t see any evidence of your health becoming better, but it becomes better all of a sudden. That is true faith. Nobody tells us that God may ask us to do something which we have never done before in the past. According to the leadership teachings we probably cannot do it because we do not have past experience. But God asked Noah to build an ark and he never experienced Noah. Was Noah a carpenter? What was Noah’s profession? Noah was a farmer. Can a farmer build an Ark? It seems impossible that a farmer that can build this huge vessel. God really doesn’t need our experience, but God needs our obedience.
3. Make sure your vision is big enough to include everyone:
Noah is asking us to make sure that our vision is big enough to include everyone. Noah was asked to build an ark to accommodate his family, his children, one pair of every living creature on the face of this Earth and seven pairs of clean birds. Noah did not build the Ark according to one size, but according to the specifications given by God.
Luke 17:26 – And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man.
This is what Jesus said.
Noah was asked to build the ark to protect the seed – the godly people, and the seed of the future generation of all creatures on the face of the Earth. Jesus says what happened in the days of Noah will also happen in the days of the Son of Man. This simply means, that God is about to bring destruction on the face of this Earth, including all the creations – they are going to be destroyed, not by flood but maybe by fire. God is asking us today, to build the Ark. When we are building the Ark, Noah is telling us to make sure our vision is big enough to include everyone. The vision of the church must be big enough.
- God has given us the burden to include all people regardless of their background in our church.
- God wants us to make an Ark that can accommodate all people. If we do not have such a big vision, we are going to lose some of those dear ones in the eternity because we don’t have room.
We build a church for a 100 people and we cannot contain a 120 people. We build a church for 500 and we cannot contain 600 people, we are going to lose them. Noah was very careful to include the next generation in the vision that God has given to him. That is the reason children’s ministry is important – surrender your children and be there to help them. Youth ministry is equally important. If we don’t include them in the vision, when we are gone, there is nobody to continue God’s vision. The church has to be closed. When all of us are gone, we are going to go one day, God’s vision cannot be accomplished. Noah was very careful to include the next generation in the ark.
When we sit together as a family to pray, it is very important to include your children. When we discuss something spiritual it is important to include your children. Le them get that vision that you carry in your life. Our vision needs to be big enough. This is a prophetic word for the church from:
Isaiah 60:3 – And nations shall walk into thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.
The third characteristic of a great leader is that – Noah was able to magnify his vision in a bigger way that could accommodate everybody.
4. God doesn’t make the ark, we have to make it:
If we ask Noah about what helped him build the ark, Noah would say that he learnt one thing in the whole process of building the ark – God doesn’t make the Ark, we have to make it. The moment he got the vision, Noah did not sit and pray asking God to give him an Ark.
- God did not give him an ark, He is not in the business of making Arks.
- But God gave a design to Noah, that happens in our life too, God gives the instruction/design, but we have to build it.
- Noah had to build the Ark.
- But God did one thing, He grew the gopher tree. Noah cannot do that.
- God broke open the deep and God sent rain from above. Noah cannot do that either.A leader gets a vision from God and he doesn’t just pray about it and leave it there. He starts doing something about it.
- It is not either praying or doing, but it is both praying and doing.
- Sometimes we use prayer as an excuse for not doing anything. Sometimes, we as believers, pray for more and we do very less about it.
- Eventually we appear to be as fools in front of the unbelievers.
- Because we say that we believe in our prayer and expect God to work on behalf of us.
But God did not say that we don’t need to study or prepare. We really need to work hard. If Noah had been sitting and waiting because he believes all the promises of God will given because God said – Ask me and it will be given; the ark would not come in front of him. He worked hard for 100 years. That does not mean the Word of God is lying. It’s not “either”, “or”, but “both” are important.
When leaders get a vision, they not only pray about it, but they do something about it.
Think about the vision that God has given in your life. Where is that vision now? If you did not do anything about it, it is not going to come by itself, prayer is not magic. The more you work and the more you pray, and then God makes it happen. He makes it happen. What about your higher studies we wanted to do, God gave us that vision and promise, but now it has not happened. Why? Because we are not working, just praying. We fast and pray but nothing happens. A leader who gets a vision, not only prays about it, but does something about it.
Nehemiah, another great leader, is in the process of building walls for the city of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah 4:7 Now it happened, when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were being restored and the gaps were beginning to be closed, that they became very angry, 8 and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. 9 Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.
They prayed about it and also set watchmen. Praying about it and doing something about it is when we see the work of God. When Nehemiah finished praying, he did not wait for God to come and protect. He appointed security guards everywhere.
- Our prayer should never stop us from doing something.
- Our prayers should never stop you from taking medical help when it is needed.
- Your prayer shouldn’t stop you from putting all your effort in your studies and in your job.
At times we become fools in front of others as it does not work for everybody. At times people quit medical help and rely on prayer and die prematurely, that is not the will of God. God wants you to live to the fulness, until the day that God has appointed. We need to pray about it, but we should never stop seeking medical help when it is needed. We should never stop studying and working hard just because we prayed. It is both prayer and action.
When God gave a vision to Noah, he went on doing something about it and eventually he built the Ark.
1. You are never too old to build
2. You don’t need to rely on your past experience
3. Make sure your vision is big enough to include everyone
4. God doesn’t make the ark, we have to make it
Good Friday – The day that changed the world.
The seven sayings of Jesus at the cross were shared by seven individuals as below.
1. Daniel Woods (2:55) – Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do
2. Anila Mathew (18:18) – Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise
3. Barbara Hunt (29:02) – Woman, this is your son, this is your mother
4. Dahn Balan (38:28) – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
5. Paul Nakka (49:38) – I thirst
6. Rishabh Dev (59:30) – It is finished
7. Debby Blentzas (1:08:50) – Father, into your hands I commend my spirit
Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Moses – Reluctant but Willing | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 14, 2018
Moses – Reluctant but Willing
This sermon is a continuation of the series titled – “Learning from the Old Testament Leaders”. The first leader from the Old Testament is Moses. The moment we think of Moses, these are the following things that come to mind: he parted the red sea in half by the power of God, he was supposed to be dead as a baby, he obeyed God, he was not a fluent speaker, he had a face to face encounter with God, the incident of the burning bush, he was an intercessor, he was brought up as an Egyptian Prince, and so on.
The burning bush incident tells us that he was reluctant, not willing to lead but was forced to lead. We read that from:
Exodus 3:7 – And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.
Exodus 3:10 – Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you must lead My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”
God says that Moses “must” lead His children out of Egypt. To this Moses replies –
Exodus 3:11 – But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?”
God re-assures Moses and says –
Exodus 3:12 – So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Moses, still being doubtful –
Exodus 3:13 – Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
To which God replies –
Exodus 3:14 – And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
Then Moses, being anxious said what if they do not believe me or listen to me? To this God asked Moses to place the staff which he held in his hand on the ground which immediately turned into a serpent and when Moses lifted it up it turned back into a staff. To re-assure Moses, God asked him to put his hand into his bosom and take it out. The hand was leprous and again he did the same and the hand was clean. Did this satisfy Moses? No!
Exodus 4:10 – Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
To lift him up, God said –
Exodus 4:11, 12 – So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”
After hearing all of this from God, finally Moses gave up and asked God to send someone else.
Exodus 4:13 – But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”
There is no doubt Moses was a reluctant leader. Right now, God is speaking to you, prophetically concerning our future. Eventually Moses turned out to be a great leader. The main purpose of this teaching is to observe the qualities of Moses as a leader. This is a quick overview of who Moses was:
A quick overview of Moses’ life:
Moses was born in Egypt and was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, yet he had a passion in his heart for his own people because he saw a Hebrew getting beaten by an Egyptian whom he killed. After 40 years of life in the palace, Moses had to flee for his life. He fled into Midian and there he became a shepherd boy. That continued until he met God in the burning bush. Another 40 years went by when Moses reluctantly accepted the calling of God in his life. He was willing to go back to Egypt. When he went to Egypt, God did amazing things through Moses. Each event that took place in the life of Moses from Egypt to Mount Sinai – we truly see his role as a prophet, a priest, a ruler and as a savior of Israel. There is no doubt that Moses was called by God and how he reluctantly accepted the calling of God.
Characteristics of Moses:
- He was a murderer.
- He was a reluctant leader.
- He was easily provoked because of his short-tempered nature as we see in the Bible from the incidence when he was coming down from Mount Sinai and broke the tablet containing the ten commandments written by the hand of God.
- He disobeyed God by hitting the rock instead of speaking to the rock.
- Eventually he was punished by God when he was barred from entering the promised land.
God used Moses to lead His people from the land of Egypt. Nobody in the Bible was used in such a great manner. Moses was made for a time such as that, where it is impossible to think of a leader that could replace Moses.
Exodus Chapter 2 verses 11 through 15 – Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” 14 Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So, Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” 15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.
Acts 7:17 “But when the time of the promise drew near which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt 18 till another king arose who did not know Joseph. 19 This man dealt treacherously with our people, and oppressed our forefathers, making them expose their babies, so that they might not live. 20 At this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God; and he was brought up in his father’s house for three months. 21 But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. 23 “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. 25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand. 26 And the next day he appeared to two of them as they were fighting, and tried to reconcile them, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren; why do you wrong one another?’ 27 But he who did his neighbor wrong pushed him away, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge over us? 28 Do you want to kill me as you did the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 Then, at this saying, Moses fled and became a dweller in the land of Midian, where he had two sons.
30 “And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. 31 When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he drew near to observe, the voice of the Lord came to him, 32 saying, ‘I am the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ And Moses trembled and dared not look. 33 ‘Then the Lord said to him, “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. 34 I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send you to Egypt.” ’
35 “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He brought them out, after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
Numbers Chapter 12 –
Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)
4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. 6 Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream. 7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?” 9 So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. 10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. 11 So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned. 12 Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”
13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.” 15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again. 16 And afterward the people moved from Hazeroth and camped in the Wilderness of Paran.
What Moses considered his strengths, eventually became his weaknesses:
After reading these three references from the word of God where Moses is portrayed, we get a bigger picture. Whatever Moses considered as a strength during his early stage becomes a weakness during his later time. This can be true for us. Now Moses is not eloquent – slow to speech and tongue tied. Moses who once was living in Pharaoh’s house is later not able to face Pharaoh. Moses is angry with people and broke the covenant tablets. Moses was again angry and upset when people in Kadesh were crying out for water opposing Moses’ leadership and wanted to kill him. Moses comes and says “Hear now you rebels”. That is how Moses spoke, we do not see this often. He was very angry and upset. This is when he struck the rock out of anger instead of talking to the rock. He brought the children of God out of Egypt and did so many wonders but was eventually barred out of Canaan.
Zealous & Passionate:
Moses is a great comfort to us since we look up to him and want God to use us the way we are. Often, we say we want to cleanse ourselves and then serve God, but God wants to use us the way we are. Moses was a zealous and passionate man of God. He was very passionate about what he was doing.
Acts 7:22 – And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was mighty in words and in deeds.
At times we complain about our work, but God says that He wants us to be passionate about what we do. When Moses was in Pharaoh’s palace, we gained a lot of wisdom from the Egyptians. He learned about Geography, Physics, natural History, Symbols, Pictographs, Arithmetic, Geometry and everything the Egyptian way. He was not sitting idle, he was always equipped filled with wisdom and skills to battle in the battlefield and lead the army. Moses was very passionate about everything. Great leaders were not achieving many things at the start of their career, but they were very passionate about what they were doing. They were not just given a Nobel Prize when they are working in the laboratory, thinking of one day in the future when they will be rewarded.
Romans 12:11 – “Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord”. God always wants us to keep our spiritual temperature high. But many factors like sickness, work, financial situation and things of the world will not allow this. But God always wants us to keep our spiritual temperature high. But Moses was very passionate. He was teased by the Hebrews – “Who made you as a leader and ruler over us?” but God made him the leader.
His passion made him a ruler and judge:
Acts 7:35 – “This Moses whom they rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ is the one God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the Angel who appeared to him in the bush.
When people reject, God is there to lift us up. The place where we fall, that is the same place where we will also get up. God can rise you in the same place you failed. We are all called to lead.
Moses was zealous, not Aaron:
Why was Aaron not given the leadership even though he was very good at speech? Aaron was the one who was making the golden calf, he made the people worship the golden calf. But when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, the holy zeal for the Lord was burning within him as a leader. Now we realize why Aaron was not made a leader. But God was still holding onto Moses even though he was reluctant to take the leadership role.
Dependency on God (seen from in every step Moses took):
The reason God is holding onto you is because God found something special in your life. You may fail in other areas of your life, but God looks at your life and character that you have. Moses was a leader called to lead, he was dependent on God. God wants us to depend on Him. Moses was constantly connected to God. He was always consulting God for everything, that made him to be a great leader.
Numbers 7:7 – Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. 8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”
Some of us are living in this mess today because we failed to listen to the voice of the Lord in the decisions we made in our life. Right now, God is telling you to come back to Him and listen to Him in every decision you make. Because every step that we are going to make is important for our family, our children and for the benefit of the kingdom of God.
Moses heard from God before each plague was sent out:
Moses was in Egypt and before every plague was struck in the house of Egyptians Moses was asked by God to warn them.
Exodus 8:1-2 And the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all your territory with frogs.
He is a God who speaks and tells us what to do.
Standing in front of the Red Sea:
When Moses was standing in front of the red sea, pharaoh’s army were coming at the back, and being surrounded by Mountains – the children of Israel did not know what to do. Moses cried out to God asking Him what to do. God spoke to him:
Exodus 14:15 – And the LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it.”
As they complained for food:
Again, when the children of Israel complained to Moses about how they did not have food to eat and were dying in this wilderness questioning why Moses brought them out. Moses went to God again to which God replied,
Exodus 16:11 – And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”
Burden for people:
As leaders God wants us to depend fully on Him on our future, children, marriage, education and every step of our life. If we decide to take a step without the permission of God, it is not going to be good. Moses was very clear on that. Moses was a great leader because he had the burden for the people. Although he was living in the palace of the Pharaoh he went out and saw the burden of his people.
Exodus 2:11 – Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens.
But when he saw his people being oppressed, his heart burned within himself. Moses did not hide himself from the face of the reality. A leader cannot stay silent when people are suffering and are oppressed. Moses truly challenges the leaders of 21st century. When the power is given to us, Moses says “do not keep quiet when people are oppressed”. God saw the heart of Moses and decided to make him the deliverer. When we have the burden for people, God sees you and sees our heart. Many times, we do not have that, we struggle within ourselves. When Moses came down from the mountain, people were already worshiping idols under Aaron’s leadership. Moses foresaw the kind of punishment that would be bestowed upon his people. He did not want his people perishing under their sins in front of his own eyes.
Exodus 32:32 – Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.
Who prays such a prayer? We need such a great leader.
God is putting some burdens in our heart these days and God wants to use you in the coming days and God wants to honor you. Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior, but a characteristic of a leader. If God is calling you to intercede, you are not just called to pray, but you are called to lead. God put that burden in Moses and not in Aaron. That tells that Moses was called to lead. If God is burdening you with souls, he is not expecting us to sit in our rooms and pray. He is calling us to lead the same way he called Moses.
Highly favored by God:
Moses was a man of God because he was highly favored by God. We all wish to be favored by God today. The favor of God is what makes a successful leader. Today we see many leaders and many leading in the secular and spiritual world. They are not very talented or equipped to lead. But they are called to lead because they have the favor of God. Moses was a short-tempered man, but God says he was humble:
Numbers 12:3 – Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.
At times, God does not see our shortcomings if we have the favor of God in our life. We need to cry out for that favor today. Moses was disobedient, God is telling him to go but he repeatedly came up with excuses. He was even punished for his disobedience. But still, God says he is faithful:
Numbers 12:7 – Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house.
Looks like God is partial, but that is not the case. That teaches us to not judge anybody on what they do. When God has a favor for him/her nobody can stand against them.
What was the secret of this supernatural favor upon Moses?
Hebrews 11:24-26 – It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.
This is the secret of divine favor upon your life. God’s favor is going to be upon us, our family and children if we practice these scriptures. These are the secrets we need to mediate upon:
- God is asking us to step out by faith to serve people just like Moses stepped out of his comfort zone
- The favor came upon Moses because he chose to participate in other sufferings without being selfish. When we stop living for ourselves divine favor is upon us
- When we try to push aside the worldly pleasures, we receive the divine favors of God. We may look like fools to the world, but when we are doing it, we receive the divine favor of God upon our lives
- We should set our minds not to acquire the wealth of this world and become too rich, but just enough to feed us every day. Moses was not interested to get the treasures of Egypt. Those who decide to work for the eternal reward are highly favored by God.
We learnt from Moses:
- To be zealous and passionate about what we do
- To depend on God in every step of our life
- To have the burden for people as it is a leadership quality
- Somehow obtain the favor of God by pleasing Him as Moses did according to Hebrews 11:24 -26
Quote: Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior alone, intercession is a characteristic of a leader. If God is burdening you to intercede, you are not just called to pray, but you are called to lead. (Life of Moses – Exodus 32:32)
Series: General | Title: Learning from the OT Leaders – Introduction | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 07, 2018
Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction
Today we are going to start a new series called – “Learning from the Old Testament Leaders”. When we teach leadership on a Sunday morning, many might think – “Why do we need to teach leadership on a Sunday morning service? Not all of them are leaders who are coming here on a Sunday morning service. There may be people who have never heard of Jesus, who are here for the first time or children are here and some would have come with an expectation of spiritual enlightenment & spiritual thrill to be received during a Sunday morning service. And you want to teach about leadership?” But I thought about this, and what really drove me to this sermon series and start on a Sunday morning is this – I was thinking about what Jesus was doing for three and a half years?
What do you think He did during these three and a half years? I believe He was trying to develop leadership. Think about it. All that Jesus did for three and a half years was to educate, teach and impart those skills of leadership into the twelve apostles. That is exactly what Jesus did and I strongly believe that is what the churches would need today. We need good leaders. There are many books in this world on the topic of Leadership, but only one starts with the right foundation on Leadership and that is the world’s best-selling book. Does anybody have any idea about what is the world’s best-selling book? The number one bestselling book is the Bible, fortunately also the best leadership manual. We are glad that we can base our teaching on the best-selling book.
We are going into the Word of God to learn from the lives of men and women who are called to lead during the Old Testament days. The Old Testament leaders are Abraham, Isaac, Noah, Moses, Jonah, Joshua, Joseph, David, Gideon, and Nehemiah and the list goes on. These are a couple of good leaders we see in the Old Testament. There is a great scarcity of leadership in the Christian world. Good leaders are not available in the Christian world. But who knows, as we speak on leadership, I strongly believe God will raise some leaders from this congregation in the coming days. At times, many of us don’t see ourselves as leaders. Nobody is born as a leader – there is no label. Leaders are not born, but they are raised. Leadership can be nurtured, it can be cultivated, it can be taught. But it is up to an individual to stand as a leader. A leader is the one who knows the way – the best leader is our Lord Jesus Christ because He said I am the way. “A Leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way” – as said by John C Maxwell.
What are we called for?
We are called to lead – the commandment that Jesus gave to the disciples is to go and preach the gospel all over the world and make them disciples. If we think about that commandment, it was not only for that small group. It is a commandment that was given to all of us. We are called to make disciples. Church is not meant to sit passively and watch others leading. We are called to lead broken lives. That was the call of God upon the lives of the disciples and that is the call of God upon our lives. We are called to bring healing to this land, we are called to heal the broken hearted. That is the reason why Jesus Christ came into this world according to the Scriptures. Prophet Isaiah says He came to heal the broken hearted.
Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”
“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less” – John C. Maxwell
We are all called for various reasons, this is the call of God that helps us see beyond the walls of the Church. The call of God is on our lives, it is up to us to grab it or leave it. The challenge that is in front of us is to take our eyes and set our eyes beyond the four walls of the church to see the heart of the city. In the book – Developing Leaders Within You, John C Maxwell states that “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” Everybody is influenced by others – be it our house or our workplace. Sometimes we think that pastoral call is a higher call than the call of God in our lives – to work in our workplace, to be in the classroom, with our friends, in a factory floor or to be in the nursing home. We are all called by God to do something. At times we consider something else much higher than our call. But we are all called in God’s kingdom. God has called us and put us in a place where we can influence others. We are not in the church all the seven days of the week, we are at workplaces, schools, spending time with family and so on. But we are called to influence. But in this journey, none of us are perfect.
Perfection is not a quality needed for a leader, the only perfect leader is our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Here a little, there a little”:
There are a couple of principles that we need to apply as we study and as we move further. One important principle is called – “Here a little, there a little”. The Bible does not say that Abraham was a great leader because of his leadership style. Nor does it say that Moses was a great leader because in his leadership he achieved many things. Even Joshua was not considered a great leader because he was a man of courage. As a student of the Word of God, we need to be careful to observe the leadership qualities in the Word of God. We need to apply these scriptural principles.
Isaiah 28:10 – “For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
NLT: Isaiah 28:10 – “He tells us everything over and over–one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!”
- Precept is a principle.
- As a student of the word of God, we need to collect everything together.
- There is another scripture that says none of the scripture stands on its own, it has a mate. There is a pair for every scripture.
- We need to search and find that mate of that scripture and they are all linked together.
- To find the qualities of a great leader from the Old Testament – we will be linking pieces of scripture together.
God commended the Old Testament leaders:
When we think about the Old testament leaders, these men and women are commended by God for their leadership qualities. The Bible tells us that these men and women obeyed God when God commanded them. Most of all they feared God and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. One example is from –
Genesis 1:38 – So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” Pharaoh realized that Joseph has the spirit of God and is being led by the Spirit.
- Connecting this with the New Testament we find in Acts that the Apostles must appoint leaders in the church and the main qualification was to be filled by the Holy Spirit.
- They must be spirit-filled people who are led by the Holy Spirit. A leader is one who is filled with the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit.
- The Pharaoh is testifying about Joseph when he asked if it is possible to find a leader such as Joseph who is filled with the Holy Spirit in whom the Spirit of God of God was present.
True leaders are defined by their characteristics:
Job 1:1 – “There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless—a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil.”
- Job was blameless, nobody could point a finger at him and he was doing the right things in life. He feared God and he shunned evil, these are the qualities that God commends about Job.
- Many of the leaders in the Old Testament are commended by the Word of God and the ten commandments were embedded in their hearts.
- Exodus 20:16 – “You shall not bear false witness.” It is one of the ten commandments.
- A simple example that explains what a false witness is – our employer will be able to trust in us only when they know that we do not lie – truthful and trustworthy.
- The lying spirit is not from God. When we think about Joseph and David, we see this. Lying is a sin.
- True leaders are defined by their characteristics. How do we build those characteristics in our lives? By the help of the Holy Spirit. God gives us grace and power to build those characteristics.
- God is the most powerful being and He is the best leader too.
True leaders are teachable:
Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”
When we read the word of God and do not try to understand it, we are speaking of our own heart and not willing to learn. Proverb 5:12-13 – “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction. I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers nor incline my ears to those who instructed me.” We all want to be taught by God. To become a good leader, we must have a teachable spirit. Nobody will be interested in investing their time in somebody who is not willing to learn.
An unteachable spirit will not listen to God. The problem is pride. Proverbs 26:12 – “Do you see a man wise in His own eyes, there is more hope for a fool than for him.” We encounter people who are wise in their eyes, it could be us. It is true because pride stops a person from listening and from being taught. A proud heart brings an unteachable spirit. But God wants us to have a teachable spirit.
Two things that we need to ask God are:
- We need a spirit of submission. 1 Peter 5:5 – “In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.””
- We need to ask God for a mind to accept discipline and correction. Proverbs 13:18 – “Whoever disregards discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored.” God wants to discipline us so that we can become somebody who is honored.
- We are called to lead
- We are called to influence
- We are committed to learn from the lives of the OT leaders
- By applying here a little, there a little principle
- These men and women are commented by others and by God
- Leaders are defined by their characteristics
- True leaders are truly teachable
- The underlying cause of unteachable spirit is pride
- Ask God for a spirit of submission that accepts discipline and correction.
Series: General | Title: Bear the Yoke in your Youth | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, March 05, 2017
Lamentations 3:27-28 27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him;
I would like to title my message this morning as “Bear the Yoke in your Youth”. This is a sermon which is going to be mainly centered on youth, young couples and all of us. Because all of us are young.
- Book of Lamentations is a book written by Jeremiah, the prophet. We would say the book of Lamentation is of sorrowful songs or poems of Jeremiah.
- Every man needs to get an opportunity to cry. I don’t know if your spouse allows that but if spouse is not allowing, probably you need to find a place to go in silence and spend time in crying. Every man has to get that opportunity to cry at some point of time. Crying is always good.
- Jeremiah was prophesying in the book of Jeremiah but now he took an opportunity to cry and that his cry, we see as Lamentations. He is expressing his grief on something.
- Jeremiah writes this, just after the exile of the children of Israel by the Babylonians. If you know the history around 183 BC, Jeremiah was living at that point of time. Children of Israel were taken as captive by Babylonians to Babylon. So Jeremiah was writing this book of Lamentation, worrying about children of Israel have gone through captivity and how the temple of God is destroyed. In fact Jeremiah was an eyewitness for the Babylonian captivity. He predicted the destruction that is about to come upon the land, he was watching it happening in front of his own eyes. Now in this book, it is a sad reflection of what was happening to the people of God.
- The purpose here is to teach God’s people, the disobedience that they went through in their lives and the effect of disobedience, the immense suffering that was brought forth in the lives of children of Israel. That is the focus here. Jeremiah is going over and over again on the disobedience that they showed to God and he is lamenting over the sufferings, those disobedience brought into their lives.
- Chapter 3 specially talks about the affliction of the Lord, when they disobeyed God. What you sow is, what we reap. When we disobey God, we know in the bottom of our heart, the sufferings that we are going to encounter soon in our lives. But knowing this, children of Israel were not obeying God. That’s the reason, Jeremiah was lamenting. Because he prophesied over the people saying that, if you are careless, if you fail to observe the sabbath day, if you fail to give importance to God’s work, the destruction is going to come upon the land. But they were totally disobeying.
Now he says in Verse 27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth. 28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him;
What is a yoke?
A yoke is a wooden beam which is used between a pair of animals usually oxen to pull a heavy load which is attached to that yoke in a cart or may be a plow is attached to that yoke. So the animals are used to carry this heavy load as those two animals are connected with a beam, that’s what we call it as Yoke.
- In scriptural sense Yoke refers to Responsibilities, the burden God is giving us, the obligation God is giving us, the commitment God is giving us. They all can be considered as Yoke.
- Bear the Yoke means, accepting those things in our lives, shouldering those things, subjecting our lives to those burdens, that load we carry in our lives.
Who are the youth/ young people?
These scriptures are very well focused on youth. But none of us are exempted from what the scripture is saying. Last week, these thoughts were coming in my mind, that none of us are old. All of us are young. There is a spiritual sense in it. None of us is old until we leave this world. When we are done with this world, we leave this world, we become old. Because scripture says in:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
The moment you are born again, you are a new creation. But this new creation is going to remain until we leave this world. The moment we leave this world, this body becomes old. Its good for nothing. Until then this body is young. I was going through the commentary written by Spurgeon. Spurgeon says that same thing. So this scripture that we see here, it really means to all of us, those who are sitting here and those who are listening to me online. The moment our spirit is taken out of us, the body is considered old.
Youth is not really willing to take any responsibility:
We are living in a materialistic world where people don’t want to take any responsibility;
- Unless there is a monitory benefit attached to it. If you call somebody to do a work, they will say, how much you will pay for this. You try to give job to youth and they will try to escape out of it, most of the time. Not everybody, but then there are very few willing to do it.
- If there is no fun and entertainment attached to it, nobody, no youth want to do anything, for even in that matter in the church.
- If there is accountability and there is commitment, nobody wants to do that job.
- If the cause is difficult and requires real hard work, you don’t find anybody there.
Especially with the youth of our generation. Young people are not willing to take any responsibility. They all are driven by selfishness, that becomes the way of life of today.
Where as Bible says, It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.
That’s the reason, even in churches services need to be fun filled today. Church services need to be entertaining today. If you call somebody for youth ministry, youth meeting, they will ask; What movie we are playing today ? Do we have popcorn? Do we serve ice cream? If you have all this, I am willing to come for the youth meeting. We are living in the age, that’s what we see. We really do not know how we parents are going to bring up our children in this generation. Where as Jeremiah says;
It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.
Young children need this yoke on them:
Young children need this yoke on them and oxen need to be brought under this yoke otherwise the oxen is of no use. The oxen go walk miles after miles but it is not of any use unless an oxen is brought under this yoke. A horse needs to be accustomed to bits and bridles, otherwise we cannot control a horse and it just runs wherever it wants to go. The same way children need to be brought under this yoke. We are not saying to torture the children. We are saying in a biblical way we need to bring our children under this yoke.
- We see children telling parents most of the time, “Dad we are living in 21st Century. You don’t know what it takes to live in this generation because you have not gone through it. You never experienced all these things. But what we are living or doing today, you don’t really understand just obey me and listen to me what I am saying”. Children look at their parents and this is what they say.
- If as parents we don’t impose yoke on our children, we can’t expect them to come up like what you are today.
Turn back to your days:
We have not grown in the same fashion that children are growing today. I want you to turn back to your life way back, years ago.
- Your life was rough and it was tough that brought you today what you are and who you are.
- Your parents were so tough on you at times, when we were growing up and that brought what you are today.
- Marriage life was miserable for few year but you went through it, you took the yoke on yourself. Today, by the grace of God, you both are living together as a family. Yoke is very very important for any family.
When I turned back my childhood days, they were not very smooth at all. I was out of home at the age of five and a half. Away from parents with the grand parents. Once in a year I get the opportunity to visit my parents. The rest of the time I was just living on myself from the age of five and a half. Very early in the age to my life I got exposed to all the filthy things of this world without knowing what they were. Later on I was raised by my uncle with a very strict manner. The village, we lived, there was no electricity. I need to sit under the street light and study. At times we get kerosene lamps at home but it was very busy and crowded because many children came and they wanted to study together because there was no electricity until I was in 7th grade or something. Even at the early childhood age I was trained for every farm related work. I remember the day when I had to carry heavy stuff , but I was not raised in that way until five and a half year age. So life was not very smooth in my early days. I felt loneliness because of separation from parents, I couldn’t handle it. There were nights I was awake. If there was a death in the village, I couldn’t sleep for days together because I don’t understand what was going on. I got couple of very close friends. But those friends lived in the graveyard. They were not good friends. I came to know all the evil practices and how they deal with the devil. How they speak to the evil spirits, night they go to house to house and they prophesied in a bad way. They were my friends at that time because they were very fascinating as I didn’t know what was going on in my life until my mom join when I was in grade eight or nine.
I want everyone of you to turn back the days when you were a child or you were youth. But all those things in my life made me to think what is the reality in life. They brought so much of discipline in my life and they were a heavy yoke upon my life. The loneliness, separation and the torture because of that I was going through within me. But God brought me out of it. Now I realized the reason why I went through all these things in my life. So much of discipline in different areas were brought by those things which I experienced in very early childhood days. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in your youth. Not just me, we all have testimony to share. So what you went through in your life in your youth made you what you are today. Some of us may be still struggling in our lives. Specially many of you are in nursing field. You are given false promises by the visa processing agencies when you are coming to Canada. Because of those false promises you landed here and when you landed here and start working, you realized that it’s not that what was told. Everything was false. Here you need to study for two more years and you need to get license. You need to pass English examination and you need to pay for job position even then your status is not permanent. There is so much of hardship that most of us go through.
But remember what scripture says, ”It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth”.
Yoke is all about the necessity of hardships that you and I need in my life. When Jeremiah says, there is no point in complaining what you are going through. Its all needed. God is allowing all those things in your life, to make you as a new creation, to make you and build character in your life.
I remember there were many days in my childhood, I kept this scripture open in front of me and I wanted to understand what the scripture is talking about but I never got an opportunity to listen to any sermon like this. I wanted to know what the scripture is talking about, it is something about me. I wanted to associate myself with this scripture. But this morning we are able to go through the scripture.
What are the yokes that God is talking about in this scripture?
1. The Yoke of subjection to authority:
One who does not learn this when he is young, he is going to suffer in his lifetime in the future. Submitting to authority is something that you and I need to know and learn. Not that somebody is greater than somebody but the authority is established by God. The scripture says
Romans 13:1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Not only in church, in our workplace, in our schools, in our houses, the authority is appointed by God, that’s what scripture says. God has established authority everywhere in every places.
- Scripture says in Ephesians 6:1-2 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise”
Children obey your parents. Parents are given an authority by God. You and I need to obey as children to our parents. As parents if you continue to approve disobedience to your children, you are sinning.
Bible says in Roman 1:29-32, “Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immoralities, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, deceit, evil mindedness, whisperers, back biters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.” They will not enter into the Kingdom of God. These are the sinful things. Disobedience is listed along with adultery. Disobedience is a sin. As parents we need to teach this to our children.
- As a citizen of this nation Roman 13:1-7 talks about need to obey all the authorities that God has established. That person may be a godly man or may not be a godly man but the authority is established by God.
- Scriptures says in 1 Peter 3:1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
Wives are called to bring them under subjection to the authority and according to scripture husband is given the authority. Wives need to be submissive to that authority. Scripture says, even if some do not obey God. Husband may be an evil person, he may not be a godly person but still without a word, obey, be submissive to your husband, may be you can win him by your good conduct. If you still be submissive to your husband, he will realize that you are the child of God and he will turn back to God. Wining by character.
- Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you
When you be a part of a church, for your souls, pastors are accountable. Whether he prays for you, he doesn’t pray for you, God is going to ask the question for him. That’s a benefit of coming under the covering. That’s why God has established the church. And scripture says, Obey those rule over you and be submissive for they watch over your souls as those who must five account. They need to give account. Let them do so with the joy and not with grief. For that would be unprofitable to you. That’s the reason we say that do not grieve any children of God. Because if they grieve over you, its not going to be good for you, that’s what the scripture says. So first the yoke that God is giving upon our lives and certainly we need to make sure that the yoke is placed upon your children is yoke of subjection to authority.
2. The Yoke of self control and self restraint:
Young children again need to be taught on this. They need to know that they cannot live the way they want. They need to control their desires. We are living in a country where there is a lot of freedom. If we don’t teach to our children what are the biblical standards, the standards of this world will become their standards. It is our responsibility to teach our children what bible says about controlling ourselves. They need to be told very clearly that sexual desire, until marriage need to be controlled. Not many parents talk about this with their children. They need to be taught by you and me because Bible says in
Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
Marriage is honorable, that means there is no sexual relationship before marriage because marriage is honorable. The bed is undefiled. Bible very clearly forbids premarital sexual relationships. Children need to know this and we need to teach our children because we are living in a nation where we have total freedom for this. Today, many churches, they don’t teach about it but It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
On the other day, the parent were telling me,”Oh my daughter, she found the right boyfriend. I am really happy about it”. When we say sexual relationship before marriage they asked me a question,”What do you think about dating? They are not into sexual relationship what do you think about dating?” The simple answer to that is, we know what is sin and anything that is leading to sin, is sin. If premarital sex is sin then dating before marriage can lead your son/daughter to make that sin. Then that becomes the sin too. And we need to put that yoke upon our children otherwise we will lose our children. They will not be with us. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
As young families, we need to be very careful teaching this to our children and also as a family we need to be very careful not to bring a third person between our marriage because the same ways premarital sex is a sin, extramarital sex is also sin. Bible talks about it. Any sexual relationship outside marriage is forbidden in the word of God. And we need to be very careful. Young family or old family, it doesn’t really matter, it doesn’t leave anybody. Once God unites us together, it is an agreement we are entering for a lifetime. There are exceptions in the word of God that in what condition when a married woman and man can get remarried. Not in every situation.
2 Timothy 2:22 Scripture is asking us to flee from the lust of the flesh. A yoke that you and I need to have upon our shoulder.
Jesus said, Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. It is good for us to take the cross everyday. When do we take up the cross, when we say, no to those lustful things in our lives, when we say no to those things which are trying to enter in our family to destroy the peace and harmony that we have in our family, we are carrying the yoke in our lives and following Jesus.
Paul is writing to Titus in, Titus 2:12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
There are things that deny ungodliness, there are things which are in the worldly lust and God is asking you and me to come out of it. God wants us to walk in that holiness. God wants us to apply the yoke for our control as well as to bring up our children in a godly way.
3. The Yoke of suffering:
Sometimes we go through sufferings in our lives. Some of you would have gone through many suffering in your childhood days. God knows it. You have gone through terrible times in your life, the times when you were wondering that whether I will be able to come out of it anymore? But when you turn back to those things, you are able to say it is good that I went through it. Because many of the most noble men and women of God, they all went through troubles in their early life. (Think about Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Moses).
Sufferings that we go through today, they are not comparable to the weight of the eternal glory. 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Sufferings produce good character in our life. Romans 5:3-4 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
When we go through sufferings, God is making you. God is not trying to destroy us, discourage us or throw us away but instead God is working in our lives. When we go through sufferings and struggles in our lives, our character gets developed. Our character is built every time. What we are today, it doesn’t just come all of a sudden, it came over period of time in life. All the troubles, trails and temptations that we went through and there are timing we yielded to those temptations, we fell down and again got up. We are today stronger and courageous.
4. The Yoke of serving the Lord:
- Young people need to be engaged in the work of God. This is very important for the children of God.
- They need to learn in very early time, how to put the kingdom of God first. You need to give them the opportunity, for them to get engaged. May be in a youth group or children ministry or in a worship ministry or in a preaching ministry or in a outreach ministry. Just encourage them to be part of it. The more they are becoming part of it lesser the chance they will taste the things of this world. They will not go back once they taste the presence of the God, once they taste love of God in their lives, they will not go astray.
- Young children need to be taught to put the Lord God and the church before their own pleasures. At times there are very pleasing things outside but they need to be taught, What is important? Once you teach them, they will develop that character with in them.
- Children who do not learn this, bearing the yoke in the very early stages of their lives will bring sorrow to their own lives in their later stage. If as a parent we don’t put that yoke upon them today, they will bring shame to our family in the later days.
We are responsible parents for putting that yoke upon our children. Most of the young families, you need to engage your life in the work of God, it is very important.
- Our later time needs to be blessed, our later life needs to be protected. Only way we can do this is, engage when we have strength.
- God doesn’t really want us, when we are in wheel chair. When we are in our sick bed, God doesn’t really want you. God wants you now, when you have all your strength to serve God. It is good for us to get attached, where we can serve God.
Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Doing the work of God. God makes it easy because you are not alone carrying that yoke. One side you and the other side God himself is carrying that yoke along with you.
What is the yoke of Christ?
- It means commitment, sacrifice, self denial.
- It means losing at times, what we consider as gain for the sake of Gospel.
- It is also going wherever God is asking you to go. The reason some of the missionaries obeyed the call of God just because they were willing to take the yoke of the Christ upon them.
- Self denial, at times forsaking family.
Matthew 10:37 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. It is important that you need to take care of your children, it is important to do; What you need to do for your parents but God expects you to love him more than you love your children.
Luke 14:26 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. Discipleship is not easy thing. Serving God is not easy thing as you think. There is culture in this nation, saying that you just try to resign your job, try to get on full time ministry and see how God works and things work. If things don’t work, come back to work. What’s wrong in that. Scripture doesn’t really say that.
- Being available for others. Extending our lives to others.
- Fasting, praying and interceding for others.
- Studying and meditating God’s Word
- Preaching to others
- Helping young believers to come up in their career and life. Encouraging and training others.
2 Timothy 2:3-4 You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. When you engage yourself into the warfare that means serving God, you cannot really go back to the world. That he may try to please the master always. At times hardships may be rejection by your own family members, at times hardship may be heavy sorrow that comes in your life because of various things going on in you family in your situation, at times you are expected to believe what you cannot see that may be a kind of yoke upon you. You just need to move by faith, at times you need to deal with offenses because you are pointed out, at times you need to carry Christ in your life. These are yoke of serving God.
Lamentations 3:27-28 27 It is good for a man to bear The yoke in his youth.28 Let him sit alone and keep silent, Because God has laid it on him;
- The Yoke of subjection to authority
- The Yoke of self control and self restraint
- The Yoke of sufferings
- The Yoke of service to the Lord
If God is calling you to take His yoke upon you. Do not say no.
Series: General | Title: God Always Wins the Wrestling Match | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, October 1, 2017
In a wrestling match there are many winning or scoring opportunities, out of them let us talk about four major ones as we saw in the video.
1. Take-down: A move that players take during the match to take their opponent down to the mat and gain control from the neutral position so 2 points will be scored for take-down.
2. Escape: A move, you use from the bottom of the referee’s position to escape, or get away from your opponent. So 1 point will be scored for escape.
3. Reversal: A move during which you quickly turn the tables and go from being in a position of defense to being in a position of control as the offensive wrestler. So 2 points will be scored for reversal.
4. Near fall: 2 points if you hold your opponent for two seconds and 3 points if you hold your opponent for five seconds.
These are different scoring opportunities in a wrestling match.
- In our life, at times we wrestle with God to fulfill our desires.
- God wrestles with us to fulfill his plan in our lives.
- But the truth is “God always wins the wrestling match”
That is the title of my sermon this morning “God always wins the wrestling match”.
Pastor Daniel Parkins says “I still remember holding him in my arms after he had passed away. He was 19 days old and a birth defect was the malady that raged against my little son. I wrestled with God till the very end, even blowing in his lungs to revive him after he died.” He was praying for his healing. Wrestling with God. God always wins the wrestling match.
Nine-year-old Sarah Tapley, was diagnosed with cancer in September 2009. After several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation Sarah went to be with the Lord on November 29, 2012 in Grimsby, Ontario. Later Sarah’s dad, Rev. Matt Tapley says “I am thankful for the 11¾ years that I had with Sarah. She has a piece of my heart that no other person will ever have and she is part of me that is already in eternity. Sarah has brought me closer to Heaven than I ever dreamt possible”. A 3 year long wrestling with the Lord for Sarah’s life has come to an end. God won the match. God always wins the wrestling match.
I was listening to Michelle Qureshi, wife of late Nabeel Qureshi, she was sharing about the glorious end of her husband Nabeel after enduring a yearlong battle with cancer. She mentioned about the wrestling she had with the Lord since the time he was diagnosed with cancer. Later when Nabeel was hospitalized her wrestling with God continued. When Nabeel was moved to palliative care, Michelle says, wrestling with God was intensified. When she realized that Nabeel’s life on this earth has come to an end, she was wrestling with God for resurrection of his body for 7 days before he was actually buried, based on the Biblical grounds. But at the end God won the match. God always wins the wrestling match.
May it be healing, may it be in sickness, may it be death, may it be resurrection. God always wins the wrestling match.
In a wrestling match there are many winning or scoring opportunities out of them we are going to talk again 3 of them in detail. (Take-down, Escape & Reversal)
A move during which you take your opponent down to the mat or to the ground to gain control from the neutral position. 2 points will be given for take-down.
I think about the life of Jacob in the Bible, son of Isaac and the brother of Esau.
- Jacob as the name goes, he cheated his brother and took his birth right as we know and he also received the blessings from Isaac. Cheated everybody. He was a cheater, he was a liar. So Esau hated Jacob very much and he wanted to kill Jacob. Jacob was running around for his life and he decided, it is better to go away from Esau so that he cannot find him.
- Jacob decided to go to Laban to his uncle.
- There Jacob was cheated by Laban and Laban made him to work for him for 20 long years.
- Now Jacob wanted to meet Esau. He was really scared to death. He was not sure how he is going to face his brother because he knew very well that his brother is so angry with him.
- He sent a messenger to Esau and he sent donkeys, oxen, flocks, male servants and female servants to obtain favor from Esau. He sent everything to Esau thinking that Esau will show favor over him and the messengers came back to Jacob, telling, Esau is on his way to meet him.
- Jacob was really scared to death. He was not sure how he is going to face Esau because he knew very well that Esau is going to kill him.
- Jacob collected whatever he could get in his hands and put everything together as a present again, to sent it to Esau. He also sent his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons across the river.
- Jacob was just sitting near river Jabbok, all alone at the end of the day.
- Later on that day, Bible says a Man (later on we come to realization, he’s not just an ordinary man, he’s Son of God) came and wrestled with Jacob. They were having a wrestling match there (Jacob and Lord Jesus). It was pre-incarnate Jesus in the old testament. He appeared too many times to many different people and now he appeared in front of Jacob.
- How long the wrestling went on? Bible says, until the break of the day. Break to the day means until you see sun. The whole night the wrestling was going on between the God almighty and Jacob. God wrestled with Jacob and God (Jesus) could not win wrestling with Jacob. Finally as he could not win wrestling with Jacob, Jesus touched the socket of his hip and the socket of Jacob’s hip came out of joint. Jacob could not walk anymore.
- Jacob was totally taken down to the ground by God almighty.
Genesis 32:22-29 22 And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. 24 Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 26 And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” 27 So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.”28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but [i]Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” 31 Just as he crossed over Peniel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
Here we see in the wrestling match, God bring Jacob down to the ground. There are couple of truths, this morning I pray that God may open our eyes. God always wins the wrestling match.
- Jacob was a liar and a cheater. Cheating everybody and then escaping from the scene, that’s was his plan. He thought he can wrestle with God and bring him on his way. The reason for whole night fight was going on there, that, Jacob was thinking, he can wrestle with God and make him somehow to bless him. Make him to somehow protect him from hands of Esau. That was the plan of Jacob. With that plan he was wrestling with God.
- God was dealing with Jacob gently. At times in our life, we try to escape from the situation. We try to do something else so that danger may not come upon us. We may not take the risk anymore. We try to escape at times from the presence of the God. But God is not angry at those times with us. God was not angry with Jacob in fact. If God would have been angry with Jacob, he would have been brought him down right there but God was very gentle wrestling with Jacob all over the night.
- Do you think that Jesus could not overcome Jacob? Jesus would not have enough power to overcome Jacob? I don’t think so. Sometimes when we walk away from God, we think that God is still good. Yes, God is good but that doesn’t guarantee that we are walking closer to God. God being a blessing in our life doesn’t guarantee that we are doing good with the God. Receiving multiple blessings one after another doesn’t guarantee that we are doing good with the God. That’s not the measure.
- God was expecting him to surrender. That was the only expectation that Jesus had on that night as he was wrestling with Jacob. God found he was fighting with the God till morning over the night, still he was not surrendering. Have you come across such times in our lives, when we pray and we fast, pray days after days but we would have not come to that point of surrender? Nothing will happen. God wants us to come to that level of surrender. That’s what God was expecting in the life of Jacob and since he could not overcome, that means since he was not surrendering, God decided to touch him. One gentle touch was enough for Jacob, to bring him down.
- This morning God is telling you, there are times when we don’t seek God. There are times when we don’t follow God, still we see things happening because God is being so considerate in our lives. He is so gentle in our lives.
- We can never wrestle with God, because he’s powerful. We are so little and powerless in front of God. We can never wrestle and win the match.
- Bible says Jacob overcame. Jacob win the wrestling match. What does it mean? It means Jacob brought him to total surrender so that God can put him down. The victory belongs to God always. What was the victory God gained on that day? The victory God gained on that day was bringing Jacob to complete surrender.
- He said, bless me Lord and God said, you are no more a deceiver. You are Israel. You are “Triumphant with God“. You are victor. You are no more a cheater. You are not a liar anymore . That’s the blessing that God can give us when we bring our lives to total surrender in the presence of God. When God blessed him, the past completely wiped away. There are new things started happening in the life of Jacob because he turned to be a blessing. He had to be blessed anyway because God promised Abraham that I will bless your descents and that blessing has to come through Jacob. But it was not happening in his life because he was not bringing everything to total surrender.
This morning God is telling us, its not enough, what we surrender. God wants us to bring everything to complete surrender to the presence of God. Then we will see the blessings of the God.
The second winning opportunity in the wrestling match is:
A move, you take from the bottom of the referee’s position to escape, or get away from your opponent. 1 point will be scored for escape.
God wanted Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah was wrestling with God and escaped. He thought, he won and gained the point. There is a wrestling match between God and Jonah.
- Jonah was playing escape game with God.
- God was handling him very gently and carefully. There are times when God’s hand is heavy upon us but there are times when God’s hand is so gentle over our lives. He was thrown into the sea of course, but he did not perish. God prepared a fish for Jonah. The compassionate and the gentle nature of our God, when one door closes, Bible says God opens other door because he is our God. He is such a compassionate, gracious and merciful God.
- There arose a need of help from Jonah. Jonah was in the belly of the fish, now he needs help from God. He thought, he won the match by escaping out of the scene but now Jonah wanted help from the God.
- Jonah thought, God was angry but God was not angry, God was trying to prove Jonah that his plans can never be altered by human being like us.
- God was just holding the gut of the fish so that fish is not able to digest Jonah . God was in ultimate control. He was very gentle. Can you come across such a powerful God being gentle. If somebody who is very powerful, very gigantic, very strong come to you, will you give your two months baby into his hands? No, You will think that he will through the baby away, because he is a powerful man. Think about our God all powerful, all mighty but still very gentle.
- God was protecting Jonah and waiting for a time of surrender.
- In the belly of the fish, Jonah surrendered to God.
Jonah 2:3-6 This is the prayer of Jonah, sitting in the belly of the fish and a man who escaped from the presence of the God.
3 For You cast me into the deep ,Into the heart of the seas, And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
5 The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
6 I went down to the moorings of the mountains; The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God.
- Now he realizes that it is the hand of the God, now he comes to the understanding, you throw me into the pit Lord but still you are right there Lord God. Ready to pick me up. Jonah when come to total surrender and total realization, there comes escape. First escape that he made from the presence of the God, that was not real escape but now he has to really escape. When Jonah prayed, God commanded the fish to puke Jonah on the shore.
- The same words came again to Jonah, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”
Now Jonah was right there in obedience, willing to obey. Now Jonah went. God always wins the wrestling match.
There are couple of things that God wants to do through you and those things can be done only through you. God cannot replace you. God really doesn’t find another person to do the job because he knows very well that you can do that work. You are anointed, appointed and called to do that work. God has brought you with a purpose in your life. God repeatedly tells you to do certain things in your life over and over again. God wants you to do it. But you are not doing it. May be you are afraid or you are not willing to make a commitment. You are not seeing yourselves doing that. How is that possible Lord? But lord says it has to be done only through you. God always wins the wrestling match.
The third winning opportunity in the wrestling match is:
A move during which you quickly turn the tables and go from being in a position of defense to being in a position of Offense. Wrestler who’s brought down, is in the position of defense and now he turns over the other one and he moves himself to the position of offence. 2 points of course in the wrestling match. Spiritually speaking this is not a good move at all. Take-down and escape is good because God will bring you back anyway but reversal is not good move. We take the offensive position from the defensive position. God cannot handle this. Because he is God. How can we ever do this to our God? We can never oppose God. It’s dangerous to oppose God.
Solomon talked about this very clearly in Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the Lord. But still we try to teach God at times.
When you pray, Bible says do not pray hastily and don’t say take my life away Lord . Do not pray that way because God’s wisdom is much higher than our wisdom that we can ever think.
When we pray, don’t try to teach God, just say what ever we want and STOP. God knows everything. It’s not a good move at all. When we pray, Bible says do not use repetitive words – Babbling like pagans, long prayers thinking that prayer will be answered. Sometimes we just go on and on, lets not think that such prayers will be answered or heard.
Matthew 6:7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Let our prayer be sharp and crisp. By telling too many things we try to teach God at times and God doesn’t like that much.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.
God wants us to think even when we pray about the words that we use but men have always tried to fight God to bring God on our way. This is the saddest part of it. Men try to twist the hands of God so that God can move on behalf of us.
- Pharaoh tried to fight God. You remember the story. It cost him his whole honor, his people, his slaves, his army, his son and his own life.
- King Arad, the Canaanite fought God. God destroyed his people and destroyed his armies. Sihon, King of the Ammorites, Og, Bashan all tried to fight God. They were slaughtered and their land was possessed by Israel.
- Balak, King of Moab tried to fight God, plotted against God and lost the battle.
- The Midianites fought God. God slew all the Midianite males and took the five Midian kings and slew them too. God is all powerful. This morning God wants us to know, let’s not think anything out of the will of the God, completely surrender to the plan to the God.
- The King of Ai fought the God and he was hanged.
- All the kings in Joshua chapter 9 fought God, they plotted all kinds of clever little devices against God and all five of them were taken and hanged on five trees in a row.
- The northern kings in Palestine fought against God. Joshua remembered the story and confined all their horses and burned them. Their chariots were slaughtered with a sword.
- The Bible tells us in Joshua Chapter 12, there were 31 kings who tried to fight against God and they were all slain by Moses and Joshua.
- The greatest men of the world, the monarchs of the world, they were all trying to plot against God, bringing everything together to fight against God. But simply they couldn’t fight against God. It is wrong move to turn against God. At times we turn against God. We ask questions to God. This morning God wants us to know that he is God, we are human.
- Ahab tried to fight God. Remember him? The dogs licked his blood. We can’t fight God.
- In the Southern kingdom and the Northern kingdom most of the kings fought God. None of them could gain victory.
- Rehoboam, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Athaliah, right on down and finally tragically they all met their end of life, terrible stories in the word of God that we see.
We cannot fight God. The greatest people and powerful in the world started fighting God.
- There have been Napoleons in the history, Hitlers, Stalins, Gingus Khans and everybody. There are many other people, names that can go on and on. They all tried to fight God. They collected all the riches and put all the people together and thought they can go and fight God. They could not fight God. Always God won in the history.
He is King of Kings, he is immortal, he is eternal God.
Psalm 2:1-4 1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces, And cast away Their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Bible says, they are all plotting against God, Bible says God who sits in heaven, he just laughs. He just mocks at them. The same thing is applicable to you as a child of God. When people are trying to do something against a child of God, God just mocks at them and laughs at them because nobody can touch a child of God.
When God wrestles with us, we are not going to win. God is going to win but something is going to happen to our lives. It is going to change our lives. We can’t change God. But God changes us. No matter how much we wrestle against God but ultimately God gives, what he wants. But our life would have been already prepared to accept the will of God.
- When Jacob wrestled with God, God changed Jacob totally. He was just limping all along but he was blessed. The limp came because of his adamant nature, fighting with God, wrestling with God and not surrendering his life. Do not go to that extent. It may not be good. When God touches our life, we can’t handle it. It is better to surrender to God.
- When Jonah wrestled with God, Jonah had to repent.
- When the Kings wrestled with God, they were all perished, but God did not change.
God is a source of power. When we touch God, when we deal with God, all that one thing that we need is, surrender. Our mouths closed, our eyes closed, completely bring everything to surrender knowing that he is God.