Precious in My Sight

Series: General | Title: Precious in My Sight |  Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: Marine Dr Pentecostal Church Musquodoboit Harbour, NS | Date: October 20, 2013

Isaiah 43:4  Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you;

Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life.

“We are precious in the sight of God” is one of the Biblical facts that is difficult to comprehend.  Many times we don’t find ourselves precious.  We have more complaints than the good things we have to say about our lives.

Self-Deprecation or self  condemnation is one of the seven basic character flaws.  Self-deprecation means disapproving yourself, or running yourself down, both internally and in the sight of others.  It is a drive to make yourself so small and insignificant as we live on this earth.

  • Many times we hear an inner voice within us telling:
  • Who am I?, I am not good enough, Nothing I do will ever result in something good
  • I should feel ashamed of myself just for being me
  • Even before I try, I know that I am going to fail— so what is the point in trying 
  • At least I will always be right about one thing: that’s about my inadequacy
  • I have nothing of value that I can bring to anyone else.  I don’t belong here.  I am a fake.

These are the kind of inner voices that comes in our minds.  The fear of inadequacy—never being good enough to please or satisfy someone, never being good enough to deserve success or love or happiness, these have been an ongoing problem in our lives.

  • I cannot succeed in life, I cannot feel good about my life, I cannot get on well with others.  The best I can hope for is to limit the damage within myself.  Why should I open it up in front of others?  So I better handle it on my own. 
  • If I am criticized, I probably deserve it.  But at least if I criticize myself first, I leave others with nothing to criticize about me.  Quite often we get into self-condemnation or self-disapproving mode in our lives. 

These are some of the inner voices we hear in our everyday living on this earth.  Many times we get carried away with such thoughts in our minds.  We feel so inadequate and inferior about ourselves and we don’t feel like doing anything at all.

  • The enemy has kept children of God under such a bondage today.  I see that in our community, in all the communities and many churches where I go.  He keep repeatedly telling us that you are good for nothing. 
  • But God wants to deliver us from this self-condemnation
  • God made all of us in His own image and he loves us just the way we are.  He is the one who brought us to this place, in this church, with a purpose; but the enemy is always trying to put you down and he is trying to make sure that we fail in fulfilling God’s purpose.  He doesn’t really care about what do we do, he doesn’t care about what we feel about ourselves; but he is very particular that we miserably fail the purpose of God in our lives.
  • Ultimately the devil is interested to see us is failing God’s purpose. It is very important to realize that we have a role to do in God’s kingdom.  That’s the reason God has called us to this place.  That’s the reason God has called everyone of us by their name. 

But God says,   Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you;

Isaiah 41:9 (NIV)    9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you.

I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.

I want all of you to think about our past, where we are coming from, our past life – how it was, think about our childhood days.  God has brought us to this place with a purpose because He loves us, He is our God.  Today we are so proud to say that.  He blesses us.

 Jeremiah 31:3  “I have loved you with an everlasting love;
The love that doesn’t stop here, the love will continue even as we go into eternity.  He loved us with such a great love.

Psalm 119:73  Your hands have made me and fashioned me.

 

If we think about the fact that God has created us in His own image, with His own hands He has fashioned us; the moment the fact gets deep in our hearts, we don’t condemn ourselves.  It hurts the heart of God when we think so low about ourselves.  God feels bad. 

Jesus asked us to look at the birds of the air, look at the lilies of the valley, how much more will I feed you and how much more will I clothe you?  Then why are you so anxious?  That is the question Jesus asked the crowd.  Today, He is asking the same question to each and everyone of us.

Our God is our God, no doubt about that.  If you are children of God and you know the power of God, today He is willing to deliver us from that unknown and never ending struggle that we try to handle by our own.  

The reasons why I believe that I am precious in the sight of  God today, are the following:

1.    God’s Word says so

2.    He loved me when nobody loved me

3.    He understood me when everyone failed to understand me.  When everyone around me had no clue what’s going on in my life,  my savior understood me perfectly.

4.    He called me into this, while there are many out there who are more talented and more able – but they are not called. There are many out there who are capable of  doing many more things, but they are not willing to come over here.  We don’t find them here today.

5.    He trusted me when I was not trustworthy.  He trusted us and placed this church in our hands, similarly He placed our family and children in our hands even though we are not trustworthy. 

6.    He promised me saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.  Who is going to be with you if you are not precious?

7.    He has given me hope that He is going to come back to this world to take me home, what a precious promise it is!  If we are not precious, He would not have given such great promises in our life.  

What more evidence do we need to realize that we are precious in the sight of God?  We need to be proud of it and happy about it.

There are two reasons why we don’t realize that we are precious in God’s sight.

1. Comparison

Many times we compare ourselves with someone else and get discouraged.  But today God is telling us,”You are precious in my sight”.  Do you know that you are made unique in this world?  We sing a song and tell God “There is no one else like you.  I believe God looks at each one us and tells us,There is no one else like you.  We are unique.  In this vast universe, on Earth, even though we are one among the 7.2 billion living on this earth, yet, we are unique and we are precious to Him. Isn’t it wonderful?

The moment we compare ourselves with others, we fail to realize that uniqueness in us.  The moment we try to look at others, we fail God by saying that I am not like somebody else.  God wants us to realize that we are unique.  The moment we fail to realize our uniqueness, we get discouraged and we feel so low about ourselves.  God is telling us that, I have made you, just what you are today.  That is how I want you to be.  I don’t want you to be like someone else.  Today,

  • We may not be an Elijah to call fire from heaven
  • We may not be Moses to divide the read sea and take the children of Israel
  • We may not be like David who brought Goliath down
  • We may not be a Samson who set fire to the Philistines grains
  • We may not be talented as someone else
  • We may not be popular like someone, like sometimes kids feel that I am not popular in my class, in my school
  • We may not be like somebody else who is always liked by others
  • We may not be approached by anybody, we just come and go.  No one comes and talks to us and spends time with us
  • We may not be as successful as our brothers, sisters, or the other family members
  • We may not be liked by everyone in our family
  • We may not be understood and accepted by everyone around us today

But thank God that each and everyone of us is not like somebody else, we are unique.  We are just what we are.  I am just what I am and nothing can change me.  Similarly, nothing can change you, you are just what you are.  We do not have to worry about that, we are not like somebody else.

I thank God that I am not created like someone else, but I am created in the likeness of my God. That’s an amazing fact.  We find, we are precious the moment we realize that we are created in His own image.  I most often ask, “Have you seen God?”  They say,’no’.  I say, go and stand in front of the mirror because the Word of God says that I have created you in my own image.

God has certain unique plans for our lives, it doesn’t matter how old we are.  It probably cannot be achieved by someone else.  The Word of God tells us if God wants us to do something through us,  he can do so only through us.  Nobody else can replace us.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)  11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

The moment we stop comparing ourselves with others, there is a great relief in knowing that God has a specific plan for me in my life.

 2. Dependency on self

There are many out there who are capable, talented, accepted by the society, they are popular, but they don’t have time for God.  We are so busy, we come to the church,  we go to the Bible study, we go to the intercessory prayer ministry and we do so many things but we question our talents.  There are many out there, they are much more talented but they are not willing.  Whereas, we are willing to go for it.  They boast about their own abilities, in their own achievements, they don’t depend on God, in effect they are useless for God.  But as we decide to depend on God, draw strength from him; we can be used by God.  We can be a useful vessel in the presence of God.

 

But God doesn’t want us to go and do things on our own in this world.  He wants us to depend on Him.  The moment I try to do things by my own strength, I fail there.  God brings me to a point, to tell me that you are not trying to do things by My (God’s) strength, you are trying to do things by your own strength, it’s not possible.  It will appear that things are flourishing but the end is not going to be good. 

When everything is going on well, we tend to depend on God.  But God is asking, ”when things are not going well in your life,  are you still depending on Me?”

Everyday God expects us to completely depend on him-

For our studies

For our work situation

For our family issues

For our marriage to work well

For our business to flourish
For our church to be built

For our church to bring the gospel out to the community, we need to depend on God. 

When we depend on God, we are not limited by our abilities, that’s the secret of depending on God.
When I am depending on God, I am not limited by my abilities
When I depend on God, I need not to worry about what I am capable of doing
When I am depending on God, I do not worry about resources that I have within me but when I depend on God, my resources become limitless
When I am depending on God, my abilities go beyond the limit.
When I am depending on God, He gives me such a strength to do great things for Him.

Today God is asking us to depend on him.

When we depend on ourselves, we are afraid.  But when we depend on God, we are courageous.

When we depend on our own strength, we feel weak because we are weaker vessels.  More and more we depend on ourselves, we are going to become weaker and weaker.  God is telling us,”depend on me”.  Because He can strengthen those who are weak.

Once we start depending on God, we will realize, how precious we are in the sight of God.

Many times we get frustrated easily and say

Lord why am I going through all these things in my life.

Why is my sickness not leaving at all?

Why did this happen to my child?

Why no one on this Earth seems to understand me?

The answer is simple.  God wants us to depend on  Him, He doesn’t want us to depend on our abilities.  At times our faith and dependency on God is tested.  Even gold which is a precious metal, is tested by fire.  You and I are certainly more precious than gold, you and I are certainly more precious than the birds of the air and the lilies of the valley; how true is it that we are tested by fire in our lives.

 1 Peter 1:7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

God wants us not to give up by looking at the difficulties.  God wants us to trust in Him and depend on Him.

 The more we depend on God, He is going to make us more precious; as gold is taken through the fire, its going to be pure and precious. 

Today God  is telling you,”just go through it”, it will result in praise, honor and glory.

When we don’t compare our selves with others.  We find that we are unique in the presence of the God.  We accept that we are so precious in God’s presence.

When we don’t depend on our abilities, we start depending on God’s abilities.  We find things start working in our lives.

We realize that we are so precious in God’s presence.

David realized this fact and he says,

Psalm 139:13-14   13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works,

And that my soul knows very well.

Psalm 139:16   Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. 

He says, you looked at my substance even before it was formed, even before shape was given to it; you knew me, right from the beginning.  You are able to take care of me until I finish my day.

It is God who created us.

It is God who put our parts together in our lives.

It was not a chance or an accident that we were born in this world.  It was God.

He saw us even before we were formed in our mother’s womb.

He called us even before the foundations of the earth was laid.

 He says,

1 Peter 2:9 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

 

Today, if you are frustrated with everything that’s going on in our lives, don’t give up.  Keep moving forward because God is with you and He is considering us precious.

We need to give our God another opportunity to work in our lives.

Today, He wants to set you free from the oppressing thoughts that  we are struggling with in our lives.

If you are sick and tired, start depending on God.

Your medications may not help at times, but Jesus is our healer.

If you are struggling with family issues and misunderstanding, lets came back to our creator.  Tell him,”Lord you created me, you know what I am going through in my life.  Lord, I pray that you put all those things together in my life”.

If someone is working against you in your life, if you are experiencing evil in your work place, in your business, in your society; God is telling us to depend on Him.
Zechariah 2:8  for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

Whatever we are dealing today, God wants us to know that He is able to deliver us because we are so precious.

Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you

 

Your Priority Decides your Destiny

Series: Your Priority Decides your Destiny| Title: General |  Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: December 10, 2017

We are reading from  Luke 14:15-24 

15 Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him,  “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, 17 and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ 18 But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ 20 Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ 23 Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ”

The Setting:

Here we read a parable where Jesus was sitting at a house of leader of the Pharisees on a Sabbath day.  It was not just an ordinary settings, usually we see miracles taking place when Jesus used to be in the synagogue, preach in synagogue.  I am giving you setting now.  We are reading from Luke chapter 14 and there is an important message for you and for me, that message says “Your priority decides your destiny”.

Think about Jesus sitting in the house of a Pharisee on Sunday morning.  Jesus was not going to the temple but instead Jesus chose to be in the house of a Pharisee. There was a man sitting in front of Jesus.  Bible says he was a man who had a special sickness called Dropsy, in the current terms we can call it as Edema, a man suffering with swelling all over his body – excessive fluid collection.  Jesus was trying to handle the argument there because day being a Sabbath day, Jesus was opening the question “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”  Jesus was a little naughty there, he was just throwing that question for an argument and Jesus healed him perfectly.

Then he was talking about humbling ourselves when we are invited to a wedding, Jesus was saying, you just go and sit at a lowly place.  Don’t go and sit at the place of honor, so that if you need to be honored, somebody will come and lift you up to honor you.  Today, at times we try to take honor by ourselves, we don’t wait for the God to lift us up.  Jesus was teaching very clearly to take the place that is lowly. 

Then Jesus talked about this parable of the great supper.  One of the man who sat there said, Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”

Then Jesus opened His mouth with this parable that we read.

The Parable:

It says,  a certain man hosted a supper and he invited many people.  At the time of the supper he also sent one of his servants, to go and tell everybody that the supper is ready – also sent a reminder.  But Bible says, they all together made excuses.

  • The first one came and told the servant, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I need to go and see it’.
  • Second one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them in the field’.
  • Third one came and said, ‘I just got married, and I want to spend time with my new wife’.
  • Three person came with three different excuses.
  • The servant came reporting that to the master, Bible says the master became really angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring here the poor and the maimed, those who got hurt and the lame, those who couldn’t walk and the blind, those who couldn’t see’.
  • Servant did as exactly, what the master told.  He brought everybody into the supper hall.
  • Servant said, ‘We still have room’.  And the master said, ‘Go out into the highways and the hedges, and compel everybody to come to the supper, that my house will be filled’. He did so.
  • Finally he said, ‘For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper’.

End of the parable was not that great.  Jesus  said, ‘I invited many but they did not come.  They had enough excuses to tell.  Those who did not come, they are not going to taste my supper’.  Jesus talked about this supper of lamb of God.  Jesus talked about, they are not going to get into heaven. 

Life priorities taking over kingdom priority:

Master invited people for a supper.  What is that supper refers to in the biblical context.  It is an opportunity to have fellowship with God, it also means it is an opportunity to hear the Lord- breaking bread and sharing bread refers to the Word of God, supper also means taking time of prepare ourselves to take part in the Holy Communion – supper of the lamb of the God.  Don’t miss communion Sunday.  You need to be in the house of the Lord on the day of communion.  We don’t know how many communions we’ll be able to have together on this earth but we need to be there, don’t miss any opportunity. 

What are life priorities?

  • Think about the first one, come and told the master, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it’.
  • Second one told, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them’.
  • Third one came and told, ‘I just got married, and I want to be with my wife, I cannot come’.

Three things that we need for our daily living – a place to build a house, a livelihood or a business, thirdly a wife.  All those three things are really necessary necessities for life.  Yes, they are very necessary.

Is there anything wrong in buying a land? Is there anything wrong in buying a business ? Is there anything wrong in getting married ?  

Some of the churches preaches that too.  You cannot have a land on this earth, you have a hold, you cannot go to heaven.  That’s not right, that’s wrong.  Some of the churches preach against buying a business and doing a business.  You need to be careful about whom you partner but God is able to bless you through your businesses.  Some of the churches even talk about not getting married.  Three things Bible is talking about and these three individuals came with reason, why they are not able to come for the supper.  There is nothing wrong, they need to go after these things which are necessary for their life.

What is the problem here?  Why Master/ God has to get angry when people said excuses?

    1. When the necessities of life becomes as excuse for not meeting the kingdom priorities.

Not just one person doing this.  Verse 18 says, But they all with one accord began to make excuses.

So when the necessities of life becomes an excuse for not meeting the kingdom priorities, that’s where the problem began.

What are the kingdom priorities?

  • Coming for the supper when invited.

As I said, supper is the time of fellowship, supper is the time of hearing Word of God, supper is the time of being united through Holy Communion with Lord God.  At times the kingdom priorities change.  Your priority may not be my priority but all of us have kingdom priority.

What else is the problem?

     2. All these three life priories that they talk about, were just new and fresh, they are interesting to explore.

He just bought that land.  He just bought that the yoke of oxen, he wanted to test.  He just got married. All these life priorities were new and fresh, interesting to explore.  When life priorities become more interesting than the Word of God, than seeking God’s presence, then there is a problem.  When we are not saved, God tells us, you need to give your life to Jesus.  We think that’s all we need and we give our life to Jesus.  But when we become children of God, God tells us, ‘I want you to move further, I want you to get involved in the ministry, I want you to share the love of God, I want you to sing, I want you to do this or that’.  If we don’t do those things it becomes a problem.  When we do all this kind of things in our life, God tells us at some point of time, what ever you did in this world is enough, now separate yourself for the work of God.  This morning, ‘I am talking to you not to anyone else’.  Our God is a God who demands as you yield your lives more and more, the demands of God is so heavy on your life.

     3. There is no excuse when it comes to the matter of God.

All three of these individuals asked for excuse, but they were not excused.  When we say excuses to God, we take it  granted that God accepts our excuses but that’s not true.  Their excuses were not accepted.  If their excuses would have been accepted –

  • The supper would have got cancelled.
  • Probably he would have said, ‘I am postponing supper to another day’.  But he did not do that.

When it comes to the work of God, if we say excuses, God is not going to wait for us.  The precious salvation God brought to his own Children – Jewish people, it was rejected.  God did not wait.  He invited everybody like you and me.  Salvation became so acceptable and available for Gentiles.  Our excuses cannot stop God.

The alternate plan of the Master:

Verse 21 says the Master of the house became angry.  Think about it, our excuses at times makes God angry.

  • the excuses never stopped God from getting angry
  • the excuses they asked, never allowed God to give them another chance.  There was no other chance given to them.

 There are two measures taken by the Master:

Measure 1:

Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed (injured) and the lame and the blind.   

Who are they?  They are the people who are living in the streets.  They were not the invitees, they are the Gentiles.  They were not the original people of God.  They are non Christians.  They are not believers.

Initially they were invited but now the measure master is taking, is go and BRING the poor and the maimed (injured) and the lame and the blind.  

If we are not available for the work of God, if we can say many excuses in the presence of the God, God is going to bring some people who are living in the street, the poor, maimed and the lame and the blind. 

  • God is not really pleased in our appearance – God is looking for commitment, people who are committed for the cause.
  • God is not really pleased in knowing who we are – God is looking for your availability.  God can use anybody.  God is not pleased in our spiritual level,  but God is pleased when we say, Lord, I am available for you.

Measure 2:

Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 

First one was INVITED, second one BRING, they were brought and third one COMPEL them or force them.  The master was made aware that, there are more rooms in the supper hall and master told the servant, ‘Go and compel everybody to get into so that house is filled’.

Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.   

We are living in a time where we are compelled to give priority to God.  Why do we say that?  You need to do this, God has called to do this, you are supposed to be available because it is forced.  At times I am forcing you to do certain things because I am forced to do certain things.  God has not given us that as an option in our hands, we are forced to do the work of God.

I was in need of help of a commentary there, often I use to refer  Matthew Henry’s Commentary. 

The violence denotes a strength, and vigor, and earnestness of desire and endeavor, in those who followed John’s ministry, else they would not have come so far to attend upon it.  It shows us also, what fervency and zeal are required of all those who design to make heaven of their religion.  Note, They who would enter into the kingdom of heaven must strive to enter; that kingdom suffers a holy violence; self must be denied, the bent and bias, the frame and temper, of the mind must be altered; there are hard sufferings to be undergone, a force to be put upon the corrupt nature; we must run, and wrestle, and fight, and be in an agony, and all little enough to win such a prize, and to get over such opposition from without and from within.  The violent take it by force.  They who will have an interest in the great salvation are carried out towards it with a strong desire, will have it upon any terms, and not think them hard, nor quit their hold without a blessing.  They who will make their calling and election sure must give diligence.  The kingdom of heaven was never intended to indulge the ease of triflers (who take things easy), but to be the rest of them that labor.  It is a blessed sight; Oh that we could see a greater number, not with an angry contention thrusting others out of the kingdom of heaven, but with a holy contention thrusting themselves into the kingdom of heaven.

What it means is God is looking for such people, who don’t take things easy, who takes matter of kingdom of God seriously.  Who will not try to push people away from kingdom of God but instead they will try to push people into the kingdom of God.

Master wanted his house to be filled.  God is not happy when we have empty chairs here.  As I used to say, church is not for believers, if you think church is for believers, you are wrong.  Church is for unbelievers,  those who are lost in the world.  Jesus came to this world to save which was lost in the world.  Jesus did not come for those who are healthy, those who are healthy don’t need a physician, Jesus came for those who are unhealthy.  If we don’t have a non believer in our worship service, I believe the time that we are here is a waste, when we have such empty chairs God is not happy about it.  We cannot please God by our dancing and worshiping, we need unbelievers to be here because only they need cross.  Today if we die, we may go to heaven but what about those who are living in the streets.  God wants his house to be filled.  God is not looking at our outward appearance, spiritual levels but God is looking at those who are available.  Even if they are not available, we can go out and bring them into the presence of the God, if we can force somebody, open the door and push people inside, that’s what is expectation of the master.  God is looking for those who are:

  • Socially neglected
  • Whom we consider so low, if we look at somebody with all tattoos and earring hanging in their ears, we think  that they are designed, determined, destined for hell but that’s not true.  We look at outward appearance, the soul inside of him is so precious, we cannot neglect.  There are people in the world around us today, God wants us to bring them into the presence of God because God wants his house to be filled.

Matthew 20:16  Jesus said,So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen”.

Do not neglect anybody.  Churches are talking about separation, it is true that you need to be separated form the sinful world but Jesus never ever asked us to stop loving somebody.  Jesus was considered as friend of sinners, he was sitting was Pharisees, he was sitting with the woman who was a prostitute.  People who were keep on saying excuses, they were losing their opportunity.  God is going to replace them.  This is a message to you,  stop saying excuses when work of kingdom is about to begin.  I can hear your excuses but God is not going accept your excuses.  Nothing can stop us, always the kingdom work takes the priority.  You are called believers because you belong to the kingdom and your king takes the priority, nothing else.

The Result of telling excuse:

Verse 24  For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper”.

How painful it was, I thought who were invited they were church members, congregation of the church but they all said excuses, now the master says; none of them is going to enter into my supper.  That means even after getting saved, even after coming to church regularly, even after worshiping God, we can go to hell: 

  • If our priorities don’t becomes the priority the kingdom.  God wants to set our priorities right.  It’s not important how many hours we pray, prayer is important, living holy life is important, meditating the Word of God is important but what is the priority of God in your life.  You need to understand the priority of God in your life, the reason why God chose you, called you from that surroundings. Your family is still not living in a Christian way, biblical way, but God pulled you out of that situation.  There is a reason for that.  If life priorities become more important than God’s work, we need to question our destiny.  People those who were invited they had different priority, they could not consider the kingdom priority higher than their own priority.  Today, all of us have priorities in our lives but Bible say when there is kingdom urgency, God wants us to keep our priorities aside.  God wants us to take the priority of kingdom of God.
  • If we continue to say excuses in the God’s matters, verse 24 may come upon our lives.
  • If we refuse and reject invitations God is sending to us, to work in God’s kingdom, Verse 24 may come upon our lives.
  • If we continue to fail to be diligent to make our call and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).  Once in a while you turn back and see the reason, why God called you?  We often forget but God wants you to think about the reason why God chose you?  If we fail there, Luke chapter 14 verse 24 may come upon our lives.

Not only God can find somebody else to do the job but there is a punishment.  If we don’t set our priorities right , there is punishment, that punishment is eternal.  I believe God wants to set our priorities right so that our destiny is determined by what we do.

Who touched Me?

Series: Who touched Me?| Title: General |  Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, December 3, 2017

We are reading from

Mark 5:25-34   25 Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. 28 For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” 29 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. 30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” 31 But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 32 And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. 33 But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. 34 And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Here we read one of the many miracles that took place in the life of Jesus, where we see a woman with the issue of blood, came behind and touched the garment of Lord God and got healed instantly.  Jesus turned to the multitude and asked, “Who touched me”?  This morning I would like to title my sermon as: “Who touched me”?

We see many kinds of people following Lord Jesus in that particular situation.  We see the disciples following Lord Jesus, great multitude following Lord Jesus.  Who were all there in the multitude?   There were many sick people, just ordinary people like you and me, Pharisees, tax collectors, teachers of the law, women.  This morning I want to talk about the kind of people, that were following Jesus Christ.

First group of people – Religious people

  • People who strictly follow the law.  When Jesus arrived, it was old testament period still people were living in, those who did not realize that Jesus is Messiah.  He’s going to divide the history into two.  They never realized that the new testament period, the dispensation of grace is about to begin.  They had no clue about it.  They were still thinking that, they were living in the old testament period, so they were still following the law very strictly.
  • People who judge others, they follow the Jesus very closely, wherever Jesus went, they were found there, just to judge Jesus and people who followed Lord God.
  • Group of people who think heaven belongs to them.
  • Some of those people were spiritually very prideful.  Even they considered somebody else inferior than themselves.  They considered themselves as better than someone else spiritually.
  • There were people, they said I know everything, who is this Jesus, what is he preaching or talking about, I know the old testament law, I know the traditions.
  • People who were saying, they are children of Abraham.   Who is this Jesus?  Son of Joseph and Mary.
  • Bible says these people were prideful, they were full of jealousy, they had wrath within them, they did not have any fruit in their lives, they had love for money.
  • In fact, Jesus calls such people as hypocrites, they were following Jesus.  Jesus also turned to some people and told them you are white washed tombs, brood of vipers, stiff-necked people – they were religious people.  Even today in this world, we come across such religious people in Christianity.  They hold on to the religion, they are willing to give their life for the sake of religion.  Jesus Christ did not come to this world to establish a religion.
  • Paul says people who are having a form of godliness but denying its power.  We come across such people every where today.  They appear to be godly but they deny the power of resurrection.

Second group of people – Needy people

  • People like you and me.  These people followed Lord God because of their need, because they saw miracles following Lord Jesus.  Where ever Jesus went, they were following because they were really fascinated by seeing the miracles that Jesus performed.
  • They are like disciples kind of people.  When Jesus turned and asked, “who touched me?”  Disciple did not have any understanding about what Jesus is asking.  Disciples were saying, Lord people are just falling on you, why do you ask, who touched?
  • These are the people, who follow Jesus because they are born in the Christian family.  They don’t know, why they follow God but they follow Jesus and say they we are Christians.
  • These people follow Jesus for material blessings.  There are many people who are found in the presence of God, when we are not having job, when we are not having children but when we are blessed with such blessings, do we follow God?   If we follow God just only for material blessings, we are more pitiable than those all who do not follow God.

Third group of people – Socially neglected

People who consider themselves so low, they are outcasts, not accepted by the society.  Some examples are

  • Tax collector- who could not come in the presence of God and was standing far away and saying Lord, I am a sinful man.
  • Jesus was sitting at the side of the well, Samaritan women came to Jesus, untouchable, she can’t even speak to a Jew – socially neglected.  They are people today following Lord Jesus, they are not recognized by the Christian community or churches.
  • The lepers, who used to sit outside the city gate and cry out saying ‘Unclean! Unclean!  So that no body will go to that side.  They were following Jesus.
  • A women with the issue of blood- a social outcast, following our Lord Jesus Christ.

Who this woman was?

(Verse 25 & 26) Bible says that she was a woman with a issue of blood.

  • Twelve long years she was suffering with a issue of blood.  That was a terrible condition for any woman to go through.  Today medically known as hemorrhage or menorrhagia, they go through such as medical condition.
  • Bible says, she met many doctors, but could not be cured from that sickness.
  • Bile says, she spent all that she had in her life to gain healing but there was no healing.
  • Her health was becoming worse than getting better.
  • She became so weak and fragile and she could not do anything by herself.
  • There were disappointments, frustrations building up in her life.
  • Eventually, she had to shut herself in the house because she was socially untouchable according to the law.

She was socially outcast according to the social standards that are defined in the book of law Leviticus  chapter 15

  • Under the Mosaic law a woman with an issue of blood  was considered unclean and was “put apart” for seven days. During those seven days, what ever she touches is considered unclean.
  • Leviticus 14 says, if that condition stays more than seven days, all the days of her life, she will be considered unclean and untouchable.

We are talking about a woman, who was going through such condition for 12 long years.  I believe, she was totally cut off from the society.

What she did ?

Verse 27 – She heard about Jesus.

  • She did not want to make a public appearance.  Going and standing in front of Jesus because she is not supposed to go and touch anybody.
  • She wanted to come behind Jesus.  She found out her way to reach Jesus.  From her house, we don’t know, how far Jesus was walking.  Jesus was passing that village, I have no idea, how this women can come to Jesus.  Such women cannot walk straight, they need to crawl.  She was crawling and somehow reached to Jesus and crowd was huge.  Crowd was not allowing to go and touch Jesus but somehow she found her way to come behind Jesus.
  • She did not even want to touch Jesus.
  • She wanted to touch just hem of His garment so that Jesus will not know otherwise she will be caught by everybody and she will be put into death.  So she wanted to avoid that.
  • It was an unusual touch.
  • It was a touch of faith, because bible says power went out of Jesus.

Bible also says, moment she touched garment of Lord Jesus, she got instantly healed.  She was so afraid because she wanted to do this in secret.  Jesus turned back, she never expected that.  She just expected the healing.  When Jesus turned back, she was so afraid and trembling because what she did, was not acceptable to the society.  Verse 33 says, when Jesus found her in crowd, she was in fear and trembling.

Faith of this woman:

A woman who was having the issue of blood, woman who met many doctors and every appointment was a failure and disappointment in her life, she spent all that she had, given to the doctors and she became so weak and fragile, not accepted by society and could not even come out of the house to be with the society.

She did not miss that moment in her life.  She heard that Jesus is passing by.  If she would have missed that moment in her life, she would never have gotten that opportunity again in her life.  She decided to make an attempt for the healing.

Do you remember about blind Bartimaeus sitting at the side of the road, moment he heard that Jesus is passing by, he was not keeping quiet, he was crying with the loud voice saying, “Lord Jesus have mercy upon me”.

I am talking about something which is important for your life this morning, something that will keep you healthy, that is precious, you cannot take it light.

She knew her moment has come for healing and she did not want to miss that opportunity.

Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.

This woman realized, my Lord God is near to me.  This is the right time for me to tap into the power of God. She decided to go for it.

  • She had a tough and rough life unlike what we have today. Her life was miserable.
  • She was living in hopelessness.
  • She was all alone because husband abandoned her, children forgot about her and she ended up living in house all alone for the entire life.  Totally neglected and considered as an outcast.
  • But she could push through the crowd to receive the healing from Lord God because of her faith.

Faith:

  • Bible says, her faith came alive when she heard about Jesus, until that point of time she was thinking about end of her life, about not getting cured at all but when she heard about Jesus, her faith came alive.
  • Her faith could not be put down by people.  How much struggle she would have got to push through the crowd to reach Lord God.  She never thought about what people will think about her. Sometimes in our lives, when we want to access the faith that God has given to us, we worry about, what someone else will think.  This is awful.  We need a healing touch from God, we want to be blessed in our life, why do we worry about what others are going to think about us?  This poor woman never bothered about what people will think about, all that she was in need of Jesus- a touch from His garment.
  • That faith did not allow her to keep quiet.  James says, “Faith without action is dead”.  She got that faith.
  • She wanted to find a solution for her problem.  God want us to find a solution for our problem, God doesn’t want us to live with that problem.  Some of us are so accustomed that if we don’t have a problem, we feel odd.
  • Her faith is a simple faith not something great.  What was the faith- only if I can touch the hem of His garment.  What brings healing today- just a simple faith, childish faith.  Example was given as mustard seed of faith to move the mountains.
  • This faith was not making her to wait for Jesus to touch her.  She did not wait for a moment so that Jesus will come and touch her.  She decided to go ahead and touch Jesus.
  • Her faith was so great, her faith could draw power out of Jesus.

What is our faith today?

God wants us to reach out to touch Him.  Not to wait for him to come and touch us.  God wants us to go ahead and touch him.

Build up your Resiliency

Series: General | Title: Build up your Resiliency |  Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday, October 29, 2017

Matthew 7:24-27 24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken (compare/associate) him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Who is a wise man here?  Who ever hears the Word and does them. Who is foolish man, who hears the Word and doesn’t do.  When we hear the Word of God, we become wise when we put the Word of God into practice.  When we hear the Word of God and we do not practice those scriptures, we become foolish.  That’s what scripture says.  God says, we need to be found wise, that’s the reason this parable is given.  Jesus here is saying that somebody built a house on the rock.  Who is that man, who hears the Word of God and who practices that scripture.  Somebody did not practice that scripture, he just hear the Word.  We hear many sermons but at the end of it, we don’t really practice anything, we don’t apply anything in our lives.  Then scripture says we are foolish.  We are equivalent to build a house on sand.  When wind blows, when flood rises, the house collapses.  God says you are foolish.  Because you keep hearing but you are not doing anything according to the Lord.

Today I would like to title my sermon as “Build up your resiliency”

  • Resilience describes the ability to spring back after being bent or stretched out of shape.
  • Resiliency is the status where someone is stretched beyond a limit and when everything is over, he is able to come back or spring back to its original position.  The ability to recover from the storms of life, that is what resiliency is.
  • Resilient people adapt to adversities.  We all go through some kind of adversity.  Things are not working the way we want.  If everything is working the way I want, I will be the king of this world.  But things are not working in the way I want.  Things are working in the way God wants probably in my life.  So resilient people adapt any adversity.
  • They weather or survive life’s storms.
  • Most of the time they may get hit by many situations but they raise up again – they are going to be stronger.  You look at the trees, they suffer through the wind, storm and the hurricane.  I believe somehow they recovered and those bent trees, could be straight little later when the hurricane is over.  That is what is resiliency.  God expects that character in our lives.  God wants to develop that resilience in us so that we will be able to handle any adverse situation in our lives.

Jesus spoke about the house that was rained over, hit by floods and beaten by heavy winds and storms.   Still that house was found erect.  The house was resilient enough to withstand all the storms that it could face in its life.  God is asking you, are you able to withstand the life’s storms that are blowing in your life, that are taking you to time of confusion and you feel like withdrawing from everything that you are been doing for God.  You just want to get into a silent mode.  Probably you will think, it is the time when I just want to be on myself.  God is telling you, you need to be resilient.

Ken Cooper is a kind of guy, I don’t want to have him as my neighbor, I don’t think you want to have him as your neighbor.  But he is a loving father and a loving husband, a role model for underprivileged children.  But he had a dark side – he was also one of Florida’s most wanted criminals.  He began shoplifting when he was a child, he started stealing cars and later on he went on robbing banks.  In the middle of all this his wife died with cancer in the very early stage.  Many robberies happened in his life after that.  When someone asked,”why you do all these things?”  He said,”I am not robbing for money.  I don’t want money.  The purpose was to handle the deep depression that I had after loosing my wife.  I wanted to show my anger on something.  That’s the reason I do all these things.”

Ken’s double life ended  very soon, as he was shot when he was robbing a bank and  he was sentenced for 99 years in The Rock, Florida’s most infamous prison.  He was there with inmate prisoners.  They were murders, rape criminals and everybody was there along with him in the prison.  But while Ken Cooper was in prison, he heard about the love of the Jesus, the prison chaplain preached him about Lord Jesus and Ken Cooper became a Christian.  He accepted Jesus Christ.  Along with Ken, there were many cellmates, they also accepted Jesus Christ.  They started preaching about Jesus to all their prison cellmates.

One day Ken and his friends adopted a kitten, its backbone was broken, his eyes were blinded and they named the kitten as Mr. Magoo.  Ken Cooper was taking care of the kitten.  Ken Cooper was laying his hands on the kitten’s head and praying for God to open his eyes and his eyes opened.  Kitten started seeing.  All the inmates were taking care of the kitten very well and the prison started changing.  There is no more rapist, there is no more thieves in the prison.  Everybody started coming into the love of Jesus Christ because of the ministry of the  Ken Cooper and his cellmates.  Ken Cooper was released very soon.  He dedicated his entire life to serve among the prisoners those who are getting out of the prison after imprisonment, that is resilience.  God is talking about someone who has gone very far and at the right time he is able to bend back to his original position in Christ.

When Jesus spoke about this, in Matthew 7:24-27 (again).  The questions that we need to ask:

  • What makes us strong, what makes us resilient, what makes us enduring? It’s not just hearing the Word of God but it is doing the Word of God.  We want to put this Word of God in practice.  Otherwise Christianity doesn’t mean anything.
  • Whose life is founded on the Rock?  – The one who listens and does.
  • Who can withstand the storms of life?  – The one who listens the Word of God and put them into practice.  There is great deal of pressure in the Word of God, there is great deal of attention in the Word of God to put into practice what we learn.
  • To whom the more is given, much is required.  We all are given sermons week after week and we hear sermon online.  Much is given, much is required too.

What did they hear? Jesus is almost ending the sermon on the mount.  Mathew chapter 5, 6, 7, all talks about the sermon on the mount.  Jesus preached a long sermon, at the end of sermon Jesus is saying, you heard me until now, now you go and put everything into practice.  What did they hear in the sermon on the mount.  Jesus talked about:

“The Be attitudes, Salt and Light,  Fulfilling the Law, Anger and Murder, Lust and Adultery, Divorce and Remarriage, Oaths, Eye for an Eye, Love your enemies, Give to the Needy people, How to Pray, How to Fast, False Teacher and False Prophets, The Wise Builder and the Foolish builder”.

They heard so much from Lord Jesus and now Jesus wanted them to go and put them into practice.

  • Resilience is the ability of an object to spring back its original shape.
  • It is the ability to withstand  all the difficult situations of the life.
  • Resiliency is achieved by putting into practice the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Life is going to throw a lot of challenges on us.  Storm is going to come on our way, we can never stop.  If  our house is built on sand, it is going to collapse.  We can not expect that to come up again.  But a house that is built on the rock, when the storm blows, it is going to stand.  It may be push little bit here but it is going to come back.  That’s what is resiliency.

How do we build up resilience?

  1. Be aware of your situation
  2. Be aware of your enemies
  3. Be built on God
  4. Be ready for another season
  1. Be aware of your situation

In order to build resiliency in our lives, in order to build that ability to quickly gain back or original position, first thing we need to do is to be aware of our situation.  This is Step 1.

Imagine a soldier, who is in the battle front.  He may be facing so many unexpected situations in the area of his operation.  Sudden threats of the enemy, unforeseen dangers coming on his way, loss of lives in front of him, enemy’s strategy  gets changed at times, mistrust and misbehavior of the fellow soldiers,  sometimes he lose the commander’s favor etc.  The soldier who is at war front is vulnerable to all these attacks everyday.

Where are you today?  We are living in a strange world, strange nation, for most of us not the native country, we don’t having any of your family members nearby, at times we wonder what am I doing under the heaven, sitting here in this nation.  The soldier on the forefront of the battlefield feels the same thing at times.  At times we feel, we are just left all alone in our lives.

What are the threats around us?  Health is at risk at times, our future is not guaranteed.  What about our study, our work situation, our children,  our job, financial situation.  We are not stable yet even at the age of  30, 40, 45 .  What is  going on in our life.  By the time we try to settle down, relationships strains. What else?  Life is throwing all that it can, on our lives.   We are like a soldier, standing and facing the adverse situations in the forefront.

Think of a tree trying to stand in the middle of a storm.  During the storm certainly it is going to lose some of its leaves, some of the branches are already broken, tree is still struggling to stand straight in its life.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4,  We are hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down.

Is that you today?

  1. Be aware of your enemies

We are living in a world, things are not happening in the favor of us, because we have an enemy.  We cannot neglect him.

A young naval captain was commanding his battleship for the first time in his career.  The battleship was piercing through the ocean on a particular night, he could spot in the dark pitch night,  a spot of  light coming towards the ship.

The young commander radioed to the other ship, “Alter your course ten degrees.”
The reply came very shortly, “No, you alter your course ten degrees.”
Captain became very aggressive.  He is a fearless captain.  He angrily sent a message, “Alter your course, I am a destroyer.”
The reply came quickly, “Alter your course, I am a lighthouse.”

Sometime in the course of our life, we need to alter our ways in order to survive in this world.  We came with a plan to this nation, what happened to that plan?  We came with the idea of settling down quickly within six months that was promised, three years now passed by, what happened to that?

Sometimes we are called to quickly adjust  to our situation to find survival on this earth.  That’s the reason  Solomon said in:

Proverbs 22:3 A prudent man (sensible) foresees evil and hides himself, But the simple (inexperienced) pass on (keep going ) and are punished.

God is calling you, to know the enemy so that you know to become resilient, when the enemy passes over you.  We need to know our enemies.

Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Our fight is not with flesh and blood, there is a power behind.  To become resilient God wants us to know our enemy.  He is trying to do all this, to put us down.  There are prophesies spoken in our life but today those prophecies have not come true, the reason is not that God lied, but there is enemy working behind to make sure to nullify, all that  God has promised in your life.  Once God’s blessing are cancelled in your life, you are brought to the ground.  That’s what enemy is trying.

  1. Be built on God

The reason the wise man put his foundation on the Rock, because he knew his enemy.  Even before the house was built, he knew very well, he cannot built his house on the sand.  He need to built his house on the rock.  He decided to build his house on the rock.  Be built on God.

Your christian life, the life that we tried to built in Christ, has to be built by us, that cannot be borrowed.  Today we try to borrow our  Christian life from others.  We look at the videos, the way people preach, the way people do things, we get fascinated by those things and we try to borrow their life.  It’s not going to work.  This is the life, that has to be built by us.  This morning God wants to tell us, we need to built our life in Christ.

You know what deeper foundation means?

Deeper foundation means:

  • Having a deeper relationship with God.  We don’t see that outside.  Saying hundred times praise the Lord doesn’t guarantee that.  Having a deeper foundation in Christ, will help us to become resilient.
  • Having mounted pillars of strong Biblical principles in our lives – fleeing away from sinful things, meditating on God’s Word, systematic giving, sharing the good news.  These are kind of pillars that we can build in our lives.  Build those pillars and work around those pillars.
  • Having built on strong commitments.  These commitments are important.  Commitment between you and God.  The sacrificial commitment that you have with your God.  The decisions that you have taken that no one else knows.  But that’s how you move.  Those are the commitments between you and your God.
  • Having a strong dependency on God.

There may be many more.  These are couple of things that we can do to built that strong foundation.

 Psalm 31:24 (NLT) So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the Lord!
1 Corinthians 15:58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.

Those who lay their foundation properly in Christ Jesus, are built with greater resiliency.  When wind blow on their lives, they bent, we all bend.  Because we all human, nobody can stand.  We think, we may fall.  We are just at the edge of the situation in our life.  But if our foundation is proper in Christ, we are resilient.  We bent back and come to our original position.

  1. Be ready for another season

Building up our resiliency means, being ready for another season.

  • Trees that are hit by storms, look for a new season of growth.  They don’t expect to be in that stormy situation every time.  They expect for new growth.  Slowly little later, if you go and see in the spring, all the leaves they lost,  are going to come back.  All the branches that they lost, are going to grow.  Trees is going to come back to its original position.
  • Be ready for another season.  That is the expectation of child of God.  It’s not that we have gone away from God,  it’s not we are falling part, it’s not that we are disintegrated.  God will bring us back.  Be ready for that.

God is preparing you for another season – the storm that God has allowed in our lives, is not to break us, but instead to build us, to bring a new season to our lives.

  • Trees lose leaves during the winter season.  Specially in the month of January and February, if we see trees, we will see only branches.  Trees loose their leaves during the fall.  They just get ready for winter.
  • As the winter approaches, for most of the birds in North America, there is scarcity of resources  here, the insects they eat, are not available during winter.  So most of the birds, those can fly longer, they migrate to South America and they are going to come back. They just get ready for another season.
  • Jonah was in the belly of the fish and he was praying to God.  God was about to bring him out and use him in another season.  When Jonah came out of the belly of fish, this is what he said:

Jonah 3 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

Second time Jonah was prepared for the season.  Building resiliency is also being ready for another season.  God wants us to be ready for another season in our lives.

Children of Israel were fed in the wilderness by Manna, Gilgal is a place where the manna ceased and the children of Israel had to learn to live by faith and not by sight (Joshua 5:10-12).

They were just wondering, Lord what happened?  We thought you are giving us food everyday but suddenly manna stopped.  Lord, I thought I have a job, but this morning, when I go to work, I saw a letter, you’re suspended from your duties.  Today is the last day, make every settlement.  Lord, I thought it is all done and you’re taking care of me but Lord why this?  We think everything is going in our health well but suddenly something arise there.  Lord why?

This morning God wants you to know that he is building resiliency within you.  This is not the end of the life.  The financial constraint is not the end, the limitations that you deal with today that’s not the end of  life.  God is preparing us for another season.

God wants you to get ready,

  • A season of refining/ purification
  • A season of abundance
  • A season of new beginnings
  • A season of new challenges

No matter how much we are stretched, God is equipping us to the position where we can keep going.

Elijah was crying out to God for his life, Lord take my life away, it’s all done, it’s worth that I’m not living in this world.  God said, no, I am making you more resilient.  You brought fire from heaven, that’s not all about your walk with Christ.  You prayed for somebody for healing and today you go through that same sickness, that’s not end of it.  God said, I’m equipping you for another season.  I am building resilience within you so that you will be able to withstand.

Rain is going to come down, flood is going to raise in the life, and the wind is going to blow and beat on the house; But we are not going to collapse, we are going to stand firm in the Lord.  The reason is, we developed that resilience within us and we can overcome because we know our enemy.  Our God is such a gentle God, he says,

A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench, Matthew 12:20

Today you feel so weak and so low.  When you look at the situations there is no hope.  When you turn every side, you’ll see things are not working in favor of you.  Enemy is trying to throw so many things in your way but God is telling you, I’m making you stronger, more resilient, I’m giving you more stamina and courage so that you will be able to handle the situation by the strength I give you.

Learning from the OT Leaders : Joshua – Strong and Courageous

Series: Learning from the OT Leaders | Title: Joshua – Strong and Courageous | Sermon by: Pastor Balan Swaminathan | Location: House of Intercessory Prayer Ministries, Halifax, NS Canada | Date: Sunday January 28, 2018

Joshua – Strong and Courageous

Another great leader from the Old Testament is Joshua.  The Bible talks about Joshua, who is an interesting character to study.

Joshua 1:1  After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: “Moses My servant is dead.  Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel.  Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.  From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.  Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you;  do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.  This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Here we read a great promise that was given by God Almighty to Joshua as he was about to take on the leadership role.  As we study about this great man of God, he stands as a great example and a role model.  Every generation has its own need of leadership, at times it takes so much to be a leader to rule a nation – especially in times of struggle and of great turmoil.  It is very challenging to rule the nation or even to be a leader in the kingdom of God.  We tend to look at great leaders who prove their lives to be a great leaders and act as role models.  What about the leaders of today?

When we read the books of Joshua, Exodus and Deuteronomy, much of Joshua’s achievements came from the way God used him in a supernatural way.  God used Joshua to divide the river Jordan and God used Joshua to bring down the wall of Jericho. During the time of Joshua, the sun and the moon stood still.  A mighty man of God, a great miracle worker, as he was leading the people of God through the wilderness.  After the death of Moses, Joshua took the mantle upon himself and he continued to lead the children of Israel.  Moses led the children of God out of Egypt and he pushed them into the wilderness.  Joshua has been given a mandate to lead them into the promised land.

Who is Joshua?

  • From the scripture, we can see that Joshua was the son of Nun, he was from the tribe of Benjamin.  (Exodus 33:11, Numbers 11:28).  He was born in Egypt like Moses did.
  • Joshua’s name was originally Hoshea, as mentioned in Numbers 13:16 These are the names of the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land.  And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun, Joshua.
  • The very name Joshua means Savior – the person by whom God is going to deliver.  God is going to save his people – is what Joshua means.  The Greek equivalent of Joshua is Jesus.  Jesus means the savior of mankind.
  • Joshua lived approximately for 40 years in Egypt under the bondage of Egyptians along with the children of Israel.  He was in the wilderness for 40 years, working along with Moses as a leader.  Until the age of 110, Joshua lived in the promised land of Canaan for 30 years.  (Joshua 24:29)

First Introduction:

Moses was forbidden entry into Canaan – a simple reason – Moses disobeyed God.  As Moses died, the leadership mantle fell upon the life of Joshua.  Joshua gets introduced in the Word of God for the first time in Exodus Chapter 17.  There Moses is asking Joshua to lead an army as children of Israel were going to fight against Amalekites.  The Bible says God used Joshua in a mighty way.  That was not just an ordinary way, but God told them very clearly – when you capture the nation, you are going to annihilate them and kill every man, woman and child along with their animals.  It was not as easy as capturing a city.  But Joshua as a mighty warrior executed the order that Moses gave him.  We find Joshua successfully leading this army and executing God’s command with perfection.  Joshua then gained the confidence of Moses.

When Moses was sitting at the mount, as long as his hands were lifted up by Aaron and Hur, the army was moving forward under the leadership of Joshua.  We can imagine the kind of influence that Joshua would have made among the children of Israel.  At times it was not an easy task to lead God’s people, when we think about Moses or Joshua or any leader for that matter, they need to listen from God, take care of their children and lead them in the right way.  They also need to get them engaged in these kinds of wars and missions that God wanted them to take.  It was not an ordinary task.  When we read/ learn about the Old Testament leaders, we are really learning about leadership, not the one that we see today, but the one which was filled with so much responsibility and commitment as they were leading the children of God in the wilderness.

Joshua gained great confidence among the people.  The most important characteristic of any Jewish leader was to have faith in God and obey His command without questioning, no matter what it takes.  They were willing to obey God, the moment He commanded them without thinking about the consequences.  Such were the leaders of the Old Testament.  Joshua was one among the twelve spies who went to Canaan.  Two brought back good report and the ten brought back a bad report.  The two who brought back the good report were Caleb and Joshua.  They said this according to Numbers 14:7 – “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.  If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey. ’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us.  Do not fear them. ”

That was the report Joshua brought, and no doubt he was a great leader.

  • A man of great vision, the moment he saw the country he got the vision.
  • He had a pair of eyes that looks for opportunity.  A great leader always looks for opportunity – where can we move and advance in the kingdom of God.
  • Great leaders do not fear anybody.  Joshua did not fear anyone;  he was a leader depending on God.
  • He spoke these words, they were not just from his own strength but from his dependence on God.

There are some great lessons we can learn from Joshua.

1. Leadership Development takes time:

Moses was Joshua’s mentor for 40 long years in the wilderness before Joshua took over. Joshua took the victory over Amalekites and when he gained the victory, Joshua could have done a couple of things.  He could have sat back and reaped the reward of victory throughout his life.  Joshua could have challenged Moses, and he could have climbed up in leadership ranking very quickly.  But Joshua did not do that, instead he did the opposite.  The Bible says Joshua was subordinating/ assisting Moses until he died.

  • We can think about Noah and how he built an ark with no prior experience.
  • But here we see that Joshua had to go through leadership training for over 40 years with Moses.

Joshua had a very great role in the leadership of the children of Israel.  There are a great number of occasions where Joshua was assisting Moses.

  • Exodus 24:13  Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God.  When God called Moses to Mount Sinai, Moses also took Joshua to a certain level.  When Moses comes back the entire nation was into idol worship except Joshua.  Joshua was waiting for Moses to come back while the rest of the crowd thought that Moses had died.
  • Numbers chapter 14 says – When they spied Canaan Joshua brought a good report in the favor of God.  When all the children of Israel were racing against the leadership of Moses, only Caleb and Joshua were standing with Moses.
  • Numbers 11:28 – So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!”  When people came against Moses, Joshua was standing with Moses.

God raised Joshua as second in command and as a successor of Moses.

  • Joshua was assisting Moses, under his shadow for 40 long years.
  • He was very faithful, and he was executing all his responsibilities according to what Moses said to him and he was fulfilling all the needs.
  • At times we say that leaders are not born but are raised.  We see that Joshua was very careful to learn everything from Moses.  Joshua learned from Moses on how to listen to God, how to make decisions that we can advance in the kingdom of God, how to be a good leader politically, military wise and the spiritual aspects, how to handle difficult situations when people come against the leadership.  Joshua was observing everything from Moses.
  • The Bible says Joshua was assisting Moses until the time comes.  When Moses died, God decided to bring Joshua up in the leadership.

There is a time when God will lift us up.
1 Peter 5:6 – Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.  
At times God expects us to be quiet and honor the leadership that God has given us – maybe in the church or our nation or our workplace.  We know for sure that some of our leaders in our workplace are not godly, they do not even consider us, they ill-treat people.  But as a child of God, God does not want us to raise against them, God wants us to be humble.  The Bible says that the leadership is given by God – may it be in the church, political arena, or our workplace.  We need to be submissive, if we do so, God will lift us up in due time.  Today people do not want to wait.  Joshua waited for 40 years being submissive.

  • Pastor Balan was working with a pastor for three years in his early days of Christian life.  From that man of God, Pastor learnt certain things.  He learnt how to get things done by fasting and praying.  He was a man of prayer.  Things were getting done when he threw his knees down.  He was a prayer warrior.  When he preaches not everybody liked him but there is a great crowd, with miracles happening, demons being cast out – because he was a man of prayer.
  • Pastor Balan got to work for another three years with another pastor and saw how boldly and courageously he stood oppositions.  He recounts the beginning of his ministry – he was in the city of Bangalore and everybody in the streets were against him and when he does something, the next day morning, the people would come and destroy everything.  They were all against him.  He recalls how he was chasing an individual every time when they did something from one end of the road to the other end to beat them up.  He forced the kingdom of God, the church, in his location by his strength.  Everybody was afraid of him.  He is still ministering there, and it is a great church today.  One thing that Pastor Balan learnt was how boldly we need to establish the kingdom of God.
  • For another three years, Pastor Balan worked with another Pastor who really helped him on how to establish a ministry in the North American context.  All these years Pastor Balan was just assisting them and just doing what they wanted him to do.  But Pastor Balan had to wait for a time when God would give him an opportunity to lead.

It may be true in each one of our lives.  There are times we are called to follow.  There are times we are called to lead.  We need to know what God wants us to do – are we called as Noah?  Are we called as Moses?  Or Joshua?  Leadership development takes time.

2. Leaders ought to be Strong and Courageous:

Leaders are to be strong and courageous. When we look at the leaders in the political arena, they are so courageous, the way that they talk, the way they address the crowd is all very courageous.  God expects us to be courageous in what we do.  In Joshua Chapter 1 as mentioned above, we see the word courage mentioned 4 times in all 18 verses.

  • Verse 6 says – Be strong and of good courage.
  • Verse 7 says – Only be strong and courageous.
  • Verse 9 says – be strong and of good courage.
  • Verse 18 the people say to Joshua – Only be strong and of good courage.

Even in the farewell note when Joshua was about to die, we read that in Joshua 23 – Joshua was addressing the crowd and telling them to be courageous.  Do not be afraid, be courageous.  Joshua was a man of great courage.  Being strong and courageous is a great characteristic in a leader.  Joshua spent two-thirds of his life assisting his master Moses and the remaining 30 years he was called to lead.

1. Courageous leaders value their past – Joshua has seen with his own eyes, the red sea parting and the plagues coming over the Egyptians one after the other, water gushing out of the rock, he was closely walking with Moses.  According to our conviction, all of us are called to lead, we may be leading our child, our family or a team, or a student leader, etc.
2. Courageous leaders know their present – the current expectations, the challenges, the job that is not yet done and you are called to do that job.  You are a leader because someone is expecting you to do something.  Joshua’s challenge is to enter into Canaan, Joshua knows the size of the army that he has, the kind of resources that are given to him and the challenges that are in front of him – the river Jordan was in front of him.  There were so many types of people who were living in Canaan.  The Bibles lists that there were Amalekites, Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, etc. were some of the whites that were living in Canaan.
3. Courageous leaders carry God’s presence into the future – 
Joshua 1:5 –  No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life;  as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.  I will not leave you nor forsake you.
As Joshua was leading and as he was moving forward, he was taking the presence of God along with him.  Joshua was holding the presence of God as he was walking into the blessed land of Canaan.  There were times Joshua had to make sure people were held accountable.  He made sure Achan was held accountable for the loss they encountered as they were trying to capture the city of AI.
Courageous leaders had to conquer kings and kingdoms;  Joshua was doing it.  He was guarding himself from the enemies, from fear and discouragements.  We are called to lead with great courage.  In second Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy and he says, God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, love and of sound mind.

2 Timothy 7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

3. Leaders must stand on God’s Word and in Prayer:

Leaders must stand of God’s word and in prayer. The reason for Joshua’s success as a leader was his adherence to the Word of God.  God spoke to Joshua saying, Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night that you may observe to do according to what is written in it.  For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success”.
When God brought Joshua into leadership, God told him one thing specifically – This book of the law shall not depart from you.  God was referring to the word of God – the Bible.  That is what God said to him – this book of the law shall not depart from in front of your eyes.
How do we keep this book of the law in front of us? We see that Joshua is fulfilling this commandment of God throughout his career.
We can see a couple of examples of Joshua’s commitment to the Word of the Lord:

  • In renewing the covenant at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim: Joshua 8: 30 – Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron  ” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.  32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.  33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them.  Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.  34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.  35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.
  • Joshua’s devotion is obeying God’s word.  Joshua 11:15 As the Lord had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the Lord had commanded Moses.
  • Even at the end of his life, he encouraged the nation to heed God’s Word.  Joshua 23:1-6
  • We see Joshua praying for the people’s failure following the defeat at Ai.  Joshua 7:6-9
  • Joshua praying in the middle of warfare. When 5 different kings of the Amorites joined together and came to attack the city and the inhabitants of Gibeon, Lord sent hail stones and killed many of them. On that day Joshua made this prayer – Joshua 10:9-14

Joshua read all the commandments that God had given him.  Leaders must stand on God’s word.  Even at the end of his life, he was instructing people to read the Word of God.

Maybe you are called to lead someone, it could be your family, a group of people – you need to learn the Word of God, it is important.  Without His Word, we fail to lead people.  All the leadership qualities and characteristics that we need today are written in this law.  To lead people in a life that is pleasing to God – it is all written in the Word of God.  God is asking the leadership to come back to the Word of God.  The Bible says that Joshua was not only reading the Word of God, but he was also a man of prayer.  When Joshua was called to fight the city of Ai, they underestimated the battle and thought it was easy to win the city.  What happened then? They had a major defeat after a great victory against the Amalekites.  The reason for this defeat was because somebody did not obey God.  God told them not to bring any of the valuables from that city and they should destroy and burn everything.  But there was a man named Achan who took some of the Babylonian garments, silver, and gold.  He took them to the tabernacle and hid them.  Nobody knew about this.  Let us look at the way Joshua is dealing with that.

Joshua 7:6 Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.  And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? Oh, that we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of the Jordan! O Lord, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off our name from the earth.  Then what will You do for Your great name?”

As Joshua was kneeling down, with his forehead touching the ground, this was the prayer he prayed.  He is crying out to Lord asking why there was a defeat in his place.  Why did this happen in my church?  My family?  Why is this happening in my nation?  A great leader was down to the ground, on his knees crying out to the Lord – Why did you allow this to happen God?
Great leaders are called to intercede.  Intercession is not a characteristic of a prayer warrior but that of a great leader.  Intercessors stand in the middle of God and people.  Here we see Joshua crying out and asking of how people will defame His name.  What can I do Lord?

Joshua was praying in the middle of a warfare.  Joshua was in the middle of the battlefield and the enemies were coming in the other end and the children of Israel are advancing.  Joshua is leading as a great leader and in the middle of everything, he stopped and started praying.  Can we see such a leader today?  Let us look at what Joshua is doing.  There are five different kings of the Amorites that are joining together for an attack against the city and inhabitants of Gibeon.  The Lord is sending hailstones, so they were all getting killed by it.  Now Joshua:

Joshua 10:9 Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.  10 So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah.  11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died.  There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.  12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon;  And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. ”  13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies.

When we go back and check the history of Joshua, we find that the Sun was standing stationary in the middle of the day for the entire day when Joshua prayed to God.  Great leaders must stand on the Word of God and they must stand in prayer.

Sometimes we may feel this sermon does not really make sense to you.  But who knows, you are a leader who is coming up and the Lord has already marked you.  You may be asked to lead down the line.  You may also be leading right now.  God is asking you to lead in prayer and on the Word of God.  You may be leading prayer in the church, or leading a children’s ministry, you may be leading worship or an outreach ministry.  But God is asking you to lead as you stand on the Word.  So, it is important to study the Word of God and it is important to pray.  When you give importance to God, God will honor you.  Try it out, start studying the Word of God and you will see that God honors you.  There are witnesses right here at the church, who will be able to come up and give their testimony on how God honored them when they went to a Bible study or when they prayed fervently.  You will become an effective leader when you develop a passion for praying.  Any part of the work that we do in the kingdom of God, let us do it with prayer.

Summary:

We have learnt from the life of Joshua:

1.  Leadership development takes time
2.  Leaders ought to be strong and courageous
3. Leaders must stand on God’s Word and in prayer

Hold onto your Faith until something happens

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.

Learning from the OT Leaders : Noah – Obedient and Willing

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.

Scripture Reference:

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, and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion.  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.

Summary:

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

Learning from the OT Leaders : Moses – Reluctant but Willing

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.

Scripture Reading:

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.  So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses?  Has He not spoken through us also?”  And the Lord heard it.  (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!”  So the three came out.  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.  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.  Not so with My servant Moses;  He is faithful in all My house.  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?”  
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)

 

Learning from the Old Testament Leaders – Introduction

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:

  1. 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.””
  2. 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.

Summary:

  1. We are called to lead
  2. We are called to influence
  3. We are committed to learn from the lives of the OT leaders
  4. By applying here a little, there a little principle
  5. These men and women are commented by others and by God
  6. Leaders are defined by their characteristics
  7. True leaders are truly teachable
  8. The underlying cause of unteachable spirit is pride
  9. Ask God for a spirit of submission that accepts discipline and correction.

Bear the Yoke in your Youth

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;

Summary:

  1. The Yoke of subjection to authority
  2. The Yoke of self control and self restraint
  3. The Yoke of sufferings
  4. The Yoke of service to the Lord

If God is calling you to take His yoke upon you.  Do not say no.