YOU WILL GAIN YOUR LIFE THROUGH ENDURANCE

Readings: Isaiah 65:17- 25 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 Luke 21:5-19
Text: Matthew 16:24-26
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. (Matthew 16:24-26 MESSAGE)

INTRODUCTION
Last week, I had the privilege of Preaching on the topic “Trusting God to meet your needs” at the Youth Service, Mt Sinai Society. This morning I would have loved to share that message with you but then I can’t sacrifice today’s topic on the almanac, especially so when I am dealing with a people who have the zeal, the willingness and desire to cross to the other side of life.
In the late 1960’s I understand there was a TV show in America called Land of the Giants. Seven people from earth found their spaceship caught in a warp of some kind and ended up on a planet where everything was twelve times larger than on earth. Each week they battled giant cats, children, and soldiers. It was a little strange but raised an interesting question. What would we do if everything and everyone was a giant accept for us?
The truth is that we do live in a land of giants. There are things that are bigger than us which seem to stand between us and being where God wants us to be. In the Old Testament, God sent His people, Israel, to a place called The Promised Land. It was a great place to live but it also was inhabited by giants which they would have to face and defeat. We too live in a land of giants which we must face if we are to be where God wants us to be.
This morning, the theme before us is “You will gain your life through endurance”! Wow. Tell the person sitting by you “To gain your life, you’ve got to endure!”

Endurance according to the Wikipedia Dictionary is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue. Again, Endurance is the ability to keep going through a tough situation involving hardship, stress or difficulty.
When I was a little boy growing up in Asante Juaben, one of the difficult challenges we had to face each morning before going to school was “Water”! Water for household chores and water for bathing. You either wake up at dawn to queue for Pipe-born water or go to the streams, through muddy waters after 5:30/6 and queue there. Waking up at dawn was much stressful but once that is done, you get yourself free for the afternoon and sometimes the next day. The prize was “sacrificing my sleep”!
In Cardiovascular training, increasing endurance has been proven to release endorphins resulting in a positive mind. The act of gaining endurance through physical activity has been shown to decrease anxiety, depression, and stress, or any chronic disease in total.
A lady who had just lost everything after a tornado hit her home explained, “I have lost everything; but I’ve got my life. I’ve never been through anything like this before, but thank God I’m on the other side of it.”
It’s one thing to go through a devastating experience, another to get to the other side. Wouldn’t it be nice if parents could just bypass the 9 months of pregnancy, skip labor and delivery, and just get a nice healthy baby? But you’ve got to go through it to get to it.
Jesus was trying to explain to the Disciples that it was necessary for him to go through an ordeal of suffering, be tried by religious scholars, be killed and after 3 days, come back alive. Peter was an outspoken seaman. Peter took the great liberty to chastise Jesus for making such a statement.
For Peter, Jesus had already proven that he was the Messiah – he had already fed thousands, cast out demons, cured leprosy, and raised the dead back to life. Peter could not comprehend that Jesus had to do any more – or go through that kind of suffering – to prove that he was the Messiah – it did not make sense to Peter. So Peter tried to rebuke Jesus in protest. Here is a lesson Jesus is trying to teach Peter: “Peter, your mind is not on divine things but on human things, you have no idea how God works.” Two lessons here to learn:
1. There are NO shortcuts to get to where God wants you to be. Some say there are few, but I think there is none. You have to go through some things to get to where God wants you to be. When you try to take the shortcut, you are prone to miss some lessons that will be beneficial to you down the road. Maybe during the conversation in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was asking God: “Is there a shortcut to what I have to go through?” But God was saying, no you have to go through betrayal, denial, crucifixion – you’ve got to go through it to get new life.
2. When you put Jesus in the driver’s seat of your life he will show you how to live through whatever the world throws at you. Jesus tells the disciples: “Don’t run from suffering – embrace it! Take up the cross. Follow me and I’ll show you how to go through it!”
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, a whole lot of us here this morning – admit it or not – are going through something. An illness, no job or a bad job – (and let me caution you to keep the bad job until you get the other job) a family crisis, a downward emotional or psychological spin, or just a bad time in your life. Somebody in here is going through something this morning. The promise of Jesus is that, if we lose ourselves, follow and serve him, he will show us how to get through it. And the way he shows me how to get through it may not be the way he’ll show you how to get through it – but if you hold on to him, lose your life in him, he’ll show you how to get through it. You will gain your life through endurance.
In the 1st Bible lesson, Isaiah reminds us of this promise, God is making all things new. The pain you going through today, shall not be remembered tomorrow when God takes you to the other side; but before that, you’ve got to endure it. You got to embrace the pain. You must go through it to get.
One of the things I’ve learned is that God’s grace and mercy has gotten me through every turn, every snare. God was not always in the places where I thought He would have been, but in the moments and places where I thought God would be absent, I am a witness that – whatever burdens you’re bearing or have been through, His strength, power, grace, mercy and His love is sufficient to get you through. In his footsteps you must walk every day. When the storm clouds rise in your life, when disaster, sickness or even death follow you – don’t fight it – Jesus said “EMBRACE IT and I’ll show you how to walk through it.”
Dr. Norman Vincent Peale is reported to have shared encountering a hurricane while on a cruise in the Atlantic. After the captain managed to sail around the danger, he and Dr. Peale were visiting with one another.
The captain said he had always lived by a simple philosophy namely that if the sea is smooth, it will get rough; and if it is rough, it will get smooth. He added something worth remembering: “But with a good ship,” the Captain said, “you can always ride it out.”
Our ship is our faith in Christ. With a good ship, you can always ride it out. Life is unpredictable. God is with us. Not a hair on your head will perish. All you’ve got to do is endure, keep your head, and don’t faint for you are right there to your miracle.
Paul in our 2nd Bible reading called on the Thessalonians to follow their example, that of embracing difficulty, working hard to make a living irrespective of the strain that comes with it. For it was rumored among them, that some have ceased to work because their masters were hard on them and conditions were not as good as expected. Paul’s says don’t just be a busybody in church, get to work!
“Embrace it” – that’s a tough lesson to learn. It’s not a lesson that says “sit on your do-nothing and do nothing.” Or “Pray, go home, go to bed, pray some more.” It’s a lesson that says: “Do everything you can do by the example of Christ.” Christ never stopped. He knew what was ahead, he knew he had to suffer, but he kept on healing and saving lives, until he got through it.
I like the fact that Jesus does not end the text on a sour note. He says “I’ve got go through some bad times.” But like the woman who had lost everything but her life, there is the other side. I skipped over the part of the text where it says – “…and after 3 days, I’ll rise up ALIVE.” The scripture is saying: Jesus had to go through it to rise up and go to it!
I don’t know about you, but I know that God does work in ways that are mysterious to us. We ought to stop telling God the way to bless us; we ought to stop telling God what the other side is supposed to look like, because God knows what we are going through. And God has prepared a brighter day, and a better way. God has already opened the door and made a better way, and there is a bright side for you. So don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, don’t hang it up, don’t you stop until you get to it!!
Jesus told the disciples in our gospel reading Luke 21:12- 13 that “They will lay hands on you; persecute you, deliver you up and throw you into prison …but it shall turn out to you for a testimony.”
Whatever you are going through – will turn out to you for a testimony in Jesus name!
Let me conclude with Paul’s admonition in Hebrews 10:32-36
Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.
So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
Whatever you are going through, it’s just a season. It’s YOUR season to go through it. If you’re not going through something now, you may have been spared, but YOUR season is coming to go through something. Know that whenever – or whatever – you are going through, there is a better and brighter day coming. When that day come, YOU WILL RECEIVE THAT WHICH GOD HAS PROMISED TO ALL TO ENDURE TO THE END. Better days coming…lift your head up and shout “I’M GOING TO GO THROUGH IT TO THE OTHER SIDE”

Let us pray

STOP COMPARING YOURSELF!
My mates are getting married.
My mates are getting good jobs.
My mates are succeeding.
My mates are living overseas.
My mates are buying cars.
My mates are building houses.
My mates are this……my mates are that……
It’s a pity you literally forgot about your mates in the mortuary, your
mates in the psychatric homes, your mates are roaming on the streets,
your mates are jobless, hungry, blind, deaf……….
You might not be where you wish to be but you have obviously
transcended from where you were yesterday.
Be thankful.

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TRUSTING GOD TO MEET MY NEEDS

Readings: Exodus 36:1-6 2 Corinthians 9:6-13 Matthew 14:14-21 [John 6:1-12]
Text: 2 Corinthians 9:10

INTRODUCTION
A MINISTER just lost her job [one night] as a result of a release of a tape that brought into public, a private conversation, shattering her hope of accumulating about a million dollars in bank account before exiting politics. But this morning I have a new message:
Suppose for a moment I gave you a million dollars in a bank account. But there was one catch. The account could not be in your name, and you always had to ask the other person to give you some money, which they would do, and you could not take out more than $1,000 in a given month. Now since the account is in that person’s name, and they could take out your money at any time, who would you trust with your money in that account? What quality would you look for before making your decision? And why?

What about if the coin should be turned the other way round; let’s just say God wants somebody to keep that account for Him. Can He trust you? Why?
This morning, I want to handle the topic TRUSTING GOD TO MEET YOUR NEEDS.

Trust has nothing to do with how much feeling you can muster inside about something. For instance, if somebody gave you a chair with three very wobbly legs, you would not say, “I’m going to get the trust from deep inside me to believe this chair is going to hold me up.” If you do, you are going to hit the floor. Trust is based on the character or the nature of what you are putting your trust in.
When God calls us to trust Him, God is saying, “Check me out and examine me. See if I am worthy of trust. Look and see if I am a liar or if I am Faithful & True.” God would not tell us to put our trust in anything that was not trustworthy. The only place God says for us to put our trust and our confidence in is in Him.

With every promise there is a basis. And in the text that I have chosen today, there is a key that I want to show you that absolutely will guarantee that God will meet every single need of your life. And no need will go unmet if you and I will put our trust in Him.

This is a message today I believe
1. Can strengthen your faith,
2. Can increase your effectiveness,
3. Can bless all your relationships,
4. Can literally transform our lives.

So I want us to look at the things that are presented in Paul’s address to the church in Corinth.

First of all there is a principle; we must trust God to meet our needs by:
I. OBEYING GOD’S PRINCIPLE

James said, “Faith without works is dead.” [James 2:20] You may ask “what kind of work of faith do we need, to obey the principle of God to get our needs met? Look at verse 6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

Here is the principle, when you have a need plant a seed. Now, this is easy for me to understand because I have a farm background. You are really demonstrating faith when you are planting a seed; you are really living by faith.
If you have a need in your life, you need to plant a seed. There is an area of faith in which you need to be obedient. You need to be obedient in the area in which you have a need. Because whatever a man sows, the Bible says, that shall he also reap. [Gal 6:7]

And so, if you want corn, you plant corn because you reap what you sow. If you want wheat, you plant wheat, and so on. So if you want a friend, you be a friend. If you need money, [what do you do?] you sow to that area of giving. That is the principle of God; it is as simple as sowing and reaping.

For example, let’s say there are two farmers and both of them are in great trouble, in an economic crisis. And both of them have a pot of seed to plant. One farmer takes the approach; it is just too expensive to plant seed. I have this seed and if I plant this seed, it is all I have. I may starve to death because I may not get a crop and this may be all the seed that I have. I can’t plant the seed that I have; I have to hold on to it. The other says “well, situations are difficult, but I am going to strain myself and sow this pot of seed for the future. Can these two farmers have the same responds at the end of the season? That is FAITH!

God says if you have a need sow a seed. Don’t just work harder; don’t just put in more hours but trust God by being obedient to the principle of His Word.

Not only obeying God’s principal but THEN:

II. OBSERVING THE PROCEDURE

But something just as important, is if we are trusting God to meet our need, it means observing the procedure. Because in this passage, He tells us not just to give; He tells us how to give. Let’s start with the tithe and then other offerings.
Let me show you what I mean beginning here in II Corinthians 9:7, the Bible tells us exactly how we are to give. In verse 7 and 8, notice these things, first of all he says,

a. WE ARE TO GIVE THOUGHTFULLY.
The Bible says we are to pray about it, we are to purpose in our heart. And we are to give thoughtfully. We are to give thought to our giving. We are not just to give God a tip when the offering plate comes by, the offering is something that is a part of our worship, of our love to God, and we are to think about it and to pray about it and let God guide us. God is concerned about the procedure. If we wanted to have our needs met, we have to look at the spirit and the attitude in which we give.
But not only thoughtfully,

B. WE ARE TO GIVE VOLUNTARILY/WILLINGLY.
The Bible says we are not to give grudgingly, or of necessity. In other words, we are not to give under pressure. And I don’t want anybody in this church to feel that they are under pressure to give of your time or of your talents or of your treasure to God under pressure from me, Osofo, or anybody. Because the Bible teaches if our needs are to be met, it has to be voluntary giving. It has to be an exercise of our will that is faith.

C. THEN AGAIN WE ARE TO GIVE ENTHUSIASTICALLY. When the Bible says not reluctantly or under compulsion, it means that we are to give with great enthusiasm. I love the story in Exodus 36. The people were restrained, begged to stop bringing any further offering. Giving ought to be something we are excited about, something we are ready to do, something we want to do. Not because somebody has put pressure upon us.
That is the procedure.

III. OBTAIN THE PROMISE

So we obey the principle, if we have a need, we plant a seed. Then we observe the procedure, we give in the right way. Then number three we obtain the promise. The promise is you will abound in all things. In Matthew 14, and also same story recorded by John in John 6, that little boy’s lunch was transformed into restaurant where left overs alone amounted to 12 baskets full.

There are three things about this promise,
1. GOD SAYS YOUR NEEDS WILL BE MET.

2. YOUR WITNESS WILL BE STRENGTHENED. In verse 13 Paul said, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ.

3. Last of all, YOUR FAITH WILL BE INCREASED. There is only one verse in the entire Bible where God says, prove me. Prove that I exist. You bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and prove me now, here with says the Lord, if I will not open unto you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Do you not realize today that we don’t need to give because the church needs the money; we don’t need to give because God is broke, and God owns it all. The Bible teaches that we need to give that our faith might be strengthened, that our faith might be increased, why? Because the Word of God says without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Let me Conclude with this testimony.
When I worked out the expenses I could recalled for my wedding, together with my wife, we spent closed to GHS15, 000.00 BUT as to how that money came about, I still can’t figure out. How did it happen? It was January 11, 2010 when I told when I told my wife we will marry in October 2011. As at the time, I had less than GHS1, 000.00 in my account. The only investment I had was a commitment I made to God in 2010 harvest that I give him one month salary on the harvest day and trust Him for my wedding preparations. The truth is before my wedding day, I had only one loan with a friend and even that I borrowed to pay for a sibling’s school fees. God touched the heart of people around me and worked it all out.
God can be trusted! Try Him and see!
Let us pray

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Life Lessons for Those Going to SCHOOL

LIFE LESSON VOLUME ONE:
You can do anything you put your mind to, even if it’s “I can’t”.
by Jerome Jacaboba Amoah • October 2013
Introduction
Congratulations for making it to the list of successful graduates from the JHS who are now enrolling in SHS for a qualification unto a higher educational pecking order of prominence. Let me say affront: you’re one of the very few fortunate young people in our generation today who have been blessed with the privilege of continuing climbing the pecking order of prominence in education. It will surprise you to know that some of those who couldn’t make it up to this stage are smarter, brainier, beautiful and better-placed than you are in terms of academic records, financial status and body make-up. That means if you fail to make good use of this privilege, not only will you disappoint your parents, family and friends, church and society or Bro Jerome but more seriously the cries of anxieties of those who couldn’t make it will cause the heavens to rise up against you in judgment.
That’s why I want to be your Life Coach, giving you all the moral you’ll need, answering all your question which otherwise could cause you to miss your providential pathway and providing you with the tips that are essential in edging you to become all that God wants you to become.
In this first bulletin, I want to share with you the introduction in my friend Ryan Parman “Life Lesson” series.
Ryan said “Growing up, I always heard the adage “you can do anything you put your mind to”. I never really understood it because I think I took it too literally.
I thought to myself, “you couldn’t move a mountain if you put your mind to it, so whoever said that must be full of crap.” It wasn’t until I took a step back from the literal and started to look at the intended meaning that it finally began to make sense to me.
Putting my mind to it
I figured the first part out in my early twenties. I put my mind into doing the best job in college that I possibly could, and I graduated at the top of my (admittedly very small) class. I was determined to drive my career from the bottom to the top.
My first post-college job gave my a pay bump of $15,000 a year. My next jump was by almost $30,000. My next jump was by another $35,000. By working hard, studying my craft, striving for excellence, and continuing to aim for the top, my annual salary jumped by $80,000 in just 4 short years.
Smarts vs. Hustle
It would be misguided to say that it’s only about smarts. There are a number of people whom I’ve encountered over the years who are all incredibly smart. Some of them were doing as well as I was, some better, but many were doing worse. Why? Because they lacked hustle. By being smart, they’d gotten lazy in school and never really learned how to apply themselves.
When I was a kid, I was the same way. Year after year after year, my parents would come home from the parent-teacher conferences with the same feedback from my teachers: “Ryan is a smart kid, but he just doesn’t apply himself.”
My parents were frequently frustrated when I’d bring home bad grades from school. They’d ask why. “It’s boring,” I’d reply. “It’s too easy.” I could see the blood vessel in my dad’s forehead pulse with frustration. “Well, if it’s so easy, why don’t you just do it?” I didn’t have a good answer for him at the time, but once I figured it out in high school, it was something along the lines of “why would I go do something so boring on purpose?”
Motivation
I had no motivation to do homework. I had no motivation to do well in school. Teachers would tell me how important it was to learn this stuff, but I just didn’t see the practicality of it all. Still to this day I don’t understand why I needed to learn that the Mayans grew maize, or how to multiply matricies. It was all too abstract and irrelevent. It didn’t help me meet girls, and it didn’t teach me how to play guitar, so what was the point?
It wasn’t until the day I found out I was going to be a father that I finally found my motivation to do the very best job I possibly could in all things. I was going to have a new baby girl, and she deserved the very best that I could provide for her. I knew that wasn’t going to happen delivering pizzas, so I went back to school to get my Bachelor’s, found a better paying job with a great group of people. I really started to focus on how I could provide the best possible life for my new bride and our little baby girl.
…But that’s not what I came to tell you about.
I came to tell you about the other part of the lesson — the part that most people completely overlook.
Yes you can
You can tell yourself “I can” all day long, and if you really believe it, and you’re willing to work for it, you can absolutely accomplish anything you put your mind to. Determination + Hustle (+ Perseverance) = Success.
But what if you tell yourself “I can’t”? Or how about “it’s too hard for me”? Guess what. Whether you believe that you can, or you believe that you can’t, you’re right.
Conclusion
So to conclude this first bulletin, I want to draw your attention to this very thing “Whatever you set yourself to achieve, top the class, be among the first 10, stay pure and holy unto God’s glory, Remain Chaste and be example in deeds, words and action as a Christian first and then a student; you will succeed in achieving it because God is behind you. On the other hand, if you decide to live recklessly, shamefully and irresponsibly through the kind of friends you set and make for yourself, the kind of dressing and posture you portray in your school, the inaptitude towards your studies as a result of laziness and failure to respond to the demands of academic work, then sure you will definitely come back home without remembrance.
Whatever you tell yourself, whether you believe you can or you cannot, YOU ARE RIGHT!

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THE LORD FORGIVES!

Sermon Title: THE LORD FORGIVES!

Readings: 2Smauel 12:13-15 Galatians 2:15-21 Ps. 32 Luke 7:36-50

Text: Luke 7:48b-49

INTRODUCTION:
Forgiveness of sins is so important because everyone is a sinner, and the consequences of sin are devastating: Gen 2:15-17, Ezek 18:4b, Romans 3:23, 5:12; 6:23; 7:14-24

Many Christians are living defeated lives, because they are hanging onto their pasts. They see their sins more than they see the solution to their sins, which is the blood of Jesus Christ! They spend more of their time dwelling on their sins, than dwelling on what Jesus has done for them! But for many of these cases the church is to blame because we tend to point fingers at such categories that we have tagged “Sinners” amongst us. If sinners cannot run to the church for safety, cure and released then we have failed in the commandments of Christ and as propagators of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Let me talk about God’s rich love and mercy.
Do you know that Christ’s death on the cross was a symbol of God’s great and deep love for you? That’s right! Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (NLT)
Christ’s death on the cross was not just a symbol of God’s love for ‘good people’, but for those who were living in the world! John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
1 John 4:9, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
Ephesians 1:7, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (The word ‘riches’ in the Greek here means abundance and fullness!!)

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SAY THE LORD FORGIVES?
1. Put as simply as possible, forgiveness is releasing the other from the penalty of sin so the relationship can be restored.
2. A decision to release. Forgiveness means letting go of your right to punish another and choosing through the power of God’s love to hold onto the other person rather than his or her offense. God’s forgiveness isn’t a declaration of emotion but a declaration that his people are forgiven and pardoned from their sins just as a judge would dismiss a case from a courtroom. In that sense, forgiveness is a decision, a declaration, a once-for-all-time pronouncement.
3. To forgive another means to cancel a debt in order to provide (1) opportunity for repentance and (2) restoration of the broken relationship. Colossians 2:13 – 15

God’s forgiveness
To demonstrate how our heavenly Father wants to love, accept and forgive us when we turn to Him, Jesus told a parable of the son who took half his dad’s money and ran away, then returned home and his father saw his son and was moved with compassion. But in Luke 15:20 it tells us how the father received his son, “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” That is how our heavenly Father sees us, welcomes us, forgives us and loves us even after we’ve really messed up, and then turn back to Him! He is moved with compassion and welcomes us with open arms.

In Luke 7, Jesus took a very sinful woman (likely a prostitute) and freely washed her clean without hesitation! Luke 7:47, “Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”
In John 8:3-11, a story is told where a woman was caught in the very act of adultery and they brought this woman before Jesus. Jesus said unto them in verse 7, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Each one of them were convicted in their own consciences, and walked away. When Jesus and the woman were the only ones left, He said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
While Jesus was hanging on the cross, a murderer/criminal next to him confessed that he deserved his punishment, and Jesus said unto him, “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
Look at the story of Paul, for he was a murderer of Christians! Look at what Jesus did to him… the man was turned around, and used to be one of the greatest names in the whole New Testament! Look at Peter, how much God used him even after Peter denied Jesus three times!!
It is God’s deep desire to see you turn to Him and receive forgiveness for your sins! Isaiah 30:18, “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” (NASB)
There is great joy in heaven when a person turns from their wicked ways and turns to God! Luke 15:10,
Even when Jesus was dying on the cross, the love in His heart for us was so deep and genuine that He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Not only does God forgive our sins, but He also FORGETS our sins! He chooses not to remember our sins for HIS own sake! Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” (Also see Hebrews 10:17)
When your sins are forgiven, they are removed from you as far as the east to the west! Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Also look at Micah 7:19, “…he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
GOD IS CHARACTERIZED BY BEING A FORGIVING GOD.
There is no Sin too great for God’s grace. There is no habit too big for His healing and there is no label too strong for His Love. (Craig Groeschel)
In our 1st Bible reading, we are told of the sins of the man whom God considered a MAN after His own heart – King David. David was the king of Israel. One night while he got out for a stroll, he saw a beautiful woman, and immediately wanted her. Whatever the king wants, the king gets. That’s why they call him the king. And in that day, in that time, it shouldn’t have seemed like a big deal. It still happens today. Who among us is ever really surprised to find out that a parliamenterian or a minister of state has a girlfriend on the side? It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen, and people hear about it and shrug their shoulders or they snicker a bit and make jokes or they don’t like it but they keep it to themselves. Not to justify things, you see, just to observe that this is the way things are.
The king felt like things had finally settled down. There was that problem with the woman’s husband. Not an easy thing to get rid of him. He was the loyal soldier type that wouldn’t easily be tricked. So the king had him killed in battle. David did not only sin by taking someone’s wife but more so killed someone in order to cover his sins and also to take over his wife. The Bible says: “The thing David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:29). The king was about to learn the hard way that God is not mocked and “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
Nathan, the man of God visited King David on assignment. He told the king a little story about a rich man with many sheep who stole from a poor man the one ewe sheep his family owned. What shall be done to the rich man who acted so ruthlessly? “He should be put to death,” the king exclaimed in his anger. Then the man of God delivered his message.
“You are the man!”
In a moment, in one heart-stopping instant, the king knew the truth, knew what Nathan was saying, knew that he was the rich man who had cheated the poor man. The king knew! Very quickly comes the Word of the Lord:
“I gave you everything you had.”
“I made you king.”
“If this was not enough, I would have given you more.”
“Why did you despise my word?”
“You took this man’s wife.”
“You had him murdered.”
“There will be nothing but trouble for you from this day forward.”
“Your family will suffer because of your sin.”

Then came the time for the king to do the hardest thing anyone can ever do, to look in the mirror and say, “I have sinned.” Those may be the three hardest words in the English language. No one wants to say, “I have sinned.” We would rather do anything than say that. But there is no getting right until we admit how badly we have done wrong. Through his tears and in deep guilt, reproaching himself for his sinful folly, realizing at last how wrong he had been, King David sat down and wrote the poem we call Psalm 51.
When David confessed his sins, the Lord forgave Him. Even David.
Repeatedly in the Scriptures God is represented as the God who forgives sins.
5 And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. 6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations” (Exodus 34:5-7).

HOW THE LORD DOES FORGIVES SINS?
Let me use David’s experience to answer this question. From Psalm 51
There are three parts to this great prayer in Psalm 51. First, David confesses his sin (vv 1-6). Then he prays for cleansing (vv. 7-12). Then he offers a prayer of consecration (vv. 13-19).

Confession.
Cleansing.
Consecration.
One man of God says David prays three things in Psalm 51

“Forgive me.”
“Cleanse me.”
“Use me.”

If your sin feels like a weight upon your shoulders, this psalm is for you.
CONFESSION VV. 1-2
If sin is to be forgiven, it must be confessed for what it is. You can’t call sin “weakness” and expect to be forgiven by God. God doesn’t forgive weakness; he only forgives sin. That’s why the king piles up different words to express the depth of his sin: transgression, iniquity, sin, and finally, “evil” (v. 4).
In verse 4 David says an extraordinary thing:
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight.
All sin is treason against the Almighty. Until we grasp that, until we see it and feel it, until we confess it, we cannot be forgiven.
Truth hurt, but it’s only the truth that can set you free. “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE . . . BUT IT WILL HURT YOU FIRST.
David is saying, “I know what you want, Lord. You want me to stop paying games and stop making excuses. I’m ready to do that. No more excuses, no more games. I’m guilty in your eyes and I admit it.”
CLEANSING
Not only does David not hide his sin, and not only does he not minimize his sin, he begs God for a deep work of grace to cleanse him from the stain of sin. He wants God to wash him from the inside out. Because he wrote this psalm himself, he clearly does not care who knows what he has done and how desperately he seeks the grace of God.
True confession is a humbling experience.
When the thing that matters is getting free from the burden of sin,
When we no longer sugarcoat our sin,
When we desperately seek restored fellowship with God and with his people,
When we no longer worry about our reputation,
When what God thinks matters more than what others think,
Then we will find the forgiveness we seek because our repentance has led us back to the Lord.
If you look at the requests David makes in verses 7-12, you can see clearly a seven-fold path of RESTORATION.
1. We need to be cleansed by the blood. “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (v. 7). (Exodus 12:22). (1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 John 1:7).
2. We need new hope. “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice” (v. 8). “Lord, I’ve been down so long, I see nothing but darkness. Shine your light in my heart so that I can sing with joy once more.”
3. We need to know our sins are forgiven. “Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity” (v. 9). It’s not enough to be forgiven. We need to know that God has put our sins far away from us. Otherwise our sins will rise to accuse us and a guilty conscience will keep us awake at night.
4. We need a clean heart. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (v. 10). The word “create” means that David knows he can’t change himself. Here is the end of all self-reformation. The king knows that unless God makes him pure, he will never get there on his own. Not only that but he prays for a “steadfast” spirit that will enable him to stand strong against temptation in the future.
5. We need the restoration of the Holy Spirit’s power. “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (v. 11). Spurgeon says only a true Christian could pray like this. An unbeliever won’t care about being cast away from God’s presence because he was never close to God in the first place. An unsaved person won’t care about losing the Holy Spirit that he never had anyway. The ungodly flee from God’s presence and hide from the Holy Spirit. Only the child of God feels the pain of the Lord’s discipline. Those who have dwelt in the sunlight of his love shiver in the cold darkness of his displeasure.
6. We need to regain the joy of God’s salvation. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (v. 12a). Every sin, whether big or small, separates us from happy fellowship with God. It is perfectly possible to be saved and miserable because we do not deal rightly with our sin. David says, “Lord, I’m tired of being miserable about my miserable life. Open the fountain of joy in my heart once again.”
7. We need a new desire within. “And grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (v. 12b). David means, “Make me glad to obey you in the future.” He begs God to do some “divine heart surgery” so he will never stray from the right path again.
This seven-fold path is the right road for every sinner who wants to find peace with God. Start with the blood of Jesus and you will end with new hope, new joy, and a new desire to serve the Lord.

CONCLUSION
God Himself does not remember your sins, so why should you? If He felt it was best to forget them, since when is it better to remember them? God wants us to forgive ourselves and allow Jesus’ blood to wash clean our conscience from all the evil we have done! Hebrews 9:14, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Why did God choose to make us new creations? Because He didn’t want our pasts to be a part of us anymore! 2 Corinthians 5:17

If you can confess it, you can be forgiven of it! It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, if you turn to God and confess your sins, He will forgive you of ALL unrighteousness… that includes anything you’ve done, that you are willing to bring before Him! 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.”
There is no sin too great for God to forgive: Titus 2:14, “Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from EVERY lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (NASB)
Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Ps. 32:1) God bless you.

(Credit Sermon Central for some clarity and illustrations)

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THE IMPORTANCE OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

TEXT : 2Timothy 3:1-5
Scripture Readings : 1Kings 2:10-12,3:3-14 Ephesians 5:15-20 John 6:51-58

INTRODUCTION
When I was growing up in Ashanti region, Snail hunting was very common during the raining season. We used to wake up early in the morning with our collection buckets and cutlasses ready for hunting wild snails. Those times I remember very well, the snails were mostly found under leaves and shades in cocoa plantations especially. During the dry season however, it was common to come across empty shells and there were times we chased after them from distance only to get closer to the realization that snails are no more and that what is left is an empty shell of the living organism – a dead, dried out, fragile exoskeleton that retained the form of the snail. Life was gone. The snail itself was no longer in the exoskeleton.

In II Timothy 3 Paul talks about another lifeless form – those “…having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…” Follow with me as we read II Tim. 3:1-5.

Here is a powerful prophecy concerning spiritual conditions during the last days. What could cause a condition in which people are “…having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…”? There are a number of factors we could talk about – persistence in sin, a love for the world, a neglect of the disciplines of the faith, a failure to abide in Christ – all these and more could contribute to such a decline.

Any church or group of people who abandon, forget, or neglect that which is central to our faith, that church will become a dead, lifeless form just like that Snail’s shed exoskeleton I talked about earlier. It may look something like a church. It may retain the outward form of godliness, the appearance of Christianity. But the life of God will be gone. Only an empty reminder of what once was will be left.
This morning we want to look at the value of the Lord’s supper to the believer and I am confident along the journey you will come to agree with me that majority of us in church today have become like the people Paul prophesy about in the last days because we have failed to exercise the benefits derive from the Lord’s supper out of negligence and ignorance.
THE BODY
In our first Scripture reading King Solomon was visited by God the night after he had honoured an ordinance of burnt offering as was required at the time. Theologians argue that Solomon sin by that act of sacrificing out of the watchful care of priests and ministers yet he received a visitation. God honoured his prayer but did not condone the sacrifice.
Jesus established two ordinances for the New Testament church: the ordinance of water baptism and the ordinance of communion. Both ordinances are designed to keep ever before us the essence of Christianity and our obedience in honouring these ordinances comes with rewards.

Water Baptism portrays the public acknowledgement that by my identification with Christ I have died to the old life of sin and am risen in Christ to newness of life.

The other ordinance designed to keep the essence of Christianity before us continually is the Lord’s Supper also called the communion, the eucharist, the table of the Lord- and whatever you may call it. We want to talk about the Lord’s Supper and how very important it is for us to observe it often and with a pure heart and with an understanding of what it is we’re doing. In our second Scripture reading Paul admonishes us to be wise thoughtful, understanding what the Lord wants us to do.
In the Gospel reading John 6:51 – 58, Jesus had just fed the 5000 people and walked on the sea. Now at Capernaum, the crowds gathered and Jesus tells them I AM THE BREAD FROM HEAVEN. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh offered so the world may live. Paul reportedly gives the detail account of this Bread from Heaven in Corinth. Turn your Bibles with me to I Corinthians 11:23-34
This passage is full of instruction concerning communion- what it’s about, why we do it, how we are to do it, what we must do and must not do.

Step 1
I. THE REQUIREMENT IN VERSE 24.
Notice these two words “…do this…” He is speaking to His followers. He is speaking to you and me, holding the bread in His hand as saying “Take eat…do this…”

For every believer communion is not an option- it is a commandment from the Lord. Disobedience to that commandment is serious because this act of obedience in faith can be a powerful connection the God’s life flow of grace.

He is saying “do it, but do it in a worthy manner.” For a Christian to refuse to participate can only mean one of two things: Ignorance of the provision for forgiveness and strength that the communion itself proclaims or a willful choice to continue in sin, to lay down the symbols of Christ’s sacrifice rather than lay down the sin that is being indulged.

I am personally convinced the main reason Christians don’t participate in the Lord’s Supper is ignorance and the fear that can proceed from that ignorance.

Many Christians misunderstand what I Cor. 11:29 is saying, “For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” Verse 30 “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”

Understand, these verses in I Corinthians 11 are not designed to talk us out of participating in the Lord’s Supper. They are a call to do what we’re told to do in the next verse- verse 31- “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” In other words, communion is a time for us to examine ourselves and if there is something wrong going on in our lives-repent of it, receive forgiveness, and trust Christ for strength to overcome and live above it. Verse 28 “But let a man examine himself…”Then what does it say? “And decide not to eat?” No, it says “But let him examine himself and so let him eat the bread and drink of the cup.”

If fear or ignorance is cheating you out of the blessing of Communion, today is your day to overcome that fear and in faith participate in the Lord’s Supper with us. In fact, I want to pray with you about that right now!

II. In this passage we find The REASON we have the Lord’s Supper.

1 Cor 11:26 “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” Every time we as a congregation hold the symbols of bread and wine in our hands, by that very act we are preaching a sermon, the most important sermon any preacher could ever preach. We are saying together: “our salvation was purchased at Calvary, all our hope and expectation is based upon the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Without His death on the cross there is no salvation. Without His broken body there is no healing or restoration. Without His shed blood there is no forgiveness of sin. By His death the penalty of sin was paid and the power of sin was broken. By His death, and His death alone, we are saved.”

The reason we take communion is to proclaim the Lord’s death. By a concrete act of obedience we are proclaiming it to anyone in our midst who may not know the Lord. We are proclaiming it to ourselves as a reminder of what is essential and central to our faith.

III. Let’s talk about The REMINDER.

What specifically are we being reminded of? In verses 24 and 25 of our text Jesus said “…do this in remembrance of Me.” It is a memorial service in honor of the Lord Jesus Christ. Following the death our President Mills there’s been several calls to have monuments erected and public places named after him as a memorial for his service unto mother Ghana. The elements of bread and wine are like that monument- concrete reminders of Jesus Christ. God knows we remember things that are visual and concrete much easier than abstract thoughts and concepts. So, He has graciously given us this memory aid.

We find memorials all through the scripture.

a. After the flood God established a memorial of His promise to never again destroy the earth with a flood. The rainbow is a visual reminder of God’s covenant with Noah.

b. With Abraham God established the memorial of circumcision-a physical act that memorialized a spiritual reality.

c. When Israel crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, God instructed them to remove 12 stones from the Jordan and stack them in a pile on the shore. Why?
Joshua 4:6 “that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ’What do these stones mean to you?’ verse 7″Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

Parents, when your children ask you “What does this bread and wine mean? Answer them with a simple explanation of the cross. Communion is a reminder of what Jesus has done for us! The bread is a reminder of His body broken for us. The wine is a reminder of His blood shed for us. It is not the blood. It does not become the blood. We do not worship the symbols themselves. But it is symbolic of that blood that must be appropriated by faith.

There is a spiritual reality that is to take place at the Lord’s Table. It is not just a meaningless ritual that we go through. It is an act of obedience. It is an act of faith. It becomes a moment when our hearts open up and receive grace and strength for our life in God. When you come to the Lord’s Table come with intentionality. Come expecting to receive from the Lord. Receive what? Receive forgiveness if you need that. Receive strength and courage if you need that. Bread is symbolic of the sustenance of life. As a spiritual reality draw upon the empowering life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Receive healing, “By Whose stripes we were healed.” I can think of no better time than at the Lord’s Table to ask Him to heal your body. Embrace the divine health that is available through the everlasting covenant of grace.

IV. THE RELATIONSHIP that is ours through that covenant.

First with God. We do not have time this morning to teach on the subject of blood covenants. Hebrews 8 and 9 deal with the subject extensively. But in our text,

I Cor. 11:25, Jesus is quoted as saying “This cup is the new covenant in My blood…”

At the Communion table we are celebrating the covenant we have in God because of what Jesus did on the cross. We are celebrating the relationship we have in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The New Testament word translated “communion” is koinonia. The partnership, community, commonality, family, union-we have through the cross,

not only with God but with one another. John writes in his 1st epistle, chapter 1 verse 3

“that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

The same Greek word, koinonia, is translated fellowship. The Communion Table is a place where we come together and celebrate the love relationship we have with each other. That’s why we must examine our hearts in those relationships before we partake.

V. That brings us to THE RESPECT we must bring toward God as we come to His table. The respect we must have toward the sacrifice of Christ that purchased our salvation.

The respect we must have for each other as members one of another. When Paul talks about eating the bread and drinking the cup in an unworthy manner in

I Cor. 11:27 what is he talking about? He is referring to the selfishness and disunity described in the verses just prior to our text. In I Cor. 11:17-22 Paul talks about the divisions and factions that existed in the church. He is essentially saying when we are at variance with a brother or sister, when we refuse to forgive an offense, when we live selfishly in our relationships with other Christians, and then come and celebrate the covenant that we’re in with each other and with God—we are not appropriately respecting what the Lord’s Table is all about. By our attitudes toward each other we’re dishonoring the very thing Christ died to establish.

In verse 29 where Paul talks about “…not discerning the Lord’s body…” he is not talking about Jesus’ physical body. He’s not talking about the physical body that hung on the cross and was resurrected three days later. He is talking about the Body of Christ as described in the next chapter. Not properly recognizing and esteeming the other members of the body—Ananias and Sapphira are an extreme example of that violation.

So, How do we approach the Lord’s Table in a worthy manner?

1. We come with our hearts set on Christ, loving Him because He first loved us, considering His love for us.

2. We come reflecting upon the sacrifice He made for our salvation. As we hold the

bread in our hand, we remember what it represents-His body beaten, humiliated, and

broken for us. As we hold the cup in our hand we meditate upon the blood He shed to

pay the penalty for our sin, to bring us into covenant relationship with the Father.

3. We look forward with joy and anticipation to His second coming. I Cor. 11:26 says

by this service we do “…proclaim (show forth) the Lord’s death till He comes.”

How sweet those three words are to our hearts “…till He comes.” And as we partake

at the Lord’s Supper we say from the bottom of our hearts “Even so, come Lord

Jesus!”

4. We examine ourselves. We examine our relationship with God.

Have you received Christ as Lord and Savior? Have you embrace His covenant of

grace? If not, how can you come to His table and celebrate something you have

rejected? The bread and wine proclaim the way of salvation. It is Jesus Christ and

Him crucified. Examine yourself- have you received His forgiveness of sin? Have

you committed yourself to Him as Lord? If not, do it right now. Christ opens His

arms and heart to you and invites you to come to Him and receive His love,

forgiveness and grace. Then with joy you can sit at His table and eat.

Are you a Christian living in disobedience to your Lord? This is the time to “…lay

aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us…” This is the time to make a

fresh commitment to the Lord.

Is there a conflict with someone else going on? Is there an offense in your heart

toward any brother or sister in this church or in any other church?

“Love covers a multitude of faults.” Forgive and you will be forgiven. If you

have wronged any other person leave your gift on the altar and be reconciled to your

brother or sister. The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”

CONCLUSION

Let’s approach the Lord’s Table with the readiness to embrace all the benefits that are available to the people of God. Let’s prepare our hearts to partake of the communion-Reflecting upon what has been said this morning,

Reflect upon your relationship with God and your relationships with other people. Reflect upon God’s love for you and the sacrifice Jesus made for you. As you partake receive healing, receive strength in your spirit, soul, and body. Celebrate the covenant of grace and our relationship with each other.

There’s never a good time to commune with the Lord than when it’s time for the Lord’s Supper.

God bless you.

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He Knows you and yet He Loves you!

David said something in the Psalms: –
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain”. (Psalm 139:1-6 NIV)
Oh what a lovely piece. David said the Lord knows us when we sit and when we rise. He’s even capable of perceiving our thoughts even from far. And watch this David said this God is familiar with ALL HIS WAYS. That implies David realized this God knows even the secrets of life. Our God unlike any other cannot be kept in the dark. What your bankers don’t know about your personal account like your password to your ATM Card is familiar with Him. What your wife doesn’t know Jesus can tell you. Even that decision you’re still meditating about He knows your final thought. Wow!
Look at how the Message Bible puts it:
…I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too— your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful— I can’t take it all in!
Often times we abhor the possibility of people invading into our privacy because we highly value privacy and resist control. And we carefully hide our secrets. This goes much further than e-mails, phone calls, and bank accounts; I’ve seen instances where couples and close allies become enemies on the mere fact that someone wanted to read another person’s text message. No wonder we hide our sins of commission and omission. We may be afraid of being found out, discovered. Often, however, we simply fear rejection. What if the real person, hidden behind the facade, were uncovered? So consider…
What if someone knew…
… your deepest thoughts and emotions?
… your true motives?
… your complete personal history?
… your talents, abilities, and gifts?
… your dreams and desires?
Would you feel threatened? Afraid? Embarrassed? Relieved?
Don’t be surprised. God knows! He has “searched” you. He understands who you are, what you have done, and why you do what you do. He even knows your secrets. What you did yesterday after everybody had left, He saw you. When you thought everyone else was in the dark, He was right there looking… But the truth is your secrets won’t change Him. And he stands ready to forgive, heal, correct, guide, affirm, protect, and conform you to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29).
Follow God’s ways. He knows and wants what’s best for you. No need to hide. You are known; you are loved.
God bless you!

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UNWAVERING DETERMINATION IS KEY!

Great kingdoms like America, South Africa and even our nation Ghana were built on the backs of those who had an unwavering determination. It did not matter the trials or the difficulty they faced. It was not predicated on the adverse situations that seemed to surround them as they built families, farmed the land, established towns and cities and created businesses. I am convinced that your level of determination will set the standard for achievement and overcoming the adversities in life.
Life in its fullness and all human endeavors including marital relationships requires a great deal of toughness, grit, strength, and commitment, but you must be determined to overcome adversity, pain, mistakes and failure in order to be successful.
Sometimes I wonder why people tend to live different lifestyles from the dating periods through to the honeymoon escapades and then the aftermath of living together for days, weeks and months. All of a sudden the one time lovebirds start living as though they have been forced by an external force to stay and live their lives together. What is it that so easily steals that desire and passion of wanting to eat together, scroll the streets holding hands and wanting pecks and kisses irrespective of who is watching? Probably we sometimes forget that difficult times will come and that the journey to life successes isn’t a smooth pathway.
There will always be opportunities to give up and throw in the towel. I remember one time a lady friend made mockery of me that I was making a fool of myself with the thought of me staying unsullied in the hope of marrying a virgin and having a glorious family. There were times the picture people painted made it seemed like there was nothing good sacrificing for in the future. I had faced much adversity, trial, doubt and negative criticism from others. Even when I had to decide on the woman to marry; but I thank God that He gave me a strong determination to not give in to what “people” said and not give up on the “vision”! I can confidently say IF I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHOOSE A WIFE AGAIN – I WILL REFUSE THAT OPPORTUNITY BECAUSE I MAY NOT GET THIS WONDERFUL WOMAN TO LOVE AGAIN.
I have seen 7-major keys that connect to unwavering determination for successful marriages.
1. Faith in God,
2. Mutual love,
3. Mutual respect,
4. The ability to forgive,
5. The ability to communicate effectively,
6. Physical intimacy, and
7. A sense of strong family values.
It is no doubt that divorce rate among believers and non-believers is in the ascendency but then, it may be encouraging to know that there are over 50 percent of Christians who are determined to stay married. Of that fifty percent, those who wage a constant battle against the attack on the family do so because they are firmly rooted and grounded in the Word of God or staunch in core Christian beliefs.
Couples who succeed at marriage have a strong faith in the Creator and Founder of holy matrimony. They willingly yield their hearts, minds, bodies and souls to abide by the scriptures and are not eager to find a way out of wedlock or search for scriptural loopholes. The make the choice to stay true come what may. Their unwavering determination keeps them going!
You can stand any storm, even when the winds of discord or disharmony threaten to beat against your house with YOUR WILL TO STAND. The truth is the enemy will continue to bring floods of marital woes like infidelity, joblessness, family interferences or chronic illness.
Faith-filled believers are bold soldiers, prayer warriors, and infantrymen who have learned how to tenaciously hold onto God and to each other through every adversity. They do so not only because of a trust in God, but also an understanding of the sanctity and purpose for holy matrimony. We all need a personal conviction in the power of God to bring us through any situation and make the marriage work. It is a decision we must make…!
What is your vision in that relationship? Are you determined to see it come to pass and live out your dreams? Along the way, you may face trials and tribulations and have doubt. You may have those that are close to you tell you that “it will never happen, you can’t do that.” You may even fail a time or two, but I encourage you to never give up, never throw in the towel and bow out. Be strong in your faith and have a great determination that says “I will, in spite of….!” “It will be good irrespective of…!”
God Bless you!

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GOD IS IN THE ROCK!

GOD IN THE ROCK
Psalm 105:41
He opened the rock, and water gushed out; like a river it flowed in the desert. NIV
The Psalmist in Psalm 105:41 gives a picture of God’s provision for His people, Israel. In the forty years of their wandering through the wilderness, a dry and barren land where there were no pools, no rivers, nor streams, a place where water was almost non-existent. God provided water for them in abundance. He provided it in a most unlikely way – out of a rock.
When you look at a rock in the desert as I’ve looked at it countless times, it seems so hard, so unyielding, so little good could come out of it. But in the disguise of the rock we understand that God Himself was with the people. God Himself was the rock and out of Himself there came His provision for His people in abundance.
It was important that Israel knew how to approach the rock. At one time Moses was commanded to strike it. At another time he was commanded to speak to it, and when he approached the rock in faith and obedience, out of that seemingly hard and unyielding rock there came an abundance of water that flowed like a river in the desert.
It’s often so in our lives, where in a time of barrenness when provision seems lacking, but God is there. He’s there in the form of a rock. He’s there in a form of something that seems hard and unyielding, something that we could complain about. But when we recognize God in it and approach Him in faith and obedience, then the rock becomes the source of our provision.
Dear friend, I don’t know what you going through and am not sure the desert in which you find yourself this particular moment. You may have come to a dead end, a place of hopelessness and rejection, a place of loneliness and depression. May be you find yourself in front of seemingly hard and unyielding situation, as though you standing before a huge mountain full of brokenness and emptiness. Everything around you seems hopeless and void. It’s like you are before a rock in desperate need of a provision, a way of escape and solution; but everything around you is barrenness and doom. Don’t give up. Tell yourself ‘am right there to my miracle’!
Take a step of faith, and in obedience to divine commandment, SPEAK FAITH to that situation. Tell that situation ‘I can see God is here’! An abundance of water [life] will flow through that hopeless situation by faith and your declarations. Rise up and sing, dance and make a melody because your miracle is here…!
I love you!

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ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF YOUR WITNESS TO CHRIST

TELLING YOUR STORY
1 John 1:1-6
Introduction
I read once of a preacher’s little boy who was told by his mother that he should wash his hands because there were germs living in all the dirt he’d been playing in. He looked up at his mother and got this really disgusted look on his face. “Germs? Germs?” He said. “Germs and Jesus! Germs and Jesus! That’s all I ever hear around this house! And I’ve never seen either one!”

APPLY: At that young age, that little boy wasn’t sure he was comfortable believing in something that he hadn’t seen. A lot of people are like that.

Remember how Thomas reacted to the news that Jesus had risen from the dead? John 20:25 tells us: ‘”…he said to (the other disciples), ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’”

Thomas had difficulty believing in something he had not seen and touched.

I. But here in his first letter – we find the Apostle John saying:
“YES… I have seen,
I have heard
I have touched this Jesus AND that’s what I’ve been preaching about.”

And John is saying that he believes so strongly in this Jesus (this Jesus that he’d seen and touched and heard) that he wrote that he was proclaiming “to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us….” (1 John 1:3)

This evening I want to handle the subject before us – Personal faith and your sanction, two essentials components of your witness to Christ and to make the topic simpler for us, I have chosen the topic: Telling People about Christ through your Story.

For most of us we tend to think that if we had seen Jesus in person or even the 1st apostles our witness could have been better But the Gospels repeatedly point out that even when people PERSONALLY SAW the miraculous power of Jesus, they still rejected Him. Even when they heard from the lips of those who had personally seen Jesus they still would not believe. Being an eye-witness to Jesus did NOT make it easier to convince people to become Christians.

The truth is the people who need to hear about our Jesus [the unchurched] aren’t necessarily looking for miracles and appearances of Christ.
• The unchurched haven’t necessarily rejected God – they’ve rejected “church.”
• Often they’re not so much concerned with the question of “Is Christianity true?” Instead, they’re more concerned with “Does Christianity work and how can I experience it?”

In other words, just like the people in John’s day… the unchurched today want to hear about what YOU’VE seen…
what YOU’VE touched…
what YOU’VE heard
They want to know if it works for you.

ILLUS: A woman put an ad in the local paper: “Lost 50 pounds! Selling my fat clothes – they’re in good condition, sizes 18-20.”
She was bombarded with phone calls, but nobody wanted to buy the clothes – they all wanted to know how she had lost the 50 pounds.

You see, the callers wanted to know about something that had changed her life hoping that this something could change their lives too!!! That’s what the unchurched are really looking for. They want to know if Jesus really works in your life.

Now… there are 2 ways I can think of that can help your friends decide Jesus works in your life:
1st THEY CAN HEAR YOUR STORY
• Why did you become a Christian?
• Why do think Jesus has made a difference in your life?
• Or… why are you a Christian?
SO 1st – to help people understand how Jesus has worked in your life, they can hear your story .
THEN a 2nd way up can convince them Jesus works is IF THEY CAN SEE JESUS IN YOUR LIFE.
ILLUS: On the way home from church a little girl said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking.”
The mother said, “Oh! About what?”
The girl replied, “Well, my teacher this morning said God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”
“Yes, that’s true,” the mother replied.
“He also said that God lives within us. Is that true too?”
Again the mother replied, “Yes.”
“Well,” said the girl. “If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”
You and I need to ask ourselves – does Jesus show thru our lives.
But… how would we know if Jesus is showing thru? Turn with me to Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

If you show these qualities in your life… people will see Jesus in you.
OK… SO HOW DOES THAT WORK?
Well, I picked one of the fruit out of the list as an illustration. Galatians tells us that one of the fruit of the Spirit is having joy. So… do people see you being filled with joy? When people are around you – do they see you being at peace. Contented with your life…? Or do they see you as one who complains about things instead?
We complained about the preacher,
o the church leadership,
o the music,
o the way the church did this…
o or did not do that.
Do you have Joy? Talk about self control as young people. What example are we giving the people around us?
ILLUS: A young student sold magazines door to door one holiday. He was lame from a boyhood accident and walked with difficulty. At one house where he stopped, the lady of the house quickly turned him down. As he turned and walked away she noticed his handicap and called out, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were crippled; I’ll buy a magazine.”
He responded by saying, “I’m not selling sympathy; I’m selling subscriptions.”
“Well,” she responded, “doesn’t your being lame color your life?”
“Yes,” he replied, “but I choose the color.”

And that’s the way it is with us to belong to Jesus Christ: we get to choose the colors in our lives. And because we belong to Jesus we have the opportunity to choose the brightest and most cheerful colors because we have a reason to do so. Jesus does show thru!

John wrote: “… if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” 1 John 1:7

You see… Jesus has the power to just light up our lives so that the vibrant colors can truly color our lives; and when people see that in us… they will see Jesus.

Let me close with Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. John 4:4-30
How would Jesus witness to the people we work around every day? How would He talk to my relatives and my friends about their need for salvation? The story of John 4, answers that question so well
I mean, Jesus didn’t say or do anything there that you and I couldn’t have done. He performed no miracle here, nor did He exhibit some unearthly glow. He was simply a Jewish man meeting a Samaritan woman at a well and asking for water.
AND this Samaritan woman was not an eager convert. In fact, she was just a indifferent woman. She had NOT come to Jesus to hear about salvation. She had come to a well to get a bucket of water.
Now, what did Jesus do with this woman – what He said to her AND how He said what He said to her… changed this woman. And when Jesus was done with her… she ended telling people: “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” John 4:29
1ST –JESUS TALKED TO HER.
When most of us think about “sharing our faith” or “witnessing” or “talking about Jesus”, we think in terms of talking AT people (arguing, convincing, overcoming objections, etc.), not talking WITH them.
ILLUS: I read a story of an American student in Berlin who was trying to “convert” her Muslim classmate. She led the Muslim girl through long discussions on Bible vs. the Qur’an, Christian values vs. Muslim values, etc., but was getting nowhere.
Then she talked to a missionary who advised her, “why don’t you just be her friend and tell her about Jesus.” So the American girl spent months building an authentic friendship with the Muslim girl. At the same time the Christian student plunged into her own intense personal study of the Gospels — filling her heart and head with the spirit and story line of Jesus. When the right time finally came around, she said to the Muslim girl over dinner, “I want to tell you a story…” The Muslim girl listened intently for a couple of hours while the Christian girl unfolded the story of Jesus ….So intent was the storyteller that she did not notice the tears welling up in the Muslim girl’s eyes, until the Muslim girl interrupted, “Why did you never tell me this before. We have no one like this in Islam. I think I want to follow your Jesus.”
You see… it’s important to talk TO people… not AT Them. Jesus did that. He talked TO the woman at the well… not AT her. BUT JESUS DIDN’T STOP THERE

2. 1st – Jesus talked TO her. AND THEN, Jesus talked to her about Spiritual things.
They got talking about water. It was a common enough topic to discuss. And then Jesus uses that topic as a springboard to talk about something more eternal and lasting. He said to her: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13
Jesus started by talking about the things that interested this woman – water. AND THEN he started talking about God. Most of us feel comfortable talking about things that interest us and others. Things like sports, or our favorite TV programs, or our favorite hobbies, or things we like to eat or drink. We feel comfortable discussing those common interests with others…Use that common interest to draw people’s attention to your Jesus.
For example: Let’s say you have a friend who is having problems at work, or with their health, or with their kids, or whatever. This is a great chance to create a thirst in their lives.
Offer to pray with them. NOT “I’ll pray for you” (as in “I’ll pray for you later”), BUT “Let’s pray right now!” Just close your eyes then and there and begin appealing to God on their behalf. This tells the person you’re praying for two things:
1. You care enough for them to not just say you’ll pray for them, but to actually do it in front of them. And
2. You’re telling them that you believe enough in your God to put your faith on the line.
Now, praying with people is one way to create that thirst. Another way is by telling people what Jesus means to you. Tell your story. Tell what God has done in your life.
Don’t you remember why you became a Christian to begin with? That’s part of your story. Has God done anything in your life since that time? That’s part of your story too.
So
• Jesus talked with the woman
• Then He talked with her about spiritual things
• THEN, He did something really peculiar – He let her go! John 4:25-28
Often times, we want to force people to make decision and so when they fail to respond then we feel we have failed in our efforts to witness about our Jesus. But no, Jesus had been talking with this woman… right on the verge of watching her make a decision… and up walks his disciples and she slips away. AND HE LET HER GO! Now… if it had been me, I’d have said: “Wait! Don’t Go! Come Back! We’re not done yet!”
Yours is to tell the people, who they respond, leave it to God!
CLOSE: There’s one more thing I want us to consider before I finish this sermon.
I don’t think Jesus’ meeting with this at the well was an accident. I don’t think Jesus just happened to be there when she came out to get water. I believe this encounter was the result of intense prayer by Jesus. The Apostle Paul asked one church to “pray for us… that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Colossians 4:3
And then, in Ephesians he wrote: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” Ephesians 6:19

Paul believed – that when God’s people prayed…
• His preaching gained power
• hearts were opened
• and lives were changed
Do you know how much Jesus prayed?
Ø He prayed in the morning
Ø He prayed in the afternoon
Ø Sometimes He prayed ALL night long

He was praying every day for opportunities to arise. For the crowds to be prepared for His message. And for men and women (like this woman at the well) to be at the right place at the right time.
We too must pray alongside studying the Bible that God will prepare the hearts of those we witness to and that we shall always have the courage to share our story with the people God brings our way.

Conclusion
Having people come in the door is a great thing. Having them join in fellowship with us a wonderful thing. But let us never be deceived into thinking that church can be a substitute for a relationship with God.

And so, you should not only invite people to church…
But you should also find ways of inviting them to Jesus
• by your story
• and by your life.

Jesus should show thru in what you say and what you do… so that others will know who it is you have fellowship with.
God bless you

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Jesus Christ Has Authority Over Unclean Spirit

INTRODUCTION:
In His first public appearance after His 40-day fast and victory over Satan’s temptations in Luke 4:18-19, Jesus appropriated the message in Isaiah 61:1-9, as His own vision and mission for ministry: the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind; to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil – chief among which was the devils use of his messengers – unclean spirits or demons to oppress, harass and destroy human beings.
This morning am sharing with you, “Jesus has authority over unclean spirits” and I have chosen my text from the 3rd lesson Mark 1:23-26 (read)
A man possessed by an evil spirit was in the synagogue, and he began shouting, “why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy one sent from God!”
Jesus cut him short, “Be silent! Come out of the man.” At that, the evil spirit screamed and threw the man into a convulsion, but then he left him.

THE BODY:
From our 1st Bible lesson Moses assured Israel that the Lord God will raise a prophet unto them and this prophet will speak of the things that the omnipotent God himself shall command him to speak of. God said I will put my words in his mouth. In other words God was saying through this prophet I shall manifest my power and authority. Remember the world was created through the very word of God and so if God says I shall put my words in his mouth then God meant to say I shall give him the authority to declare things and let them be. This prophet Moses was talking about is Jesus – Christ the anointed one!
So in Acts 10:38 we are told God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, he went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Hallelujah!
The psalmist said He has made his wonderful works to be remembered…he has shown his people the power of His works that he may give them the heritage of the nations. (Psalm 111:4-6)

STEP II
Permit me to throw some light on two key words in the topic before us this morning: – Authority and unclean spirit.
Authority is often used interchangeably with the word “power”. However their meanings differ: while power is the ability to influence somebody or do something above ordinary Authority refers to the claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise that power. For instance a mob has the power to punish a criminal arrested at the forecourt of the Dunwell Methodist Church, by lynching him or her to death but then under the rule of law, it’s only the court of law that has the authority to punish that criminal. So you see, you need authority to exercise extraordinary strength or supernatural abilities.
The Holy Spirit as we all know is the Spirit of God and is from God. Likewise unclean spirits are the spirits that come from the devil.
So you see, putting the two together, when we say Jesus has Authority over unclean spirits then we mean to say this, Jesus has the superior power and the legitimate right to command even unclean spirits and they obey. He’s so much loaded with authority that no one can refuse his orders. Hallelujah!

STEP III
In Mark 1, reading from the verse number 21; Jesus and His companions went to Capernaum, and every Sabbath day, every Sunday morning, just as we have gathered here this morning, scripture says Jesus taught the people. The surprising thing is that Jesus was seen anytime he mounted the podium to speak that he had superior authority so much different from what the people had known from the scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. They saw him teaching with real authority!
What did the people see in this Jesus? His authority over unclean spirits
In Pauls account to the church in Corinth, Paul said we know that an idol is nothing – there is only one God! The amulets, the charms, fetish materials and instruments of ritual worship are nothing compared to the power and authority of Christ. Anyone who has any charm, concoction, amulet or idol at home has a ready material for unclean spirits. Their power is nothing before Christ. Hallelujah!

STEP IV
Whatever names they are called, they are unclean spirits. They are not holy and that qualifies them to be called unclean spirits.
They attack the word of God in the life of believers. They make sure they render to naught the teachings of Christ in the life of many believers. In the Parable of the Sowers, we see how they distort the words of God that are planted in the hearts of people.
They oppress, harass and intimidate the believer [when given the chance] in order to weaken faith and dismantle godly foundations.
The good news is that Jesus has authority over every activity of these evil and unclean spirits. He commands them and they obey.

APPLICATION
Ephesians 5: 11-12 says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.”
The word of God does not say we should be petting evil spirits. It says, we should rebuke them. Mark 16:17 also says, “And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out demons…”
The Power of the Christian over and against unclean spirits lies in the name of Jesus. Philippians 2: 9-10 says, “Wherefore, God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth.”
So, we have the name of Jesus as a weapon with which we can exercise authority against them and over them. Let us see what was done in Luke 10:17. It says, “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject unto us through thy name.” Why were they subject to them? It is because of the name of Jesus. So the name of Jesus is powerful. No power can withstand it and no demon can near it. The name of Jesus is too great for the devil and his cohorts and they cannot resist it.
Another thing we must know is that the disciples were walking in full obedience to the Lord’s instruction. For you to be able to exercise power against unclean spirits, you need to walk in full obedience to the Lord and not in partial obedience.
Another ingredient is faith instead of fear. Faith in the word of God that makes you to believe that when you mention the name of Jesus, something will happen and nothing can stand against it; for God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2Timothy 1:7

CONCLUSION
The Devil does not submit to you or to us as believers or as individuals because of our name or because of our birth. He submits to us because of the power that we have as believers. If we call our own name, say in the name of so and so, demons will not listen to us. But immediately we say, “In the name of Jesus,” they will obey because Jesus has authority over them.

ALTAR CALL
Is there a habit you feel you cannot break or that you refuse to break? Are you dealing with appetites that are out of control? Do you struggle with compulsions that bring moments of pleasure followed by days of remorse? Do you go through periods of abstinence, only to be followed by seasons of indulgence that leave you defeated and condemned? Is it a sickness that has become generational, a disease, lack or anything you fear the devil is in it? Christ can set you free. The bible says God anointed Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil…” Acts 10:38
Jesus Christ has authority over unclean spirits and if you will allow him, if you will invite him, he can set you free even today!
Bow your heads and let us pray
1. Anyone to give his/her life to Jesus (Alter call)
2. Call on Christ to set you free from every activity of unclean spirits targeted at you and your family
3. Ask Jesus to take control of your life. “My life is not the habitation of evil spirits. My body is the temple of the living God. Therefore no power of darkness can enter into me, in the name of Jesus.”

[I preached this sermon on Sunday January 29, 2012 at the Dunwell Methodist Church – Santa Maria, Accra Ghana]

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