1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
Right at the beginning of this gospel, John tells us that Jesus was far more than just a great teacher or a prophet. When we hear Jesus, we hear God. When we observe Jesus we observe God. If we ever want to know what God is like or how He might act or where He might go, all we have to do is follow Jesus. “He was with God in the beginning, All things were made through Him” John is clearly saying that we were made through Him,(Jesus). “In Him was life, and that light is the light of men”. By believing that Jesus is the Son Of God we may have life. “A life that counts”
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The things that Jesus did, He did with grace. Whatever He says, He is says in truth. Just by looking at this verse, Jesus who is “full of grace and truth” made His dwelling among us. Who are we? Sinners! Far from the description of who Jesus is. That is why we have to live our lives in accordance to His will. He has to live His life in and through us. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”.
One day the gospel made sense when we were drawn to the Son. We have been given a new life, being chosen “you did not choose me but i chose you” Being excited, and thrilled that we have been forgiven, and start a new life with Christ. Jesus did release us from the bondage of sin, and also from ourselves.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Salvation is a gift from God, presented free through His Son. An exchanged life when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. There is nothing we can do to earn it, we cannot buy it. We cannot receive it by doing good, or by being good. Its a gift that should not be taken lightly. I had a conversation with Pastor Julius before he left for the Philippines regarding this verse. I asked him, is it really enough to rely on God’s grace? Meaning that should i use Gods grace when i wilfully continue sinning? “ Oh I’m saved by grace anyway God will forgive me”... This is what Pastor Julius said, “for anyone to understand being saved, they have to know why God saved them and from what? Only then will they understand God’s grace”. There has to be some change, one has to hate sin and not wilfully do it. Sure there will be times when we stumble and fall, and that is when God lifts us up by His grace. Now when one is continually sinning willingly and does not receive any discipline from the the Lord, then you have to question whether or not one is saved.
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
There should be some fear...the fear of disappointing our Father! No one likes to be disciplined or told that what we’re doing is wrong. It never feels good, it does not put a smile on our face. Sometimes we even struggle and fight and not knowing it is from God. We take it out on the people around us, the people we love. Then when we cant fight anymore, we have reached the end, we cant win...because we all know that we can never win against God, only then do we stop and realize, this is from God, i am being disciplined. “I did it again”. There has to be some guilt, and when that guilt kicks in, when God has already revealed our mistakes, that is when we see Gods grace!
1 John 1-9
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
This is a promise from God, He is not a liar! God is big enough to forgive us of our sins, if that were not true, then there would be no reason to send His Son. Once we have confessed and turned from our sins, we have been cleansed, but God does not forgive us or cleanse us just to make us feel good. It’s God’s purification process, it fulfills the scriptures and equips His children for service. Purification is a process, it does not happen instantly, we wish it would! God has to reveal to us the things that are not pleasing to Him and he takes it out.
1 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
What Jesus is saying here is that He is the true vine, and since we are connected with the true vine, we are to bear fruit! Two things were mentioned here, Verse 2 “ does not bear fruit” what do you think that means, or who is He referring to? Is He talking about an illegitimate child? I think so! Because look, Jesus says that “does not bear fruit He takes away” And the second part of it, “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. The first one He just throws it away, it was never attached to the true vine. The second one is the purification process, “and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit”. One cannot bear fruit if it willingly continues to sin, it was never connected to the true vine to begin with, it would be an exact opposite to God’s commands that we are to be transformed.. We have to live a life that counts, simply because God does not make mistakes, we make mistakes. And again, that is when we see God’s grace. We participate in this renewal process every time we read the Bible, attend worship, memorize a verse,or prayer. All in which have to be connected to the “true vine”.
Another process that we need to go through is to make a stand for Christ. In action and speech the fruit needs to show. Its like a test of courage, Just like Peter when he was being asked if he was with Jesus, fear got the best of him, and denied the Savior. Why? Because he did not have the promised Holy Spirit. He was still in the flesh. At one point in our Christian life we will go through a Peter moment, it will be uncomfortable at first because we fear being judged, being made fun of, being different. Well that’s actually a good thing when people start seeing the difference. Its working, its a true conversion! We are being separated from the world.
1 Peter 2:9
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Look at the words that Peter described for the believers, “chosen, royal, Holy, and people who belong to God”. What was said in the last part of this verse, “praises of Him who called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light”. What was our opening verse? “In Him was life and that life was the light of men”. At first when we see the words “Gods people” He was referring to the Israelite, but because of Gods grace, we have become His people. We have been chosen for His purpose. Here’s another verse to back that up...
24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: "I will call them 'my people' who are not my people; and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," 26 and, "It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' "
These passages from Hosea refers to the spiritual restoration of Israel. But Paul finds in them the principle that God is a saving, forgiving, restoring God, who delights to take those “who are not my people” and make them “my people” Paul then applies this principles to the Gentiles, Who’s that? That’s you and I, whom God makes us His people by sovereign choice. Grafting us into a covenant relationship with Him. Could you imagine that? That is by Gods grace! By searing this knowledge into our hearts, our only response would be a sense of gratitude, humility, and acceptance. After realizing this, our only response is please our God! Why would we not make a stand for our God?
Since it is Mothers Day, there is very special mom in the Bible that had to make stand for Jesus. I am speaking of Mary the mother of Jesus. It could not have been easy for someone like Mary to explain that she is carrying a child, when she has never been with a man. We all know the story by heart, we know that she was engaged to be married to Joseph, but was already pregnant. The penalty for that would be to stone her to death. But since both Mary and Joseph knew that this was all planned out by our Lord, they had to make a stand, be obedient, regardless of what people think. There will come a time in our Christian life where we have make a very hard decision when it comes to making a stand for Jesus. Especially if its someone we love!
A few years ago we have witnessed a couple that had to make a very hard decision, whether to be obedient to Gods commands or allow a sinning child to live in their house. I will not mention their names, but i do look up to them for what they did. Every parent in here at one point told their child, “whatever you do ill back you up or whatever decision you make, you will have my full support”. Even my wife and i are guilty of saying that to our boys. Now what if what they want to do is go against God’s will, should we still be supportive? Because of what this couple did we are now using them as an example to our boys, that if they ever decide to go against God, they better make sure that they can survive on their own. Now this is what scripture says...
26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus calls for an exclusive commitment to the Father through Him. He will always come first. “God is a jealous God” He is not saying, to automatically hate them, but what if our parents, our spouse disapprove of us being born again, should we follow them or follow Jesus. Or when our kids decide to live their lives apart from Gods commands, should we support them or continue to be obedient. It even says that our own lives need to be second when it comes to following Him. This is the cost of being a disciple! Jesus offered His life willingly so that we can be saved, and He expects nothing less from those He has called. (Offer your lives as living sacrifice) “This is a life that counts”, a life that is demanded by our Creator. Its not a bad life, is it? I can honestly say that i am happy with what God has made of my life now, if i were to compare it to my old life, i would not go back. If it was not for Jesus, i would probably be divorced, see my boys on a schedule, still be a drunk and an addict. Being obedient does come with a reward, we just need to trust the One who has called us to be His. Being made in His likeness is process that is not easy, being pruned to bear fruit comes with a price. We will be tested, we will face trials, and we will even be hated. But this is the life that counts!
John 6:60-68 Many Disciples Desert Jesus
60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
The Lord’s Message , April 19, 2015
Intro: I saw on Facebook a member enjoying his family and then meeting with other relatives and love ones. Children are God’s gift to their parents to raise a family and increase in number. Generally speaking families love each other and care for one another whether they are Christians or not. However, there is a difference when parents are both Christians because there is a deeper love for the family brought about by the Holy Spirit to be responsible in rearing their children according to the will of God and not only for them but to other believers as well.
Last Sunday, we saw how the disciples of Jesus were transformed after they received the Holy Spirit. Although the apostles in particular were taught by Jesus and saw how He lived His life, they were only humans and had no power to even make a stand for their Master. But when they were filled with the Holy Spirit they became bold and fearlessly proclaimed the gospel and through their preaching 3,000 were saved and added to their number. Why is the number given special importance to be mentioned? Because God knows who are His, exact to the last person. And if they were added to, how many were there originally? In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty). Acts 1:15
We must understand and believe that God is “Omniscient” and He knows every person He created and every person whom Jesus saved. Even angels know when Jesus has saved a person. In the parable of the lost coin, the woman rejoiced after finding the one coin she lost calling her friends and neighbors together saying, ‘Rejoice with me; I found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:9b-10
To God one sinner is very precious because Jesus died for that one sinner to save. He gave him to His Son that he would bring glory to His Son and of course they both knew. Paul reveals this truth to us by the Holy Spirit. “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Tim. 2:19b
And the ones who are authentic and genuine will turn away from wickedness. This
is the evidence of a saved one brought about by a repentant heart. There is also a record when a person gets saved just as we have proof of when, where and who are our parents. Where is that record when a person is born again? Again Paul wrote, “Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are written in the book of life.” Phil. 4:3
Another reference of this is in the Lamb’s Book of Life, where our spiritual birth is recorded. Who then gave us this birth? It is the Holy Spirit who gives birth to our dead spirit after we committed one sin. With this new birth we are adopted into God’s family. This new the relationship is now given by Jesus to them and to us.
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” John 20:17
This is the highest and most important relationship a person can have in life to have God as his Father. That relationship that Jesus had with God His Father is now with those who are saved by Jesus making them His brother and belonging to,
“God’s Forever Family”
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will but born of God.” John 1:10-13
Why am I repeating Scriptures I have already shared in the past? Lest we forget just as Peter wrote in his second and last letter to God’s children as a reminder. “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.” 2 Pet. 1:12
And this is our lifetime goal to know what it means to have eternal life. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3
Our primary purpose is to know Christ because it is only by knowing Christ that we get to know the true God. And where is the place to grow in knowing God and Christ? In His church, where Christ is the head and the church being His body. After the 3,000 were saved they were added to their number. The first Christian church was started in Jerusalem and their first pastor was James the half -brother of Jesus. But who really started this church?
After some time, Jesus asked His disciples who do people say I am. Then He asked Peter who He is. “But what about you?” he asked, “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matt. 16:15-18
The rock Jesus was referring to was Himself, the confession of Peter that Jesus is the Son of the living God. The Roman Catholic Church misinterpreted and misused what Jesus said, “on this rock” and made Peter the founder of the Roman Catholic Church. But the church founded by Jesus Christ, is His church. No one else owns it but Jesus Himself. It is not my church, nor our church but His church where His save ones belong. Being His church, He is the one responsible to build it up. The church is also referred to as His body of which He is the head and every member a part of the body. Paul describes this in his letter to the Romans as, “…so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to it.” Rom. 12:5
So who are the members of His body? It is very clear that members are “in Christ.” They are the ones already saved and were given to Christ to be a part of His body of different ages, walks of life and given different gifts to function in the body. “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them just as he wanted them to be…God has combined the members of the body.” 1 Cor. 12:18, 24b
So after one is saved, God gives that saved one to Christ to be a member of His body and that is the local church. This means that there is no child of God that does not belong to a local church. There are no orphaned Christians who do not have a church family. There is however a difference between a local church and the universal church. The universal Church comprises the different churches in the whole world belonging to Christ and do not necessarily know each other. But a local church is comprised of members that have covenanted with each other to belong to this body of Christ. Can one be a Christian and not belong to a local church? Is it also possible that there are members of this body that do not really belong to Christ? Yes there are. Paul warned every pastor of His church with this. “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!” Acts 20:28-31a
Can this possibly happen to every church and in FICF? Yes, and it has. But thank God, the Lord took them away. The head and the one who owns the church knows.
So now, how does every members of God’s family relate to the head and to the whole? They get involved in God’s activity. After the 3,000 were saved and combined together with the 120 what were their activities? They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
These are the activities the first Church did. Are we as Christ’s church doing these activities today? Yes we are. The apostles’ teaching today is equivalent to Bible study and discipleship. There are no longer apostles today but we have their teachings. We have disciples who have undergone discipleship and making disciples. Because our times has changed not everyone is free to meet together every day but this can be scheduled during days off from work. New believers are going through discipleship meeting during the week and on Sundays. The church provides Sunday school for our children of different levels to teach them the Word.
Fellowship is a vital part in the church. This is where we grow in knowing each other in God’s family. Just like our physical family, we live and eat together and know each other’s character and idiosyncrasies. In the church we ought to know each other in order to build up one another in addition to what the pastor does. There is no place here for worldly activities like partying and drinking together as the world does which we have done before. We should be done with that, in fact the ones you hang out with before will not want you to be with them unless you compromise the testimony of your faith. As Paul said, you will be an aroma of death to them but to those who are being saved an aroma of Christ. How much more when you are among God’s family, there is a sweet fellowship. When we continue in our fellowship our love for each other will grow. And to what extent? “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
In the New Testament Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments to two. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matt. 22:37-40
Why did Jesus give this new command? This command is to believers for believers. The quality of our love for believers is the love that Jesus had for you and me while my love for my neighbor is only to the extent that I love myself. I want us to take note that when Jesus gave this command for believers, Judas was no longer with them. Earlier in verse 31 here’s what happened. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. John 13:31
With these in mind, here’s who we as believers should love first, the Lord our God then our brothers and sisters in Christ, then our neighbors. Unbelievers cannot love the Lord our God as the love God would accept because their love for God is only human love, whereas the believer’s love for God is divine love produced in us by the Holy Spirit.
The breaking of bread represents our worship. This is the highest expression of our love for God. No other activity takes precedent over worship. The Old Testament saints had special Feasts ordained by God as their worship. Five of them required that they go to Jerusalem at the place of worship in the temple and would stay there for days. They follow ceremonial worship as ordained by God. These were patterns and every ritual had a spiritual significance. However, under the New Covenant, here’s what Jesus says to us as He said this to a Samaritan woman. “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24
What if you are a believer under the New Covenant and on the Lord’s Day which is the first of the week you are not coming to worship at the church where you belong without any valid reason to keep you from worshiping, who would be seeking you? Jesus said His Father will be seeking for you. We know and of course God knows that if you have to work you have no choice but to work especially if you are new to your job and the company will of course make you work on weekends and Sunday. Thank God, one of our members having worked in the company a long time put in a request to be free on Sundays and he was granted that request. I believe the Lord has seen his heart the desire to worship. The prayer warriors that meet every Wednesday have prayed for this request fervently and God was glorified when He answered our prayers. This is also one of the activities of the church in addition to our personal closet prayer we meet as His body to pray for one another. I now end this message with this benediction from His Word. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within is, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:20-21