Sunday, October 30, 2011

From Acts to Revelation - Part 1: The Church Revealed

From Acts to Revelation
Part 1 – The Church Revealed
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

We are beginning a new series this week, which I have entitled “From Acts to Revelation - The Church Revealed”.  

We will be exploring many things through the scriptures over the following weeks, as we take a look at defining “The Church” by our own terms, the ideas and thoughts of others, and finally through the definition given to us by the Holy Scriptures themselves.

Over the next few months, I expect we will see ourselves in many differing lights, with the hope that when we conclude this series, we will become the Church Christ died for us to be.

Without self-examination, one cannot rightly assess their performance.  Without judging ones performance, you cannot expect to do any better than mediocre at whatever task you set out to do.

If your relationship with God is just that, mediocre, then you can never expect to experience the greatness that the Lord has in wait for you in your life.

It is true, that each of us has as much of God as we wish in our lives.  If you want more of God's involvement in your life, then you must get more involved with Him.

Too often I hear people ask, “Where's God?”, and every time I hear this, I am saddened that we are not being the presence we should be. We need to rightly represent our Lord, so that others will want more of Him in their lives. It is not God failing mankind today, but His Church that He has sent forth to represent Him.

If today, you are not experiencing the full power of God in your life, it is not because of God’s unwillingness, but your own lack of seeking. Jesus promises, IF we seek, we WILL find, and IF we knock, the door SHALL BE OPENED.

My hope is that through this series, you will ask yourself the most important question, am I truly seeking?  Do I have enough of God in my life?

SCRIPTURE READING - What is The Church?
I Corinthians 12:12-13; 27
12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink... 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

a.      Who do we think we are?
i. Some denominations believe they are the only way to heaven.
1.      Denominations are a creation of men who cannot live in unity with one another, although we were all baptized by the same spirit, and believe there is but one God.

2.      Paul warns us about being divided as believers, stating here that though there are many parts, we are one body, promoting unity, not division.

ii.                      Because of man's inability to live in peace with others, denominations have watered down the Body of Christ, and made it nearly ineffective in this day and age.

iii.                   Some denominations have created new writings, which they hold on the same level as the Holy Scriptures.
1.      But we know from the Holy Bible, nothing is to be added or taken away.  What is contained in the scriptures, is the complete intention of God.  To think that man in his wisdom can add anything only compounds the problem of division, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees did in their day.

2.      We dare not expound on God's wisdom, and need only to take Him at His word, even when we don't fully understand the reasoning.
a.      His ways are above our ways, we cannot fully see as of yet!

b.     Who do others say we are?
i. Bigots, intolerant, hateful, lustful, hypocrites.
1.      TV Evangelists in sex scandals
2.      Evangelists in money scandals
3.      Tax fraud, evasion, money laundering
4.      Priests sex abuse
5.      Charlatans and fake healing seminars
6.      False doomsday, end-of-time prophets
7.      Cults
8.      Let us just say, we are not viewed in a good light.

c.      Who Jesus says we are
i. Jesus tells us, we are the children of the living God.
ii.                      We are instructed to be the Body of Christ. His presence here on earth!
iii.                   We are to GO into ALL the world.
iv.                     Baptizing into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
v.                        And teach those baptized by the one Spirit, to OBEY all Christ commanded.
vi.                     This, by Christ's definition is the Church.

d.     How does one become a member of the Body of Christ?
i. Jesus told Peter that by exclaiming his belief in the fact that Jesus was the Son of God, he was a member.  This exclamation IS the foundation of Christ's Church on earth!  Jesus said so.

e.      Who have we become?
i. Given enough time, we mess things up.
ii.                      God gave His word to the Israelites, and the Sadducees and Pharisees messed it up.
iii.                   God gave His word to the Church, and guess what...the Church today is not as Christ intended.
iv.                     BUT, the Good News is, we have the Word of God, and through reading it, and examining it, we CAN be the Church Christ intended us to be, as His presence here on earth!

II.               THE BOOK OF ACTS
a.      The importance of The Book of Acts 
i. The life of the early church is recorded and preserved for us in the book of Acts and the epistles.

ii.                      The importance of this second of Luke's two-volume work can hardly be over-estimated, for without it we would have no record of the beginnings and development of the early church.

iii.                   Therefore, as Acts furnishes for us a selective record of events that took place during the formative years of the church, it provides us with the history of our faith, and the forming of the Church.

iv.                     It also provides helpful information of the facts surrounding many of the letters of the apostles, which in turn helps us to better understand when they said what they said and why they said it. It was written in the early 60's, perhaps from Antioch, Rome or Ephesus.

b.     The Purpose of The Book of Acts
i. As was stated, Acts is the second part of what was originally a two-part, single volume (i.e. Luke-Acts; cf. Acts 1:1).  Therefore, it is reasonable to include Luke's purpose for Acts as falling under his purpose for the book of Luke. 
1.      In Luke 1:4 the author says that he is writing to "most excellent Theophilus" . . . "in order that he might know the certainty of the things he had been taught."  Apparently, Theophilus seems to have been a man, who though receptive to the gospel and perhaps even convinced by its claims, had many questions about Christianity, as he knew it. 

2.      Luke wrote to strengthen him in his belief.  Given the contents of the book of Acts, Theophilus appears to have had questions about the coming and activity of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of the apostles, Paul and his dealings with the Jerusalem apostles and the advancement of Christianity.

ii.                       In a sentence, given the emphasis on the unity of the church and its expansion from Jerusalem to Rome we may say that Luke's purpose was to demonstrate to Theophilus the sovereign, unified and everlasting advance of the gospel into all the world.
1.      There are seven "progress reports" on the unity and advance of the church that further confirm this (2:47; 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:30, 31).  With this knowledge, Theophilus, who was probably a Roman official, could understand how Christianity reached his city.

c.      What we will discover
i. I believe we will come to a better understanding of what defines us as a church, what takes place in a church, and exactly how a church behaves in a world filled with sin.

a.      The importance of The Revelation
i. No story is complete without an end.  Just as Genesis tells us all about the beginning, God also tells us all about the end of this “time”, or dispensation after the “Church” age.

b.     The purpose of The Revelation
i. Our purpose for examining Revelation in part, will be to see the warnings which are given to the seven churches, examining ourselves with each church to see if we are falling short in our end-times.


1.       Starting next week, we will begin examining the Introduction to the Beginning of the Church
2.       Afterword, we will examine a selection of Revelation
3.      Lastly, we will examine ourselves as a church closely, and see where we stand 


Monday, October 24, 2011

They Must Be Giants - Part 8: WWDD?

They Must be Giants
Part 8 – WWDD? What Would David Do?
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

1 Samuel 17

We are completing our series entitled “They Must be Giants!”

Most of us are all familiar with the story of David & Goliath.

The battle between the Israelites and the Palestinians this day was a spiritual one.

The devil had brought his people up against the children of the Living God.

Just as we are reminded in Ephesians 6, the battle is not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces, principalities and powers.

Goliath was Satan’s champion this day, and David was God’s.

Fear had enslaved the Israelites. Fear caused them to act irrational, and they were helpless. They forgot who they were, or should I say “to whom they belong.”

Over the past few weeks we’ve talked about how these spiritual battles rage on today in our lives.

Orchestrated by the devil to enslave us, to cause us to fall and fear, and forget who we are, so that we cannot effectively serve our God.

We may be held captive by the giant named Unforgiveness.

Or perhaps, forced into making irrational decisions by a giant named fear.

Our fear, if unresolved will grow into anger as it did with Cain, and that anger will grow into hate.

We loose the battle with our flesh because of fear.

We have low self esteem because the devil’s giant is at our heels.

But if David could defeat Goliath because of the Lord, we too can be victorious in our spiritual battles!

We too can defeat WHATEVER the devil throws at us!

Greater is He that is IN us, then he that is in the world!

Today we ask the question, What Would David Do in our situation?

The scriptures have recorded the life of David for a reason. God wants us to learn from Davids life, and we can gain understanding by doing so.

We are going to look at the life of David up to the point of Goliath and see what made it possible for him to defeat the giant that the devil had thrown at the Israelites.

1.      David’s life as a shepherd
2.      David’s anointing of the Holy Spirit
3.      David’s purpose made known by God to David
4.      David recognized the situation
5.      David trusted in the Lord for victory

In doing this, we  can look at our own humble beginnings. See when we were touched by God, and received His Holy Spirit. Try to discover what God's purpose is for us in our lives, and how we can recognize where we are, how the devil is standing against us, and know that if we trust in the Lord as David did, we too can have victory in Jesus!

1.      At this time in history, Saul was King

2.      When Saul became King, he was given a warning from the Prophet Samuel.
1.      The warning to the nation and Saul the King was not to forget God
2.      It is easy to remember God when things are bad, and so easy when everything is going good in our lives.

3.      Saul made three critical errors that led to his being replaced as King.
1.      Saul was humble in the beginning, but his success which was achieved through God, went to his head and his humility turned to pride.

1.      He later offered sacrifices, which God had specifically instructed that ONLY Priests were to do this duty to God.

2.      This was the first sign of Saul's growing sense of self-importance.

2.      The second critical error Saul had made was his ridiculous order for the army to abstain from food, and his senseless death sentence for Jonathan, which showed the people what a fool they had for a King.

1.      Saul ordered a death sentence on his son because he ate some honey in between battles, and Saul had ordered no one eat before sundown.

2.      His son Jonathan was not there to hear this, so he did not know he wasn't to eat.

3.      When Saul discovered Jonathan ate some honey in between battles, he ordered a death sentence on his son.

3.      The third critical error that Saul had committed, Saul deliberately disobeyed God. Again and again, Saul did things “his way”.

1.      For these reasons, Samuel spoke these words to Saul, “Because you have rejected God, God has rejected you from being King.”

4.      Saul's eventual pride, and self-importance lead to him doing things “his way”, and his incapacity to be a King was rooted in his inability to hear God's word and act on it.
1.      He substituted human calculation for divine leading.
1.      Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

5.      While all of this was taking place, David was a young shepherd over his father's flocks.
1.      Spending time with God in the country, David had built a relationship with the Lord.

2.      Songs and prayer became a way of life to David.

3.      Many times in the field, David had to rely on God's protection and strength in watching over the flocks.

4.      With God’s help, David had defeated wild animals, such as a lion, from attacking his sheep.

5.      David knew God intimately and knew God’s protection.

6.      David had a relationship with God.

7.      This relationship is the foundation of God’s working in David’s life.

1.      David was anointed to be king.
1.      This anointing came from God through Samuel.

2.      But it was done in secret because Saul would have killed David had he found out David was God’s replacement for him.

2.      The reason David was anointed at the age of 15 as we see in Samuel  13, was to give David a chance to train himself for the office.
1.      When we read of David we read the following, David was short in stature, of fair complexion, and handsome, of immense physical strength and great personal attractiveness, a man of war, prudent in speech, very brave, musical and religious.

2.      His fame as a musician brought him to the notice of King Saul, who did not at the time know that David had been anointed to be his successor.

3.      David became Saul’s armor bearer.
1.      This brought David into close association with the king and his counselors, so that unknowingly Saul helped train David for his future responsibilities as King.

2.      Samuel anointed David as God instructed, and David received the Holy Spirit, and all that comes with Him.

1.      David knew what God had called him to do.
1.      When we know who we are in the Lord, we become determined.
2.      We gain strength.
3.      We have a right self-image.
4.      We obtain our self esteem from the right source, the Lord!
5.      And nothing can remove that self esteem when it comes from the right source.

2.      If we get our self esteem from our friends, then what happens?
1.      You will do whatever it takes to keep their approval.
2.      You have just set yourselves up for peer pressure.

3.      If we get our self esteem from how much we have, what happens?
1.      You have just set yourselves up to be materialistic.

4.      If you get your self esteem from money, what happens?
1.      You end up doing whatever it takes to get more.

2.      Jesus told the rich ruler in Luke 18:18 when asked “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
1.      They key to this verse is not to sell all you own or you cannot have eternal life, the key is the word “I”.

2.      The rich ruler asked Jesus specifically about his own life and path for eternal life.  Jesus knowing the man was a lover of his riches, told him that he must sell everything if he was to follow Christ.

3.      The rich ruler got his self-esteem from his wealth.  Therefore it stood between him and a relationship with God.

4.      We set ourselves up for sin whenever we get our self esteem from any source other than the Lord.

5.      Where did King Saul get his self-esteem? 
1.      The scriptures tell us, from the people.

2.      He failed God because we wanted to please the people instead of God.
6.      When our self-esteem comes from the Lord, then it doesn’t matter what our friends say, we do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
1.      We won’t care what they think.

2.      We won’t become a lover of money because all that matters to us is what the Lord wants, because that’s where our self esteem comes from.

7.      Who I am in the Lord.
1.      All I have, or will ever have, comes only from the hand of God.

2.      Therefore, how can I get my self-esteem from something other than the God, who can give and take away?

3.      I rather get my self-esteem from the one who gives and takes away.

4.      David knew who he was in the Lord, and he knew the plans the Lord had for him.

1.      The Israelites did not see the battle for what it was, spiritual.
1.      Saul did not see the battle for what it was because he had lost the favor of God because of his disobedience and pride, and even when the Lord was speaking to Saul, he didn’t listen.

2.      But David, a man who had a relationship with God, and was anointed with the Holy Spirit of God, and KNEW who he was in the Lord, saw the battle for what it was.

3.      He knew the battle was spiritual, and that it wasn’t the Palestinians against the Israelites, but the Palestinians against God!
1.      He recognized the battle as we are told to do in Ephesians 6.

4.      David had no fear because he knew the Lord was with him!
1.      Saul had nothing but fear because the Lord had rejected him.

1.      The battle was the Lord’s. David’s offer to take on Goliath with only a spear and a sling was unheard of bravery and amazing trust in God.
2.      I watched a documentary the other night on the battle of David and Goliath, and although there were a few discrepancies with the scripture, there were some interesting scientific facts.
1.      Such as the fact that a ballistics expert showed that a rock from a sling has the velocity between 80 and 90 miles per hour, which is about 117 – 132 Feet Per Second

2.      I would not want to get hit with a rock in the forehead going that fast!

3.      So we look at David facing Goliath and being victorious, and we look at the Giants in our lives and we ask, how can we be victorious?
1.      How was David victorious, and how do we accomplish this?

2.      It does not matter what the Giant is in your life, they are all defeated in the same manner!


Just as David, we need a relationship with God.  Not when the giant comes, but BEFORE!
        Do you belong to the Lord?
        Have you confessed your sin and asked for His forgiveness?
        Have you repented of that sin?
        Do you read His word and pray to Him?
        Do you listen to His Holy Spirit?
        You must have a relationship with God.

Just as David, we need to have the Holy Spirit.
        The Holy Spirit comes when invited.
        You cannot take hold of the Spirit, it’s like wind or water.
        You must continually be filled.

Just as David, we need to know who we are.
        Where do you get your self esteem?
        Have you asked God to reveal His plan for you?
        Do you know what gifts He has given you?
        Are you working towards your calling?

Just as David, we need to recognize the battle is the Lord's.
        The battle is Spiritual.
        The Giant you face is not facing you, but the Lord.
        All things are possible through Christ Jesus who strengthens us!

The Lord can, and will, defeat whatever is coming against you in your life.

Unforgiveness, anger, fear, hate, lust, adultery, fornication, whatever sin or unrighteous behavior, or temptation arises against you, remember this is a spiritual matter to cause you to live in unrighteousness, to live in sin, and thus cut you off from relationship with the Lord!

Come forward for prayer!