Tag Archives: Jesus

Preservation Empowers Perseverance Through Family

We see restlessness all around us don’t we? Violence and words of malice that strike at the very core of who we are. At this point I sort of a dread having to open my Facebook page to see the hate of everyday. For whatever reason, each of us can so quickly be spun into this web of poison.The funny thing is that as I describe this situation, several things may pop into YOUR head. It may not necessarily be what I’m thinking about. Because each of us have a bone to pick with something.

We all have THAT THING that really gets us all riled up.
WE all want to WIN or persevere. Not only that, we all want OUR way preserved. We want the world to think, act and feel the way we do. We want to be preserved and persevere.
We wonder why we are in the situation we’re in and it cause us to be full of fear. If we are honest with ourselves. Am i the only one that feels this way? Don’t you at least feel it around you if not right here, right now. That is if the situation you are currently doesn’t pan out to be the way YOU want, well everything must be wrong with the world.

We so quickly forget who truly preserves us. We so quickly forget the promise. Jesus. Jesus, preserves us. And that preservation is what motivates our perseverance!

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at the ‘3 Characteristics of How God’s Preservation Empowers Perseverance And Witness’ based off of Acts 18:1-17.

PART 1 – Through the Faith Family
PART II – Through His Providence
PART III – Through His Word

God Empowers Through the Faith Family

After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade. And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with the word, testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus. And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. – Acts 18:1-8

Presence (v. 2-4)

If you see in the beginning there was an availability by the saints. Aquila and his wife Priscilla were model church members that were ready, willing and available. People knew each other, or at least they found ways to be involved with each other. Everything will be added to you God will bring you the resources you need, including faithful community to surround you to accomplish God’s mission WITH you. For the faith family to be useful and active they were all readily available.

Power (v. 3 and 8)

It has always been speculated what Paul’s ‘thorn’ is in the passage in 2 Corinthians. But what we do know is that whatever it was, it could not be taken away. Most likely, Paul needing some sort of help and couldn’t do everything by himself. There is help. The body of Christ; Aquila and Priscilla ready in and out of season were ready to be of assistance. In fact, they all had a similar trade.

They did all their WORK for the glory of God – (v.3) Paul being a tent maker uses this profession as a means of networking for God’s glory. In other words, it is not the case that Paul engages in tent making as a necessity so that he can do his “real job” of preaching. Instead, Paul’s varieties of work in the sewing shop, marketplace, synagogue, lecture hall, and prison are all forms of witness. In any of these contexts, Paul participates in God’s restorative project and lives out his new identity in Christ for the sake of God’s glory and out of love for his neighbors—even his former enemies. Even as he is being transported across the sea as a prisoner, he employs his gifts of leadership and encouragement to guide the soldiers and sailors holding him captive to safety during a severe storm (Acts 27:27-38). If he had not had the gift of being a preacher and apostle, he would still have been a witness to Christ simply by the way he engaged in making tents, toiling for the sake of the community, and working for the good of others in all situations.

We must make sure we don’t make distinctions that separate us from the every day, every moment actuality of our faith and the implications it will always present. In every way Paul was who he had to be in order to share Christ. So with out excuse we must be faithful to be Christians, and present to do the work of ministry.

Possession (v. 5)

[9] And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. – 2 Corinthians 11:9

Based off of this coinciding scripture which most likely points to this point in Paul’s second journey, when Silas and timothy ‘arrived from Macedonia’, in verse 5 is probably part of the gift that they bring to Paul.
This piece is always so interesting. But the people in the early church always took care of one another. The piece that is important to note about this community action is the manner in which they help each other.

You don’t have to ‘start a ministry’ to be faithful. Just be it, Just do it. You never know the actions you take, how many years down the line that it’s going to affect someone’s life. In my life, I was only 8 years old. My father had just had been in a real bad place. The cards just didn’t fall in his lap right. It’s the sudden lay-off, the sudden drop in pay and the inevitable hardship that follows when the money you make doesn’t fit the outgoing bills. My parents loved the LORD, they were faithful in sharing Jesus with their friends and the LORD provided so many resources through those around us.

There are always those people right. All of us a story or two that carry examples of servants that really went out of their way to be like Jesus to us. Be like that. And i think more than ever these realities hit me as an adult knowing the risk families took by allowing us to live with them and take us in.
Even now, there are people in this body that love us, my family, in ways that truly speak to us and care that helps and motivates me to speak truth boldly. For them I am so grateful.

Are you ready?

Following after such great examples like Aquila, Priscilla, Silas and Timothy. There are so many arenas that right now you can help your faith family with. That you, can help advance the kingdom and make a difference. Really there are three main things most churches do. Consider the following

1. Sunday Mornings

– Prayer Team
– Hospitality
– Kidz Program
– Stewardship
– Audio & Visual Tech Team

2. Community Groups

– Authentic Friendship- Hospitality –
– Discipleship & Leadership
– Mission Organization

3. Bible Study

– Youth Advocacy
– Children’s Bible Memorization
– Bible Study Leader
– Communicator

I believe that if we as a local body does 3 things really well, we can be most effective at accomplishing the great commission in your city. This is our field. Your city is your inheritance. AS a team that is filled with the fire of the Spirit to be witnesses to your hurting community, we can do it together.

Reasons To Pray When Things Don’t Make Sense

I vividly remember the phone call I got late that night. I knew that at some point my brother was to come home. I was just hanging out watching TV and, “ring ring…”. I answer the phone call and it’s the authorities letting me know that my brother had gotten in an accident and is unconscious. It was me and my parents at home that night. I remember us and people from the church praying and asking God to have mercy and deliver him, there was no script, there was no perfect way of saying it, but what we were saying was, “God, spare my brother’s life… please God, Spare my brother’s life.” I knew, somewhere deep inside to pray, we had nothing, there was absolutely nothing to grab a hold of at the moment except God. For this particular story, my brother was miraculously spared. I know this is not always the case, but we were overjoyed that he was conscious again by the time he reached the ER.
We all have a story like that don’t we? Sometimes it is filled with doubt, maybe you don’t have all the facts, but you are begging God to deliver, you, a friend, maybe a marriage for deliverance from danger. We want God to move, we want Him to change things. We want Him to move on our behalf.  So what are some reasons to continue to pray when things don’t make sense?

1. Because God is Sovereign

The whole concept of God’s complete sovereignty is a hard one for a lot of people to swallow. We want some sure way of understanding everything we see.
“Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6).
Long story short here is that God does what he wants and the early church understood as the context of their prayers. Even in times of uncertainty, they trusted God to do His work, His will and in His way. We know this was true because we see a prayer in the midst of persecution early in the Book of Acts.

“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,… for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

(Acts 4:24, 27-28)

The people knew exactly what was going on, and they knew it’s been part of God’s plan all along.
There is no “secret way” of knowing how God will judge. Fervent prayer is how the church must operate in our core. It is this kind of faithfulness that will spread the church to the ends of the earth.
In a way, by God being Holy, by very definition, He does what He wants. There will not be expected conclusions to how God interacts with us, but we are to pray for God’s revealed will since we don’t know His hidden will.

Yes. Pray. God is sovereign. Pray. Remember, the communication we have with God is one that should be unceasing. Pray when you want God to move in your life and in your community’s life. Pray for the souls of those you are reaching for Christ. Pray in the context knowing that God has a plan in the midst of your confusion.

2. Because We Are Not Alone

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church… When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place. (Acts 12:5,12-17 ESV)

Within the context of what was spoken of earlier in Acts 4, and the prayer that the community of faith said together, there is just something about all of these passages that make the most difficult things just a little easier to swallow; it is that we are not alone.

And if it’s a true community, it’s gonna be real. It’s gonna be messy, and it’s not gonna be perfect. A community full of faith in God and love for one another is a community that is authentic. You can see this authenticity here in this passage when you get to the nitty gritty of how the community responds… during a prayer meeting on behalf of Peter seeking God’s provision.

There are people that are dealing with doubts, fears, and uncertainty. Here, they definitely made it obvious in scripture. Are you being this honest? This how we edify and build one another up.

3. Because He Always Hears Us

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. (Acts 12:5 ESV)

In Verse 5 the ESV reads as ‘earnest’ prayer, This word is only used a few times in the NT. It is a very strong word meaning “to reach out in a tense, resolute eager way” or “Prayer was going up”. This means they were praying intensely, with resolve and had an expectation to see God answer. Nothing else mattered but God and His everlasting kingdom!
Fervant or earnest prayer is how the church must operate in our very DNA. It is this kind of faithfulness that will spread the church to the ends of the earth.
Luke, who is the writer of Acts uses this word in another place in scripture.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44 ESV)

Hopefully we can see this intensity noted by our Lord as He is praying earnestly before getting betrayed and all the emotion that is tied knowing is to become of you being in the governments hands.
The important aspect to note about the Lord listening to His children, is noticing that our Lord prayed earnestly, but He earnestly asked for His Father to do His will. In this prayer Jesus did not sin by asking God to take the cup from Him if there was another way.

The big difference between our sometimes fleshly prayers and that of our Savior King Jesus is that He desired His Father’s will above anything else, yes, even if that meant dying a cruel death on a bloody cross for us while we were still sinners.

Praying according to His will is the key. Praying that God has His way. It’s the heart of the matter where we don’t expect God to align to our desires but our desires to be aligned with His.
When you pray, and the answer doesn’t turn out for the good you expect, does not mean that God is mean, nor does it always mean you don’t have enough faith. It just means that sometimes the answer is no, sometimes it’s yes and sometimes it’s wait.
You might feel like the father in the Gospel of Mark with the sick son.

…“I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

It’s all about Jesus and caring for one another.

He is a good father and He listens to His children. He doesn’t always answer the way we want, but He does hear us.

What’s Your Doxology?

Interesting Mottos or Doxologies

“Never expect. Never assume. Never ask. And never demand. Just let it be. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.”

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do”

“Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”

“Work. Buy. Consume. Die.”

“You Only Live Once” or YOLO

Essentially, these are the world’s doxologies. This is what they are ascribing glory and purpose to. It is usually self-glorifying and has little or nothing to do with worshipping the One True God.

What is a doxology anyway?

The word literally means “Glory Saying”. Traditionally it’s been viewed as a statement of glory being ascribed to the God of the Bible. But really, in a functional sense, it’s anything we ascribe glory to.

All Christians must have a CHRIST-CENTERED DOXOLOGY. In everything we do, whether in times of suffering or gladness, be strengthened by the gospel, and life’s ultimate purpose; to glorify God.

We must rejoice in the victory won for us in Christ through the strengthening of the Gospel. We are made right with God through the sacrificial death of Christ in our place, and raised to life again for our promise.


1) To acknowledge that salvation, strength and hope is a gift from God

Paul’s doxology in the end Romans Chapter 16 is one that encapsulates everything He has tried to explain to us in the beautiful book of Romans. The diagnoses of sin, deliverance from it, and the reality of living out the Christian life is on Paul’s mind as he writes this. To the immediate read, one might conclude it to be quite anti-climactic compared to the rest of the letter. To the contrary, this ending is quite fitting.

Romans 16:25-27

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

2) Joyfully glorifying God as the ultimate purpose.

No one will remember you 70 years from now. This whole idea of legacy of you is a farce. When we move on in however long the Lord has penned for us, the things we do for the most part, will be forgotten. The one and only thing we can contribute is to be involved in this great story of God where we join with Him in spreading the fame of Christ to the ends of the earth, and by God’s grace make an impact for the kingdom.

Here is a taste of what secularists and others think of life.

“We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher answer’– but none exists” ~Stephen Jay Gould / LIFE Magazine / What Is The Meaning of Life

Essentially what they are saying is that there is no meaning outside of your own belief and will.

It’s ultimately irrational, because what is a purpose without a purpose? A purpose that is worth dying for should have a purpose or it is ultimately meaningless. Sure, you can like collecting cars and love feeding the poor, but why?

It’s like asking someone why they work out…. “well to be healthy”… okay why be healthy? “So I can do well at farming cause I love working the land”. Okay, why work the land? To help feed people in my community”. Okay great, why is feeding people a great purpose? “So people can live”. Then what is the meaning of life?

As for the Christian. We have a beautiful doxology. The Gospel.

When you have an awful hour, day, week, month, year… you can point to your purpose which has a purpose. Jesus.

When your life is filled with pain, negativity and death you can say…

“I know Christ suffered in my place, I know that He rose from the dead and defeated death and He is coming again. I know that death has no sting and I know that life only gets better because the only thing this world can throw at me is seeming death and there will be a new heaven and new earth where I serve Jesus for eternity in worship.”

It’s rational and He carries us through suffering and He is everlasting truth.

The Greek’s were intrigued to this idea of ‘truth’, or some sort of principle of order and knowledge that one can attach themselves to. A sense of purpose that had order, meaning and a foundation to it. They would consider this term ‘logos’ when trying to reason out the things of life together.

John, the writer of one of the gospels was keen to  understand his audience being that the book was written in Greek.

In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:1-5 Parenthesis added to show original language of ‘Word’

Truth, meaning, order and purpose is not an idea or an abstraction, IT’S A PERSON! Jesus.

There are other doxologies in scripture. Peter’s Doxology, John the revelator’s Doxology, Paul’s Ephesian Doxology and Jude’s Doxology.


Okay, really… what is my current doxology? What does my story so far say? What does Stephen’s Christ-centered doxology sound like?

Father. I know that I am a wreck, that without you, there is nothing that pleases you. Left to my own devices I would certainly destroy myself by waddling in my sin of lust, power, greed and ultimately making life all about me. How grateful I am to know that life is not all about me, but about you. That ends and means don’t point to me, but to you. That when you look at me, you don’t see my filthy self-righteousness but you see Your Son and perfection He’s put on me like a refreshing waterfall on my dry parched body. Praise to the Father, Son and Holy Ghost for my beautiful wife and family; my brothers and sisters in Christ that you have so faithfully wrapped around me to help me understand I am not alone. Let everything that has breath praise You. Amen.

What is Your Doxology?

Write out your doxology. See to it that God receives all the glory in it.

God’s Glory. My Joy.

Today is a good day. It is honestly hard to say that, knowing so many people around us are experiencing pain and suffering everyday, and I want to be sensitive to that fact. With that being said, this morning, I was filled with an indescribable joy spending time with my family and especially celebrating my daughter River’s third birthday. As Brittany and I woke up we could smell the morning dew seeping through our open window and our kids came in the room to crash our peace with laughter. Most days, waking up to chaos and demands is incredibly annoying, but today, we welcomed it.

Last month, our family took part in our close friends’ beautiful wedding in Denver. The scenery in Washington Park was truly gorgeous. My wife was doing the photography, I was officiating the wedding, and our kids were in the ceremony themselves. After the ceremony, everyone was ecstatic as our friends had just made life long commitments to each other. The moment was so perfect.

The reception was held on a boathouse facing a lake that had no guardrails, which for a parent is terrifying. Every chance I got, I would let the kids know to not get close to the water or they ‘would drown and not come back’. During the exact same moment of excitement, post-ceremony as the couple was signing their license, Brittany asks me, “Where is River?” Of course my guy response is, “I thought she was next to you?”.

The next 60 seconds felt like the longest minute of my life. The feeling of desperation and fear filled my heart. The entire wedding party stopped what they were doing and helped us look for her. She could not be found. I remember calling her name out and running to the lake to see if there were any sustained ripples from a previous fall. I was ready to ditch my camera and pride and jump in the lake even though I didn’t see any ripples in the water. Next thing I know, Brittany calls, “I found her upstairs!” River was in the boathouse stealing corn chips from random strangers’ tables. The whole wedding party felt a sigh of relief with us.

This morning, I got to kiss and take pictures of my baby princess River. I am not guaranteed everyday with my family, but I did enjoy this morning,… I had this morning.

There is a very present existential eternality to joy that only Christians get to experience, I am sure of it. Not to say that unbelievers can’t experience joy right now by having an amazing marriage or treasuring priceless moments, that’s ridiculous! But there is a sense of gratitude toward Yahweh when you know you don’t deserve moments, yet you are graciously given them to revel in! And all of these moments whether they are experienced or promised, will be consummated when Christ comes back and all things will be made new and death-defeated will be physically realized!

When you study theology, you think about this stuff all the time, but it does not always hit close to home until you meditate on the fact that God presents gifts to us because He is a good Father, and at times, wants His kids to experience happiness in the midst of joy.

Take a moment and think about the narrative of the garden in Genesis Chapter 2…

“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)

First the LORD commanded Adam to ‘eat of every tree‘… it seems to be an initial command of enjoyment first. A call to virtuous bliss of all the things God set before them! AFTER THAT the perversion of God’s intention was retold by the serpent to Adam and Eve that God was hiding the pathway to god-hood. What a lie! God wants us to enjoy Him and His gifts.

I praise Jesus for this morning. Thank you Jesus for my family. Thank you Jesus for River. What can you thank Jesus for today?

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

-C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory.

Honoring Our Inheritance

An inheritance is something to take very seriously. When it is available and given through family or a loved one, it is to be honored and well taken care of. If we take a quick glimpse at the book of Joshua, we see a book that is the promise kept by God to Moses that they would inherit the land and possess it. Essentially, this is a book on victory and God’s faithfulness to Israel, and a charge to honor the LORD with this inheritance of grace. Lets take a look of the Book of Joshua.

As a walk-through Joshua is broken up into 4 major parts

  1. Crossing into the land

    1. We have to understand that this was a very joyous time for the Israelites. They have been wondering the desert and they have finally found the lands that they have been so eager to see. Now they are here. The promise made to Moses is very real and the promise from the LORD about the land has been kept.

    2. It was important for people to remember the things God did for them so that they would never forget the faithfulness of God during times of struggle and hardship. See God told Joshua to remember this moment and to tell their children of this.

  2. Taking the land.

    1. Israel was commanded to conquer and take the land that the Lord had given to them. This was unique moment for the history of Israel. This pattern of claiming what is ours is repeated for us even in the New Testament as to knowing whose and who we are in Christ.

  3. Dividing the land.

    1. Once the land was taken into their hands it was now time to divide the land among the people in Israel. They now had an inheritance when they did not have one before. What will they do with it? If you look at history, not all the tribes kept their promise. If we look to Christ, He was the perfect promise keeper.

  4. Serving the Lord in the land.

    1. Joshua 23:6-8 (ESV)

Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, 7 that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, 8 but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day.

    1. This scripture is a similar parallel scripture to Matt 28:18-20 and & Hebrews 3:12-14. This is a call to obedience and remembrance to what God has done.

    2. Joshua is given a charge similar to one he was given. The last portion of Joshua is an ending in Joshua’s life where he asked them again to make a declaration again; that the Lord is who they will choose to serve today.

What’s The Big Idea?

How are we honoring our inheritance?

Jesus is our brother and scripture says in Romans 8:17 that not only has given us authority but are co heirs with Him! We share in this inheritance, which means we must OWN it and stop acting like bad tenants renting a home that is not ours. This is an idea we must now own for our families and our church that we have an inheritance in Christ that we must take very seriously. This is means we must serve Jesus by responding faithfully to the great commission.

What do we do with this inheritance?

Jesus has given us the ultimate inheritance and possession, Jesus is the greater Joshua.

Our inheritance is Christ and the hope He has given us is life.

We now stand in the greatest season yet of God’s redemptive history. Christ, the greatest promise has already come and now we have the responsibility to carry out the call and mission to reach the world for Him.

Here are some practical solutions

Let us as households and churches to make Jesus known, and walk in obedience by honoring the inheritance of the great harvest, and heirs in His kingdom.

  • Have you decided on your household purpose?
  • Are you praying daily?
  • Is your home open to people?
  • Do you see your neighborhood as a mission field?
  • Do you see your work as a mission field?
  • What are your circles of influences?
  • Does your family seek to help in service projects on your own? Food banks, taking up a church ministry, passing out food etc.

We will win many times as Israel did, w will also lose and fail many times. We must continue to declare whose and who we are in Christ and remember and live out the promise given to us through Christ.

We must be ready to give Gospel demonstration, AND NOT ONLY gospel proclamation.

Remember that God uses families, especially weak ones to do His work!

This is an expert from a sermon preached on 11/25/13