26 October 2006

Thirsty Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Fueling Your Passion to Treasure Christ by Providing Grace-saturated Audio Sermons

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

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25 October 2006

Awake and Go! Global Prayer Network

At our fellowship group this week we examined the need to for us to be in regular prayer for revival.  By prayer for revival we simply mean pursuing God's means (prayer) for experiencing a supernatural celebration of the Supremacy of Jesus Christ.  No other 'technique' will do.  Prayer is the Lord's chosen means.

or help and encouragement, the website I recommend is www.awakeandgo.com . It contains tremendous revival resources, Biblical studies, quotes, historical accounts and biographies.

avid Smithers and team have done a wonderful job. They are at the forefront of leading God's people to withdraw from fruitless treadmill programs, church techniques and activity, to seeking and waiting upon the Lord afresh for abundant outpourings of the Spirit.

Often the incentive and motivation to pray can be a problem. This site will help. The articles are mostly short and very encouraging through highlighting the benefits and joy to be obtained through intimacy with Jesus by prayer.

Below, I have pasted the Vision of Awake and Go!

Part of the vision of Treasuring Christ is to be revival seeking. We therefore align ourselves with the vision of 'Awake and Go!' and encourage you also to join us in regular prayer for revival.

May the Lord break the drought!!

Resting in refreshing grace-

Awake and Go! Global Prayer Network Vision and Values.

by David Smithers.

We have three primary values and objectives in which we hope to serve and encourage the Body of Christ;

1.  Genuine Revival is a supernatural celebration of the Supremacy of Jesus Christ.

Genuine Revival is NOT a church growth strategy, evangelistic crusade or a series of miracle meetings, but rather the manifest glory of God that radically redefines and transforms the Church from a man centered institution to a corporate celebration of the supremacy of Jesus Christ. In our praying for Revival we are not merely seeking after spiritual experiences. Biblical Revival always reestablishes the Supremacy and Glory of Christ as the primary focus of the Church,  “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”(Ps 85:6).  We understand and appreciate that many of the outward expressions of the Church will be radically affected by revival, however, these things are the byproduct and not the goal and focus of genuine revival. The preeminence and pleasure of Jesus Christ is to be the beginning and the end of all our revival pursuits! Anything less will only leave our churches disillusioned and distracted by temporary and superficial religious experiences.

2.  Genuine Revival mobilizes the Church to World evangelism for the glory and pleasure of God.

Genuine Christ focused Revivals always produce a renewed passion for World Evangelism. Yet, it's not uncommon to find many of our revival prayer groups focusing almost exclusively on the Church, while neglecting to pray for the forgotten and unreached nations of the World. Likewise, it’s also common to find other groups of sincere believers praying for World missions, but ignoring the pressing need for spiritual revival at home. God desires for His people to unite and earnestly pray about both of these Kingdom priorities. In spite of our personal emphasis and giftings, a mature and healthy Kingdom perspective demands that we warmly embrace God's call to pray for both Revival and World Missions! 

By affirming the eternal relationship between these two themes, we are NOT suggesting that our churches should postpone their missionary activity while we passively wait for another sovereign, God-sent revival. However, the Scriptures and Church history clearly confirm that the remaining task of World evangelism will never be fulfilled in our generation apart from a fresh and mighty move of God.  J. Herbert Kane, the missionary historian and strategist stated this case quite clearly with the following words: “Water cannot rise any higher than its source, nor can the mission overseas be any stronger than the supporting church at home. A sick church can never save a dying world…Throughout history, revival at home and missions abroad have always gone together.”

3.  Genuine Revival is always preceded by faith, humility and united prayer.  

God desires to wonderfully revive and equip His church today. Therefore it is our goal to challenge God’s people about the spiritual value of child-like faith, deep humility and united prayer as the essential elements in preparing our hearts to experience God's reviving presence. God delights to use the faith-filled prayers of frail and needy people to birth great things into the earth.  Remember, the strategy of prayer is God’s sovereign design and not the human efforts of overly ambitious men. The inspired Word of God repeatedly exhorts us to pray in cooperation with God’s kingdom purposes.

“Ask of Me, and I will give you the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.” (Ps 2:8)

“Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain.” (Zech 10:1) 

"Ask , and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt 7:7-9)

We are living in a new day when God is calling a new generation to partner with Him in persistent and enduring prayer.  We trust that the resources and tools posted on this page will help and inspire you to pray more strategically for God’s glory to revive the Church and awaken every tongue, tribe and nation! 


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19 October 2006

Thirsty Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fueling Your Passion to Treasure Christ by Providing Grace-saturated Audio Sermons

"As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" (Psalm 42:1-2 ESV)

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18 October 2006

Peter: On This Rock I Will Build My Church Part One, An Introduction

The Apostle Peter was a part of the Jewish community in the first century. His original name was Simeon (Acts 15.14, 2 Peter 1.1). He seemed to have most often used the Greek version of his name, Simon. Jesus renamed him "Peter" or "rock" in Greek. And for some reason only known to him, Paul preferred calling Peter "Cephas" which is the Aramaic transliterated form of the word "rock."

His father's name was Jonah (Matt 16.17) or John (John 1.42). Jonah was a fisherman. And by the tradition of the day, that meant his sons Peter and Andrew were fishermen too. They were from the city of Bethsaida (John 1.44), but later, when they met Jesus they were residing in Capernaum It is possible that they were partners in the fishing business with James and John, sons of Zebedee (Luke 5.10). (Mark 1.21, 29).

Peter was married. He and his wife owned a home in Capernaum. She was a believer and went along with Peter in his travels and ministry (1 Corinthians 9:5). I don't know which would have been harder for her, being married to Peter, going along with him wherever he went, or knowing that the Lord prophesied her husband's death. I can't imagine that they didn't have any children. Since having no birth control tends increase the probably of God blessing through children, it should be possible that there little "Simon Peters" running amuck in Capernaum, Jerusalem, and Rome.

He was marked as a Galilean by his accent (Matt. 27.73; Mark 14.70). Being from the South, I tend to hear that Galilean accent as a bit of a southern drawl. He's from a small town, and he's a fisherman, what else is needed for this picture other than a six-pack of cold ones and a lawn chair? That may be stretching it, but the elders and the scribes did refer to him as uneducated (which is, unfortunately, a label for the South). "13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus"(Acts 4:13 ESV). The word translated may mean illiterate, but I think that's highly unlikely. Luke didn't mention the elders handing Peter an ACT college entrance exam, but they just heard him speak. So there was a simplicity mixed with boldness and authority that impressed these elders. Let's see how Peter came to be that man.

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11 October 2006

Individual Perseverance is a Community Project Complete Series

Part One: Introduction: The Loneliness of Spirituality

Part Two: Why Should We Take Care?

Part Three: How Do We Exhort One Another?

Part Four: How Shall We Make It to the End?

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04 October 2006

Individual Perseverance is a Community Project Part Four

How shall we make it to the end?

14For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." (Hebrews 3:14 ESV).

I believe that these truths bring us to a very precarious position. The point I've been making is that for every professing Christian, there is a need to in a community that will exhort the believer to stay faithful to Christ because he or she might not make it to the end. He or she might not persevere until Christ returns. He or she might stop believing in Christ. He or she might not be saved. Which should raise the question, “Is this the Christian life? If it’s nothing but an upward fight with no assurance, how shall we make it to the end? And can someone who is a believer truly fall away?

No, there is assurance. There is titanium-reinforced, diamond-hard foundation to a Christian's confidence and the writer of Hebrews wants you to have it. He says in 6.11, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end." It is not a fool’s quest or a mythological treasure. But the assurance isn’t in anything you’ve done. Your assurance must rest safely in the person and work of Jesus Christ: " 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:19-31 ESV).

So all of our confidence must be based entirely on the trustworthy character of God who has promised to justify the sinner based upon the person and work of Jesus Christ. On that you can trust. Then what about all of this “if” stuff? 14For we share in Christ, if we hold our original confidence firm to the end." (Hebrews 3:12-14 ESV). And we are [God’s] house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. " (Hebrews 3:6 ESV). So what do you do when you read those texts? We've already established that you don't throw out assurance.

There's a couple of reasons why these texts are important and precious to the believer. First, what happens to the believer when he reads those texts that doesn’t happen in the heart of an unbeliever? The unbeliever, who may claim to be following Christ, brushes the warning aside and says, “I’m okay. That doesn’t apply to me.” But the believer goes to the cross and pleads, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. I deserve to be cast away, but you’ve promised to save those who hold fast their confidence in you and I trust you to save me. Your work on the cross has atoned for my sins, your righteousness has given and will give me standing in the judgment. I trust in You, Jesus. That’s what I think the writer means in 10.14 "14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified." Those who keep on fighting their sin, continue clinging to Christ, trusting everyday in his righteousness alone.

God has ordained not only who shall be saved, but also how he or she shall be saved. One method is through the warnings of Scripture. Then there is the flip-side of warning, which be exhorting. That is the goal of the Christian community—to exhort the fellow believer to make it to the end. And what we shall find when we are all in heaven is that those who made it to the end had been regenerated. And the way the regenerated heart keeps loving Jesus is by the church's constant reminder of how glorious He is.

So, I hope that makes sense as to why Bethlehem has a certain type of shepherd group in mind. This shepherd group exists to help you to keep on believing and trusting in Jesus Christ so that you’ll make it to the end and be saved. And this community aspect is what is lacking in our culture and especially in American spirituality. This is a community of believers that points you to the Living God manifest in Jesus Christ. It is a group that points you to His word, and exhorts you to hold fast to Him. And we don’t just want you to coast to the end, but to be so enamored by Jesus that you go to a glorious Hebrews 13 ending: "8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. 10We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God." (Hebrews 13:8-16 ESV).

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