Sunday, July 30, 2017


Romans 1:24-32, 7/30/2017
Introduction: In every generation since the beginning of the Church Christians have been given a unique task to understand and creatively address the controversial issues of the culture of their times. However, they were to approach those sensitive matters through the compassion of Christ. Forty years ago, most Americans said they didn't know anyone who was a homosexual and claimed to know little or nothing about homosexuality. Today, most of us either know of a friend, a family member, or a colleague who might be homosexual. Since coming to America one of the things I am trying to grapple with is, the sexual revolution of the sixties. I am amazed at its impact on society and its assault on human sexuality.
            More specifically I am saddened by the homosexual agenda and its influence on sincerely Bible believing Christians. I understand this is a very sensitive subject and passions can be flared up on either side of this matter. Like you, I too have I have more questions than answers. So, let’s together explore some answers. Last week we looked at SIN and why it is a BIG deal. Today, we will look at how the moral fabric of humanity has been eroding because of SIN, and its consequences. We want to develop a balanced view of homosexuality through the lenses of scripture. As we speak there are so many that are struggling with homosexual feelings. What hope do they have? Let’s look at the passage in Romans 1: 24-32, my hope is that by the end of our time together we will leave with a Biblical View of Homosexuality.
            For the past few weeks we are exploring some major themes from the book of Romans. Why is it important that we spend a considerable amount of time on this book? Because of its content and the scope of theology. Romans, the very title of this book conjures up images of the powerful empire that once ruled the Western world.
            The apostle Paul was taking on some of the hot-button issues of the then Roman world since people were looking to Rome for matters of law, culture, power and learning. In the letter to Romans, Paul brilliantly tackles some difficult doctrines in a compassionate manner. He underscores his writings with the love of Christ. Paul wanted to convince his readers that Christ’s love has the answers to all of life’s important questions, including questions regarding human sexuality. In the verses from 18-23, Paul highlights SIN as the ultimate rebellion of the human heart and how the wrath of God was revealed upon the ungodly and the wicked. From vs 24-32, he graphically explains the depraved actions of mankind who indulged in SIN and God’s past, present and future dealings with man.

             “Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts...”  In Vs 23, we read that man blatantly violated the first commandment of God by exchanging God for images resembling mortal man, and birds and animals and creeping things, which is idolatry. Therefore, God gave them over in their sinful desires and to their shameful lusts.
            Here we are seeing God’s wrath of abandonment, which is removing restraint and letting people go to their sin. In the passage we read in total we see three times, this phrase, “God gave them over or gave them up” What does this mean? It is a judicial term in Greek, used for handing over a prisoner to his sentence. When men consistently abandon God, he will abandon them. We see this played out throughout Israel’s history. This kind of wrath we are seeing in Vs (24-26a).
            For example, Psalm 81:11-12 “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.” Hosea 4:17, “Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone.” Here Ephraim was referring to the northern kingdom of Israel. This was an expression of God’s wrath of abandonment, when sinners reject him and are bent on fulfilling their wicked purposes, God removes restraining grace and turns them over to the results of their own perverse choices. Just imagine, if all of a sudden there are no more courts, no more police to maintain law and order, all the jails open their prison doors and let the criminals loose, what will happen to our country? We will have chaos, and anarchy. Similarly, when God removes his restraint and hands over man to his sinful lusts, we will have moral decay in society.  

            “Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” In these two verses, we see a shameful and unnatural human sexuality.
            But it was not always that bad. After creating everything God said it was good and very good, that includes sex.  God was the inventor of sex, for the enjoyment and the pro-creation of mankind. However, he wanted that gift to be enjoyed between a man and a woman only in the confinement of marriage. So, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Andy. Listen to what was said after God created Eve and brought her to Adam, “that is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they both become one flesh.” Genesis 2: 24-25.
            On several occasions God valued this type of covenantal relationship between a man and his wife.Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.” Mal 2:15. When Jesus was tricked by a Pharisee in regards to a divorce related matter he replied, “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, ‘and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
            From the beginning God intended this gift of sex to be enjoyed between one man and a woman in the confinements of a marriage. Whereas what we are seeing in these verses in Romans is that men and women have abandoned what was the natural way of sexual enjoyment, instead they adopted detestable and unnatural forms of men having sex with men and women with women. These are called, homosexual practices. In Vs 27, we read, “Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Here we see the law of sowing and reaping taking effect. Paul is referring here to the self-destructive nature of sin. What does the Bible say about homosexuality and is there a remedy?

            Homosexuality in this country is a hot-button issue. When we hear it mentioned passions from either side of the subject hit sky high. People take varied, evolving positions on this matter. It evokes a lot of pain, shame and grief to those who are involved in it, and are affected by it.
Keeping aside our personal view on this matter, let’s look at how God views homosexuality and what is his remedy and a path way of healing. To be very direct, homosexuality is sin just like any other sin for example, adultery, greed, steeling, cheating etc.
            Why is it viewed with such severity? Because it violates many moral laws of God; therefore, it is widely condemned in Scripture. Here are a few scriptures for you to think about, (Gen 19, Lev 18:22, I Thes 4:5, I Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:19-21, Eph 5:3-5, 1 Tim 1:9-10, Jude 7). Leviticus 18:22, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.” In Leviticus, we see God detesting homosexual activity.
            In the NT, it is included along with other sins. “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Cor 6:9-11
            Jude 5-7 “Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” These two scriptures, high light homosexuality as sin, and homosexual sinners but let’s not too hard on those who might be struggling in this area and pass judgment on them.
            The Bible also tells us that we all have sinned, which means either you are gay or straight we all have sinned therefore we all are in need of a savior. Paul warned the Roman believers that they had no excuse to pass judgment on someone else. You might be wondering is there a clear remedy and freedom for those who are struggling with Homosexual practices and tendencies?   Can people really be set free and lead a clean life?  The answer is Yes! In the Corinthian church, there were apparently some who may have practiced homosexuality, but at the time of this writing they were washed, and justified in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Even today there are numerous examples of people who once struggled with homosexuality, but now have been set free by the power of the Holy Spirit.
            Here is a powerful story of a former lesbian professor becoming a pastor’s wife: Rosaria Champagne Butterfield spent more than a decade of her life as a leftist lesbian English professor. She was in a committed homosexual relationship, served as the faculty adviser for a number of gay and lesbian student groups on campus. In 1999, everything changed. Rosaria had what she refers to as a "train-wreck conversion": she came to Christ and committed to pursuing a life of "holy sexuality" a commitment to either heterosexual marriage or celibacy.
            She is now married to a Presbyterian pastor in Durham, North Carolina, where she is actively "living out the means of grace," raising four children, and sharing the testimony of God's redeeming love at churches, colleges, and universities.” Rosaria is a clear example of how Christian love and hospitality can win a hard-core lesbian like her to Christ.

            Our today’s topic may have raised even more questions. I am open to discuss with any of these with you at the end of the service. But let’s all remember one thing as we leave, where sin increases, grace increases even more. When we come across a homosexual, friend, relative, family member or a colleague let’s love and befriend them. Let’s not reject them but accept them as Christ has accepted all of us into his family. My hope and prayer is that Hope Church will be a beacon of hope, a place of healing and restoration to all those who might be struggling in this area. May each of us find peace, joy, comfort and healing in the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ who loves us with an everlasting love. Amen.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


Romans 1:18-23 7/23/2017
Introduction: Along with my youngest daughter I enjoyed watching the Lord of the Rings. I was fascinated by a character named - Gollum. What a great name. Gollum is the slimiest character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you are a loyal fan of the books, you know that originally this character was a Hobbit named Sméagol. But his obsession with possessing the Ring deformed him into Gollum, a name he got after his habit of making "a horrible swallowing noise in this throat." According to a collection of literary authorities quoted on Wikipedia, Sméagol "still vaguely remembered things like friendship and love, while Gollum was a slave to the Ring who knew only treachery and violence." As Aragorn states: "His malice gives him a strength hardly to be imagined."[1]
            This is precisely what happens to people tangled in sin. Their names might as well be changed, because they have become what they live for. We all are created in the image of God, but sin disfigures and tarnishes that image. Then our greatest strength becomes our capacity to sin! Last week we talked about, the power of negative thoughts and how we can free ourselves from its grip by learning to think differently. Today the main theme of our message is Sin. Did I say, Sin? Yes, it is Sin! I title this message, “SIN, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?” Romans 1:18-23. From the times, I grew up to the times now, the perception and recognition of sin has drastically changed. Calling something as sin is now viewed as politically not correct. If you want to become unpopular then talk about sin. Living in this context, how do we understand sin?  
            Apologist Ravi Zacharias shares a definition of sin that was given by Susan Wesley, when the young John Wesley asked his mother to define what sin is. Listen carefully, we can learn how to adequately answer our children and all those who might ask what is sin? Susan Wesley said, “Whatever weakens your reasoning, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes away your relish for spiritual things is sin.” In short, “If anything increases the authority and the power of the flesh over the Spirit that becomes sin to you, however good in and of itself.
            The Bible actually uses a number of examples or “word pictures” to illustrate what this means. For example, it tells us that sin is like an archer who misses the target. He draws back his bow and sends the arrow on its way—but instead of hitting the bull’s-eye, it veers off course and misses the mark. The arrow may only miss it a little bit or it may miss it a great deal—but the result is the same: The arrow doesn’t land where it is supposed to. The same is true of sin. God’s will is like the center of that target—and when we sin, we come up short of the goal, missing the true end and scope of our lives which is God. And this is something we do every day; as the Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
            Now we have established what sin is, you may be wondering what’s the Big deal? Because it is indeed a big deal, the Apostle from the very beginning of his letter to the Roman believers explains why it is a big deal and why we must pay close attention to it. Sin is a big deal for two reasons: Sin is the ultimate rebellion of human heart, secondly, the wrath and the oncoming Judgment of God on the unbelieving and sinful man.
            Vs 21-23, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
            Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.” These scriptures talk about, though people know God they do not glorify God, that is the ultimate rebellion of man. It all started in the Garden, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit which brought death to all mankind and banishment from the garden into the world. The rebellion continued. Mankind faced consequences because of their rebellion against God. One would think that they would have learned lessons by, now right?
            It was right after God delivered his people from 400-year slavery in Egypt to a land that was flowing with milk and honey. He gave them the ten commandments to follow.  The first one was, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them.” Exodus 20:1-5
            Let’s see how quickly man turned against this commandment. When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, they put pressure on Aaron to make a god for them who will go before them. Aaron made a golden calf and said this is your god. The next day they offered burnt offerings, peace offerings and they sat down to eat, and drink and rose up to play. They violated the very first commandment, God became so angry and wanted to destroy all of them, if it was not Moses’s intercession all would have been destroyed. Exodus 32.
             The lesson we can learn from this tragic story is that when we violate the first commandment, it wouldn’t take much longer before we violate the rest of them. The Apostle Paul was picking up on that human rebellion in verses 21-23. He was telling the believers what happens when they willingly break the first commandment which forbids idolatry.
            The same pattern is even now continuing. Modern man is conscious of God’s existence, power and divine nature through general revelation, yet knowingly and blatantly denies any existence of God. Instead of giving thanks and honoring Him by worshipping Him directly he creates images of man, birds, and animals and turns them into gods. In Asia and other eastern countries, we see this blatant worship of idols in the form of birds, animals and reptiles. In the western world, we see this reflecting in the worship of celebrities, cars, sports etc.
            Man thinks he can run his life without God’s help. The scripture says that without Him we can do absolutely nothing. “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28. When man removes the true and living God from his life and begins to worships his created images whatever they may be, it is called idolatry. God hates idolatry more than anything else. Idolatry is sin and rebellion against God. God would not let this outright rebellion go on forever. He will bring down his wrath and the judgment upon all those who rebel against God.
II GOD’S WRATH! (Vs 18-20)
            Vs 18-20, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” After introducing the righteousness that comes from God in Romans 1:17, Paul now presents the overwhelming evidence of man’s sinfulness and how desperately man is in need of God’s mercy and forgiveness. He presents the wrath of God that once was revealed and would be revealed again upon ungodly, and immoral people.
            The wrath of God here is not an impulsive outburst of anger aimed suddenly at people whom God does not like. Rather it is a determined and calculated response of a righteous God against sin. The word “revealed” essentially means, “to uncover, make visible, or make known.”             God reveals his wrath in two ways. Firstly, He reveals his wrath indirectly, through the natural consequences of violating his universal moral law. For example, one of his moral laws says, “You shall not commit adultery.” What happens when you willfully violate that moral law and commits adultery, you risk acquiring sexually transmitted diseases.
            Secondly, God reveals his wrath directly through his personal involvement, for example, the worldwide flood in Genesis or bringing down fire and brimstone on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah due to their blatant acts of rebellion and sexual immorality. These few incidents tell us that in the past, present and in the future God continues to reveal his wrath both indirectly and directly.
            Who becomes the target of God’s wrath?  His wrath is “against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.” Let’s look at these words, godlessness and wickedness (unrighteousness). Godlessness or ungodliness indicates a lack of reverence for, devotion to, and worship of the true God.
            The Apostle Paul predicted godlessness in the last days (II Timothy 3:1-8). In Jude, we see how God is going to execute his judgment upon the ungodly. It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14-15).
            If only we hear, how certain people curse God and talk sacrilegiously against God and his people. It truly is a fearsome thought that all who now live so carelessly in regards to God and his commands will be called to account. What does the word, wickedness mean? It is a lack of conformity in thought, word, and deed to the character and the law of God.
            In other words, though people know what is truth they out rightly deny it by creating a false narrative to meet their whims and fancies and force people to believe and follow the same. The truth of the matter is that from the beginning the creator God made all that we see around us and constantly sustains it. God’s divine nature is seen in the things that have been made.
            The Psalmist said, “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4.
             Though nature is clearly declaring the existence of God in everything that is made, in these days of alternative facts and reality the real truth is subverted and is getting lost. The apostle Paul calls it the suppressing of the truth. Certain people think they could suppress the truth, but could they really? History tells us that the truth will always prevail.
            There is more we can talk about from this passage, for today it is sufficient to know that man has rebelled against God. In his rebellion, he created gods for himself and he worships those false gods. The wrath of God is coming upon rebellious people. Going forward into the passage the Apostle Paul highlights how this one act of rebellion led mankind into a spiral of vices. What are the consequences of such acts, and how we can overcome sin and live a fulfilling and God honoring life? In order to know the answers for these questions, you need to come back next week. Amen


[1] [Lee Eclov, Vernon Hills, Illinois; sources: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings (Houghton-Mifflin, 1999);]

Sunday, July 16, 2017


Romans 8:5-10, 7/16/2017
Introduction:  We talk all the time! Some time to others but most of the time to ourselves. How many of us woke up this morning, looked in the mirror and said to ourselves, great, I look fabulous and beautiful, not many right? Instead we have lot to complain and grouch about the way we looked, the way our hair is rapidly receding, the unwanted accumulation of pounds in our bodies, and our constant struggle against gravity and so on. Positive self-talk comes naturally only to some but most of us need to learn how to cultivate positive thoughts and recognize and replace the negative ones. Let me give you an example of positive-self talk. Positive self-talk is encouraging and affirming: consider the following statement: “I am going to work today, because I have something important to contribute at my work.” That kind of talk gives you energy and motivation to go to work. It’s time to think positively.
            How about the negative-self talk? Negative-self talk is destructive and demoralizing. It is when you entertain unworthy and defeating thoughts of yourself and the work you are going to do. For example; I don’t want to go to work, today because I don’t have anything worthy to contribute at my work. I am failure and I will mess it up anyway! If that is the kind of thoughts you entertain; you have already lost the battle before you even began.
             Let’s pay attention to the negative statements we speak to ourselves they can be very as destructive, especially when they are directed towards our appearance. No matter where you are from, most people in the world struggle with negative self-image, including born again Christians. Does self-talk matter? Where does negative self-talk come from? How can we learn to cultivate positive thoughts? I title this message: Thinking Differently. Romans 8:5-10. We will address these questions, not so much from a self-improvement point of view, as many such resources are out there as this one, but from a biblical point of view.
            Last week while looking at how to know God’s will we embarked on a threefold path suggested by the Apostle Paul, which is, “Non-conformity to the world, being transformed and renewing of the Mind.” Today we look at, how the renewing of our mind helps us to think positively and differently so that we can live healthier, more fulfilled and purposeful lives.
            Romans 12:3, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”  In Contemporary English Version it reads, “Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” The context for this verse is that, the Apostle was urging the Roman believers to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Their bodies also included their minds. The needed to change their sinful way of thinking to a spirit renewed way of thinking. But how did the human mind become corrupt in the first place?
            In the Garden of Eden before the fall Adam and Eve enjoyed a unique gift of thinking and imagination. They had a positive view of God and a healthy self-esteem. But after the fall, their minds have become corrupted. This was God’s assessment of their fallen minds. “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and the very inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Genesis 6:5.
            The Apostle Paul calls that, living according to the flesh or sinful nature. Romans, 8:5-8 “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
            We see the word mind mentioned five times here, that explains the importance. How can we define the mind? It is the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. Synonyms of the mind are: brain, intelligence, intellect, understanding, reasoning, judgment, sense etc. The mind is the organ of mental perception and, the organ of the consciousness preceding actions.
            The author of, “The Walls of My Heart” a Christian medical doctor and a Psychiatrist, who has seen many set free when they brought their minds under the lordship of Jesus Christ, this is what he has to say, “The human mind or the intellect is one of Satan’s greatest psychological playgrounds. He controls our minds, through the thoughts of inferiority, insecurity, guilt and a sense of failure.”
            In psychiatry, it is called, “hearing voices” But when we read the scriptures, we know where these negative, and destructive voices come from. We understand from the bible that evil spirits can speak and influence people to do some crazy things. But the good news is that Christ came in to the world to destroy the works of the evil one and set people free from his clutches. The scripture tells us that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Before we talk about the truth, let’s see how the enemy controls our minds through wrong thought patterns.
I The crippling effect of Inferiority:
            The gut-level feeling of inferiority grips many minds, paralyzing the ability to think rightly and differently. We live in a celebrity saturated world, where we compare ourselves to those who are more beautiful or successful than us. We say to ourselves things like, “I am too fat,” or I am too skinny,” I’m too small,” I’m too tall, and so on. All too often we allow ourselves to be convinced of our inferiority for whatever reason and so become an easy prey for the enemy. Inferiority can destroy our confidence. The second wrong thought pattern is insecurity.
II The frightening effect of Insecurity
            Insecurity is rampant in today’s society. There are many external and internal factors that make us feel insecure. Insecurity is a direct result of the love deficit and the message of rejection we receive in childhood. When children are not adequately loved by their parents they grow up to be very insecure. I grew up in a home where both my parents were busy working and we were often left to be taken care of by our grandparents. I never heard from my dad that he loved me and accepted me. As a child, I craved his love, approval and affirmation.
            Growing up in an environment where there was a love deficit, made me into a very insecure and fearful young person. During my early Christian life, I had a hard time accepting and believing in myself. I struggled with inferiority, rejection and fear. But thank God, he has graciously set me free from those destructive thought patterns. It is not that I don’t struggle anymore with inferiority and insecurity, but I have learned now how to think differently.
III The fear of failure.
            The words to a popular song in the 70’s go as follows, “You're no good no good, no good, no good, Baby you're no good, no good no good” Sadly this message reminds me of how my father used to tell me whenever I failed to do well in the exams. He would say, words like “you are no good, look at your brother how bright and smart he is you are no good.” That made me live with a continuous feeling of inadequacy. I believed an inner voice telling me that I was no good. I’ll never amount to anything. Everything I do is always wrong and I am a failure.
            Many people are obsessed with the fear of failure, and when they do fail, they seem unable to recover and learn from the experience. Instead they fall apart, pre-programed to believe the words they were told as children. Words have incredible power to build us up or tear us down. Because we failed at something when we were young, we have been labeled “a failure.”
            Just because we have failed at something it doesn’t mean we are “a failure.” Listen to the basketball legend Michael Jordon who never let failure hinder him from trying again, "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Michael Jordan
             Whether we admit or not we all have let these three wrong thought patterns effect our minds, as a result have experienced un pleasant consequences. Perhaps some of us are still reeling under those consequences. The good news is we don’t have to let, inferiority, insecurity and a fear of failure plague us anymore. We can be free from them by the renewing of our mind.
            Do you feel like you are trapped in your own negative thought patterns and unable to break free? I have good news for you, you can change the way you are thinking. The first thing you have to do is to surrender your life to Jesus, by way of asking him to come into your life. That is the first renewal. When Christ forgives your sins, and comes into your life, you become a new creation, which means now you become a child of God and part of his family.
            It is only the beginning from that point on wards you will begin to take steps to cultivate a different lifestyle and a right way of thinking. One of the steps is that you will become a part of a church where God’s word is honored, taught and practiced. So that you can grow together with other brothers and sisters. Remember, when Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness He used God’s word, the sword of the Spirit and overcame the temptations. Similarly, next time when the enemy whispers lies into you mind, you will pull up your scripture sword and cut that lie with the truth. For example, if the enemy says, you are inferior, don’t accept it reject it by quoting the scripture: ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:14).
            I am the apple of His eye, (Zech2:8) I have been engraved in the Palm of His Hand (Isaiah 49:16). When you feel insecure and fearful remember, God will never leave you and forsake you. (Hebrew 13:5-6), you are more than a conquer if God is for you who can be against you (Romans 8:28-31). When you feel like a failure and afraid to take on a new challenge, say to yourself I am deeply loved and accepted by him and I am his beloved son, in me God is well pleased. (Matthew 3:17), speak to yourself saying my self-worth does not depend on my performance because while I am still a sinner Christ died for me (Romans 5:8), I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
            If the enemy still persists, and tries to discourage you rob your peace, remind him of his destiny, that Christ had defeated him on the cross and soon the God of peace will soon crush him underneath your feet (Romans 16:20). These are not just positive thoughts, but they are the truth. I guarantee you, the more you speak up, believe and make these truths your own, the more freedom you will experience from negativity. It is about time we start to think differently.

            I want to close with an exercise that you need to do daily that would make you think differently and renew your mind. Phil 4:8-10 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” May the Lord help us to all to think differently. Amen

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Romans 12:1-2, 7/9/2017
Introduction: A gentleman captured two baby eagles and raised them with great care. They grew to be fine specimens of this noble bird, until one day the door of their cage was left open by accident and the birds escaped. One flew to a nearby tree, where it roosted on a low branch, for it could not use its wings, never having learned to fly except in the close confinement of its cage. It was not long until it met an untimely death by the gun of a hunter. The other eagle fell or was knocked into a swift flowing river and was drowned.
            Both of these eagles missed God's plan for their lives by being taken captive by man. They were created to live in high places and to soar aloft in the sky, but instead they were doomed to live on the ground and to meet an early death. Similarly, God created you and me to live on a high plane and to carry out the great plans He has for our life. But sadly, many of us live mediocre lives not knowing the plans of God for our lives.
            We let the world pull us down into its mold, while we are meant to fly high with God doing his will and fulfilling his purposes for our lives. No wonder at the end of the day many remain frustrated and dissatisfied. Most people -- 80% according to Deloitte’s Shift Index survey are dissatisfied with their jobs. While some unhappy employees muster up the courage to change careers, others opt to grin and bear it. Is that how God would have us live?
            Are you satisfied with your life? Some may be, but if you are not, then you need to ask, God for his will for your life. How do we know his will? Last week we learned how the apostle Paul urged the Roman Christians to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, today we will see how challenged them to know and discern, what God’s good, acceptable and perfect will was for their lives. The title for this message is, KNOWING GOD’S WILL. Romans 12:1-2
            Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV).
            In the Message Bible it reads, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Before we delve deep, let’s define what is God’s will.

            If you have been attending Church for a while, either you may have heard preachers talk about God’s will, or you may have asked yourself, what is God’s will? In Greek, the word means, “to desire, a wish, often referring to God’s “preferred- will” i.e. His “Best offer” to people which can be accepted or rejected. It is nearly always used of God, referring to His preferred-will. Occasionally it is used of man. (Lk 23:25; John 1:13). When we talk about God’s will, it signifies His gracious disposition toward something. It is used to designate what He himself does of His own good pleasure. So, in simple words, anything that brings joy and pleasure to him is God’s will for us.
            When speaking of God’s will, I see at least four different aspects of it in the Bible. The first aspect is known as God’s sovereign, or hidden will. This is God’s "ultimate" will. This view is based on the fact that, because God is sovereign, His will can never be frustrated. In other words, there is nothing that happens that is outside of God’s sovereign will. We see this view playing out throughout the Bible. Exodus 33:19, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Job confessed after he had seen the wisdom and the power of God first hand, saying, Job 42:2, “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” In Ephesians 1:11, where we learn that God is the one “who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
            The second aspect is his revealed or general will. As the name implies, that God has chosen to reveal some of His will in the Bible. His revealed will denotes what we should or should not do. For example, the ten commandments and many other major and minor commandments in the Bible. Because it is revealed now we know we can know that it is God’s will that we do not steal, we do not commit adultery and we love our enemies and so on.
            The third aspect is God’s perfect will. It defines what is pleasing to Him. This expression is revealed in many verses of Scripture which indicate what God does and does not take pleasure in. For example, in 1 Timothy 2:4 we see that God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” These three aspects are nonnegotiable God has revealed them in his word and they are universal. However, there is a fourth aspect of God’s will which is his specific will for individuals. Which means he reveals certain things to individuals and directs them to do certain things or prohibits them not to do certain things. He does that to accomplish his purpose. For example, God directed Enoch to build an Ark.
            He called Abraham to be a blessing to the nations. Remember when, Ebenezer the servant of Abraham was sent to find a wife for Isaac, he sought God’s will to find out whether Rachel was the right bride for Isaac, (Gen 24). He commissioned Moses to lead Israelites from Egypt to the promised Land. When Gideon wanted to find out whether it was truly God’s will for him to fight the Midianites, he asked God for confirmations (Judge 6).
            He sent his angel to Mary and Joseph to announce the birth of the savior of the world. When the apostles want to find a replacement for Judas, they inquired the Lord. Later on when they wanted to send Paul and Barnabas out as missionaries, they sought the Lord through fasting and prayer, during such time, the Holy Spirit said, “set apart for me Barnabas Saul for the work to which I have called them.” These are only a few incidents, where God specifically revealed his will for those individuals during that time for a specific purpose.
            There are many modern-day examples where people sought God’s will for their lives and once they found it, they went all the way including sacrificing their lives in order to bring pleasure to God.  We just celebrated 4th of July, I learned something about Christopher Columbus. “He had a mystic belief that God intended him to sail the Atlantic Ocean in order to spread Christianity. He said his prayers several times daily. Columbus wrote what he called a Book of Prophecies, which is a compilation of passages Columbus selected from the Bible which he believed were pertinent to his mission of discovery. ... Columbus's own writings prove that he believed that God revealed His plan for the world in the Bible, the infallible Word of God. Columbus believed that he was obeying the mission God staked out for his life when he set sail west across the Atlantic Ocean."[1] If it was not for Columbus knowing God’s will for his life and obeying his will, where would the United States of America Be?
            In the scriptures, we are exhorted to know and live according to the will of God as it is revealed. But we are also to seek God personally to find out what he would have us do with our lives. It would be for our benefit, we learn to seek God’s will in all major decisions of life such as, which college to go to, what job to take up, where to live, whom to marry. If your heart is committed to do only that which pleases God, then he is faithful to lead you in the paths that would be pleasing to Him, beneficial to you and a blessing to many.
            As Jesus, himself articulated, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, we are called to live our lives knowing and doing God’s will as it is revealed to us in the Bible through his Holy Spirit. Early on in my Christian walk, I sought the Lord, prayerfully at crucial junctures in my life. I can honestly say, as I was committed to please him he never let me down. He led me all the way and brought me to be where I am today. What gives me satisfaction more than anything else is to know and do his will no matter the cost.
            Living according to God’s revealed will should be the chief aim or purpose of our lives. Romans 12:1-2 summarizes this truth. Paul first exhorted the Roman believers to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice, then he went on to give them a threefold path to know and approve God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.

            Vs 2, And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” NASB. The first path to knowing God’s will is not to be conformed to this world. The word “Conformed” refers to assuming an outward expression that does not reflect what is really inside, a kind of masquerade or act. The “world” here is better translated, as “age,” which refers to the system of beliefs, values, or the spirit of the age in the current world.
            These days, Christians in America are under pressure to conform to the beliefs and values of the popular culture. For example, take the institution of marriage, majority of Christians in the USA and worldwide, one record says two billion Christians[2] believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman, however a minority of people who believe that, marriage can be between any two loving men and women, are passionately and systematically have been working hard, passing laws to force the majority of Christians to conform to their agenda.
            Do we conform, and give into their pressure? If the Apostle Paul were to address us today what would he say to us? “Do not be conformed to this age’s world view. Stand up for the truth, you always believed in. Be firm, don’t give in and do not compromise. The second pathway is to “Be transformed” The Gr. word, from which the Eng. word “metamorphosis” comes, connotes a change in outward appearance. Matthew uses the same word to describe the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:2). Just as Christ briefly and in a limited way displayed outwardly His inner, divine nature and glory at the Transfiguration, Christians should outwardly manifest their inner, redeemed natures, not once, however, but daily. In other words, we are to reflect the nature of Christ in our day to day dealings.
            The third path is renewing of our mind.” We are to fill our minds with the word of truth on a daily basis. That kind of transformation can occur only as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking. Our decisions and our outlook on life and the world now will be influenced by the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that God will embark each of us on this threefold path of, non-conformity to this world, transformation and renewing of our mind. As we will continue on this path, we will indeed come to know and approve God’s good, acceptable and perfect will. Amen


Sunday, July 2, 2017


Romans 12:1-2, 7/2/2017
Introduction: In the mid-seventeenth century, an Englishman was captured by Algerian pirates and made a slave. While a slave, he founded a church. When his brother arranged his release, he refused freedom, having vowed to remain a slave until he died in order to continue serving the church he had founded. Today a plaque in an Algerian church bears his name. David Livingstone, the renowned and noble missionary to Africa, wrote in his journal, “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa.
            Can that be called sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own reward of healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? … Away with such a word, such a view, and such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His Father’s throne on high to give Himself for us.”[1] 
            Here was a man who understood what it is to offer his life as a living sacrifice.  He considered, serving and living for God a privilege and an honor. He thought the least he could do is to dedicate all of his life to the one who died for him. Where are the David Livingstons’ of Today? Our message title today is: “ALL OF LIFE, A SACRIFICE” Romans 12:1
            What do we know about the book of Romans? The author of Romans is none other than the apostle Paul. The book was probably written in the early spring of AD 57. The original recipients of the letter were Christians living in Rome. Chapter 16 suggests that there were at least five house churches in the city. The believers in Rome were predominantly Gentile. Jews, however, must have constituted a substantial minority of the congregation.
            Paul’s primary theme in Romans is the basic gospel, God’s plan of salvation and righteousness for all humankind, Jew and Gentile alike. When Paul wrote this letter, he was probably at Corinth on his third missionary journey. His work in the eastern Mediterranean was almost finished and he greatly desired to visit the Roman church. At this time, however, he could not go to Rome because he felt he must personally deliver the collection taken among the Gentile churches for the poverty-stricken Christians of Jerusalem.
            Paul begins by surveying the spiritual condition of all people. He finds Jews and Gentiles alike to be sinners and in need of salvation. That salvation has been provided by God through Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on the cross. It is a provision, however, that must be received by faith. The letter concludes with an appeal to the readers to work out their Christian faith in practical ways, both in the church and in the world.
            There is so much rich theology in this book, literally we can spend a whole year simply studying the book of Romans. We will spend a few weeks on Romans 12th chapter. For today we will look into one verse. Romans 12:1, “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.”  Whenever we see this adverb, “therefore” we need to know it is there for a reason.  In this epistle it appears, nineteen times. We must pay attention to the previous verse where a “therefore” appears in order to understand the reason why?
            For example, inorder to understand Chapter 12, Vs1-2, we need to look at Chapter 11:36, “For from him, and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever Amen.” The reason why we must offer our bodies as a living sacrifice is that, all that we are, all what we have or will have comes from Him and we do not exist for ourselves but for His glory.
             Listen to the strong appealing voice of Paul in this request, “Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters.” The Greek word for urge is, used for every kind of calling to a person, which is meant to produce a particular effect, or to beseech with a stronger force. Paul’s appeal was anything but lethargic, it was a passionate call that demanded an action from the reader.
            The words “brothers & sisters” denote a family. All those who have accepted Christ as their Lord and savior now belong to a new family, the family of God. The same family dynamics at home will also apply to God’s family. At Hope Church, we must consider every one as a brother or sister in the Lord. As brothers and sisters in the Lord we work out our differences and at the end of the day we love one another, and are committed to each other.
            What does it mean to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God? What are its implications on us in the 21st Century? The word sacrifice means: An act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God. It is an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.
            Under the Old Covenant, there were certain regulations for worship. God accepted the sacrifices of dead animals. But under the new covenant because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, the OT animal sacrifices are no longer of any effect (Heb. 9:11, 12). In the new covenant God wants us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.
            In NASB, it says, “Holy and acceptable (well-pleasing).” What is Holy and well pleasing to God? The essence of holiness is to be set apart, sanctified, consecrated, chaste and pure. In the OT, certain people, places and things were set aside for God’s purposes and were considered holy. God was pleased whenever the first fruits or the animals without any defect were offered. Remember God was pleased and accepted Abel’s offer while he rejected Cain’s offer. 
            The prophet Malachi, warned the priests that God took up an issue with their offering. Mal 1:7-9, “By offering defiled food on my altar. “But you ask, ‘How have we defiled you?’ “By saying that the Lord’s table is contemptible. 8 When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty. “Now plead with God to be gracious to us. With such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty.”
            God was using a human logic here, we know what type of gifts to take inorder to curry favor from our authorities. If that’s how it works in our day to day dealings, how much more we should show honor and reverence to the Lord of Lords and the King of the universe? God requires nothing less than the best from us. He wants us to honor him with the talents and skills he has blessed us with. He wants us to spend quality time with him. He wants us to be generous with our giving which is an act of worship. He wants all of our life to be a sacrifice.
            How are our bodies a living sacrifice? For those of us who are born again, now the only acceptable worship is to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice completely to the Lord. As Eugene Peterson translates it in The Message, “Take your every day, ordinary life, your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.”
            Which means, bringing all our life’s resources, work, relationships, including our own self and placing them before God as an offering. Offering, all of our life to God doesn’t come easy, we may lose certain friendships, we may have to give up sinful habit patterns and cultivate new patterns. For example, when we consider offering our physical bodies as a living sacrifice, we become aware that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore taking good care of them by eating, healthy, exercising daily, and maintaining sexual purity makes sense.
            Once I’ve seen an ad which sums it up, “Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to live” By taking care of our bodies in a way we are honoring God with them, that is holy and pleasing to God. You may say, well Pastor, that is a tall order, God is asking too much from me but if we actually ponder on the reality that God has made us holy and pleasing in his side through Christ.  It then takes out the strain and striving and the sacrifice then becomes a grateful, wholehearted response. We lean into Who He is and what He has done for us.
            Do you think this concept of us totally belonging to God, leaning on him to receive strength for our day to day life is accepted by modern men and women? Of Course not! Modern people vehemently reject the Lord’s complete ownership of their lives. We all rather do our own thing and give no account to anyone, including God. Roman Christians struggled with it, they had hard time seeing where everything in life came from, and who they truly belonged to.
            Dear friends offering our bodies as a living sacrifice doesn’t mean endless martyrdom. We can find fulfillment and satisfaction and become all that God created us to be. We can also find joy in the obedient service to God no matter what the cost. We fill find a higher purpose and meaning to live for. I want us to pause and consider the following: God so loved the world he gave his son Jesus to the world. Jesus loved you so much that he sacrificed his whole life on the cross so that we can live a life of abundance and contentment.
            On this communion Sunday, in the light of the ultimate sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, let us examine our lives. Who are we living for today? Are we offering our bodies as a living sacrifice? What are we willing to give up or let go so that we may serve the purposes of God? The only way we can adequately answer these questions, when we believe this biblical truth, that, “For from Him, and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.” Amen!

[1] . (Livingstone’s Private Journal: 1851–53, ed. I. Schapera [London: Chatto & Windus, 1960], pp. 108, 132)”