Monday, January 23, 2012

Click above to listen to Pastor Dan's latest message called "Broken" or right click and choose "Save Link As..." to download the mp3.

If God is good, why do bad things happen? Why is there war, disaster, pain, tragedy? Why does Evil exist?

To an extent you can answer, people do stuff, people are messed up. But what about the things people don't do, like natural disasters, and diseases? If God is good, why does this stuff happen? The real question is, why doesn't the world work the way it should?
We all have an innate sense that the world isn't working right, we all know that the world isn't fair. We can sense that this isn't the way it's suppose to be, that's a real thing, we are sensing truth in that.

In Romans chapter 5:12 we see the cause of the troubles in this world, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” The world glitches, because the world is broken. Things don't happen the way that God wanted them to, because when Adam sinned, it didn't just effect Adam, it opened a barrier and let sin into the world, and everything was contaminated. This didn't just include humans, but all of creation.

In Romans 8:19-22 it says “For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.”

The world is bound, it's trapped in bondage to decay. The world doesn't work the way that God wanted it to, even though he created all these things. Everything he created was “very good” in the beginning. Unfortunately, people are dumb, and we did something stupid and broke the world. Things like cancer are not fair, it's one of those things that just doesn't make sense. Cancer is a glitch in the body, it's the result of our broken state. God didn't want the world to have cancer or tornadoes or hurricanes. He didn't make that, God made something different, but because of Adam, sin was allowed to contaminate the world, and now we are suffering from the glitches. Much like a healthy body when germs are allowed to enter the body we see the physical manifestation of that through our symptoms. The world is showing the contamination of sin through natural disasters.

There is however hope, for you, your friends and family, and the world. Even though sin has come and contaminated every aspect of our lives, our hearts and our relationships with families and friends. There is a hope, but you can't find it in Obama, or getting rich, or love. The are all places that we often turn, but none of them will bring healing to the situation. You can't fix this issue yourself, nor can other sinful people help you to fix the problem. Much like an oil covered animal cannot help to clean off another, we as broken humans cannot fix each other.

You can make a difference though, you can help to deal with the symptoms of sin, and make a difference in the world, but you can't fix the problem. Hope is found only in Christ, not in the church, or in other human beings.

In Romans 5:15-17 it's written “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. If because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. “

Though the world is broken, there is hope in Christ. For by his grace there is life that overcomes the death that sin has cursed this world with. We shouldn't give up hope for this world, for by the death of Christ, there is a free gift of righteousness through Him.


Fast Forward

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When a lot of people think of fasting, they just think of it as a sacrifice. But they often don't pay attention to having a vision for the week. We often view fasting as a chore we have to complete, but truly it's a time for God to speak to us, a time for God to move in us, and to show us his will for our lives. We need to fast with a purpose, not just because everyone else is doing it, or because it seems like the right thing to do. Why do we fast, how should we fast, and when should we fast? These are all questions that we need to answer before we begin fasting.

There are a number of great reasons for fasting, however there are also a number of wrong reasons for fasting. You should never fast to show how great of a Christian you are, its not about proving something to anyone else. Fasting isn't a way to earn your salvation, or holiness. Fasting also should not be used to lose weight, or to punish yourself. We aren't suppose to fast for these reasons, fasting for these reasons will distract us from the true purpose of our a fast.

So what reasons should we fast for? We should fast because we are expected to fast. Jesus set the example for fasting. Before he did any miracles, before he taught, he spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting, and then was tempted by the devil. In Matthew 6: 16-18, Jesus said “when you fast” not if you fast, he was expecting that we would fast, knowing that it was a commandment stemming from the old testament.

James 4:8 gives us another reason to fast “Come close to God and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” While this portion of scripture does not directly mention fasting, fasting is used to narrow or focus from the things of the world, to purify our hearts from the things that distract us, to rid us of the junk in us both spiritually and physically.

Once we have settled why we are suppose to fast, we must understand how to fast. Fasting in it's most literal sense is to go without food for spiritual reasons. However, fasting doesn't always have to be about food. It can be anything that normally distracts us from God. It can be facebook, television, movies, anything that normally takes up your time. It has to be something that is sacrificial, giving up an activity that you don't really like, or that you rarely do, is not fasting. While fasting, you takethe time that you would normally spend in that activity, and spend it with God, praying and reading his word.

You should always fast with energy, look for the next step, use it as a time to see where God is pointing you. Keeping a journal during fasting can be beneficial, so that when it ends, you don't forget what God speaks to you. Make sure that you are pressing in, not just giving something up, but also seeking what God has for you during that time. Otherwise you really are just punishing yourself.

When do we fast? Fasting can be done at a number of times for a number of different reasons, anytime that you need God to move in your life, or you need direction in your life, if you have a big decision in front of you, these are all good times to fast. If you have a sin in your life, or if there is a major issue that needs to be addressed, fasting can help you in your seeking for the answer. Remember to let God direct you in your fast, doing it in his will is most important, more so than how long you fast, or what you fast, is that you are doing what God is asking you to do.


The Faith Process Part 2

Luke 5:17

Last week we talked about the Faith Process, this week we will be talking about the fact that Faith expects.

Why is generation conference different? Why isn't every week at Revolution Church just like Gen Con? Does God just like big crowds, he can't come when there are fewer than two thousand people? Does he only come with cool lighting and smoke, or only with Australians?

I'm not talking about the thrills or chill of getting away, going to a new place, staying up far too late. People can go around chasing exciting spiritual thrills, people will go from conference to conference, chasing after an emotional spiritual high. I'm not talking about the emotion, I'm talking about the encounter with God.

Christians shouldn't be chasing the emotional experience, but the actual encounter with God. Now, a lot of time the encounter with God can lead to an emotional display. But the goal shouldn't be emotion, God should be the goal. Just because everyone else is expressing a particular emotion, and you aren't it doesn't mean that you aren't encounter God. Now, that doesn't mean that God won't sometimes call us to emotion. He could be calling us to get down on our knees, and if that is the call refusing it could lead to you missing an encounter with God. What we dishonor moves away from us.

Hebrews 11:1
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.

Faith expects. Faith gives us assurance about things we cannot see. It was by faith that Cain brought a more acceptable offering than Able. Without Faith it is impossible to please God, anyone who wants to come to him, must believe that God exists, and that he rewards those that sincerely seek him. There are things that God wants to do in your life that you currently cannot see. When God calls us to do some things, we won't understand why he is calling us to it, it may not be obvious to us. But through Faith, we can have assurance of the plans that God has for us, even though we cannot yet see it.

Right now, in Schoharie, it can be hard to see what God's plan for this area is. But God has a plan for us, and he is planning on using the youth in this ministry to minster to this area. Everyone of you is a leader, everyone of you is called to be a leader. You are all called to be real leaders, you are all called to be small group leaders, youth leaders, leaders leaders, not the pretend everybody feel good leaders. Because if God is going to do what he wants to do in this church in this region, you will be the most mature the most knowledgeable Christians in the ministry. If God does what he wants to do, we will all be needed to pray over someone, to minster to someone. We live in a culture an era of people not knowing God, this generation did not go to church as a kid, they don't have a knowledge of Christ. As much as we may not think we have a lot of knowledge, you have a large amount of knowledge compared to those that are going to come into our ministry. This is hard vision to see, but Faith is the assurance that this is true.

The five friends went to Jesus because they were confident that God was going to heal their friend, they expected God to heal him. If they hadn't been certain, it would not have been worth the work unless they were entirely certain of it. Faith is action with Expectation, you must both put in the work, but you must also believe that you are going to receive something. If you have action without expectation, that is religion. Expectation without action, is dead. (James 2:17 “Faith without works is dead”)

The difference between Generation Conference and Revolution Church is that at Generation Conference there are people coming with expectation. Expecting that there will be great worship, and that there will be great speakers. We need to come each we expecting to encounter God. How would coming with expectation change your approach, how would that change how you worship. If you know that you would hear the best message, would you take some notes? If God was going to come during worship, how would it change how you worshiped, how you pressed in. What do you expect God to do in your school? Do you expect people to be saved, do you expect addicts to recover?

God meets us our level of expectation. If you come expecting nothing, God will meet you with nothing, if you come expecting everything, God will meet you with everything. On occasion God will come in and meet you, even when you are expecting nothing. But those are rare and miraculous.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

This isn't just talking about wisdom, if we come to God and ask, for him to work in our school, he will give generously. If your expectation meets God desire, the supernatural will happen. Now our expectation a lot of the time is way lower than God's desire. In the story of the five friends, their expectation met God's desire, in because of that a supernatural miracle occurred. How do we raise our expectation? We must spend time with God, we have to get in his presence, when we start seeing enough of God, enough of his desire, what he wants to do, not just your own doubt, your expectations will be raised. Your expectation will meet Gods desire when you see enough of him to fully expect the great things he wants to do.

We need to have great expectations for our lives, we need to seek to increase our faith, we need to ask God that he would increase our faith. That we would be able to see the things that he wants us to do, that we would begin to enter into his presence, and that our expectation would rise. That we would come expecting something greater, expecting to experience who he is, and expecting that he would move in us. There is so much that God wants to do, but our expectation falls below his desire, so we need to move towards an increase of faith, so that the supernatural will occur.