The Problem With My Understanding

This post is a reflection of the Download the Application series. Pastor Matthew shares how to understand the word of God and how our understanding can be problematic.

The girls officially have their first pet! They were goldfish we won at a fair. Me and my wife thought these will be great first pet for the girls because goldfish are:

  1. Generally, low-maintenance and
  2. A great chance for the girls to learn about responsibility too.

We found out really soon that when you place 3 goldfish in a bowl, the water gets dirty real fast.

Not a problem. I got a 55-gallon fish tank from a neighbors garage sale. It came with the filters and everything. Sweet. But then the filters had stopped working. And the water started getting cloudy.

This is when things started to get way over my head and I asked myself what I got myself into. I felt that Im just not winning here! It wouldve have been easy to just throw everything and declare the goldfish went to fish heaven but I couldnt imagine how the girls would react.

So I persisted. I realized I threw some things that the filters needed but after an adjustment here and there I got the filters working again.

We needed so much more than a simple fish bowl!

My understanding is flawed

In our Christian lives, when we encounter bumps, it is easy for us to just say, Forget it. I tried it and it does not work. Im just throwing the rest of it out. When we hear a good message and then we apply it but we realize were still missing something. We cannot throw out the destination. We cannot throw out God just because we didnt get all the pieces together yet.

If something is missing, dont throw out things. Keep pursuing.

There was nothing wrong with the pieces I got. Nothing wrong with the goldfish. Nothing wrong with the bowl or the filter either. It was how I put it all together that was not right.

The problem was my understanding of how things work.

4 Steps in Studying the Word of God

Pastor David Platt has four basic steps to understand the teachings in the Bible:

  1. Observe
  2. Understand context
  3. How does this relate in my life?
  4. How do I apply in my life?

For more details, you can watch his Study the Bible Series.

Bible verses in this sermon:

Nehemiah 8:10

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Exodus 15:1-5

15 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying:

“I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!
2 The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
3 The Lord is a man of war;
The Lord is His name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone.

Meditate in the word of God until the truth is resounding inside of you. The more you understand Christs vision for you, the more you can make adjustment to your path. Remember that we will make adjustments for the rest of our life.

As interpreted by Cherry Mayola, assistant to Pastor Matthew 

The Gift/Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Are Your Priorities Straight?

American Christianity has become distorted. We treat Jesus like a genie who can grant us 3 wishes.

You have a purpose on this earth

It is to glorify Jesus with the gifts and talents He has given you. If we are not operating in that way we need to step back and reevaluate. We have to understand that this life is not about “me” it is about God.

God is the source of everything including my finances, so I tithe, because I’m not afraid to give to Him because He’s the source of everything. The Holy Spirit will give us more because we want to glorify Jesus in everything we do. God is looking for people who will say, “God, I will do what You want me to do.” The Holy Spirit allows us to be a bridge that leads people to God the Father and connect people to Father God.

The Holy Spirit is part of the gift of salvation

He sets us free to bring us before the King. We have a life free to follow after God. It is not freedom to do whatever we want. (Hebrews 12:1)

The Holy Spirit wants to come and fill you with power. The Holy Spirit is here to glorify Jesus. Praying in Tongues is one of the connecting tools of the spiritual life that goes beyond your natural thinking. It’s not meant to make us look good. It is a tool that helps us be mighty in the hands of God. Tongues are a language that goes beyond natural words. It is a way to express the beauty of God when we run out. The Holy Spirit says, “Let’s go beyond your natural ability. Let’s go deeper.” It allows you to connect with God on a deeper spiritual level. Our Prayer Language is between God and us.

Paul said, “I pray in tongues more than you all.”

Jude 1:20 says, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,”

This means praying in tongues.

When the Holy Spirit comes, He comes with gifts. He is the very presence of God come to live in us. We are the temples; we are the buildings He wants to fill. He gives us gifts, equipment, and things to help us connect with God on a different level. This is why it’s foreign, different, to you.

The Holy Spirit is real but He operates in the spiritual realm where things are unseen. He wants to move in ways that are unseen. We access this through faith – believing things that go beyond our natural mind. Our natural thinking is limited. The Holy Spirit wants us to experience who God is in different ways. He wants to teach us about the different characters of God.

 As interpreted by Cherry Mayola, assistant to Pastor Matthew

The Gift/Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Are Your Priorities Straight?

Acts 2:1-4 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Acts 10:44-46 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.For they heard them speaking in tonguesand praising God.”

Acts 4:31 “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Acts 8:16 “because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

The book of Acts is full of accounts of the Holy Spirit manifesting with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

The Holy Spirit wants to come upon us so let’s examine: Is this really about Jesus? When Jesus Himself went into the desert He was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. When you receive Jesus, you receive the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean that rivers of living water are flowing through you yet.

Jesus wants to baptize us in the Holy Spirit. It gives us power to be a bold witness and tell others about Jesus. We can share with boldness that God gives. When Jesus came from the wilderness He said, [Luke 4:18] The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,”The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Him for a reason – to glorify God in heaven.

Are our priorities straight?

Is Jesus the forefront of what we’re after? If so, the gift of the Holy Spirit is for you. But you’re not going to want this if your life is about “you”. The Kingdom is about King Jesus.  There are things to Holy Spirit will lead you into like praying in tongues and telling others about God.

Do you ever have a problem with your thinking? Commit your ways to the Lord and Your thoughts will be established. If you decide to commit your way to the Lord (i.e. “Lord, I want to commit to seeing my family coming to know God in a greater way”), you are into a problem because you can’t do it on your own. But there is help called the Holy Spirit. He will give us power to be witnesses!

Have we made the right commitments?

Because then, the Holy Spirit will give us the words and boldness that we don’t have. The disciples went before Kings and He gave them the words to say. Just think about what God’s done in your life. Invite the Holy Spirit into that meditation and He will give you confidence. God wants us to share with others because He wants others to enter into the same goodness and love that we have encountered. They need to hear about what God has done in your life! (It might be as simple as saying, “I felt the presence of God.”)

Will you commit to following God and glorifying Jesus? God will prompt us to serve but He will also use our words. He will give us boldness to share the Gospel in a world that’s turning against Him. We need the Holy Spirit to build up our most holy faithby praying in the Holy Spirit. That faith is set apart from the world and is untouchable.

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts to share. There are times we know the Holy Spirit is behind what we do and say. Others can tell we’ve been with Jesus! We have access to rivers of living water.

 As interpreted by Cherry Mayola, assistant to Pastor Matthew

A Walk through Ephesians

Ephesians 5:1-14

We’re doing a walk-through of the book of Ephesians. The Bible can be confusing so our goal is to help you understand the book.

The book of Ephesians has a lot about unity. One thing I like about our church is diversity. God wants us to be coming together in unity.  [Ephesians 1]

We’ve all be children at one time and the relationship between parents and children is very important. You’re going to see that relationship in Ephesians 5. There’s a lot of terminology: parents, children, father, son in Ephesians 5:1-14.

This book was written by the Apostle Paul to the church of Ephesus while he was in jail.

I want to highlight a few topics:

Verse 1: Be imitators of God as dear children…

How many of you imitated your parents when you were children? Sometimes my kids try to walk in my shoes or say the things I say, or how I say it. Sometimes kids repeat things we say as parents. They are looking to you as an example. As children, we look to our parents as models. This verse says, “Let’s me imitators of God as dear children.” It puts a smile on my face when my children follow my example.

Who are you imitating? How do you know who you’re imitating? Look at what you’re doing and you’ll see who you’re imitating (i.e., actors, your boss).

Verse 2: …And walk in love…

How many of us are imitating God and walking in love? If we can truly see God, we can truly see love. Some of us have a distorted view of God and see God as a God of judgement who will crush us if we do something wrong. Are you firm with your kids? Are you always firm? Do you want your kids to think of you as a harsh judge? No.  God wants us to see Him clearly. He asks certain things of us, not to hurt us, but to bless us. He says, “No” to us to protect us.  He wants us to see what will happen if we go in the direction He doesn’t want us to go. He wants us to live an adventure and there’s a satisfaction that only God can give me.

…As Christ has loved us…

I know for a fact that Christ loves us. It is a real and living thing that applies to you – Christ has forgiven the filthiest of sins. He completely erases our sins, all we have to do is ask, and we’ll be forgiven. We can’t wipe away our sins with our good actions. We only get to heaven by asking Jesus to erase our sins – He took all the blame for us.

Verse 3: …Sin must not even be named among us…

Sin does not meant fit members of the family of God. Don’t be conformed to the world’s image – God’s created things to fit us as children of God. We received a new identity so we can see and imitate who He really is.

Verse 4: …Let there be thanksgiving…

Would you do certain things if Jesus was sitting in same room with you? What about your natural parents? No. Our heart is to please our parents. Instead of course (crude) talk, let there be thanksgiving. Thankfulness is a secret weapon. How many of you have things to complain about? We naturally look at negative things. Do you want to spend time with people who only point out what’s wrong with you? No. God sees what’s right – the gift He put in each one of us. Thankfulness is recognizing a different road God has paved for you. All good gifts come from God.

God wants to keep giving us good things even when we’re not thankful. God has given us things we’ve forgotten about.

Verse 5: …Inheritance…

Who does an inheritance belong to? Children. We all put things before God in our life (idols) – money, sex, things we want, our own desires. The things we imitate are empty unless we are pursuing God.

Prayer with gratitude makes your prayer time much more powerful.

You don’t see people pretending to be drunk or drug addicts, but you see people pretending to be Christians. There’s something they (hypocrites) see in Christians but they don’t know how to get it.

Verse 6: …Let no one deceive you…

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time were supposedly the most holy but they were faking it because they didn’t have a relationship with God. God hates hypocrisy.

God wants our entire lives, not just a moment. Our sins are forgiven? Why? Because we have an appointment with Him after our sins are forgiven.

Verse 7: …Don’t drink from that cup…

Dead religion teaches us to say “no” to bad things. If we’re in the dark, we’ll go to things in darkness. Don’t be so focused on the thing that you’re supposed to say “no” to. Instead, say “yes” to God and seek after Him.

Verse 8: …Walk as children of Light…

Change happens when the light comes on in people’s lives. A child does not want to disappoint their parents. Pursue God and find out what is acceptable to Him (what makes Him smile). You can please God by loving Him, spending time with Him.

Verse 11: …Take no part in unfaithful works…

Sometimes we have a moment of clarity. God want s us to see Him instead of focusing on the junk in our lives. God wants us to focus on the light.

Verse 14: …Wake you who sleep…

When we’re asleep we don’t see what’s going on. Open your eyes to see God is here! See something that you didn’t see before. God wants you to see Him and stay awake to Him. Don’t let fake Christians stop you from letting Him be real to you. Keep the light on and you’ll see how He’s been working in your life.

As interpreted by Cherry Mayola, assistant to Pastor Matthew

Pictures of Grace

The Grace of God means “God’s equipping for a purpose.”

The Bible shows ways grace is given to us. These are like weapons or tools to accomplish different things. People who are older in Christ can handle more sophisticated tools.

Marriage is a picture of God’s grace. Marriage is there to make us holy. It chips away rough edges and allows you to grow spiritually, in character, in patience. The things He’s working in, He’s also working for.

Put God first! This year, get a Bible reading plan. Reading the Bible shouldn’t depend on how we’re feeling. There is equipment in there for things you’re praying about. Our will, not our emotions, should be making the choices for us. Pray for God to lead and guide your will, or decisions.

Fasting:

The enemy sets up traps that capture our emotions. Learning to let go will set us free. Fasting helps us let go of things we are holding onto.

The children of Israel and people in the Old Testament fasted and prayed during times of crisis. David, Esther, Nehemiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, Cornelius, and Paul all fasted.

Hebrews 12:1

“Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares.” We focus on getting sin out of our lives. If you want to stop sinning, spend more time with God! You’ll have less desire to do what is wrong. A “weight” is something that’s not necessarily wrong, but are things that keep us from spending time with God. What are the things we’re pursing? The prize of our lives is Jesus.

Fasting helps kill the “lordship of feelings.” The spirit should be king and rule things in our lives. Our mind, will, emotions (soul) or flesh can pull us different directions.  Fasting breaks that cycle.

Daniel 10:2-18 describes a type of fasting. Daniel decided to humble himself before God and an angel of the Lord appeared to him.

Fasting isn’t about denying yourself. It’s about supplying yourself. What’s getting in the way of your supply – or relationship with God.

When we humble ourselves, God gets bigger and we get smaller. God is worth every bit of our pursuit. Partner prayer with fasting.

Matthew 6:16 says, “When you fast.”

Why should anyone loose weight? To be healthy and live longer. You realize there’s something that’s holding you back from getting you where you need to go.

Why fast? Think about the benefits of being in spiritual health. You can hear from God and you’re able to help others.

What is slowing down your spiritual life? It could be your physical life. Putting that in God’s perspective, consider that being in physical shape  can help you have more energy for serving God.

Matthew 16:24-25 “Deny yourself” things that slow your walk toward God.

Don’t walk when God has called you to run.

Fast in Take

Why Fast? – Some reasons for fasting.

Fasting means denying ourselves and supply ourselves.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Fasting allows us to lay aside sins and run to God. Fasting isn’t a commandment, but it is a key/secret.

Fasting is an accelerator. Matthew 3 says, “When you fast…” Fasting is supposed to be part of our faith.  Daniel fasted and prayed.

Luke 22:42: Jesus spoke these words before He was betrayed, accused, arrested, and went to the cross. He says, “Not my will but yours.”

Why fast? It aligns your will with God’s and takes away our focus on self-preservation.

Why fast? Because Jesus fasted. In Luke 4:1-15, Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness and He was tempted. He went into the fast filled with the Holy Spirit and came out in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Why fast? Because God’s power follows after suffering! Fasting allows you to find partnership with the Holy Spirit. We can’t fast to twist God’s arm, but He seems to take notice of people who sacrifice for Him.

Why fast? It humbles you and there are promises for the humble.

God wants us to do things in His power. You can’t have a God sized vision without God.

God gives more grace (equipping, empowerment) to the humble.

Why do you want to be healed (in physical/emotional struggles)? A higher purpose than the one we’re thinking of is that our healing is for God. (“God, I can do more for You and this illness holds me back from serving You.”) Pray for healing with the focus on serving God in greater way.

Why fast? It breaks the control of your flesh and soul over your will (decision making process). We are made up of: flesh, soul, and spirit. The flesh craves food (i.e., sugar, caffeine) and it begins to take control of our decision making process.  Fasting builds your faith faster than anything! Your flesh begins pulling on your soul (mind, will, emotions).

Why fast? To gain control over yourself and your decision making process. You can’t give God something you don’t have full control of. Fasting is a sacrifice and sacrifice is an act of worship. God helps you in every step of the process. Our minds and our own logic tell us that “we know better.” Is God directing your dream/aligning your will with God?

James 4:1-8 God gives grace to the humble, therefore submit to God! Draw near to God and He will draw near to You.

James 4:17 – Sins of Commission (things that we do) and Sins of Omission (things that we don’t do) are higher level stages of Christianity.

Why fast? Because there is a promise for the humble. True humility is confidence in God. My desires get smaller and God’s will gets bigger. We begin to see how great God is. God is faithful with our everything.

Why fast? Because we love God.

Why Fast? Because it refines us. Things get difficult and emotions emerge. Suffering means doing without, not something being take away from us. We become more pure in God’s eyes.

Why Fast? Fasting is an act of worship and turning to God.  Fasting is an act of surrender.