Righteousness, 2 August 2020

Blessed are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
Blessed: The Beatitudes
Matthew 5:6

Series Big Idea: The greatest sermon in history is radical, revolutionary, and relevant.

Big Idea: You are blessed and satisfied when your passions are for God, righteousness, and justice.

NIV: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. (Matthew 5:6)

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

The Message: You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. (Matthew 5:6)

What are your greatest passions? What do you love to do? What are your hobbies. What do you sing about? What do you dream about? What do you cry about?

As we continue in our series on the Beatitudes—the blessings announced by Jesus—Matthew chapter five verse six says,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Have you ever been hungry? I mean really hungry! Maybe you were fasting, financially broke, or simply unable to find food. In those moments, you’d consider eating just about anything…and do just about anything for food!

One of the most famous stories of hunger involves two brothers, Jacob and Esau. As the firstborn, Esau was in line to receive a great inheritance, a birthright. In Genesis 25, we read…

Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom) (Genesis 25:29-30)

Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.” (Genesis 25:31)

“Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32)

But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. (Genesis 25:33)

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:34)

This may have been the worst trade in human history. Hebrews 12 condemns Esau for his stupidity, trading his birthright for a bowl of stew. He must’ve really been hungry!

Jesus and others have gone without food for forty days, but we cannot live long without water. Can you think of a time when you were thirsty? The body aches. The mind can go fuzzy. Our energy drains. There are times when we’d do almost anything—and maybe should do almost anything—for a drink.

In order to understand our scripture for today, we need to think about deep hunger and deep thirst, about craving. The word I used to begin this morning was passion. What really matters to you? What are you devoted to, committed to, willing to do most anything to obtain?

For some, their passion is their work. They’ll spend crazy hours at the office (do you remember when people worked at offices instead of their homes?!), ignoring their family, sometimes destroying their family for the sake of a promotion.

There are people whose passion is their hobby. It might be sports, travel, games, music, shopping, or exercise. They devote their time, money, thoughts, and energy toward them.

website listing the most popular hobbies as

5. Fishing
4. Going to movies
3. Family time
2. Watching tv
1. Reading

Family can be a passion, spending time with one’s spouse and/or kids.

We need hobbies. It’s great to have passions. There’s nothing wrong with self-care and entertainment. We need breaks from work. But remember,
anything you want more than God is an idol. It’s easy to make even good things the most important thing.

Many of you know I have four prayers for First Alliance Church:
direction, protection, unity, and passion.

Obviously I don’t want us to have just any old passion, but a passion for God and the things that matter to God. I pray that Jesus would be our LORD, our Master, our King, our Leader, the object of our greatest passion, love, joy, and desire. When Jesus is LORD, we want to spend time with him, we want to worship, give, serve, and love.

About twenty years ago I was leading a church in Ann Arbor and asked a friend to consult with us. I wanted to find my blind spots as a leader and do whatever possible to help the church flourish. He suggested a tool called Natural Church Development which I think was used at FAC, too. After assessing our church, my friend shared the results with me. They revealed our greatest weakness was “passionate spirituality.” We lacked a hunger and thirst for God. I asked what I could do to increase our passion and the only response was prayer. That’s when I began praying for passion for that church…and why I pray for passion for us.

I can model passion for God.
I can preach on passion for God.
But I can’t manufacture passion for God. I can’t create it in you. So I pray.

I can only imagine how different First Alliance Church and other churches would be if we all had a deep, gut-level passion for God and things of God. If you want a picture of what true passion looks like, you only need to look at the origin of the word.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines passion as “the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death.” We think of it as a strong emotion, but Jesus’ passion was demonstrated through action. He expressed his love for you and me by sacrificing his own life, his body. He literally gave everything for us. That’s passion. It’s no wonder that he said to his followers,

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

That’s passion. It’s not a once-in-a-lifetime decision or action, but rather a daily death to ourselves, an ongoing surrender, 24/7/365 commitment.

I’m sure that’s why so many of his followers abandoned him. He wanted too much from them. He wanted everything! He still does! Hunger and thirst are not one-time desires, but appetites that occur regularly. Likewise, the pursuit of God cannot be occasional. It’s a lifestyle. Following Jesus is more than an hour on Sunday and ten percent of your paycheck. It’s a radical obedience in the direction of Jesus.
God doesn’t want to be your hobby. He wants to be your life!

He doesn’t want to be a piece of the
pie. He wants to be the crust that touches every part of your being and holds everything together. God’s passion for us caused him to give everything, and he invites us to return the favor and be wholly devoted, completely passionate for him.

What does it mean to be passionate for God? What does it mean to hunger and thirst for God? Jesus says

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

We often think of righteousness as doing the right thing. If we desire to be good people, we are blessed and filled? Well, that’s a start.

The Greek word,
dikaiosune means righteousness and justice. It refers to equity of character or act, specially justification. It’s the idea of being made right, or making something right. In the Old Testament, righteousness and justice frequently appear together. The New Testament Greek word sees them as one. One writer says whenever you see “righteousness” in the New Testament you should add “and justice.”

Jesus said in the next chapter,

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

We are to pursue the kingdom of God, the things of God, and his righteousness and justice.

We’ve heard a lot about injustice in recent days. We witnessed the murder of George Floyd in what can only be described as an act of injustice, yet that’s hardly the first and will certainly not be the last example of injustice.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Righteousness and justice flow from who God is. God is righteous. God is just. Justice is a central part of the gospel, the good news, the rule and reign of Jesus as LORD.

The Beatitudes are not instructions of how to live as much as they declarations, announcements of the reality of God’s kingdom now and in the future. Paul wrote to the church in Colossae,

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Jesus came to our broken world to reconcile to himself all things. The cross shattered not only the body of Jesus, but also sin and death. It released us from bondage. It reconciled us to our heavenly Father. The death of Jesus on the cross changed everything. Jesus came not only to die and rise from the dead, but also to initiate the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. We’re in the middle of the process. It’s certainly not finished, but as we follow Jesus, we become agents of reconciliation and peace. We are his representatives here and now. God’s desire is for righteousness and justice to rule and reign over a world plagued by sin and injustice.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

As Stu G of The Beatitudes Project says, “It’s not about trying to be super holy, but living in the famine and desperation for God’s righteousness and justice.”

God is the source of all righteousness and justice. When our passions are for God, they will naturally be for righteousness and justice, and when we see them absent, we will yearn to be present.

Jesus came to reconcile to himself all things.

He has passed the baton to us.

On a global level we see mass shootings, COVID-19, starvation, the greatest refugee crisis since WWII, pollution, wars, fake news, and divisions of every kind.

On a local level, we see political corruption, opioid addiction, homelessness, domestic violence, and poverty.

On a personal level, we struggle with addictions, comparison, insecurity, fear, and scarcity.

There is an aching for shalom, for the broken to be made whole, for justice to prevail.

So What?

What can we do? Weakness forces us to look to God. He’s right here with us. We need to pause, recognize our brokenness and desperation, and seek first God’s kingdom, His power, His wisdom, His strength.

What do you ache for? What is your holy discontent? That might reveal a clue as to what He wants you to do. For each of us, it will look different. Promoting righteousness and justice might look like more quiet time in God’s Word and prayer. It could take on an activist expression that writes letters, participates in peaceful protests, or raises awareness on behalf of the poor and powerless. Maybe God wants you to use your time and talents to volunteer with Cherry Street Mission, Water for Ishmael, Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, or The Pregnancy Center. Perhaps He is leading you to gather together some friends and serve together. If you need help, please contact Karen at our office.

This world isn’t what it’s supposed to be…yet. All things will be made new and restored. We can participate! God’s righteousness and justice put things in their right place. God wants to bring light to the dark places in our heart and world. It’s not going to be fixed overnight, but as we hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice, we will find blessing and satisfaction in Him.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

We are blessed, we experience God’s presence when we are passionate for righteousness and justice, when we get involved, when we take action, when we crave God’s rule and reign, the reconciliation of all things to God. In that activity we will be filled, satisfied. The Greek word here for filled means “to gorge,” to feed, to have an abundance of food. Blessed are those who are starving for God and things of God for they will eat and drink until they are stuffed!

What is your greatest passion? Nothing will truly satisfy but the pursuit of God and His Kingdom. Dr. Tony Evans notes, “Discontentment will give way to satisfaction in God.”

The psalmist wrote,

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” ― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
LORD, I want to want You. Grant all of us a passion for you, for righteousness, and justice.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. (Matthew 5:6, The Message)

Credits: Some ideas from The Beatitudes Project.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Passion & Unity, 10 February 2019

Passion and Unity
Series—Back to Basics
Romans 12:9-13; Malachi 3:10; Mark 12:30; Romans 15:1-7

Big Idea: We are discussing two of my four prayers for FAC: passion and unity and the stewardship and praise which result from them.


What do you love?
Who do you love? Really!

I know, it’s Sunday so God must be the answer, right? If you have a family, your spouse or kids or parents should probably be mentioned. But what do you really love?

I know some of you are passionate about sports. You practice, play, and watch games. Others prefer the electronic variety and devote themselves to video games. Some of you are committed to cooking, your Facebook posts, caring for your pets, traveling, fashion, reading, Netflix, coffee, charity work, entertaining people in your home, going out to eat, cars, …

To quote John Maxwell,

What do you sing about?
What do you cry about?

These are things that we are passionate about today.

What do you dream about?
This speaks to what you hope will bring you fulfillment tomorrow.

In the first part of my message today, we’re talking about passion. It has been described as fuel for the will. It motivates us. It drives us to do—or not do—things. What do you love? What’s your passion?

In our February series, we’re going Back to Basics. Last week we talked about mission, why we exist as a church. Although it is just the beginning of the process of living out God’s mission, we unveiled a mission statement for First Alliance Church.

We are a Jesus-centered family restoring God’s masterpieces in Toledo and beyond for His glory.

You are a masterpiece, God’s masterpiece. Like everyone in our city and world, we’re broken by sin and in need of restoration. We are privileged to partner with God in our own transformation into the image of Jesus as well as helping others become like Jesus. It’s all about Jesus and God’s glory, not our own, though it’s a wonderful—albeit often painful process—to be restored, redeemed, reconciled, repaired.

Last month we looked at the first eight verses of Romans chapter twelve. It continues,

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13)

Did you catch that in the middle? Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the LORD. That’s passion!

Family, one of my four prayers for First Alliance Church is passion…passion for God and the things that matter to God. In case you’re not sure what things those would be, let me draw your attention to one of our Alliance Core Values:

Lost people matter to God and He wants them found. (Luke 19:10)

This relates to our mission of restoring God’s masterpieces, loving our neighbors, caring for “the least of these,” extending hospitality to widows, strangers, and orphans.

The reason I pray for passion is because I can’t give it to you. I can model passion, I can preach about it, I can try to motivate you and challenge you, but passion is something that you have or you don’t. Either you were excited about watching the Super Bowl or you fell asleep during the big game. Either you devote yourself to politics or music or prayer or your kids or parents or neighbors or you don’t.

What’s your passion? Who’s your passion? Prove it!

One of the ways we can prove our passion is with our money. This week is Valentine’s Day, a day in which consumers will spend around $20 billion on flowers, candy, dinner, and gifts. That’s a lot of love!

If your passion is video games, you no doubt spend a lot of money—and time—on entertainment. If your passion is fitness, you probably have a gym membership in your budget and calendar. If you love shoes or pets or family, your Visa bill or bank account will reveal that passion.

See, love is a verb. It requires action. It’s more than just a word or two on a chalky candy heart (which you can’t even buy this year because of a change in manufacturer; don’t worry, they’ll be back next year!). Love requires commitment, sacrifice, cost. Show me your calendar and checkbook and I’ll instantly see your passion. Your time, talents, and treasures reveal what we truly love…and worship.

Where does God fit into your life? Most of you know Jesus stated the greatest command is to love God, but do you? Really?

Author N.T. Wright said,

“When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God. One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sex objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch.” (Surprised by Hope)
Remember, we were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory.

I want to offer a simple, practical challenge to you regarding passion. It involves your treasures. Just to be clear, we ended 2018 in the black. This is not a backdoor, passive aggressive fundraising tactic. I simply want to ask, “Does your budget reflect your passion for God?”

Some of you may be asking, “What’s a budget?” If so, I urge you to talk with me, Google search “budget,” watch some free Dave Ramsey videos on Right Now Media, or take a class on personal finances.

Like any challenge, this question is more relevant to some of you than others. To all of you who are faithful in your generosity, I want to say thank you on behalf of God. Thank you for honoring God with your finances. Thank you for declaring your allegiance to Jesus every time you write a check, put cash in the offering plate, or give online. I can think of no greater investment than in God’s Kingdom…and our family’s budget reflects that.

Everything We Have Belongs To God; We Are His Stewards (1 Chronicles 29:14)

The word “tithe” means 10% and was established in the Old Testament as a starting point for generosity and stewardship. 100% of what we have is from God and belongs to God. As this Core Value of The Alliance states, we are His stewards.

When you give with passion to your local church, three things happen:

You honor God. You put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. The only time in the Bible I know of where God says, “Test me” is with our finances. In the book of Malachi, the people were instructed to give at least a tithe—ten percent—to God. They were stingy, giving God their scraps and leftovers. Unfortunately, many do this today. When the offering plate comes by, if there’s some spare change in the pocket or purse, they’ll drop it in. If not, nothing. It’s really their loss. God told the people,

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. (Malachi 3:10)

There have been many days when Heather and I could not afford to give, but we did anyway in obedience to God…and every time God provided. If you think you can’t afford to give, I’m here to say you can’t afford to not give. The dollar amount is not as important as the percentage. The city and state take 7¼% of everything we buy. Washington takes even more. And some of us give God nothing?

If ten percent—which I believe is God’s minimum—seems overwhelming, start with 5% or even 1%. If your boss came to you tomorrow and said you’d have to take a 10% pay cut, most of you would find a way to make that work. This isn’t a pay cut, though. It’s an investment in God’s Kingdom. Test Him! See how God honors your faith and obedience.

To be clear, I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll get $100 in the mail tomorrow after you put $100 in the offering plate today. But God honors those who honor Him. Don’t miss out on God’s blessing.

2. You bless our church, city, and world. God is at work in and through First Alliance Church. We are seeing broken marriages healed, the sick receiving care, the hungry fed, those in prison visited, children tutored, artists trained, youth challenged, meals delivered, and the homeless housed. Because of your generosity the gospel is proclaimed—both here and around the globe. God has used this church—His church—to send missionaries around the world, to plant churches, to launch ministries such as Cherry Street Mission and Proclaim FM, to bring hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, and peace to the troubled. We are a family on mission, God’s mission, and I can’t imagine a greater investment.

Let’s face it, our world is messed up. It needs help, and our government, schools, and businesses are not the answer, though they do good work. There’s no force on our planet like the power of God moving in and through His people.

3. Thirdly,
you experience freedom. So many people live paycheck-to-paycheck with a scarcity mentality, hoarding and living in fear. When you give to God before you pay your bills, you put your faith in action, trust God, and can truly pray for your daily bread. Remember, God says to test him. He can be trusted. In nearly 29 years of marriage, He’s never failed us (and we’ve been through some massive financial storms!).

As James K.A.Smith’s book title states,
You are what you love.

When Jesus was asked the greatest commandment, He replied,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

What’s missing? Nothing! He said if we are his friends, we’ll do what he commands (John 15:14). He wants us to love him with ALL our heart, ALL our soul, ALL our mind, ALL our strength. When you are passionate about something, you give it your time, your attention, and your money. The word “passion’ means several things, including “a powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, a strong or extravagant desire, or a strong love,” but another definition is “the sufferings of Christ on the cross.” Jesus suffered because he is passionate about you and me. His love is so great that he gave everything for us—even his own life. That’s passion! That’s commitment. That’s love.

One of the primary ways we love God, one of the tools we have for surrendering to the Holy Spirit, one of the best expressions of trusting God, one of the most practical declarations of our faith is how we invest our money. I pray that your greatest passion in the world would be for God, and that your time, talents,
and your treasures would truly reflect your worship and allegiance to Him.


Before we enter a time of worship through music in this slightly unusual Sunday morning gathering, I want to talk about another prayer I pray for First Alliance Church in addition to passion. It’s unity.

Two weeks ago we saw from Romans chapter 14 how judging and condemning others can threaten unity…and even cause people to leave our church family. After all, who wants to be with people who are critical, negative, and self-righteous? Tragically, I’ve learned of several people who no longer attend First Alliance Church because of judgmental attitudes and rejection. One Connection Card from two weeks ago said a young persons, “First Alliance peers no longer come because they say they are judged and spoke to as sinful ‘lost sheep’ when they visit so they go to different churches now, or not at all. So sad.”

Family, I don’t want to “judge and condemn” you, but we’ve got work to do. Actually, the Holy Spirit has work to do…on our hearts. I want to return to the book of Romans, this time chapter 15. Some preachers have spent years going through this incredible book of the Bible. Two weeks ago, we were in chapter 14 and it continues…

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. (Romans 15:1-2)

In chapter 14, Paul tells the church in Rome to avoid quarrelling over disputable matters (14:1). Furthermore, we must be sensitive to those whose faith is weak, not causing them to stumble. Love means looking out for the best interest of another person, and for me to truly love you, I must be willing to sacrifice my freedoms for your conscience. I used the example of a person choosing not to drink a glass of wine around their friend who is an alcoholic. We’re naturally selfish creatures, but love means thinking of others.

This is radical! This is counter-cultural. This is the way of Jesus. He did not come to be served, but to serve. He did not come to save His life, but to offer it up for us. He set a perfect example for us to follow…an example that requires surrender to God, a filling of the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to die to our own selfish desires for the sake of loving God…and others.

This Saturday I’m performing a wedding ceremony in Michigan and one thing I often say to couples is marriage is not 50/50. It’s 100/100. If your attitude is to go halfway, that might be fine in some situations, but there are times in life when the other person—a spouse, child, parent, friend—simply can’t go halfway themselves. Maybe they are sick or struggling in some area of life and they need you to go the extra mile, so to speak. Jesus went all the way with his love. It was unconditional. He didn’t say, “I love you if” or “I love you because,” but “I love you. Period.” As we remembered last Sunday, he gave everything for us, even his very life on the cross.

For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. (Romans 15:3-4)

I’m so glad Jesus did not live a selfish life. Aren’t you? Paul continues,

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

You were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory. When we live for ourselves, any hope of unity is lost. When we humbly gather together at the foot of the cross, bowing in adoration of Almighty God, seeking to love God and one another, unity is certain.

The ultimate purpose of unity is to glorify God, to worship and praise Him.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

This doesn’t mean to accept sin, but to accept sinners…that’s all of us. We’ve been accepted by Jesus, despite our brokenness. His love is amazing, and he commands us to love one another, to accept one another, and in doing so, we praise God, in word and deed.

This is really hard. It’s easy to disagree with one another. It’s easy to gossip, slander, and judge. It feels quite natural to be critical, negative and be divisive…especially in our current culture. I’m sorry to say I’ve witnessed this repeatedly within our church family…and it must stop. Now. Our mission is not to about a donkey or an elephant. What brings us together is not having similar educational or economic backgrounds. Our purpose in gathering is not to “have our needs met” or to enjoy the music or feel good about the preaching (especially today, right?!). We are a Jesus-centered family and we exist for the glory of God. Period.

Even if you were an only child, you know family can be difficult. You won’t always agree on what restaurant to visit on vacation, what color to paint the living room, or what to name the puppy. But God uses others to shape us, teach us, and transform us. Others help us to become patient, kind, generous, loving, and selfless…to become like Jesus.

Today we’re going to close with not one song but several. We want to create space for your voice to join others. You can download sermons all day long. You can give money online. You can chat with friends on Facebook. One thing that is unique about our gatherings is corporate worship. You can sing in your car, but there’s something so beautiful about praising God together. This isn’t glee club or choir hour, but rather singing songs to God. He’s the audience. The people on stage are not the performers. We all are performers, together, for God. As a symbol of our unity, of loving God and one another, as a family, we praise God.

Worship Music

I pray for passion, expressed in our time, talents, and treasures.
I pray for unity, expressed in our love for one another, encouragement, sensitivity to one another, and lack of condemnation.

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

Laodicea: Lukewarm, 21 August 2016

Laodicea: Lukewarm
7 Letters: Revelation 2-3
Revelation 3:14-22

Series Overview

Revelation is the Gospel according to Jesus. In chapters two and three, he speaks to seven churches, offering both correction and encouragement. Each is relevant to our church today.

Big Idea

The Laodicean church was lukewarm…which made Jesus sick!


We are nearing the end of our series on the seven churches in the book of Revelation. Jesus sent letters to some of the first Christian communities, all located in modern-day Turkey. We have examined…

  • - Ephesus (First Love)
  • - Smyrna (Persecution)
  • - Pergamum (False Teaching)
  • - Thyatira (Sexual Sin)
  • - Sardis (Wake Up)
  • - Philadelphia (Faithful)

Today we look at the church in Laodicea.

Before looking at our text, you must understand a few things about Laodicea.

  1. 1. It was the region’s banking center. It had gold in abundance.
  2. 2. It had a fine medical school, specializing in ophthalmology, eye-healing
  3. 3. It was known for its fashion, particularly clothes made from Laodicean wool
  4. 4. It had bad water. The river Lycus was not strong and often dried up. The city seemed to have everything except that vital liquid H2O.

It’s important to understand its geography. Southeast of the city was Colosse. It had great water. In fact, it had cold, Alpine-quality water from Mount Cadmus. To the north is Hierapolis. Heather and I spent some time in this area which looks snow-covered but, in fact, it is merely mineral deposits. Hierapolis also contains wonderful hot springs that are still enjoyed today.

Since the Laodicea lacked good water, aqueducts were built to bring water several miles to the city.

Revelation 3:14-22

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. (Revelation 3:14)

This is the only time in the Bible “Amen” is a proper name, the name of Jesus. The word “amen” means “so be it.” Jesus is the Amen. He has the last word. He alone will reveal all and tell all as the faithful and true witness.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! (Revelation 3:15)

Jesus commends many of the other churches for their good works, but not Laodicea. I used to hear people say this means our faith should be cold or hot. We should be really bad or really good. We should serve satan or serve God. But why would Jesus say he wants people to serve satan? The people of Laodicea understood the refreshment of cold water from Colosse. They loved the hot springs in Hierapolis. But the water they received in their city was neither. The cold water became warm as it moved through the aqueduct and the hot water cooled. When I order a drink at Starbucks I either order it hot or cold. Do you like lukewarm coffee or tea?

So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

Jesus is trash-talking. Literally. He’s saying their actions are pathetic. They are sickening. This NIV translation of the Greek is rather tame. Jesus is saying this church makes him want to throw up! Eugene Peterson’s translation, The Message, says

You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit. (Revelation 3:16, The Message)

This is not encouragement! And he’s not done!

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Revelation 3:17)

They are delusional! They’re clueless! They’re pitiful. They are known for healing the eyes yet they’re blind. They are known for their fashion and special wool yet like the emperor with no clothes, they don’t even know they’re naked!

They are not self-aware! Jesus offers a solution, though.

I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:18)

He doesn’t walk away, he offers to provide for them…if they turn back to him.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. (Revelation 3:19)

He loves them and, therefore, he is rebuking and disciplining them. He doesn’t abandon them. Instead he urges them to repent, to turn around, to do a 180. Repent is to change. It’s to go in the opposite. Jesus is saying, “Come back! You’ve walked away from me but I’m still here. I still love you. Return home!”

Jesus continues with one of the most famous verses in the Bible.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. (Revelation 3:20)

He’s saying, “I’m here. I want to enter your world, but I’m not going to break in. I’m not going to force myself upon you. No pressure. But I’m here. I have so much to offer you. I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life. Will you let me in?”

Notice he doesn’t just say he wants to come in. He wants to join them at the table. He wants to eat with them. In the culture, eating with another person was a big deal. You didn’t just grab fast food. Meals took hours to enjoy. Eating together was a sign of friendship, in some instances a deep commitment. It declared a special relationship (which explains why Jesus got into so much trouble for eating with sinners). He doesn’t want to just share a meal. He wants to share a life.

This letter was written not to an individual but to a church. Some have suggested Jesus had been shut out of the church of Laodicea, out of their fellowship. Perhaps they had abandoned his teachings and example. Like many churches today that have Jesus in their name, perhaps Jesus wasn’t alive inside, the center of their worship, their savior, and their Lord.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:21-22)

Jesus goes even further, expressing his deep love and commitment to those who would follow him.

So What?

I think the message to us is obvious. Jesus wants us passionate. He wants us to be devoted to him. He wants us on fire to burn brightly, to be like hot, healing springs in a spa or refreshing like a cold drink in the middle of a hot summer day. Most of all, he wants to be in our church. He wants to be at our table. He wants to do life with us, not just on Sunday mornings but 24/7/365.

Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. He came to offer us life…every day!

What would Jesus say to First Alliance Church? What would he say to you? Are you passionate for Jesus? He is passionate for you. He gave everything he had—his very life—for you! He wants nothing less than total surrender, not because he needs you or wants to manipulate you, but because he loves you and his plans and purposes are far greater than anything you could ever imagine. He wants to be savior, yes, but also Lord. Master. King.

I think his message to Laodicea was this: surrender it all. Not just Sunday mornings. Not just when there’s extra change in your pocket when the offering plate is passed. Not just when it’s popular, comfortable, and convenient. Jesus wants it all. He wants you to be all-in. He wants your life to be refreshing like cold water. He wants it to be a source of life and healing like hot springs. Are you fully surrendered to Jesus?

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Sardis: Wake Up! 31 July 2016

    Sardis: Wake Up!
    7 Letters: Revelation 2-3
    Revelation 3:1-6

    Series Overview

    Revelation is the Gospel according to Jesus. In chapters two and three, he speaks to seven churches, offering both correction and encouragement. Each is relevant to our church today.

    Big Idea

    A church can do good things yet remain dead without the Holy Spirit.


    Like many of you, I found the last book of the Bible to be confusing, weird, and even a bit scary. We are not doing a series on the entire book (perhaps we’ll talk about wings and beasts and 666 in the future) but we are going to look at the Gospel according to Jesus. Perhaps that’s a new phrase to you. Perhaps you know of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Jesus also wrote a book of the Bible, or at least he spoke much of it. If you have a Bible with the words of Jesus in red, you’ll notice chapters 2 and 3 are all red, all words of Jesus. The book begins:

    The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:1-2)

    Revelation is not about the antichrist (a term which does not appear in the book of Revelation), but about the living Christ. It is not about a rapture out of this world (the word “rapture” is not found in Revelation, either) but about faithful discipleship in this world. As it says, this is the revelation from Jesus. We read Revelation to know Jesus better. It reveals Christ.

    There is some dispute about whether this John is the son of Zebedee, the apostle who wrote the gospel of John and 1, 2, and 3 John or a different person. What matters is not the recipient so much as the sender, the revelator, Jesus Christ.

    The book of Revelation was written around A.D. 95 when Christians were entering a time of persecution. Emperor worship was growing so anyone who held that Jesus, not Caesar, was Lord was subject to hostility. Needless to say, following Jesus was not politically correct.

    Chapter 1 describes a scene where John encounters Jesus.

    When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

    “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:17-20)

    Revelation is filled with fantastical symbolism. In this instance, it is clear. The stars are angels of the churches. The lampstands are the churches, the people. Our series is focusing on these seven churches.

    We have looked at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. We have come now to Sardis. Sardis was the capital of the province of Lydia. It was noted for its wealth. In fact, it is here that the first coins in the world were minted!

    After decades of archaeological digs, there have been three primary discoveries: the Romans road, a synagogue, and a gymnasium. One of the great things about our faith is it’s rooted in history. The Bible is filled with accounts of actual people, event, and places. I’ve visited many of the places, including Sardis.

    Sardis has been around for more than 3000 years! It flourished between the 7th century BD and the 7th century AD. A stream contained alluvial gold which made the Lydians—natives of Sardis—the most powerful and wealthy people in Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor or modern day Turkey). As you can imagine, power and wealth led the people in Sardis to love luxury, comfort, convenience…and moral decadence. Sound familiar?

    The church at Sardis had a reputation of being alive and yet—like so many churches today—it was dead and in need of the Holy Spirit.

    “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

    These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)

    Jesus holds the seven stars—churches— and the Spirit of God sent to them. Rather than begin with encouragement, he dives right into his concern. They are dead! They need the spirit of God. Only the Holy Spirit can help us come alive.

    Holy Spirit is the most underrated Person in the Trinity. The Father sent the Son, Jesus, to live on our planet about 2000 years ago. God “moved into the neighborhood and dwelt among us.” He told his disciples

    But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)

    They must’ve thought Jesus was crazy! It’s good that you leave us, Jesus? Yes! The presence of God was contained in one person but at Pentecost in Acts 2 the Holy Spirit arrives, dwelling in every believer. God is distributed! When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit they are given gifts and fruit. Gifts include prophecy, serving, teaching, giving, leadership, mercy, prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, and administration (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 4:11).

    …the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)

    We desperately need the Holy Spirit! The Sardis church did, too. I’m fascinated with their reputation for being alive, yet actually dead. Perhaps they were like a

    Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. (Revelation 3:2)

    He’s trying to wake up the dead! They have deeds but they’re unfinished. They seem to think everything’s fine, yet Jesus says they are in trouble.

    Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:3)

    This is a word of warning. They are to obey and repent. Now!

    Repent. This means to make a u-turn. Confess is when we admit wrong but repentance requires change—180 degree change. This means both moving away from sins you commit and moving away from apathy to action. I said last week there are sins of commission—things we do—and sins of omission—things we don’t do.

    I pray four things for First Alliance: unity, direction, protection, and passion. I pray we would be awake, alive, and passionately loving God and loving others.

    On a side note, Sardis was on the top of a mountain. It had only one entrance…on the south side. On two occasions the guard went to sleep and the city was invaded! Jesus wants them to be alert, awake, and ready for the return of Christ.

    Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)

    I love this language! But what does this mean? A few remained holy, undefiled by the pagan culture. The church was not completely dead. There is usually a remnant true to God even among compromised churches. White is symbolic of purity and holiness and we often associate it with angels and heavenly beings. Although the church is a community, God recognizes those faithful to Him even amongst dying churches.

    I have a friend who has been active in a church that is drifting from God. They are compromising their beliefs and following the world more than the Word. He told me he’s wrestling with whether or not to simply leave or stay and try to guide them back to God.

    The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. (Revelation 3:5)

    Jesus is victorious. He will be dressed in white along with the faithful, the obedient, the true believers, a reiteration of verse 4. What great news for those enduring a compromised church! To summarize

    1. They will walk with Jesus dressed in white.
    2. Their names will never be blotted out from the book of life. Never.

    In the first century those living in a city were listed in a registry. When they died, their name was erased. Those followers of Jesus will never have their names erased!

    3. Their names will be acknowledged before God the Father and His angels.

    Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 3:6)

    The Holy Spirit is calling all who will listen to repent and obey. He calls the dead to life. He calls the sleeping to arise.

    So What?

    Are you filled with the Holy Spirit? It begins with confession and surrender to God. Then we are to repent and obey, turn from sin and pursue the way of Jesus with our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are to worship him with our time, talent, and treasures. We are to glorify him with our bodies, our sexuality, our attitudes, our thoughts, and our deeds. It seems so simple yet I need to be reminded every day to get off the throne of my life and let God be God.

    Invitation: if you’ve never surrendered your life to God know that three things happen:

    1. 1. You are reconciled to your heavenly Father despite your sin.
    2. 2. Jesus’ blood washes you white as snow. Your sins are forgiven.
    3. 3. The Holy Spirit begins to live inside you, making you increasingly like Jesus.
  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • No reserve. No retreat. No regrets. 31 December 2015

    No reserve. No retreat. No regrets.
    New Year's Eve

    Big Idea: Live your life with no reserve, no retreat, and no regrets.


    Happy New Year’s Eve! In a few hours 2015 will be history. How was it? In a few moments you’ll have a chance to answer that question. While much attention is placed upon the new year (they don’t call it new year’s eve for nothing!), this is a wonderful hour in which to reflect, to look back, to celebrate the goodness of the LORD.

    For some of you, 2015 was a difficult year. For others, a great year. For most, a mix.

    The past 365 days have been filled with births and deaths, wins and losses, successes and failures. There’s nothing you can do with the past besides reflect and learn.

    The psalmist wrote

    Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

    I have a number of pastor friends who prefer doing funerals over weddings. I’m not among them, but I do appreciate their perspective. Funerals are one of the few times people pause to reflect upon life.

    Today is another such time. It has been said we overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a year. What did you do in 2015? How is your life different than it was 365 days ago?

    I must confess my life hardly resembles it from a year ago, though I can hardly take any credit for it. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be living in Toledo, Ohio…and loving it!

    What did you do in 2015? How is your life different than 365 days ago? How is the world different than it was 365 days ago because of you?

    That might be a grandiose question, but if you’re like me you want to change the world. You want to make a difference. Let there be peace on earth…and let it begin with me.

    This week I was praying with some dear senior saints that gather here each Tuesday morning. After hearing some very kind words from them, I said as the face of First Alliance I get far more recognition than I deserve. A football player can only score a touchdown if others do the unsung work of blocking. In the same way, they do vital work on their knees, praying for you, me, our church, and our city. Their work is done in secret, but it is changing the world.

    You can change the world with your prayers. You can change the world with your encouragement, your smile, your time, your simple gift, your story, …your love.

    As you reflect on 2015, what do you see?

    One of the most powerful series of sermons I ever heard was at a Campus Crusade for Christ Christmas Conference in college. It must’ve been five years ago! OK, it was nearly 30 years ago…and I remember it like yesterday. There were three talks:

    No reserve
    No retreat
    No regrets

    I determined at that conference I wanted to live my life with no reserve, no holding back. Passion. The word itself stems from Jesus’ wholehearted act on the cross, giving everything. 110%.

    I determined at that conference I wanted to live my life with no retreat, no turning back. The armor of God described in Ephesians 6 contains a belt, breastplate, boots, shield, helmet, and sword…but nothing to cover the back. There’s no running away, no backing down, no retreat.

    I determined at that conference I wanted to live my life with no regrets. I’ve made countless mistakes, but a mistake is only a mistake if you don’t learn from it. I’ve tried to learn from my mistakes…and the mistakes of others.

    No reserve
    No retreat
    No regrets

    Did you give your absolute best in 2015? If so, fantastic! Do it again in 2016. If not, no worries. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Tomorrow will be a new year, a new beginning, yet there are no guarantees. Tomorrow itself is not a guarantee for all of us. We all have an expiration date, and none of us knows what it is. William’s was only 25 years.

    This week I read about an acquaintance of mine who was riding his bicycle to a Christmas Eve service near Ann Arbor. On the way, he was hit by a car and died. It’s still surreal to think he’s no longer with us.

    It is critical that we pause, we reflect, we consider how life is sacred, precious, and fragile. Every day is a gift from God.

    Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

    My prayer for myself and all of us is that on December 31, 2016 we’ll gather again and say, “To God be the glory for the great things He has done in and through our lives.” But it requires action on our part. We were not created as puppets He manipulates. We make choices every day that affect our lives and the lives of others.

    I’m not going to challenge you tonight to make any New Year’s resolutions.

    Well, except for reading the Bible with us. If you haven’t heard about the One Story reading plan there are copies at the Information Center and links in our weekly
    FAC Focus e-newsletter.

    There was a famous religious leader named Saul. He was so passionate he was at least an accomplice in the martyrdom of many early Christians. His conversion to Christianity was miraculous, to say the least. After his name was changed to Paul, he wrote much of the New Testament of the Bible. Reflecting upon his sordid past, he wrote,

    Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

    I encourage you to press on in 2016. Follow Jesus with your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbors. Live with intentionality.

    No reserve
    No retreat
    No regrets

    Happy New Year!

    The Holy Spirit, John 16:1-15, 14 July 2013

    Big Idea: When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we experience the fruit, gifts, and fullness of God in our lives to glorify Jesus.


    It could be said that one challenge people have with Jesus is that they can’t see Him. He’s not here. Jesus has left the building…and the planet. We worship a God who visited us for 33 years and then ascended into heaven more than 2000 years ago. But God is here; God the Holy Spirit.

    Throughout the book of John, Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit. He predicts the events of the second chapter of Acts (one of the most exciting chapters in the entire Bible). We actually looked at the first verses of John 16 three weeks ago, but we’ll review them here. The context is Jesus predicting His death.

    “All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. (1-3)

    Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament of the Bible, was once one of these people. Before his conversion to Christianity, he was a brilliant religious scholar, a Pharisee, named Saul who encouraged the stoning of Stephen and other early followers of Jesus (Acts 8:1). The irony is striking, yet even today there are people around the world that think they are offering a service to God by killing Christians.

    I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. (4a)

    A few weeks ago we talked about expectations. Jesus prepared His followers for the temporary suffering they would face in order to reap eternal rewards. Virtually every religion tries to sell the benefits of their faith, yet Jesus repeatedly goes out of His way to let people know they must count the cost before flippantly following Him.

    I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. (4b-6)

    Can you blame them for being filled with grief?

    Imagine you devote your entire life to another person. All married couples should at least be able to imagine this! Now imagine they said they were going to leave. Now imagine they warned you about being ostracized from your community or even killed for your relationship with them. I would have grief! Jesus continues…

    But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (7)

    Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit. Why is the Holy Spirit coming rather than Jesus staying?

    1. Jesus was restricted by His human body, able to only be in one place at a time.
    2. Jesus came for one purpose—to die! He is about to do that as He says these words.
    3. The Holy Spirit is able to dwell inside believers. God will live inside people!
    4. The Holy Spirit will provide various gifts to believers.
    5. The fruit of the Holy Spirit will be produced in the lives of believers.


    When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:8-11)

    Jesus has talked about how the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, will defend believers and strengthen their witness. Now the defender becomes the prosecutor and judge.

    First, the world refuses to believe Jesus as God. This is true today, too. It wants its own way, not God’s.

    Second, they don’t understand the cross will proclaim His innocence and righteousness.

    Finally, it is the world and satan that will be judged, not Jesus and His followers.

    The Holy Spirit will do these things and more.

    Jesus then says

    “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.” (John 16:12-15)

    Dr. Gary Burge wrote,

    “The Spirit's sole ambition is to draw attention to Jesus and to reveal to us that Jesus has been raised from the dead and has ascended to his heavenly Father, of whom he is the one and only Son.”

    The NIV Application Commentary, John

    The Spirit does not take us deeper into ourselves but further out of ourselves where we find Jesus. The Spirit stirs us to long for Jesus.

    So What?

    The Holy Spirit may be the most underrated resource in the life of a follower of Jesus.

    The Spirit is one of three Persons that make up the Trinity, our three-in-one God. The Trinity is a mystery, yet the Bible is clear that each is distinct yet fully God. When we receive Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit, too. The question is, are you filled with the Holy Spirit?

    How do you know? In the previous chapter of John, Jesus said if we abide or connect with Him, we will bear fruit. Galatians 5 is explicit about what this fruit is:

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a)

    Are you a more loving person than you were on New Year’s Day?
    Would friends say you are more joyful than a year ago?
    Do you feel peace despite your circumstances?
    Are you becoming more patient?
    Is kindness a clear and obvious trait to co-workers or fellow students?
    When is the last time someone commented on your goodness?
    Could faithfulness describe your character?
    Do you have a reputation for being gentle?
    When is the last time you were out of control?

    I have a fear. My fear is that as individuals, many of us know the Bible but not Jesus. We are religious, but not filled with the Holy Spirit.

    We need the Holy Spirit. We all need more of the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirit by confessing our sins and then inviting the Spirit to come and fill us. This is not a one-time event or even an annual process, but an ongoing lifestyle of passionately pursuing God.

    This (Galatians 5:22-23a) is what we are to look like. This is the fruit we are to bear. I pray that the power of the Holy Spirit would ignite our hearts. I pray that He would break our hearts with the things that break His heart, the lost and hurting. I pray that He would do a new thing in our church, replacing fatigue with fire, apathy with zeal, and complacency with compassion.

    Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, (Ephesians 5:18)

    And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:18)

    Every day we must pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit, sensitive to sin, and sensitive to the promptings of God.

    In our text for today, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. We are on the other side of that promise. We have 24/7 access to the Holy Spirit, but it is not automatic. Like oxygen in our lungs, we must breathe in the Spirit daily, hourly.

    Are you filled with the Holy Spirit or are you trying to live life from the heat of the pilot light (see video above)?

    You can listen to the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.