Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jesus Wants to Baptize You With The Holy Spirit


· Today, our Gospel reading is the account of the baptism of our Lord from Mark’s Gospel.
· Mark was the nephew of St. Peter, and most believe Mark was in fact the scribe of Peter, and that this Gospel of action written to people who did not grow up in the Church of the Old Testament. >>> How many here had no church background as a kid?
· While some of the Gospels start off with the Christmas story telling us about how Jesus humbled himself to leave heaven be born as a baby to a poor Jewish family in the manger, Mark begins when Jesus humbles himself again as he appears at 30 years old to begin his ministry.
· Mark gets right to the point—let’s get right to the whole purpose why Jesus was born at Christmas.
· Jesus came to baptize people not with water like John, but with the Holy Spirit.
· In Acts, Luke tells us that baptism was the doorway to enter into a ministry of preaching, doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil after the Spirit descended on him.


· Like John the Baptist, as Christians, we are sent by God to go out and prepare the way for Jesus to come into people’s lives. This new baptism was not a sacrament of the Temple—it was a new move of God outside the control of the leaders of the OT Church.
· As the sinless Son of God, Jesus was the perfect man. He had no sin, and no need for baptism to wash away his sins. Yet he came to be baptized—why? For us.
· Jesus humbled himself in baptism to be one of us, to set an example that all of us would need to humble ourselves and be baptized by another for the remission of our sins.
· And, Jesus needed to be baptized so that the Father would anoint him with the Spirit and power for the ministry God called him to.
· Jesus needed to be baptized with the Holy Spirit to release him into his life purpose and into the ministry of preaching; healing; performing signs, wonders and miracles.
· Before I go further here, I want to also point out that when Jesus humbled himself to be baptized, John also humbled himself to be the baptizer.
Mark 1:7-11 7And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.
· In fact, John thought he needed to be baptized by Jesus and was not worth to be the baptizer.
· The attitude of John the Baptist as the Forerunner preparing the way for Jesus is humility.
· Who am I to be worthy of serving the most important person in the universe? I am not worthy to even tie and untie his shoes.
· That should be our attitude! Mercy Me sings about humility--Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth, should care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt? Humility.
8I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
· So John the Baptist, like pastors, was called to baptize people with water so Jesus could baptize them with the Holy Spirit. So now we turn to the Spirit baptism.
9It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11Then a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
· As soon as Jesus came up out of the water of baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on him.
· When he became man, he chose to not rely on his divine power while on earth, but as a human being relying totally on God the Father to work through him.
· When Jesus obeyed the Father’s plan to be the humble Savior and totally depend on him, God publically declared Jesus as His Son and He was So Proud of Him!
· At the very moment Jesus was baptized and the Father declared him His One and Only Son, the Holy Spirit descended upon him.
· He was empowered to enter into his ministry of preaching, miracles, and good works of healing the sick, releasing the oppressed, binding up the brokenhearted, and eventually totally forgiving the sin of the world.


· You might be thinking, I did not come here for a theology lesson! I came here today hoping to hear God speak to me. What does all this stuff have to do with me?
1. God wants all of us to know that we are his beloved children and he is well pleased with us when we obey him. Sometimes our earthly parents never give us this blessing of approval, but God does! We can please God and make him proud be being humble and submitting to his plan.

2. Both Jesus and John teach us how important it is to be humble in order for God to use us. If we surrender our lives to Jesus, God can use us to do great things like John and Jesus. How many would like to have God use for great things? ***Lay it all down—agendas, plans—thy will be done.

3. The lesson of Jesus’ baptism is that humility and obedience to do what God asks us are what release the power of the Holy Spirit on us to energize God’s purposes in and through us.

· All of us have a purpose in God. When we humble ourselves to enter into God’s will, and say “Jesus use me however you want. I submit. I humble myself. I will obey whatever you want,” God releases Holy Spirit power into His purposes for His glory.
· This is how Jesus ministered on earth. He did not minister out of the power of his divine nature. He ministered as a human being filled with the Spirit.
· This is how God wants to bless you as your fulfill his purposes in your life.
· Whether his will is for you to be a stay at home Mom, a teacher, a business person, or to suffer a cross like Joni Erickson Tada living a disabled life, accepting God’s will results in the Holy Spirit’s ministry of power flowing through you.
· The same power that created the world starts creating through you. The same power that parted the Red Sea when God’s enemies attacked Israel begins working to give you victory over the enemies that come to thwart God’s will in your life.
· The same Spirit that came on Jesus at his baptism, and that descended on the disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost descends on you and gives you power to accomplish God’s good works in your life.
· Today, where do you need Jesus to immerse you with the power of the Holy Spirit?
o Where do you feel most powerless and out of control today? This is where you need the power of the Spirit to fill you most.
o When you feel empty, you have two choices:

1.) Try can take control of your life and fill that emptiness with the means of your own power—this results in people usually filling it with sin, or

2.) You can do what I have taught you today—Humble yourself and submit to God’s plan, and at that moment Jesus will send the Spirit to fill you with power from on high.

· I would like to close with a testimony of a regular person like us named Paula Panttaja who attends a church in Santa Ana California shares about her experience of yielding control to Jesus at her point of weakness, and how Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to fill her with power for living a victorious Christian life:
I was raised in and out of church. My dad owned a business and was also a gospel singer. The only thing I really remember about church was that Dad sang and we went on Wednesday and Saturday night, Sunday morning and Sunday night.
I was never a happy person. I remember having stomach aches when I was a child, stomach aches that I now know were anxiety attacks. The last ten years of my life was nothing but a roller coaster ride with radical mood swings to match. I smoked, drank, and continued in a downward spiral of depression in spite of the anti-depression drugs that I was also taking.That led me to try seeing a psychiatrist on a weekly basis. His answer was Prozac and between him and the Prozac -- and no health insurance -- it was costing me $200.00 a week!
Then a friend told me how she had instantly been delivered from marijuana and then she invited me to a Bible study that was being taught by a pastor who had prayed for her deliverance. I accepted her invitation and met the pastor. He reminded me of a compassionate grandfather and I immediately bonded with his beautiful spirit. I had so much baggage that I had been carrying around all my life -- confusion, anger, even hatred. It wasn't hurting anybody but myself, and it was destroying me.
When the pastor first prayed for me I still felt a heaviness, but we didn't give up. He continued to pray with me and it finally lifted. Praise God! I felt free as a bird and clean, like I had taken a shower on the inside, in my heart. Later, I realized that I had been instantly delivered from all the chains that had bound me for so long. Pastor gave all the glory to God, and so do I, knowing that the Lord used him as an instrument of my deliverance.
How does a person change after receiving Baptism in the Holy Spirit?The Holy Spirit is here to help us grow spiritually. Some of the common fruits you will develop are:• a new hunger and thirst for prayer• a hunger to study the Scripture• a new sense of Jesus’ love, a sense of God as our Loving Father who loves us and wants what is best for us• a greater power over temptation and sin. Many of our chains with sin are broken when we received the Baptism in the Spirit.• a strong desire to detach from things of the world and a greater joy of the things of the Spirit, eg, prayer, fellowship and Christian reading etc.• A new appreciation of the Church’s sacraments and devotions• A deeper understanding of worship and a longing for the Eucharist
o I wonder how many of you today are willing to be humble like John and Jesus.
o I wonder how many are willing to surrender to God’s will and purposes for you, and ask Jesus to come and fill you at the points in your life where you feel weakest and most empty.
o I wonder how many of you would like to receive a fresh outpouring of the Spirit’s power for living so you can have victory over sin, and experience the joy of the Lord your strength?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009



· Shortly before or after January 1 each year, letters from friends scattered around the world… What is God doing in your church?
· This year, my answer has been simple:

Pray more; Preach well; Pastor the people as shepherd to the sheep; Proclaim to as many as will listen

· I say that because that just about summarizes what Jesus and the Apostles did that spread our faith across the Roman Empire in one generation. Only addition—death…
· Today, I want to share in more depth than the 4P’s every church should be doing, why I think God is doing something awesome in our midst.
· The most important thing about Christian leadership is knowing what God is doing, and then making sure you are doing that too.
· In John 5, it says this: Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
· This is the key to leadership. Ask God what he is doing in prayer, and do that until he shows you the next thing to do.
· That has been the first few years of this church. He said worship on Sunday and gather people. God’s way> As many churches as kinds of people > Each one a tribe
· So what makes the CEC and our local church different from others?

1. What differentiates our church from others the most is we bring together dynamics of worship and Christian life from the ancient Church, the Reformed Church, and modern evangelical Spirit-filled Church. In the CEC we call this convergence.

· What sets us apart from most other mainline Protestant, evangelical, and Pentecostal/charismatic churches is convergence.
· Think of the Protestant church like a broken windshield on a car. There are thousands of Protestant denominations, communions, movements, and independent churches all divided over minor differences and emphases.
· Convergence is the reunion of the divided church back into a church that is one.

2. We are a mission church. This means we are in our first decade of life so please do not expect us to be what a 25, 50, or 100 year-old church is.

· All churches had a beginning and were young once. Churches often grow most when they are young, and it is exciting to be part of God's work in this stage of life.
· With over 300,000 people in the Buffalo area not affiliated with a church, and many more marginally affiliated (inactive), there is still need for missions work here.
· We believe starting new churches is the most effective means of fulfilling the Great Commission. I know some churches that don’t get 30 new people every five years!!!

3. Let's talk about size.

· A young church is not as large as a mature church.
· To use an analogy, as a young church this means we are not a big box supercenter style church offering a little of everything in an impersonal environment.
· Instead, we are a specialty-style church offering higher value and specialized personal services. Our specialties are:

A Our church is a spiritual family.

· Building strong Christian families is a core pillar of St. Patrick's Church.
· However, families that do not pray together because they cannot stay together suffer.
· New York State has the largest net loss of population of all states. I think this has deep spiritual, familial, emotional, sociological, and economic consequences.
· Biggest loss: Families not staying together is breaking the core bonds of family, church, and community life.
· Loneliness, emptiness, feeling vulnerable, fear, loss of helping each other all gone.
· As a pastor and non-profit leader I am concerned about the negative effects that New York State Government policy is having on families, individuals, and businesses in western New York.
· A shrinking population combined with a high number of colleges and universities per capita from bygone days of prosperity compound the problems here.
· There are simply too many educated people with no job possibilities! So people are leaving. Let me share a verse that is important to us as a community:
Jeremiah 31:17 So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land.
· Having had numerous church families move out of state for jobs over the past 13 years in two different churches here, including my own oldest son, I believe God is saying part of our role as a church is Jeremiah 31:17.
· I am going to pray this verse all year as intercessors before God’s throne and extend hope to families. Reach out to the lonely separated from family. Students. New to area.

B. I think God has given us a specialty in family ministry… Another specialty is really a subset of that-- our children's ministry. Our two children's leaders each have over 15 years of experience in ministry to children. Pray for God to help us find more…

C. We provide personal pastoral care to all members. You have quick access to the pastor and leaders. Just call me. Email me. I am here…
D. Another specialty is we provide is teaching that is biblical, spiritual, and life-changing.

· A central aim in our church is for discipleship that focused on Bible immersion and formation of a total Christian worldview.
· Our clergy knows what it is like to have a family and work every day. We preach Christ-centered messages after spending time in study and prayer that we will have God’s word for you each week. Pray for us.

E. We also offer participatory worship focused on God.

· To tell you what makes our church different than others we need to compare and contrast with the way other churches operate. I will do one contrast…
· Some churches today have replaced worship focused on God with marketing innovations and entertainment-driven programs to gather large crowds of passive spectators. These are known as "seeker-focused" churches.
· The market-driven church strategy of the seeker churches is to find out what people want, and give it to them designing Sunday gatherings that entice new people to come and gradually get used to church.
· Later, you will be told what God really requires--repentance, conversion, and a commitment to Jesus Christ.
· While we support efforts to make Jesus known to those outside the Church, we do not think these activities constitute worship.
· We believe God is the Seeker--He is seeking people who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth (John 4). The focus of worship is God, not man. This is what will bless us most.
· At our church, we clearly teach what Jesus requires to have your sins forgiven and go to heaven every week during communion. We even have a real altar… not steps, rail.
· If you were to die today, we don't want your soul caught in a marketing nexus--we want you in heaven!
· Also, big buildings and salaries require big crowds every weekend. That effects the way a church does things. In contrast, we share a building with another church to keep overhead low so we can invest more into ministry to people. Budget… $ Saved…
· Instead of services designed using marketing principles, our worship uses the blueprint God provides in the Bible and Church history. Synogogue + Temple in Christ.
· Worship is an entrance into the inner courts of God's real presence to give Him praise. Liturgy is the pattern of worship in heaven done on earth. It is spiritual!
· Living in the Abbey 40+ hours… Praying past few months for direction as leader of this church. God gave me a few concrete words… Please let me share them as we close.

Mark 14:37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
· God is asking us this year to pray for our church, our community, our State and for souls to be saved and our children’s ministry and outreaches to bring growth.
· He also gave me two scriptures in Revelation--which always concerns me. I don’t want to go negative or critical. So these passages I see as God’s grace extended to us.
Rev. 2 Church in Ephesus 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

· I believe God is extending grace and seeking the lost sheep—A YEAR OF OUTREACH.
· I asked God how does that apply to us? It is first love. Remember when you first met Jesus how real he was, how committed you were to fellowship, worship, prayer. Some of us need to be like that again.
· Also be aware of prompting God gives.. Never know the people in your life who were once close to God and in church but have fallen away. These are lost sheep; strays.

Rev. 3: 14"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. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You 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. 18I 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. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here 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 him, and he with me. 21To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

· This is what the old time revival preachers call backsliding. The slippery slope of losing your first love drags you down into the prodigal son pigpen.
· What God is saying is we need to be careful to not let the things of this world cause us to become blind to seeing how our love of Jesus has gotten stale. The answer--change.
· This prophecy ends with—if the shoe fits wear it. Do some altar time.


To summarize, what God is doing in us this year in 2009:
Calling us to celebrate the stage of life we are at as a church. It’s ok to be 6 years old and in first grade. If we are 15 or 30 years and in first grade… that will be another story.
He is calling us to realize New York is in bad shape and Jesus is in the Garden of Gethesemane asking us if we can pray with him for one hour each week to bring hope salvation and hope to our region so our kids can come home.
Evangelism and worship are two different things. John 4—God is seeking those who will worship him in Spirit and truth. I think we need seeker and revival services too, but Sundays are when Christians worship. All are welcome to worship always!
He is calling for repentance from all who have lost their first love and slipped into being lukewarm in our faith because you have let things of the world get in the way of Jesus being first in your life. Like the Laodiceans, when this happens we are blind to it so Jesus has to come and offer us true riches in exchange for the cubic zirconium the devil tricks us into buying.


The Second Christmas Birth


A little boy asked his mother where he came from, and also where she had come from as a baby. His mother gave him a tall tale about a beautiful white-feathered bird. The boy asked his grandmother the same question and received a variation on the bird story. Outside to his playmate he said, "You know, there hasn't been a normal birth in our family for three generations."

INTRO: Outline on the back page of the bulletin

· As we heard on Christmas Eve, Christmas focuses on Jesus the Son of God being born as a human being to be our Savior.
· On this first Sunday of the Christmas season, we learn that Jesus was actually born so we could also experience a new kind of birth in our lives. We can call this the Second Christmas Birth.

11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
· This greatest miracle of all is described in our word for today from the Word of God in John 1:12.
· It can help you understand exactly how spiritual birth really works.
· Speaking of Jesus Christ, God says, "To all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God."
· Sometimes you'll hear people say, "We're all God's children." Well, that’s really not true according to the Bible.
· The Bible tells us we're all God's creation. Here in John 1, John tells us there is a difference between our flesh and blood physical birth and a spiritual birth from God.
· When we are physically born, we become a child of our father and mother—not the stork--going back to the story I started with, what a weird thing—telling kids a bird dropped us off…
· To be God’s child, the Bible says we must be born spiritually.
· In fact, Jesus said, "No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:3).
· That's actually where the words "born again" originated - with Jesus Himself.
· So being physically born is our first birth, but being born of God as John says is the second birth.
· So how does being born of God, or being born again a second time happen?
· Well let’s remember that John 1 is about Christmas. Jesus came into the world in the incarnation.
· His birth becomes the seed the conceives the second birth.
· As a result of Christmas, we all need to make a decision about the baby born in Bethlehem.
· Will we believe that he is the God the King of Heaven with us in human flesh to save his people from their sins like Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and wise men did?
· Or will we reject him like King Herod who tried to destroy Jesus?
· John 1:12 tells us that you experience the second birth and become a child of God when you "receive Christ" and when you "believe in His name."
· Receiving Jesus as Savior means consciously welcoming Jesus Christ into your life, realizing who He is; realizing why He came.
· John also says we also need to believe in his name.
· Jesus, this name you have to believe in to become children of God, means "Jehovah saves."
· Just as there is a first and second birth, there is a first and second death.
· The first death is when our physical life ends. The second death is eternal conscious separation from God for eternity.
· So when you "believe in His name," you're telling Jesus that you acknowledge as truth that only he can be your personal Rescuer.
· Only he can save you from the second death penalty for your sins because He's the only One who died for them.
· Which brings us to the eternal life-or-death question: has there been a time when you've done that?
· If not, do you want there to be? Would you like to go to bed tonight being able to say, "I belong to Jesus. I am a child of God. I've been born into God's family.
· On the basis of the promise of God’s word I know I'm going to heaven when I die. I know I am."
· Then tell Jesus today that He's welcome to come in, that you're pinning all your hopes for heaven on Him.
· You've had one birthday obviously; that's why you're here. Today can be the day of your birth into the family of God. And that is why you'll be in heaven.
In the 1800s Scottish preacher Horatius Bonar asked 253 Christian friends at what ages they were converted. Here's what he discovered:

At What Age Were You Converted to Christ?

Total Population Surveyed

Age Converted

0-19 138 54.55%
20-30 85 33.60%
31-40 22 8.70%
41-50 4 1.58%
51-60 3 1.19%
61-69 1 0.40%
70 and up 0 0.00%

· In 2004, George Barna conducted a larger sample with the following data concerning the Probability of accepting Christ, segmented by age
Nearly half (43%) of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (2004) ABOUT THE SAME AS THE 19TH CENTURY
Two out of three born again Christians (64%) accept Jesus Christ as their savior before their 18th birthday. (2004) UP FROM THE 19TH CENTURY
One out of eight born again people (13%) made their profession of faith while 18 to 21 years old. (2004)
1. 88% of all Christians have been evangelized and converted by the time they are 30 years old.
2. Our evangelism efforts should focus on reaching children, youth, and younger adults in their twenties. This also means that reaching young families should be the target of our evangelistic efforts.
3. By age 40, 96% of those who will believe the Gospel have already done so.

Altar call--don't become a statistic later in life