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Peter and Cornelius: Two Dreams, One Vision (Acts 10:1-16)

September 3, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon sharply rebukes segregation amongst the Body of Christ, because the Gospel overcomes prejudices. Pastor Carter calls to attention the primary ministry of the Church, namely, reconciliation. The focus of this sermon is on how God gave two visions, a vision to a Gentile and a vision to a Jew, for building His Church among all nations.

Cornelius: A Vision to a Gentile

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa (Acts 10:1-8;ESV).”

In the first vision, God sought Cornelius, so that there might be one people. Although Cornelius was not Jewish, Scripture describes him as a devout man, meaning that he was a religious man or thought seriously about religious things. He concerned himself with who God is and feared Him, seeking to worship him through good works and continually prayed (v. 2). However, Pastor Carter exclaims that it is God who does the initiating and seeking. What God does in seeking and saving people is change hearts who initially ran away from Him to running after Him (Luke 19:10). 20140311-184658.jpg

Peter: A Vision to a Jew

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him:“Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven (Acts 10:9-16; ESV).”

In the second vision, God taught Peter, so that Peter would understand that there is only one people. Before Cornelius’ men could get to Peter, God had to teach Peter that he, like many other Jews, had mistaken God’s favor for favoritism. Accepting and receiving Gentiles into full communion was the greatest hurdled for the Jewish Church and the Apostles to overcome. Peter was hungry and God used this time to illustrate His point. God was showing Peter not only do Gentiles and Jews go together, but also they are good together.

Whose report will you believe?

When people seek God sincerely, He delights to reveal Himself (Isaiah 55:6; Hebrews 11:6). Those who would seek after Him must do so prayerfully, reverentially, generously, and through Jesus Christ (2 Chronicles 7:14; Acts 4:12). Subsequently, God, as He oftentimes does has to shake His children from their comfort zones, so that they might be a blessing to those whom He has chosen. What God says settles it. We must believe the report of the Lord, even though this is difficult at times, by responding, “Lord, I will go where You say go; I will do what You want me to do; and I will say whatever You want me to say” (Matthew 7:12-13, 26:36-46; John 12:23-28, 18).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Peter Performs Miracles (Acts 9:32-43)

August 27, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon dramatically attests to the Power of Christ to heal both physically and spiritually. Elder Woodard labors the point that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just, what saves us, but the Gospel keeps us until Christ returns. The focus of this sermon is on Peter’s twofold ministry to believers and unbelievers with the miracle, mercy and message of Christ.

The Miracle of Christ

Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, bedridden for eight years, who was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed”… Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper roomBut Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive (Acts 9:32-34, 36-37,40-41;ESV).

The healing of Peter and the Apostles was an extension of 20140311-184658.jpgChrist’s ministry. In fact, Jesus promised that after He had returned to His Father, His followers would do greater works than He had done (John 14:12, 15:20). Elder Woodward parallels the healing of Aeneas to Jesus’ healing of paralytics in His ministry and the raising of Dorcas to Jesus’ healing of Jarius’ daughter. The miracles of Christ are revelatory of His authority over death, sin and Satan. More importantly, since Christ has the power to physically heal the sick, raise men and women from the dead, and cast out devils, surely, He has to power to forgive and save the lost (cf. Luke 5:12-25).

The Mercy of Christ

Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, Please come to us without delay. So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room (Acts 9:38-39; ESV).”

Dorcas was a believer of Jesus Christ and gave her time, treasure, and talents to the furtherance of His Kingdom (v. 39). Although she was believer, Dorcas found herself at the mercy of Christ, when death drew near. Since Peter was not far from where Dorcas was, he did not delay. He served others at the call of another; he served quickly; and he served in spite of the position God had given him (cf. Jesus). The mercy of Christ has a temporal (i.e. physical healing) and permanent element (i.e. eternal life). The raising of Dorcas was also revelatory of the message of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ raised Dorcas, so shall He raise all who abide in Him to eternal life (cf. John 15; Romans 6:9, 8:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Message of Christ

And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the LordAnd it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord (Acts 9:35, 42; ESV).”

The message of Christ (i.e. the Gospel) is not that God helps those who help themselves. Aeneas was at the mercy of others in his paralytic state. Dorcas could not raise herself from the dead, nor give herself new life. Only Christ has the power to heal and reverse the effects of sin. Only Christ has the power to forgive sin and raise the dead (Luke 24:46-47). Therefore, He deserves all the praise, honor and glory.

Do you believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Works are crucial to the Christian life. They do not save us, but our works may testify that we are genuinely saved. If we believe in Jesus Christ, our ministries should be aligned with His, in both attitude and service. Christ shows compassion to the miserable, helpless, and unworthy (Luke 19:10). If you believe that you can save yourself today, ask yourself can you heal yourself, raise yourself from the dead, and endure the wrath of God for your sin (Matthew 9:12-13)? Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him is forgiveness of sin, eternal life, and fullness of joy.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Saul Proclaims Jesus (Acts 9:19b-31)

August 20, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon examines the affects that true conversion has on a person and those around them. Pastor Carter illustrates how the impact of the Gospel is both remarkable and unforgettable in the life of the Christian. The focus of this sermon is on Saul’s proclamation of Christ, the disbelief of the disciples in Jerusalem and Barnabas’ encouragement.

Sauls Proclamation of Christ

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ. When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night in order to kill him, but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket (Acts 9:19b-25;ESV).

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God, when He saves, takes those who were at enmity with Him, those who were His enemies by nature children of wrath, children of the devil, full of ungodly lust and desires, and then changes them into children of God, members of His household and heirs of glory (cf. John 1:1-18). He does this unprompted, unmoved and unasked. Jesus saved Paul, changed, called, and brought him into the fold of God. With the same passion and determination that he had going against Christ, Paul redirected his zeal to follow Christ. Undoubtedly, during this time he preached the uniqueness of Jesus, the sufficiency of Jesus and the necessity of Jesus. Saul’s conversion was evidenced through his irrefutable life of repentance from sin to the Christ he previously persecuted.

Disbelief: The Disciples in Jerusalem

And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple (Acts 9:26; ESV).”

Although Saul preached immediately and unashamedly, this was still unbelievable to some, especially the disciples in Jerusalem. The Jews ran Saul out of Damascus, seeking to kill him, and now the disciples in Jerusalem did not want him there either, why? These believers did not believe Saul. Moreover, the heart of their unbelief lies in the fact that some had a hard time forgiving the man who vehemently ravaged their church. However, Christ calls them along with all believers to pray for the salvation and enlightenment of their enemies rather than seeking vindication.

Barnabas Encouragement

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord (Acts 9:27, 28; ESV).”

While the disciples were disbelieving, Barnabas was encouraging. When Saul gets to Jerusalem, he is practically homeless. His brothers and sisters according to the flesh, namely, the Jews do not want him, instead they want to kill him. His brothers and sisters according to the Spirit (i.e. fellow-Christians) do not want him either because they are afraid of him, supposing that he wants to kill them. Thankfully, Barnabas did not share the skepticism of those around him, rather just as he freely gave his money and resources to the furtherance of the Church, now he puts his reputation on the line to give Saul a fair hearing. Pastor Carter notices two things that Barnabas does by the enablement of Holy Spirit: 1) he comforts Saul by taking him and bringing him to the Apostles and 2) he assured the Apostles that Saul’s testimony and the reports that they heard about him were true, to which all of the skepticism dissipated.

Has Christ changed you?

Despite popular opinion, Paul did not ask the Lord Jesus to save him. The biblical truth is God determined to save Paul and all who are in Christ before the foundations of the earth (Galatians 1:15). God is not like us, He delights more in saving His enemies than He is in punishing them (Ezekiel 18:23). If God choses to be merciful to you, can you be merciful to others, even those who hurt you? The knowledge and experience of Christ makes the difference.

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

The Conversion of Saul (Acts 9:1-19a)

August 13, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon demonstrates that because Christ is all-powerful and sovereign, He always wins. Pastor Duncanson emphasizes the mercy of Christ in inviting those who were once His enemies into His family. The focus of this sermon is on the beauty of the Gospel, to which Jesus Christ saves the unlikely, such as Saul, and then sends the unlikely to glorify Him by proclaiming His faithfulness to others.

Jesus Christ Saves

But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? And he said, Who are you, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do. The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one (Acts 9:1-7;ESV).

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Saul was hostile against the Church. Meanwhile, while Saul was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, Christ continued to save men and women through gospel preaching (cf. Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Gaza). The gospel is not an account of two equally opposing forces (i.e. good and evil) fighting against one another. No, Christ always wins. He victoriously destroys the works of the devil (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8)!

On the road to Damascus, Saul recognized the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and realized that Christ identified Himself with His Church. Pastor Duncanson examined the nature of Saul’s encounter with Christ and found that this encounter was sudden, dramatic, and overwhelming. Perhaps God chose to reveal Himself to Saul in this manner for His glory, to confirm Saul’s apostleship, and show that salvation belongs only to Him. Saul prepared to meet the disciples of the Lord with great wrath, and instead of receiving the wrath that He intended to dish out, the mercy of Christ came suddenly, dramatically, and overwhelmingly to prevent him from his heart’s desire (Matthew 11:25-30).

Jesus Christ Sends

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Here I am, Lord. And the Lord said to him, Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name. But the Lord said to him, Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name. So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened (Acts 9:10-19a; ESV).”

Jesus Christ saves! Likewise, He also sends those who have received His forgiveness and salvation to people who are His enemies (cf. Moses, Joshua, Jonah, Daniel). This call to service oftentimes is one of fear and apprehension. However, God in His mercy always follows His tough commands and assignments with comforting words, to which His people move forward in obedience.

The Lord in sending Ananias to Saul has two purposes in mind. First, He wants to welcome Saul into the family of God. Notice after Ananias received the Word of the Lord his attitude changed toward Saul. Instead of seeing Saul as an enemy, a murderer, or a persecutor of Christ’s Church, Ananias saw him as God saw him (v. 17). Secondly, the Lord sent Ananias to Saul to confirm His word. Ananias, like Saul, recognized the authority of Jesus Christ and submitted to His decision by welcoming Saul into the family of God (cf. Romans 8).

Why does God welcome sinful people into His Family?

Evil, sin, and persecution will only endure for a time, our God reigns! Jesus Christ saves sinners, those who are broken, unclean, and lost (1 Timothy 1:15-16). Why does Ananias welcome this murderer of the Church into the family of God? He had a clear understanding of what Christ had done for him (Romans 15). Ananias shows us how we are to respond to those He saves, those who have wronged us by forgiving, love, and welcoming them into the family of God.

Saul’s conversion was sudden, dramatic, and overwhelming to show us that Christ is sovereign and all-powerful. He is able to overcome evil with good. He delights in displaying His power in love sometimes by changing His would be enemies into friends. God’s holiness requires justice for sin. Yet, because He is full of compassion, mercy, and love, He provided a worthy sacrifice for sinful people by pouring His wrath upon His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him is counted righteous in His sight (John 3; Romans 4-5).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40)

August 6, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon vividly accounts the transformational power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pastor Duncanson acknowledges that God’s plan is to redeem a people for His glory through gospel preaching. The focus of this sermon is on Philips call to service according to a divine appointment that the Lord foreordained, which resulted in the true conversion of an Ethiopian Eunuch.

Philips Call to Service

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a desert place. And he rose and went (Acts 8:26, 27;ESV).

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Philip understood that this call to arise and go to Gaza was from God, because he recognized that the messenger of God (i.e. an angel of the Lord) spoke the very Word of God. God spoke to Philip because He had chosen him for His plan. This meant Philip would have to leave his comforts for a time to attend to weightier matters, laboring for the Lord of the harvest (Matthew 9:35-38). Philip obeyed the Word of the Lord, and in doing so, he too served as God’s messenger to proclaim the Gospel to the Ethiopian Eunuch (John 20:21).

Philips Divine Appointment

“…And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, Go over and join this chariot (Acts 8:27-29; ESV).”

The goal of the early Church was not to keep the Gospel in Jerusalem, instead the Lord’s redemptive plan extended beyond the borders of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria to the ends of the earth. Philip’s meeting with this Ethiopian Eunuch was not a coincidence. In fact, God was sending the means of the eunuch’s salvation. This account attested to God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises by choosing Philip to play a critical role in the salvation of another chosen vessel (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 56:1-8). Philip did exactly what he had learned from the apostles, to open up the Scriptures, ask questions, and point people to Jesus Christ.

The Ethiopian Eunuch: A True Conversion

So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, How can I, unless someone guides me? And he invited Philip to come up and sit with himAnd the eunuch said to Philip, About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else? Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus (Acts 8:30-31, 34-35; ESV).”

The Ethiopian Eunuch was a religious man, who outwardly appears to be a worshipper of God. He traveled, spent money, and even gave careful attention to the reading of the Scriptures, yet he did not have Christ. Thus, after Philip thoroughly identified the eunuch’s problem, he expounded upon the Scripture by showing the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 is the Lord Jesus Christ. Subsequently, the Lord used Philip’s gospel preaching to convert the Ethiopian Eunuch, to which this man displayed genuine obedience and joy after seeing Christ revealed to him (vv. 36-39; Matthew 11:25-30).

Has the Gospel of Jesus Christ converted you?

The Ethiopian Eunuch’s reading did not lead him to self-righteousness, but self-awareness. He understood something was missing, he saw his sin and needed someone to point him to Jesus Christ. We do not know the hearts of men or whom God has foreordained from the beginning, but those who know Christ are to serve their King by proclaiming His forgiveness and salvation wherever He sends them.

Are you surrounding yourself around Christianity (i.e. books, conferences, social reform), yet Christ has not penetrated your heart? We cannot understand the Bible correctly, until we see that all Scripture points to Jesus Christ. Christ is the focal point of God’s redemptive plan and by Him, forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God is available to all who believe (Romans 5).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

Simon the Magician (Acts 8:9-25)

July 30, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon soberly evaluates the mixed results of faithful Gospel preaching, namely, true and false conversions. Pastor Carter implores all who profess Christ to examine their heart to see whether they are following Christ for temporal or eternal gain. The focus of this sermon is on Simon the Magician, who gave the outward impression that he believed the Gospel, was amazed with power of God, yet exposed his heart’s lust for this world rather than eternity.

Simon Believed

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great…But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip (Acts 8:9, 12, 13; ESV)

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Magic is the art of deception, the sleight of hand, the skill of illusion and distraction. Simon the Magician was man who believed that he was someone great. The people followed him, worshipped him, and adored him unto the point that Simon deceived himself into believing that he was someone worthy of praise (cf. Galatians 6:3). However, when the people (i.e. the followers of Simon the Magician) believed Philip as he preached Christ, then Simon believed, was baptized and followed Philip. Was Simon the Magician saved?

Simon Amazed

And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed…Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:13, 14-17; ESV).”

Peter and John came to Samaria for two significant reasons. First, they had to see that God’s dealings with the Samaritans were not different from His dealings with the Jews. Second, the Samaritans needed to understand that that leadership in the church was invested to the Apostles, so that they would know that there was only one faith, one Lord, and one baptism, before they decided to start their own church (Ephesians 4:4-6). Meanwhile, Simon was amazed not by the Gospel, which is the power of God, but in Peter and John (Romans 1:16-17). Simon lusted after the power of God without acknowledging his need to submit under the Word of God, Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Simon Exposed

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles ‘hands, he offered them money, saying, Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said to him, May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God (Acts 8:18-21; ESV).”

Simon assumed that Peter and John wanted to be rich or wealthy, he had a price, so he thought everyone else did also. Simon’s request showed his heart (cf. Matthew 12:34-36; 1 John 2:15). He always wanted to be great, this was his agenda from the beginning, to prosper at the expense of the others. Peter quickly, publicly, and boldly rebuked Simon. If Peter had not done so, others would follow Simon and false teachers are dangerous (cf. Titus 1:9, 3:10-11).

Are you saved today?

Simon had all the outward markings of the followers of Jesus Christ, but people profess Him for various reasons – trials/hardships, emotions/feelings, going along with the crowd, looking for love, and a desire to be accepted (cf. Cain & Abel, Jacob & Esau, David & Saul, Peter & Judas, etc.). Simon was sorry that he offended Peter, but not that he offended God. False teachers, who seek to make themselves rich at the expense of others, shipwreck people’s faith and lives (cf. Balaam).

Do not be deceived into being a fan of celebrity or impressed with the outward showings of men and women. Only Christ is worthy of our adoration, anything less than Him leaves us unfulfilled and devastated. You cannot buy the power of God, you cannot buy the gift of God, God is not for sale, and His blessings and favor are not for sale. The only option we have is to submit under the power of God – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – and trust in Christ to provide His gift as He wills (Matthew 19:16; Mark 10:17; Luke 10:25).

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Confidence & Contentment in God (Daniel 3:16-18)

July 24, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

This week at East Point Church, we were delighted to welcome Pastor John Onwuchekwa from Blueprint Church. This week’s sermon debunked the false notion that we can barter with God, where we attempt to hold Him hostage to our predetermined outcome. Pastor Onwuchekwa showed how true faith in God rests in His faithfulness rather than in times of prosperity or adversity. The focus of this sermon is on the two ingredients necessary for one to have unwavering faith in God — confidence in God’s ability to deliver and contentment in His inactivity — modeled by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Confidence in God’s Ability to Deliver

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king (Daniel 3:16-17; ESV).

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Pastor Onwuchekwa described transactional faith as an attempt to manipulate God into giving into a person’s wants in exchange for his or her good deeds or offerings. However, trials and tribulations forced Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to rest in true faith in the God of their salvation. Others around them had abandoned their superficial faith in their foreign gods when Nebuchadnezzar threaten their lives. On the other hand, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego realized that God was more worthy than the preservation of their own lives. Essentially, they knew that God was fully capable to vindicate Himself.

Contentment in His Inactivity

But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Daniel 3:18; ESV).”

God is able to do the impossible, but sometimes He does not. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego acknowledged God’s ability to deliver them out of the fiery furnace, while also being content even if He chose not to deliver them. Pastor Onwuchekwa paralleled this account with Jesus Christ’s trust in both God’s ability to do the impossible and contentment in the Father’s wisdom in accomplishing His will (Mark 14:35). In fact, Satan’s last temptation in the wilderness with Christ was to try to persuade Him to receive the kingdom without the cross, but Christ entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.

Where in your life do you doubt God is able to do the impossible?

Whenever we submit to an idol, we are saying that our God is not worthy of our worship. God’s inactivity is not the same as His inability (Psalm 13). The quickest way to discontentment is to hold God hostage to an outcome that we have predetermined.

Regardless of His love for you, your faith or obedience, sometimes His answer to your prayer is going to be no (cf. Paul; 2 Corinthians 12). Remember, who does God love more than His Son Jesus; who has more faith than Christ; or what had Christ done to deserve death (Romans 8:31-39)? Death is not final, so the preservation of our lives is not ultimate; rather we look to Jesus Christ as our hope and do not forsake the assembly of fellow-believers in Him, so that we do not lose heart in a hostile and ungodly world (John 14; Hebrews 10:25, 12:2).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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