Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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32 From fear to following – Part 3

John 20:19-22

“19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Last time we saw that we need to expect His presence and embrace His peace but many of us are tempted to respond by saying, it’s just not that easy. It’s the same struggle that the disciples had, how do I trust in the trying times? But the reason you have not embraced His peace is because third you haven’t:

  • Examined His Proof

Jesus offers evidence to His doubting disciples. If you want to forsake your fears then you need to pay attention to the proof. Christianity is not just a system of rules and regulations; it’s a relationship with the living Lord. Mary missed Jesus because she mistook God for a gardener; here the disciples miss Him because they mistake God for a ghost! Fear creates a false perception, it pervert your perspective causing you to miss the Messiah. Many of us are living in the panic instead of the promises because we haven’t taken time to examine the proof. We are living in the Fear instead of the finished work. Phobia comes from the Greek word for fear, but it refers to a panic that is completely out of proportion to the perceived threat behind it. They were afraid of people because they had forgotten about God’s power. I think today we need to come back to the cross, to ponder the proof so that we can live in the power. Are you living in the reality of the resurrection or the ruin of religion? If you believe the proof then it should change your practice. Instead of being consumed with panic we should be concerned with proclaiming. Because examining the proof should lead to:

  • Exclaiming His Plan

Jesus not only provides us with His presence, His peace and with proof, but fourth He calls us to pursue His plan. Christ doesn’t just comfort us, He commissions us. Recognizing that His followers are still fearful, Jesus once again declares in verse 21: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” His peace is given so that we will be about His purposes. We are saved in order to be sent, we were not saved to sit but to share about the Savior. It’s here that Jesus dispatches His disciples, His plan is not for you to live in a locked room fretting over the future but to engage His plan in the present. We have a mission and a message that cannot be kept in a locked room. It’s time to stop cowering and start caring, people are going to hell and we are hiding. Christianity doesn’t put out a sign and say ‘come’ Christianity puts on its shoes and goes. The first use of the word “peace” in verse 19 was given in order to quiet their hearts, the second “peace” was given to prepare them to pursue God’s plan. Fear distracted the disciples from the mission, and it can cause us to hold up and hide the hope of God. Worry is a tool of the devil to derail you from God’s plan and get you to waste your life instead of using it to witness. Christ didn’t conquer the cross so the church could cower behind closed doors but so that the church could courageous confront a lost culture with the hope and healing of the Lord. Like the disciples who were living behind locked doors many of us are living with locked lips. Instead of being a witness to the finished work of the cross we are a witness to worry. When the church stops living in the hope it starts hiding. If we are going to exclaim His plan then we need to:

  • Engage His Power

Jesus not only calls and commissions, but He provides the power of Holy Spirit as a companion. When it comes to the great commission this passage reminds us of the:

Method – People, God could have use any method He wanted to declare His message to a messed up world and He chose you and me. Now we often say that the message never changes but the method does yet in reality neither the message nor the method changes, because the method is people not programs. Today we are trying to rely on programs because we have forgotten the power of personal connection that comes through people.

Message – That salvation only comes through Jesus as Ephesians 1:7 says: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

Motive for ministry – LOVE, Jesus told His disciples “as the Father sent me so I send you” We may be motivated by the desire for reward, recognition, financial gain, promotion or even pride. On the other hand, our motivation may be fear of punishment, failure, rejection or getting caught. Those are the lowest forms of motivation, but Jesus set a higher standard, His motivation was love. We may have various motives for serving him, but the only one that will prevail against all discouragement and setbacks is love.

Means – His power, God never sends us to do a work for which he does not equip and enable us. Living in the reality of the resurrection means rely on His resources. You see Jesus didn’t just bless His disciples He breathed on them. This is the only time that the word “breathe.” Is used in the New Testament but it appears at least four times in the Old Testament, where the word “breath” also means “spirit.”

Genesis 2:7: “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Job 33:4: “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

Psalm 33:6: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”

Ezekiel 37:5: “This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”

Just as God’s breath made the first creation, so likewise the breath of Jesus makes the new creation. We don’t have to be filled with fear because we are filled with His Holy Spirit. The resurrection gives us hope, it’s the harbor that anchors our hearts in the hard times of life. As believers we don’t have to live lives of fear we can live lives of faith. While the world relies on its locks we rest on the Lord. What about you are you going to be a fearful follower or a faithful one?


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31 From fear to following – Part 2

John 20:19-22

“19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

  • Embrace His Peace

I wonder if the disciples’ first reaction to his presence was one of guilt and shame because they thought Jesus was going to rebuke them. But instead of blasting them, Jesus blesses them and said “Peace be with you!” I’m sure this startled them because it wasn’t what they were expecting at all. Many of us have a perverted view of God, seeing Him as a punisher instead a provider of peace. We don’t embrace His peace because we expect punishment. This greeting of peace in the Jewish culture is the word shalom, a state of wholeness and harmony that is intended to resonate in all relationships. When used as a greeting, shalom was a wish for outward freedom from disturbance as well as an inward sense of well-being. To a people constantly harassed by enemies, peace was the premiere blessing. In Numbers 6:24-26, God gave Moses these words to use when blessing His people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” The New Testament describes at least three spheres of peace:

Peace with God – this is the vertical dimension. Romans 5:1 says: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Our sin separates us from God, but the Saviors sacrifice puts us at peace with God. This is a Saving peace. Next there is the:

Peace of God – this takes place internally. Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This is a Securing peace. Third there is:

Peace with others – when we have peace with God and we experience the peace of God, we can then extend peace horizontally. Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Jesus didn’t call us to be “peacekeepers,” but “peacemakers.” Fear tends to bring friction and factions but peace provides a platform to confront conflict, so that we can complement others instead of competing with them. We are called to be peace workers not war workers. This is a Serving peace

Do you want to live in His peace or in the panic? Jesus offers you peace today but it’s different than the peace the world offers. Our culture communicates that peace is the absence of something. That’s probably what the disciples were thinking as they tried to lock out their worries and concerns. But peace is not the absence of problems it’s the presence of Christ. Because of Jesus we can have:

Peace with our past. Because of His forgiveness we don’t have to live in the failure and the fear of our past. We can have peace with our present. What are you worried about right now? Your marriage? Your finances?  A health issue? Jesus came to “bind up our brokenness” (Isaiah 61:1). We can have peace with our future. Some of you are fretting about the future because you have forgotten about His faithfulness. Do you want this peace or are you content to cower in the corner? Stop locking yourself behind thick walls, and embrace His perfect peace. Contrary to our culture peace doesn’t come from popping pills it only comes from Christ. Do you have a saving peace, have you accepted Christ as your only Savior from sin? What about a securing peace, not just peace with God but the peace of God? Are you living in the provision of His peace, trusting in Him? What about a serving peace? When it comes to His peace many of us are living selfish, self-centered lives, we are satisfied to have His peace but not to share it. What about you have you settled for a saving and securing peace but are unwilling to also have a serving peace? When we accept His peace but are unwilling to share it it’s not long before we lose it. We become like the Dead Sea, which surprisingly has the same source of water as the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River. Yet unlike the Sea of Galilee that is teaming with life, it is dead. How can there been such a stark differences between two seas with the same water source, simple the Dead Sea has no outflow. When we take in but never give out its not long before we become stagnant and start to stink. Maybe the reason you have no peace is because you are living a selfish life instead of sharing one.  What about you are you embracing the provision of His peace, or are you trying to get your peace through man made mechanisms?