Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Hard to Believe" 3rd message in the series DINNER WITH A PERFECT STRANGER

Here are the notes from the message at New Life Community Church, Sunday, March 30, 2014.  Third message in the series DINNER WITH A PERFECT STRANGER.  Entitled "Hard to Believe".  If you would like to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, Part 3                                                                     Sun., Mar. 30, 2014
 “Hard to Believe”

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, … and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’  Matthew 22:4 (ESV)


1.     The Offer of FORGIVENESS.
2.     The PERSON of JESUS.
3.     RELATIONSHIP rather than RULES.
4.     DO vs. DONE.

“Good Enough”
Question No. 1: What’s the problem?
Question No. 2:  How can BAD be made GOOD?
Question No. 3:  Who measures up?
Question No. 4:  What must I do?

Hard to Believe
Next week:  Heart Hurdles
23 Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”  24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”  Mark 9:23-24 (NKJV)

Chair No. 1:  CONVINCED – “I believe

Chair No. 2:  QUESTIONING – “I don’t know

Chair No. 3:  CYNICAL – “I don’t believe

Movie Clip:  The Bucket List


For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.  II Timothy 1:12 (NASB)

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  I Peter 3:15 (NIV)


Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.  I Kings 18:21 (NLT)

25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” Acts 26:25-28 (ESV)


P. 61.
I leaned back and folded my arms. 

Nick:  “And to be honest, I really don’t believe that God asks people just to take a blind leap of faith about him.”

Jesus:  “You’re right.  He doesn’t.  That’s what the world’s religions do.”

Nick:  “What’s the difference between them and what you’re saying?”

Jesus:  “About one hundred eighty degrees.  In this case God gives proof before he expects faith. ….”

Nick:  “But Jesus is the same.  What evidence is there that Jesus was God?”

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,  Romans 1:1-4 (ESV)

16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  II Peter 1:16 (NKJV)

Top 10 Objections:

1.      Christians are hypocrites.

2.      What about all the atrocities Christians have committed?
Religious wars, crusades, Spanish Inquisition, condoning slavery, burning witches, colonialism, repression, genocide…

P. 68
Nick:  Why has Christianity been such a mixed bag?
Jesus:  Several reasons.  Most of the people who have done these things didn’t really know me.  They have been outwardly religious, but they weren’t mine.

3.      Religion is a crutch.
Karl Marx:  Religion is the opiate of the masses. 

4.      Believing Jesus is the only way is narrow-minded.

5.      Being a good person is all that matters anyway.

6.      What about the millions who have never heard about Jesus?

7.      The Bible is full of contradictions and errors.

8.      If God is so good, why is there so much evil in the world?

9.      Why is there suffering?

10.  How can a loving God send people to an eternal hell?

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”  28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.  29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”  John 20:27-29 (NLT)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  John 20:30-31 (ESV)

Casting Out Demons

One Year Bible
New Testament passage for Saturday, March 29, 2014:  Luke 8:22-39

26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gadarenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 And when He stepped out on the land, there met Him a certain man from the city who had demons for a long time. And he wore no clothes, nor did he live in a house but in the tombs.  Luke 8:26-27 (NKJV)

The Need of Our Day

Casting out demons is one of the most dramatic aspects of Jesus' ministry.  It is also one of the most controversial.  Doubters relegate it to the realm of myth citing psychology and antiquated culture.  Even believers wonder why demon activity is rarely seen or addressed in the church today at the level of the New Testament.  When it is addressed, the surroundings seem far from the objective glare of public accountability.  It tends toward the hidden weirdness of backstreet hucksters.  "Come out, foul demon of nicotine!"

We look for a modern equivalent of the ministry we see in Jesus and the apostles.  I believe a public demonstration of validated deliverance ministry lies ahead .  And when it hits, it will be as dramatic as it was in the days of Jesus.

Jesus' Most Powerful Deliverance Story

One story stands out from all the rest in terms of the power of Jesus' ability to deliver men from the grip of Satan.  It is the Gadarene demoniac.  After enduring a life-threatening sea-voyage, Jesus and the twelve arrive on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee. Out of a graveyard runs a naked crazy man shouting at Jesus. The ensuing power encounter verges on the bizarre.  It includes a relatively lengthy conversation with a demon who gives his name and negotiates an exit strategy into a herd of pigs.  It is one of the most dramatic "before-and-after" stories in Jesus' ministry. The crazy man is set free from demonic bondage and we find him "sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind." (Luke 8:35)

You would think such a miracle would sky-rocket Jesus' popularity.  Instead, He is feared and ostracized to the point that residents of the region demand He leave their country.

Some Observations...

This incredible story deserves careful analysis, but space only allows a few observations here:

1.  Demons are real.

This should not seem strange or wacked-out.  It is not only a biblical reality, it is a spiritual force that confronts each of us regularly.

2.  Demonic activity, at times, concentrates and intensifies in certain individuals.  

Satan does not play fair.  This unnamed man was the object of almost unbelievable personal attack.  The lead-demon's name was Legion (we never learn the name of the man).  Most commentators agree the name Legion indicates a Roman military legion which numbers between 2 and 6 thousand!  Since the pig herd was "about two thousand" (Mk. 5:13), it is safe to assume this poor man was inhabited by multiple thousands of demonic beings!

Why does one human being become the magnet for massive attack, while others seem unaffected?  We have no simple answer, but we must acknowledge the reality.

3.  Satan's objective is human destruction.

Just look at the condition of this man.  It had been "a long time" since he had put on any clothes. Nakedness is always associated with shame.  Since Eden, human beings have felt the need to cover themselves (Gen. 3:7).  Nakedness also speaks of sexual sin which is always the result of unbridled lewdness.

This man lived in a graveyard.  He was more at home among the dead than the living.  He cut himself with sharp objects and lived in constant torment.  Not natural restraints (chains) could hold him.

He is a description to us of what Satan wants -- death, misery, and pain upon all those who bear the image of God.

4.  Deliverance always has an environment.

We cannot here answer all the questions about the pig herd and why Jesus negotiated with the demons.  We can however say that the deliverance of this one man was somehow associated with an entire region.

When one man or woman gets truly set free, it can change a city.  When a husband or father finds liberation in Christ, his entire family will feel the reverberations.  When anyone breaks rank with the kingdom of darkness, the shock waves can rumble through the neighborhood with surprising results.

We Win!

One last point, Jesus never ran after demons.  He simply went about His duties of serving the Father, and demons cried out in His presence.  We do not need to become demon hunters.  But, we must be ready for their reality -- and not surprised when they show up.  This is not fascinating stuff -- it is warfare stuff -- and we win!

In Jesus' name, all demonic activity must cease and desist -- even the most dramatic.  It must go.  This is the authority of the Name of Jesus, and it has been given to us, the church of the living God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Here are the notes from the message at New Life Community Church on Sunday, March 16.  Little late posting them, but here they are anyway.  This was the second message in the series DINNER WITH A PERFECT STRANGER, and is entitled "Good Enough."  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless.

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, Part 2                                           Sunday, March 16, 2014
“Good Enough”

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, … and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’  Matthew 22:4 (ESV)

Last week:  Questions.
How can you say that Jesus is the only way? 
Truth claims.  Claims of exclusivity.
Uniqueness of Christianity.
1.      The offer of forgiveness.
2.      The person of Jesus.
3.      Relationship rather than rules.
4.      Do vs. Done
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.  Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,  Psalm 103:1-3 (ESV)

12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (ESV)

p. 38.
Nick Comisky: Okay, fine.  I agree that there has to be some transcendent being…  And you’re great at poking holes in all these other religions.  But it seems to me that all religions, including Christianity, are different paths to the same place.  I mean, everyone is looking for God, and …
Jesus:  Are you?
Nick:  (he is temporarily surprised by Jesus’ interruption and feels a twinge of guilt at Jesus’ question.)  As I was saying, it seems like everyone is looking for God in their own way.  That’s what I like about the church our friends Dave and Paula attend.  They embrace everyone’s beliefs and try to help them on their path to God.
Jesus:  There’s one problem with that thinking.
Nick:  What?
Jesus:  There is no path to God.
Nick is talking about PLURALISM.
Jesus then says, There’s one problem with that thinking.

There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.  Proverbs 16:25 (NASB)

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.  Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)

: a situation in which people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., are together in a society but continue to have their different traditions and interests (called empirical pluralism)
: the belief that people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., should live together in a society and the belief that such a condition is desirable or socially beneficial. (called cherished pluralism)

a :  a theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds of ultimate reality and that reality is composed of many ultimate substances

b :  a theory that reality is composed of a plurality of entities and that no single explanatory system or view of reality can account for all the phenomena of life.  (called philosophical pluralism)

D.A. Carson: Finally, any notion that a particular ideology or religious claim is intrinsically superior to another is NECESSARILY wrong.  The only absolute creed is the creed of pluralism.  No religion has the right to pronounce itself right or true, and the others false, or even (in the majority view) relatively inferior.

Diane Eck:  The plurality of religious traditions and cultures has come to characterize every part of the world today.

“We believe that religions are basically the same…they only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.” 
Steve Turner, Up To Date

Question No. 1: What’s the problem?

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  Romans 3:23 (NKJV)

Did you ever get into trouble as a kid?
What is the problem with people?

Question No. 2:  How can BAD be made GOOD?

What are we to do about the sin problem?
So I went down to the potter's house, and there he was doing work at the potter's wheel.  But the vessel he was working on with the clay was ruined in the potter's hand. So he remade it into another vessel that seemed appropriate to him.  Jeremiah 18:3-4 (ISV)

Question No. 3:  Who measures up?
Best person – worst person
Man’s way of seeing this vs. God’s way of seeing this.

Jeffrey Dahmer.
Raped, murdered, and dismembered at least 17 people.

Question No. 4:  What must I do?

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.  John 1:12-13 (NKJV)