Passion: The Comforter Bears Witness

     “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. ” John 15: 26,27 KJV

          My favorite game as a kid was “Superfriends”. Yep, no hide and seek for me, no baseball or football. I was a role player all the way. While other kids were learning to catch, I was pouring over the comic section at the local penny candy store and wishing I could be like Superman, Green Lantern, or The Flash. Truth is  I was the nerd who could read before he started kindergarten but always got picked last in gym. I think I liked imagination games because at least on that playing field I stood a chance of competing and winning.

     Real life, though, isn’t a role-playing game. I soon found out that being able to answer all the questions in class and running slower than the girls puts you on the bottom rung of the social ladder for the most part and keeps you there particularly if you never hit your stride.

     It’s not really a wonder that my childhood game turned into a preadolescent fascination with the supernatural. My penchant for comic books turned into a thirst for books about the New Age. I began trying to channel spirits and believed I could talk to the dead. By thirteen I was one weird, messed up kid.

     But then through a series of events God broke in on my life. I wasn’t seeking Him. I was looking to talk to the dead guy who owned my parents house in the fifties. But God was looking for me. The Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God, sent a witness in the form of a godly teacher.

      When I told my mother that I wanted to go to my teacher’s church she said “No if you’re going to go to any church it will be your Uncle Tom’s.”

     That was strange because everyone in the family thought Uncle Tom was crazy. But the Holy Spirit knew what I needed; So He arranged it. I remember my first experience with the Pentecostal Church. It was wild! I heard people speaking in tongues and other people interpreting those tongues. Another guy spoke a  prophetic word  in the service. Then the pastor called people forward for divine healing. People fell over while he was praying for them and all the while the church was singing and rejoicing in the Lord. There was a lot of clapping and shouting and praising God…and I experienced the supernatural presence of God for the first time ! Right there in that little New England Assembly of God I found the Source of all power and somehow I knew I didn’t have to imagine being “super” any more. I realized if I could just tap into this Source I would never be the “weak one” again.

     A movement has grabbed our churches since those days. Some of us have become “seeker-sensitive” espousing a notion that supernatural displays of power in the public service will turn people off and send them packing out our doors. I’m here to testify that is a lie. I needed the supernatural presence of God. Other people need it too. The Holy Spirit and His demonstrations of power are indeed outlandish, wild, extreme, sometimes even a little frightening…but they prove God is powerful to a world that is craving empowerment.

      Maybe the Holy Spirit freaks out the people who have always been picked first for the gym class. Maybe He seems strange to those who already have it in their heads they can make it on their own steam. But I have to tell you this “wimpy kid”, lost in his own personal dungeons and dragons game, needed a Comforter who would testify about a Jesus who loved me even though I didn’t measure up. I still need that! Somewhere along the way the Holy Spirit became that equalizing force I always craved.  

     How many I wonder are like me? Let’s open our eyes to the fact that we live in a nation increasingly disempowered seeking something.. anything that will fill the void of our weakness. It has always been the Spirit’s job to point the world to Jesus through displays of power that confirm the truth, that He alone can fill that void! The church has the responsibility to partner with him in that witness. We have been called to let His power flow!

Quench Not the Spirit. Happy Pentecost!

Pastor Wrinkle’s Corner: The End

Review:

1. Tell me what it mean in your own words to be born again

 

 

 

2.  Tell me why you would want to be baptized in the Holy Spirit

 

 

Tonight we are finishing up the Book of ___________________.

We are covering the __________________ part of the book or the part that has yet to happen.

In Your groups: Read Revelation 20:11- 22:21

Discuss what you think the end of time looks like. Who do you believe you will see there? Why?

 

 

 

Together:

In your small groups tonight you talked about the end of __________ and Heaven. Now we are going to talk about the judgment that leads up to the wonderful time in Heaven.

The judgment of Earth is yet to ______________ and we don;t really know when it will happen.

It takes seven years and is three ___________ of seven judgments.

It is all kicked off by the rapture of the church. Tell me in your own words what that is.

 

Then:

Seven seal judgments:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Seven Trumpet judgments:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

Seven Bowl judgments:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

After this comes the ____________________ reign of Christ and then the Battle of ______________________ and then eternity.

This has been the story of God’s bargains with mankind.

Do you accept the bargain?

 

Pastor Wrinkle’s Corner: Which Church Are You?

Let’s Review:

1. What does it mean to be born again?

 

2. What does it mean to be baptized in the Holy Spirit

 

Tonight we are going to begin with the last book of the Bible _________________.

What is a revelation?

 

This is the Revelation of _____________      ____________.

In this book John reveals who Jesus is and _____________ in the future.

The Book of Revelation was written on the Island of _____________, where John was imprisoned for the faith. On ____________ John was praying when he saw a vision of Jesus.

Listen to this description:

“which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”  I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,”  dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. 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 behold 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. ” Rev. 1:11-19 (NIV)

      So Revelation is a book about what John has seen what is __________ and what will take place later. Everyone thinks the book is only about the end but tonight we are going to talk about the part of the book that is happening now.

In Your Groups:

Read Rev. 2 and 3:

1. Write here the names of the seven churches and as you go along list their problems and what will happen if they overcome.

Church Name           Problem               If Overcome

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

 

Now back together.

If the church of America was any of these seven churches which would it be? Why?

 

 

If you were one of these churches which would you be? Why?

Passion : Remaining=Love=Obedience

     “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.John 15:9,10 (NIV)

      I have had much opportunity to stand upon the promises of God lately. I am learning the wonder of walking by faith and not by sight and discovering how the promise of John 15:7 works.

     “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. “

     Now that’s a heady thing…anything I want huh? New car? New plane? Money in the bank? Instant healing of every sickness? Greater success in my career? Well… yes if I can remain in Him and have those things.

     So it all hinges on this “remaining” or “abiding” thing. What’s that exactly? Well Jesus elaborates on the subject in the second half of John 15.

    Remaining in Him means remaining in His love. What’s that mean? It means obeying his commands. What commands? Well Jesus doesn’t leave us guessing:

     “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.( John 15: 12,13 NIV)

     OH SNAP!

     If we follow John 15 to its logical conclusion we can ask anything we want of God and He will absolutely answer  if we are loving as Jesus Christ  loved. If however we are not loving as Jesus Christ loved then we have absolutely no right to expect anything from God ever.

    This being the case I can no longer wonder why God doesn’t answer more of my prayers. Instead I should be wondering why He answers any of my prayers at all!

     Have you looked at how Jesus loved recently? The man was abandoned by his best friends, pushed through a kangaroo court tried and sentenced unjustly in a day, was spit upon, beaten to within an inch of his life, was sentenced to death because the official in charge couldn’t be bothered to stand up for justice, and was crucified. Yet he still said “Father forgive them.”!

     Meanwhile I get all defensive when I get criticized about my preaching!     

     But I am learning about this “remaining”. I am learning it’s not in me to remain. But it is in Him to help me remain. If I set myself before Him in prayer and in His word somehow His love flows into me. I can love as He loves. When I am in this place of “His love” my prayers are directed. I know what he wants…and I can tell you it has little to do with new cars, planes, money, jobs or many times even my health. What He wants is the world restored to Him… to His love. When I am in “His love” I am finding my heart is broken for the world. I don’t crave its treasures. I pity the world because its treasures are strangling it to death.

     Loving as Jesus love always involves sacrifice. He said, “This is my command: Love each other. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. ” John 15: 17-21 (NIV)

     Remaining then is never going to be a painless activity. The world order won’t stand for our remaining. The world does not value our prayers. The world does not value our Scriptures. The world will not tolerate our obedience to them. The world will consider our love as weakness. Yet only by these things do we remain. Only by these things can we obtain the promises Jesus made to us.

     This all requires our meditation. The Scripture here is very deep. It has many sides. Remaining in Him requires a lifetime of careful attention. But I am willing to give my life to remaining.

How about you?

    

 

Pastor Wrinkles Corner: Holy Pete!

Let’s Review:

1. Can you name three of Jesus’ miracles?

2.   Tell me three parables of Jesus

3. Give me the names of the twelve disciples.

4. Who were the disciples?

Tonight we are going to discuss the books of I and II ____________.

Peter was one of Jesus’ ______________ closest friends.

He was killed in the ___________________ that broke out under Emperor Nero in _________________ A.D. According to tradition he was crucified _________________________.

I Peter was written sometime around 62-64 A.D. and II Peter was written around ____________.

Now in Your groups answer these questions:

I Peter 1: 13-16says, “So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. “

What do these verses say we are supposed to do to be holy? hint: How do we think clearly according to these verses? What do the old ways look like?

2.How far away from the old ways have you come? Take some time and make a list of five things you think God wants you to do to get further away from the old ways. Share some with the group.

Come Back Together: Read II Peter 2

Some things to notice:

Peter warned that there would be _______________ teachers:

How do know the difference between a false teacher and a good teacher?

_______________ heresies. These are teachings that distort the Bible in order to recognize them you have to know what the Bible says.

sinful _____________- They do not have a holy lifestyle.

______________ for personal gain. Concerned with profit! LIsten to these words from I Timothy:  “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.  But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. ” I Tim 6: 6-11 NLT

God does care about our attitude towards money. It is a ___________ to get his work done. We should try to live ___________ and _____________ for God’s kingdom.

Read II Peter 3: 1- 16

Why should we seek to live Holy lives?

The Bible says that one of the signs of the last days is ______________. We have that today.

Jesus is coming soon and we have a lot of work to do. If Jesus were to come right now almost _____________ of Southern New England would be left behind.

God is ____________. But He will not wait forever.

Your life of ______________ does two things. It guarantees you a _____________ in Heaven. it can make the ____________ sit up and take notice.

How many of you have things God has told you to change to reflect holiness?

Passion: Dits and Fratz

     Theatrical productions are put together in stages: casting, read through, character development, rehearsal, set build, tech, dress  and run. Most of these phases also have component pieces they are broken into. With a set build for instance there is the design , the construction, painting and the final touch-ups which my sister calls “dits and fratz”.

     “Dits and fratz” is the fine tuning of a set: Hanging curtains in fake windows, fluffing pillows, hanging pictures on the walls, you know, all the stuff that makes the suspension of disbelief easier for an audience.

    Ditsing and fratzing is always the last part of set build. After all you can’t very well hang  pictures on a wall that hasn’t yet been constructed can you?

    Now I dits and fratz with the best of ’em. After all it doesn’t take much to dust an end table or fold a throw. Sometimes  the crew will even let me slap a coat of paint on the wall once it’s up as long as it doesn’t have to look too pretty. That however is the limit of my set build ability. Set carpenters usually send me for the coffee or the pizza when it comes time to break out the power tools (maybe its the story about trying to install a toilet with a pipe cutter that gets to them).

     My point is, I need the carpenters to do their work before I can dits or fratz. I have to wait for them to finish their job if I want my work to stand under the pain of scrutiny. I get that when it comes to building a set.  So often I forget it when it comes to my Christianity.

     Jesus said “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.  “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.John 15:3,4 NLT

        Apart from Jesus I can do nothing! Oh, how I want to deny the fact that all my work…my “very important” ministry is essentially just dits and fratz in the scheme of kingdom building. I want to be noticed. I want people to applaud me. I want the credit. So I start ditsing and fratzing before God even comes up with a design for the stage.

       I tell God how I’ve got it all figured out. I start hanging my event posters and setting up chairs for my “awesome” ministry programs thinking that the work is the point. I forget that God hasn’t even started giving directions for the set build never mind  a solid foundation of anointing for the ministry to hang on.

       I was meditating on these verses this morning when God whispered in my ear “This is the point. This is the most effective place of ministry. Much of your work is just a context for you to pray in. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

     Man what a heavy revvy! Most of my years as a minister I have considered prayer the thing you do so that the really important ministry work can be blessed of God. Now I am beginning to see that the ministry work is the thing I do so that the really important prayers can be directed and lifted up to God!

     I am not negating the importance of a minister’s labor. Preaching, charity, visitation is all necessary. Yet I have done the job long enough to know that in and of themselves these things are just dits and fratz helping people with a temporary suspension of disbelief. When God gets involved through the prayers of one of his saints, though, disbelief goes out the window all together and lives are changed for eternity.

     I’d say its time for less ditsing and fratzing. I’m off to pray!

Pastor Wrinkles Corner: Confidence

Let’s review:

1. Tell Me about Jesus

2. Why did Jesus have to die?

3. How will Jesus “come again?”

Tonight we are going to continue our study in I John.

In your groups:

1. I John 5: 3 says “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. ” What does burdensome mean? Why are the Commands of God not burdensome? Don’t they sometimes feel hard? what is the difference?

2. I John 5 :14,15 says “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.  And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for. ”

Are you always confident that God hears your prayers? Why or why not. Make a list of five things that take away our confidence in God. Now make a list of five things that build our confidence in God.

Come back together:

Let’s remember as we begin this study that John was Jesus ____________ friend while he ministered on the Earth.

John had a ________________ life. By the time he wrote most of his books all his friends had been ______________. His own brother was killed in _____________ for the faith. Church history tells us that John was captured and sentenced to death by ___________ in oil. But he wouldn’t boil. So he was sent into ______________.  Later he was released and he became the pastor of the church in _______________.

John says the commands of the Lord are not _______________. That does not mean that sometimes they are not ______________. Some of the things God may ask us to do are hard. But he helps us carry the ________________.

It is that way with obedience. God asks us to come away from sin. That’s ______________. Temptation is strong. But we do not have to fight alone. Paul wrote : “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. ” I Cor. 10:13

What are some of the ways out God will give us in _____________.

A.

B.

C.

D.

E.

Prayer is always a key to _______________ in the Christian life. We can be ______________ that God hears us when we pray. What are some of the things that cause us to lose confidence in the power of prayer?

How can we rebuild that confidence?

Ultimately we need to become more _______________.

God is calling you tonight to build your faith. What are you going to do to build your faith tonight?

Passion: Abiding

     Now we come to one of my favorite verses in the Bible.

“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. ” John 15:7 KJV

     I suppose many people love this verse because of the promise contained in it to answer the heart’s desire uttered in prayer. I like that…but I have to admit it comes with some pretty strong qualifiers. If we are to have our prayers unequivocally answered then we must abide in Him and His words must abide in us.

    Now in Jesus day people knew how to abide. The Greek word Jesus used is the word:

menō-to remain, abide a) in reference to place 1) to sojourn, tarry 2) not to depart a) to continue to be present b) to be held, kept, continually (definition courtesy of Blueletterbible.org)

     If you abide in a place. you dwell there. You make your home there. You make your life about that place.

    As Americans we are not terribly good at abiding. We live in homes but seldom abide in the places those homes inhabit. Most of us could pick up the home, plunk it in another community and never bat an eye as long as the cost of the move wasn’t too great.

    In order to abide in a place you must dedicate to it. A person who abides in a community lives, works, shops, volunteers and entertains themselves without ever leaving the place where he is planted.

    Our transitory culture by definition keeps most of us from abiding or even from truly understanding the concept of abiding. To abide you have to STAY and never leave.

     Let’s face it even the most devout among us like to take “Jesus breaks” every now and again. Oh, we are loath to admit it but there’s only so much serving the king we can take. The old man just wrankles for a change of scenery every once in a while.

    Leaving the presence of Jesus (even momentarily) is one of the reasons the prayer brooks in our lives dry up. But there is another reason too.

     the passage in John 15:7 is an if …then promise with two qualifiers. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you

  It’s not just abiding in Jesus; It’s having his words or his commands  abiding in us that does the trick. So many of our prayers are never answered because they are just the self-serving flatulence of our carnal selves.

   James says it this way, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ” James 4:3 NIV

    But when Jesus words abide in us our minds will not concern themselves with things that are not His will.    When I put his word continually into my heart, something inside of me changes. I can only describe it as an adjustment in the way I think. Studying the Word of God makes me think more like God but only if I continue in it everyday. If I leave the Scripture out for a day, my mind relapses and suddenly I am back in the place of thinking God lives to serve me. My prayers become carnal and I become angry when God doesn’t do things my way. 

     I love John 15:7 because it reminds me that I must be more than a “part-time lover” of Jesus. I have to abide with Him every moment and He with me if I am to have the power the scripture promises. I am also captured by the thought that Jesus wants me to abide. If He didn’t, He never would have suggested it.

What do you think are the biggest road blocks to abiding in Christ?

Pastor Wrinkle’s Corner: God Is Love

Let’s Review:

1. Tell me the story of Sodom and Gomorrah

2. Tell me the story of Joseph.

3. Tell me the story of Jesus.

Tonight we are discussing the books of _____________.

John was Jesus _____________ friend. As he was dying on the cross Jesus asked John to _____________ for his mother.

The relationship between John and ______________ was very special.

In Your groups read the following verses and discuss them.

1. I John 1: 5-7 What does it mean there is no darkness in God?

What does it mean to walk in the light?

2. Read 1 John 1: 8-10 Do you think these verses have anything to do with walking in the light? How?

3. read 1 John 4:7,8 How do you really love someone else?

Now let’s get back together.

I think you get the picture that John thought love was very ______________.

In fact he said if we can’t ______________ then we are not saved! Because anyone that is born of ______________ will know how to _____________.

In fact in another place in this book John says if you can’t love the _____________ around you do not _____________ God.

So how do we love?

Let’s look at I Corinthians 13.

______________

______________

not___________

not___________

not __________

not __________

does not_____________________________________

not_____________

keeps _______________________________

does not_________________________________

rejoices __________________________________

never _____________________

never loses ________________

always _________________

always _________________

Which of these do you have the most trouble with? Let’s ask God to help.

Passion: Be Glad He’s Gone!

     I don’t understand Jesus. I love Him. I know His voice. However, I have to admit the first time I hear His voice on a matter I usually don’t get it. I suppose it has something to do with the difference in the sizes of our brains. I’m sure it can all be explained by the fact that He stands in eternity and I stand in time. Still the long story short is I don’t understand Him.

     At least I can take comfort in the fact that I am not alone. The disciples had a hard time understanding the Master too!

    Jesus fully admitted to His followers that He was the Messiah come to save Israel. Then at Passover 33 A.D.(ish) he told them all He was going to be handed over to Satan and die.

    Now in our world when two facts contradict each other we know that one must be true and the other false. But the disciples had left their world and had stepped into Jesus’ world. In Jesus’ world when He said two things that seemed to contradict it never meant one was true and the other false. It meant both were true and the suppositions behind one of the truths was faulty.

   For example: Fact 1 Jesus is the Messiah come to save Israel

                           Fact 2 Jesus is going to die.

    Now we can understand from our vantage point that both of these facts are true. Jesus the Messiah came to save Israel by dying on the cross.

    But the poor disciples were laboring under a faulty supposition about the Messiah. They thought the Messiah was coming to save them by waging war against the Romans. They didn’t understand there were much bigger fish to fry.

      So when Jesus told them, “I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. ” John 14:28 NLT,  I am sure that more than one of them said “Lord I don’t understand.”

      “Be Glad?” “Don’t be afraid?” “Is the man cracked?” I am pretty sure things of this nature were bouncing around in all of their heads. I know they would have been bouncing around in mine even if I had tried to put a man-face on it.

      The fact is that if the disciples had truly understood what was happening they would have been glad he was going…sad that it had to be…but so glad that he was willing.

     I guess it is the same with us. If only we could understand our circumstances from a better perspective we would see that God, as always, is working things for our good even if they look pretty terrible at the moment.

       I guess it’s O.K. that I don’t understand all that Jesus is doing right now. It means I have some faulty suppositions about certain truths. It means that Jesus is challenging those suppositions and is about to set them right. I’m kind of excited to find out all the things I am wrong about!

What are some the things you don’t understand about God?