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2022-10-07 | Deuteronomy 33-34 | The End of the Beginning

Weekly Scriptures-V2 | Sermon Notes

2022-10-07 | Deuteronomy 33-34 | The End of the Beginning“It’s time to go over the wall.” Those were his words after I explained what had transpired over the past six weeks. The whole thing seemed to climax on the previous Friday night after I presented “Scorched Earth.” And when I woke on Saturday morning it felt like the first day of Summer vacation. The pressure was off and I was relaxed for the first time in more than a month. I instantly had a vision of a sprinter running through the finish line, breaking the tape. “You run through the tape, not to the tape,” I heard. And then the thought settled in, “Now I can slowly glide to a stop over the next few weeks as we complete this year’s cycle, like a sprinter who slows down gently, so he does not hit the wall.” Run through the tape, not to the tape, and then ease up slowly. This is what I thought would happen, until I woke up on Sunday morning. Summer vacation was over.

“It’s time to go over the wall.” My dear brother’s words at dinner that night, just days after my vision of the sprinter, had vibrated my eardrums, but not instantly reached my brain. I shook loose from my momentary vacant stare. “Maybe you have to climb the wall, not stop at the wall.” His clarifying words testified to what I already knew to be true. Between those two moments, the vision Saturday morning and dinner the following Thursday night, I had already composed the first of the final two messages, and there was no indication that anything was slowing down. Naturally, the only possibilities would be to climb over or break through, but stopping at the wall was clearly not an option. Something new was coming!

Friday evening I delivered “Post Mortem Imperative.” Then, Saturday morning God gave me yet another vision, this for the young adult study that morning—W. A. R. (Warring Against Repentance). It’s about the internal war against our own repentance, the craving we have to erase our repentant hearts, just so we can cycle back to our lustful sins—cycle back. I woke again Sunday morning to begin preparation, this time for the final chapter in the saga, this very message. As usual, I had great anticipation that the Lord would speak. Although, I have to admit, what He was about to reveal far exceeded anything I could ever imagine.

This short introduction will not suffice; you will need to listen to the message in its entirety. However, I will say this; the plan of cycling through the Torah portions, year-after-year, ending with Deuteronomy 34 and beginning immediately again with Genesis 1, is a double-edged sword. On one edge, by repeating the cycle we learn to recognize and rehearse the amazing patterns from the Torah that inspire New Testament teachings again and again. And, on the other edge, it seems to have engrained something ominous into mankind’s psyche. Why? Because just when it’s time to cross the Jordan into the Promised Land, we learn to STOP! Go back to the beginning and start all over again.

And isn’t that precisely what all of mankind has done, repeatedly? It’s the story of man: command, fail, repent, forgiven… repeat. What are the possibilities if we just keep going? Instead of Deuteronomy and back to Genesis, let’s march straight ahead into Joshua. Let’s go over the wall! Let’s break free of this earth’s gravitational pull. Gravity is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass are brought toward one another, the force of attraction between any two masses. One mass is mankind, the other is sin! In other words, we are strongly attracted to the gravitational pull of being a sinful human; but what if we just went forward?

What if we accepted that we are no longer just human? What if we brought an end to the beginning? Let’s dare to cross the finish line, accelerate a little, and scale that wall. What’s on the other side? I think it’s what we’ve all been looking for. Dare we believe? Might we look in the mirror one day and see the glory of the Lord staring back at us? Dare we believe?

2022-09-30 | Deuteronomy 31-32 | Post Mortem Imperative

Weekly Scriptures | Sermon Notes | Sermon Video

2022-09-30 | Deuteronomy 31-32 | Post Mortem ImperativeIt’s a moral imperative, one that does not expire upon death. What could possibly be so crucial, so vitally important, that even death cannot relieve its obligation? We often think in terms of inheritance, succession and legacy, when we think of such things, the stuff left behind after our decease. I wonder what comes to your mind as you contemplate this idea. I’d guess for most of you, it would concentrate somewhere in the subject matter of estate planning and business succession.

Those are important for many reasons, but not the topic of this discussion. And although important, could they ascend to the lofty heights of vital, indispensable, or critical for life and death? I’d say not, and maybe you’d argue. And I suppose we could still return to succession and legacy in search of meaning, with one caveat; remove estate planning and entrepreneurial endeavors from the topics of your probing.

What else is there? What might be the moral imperative; what is so vital, so indispensable, so critical that you must not leave it out of your quest for succession, your pursuit of legacy? I pray that the very fact that we are studying the Bible would give you a clue. And if you take your faith seriously enough and you are willing to take your cues from scripture, you just might see the immeasurable value of leaving this behind for those who will travel this road long after you are gone.

Let’s practice it together. In education it’s called repetition, repetition, repetition. Why? Because repetition contains the DNA of understanding; it’s the matriarch of learning. And if something is so vital, so indispensable, so critical (there goes repetition again), as to effect life and death, I want to “ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”

What could be so important to designate as a moral imperative that does not expire upon death? Here it is: “That you may hear, that you may learn to fear, and that you may carefully obey.” These are so imperative for life and death that I call heaven and earth to witness against you regarding such matters. Now, if that warning does not move these priorities to the lofty top in your succession and legacy plan, I think we ought to check your pulse. You might be dead already!

2022-09-23 | Deuteronomy 29-30 | Scorched Earth

Weekly Scriptures | Sermon Notes | Sermon Video

2022-09-23 | Deuteronomy 29-30 | Scorched EarthEach week I enter in the same way. I sit to read and contemplate the weekly scriptures and on my heart is one burning desire. “Speak to me Father; show me what You want to teach Your children. Highlight the message in Your Word God.” And then I begin to read. I carefully examine each word, each sentence, each concept, all while asking and listening—“Are these the verses? Is this the message?”

I collect the verses and jot down ideas and themes and cross references that flood my mind. I think about what Y’shua might have taught on the subject and Paul, and the gospel writers, and Peter, and James, and the prophets, and David, and Solomon, etc. It’s a lengthy process; it takes many hours. And, it’s the same every week; it has been since Kingdom Embassy Ministries began in 2019… every week, until this week.

I began by opening the Bible and a blank document side-by-side. I do that every time. But the moment I did that this week, everything changed. Immediately, this overwhelming thought burst into my mind before I could read a single word of the Torah portion. It was like a loud angry scream intruding into my brain, as clear as if God was yelling in my ear. “Scorched earth!” I wrote it down at once, and then I paused to wrestle with what it means.

First I prayed; “Yahweh, is this the message? Is it possible you’ve already revealed what I will find in this week’s reading, before I lay my eyes on a single word?” Even then I did not open the Bible. I sought instead to discover the meaning. “What does scorched earth mean?” I had some ideas swimming around in my head, but wanted to be certain. These were my thoughts. This is what I wrote down in my blank document before I did any additional research:

[1. to absolutely annihilate something, to burn it to the ground, leaving only a pile of ashes, like what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah. 2. what we do to others when we kill them with our words, hurt them so badly that they are too battered and bloodied to even mount any defense. 3. Examples: God went “scorched earth” on Sodom, or Jack went “scorched earth” on his ex-girlfriend.]

What I found upon researching was its literal meaning and a few other applications. We won’t go into all the history behind it; I suggest you do a little searching for yourself and discover the horrors of it all.

[1. Scorched earth is used to describe a military policy in which all the houses, crops, factories, buildings, valuable goods, roads and infrastructure, etc., are utterly destroyed, so that your enemy cannot use them. Anything of any value is obliterated! 2. the act of taking every legal method you have at your disposal to cause maximum disruption to those around you without regard for potential social repercussions. 3. At the end of a relationship and knowing how much you despise the person, you ensure that there is never any hope of getting back together by letting everyone know what that person did to you.]

I wondered…is there any semblance of this concept in this week’s Scripture reading? I wondered, but at the same time I didn’t wonder; I was certain there would be. You come to trust God in these matters after years of hearing His voice and knowing His faithfulness. His word never returns void. Then, I opened the Word of God and this is what I read:

“The Lord would not spare him; for then the anger of the Lord and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the Lord would blot out his name from under heaven.” (Deut. 29:20)

“The coming generation and the foreigner would say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which the Lord has laid on it: ‘The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and His wrath.’” (Deut. 29:22-23) Scorched earth… need I say more?

2022-09-16 | Deuteronomy 26-29 | Available!

Weekly Scriptures | Sermon Notes | Sermon Video

{August 15, 2022} I was dreaming and I was somehow aware I was dreaming. And in the dream there were two of me. I saw myself in the dream and I was also in the dream seeing myself, so I guess there were three of me. I was in heaven, and one of me was dead. He was the one sitting at the desk, and the other me was watching from a short distance. It was an ethereal scene with puffy white clouds. It was heaven, but all three of me knew it was allegorical, more like a movie version of heaven.

The me being observed was sitting at a desk being interviewed by an angelic being. The interview had only one exchange, and it was not a question, but rather a directive. It was a simple, yet profound request; “Describe your entire life with one word.” The two observers, the me in the dream watching and the me dreaming were completely aware of the magnitude of what he was asked to contemplate. We became excited and curious. What word would he choose? We truly didn’t know.

What we did know is that long ago I identified five core values that animated my life: virtue, integrity, justice, innovation, and influence. Each word had deep significant meaning; each, if unpacked, explained an essential element of what I held most dear. Those five words guided my character and commitment. Which word would he choose? Or, would he choose another? We were fascinated as we observed the dead me answer the challenge. I sat there at the desk. It was a sober moment, a watershed moment. Both onlookers pondered, as the dreaming me laying in bed, and the observing me who watched inside the dream, could feel our racing heart escalate. It pounded with such anticipation. He stared at his angelic Interrogator and without hesitation offered one word with complete confidence… “Available.” Available? And then I woke!

I sat straight up in bed, my beautiful bride in a deep restful sleep next to me, and I instantly wrestled with the idea. Available? Immediately, in a sober, self-reflective moment, I sought the Lord.

No, not three of us, not the man at the desk, and not the man observing from a short distance, but me—awake, and completely aware of the transaction that just occurred. I confessed, “O God, if you required this of me at this very moment, if I had to give You one word right now, I could not do it. I can’t describe my life with one word; I need two words Lord.”

I was disappointed in myself, but not in a self-condemning way. It was the type of disappointment that inspires a steadfast resolve to change something, the type that comes when you look in the mirror and admit the unadulterated truth. “Mostly available!” That’s what I confessed to the Lord that morning; that’s what I confessed to myself. “I love You Lord, and I love Your people, and I want to serve you with reckless abandon! Yet, their is still some small part of me that is holding onto something for myself.” God does not want most of me, even if it’s 99.99%. He wants all of me.

Something else happened that day. I made a decision that when I die, when I sit at that allegorical desk, alone, with no observers—just me, I will say to my Interrogator, “Available.” That’s the one word I can use to describe my life Lord. “I am…available!”

Let the journey begin!

2022-09-09 | Deuteronomy 21-25 | Seeker Friendly

Weekly Scriptures | Sermon Notes | Sermon Video

2022-09-10 | Deuteronomy 21-25 | Seeker FriendlyLook what the cat dragged in! Now, I don’t have a cat and maybe you don’t either, but we are all familiar with what that implies. Cats don’t drag into the house anything desirable. Maybe it’s a dead mangled mouse, or a decapitated lacerated lizard, or a limp bleeding bird. Either way it’s a disgusting scene and somebody’s got to clean up the bloody trail.

I guess the picture I wish to paint is that sometimes things are dragged into the house that simply shouldn’t be there. In this case, although it’s nasty, it’s nothing that can’t be remedied without a baby wipe and a little spray disinfectant. And if the bad habit prevails, a trip to the vet for some declawing action and your problem is likely resolved.

But, it gets much more complicated if the feline is instead a Christian, and the house is instead the house of the Lord, and the refuse dragged in is not an unfortunate rodent, reptile, or feathered creature. Christians drag all sorts of nasty refuse into the house of God, His holy sanctuary. They do so and plop it down right under their seats, and it sits there—marinating, fulminating. Many times it goes unnoticed; the feline human has crafted all sorts of diversions from their bloodied dead animals. It’s like someone spraying air freshener in a bathroom just after the most foul deposit. You can’t quite smell the worst of it, but you know something went wrong in there, horribly wrong. Nevertheless, exactly what took place remains hidden, for now. Yes, there are diversions, but if you care to sniff around, you’ll figure it out soon enough.

Other times it’s not so well hidden; sometimes there’s not even an attempt to hide the offending guest below the seat. Maybe this is the worst type of all. It’s the obvious sexual immorality, the idolatry, the slander, the gossip, the greed, the physical and chemical abuse, the unchecked desires, the consumerism, and the preoccupation with selfish gain. Need I continue?

Neither the bearer of such carcasses, nor those sitting nearby, nor the orator in the pulpit cares enough to do anything about it, to even say a word. “They are here aren’t they? And isn’t that good enough; isn’t that the goal; isn’t that what’s most important?” The seat is occupied and the more seats occupied the better job we’re doing filling seats! What does it matter what they dragged in and plopped down below the surface!

Look the other way; no empty seats is the objective here. It’s all about the numbers. It’s the seeker friendly church, and God needs us to compromise in order to find seekers. Evangelism is so much easier when you ignore the sin. So, don’t say a word, the refuse under the seat is fine, as long as they keep coming.

2022-09-02 | Deuteronomy 16-21 | Impersonating a Christian

Weekly Scriptures | Sermon Notes | Impact Discipleship Video

2022-09-02 | Deuteronomy 16-21 | Impersonating a ChristianIt can be very funny to watch a talented comedian do impersonations. They are skilled at capturing the essence of someone who most people would recognize. They accentuate their mannerisms, facial expressions, voice, body language and talk about subjects this famous person is known for. They truly capture the outer expression of a person’s character. It might be said that imitation is a great compliment. Of course, this is true if it is all done in clean fun, as the Bible warns us against course jesting.

.Yet, it is far from funny and rather offensive, even dangerous, when we find someone impersonating a Christian. What does that even look like? Too often, you cannot easily identify such “comedians” simply by their mannerisms, facial expressions, voice, body language or the subjects they talk about. Those all appear authentic. But it’s their inner character that ultimately exposes them. Out in the open they appear as Christians, but in the secret place of the heart they are just frauds.

I’d invite you to use a few key parameters and see if you can spot them. They are much more popular than you might think; they are actually everywhere, lurking just below the surface. They love their idols. You’ll notice what’s most important to them on the inside by what gains most of their time, attention, and resources. Another key giveaway is effort. It takes a lot of effort to be accomplished at anything; and you will recognize counterfeits by their cheep imitations; they simply never put God first, never give Him their best of anything. Something else is always more important than God. And we all know that actions speak louder than words, so if you keenly observe what people are doing, you will know. In this high tech world in which we live, virtual reality and social media have become major brands of entertainment. Strap on the headset and dive into a wondrous and expansive fake world.

Fabricate any persona you desire and propagate it on your channels, feeds and posts. People have become experts at fake! Practice your fake Christianity in that world and no one will care; no one gets hurt. But, when you take off the blinders and step back into reality, you will get exposed. The divinely inspired words of the Bible insure you will have no plausible deniability if you say one thing and do another. It’s there in plain sight, so you do not turn aside from God’s ways to the right or to the left. “Catch Me If You Can” was a movie released in 2002 in which the main character successfully performs all sorts of cons. He convinces everyone that he is someone else, someone he’s not. He is a great impersonator, an imposter. It seems like an exciting ride all along, but deep inside he is actually tormented by his true identity. In the end, all his pretense is exposed anyway. You can’t hide the truth forever! Is that you? Others may not have noticed yet, but deep down inside, you know! Are you impersonating a Christian?

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