Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Heart for the Hopeless – there is no hope without Jesus - Luke 15:4-7

A Heart for the Hopeless – there is no hope without Jesus
February 23, 2014
Luke 15:4-7

  • A sheep wandered away from the flock
  • It had no concept of the danger it was in.
  • It meandered down the narrow, almost invisible path that sheep make as they find their way across the field, down to the river
  • It was quiet here, there was shade from the sun, there was water and green grass
  • It lay down in the grass, slowly chewing its cud. Then its tormentor arrived
  • A fly kept buzzing around. The sheep shook its head, time and again, till the fly settled on its ear
  • The sheep could not scratch its ear, so it rolled on its side, trying to get rid of the pesky parasite
  • It its attempts to get rid of the fly, the sheep rolled over, onto its back
  • Horror of horrors!
  • Suddenly the sheep could not right itself
  • Sheep have a broad, flat back, and they are unable to rescue themselves from this position
  • The sheep started bleating for help
  • But it had wandered away from the flock and its shepherd
  • They couldn't hear the sheep!
  • As the sheep struggled, it grew gradually weaker and weaker
  • Its situation was hopeless. Death was only a matter of time.
  • Today we are going to talk about the rescue of this lost sheep

  • Luke 15:4-7

What is a lost sheep?
  • This sheep was lost, not in the sense that it did not know where it was, but in the sense that its situation was hopeless
  • This sheep had a place where it belonged
  • It had a flock to which it was attached, it had a shepherd who took care of it
  • It had food and shelter, everything that it needed
  • When it left its home and wandered away from the shepherd, suddenly it discovered life could be dangerous, when it was on its own
  • A sheep could die out there!
  • People are a lot like sheep
  • People start off all innocent and childlike
  • Just like Adam and Eve
  • God created them, gave them a protected environment
  • He took care of them and they had all that they could want
  • But then they wandered away from God
  • They went ahead and did their own thing
  • They discovered that the forbidden fruit looked good, tasted great, and it was totally desireable
  • Having wandered away from God, though, they were now fair game for the enemy
  • The enemy tricked them, and they rebelled against God
  • When they rebelled against God, they lost his protection and provision.
  • It was at this moment, that life became hopeless
  • There was no hope.
  • All they could now look forward to, was death
  • Just like our sheep.

What does that death look like?
  • This morning I was asking God about the sermon.
  • About the lost sheep
  • Here is what I wrote in my journal:
  • “My thoughts are not your thoughts. I look at things differently than you (Isa 55:8).
  • “In my presence there is fullness of joy evermore (Psa 16:1).
  • But for the lost there is only darkness and torment (Jude 1:13, Matt 8:12, 22:13), because they do not want me in their lives (John 3:19), they do not want to walk with me
  • “Many have said Yes, Yes, but do not do the things that I say (Matt 7:21-23, Luke 6:46-49)
  • “Their place will be outside the Kingdom, in darkness and pain
  • “But for those who do choose to walk with me, who have my heart and think like me, there will be joy and fulfillment for ever more.”
  • Time and time again in the Old Testament, God calls to his people, come back to me, why would you suffer, why don't you change your ways and repent
  • Jer 35:15
  • This is God's heart
  • God is seeking the lost sheep
  • God's heart is totally motivated by love, he IS love (1 John 4:16)
  • He has no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked (Ezek 33:11)
  • He has sent us into the harvest as his workers
  • Our task is to bring in those who have been sold for destruction, and offer them life instead
  • We are God's instruments in reaching our world
  • The mission field starts right outside our front door
  • 2 Cor 5:17-20
  • God has called us to be his agents in rescuing the lost sheep and bringing them home


  • In the coming weeks we will be exploring and getting fired up for the task God has called us to
  • We have been called to reach our friends, family and neighbors with the good news that life is not without hope, that no matter where we have been, or what we have done, God has not given up on us
  • He has called us to bring the lost sheep of Susanville, into the fold, into a saving relationship with Jesus
  • Let's have God's heart for those without hope 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Healing the Brokenhearted - Luke 4:18

Healing the Brokenhearted
February 9, 2013
Luke 4:18


  • How many of us have felt brokenhearted?
  • Perhaps it is because someone betrayed us
  • Perhaps it is as a result of something terrible that happened in life
  • Perhaps someone let us down, our expectations were not met
  • Perhaps someone close to us died, and we mourn their loss
  • Perhaps it is because we feel like we are nobody, no one respects us or seems to care about us
  • Our heart can be broken by many things
  • How can we be healed and our broken heart mended?


  • Luke 4:18 - The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
  • Greek suntribo  -  meaning bruise, break, broken to shivers, brokenhearted, break in pieces
  • 1) break, to break in pieces, shiver 
  • 2) to tread down - to put Satan under foot and (as a conqueror) trample on him -  to break down, crush -  to tear one's body and shatter one's strength
  • When our heart feels trampled upon, when we feel broken in pieces, when our strength is shattered, when we are bruised and the pain does not seem to go away, we are broken hearted
  • Sometimes our emotional hurts find their way out in our bodies
  • Many verses in Proverbs express the concept of psychosomatic illnesses
  • Doctors say that over 80% of our illnesses, while they may be real symptoms, have their origin in our thinking
  • So how do we deal with our thinking?


  • Rom 12:2 – be transformed by the renewing of your mind
  • We are used to thinking particular ways
  • We react in a predictable manner
  • The way we think has to be renewed so we think differently about things
  • Let's take an example
  • Say we have just been hurt by someone saying something about us, behind our back
  • Our natural reaction is to be angry at the person who did this, we tend to avoid being around them, and we feel sorry for ourselves.  We nurse the hurt and let it go round and round in our head
  • But our thinking must change
  • So, how do we do this?
  • 1. We replace negative thoughts with positive ones
  • So we drink in what God's word says about it
  • Psa 107:20 - He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.
  • Rom 10:17 - So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
  • Psa 147:3 - He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
  • We may feel this is impossible, but with God all things are impossible – Mark 10:27
  • 2 Cor 5:7 - For we walk by faith, not by sight:
  • 2. We respond to situations the Christian way, not led by our flesh
  • Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.
  • Matt 6:14-15 - For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
  • 3. We trust that God will work things out
  • Psa 34:18 - The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
  • Isa 41:10 - Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
  • Psa 55:22 - Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.


  • It hurts to have a broken or bruised heart
  • Sometimes it has many layers of hurt
  • But God says he will heal the brokenhearted
  • If you have a broken heart, tonight is your night to let it go!

Vision for the Future! - Luke 4:18

Vision for the future
February 9, 2014
Luke 4:18

  • Story about need for vision
  • "It started like so many evenings. Mom and Dad at home and Jimmy playing after dinner. Mom and Dad were absorbed with jobs and did not notice the time. It was a full moon and some of the light seeped through the windows. Then Mom glanced at the clock. "Jimmy, it's time to go to bed. Go up now and I'll come and settle you later." Unlike usual, Jimmy went straight upstairs to his room.
  • "An hour or so later his mother came up to check if all was well, and to her astonishment found that her son was staring quietly out of his window at the moonlit scenery. "What are you doing, Jimmy?" "I'm looking at the moon, Mommy." "Well, it's time to go to bed now."
  • "As one reluctant boy settled down, he said, "Mommy, you know one day I'm going to walk on the moon."
  • "Who could have known that the boy in whom the dream was planted that night would survive a near fatal motorbike crash which broke almost every bone in his body, and would bring to fruition this dream 32 years later when James Irwin stepped on the moon's surface, just one of the 12 representatives of the human race to have done so?" - Bill Hybels, Who You Are When No One's Looking, IVP, 1987, p. 35.
  • Today we are going to talk about vision
  • I am not bringing a new vision - this church was given its founding vision 35 years ago
  • God brought the laborers together who were to bring this vision to reality
  • Today we are going to look at where Grace Fellowship has been, and where it is going

  • 2700 years ago, during the reign of Hezekiah, the prophet Isaiah was given a word
  • It is recorded for us in Isa 61:1
  • This word was not for that time
  • Certain things had to happen before the word would start to be fulfilled
  • The Assyrian empire would come onto the world scene, and be gone
  • The Babylonian empire would rise under Nebuchadnezzar and fall to Darius, the founder of the Medo-Persian Empire
  • The Persian empire would come and then be gone, defeated by Alexander the Great
  • The Greek empire under Alexander conquered the whole of the known world, but when he died, it was divided to his four bickering generals
  • The Roman general Pompey took over Alexander's mantle and conquered most of the territory Alexander had subdued, including Palestine in 63 BC
  • Judea was now under Roman rule. Herod the Great was appointed by Rome to keep the Jews in check.
  •  It was in this atmosphere of a down-trodden nation under Roman rule, that Jesus grew up in, in Nazareth, a Roman garrison city
  • When Jesus turned 30, he was asked to read from the scroll of Isaiah
  • Luke 4:18 " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
  • This was a popular message at that time.
  • Crowds flocked to Jesus. He started to fulfill these words, by preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God, by healing the sick, and setting people free from demonic oppression
  • But he did not complete that task
  • He passed that task on to his followers
  • John 20:21 "as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."
  • Matt 28:19-20 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen"
  • Mark 16:15-20 "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned
  • "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover
  • "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen."
  • The vision Jesus gave the church was to go out, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and setting the prisoners free
  • This is our vision

  • Grace Fellowship was planted by Pastor Dom Contreras in 1979, under the name Canaan Rest
  • A word given to the church at that time said that this church would be a place for healing and restoration for this city of Susanville
  • Under the Clarksons, this church grew, and there was a sense of family as the Lord gave us space to grow and mature and develop
  • Healing rooms were established at the old church building on 5th and Cedar Streets
  • People were healed, the signs were following
  • Under Pastor Allen, the church moved to this building
  • The church grew in numbers, but turmoil came and our numbers declined rapidly
  • This is the point at which Dianne and I were invited to come to shepherd this church
  • The vision God gave me many years ago, was Luke 4:18, that God was calling me to continue in the vision Jesus passed on to the church, to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the sick, and to release the oppressed.
  • The repercussions at Grace Fellowship took some time to work their way through. 
  •  Attitudes and resentments had to be resolved.
  • However, we have now thankfully reached a place of stability
  • It is time for us to return to the vision God has for this church, to be "a place for healing and restoration for the city of Susanville"
  • This includes healing and deliverance, the signs following to confirm the preaching of the Word.

  • In your bulletin you have a summary of our finances over the last three years, since Dianne and I came to this church
  • Our finances and our attendance have stabilized
  • Tithing per attender has actually increased over each of the last three years for which we are very grateful
  • The church has been faithful in paying its tithes and undesignated missions giving to Foursquare
  • What is more important than the finances, is the work God has been doing
  • 17 people have been baptized in 2013. 9 people were filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues.
  • Grace Fellowship is represented in the formation committee for Teen Challenge, a Christian residential addiction recovery program
  • People have been set free from demonic oppression, often referred to us by other churches.
  • We continue to support Crossroads Ministries, our local mission to the homeless and needy of this town, financially, by our serving with bi-monthly Saturday dinners and by our weekly Friday morning Bible study
  • Our prayer team received training from our Teen Challenge prayer coordinators in Grass Valley. On the first Tuesday each month I pray with James Rorie the pastor of the Greenville AOG church for Teen Challenge, for our communities, and for our churches
  • Last month we started a monthly healing service on the second Sunday of the month, at 6pm
  • The very first service, we experienced Jesus' healing touch
  • This evening will be the second healing service, come along and be blessed
  • We have been moving back into the vision to which Jesus has called us

  • This year we plan to reach out more into the community
  • Part of this plan is to build connection with the community by providing a community dinner each month. This will start next month, on March 30. There are many people in our community who are going hungry, and we want to serve them as we are able.
  • After Easter we will initially run an Alpha course at church so we will all know what it is about. It is an exciting course to help us, our friends and family develop in their walk with Jesus.
  • In the Fall, we expect to run the course as an evangelism tool, to reach out to the people in our community
  • We will continue to have the monthly healing service, and will publicize this in the community
  • Bernice has been helping in prison ministry with Frank and Darlene on Main yard. I have just received clearance to CCC prison, and will be restarting the monthly Bible Study on Lassen yard, on Feb 24
  • So we are continuing with the vision.

  • Each of us has a part to play in following this vision.
  • We need people first of all, who are praying and supporting those on the front lines
  • We need everyone to be obedient to God's call to support the work he is doing, financially, through our tithes and offerings
  • But each of us also needs to be an army of one, to reach our friends and neighbors and bring them to church. If each of us encouraged just one friend to come to church, our church could double in size in a year!
  • But it is not about the numbers, it is about being a person whom God can use in bringing healing to a hurting community
  • That is our vision!