"The Power Of Friendship"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 42 11/18/2007

The Scribes and Sadducees of Jesus' day debated about which was the greatest commandment and they asked Jesus about it. He told them, first, to love the Lord, with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; and second was to love their neighbor as themselves. Matthew 22:37-38
People in the world are looking for real answers. They want to be part of something that works. Too much of what they've seen called "Christianity" hasn't worked.

We've disappointed them for one reason or another and they just don't believe our message. The number ONE reason people give for not being interested in receiving Christ is the lives of Christians they've known.

Unsaved people hear us "talk" about how God changes us but they don't see a real change in our lives. We have to "walk the talk." If there's no real change in us, if unsaved people look at us and believe they're just as good or even better than us, why would they want to change to be like us?

The first step in evangelism is living a changed life; living a "reconciled" life. The second step is becoming their friend.

That brings me to the importance of Friendship Evangelism. It begins with our having a deep and viable relationship with God. If your life is full and rich, it's just natural to tell others about what's so great about your life. But if it isn't, well, there's not much you can say. Start by enjoying your relationship with God.

Remember that "evangelism" is more than just leading someone to receive Christ as their Savior. The "good news" of Christianity is more than just starting with Christ. It's "finishing" with Christ.

The best evangelism takes place in a context of mutual trust and respect. It takes place between friends.
Christians need to care about the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to accept the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to love the people they hope to reach.
Christians need to establish meaningful relationships with the people they hope to reach.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

The best evangelism comes when you really love and care about someone. Demonstrate your love for others. Show them, don't just tell them.

How do you do that? Lots of ways:

Think about them.
Pray for them.
Look for opportunities to show His love for them.

Go out of your way to do good things for them.
Be the best friend they have ever had.
Let God's love pour through you to them.

Share God's truths with them. Keep in mind that we are God's "ambassadors”, as though God Himself was making His love appeal through us.

An ambassador speaks on behalf of the leader of his nation and makes an appeal to the one in opposition. Unsaved people are just like what we once were: lost, separated from God, in the dark, dead in sin.

God makes His appeal to them through us. We are conduits of Grace. This means you need to know what the Bible teaches.

Show them the way to Christ, by sharing with them how you started your relationship with Christ.

Once they begin their own relationship with Christ, stay close to them, like you would a newborn baby. A new Christian needs lots of guidance. Continue to be their friend. Remember what it was like when you were a new believer.
Help them become grounded in God's Word. Show them the kind of life God has for His children. Demonstrate it.

Pray for them day and night. Never give up.

Being a friend is something we can all do.

You and I can make the difference in a the lives of a lot of people during our lifetime. If every believer would be a friend to someone and gently lead them into a relationship with Christ ... what a world we would see!
God's eternal purpose is the redemption of man Ephesians 3:8-11.
God gave His only Son to die on our behalf Romans 5:8.
There is nothing dearer to the heart of God than the salvation of lost souls John 3:16.
Q. Who do we have the greatest influence over? A. Our relatives, friends and associates.
Friendship evangelism is the most effective and the simplest way to bring people to the Lord. There are husbands and wives who have been won to Christ by their spouses; there are children who have been won by their parents and perhaps grandchildren. Others have been won by their friends and associates on the job. Older Christians have a wonderful opportunity to have a positive influence on the generation behind them.

Friendship evangelism was practiced in New Testament times. In John 4:53, there is a story about a man whose son is healed and he and his whole house believed. Andrew followed Jesus and brought his brother Peter to Him. John 1:40-42
Philip introduced his friend Nathaniel to Jesus John 1:43-45
In Acts 10 we read how Cornelius sent for Peter to come and tell him words whereby he might be saved. When Peter arrived, Cornelius had gathered his friends and family together to hear what Peter had to say.
Paul and Silas were in prison for preaching Christ. an earthquake came causing the prison to be opened the prisoners were loosed from their chains and the doors to be opened.
The jailer was about to take his life. They said, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here. Then he invited them to his home. In a short time, this man became a believer in Christ and was baptized along with all his family Acts 16:22-31.
What about our friends and associates? In Mark 5:19, we read of a man who was healed and then wanted to go with Jesus. But, Jesus replied: Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.
The Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well, Jesus was there and He engaged her in conversation and she soon decided he was from God. She left her water pot and went back into the city and brought her friends to hear Jesus. Many became believers because of her influence. Although she was not a disciple at that time, she did believe that He was sent from God and she led others to believe upon Him John 4
When Jesus was going through Jericho there was a little short man named Zacchaeus who climbed up into a tree to get a better view.
Jesus saw him and said, Come down, for today I must stay at your house Luke 19:1-10
Zacchaeus was a tax collector an occupation that was despised among the Jews. I don't know what all Jesus said to him, but he made a friend of him very quickly and the man showed repentance and a desire to change his life.
Use every single opportunity to spread the gospel with everyone that comes my way. We need to be soul-conscious. Often we never get around to doing what we know we ought to do. We may wait until it is too late. I mean who knows whether that person is going to live another day? Who knows whether they will ever hear the Gospel?
True Christians are the light of the world and the salt of the earth and wherever they go they ought to touch every life with the Gospel. Studies have shown that the fastest growing churches are loving churches.
I believe that love is the root of friendship evangelism. Something in your heart has to say that you care about the other person. I wish we could love all people as we see them and have concern for where they will spend eternity.
We can hold the right doctrinal positions, come to every service of the church, take the Lord's Supper every Sunday, and give of our means, but if we do not learn to love it is not worth anything.


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 41 11/11/2007

Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go; to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3

My prayer is that our hearts will be rekindled with a new flame concerning the blessed hope of our Savior's return.

The apostles had a lot to say about our Lord's return.

Paul shows us the resurrection of the dead and the translation of the living saints at our Lord's return in I Corinthians 15.

Writing to the Thessalonians, Paul gives the great assurance of the coming of the Savior… We’ll be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Peter writes that there is a new world coming. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. II Peter 3:13

The apostle James believed in the second coming of the Lord. Be patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws near. James 5:8

Hebrews 10:35-38 certainly encourages and warns us not to cast away our confidence in His coming.

Paul calls the second coming the Blessed Hope. Looking for that BLESSED HOPE, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:13

John in his book of Revelation wrote 22 chapters having to do with salvation, signs of Christ's return and the actual, literal, personal, visible and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that the Lord is coming very soon.
We’ve only a little time left to present the truth that is able to convert souls. We are to present it in the utmost simplicity, even as Christ presented it, so people can understand it.

There are basically four themes between the covers of a Bible: Creation, Sin, The First Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Christ came the first time He took care of the sin problem; when He comes again He will take on sorrow and death.

I heard of an old preacher who was presenting a powerful sermon on the Second Coming, and a man who did not believe it rose to his feet and said, You can't get that out of the Bible. The preacher paused and said, You sir are right, you can't. It's in there and you can't get it out. It is in there to stay.

If we believe Jesus died and rose again, then those which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him I Thessalonians 4:14
Every time the gospel is preached, every time a person comes to know the Lord through the saving grace of the gospel, it reminds us of His return. In the gospel, we find the sin of the sinner forgiven and the salvation of the Lord bestowed.

His first coming was promised in Genesis 3:15 and that promise was kept by a real and literal advent. Now, friend, since God kept His first promise of the Savior's first advent, we can be assured that He will keep His second promise of the second advent. I WILL COME AGAIN John 14:3

There are several reasons why the Lord must return.

First, He must return because of the flood and because of Sodom and Gomorrah! If the Lord doesn’t return and punish sin in our world today, He’d need to apologize to the people of Noah's generation and the people of Lot's time.

Second, the Lord must keep faith with the dead saints. Those blessed saints who died in the Lord were promised a resurrection from the grave and life without end. He will come again to keep that promise and to keep faith with the saints.

Third, the Lord must secure the universe. Satan, sin and sorrow have marred the universe and this must be brought to an end. His return and the creation of a new world will take care of this: There is a new world coming.

Fourth, He is coming again because love cannot tolerate separation. Love cannot put up with separation, it cannot endure separation. The Lord longs to be with His people.

And fifth, He must return to finish what He started. What He began must be ended. Sin was taken care of at the cross. John 19:30 Now, He will return to change these vile bodies and give us a body like His. Philippians 3:21
For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
I Thessalonians 4:16,17

His coming will be PERSONAL. Verse 16 the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven

His coming will be SUDDEN. Be ready: for in such an hour as you think not the Son of man comes Matthew 24:44

A Scotch preacher asked some people, Do you think Jesus will come today? They said, No, we think not. The preacher replied, In an hour that you think not the Son of man comes.

When Noah was expecting the flood, he went ahead building the ark and preaching concerning the coming flood.

While he waited, he worked, and while he worked, he witnessed.

And that is how it should be with the church today.

We must occupy until He comes.

His coming will be VISIBLE. There will be no secret rapture.

Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kinds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so Amen. Revelation 1:7

What kind of people should we be?
II Peter 3:14 says, Wherefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be DILIGENT that you may be found of him in PEACE, WITHOUT SPOT, and BLAMELESS.

DILIGENT: It is a sad, tragic thought to know that many will be left behind because they haven’t made preparation for that day.

PEACE: Peace with God and peace with others. Every sin confessed, every sin forgiven, every sin washed by the blood.

WITHOUT SPOT: When we come to God through His Son, we are clothed with the robe of His righteousness just like in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and the robe for the marriage supper. (Matthew 22:11)

BLAMELESS: John, the beloved, was standing on the Isle of Patmos when Jesus came to him and said, Behold, I come quickly The old saint of God looked up longingly and cried, Even so come, Lord Jesus.

John Newton the converted slave-dealer, who wrote the universally loved hymn "Amazing Grace," wrote, if I ever reach heaven, I expect to find 3 wonders:
1. to meet some I had not thought to see there
2. to miss some I had thought to meet there
3. the greatest wonder of all, to find myself there!

And it is that greatest wonder that will cause all of God's children to fall on their knees in gratitude for God's amazing grace. But why wait, now is the time to begin expressing our gratitude.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Let each of us be there.

"Things That Hinder"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 40 11/04/2007

Galatians 5:13 “…… by love serve one another.”

I don’t know about your response to last week’s message regarding serving others as a way of life, but for me it was a definite YBH moment. Yes But How?

I think it would be good to know what hinders our serving God. Perhaps by knowing what not to do, we can discover what we should be doing.

Your first step is prayer…serious prayer. I realize that some of you may find it difficult to change, but don’t just reject this challenge for Christian service by saying, “I can’t do that”!

Psalms 51:10-13 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; uphold me with your free spirit. Then I’ll teach transgressors your ways; sinners shall be converted to you.”

You must take this before the Lord with an open and willing heart. Check to see if you have any attitudes or fears that we address this morning. If you do, deal with those things first, so your prayers will not be hindered.

10 hindrances to serving God:

1. Covetous Heart Desiring for yourself the gifts that God has given others. If we are jealous of others, we won’t be able to develop or be grateful for our own unique gifts.

Run from covetousness! I Corinthians 5:11 “Do not keep company with any man who is called a brother, if he is a fornicator, covetous, an idolater, a railer, a drunkard, or an extortioner; don’t even eat with them.”

I Corinthians 6:10 “No thief, or covetous, or drunkard, or revilers, or extortioner, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Ezekiel 33:31 “They hear my words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after what they covet.”

2. The “Baby Attitude” This person is set on serving God in a certain way, whether they are called or not. If they can’t do it their way, they won’t do it at all. This is
obviously an immature attitude, overflowing with selfishness, ego and pride.

I Corinthians 3:1 “I could not speak to you as to spiritual, but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.”

3. Blaming God Having the perception that if God wanted you to serve Him full time, He would have given you the gifts to do it. This is just a process for making excuses. Don’t blame God for your laziness and lack of creativity. Jesus has given us all gifts to use - not excuse.

Matthew 25:24-25 “Then he which had
received one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not plant. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: lo, here is what is yours.”

4. Unbelief The enemy has lied to many a saint - telling them that they are worthless, and have nothing of value to offer anyone. He has told you that you will fail at anything you attempt.

The sad part is that you believe it!
Matthew 13:58 “And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

Far too many of God’s children are being crippled by a lie. Each of us is infinitely valuable and precious to the Lord. We all have something to give. If you believe the scare tactics of the enemy the work will never get done.

5. Fear Of Man You care more what people think about you than what God thinks about you. So you settle for being complacent and have rendered yourself nearly useless to the Lord.

Proverbs 29:25 “The fear of man brings a snare: but whoso puts his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

6. Unwilling To Count The Cost Many are just too selfish and self-centered to give up their plans and their dreams. BUT this is a very real part of being a Christian.

If you need money to do what God directs, then you may have to get a job, or sell some of your possessions. Many people stop right at that point.

It doesn’t bother them to spend money on themselves, but paying tuition or air fare to go somewhere their flesh doesn’t really want to go, is just too much to ask.

Matthew 19:21-22 “Jesus said, go and sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful: for he had many possessions.”

7. Delayed Obedience Delayed obedience is flat out disobedience!

Many of you already know what God wants. You are just putting it off. Anything not done in faith is sin!

Romans 14:23 “For whatsoever is not of faith is sin.”

If you are not doing what you know the Lord wants you to do, skip the rest of this message and get right with God as quickly as you can.

8. The Normal Life Syndrome Deep inside you desire to live a “normal” life. Well, I think the disciples led normal Christian lives.

We should look to Jesus and the disciples as our example of “normality”.

Find something you believe in and give it all you’ve got! One hundred and ten percent…..24-7.

That is the example the scriptures give us. A “normal” life by our standards will not upset your family, or the devil for that matter. It is a life that won’t leave its mark on the world. It just kind of comes and goes…. Unnoticed, unproductive and uninspiring to all.

9. Unwilling Heart With their lips, this person says, “Lord please tell me what to do, but their heart says, “And then I’ll decide if I’m going to do it.”

Do not expect an answer from God if you have not decided before hand to obey whatever He asks of you.

I Kings 11:6 “And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD.”

10. The “Spiritual Stargazers” God probably won’t lay your whole future out before you as you pray about this. He may only show you one step at a time. If He tells you to “get some training”, don’t insist that He tell you exactly what you’ll be doing afterwards. He may not tell you that until you need to know.

Just purpose to take one obedient step after another as God reveals it to you.

Acts 1:11 “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”


Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 39 10/28/2007

John 3:16 says: for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son

Folks I need you to ask you a very important question. What is the most important word in this verse? I believe this is so important so profound that most everyone who reads this verse misses it.

Here it is are you ready? The most important word in this verse comes after the word "world." It says, “For God so loved the world “that”. God loved so much He did something about it. He actually manifested and demonstrated His love.

In his song, "Asleep in the Light," recording artist Keith Green raised the question: Do you see, do you see, All the people sinking down? Don't you care, don't you care, Are you going to let them drown? How can you be so numb, Not to care if they come? You close your eyes and pretend the job's done.

I have come to the sad realization that most of Christendom has turned inward. Yet we are to be outward. We suffer from selfishness. Keith Green goes on; Oh, bless me Lord, bless me Lord! You know that's all I ever hear. No one aches, no one hurts, No one even sheds a tear. But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds, And He cares for your needs. And you just lay back and keep soaking it in.

I fear we do not understand the power of Christ's words when He said we must die to live and give to gain.

Consider - honestly consider Communion. How much time do you spend following our Lord’s example. No I’m not talking about the Bread and Wine, I’m talking about the wash basin and the towel. We unfortunately focus only on what comforts us. Bottom line - God calls us to "other-serve."

In Luke 19:12-27 Jesus tells the parable of a nobleman - who has gone to a far country to receive his kingdom.

He gives his faithful servants authority over cities in that land. He commands them, in the wording of the KJV, to "occupy" it until he comes.

This is the church's mission - it is our mission "to occupy the land" for the coming King. The key to this "occupation" is us.

God has given us life, talents, abilities and gifts. He wants us to use them humbly for His Kingdom.

Our lives are to make a difference!

With His life, Christ shows us how to serve—how to bring the process of restoration to a fallen world and hope to broken lives. Christ has called us to a basic task—service.

As we come to Christ, we are given new names - sons of God, children of light. Christians, the redeemed, new creations, and more. We like these, they bring identity and joy.

There are other titles that because of our negative understanding we tend to draw away from them.

We are:
prisoners Ephesians 4:1,
bond slaves Philippians 1:1,
workmen II Timothy 2:15,
and servants I Timothy 4:6.
As individual servants we have different jobs to do, different offices to fill, a variety of roles to play, yet we are equal before one Master.

Do not seek a title; we are to be satisfied as to having a place together as brothers and sisters.

I Corinthians 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant to all, that I might gain the more.

One of our problems today is that we're running an old Adam improvement society. An unsanctified flesh that has never died to sin and risen to walk in newness of life is running down church aisles to rededicate, and God wouldn't use it even if you rededicated it a thousand times.
Not many wise, mighty, or noble have been called. Why? "That no flesh should glory in His presence."
I wonder how long it’s going to take us to learn that they that are in the flesh cannot please God. I don’t think there has ever been as much flesh glorying in His presence as today.
The flesh wants to be served!

Yet look here at Isaiah 58:10-11 if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then, the Lord will continually guide you

Being a servant is a lifestyle. It is the functioning of our lives.
In this, each of us is the same. However, we are unique persons, and our service is unique - reflecting our unique set of spiritual gifts, personality, abilities, interests, and experiences.

Service is the common assignment of all Christians. Each of us is sent out and placed in different, strategic positions of service. Full-time servants wherever we are deployed.

Our Savior commissions us to represent Him in a hurting world. We are to bring Christ into our world, into the "market-places" of life.

However, in order to be affective we must deal with our apathy. We normally think of apathy as laziness, indifference, or lethargy. But, it is not a neutral word—it is an active word.

Consider apathy's Greek roots, "Apatheia" means the opposite of compassion. When you are apathetic you are basically unfeeling, failing to identify with, failing to act. In your apathy you fail to put love into action.

The work of the church corporately - our work individually is to be a servant to all. This is our God given responsibility, but we cannot fulfill our responsibility without His empowerment.

We need to be anointed by the Holy Spirit, I’m not advocating weird hallucinations or some work of the flesh pretending to be the work of the Holy Spirit.
We need the real deal, it is the only way that we can magnify Jesus Christ.
If you don't believe that the Scriptures are God-breathed and that Christ was virgin born, that He died for our sins and rose from the grave and is coming again, you can't live it like it is.
We're living in a terrible time, in a day of beasts and seals and trumpets and four horsemen and the harlot on the beast and scorpions and dragons and a sea of glass mingled with fire and earthquakes and falling stars and Babylon and the bottomless pit and the lake of fire and Gog and Magog and 666 and the downfall of the devil and the great white city coming down.
However I am living in a Hopeful and Great "until."
What I mean by that is, I am living in Philippians 1:6 He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ
And He told me, Occupy till I come Luke 19:13
Even so, come, Lord Jesus….

Are you occupying?

Are you a servant of Jesus Christ?

If so, just how did you serve Him this week?

Jesus Christ was and is absolute. He said, He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad Matthew 12:30.
I urge you to understand that there is no such thing as an inactive church member. If you're not gathering, if you're not drawing people to Christ, you are driving them away from Christ; you are scattering. I ask you again - are you occupying?

“A Worm Such As I”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 38 9/30/2007

As I sat in my office on Thursday getting things ready for Sunday, I found myself fluctuating between a spirit of despair and a spirit of hopefulness.

As I try to follow the path God seems to be laying out for me, I feel that spirit of hopefulness and yet also a spirit of heaviness at the weight of the call.

I spent some time in John’s gospel where Jesus tried to help His disciples understand what was ahead. It was a bit dark because it was about death and dying. Not only Jesus’ death, but about our own need to die in order to find life. It is a powerful passage about the principle at work in our life and our faith journeys.

In the gospel of John, we are being prepared for glory by the teaching and actions of Jesus in the upper room as He demonstrated radical servant-hood by washing the disciples’ feet.

Earlier on, Jesus shared a parable about wheat, and the seeds that are buried in the ground so that it would bring much fruit. The significance of this parable for understanding Jesus’ death lies in the contrast between remaining as just a single grain of wheat and bearing fruit.

Except the seed die… Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and martyr during the 2nd World War, put it very starkly: “When Christ calls a man (or woman), Christ bids him (or her) come and die.”

For him the call was literal. He was imprisoned for participating in a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler and was executed just days before the end of the war. He understood the cost of discipleship and the cost of following Christ in a way most of us will never glimpse. He wrote about costly grace and the cost of following Christ in a way that disturbs and discomforts all of us in the modern day church.

But what does it mean for us to die in order to live? To lose our life in order to find it, to hate our life in order to keep it? It means to “let go” or “give up.”

An unconditional and totally humble surrender to God, a total acceptance of ourselves and of our situation as willed by God.
It means the renunciation of all the deluded images of ourselves and all the exaggerated estimates of our own capacities.

Friends, we each have to strip away the false ego, the false me, to discover who I really am. It has been said that the false ego is less visible than an ant’s footprint on a black stone in a dark night.

It’s about giving up control, about letting go of our own wills, our ambitions, our own desire to control our situations and the people around us, our relationships, our lives, the timing of when and how transitions happen. It’s about letting God be at work deep within us.

It’s a lifelong work of dying to ourselves and discovering the deep joy of freedom and new life as we do so, struggle by struggle, moment by moment, not always successfully but always in God’s grace.

I believe that the only way to even begin to understand how to do this letting go, is by living it out and working it out in community with those around us. We learn how to die to ourselves and live for Christ as we learn how to put ourselves second and the community first. This is the opposite of what comes naturally and is in many ways a battle within us.

It takes time for a heart to make this passage from egoism to love. It takes time and much purification and many deaths which bring new resurrections. To love, we must die continually to our own ideas, our own susceptibilities and our own comfort.

The path of love is woven with sacrifice.

And it all starts with baby steps, little steps taken one at a time.
Making the time to listen to God and ourselves and sit with God in prayer, with open hands and open hearts. At the same time, holding all that we have, lightly and loosely and allowing God to come to us in love and say, “That’s a lot you have in your hands. Here, let me take this one thing from you, so you can be more free in yourself, or, let me entrust this one thing into your care and your life, so you can live a deeper, more fulfilled life.”

In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus states that we cannot be His disciple unless: Christ is above all else in our lives We forsake ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him We forsake our material possessions
Whether self-denial, self-abandonment, self-sacrifice, or dying to self, One sure thing is the concept of self abandonment in Scripture. It is directly opposed to what the world promotes: self-fulfillment, self-esteem, self-worth, rights. Unfortunately, we the church of Jesus Christ have too often been influenced by the world’s self-esteem philosophy.
I am reminded of this when I notice that some hymns have been changed to make them less harsh. Take for example the hymn, At the Cross. When Isaac Watts penned those words in1885, he wrote, “Would He devote that sacred head, For such a worm as I?” The newer hymnals say, “For such a sinner as I? or such a one as I.”
Isaac Watts wrote the word “worm” because He understood his place before a Holy God.
What does is mean to forsake ourselves? Among other things it is, “the readiness to lay down my fixed notions, my objections and ‘what if’s’ or ‘but what about’s,’ my certainties about the rightness of what I have always done or thought or said. This must include my decisions: I will be meek. I will not sulk, I will not retaliate, I will not carry a grudge.”
One of the most precious gifts God has given believers is the sweet fellowship we should have with one another.
We are to be real with one another, holding each other accountable, sharing hurts and joys, giving grace to one another. However, many Christians lack these vital relationships with one another. Some Christians seem to have the attitude of: I’m not a bad person, I don’t kill, steal, or commit adultery.
But do we hold grudges? Do we feel resentful? Is bitterness eating us up? These indicate blatant disobedience to God. Is it any wonder we hate to risk “being real” when there is a possibility of messing up and having a Christian brother and sister never speak to us again?
The fact is that we are human. We don’t always use the best judgment. We don’t always present things in ways that are understood. But we must give grace to one another, forgive and restore relationships. If we cannot do this, the world will scoff, rightly so, at our hypocrisy.
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Colossians 3:12-14
Forgiveness is the unconditional laying down of the self. I Corinthians 6
This includes the desire for vindication, keeping accounts of evil, the right to an apology and bringing every thought under obedience to Christ. II Corinthians 10:5
Has some one wronged you? If he asks for forgiveness, forgive. If he doesn’t, forgive in a private transaction with God. Pray for him. Confess your anger, hatred, desire for revenge or self-pity.
“Bless the one who hurt you”. Ask for grace to treat him as if nothing has ever come between you and stand with Christ for him. Psalm 119:78
Wow, that’s a tall order! But to do anything less, is being disobedient to Christ and will only lead to our own misery and stagnation. Our obedience will not only benefit us, it will also benefit those who have hurt us. We need to give grace to one another.
None of us are perfect. We will have misunderstandings, we will have failures, we will mess up. But incredibly God can use all of that to help us grow, if we respond to them in a proper way. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17
In forsaking myself, I must also die to my emotions and feelings. That is not to deny they exist, they are God-given, but we must resist the temptation to be ruled by them.
I am reminded of a story that Corrie ten Boom related. Years after she was out of Nazi concentration camps, she was speaking to a large group. Afterward, a man came up to her, reached out for her hand, and asked her to forgive him. She recognized him as one of the guards in the concentration camp where she and her family had been sent because they had hidden Jews in their home – where her sister had died. Corrie confessed that the last thing she wanted to do was grasp that man’s hand. She felt contempt and bitterness. But this Godly woman also knew Jesus’ command to forgive, not if we feel like it, not when we are ready, but to forgive, period. Corrie ten Boom reached out in faith and took that former Nazi guard’s hand. With that act of obedience, the freedom came.
I am trying to put into practice the Biblical steps of reacting obediently when someone has hurt or misunderstood me. It is never easy, but it is right and it is freeing. I have no misconceptions about myself, I am a worm indeed. I know what I am without a Savior.
Praise God this worm has been redeemed by the Grace of God!

"Watch Your Mouth"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 36 9/16/2007

Our lesson today is from James 3:1-12. No one escapes the challenge of James today.
Not many of you should presume to be teachers my brothers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example, although they are so large and driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder, wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire and as itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil full of deadly poison. With the tongue, we praise our Lord and father and with it we curse man who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth comes praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers can a fig tree bear olives or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Watch your mouth, preacher. Lord, what an awful thing to be standing here and say something that would cause the church to divert off of the path or would cause trouble or strife.
Let's say that I had a package for you today.
But, before you open the package I will describe the contents and then after I describe the contents you can then determine whether or not you would want to open it.
This is what is in the package:
It has the power of life and death. It gets out of control very easily. It causes things around us to get out of control. It's linked to hell itself. It creates many problems.
What's in this package cannot be tamed, it can be contained. It's evil by nature.
It can deliver death-dealing poison. It can seem peaceful and sweet one moment, but bitter and harmful the next moment.
If I were to give you that package and told you all the things that were in it, would you open it? I think most of us wouldn't.
And yet, every one of those descriptions James uses to teach about the powerful and deadly nature of our tongue, of what we say, of how we speak.
Now I want you to consider this next question carefully and honestly. Do you think that you could go 24 hours, just one day, without saying any unkind words to or about anybody?
If you can't say yes to this question, then may have a problem. If a person can’t go 24 hours without a cigarette, we’d say they were addicted to nicotine, if they can't go 24 hours without a drink of alcohol, we’d say they are addicted to alcohol. So if we can't go 24 hours without speaking an unkind word to or about anybody, we have lost control of the power of our speech.
Think about it for a minute. In your own experience, unless you or someone that you dearly love has been subjected to terrible physical violence, the chances are the worse pains that you have ever suffered have come from cruel words, anger, sarcasm, public / private humiliation, hurtful nicknames, betrayal of secrets, rumors and malicious gossip.
The golden rule ought to apply as much to what we say as to what we do unto others.
Parent or child we are all guilty of saying hurtful things. One of my grandchildren said, “I hate you!” when being disciplined. A few minutes later they were saying, I love you. They were too young to know… but what about us parents. Are we saying things that encourage or discourage, build up or tear down?
According to James a mature Christian is one who is growing (it is a process), in the ability to control what they say.
To emphasize the tongue’s power James uses 3 analogies. First, he talks about a bridle in the mouth of a horse, a rudder to a large ship and the analogy of a spark to a forest fire.
The first thing he says is that the tongue wields great power and so it ought to be controlled.
Many times we irresponsibly use words because we think that the damage inflicted is less than hitting someone. However, the scripture in the Old Testament refers to words as arrows.
You may wonder, why an arrow?
Because if a person takes a sword out of the sheath and goes to kill somebody and the person begs for mercy, it can be returned. But an arrow, once shot, can't be returned.
Those words are weapons.
They are powerful.
They can wound and kill and Jesus said, "You have heard it said to you, that you shall not commit murder, but I say to you that if you say to your brother, you fool. You are libel to hell fire."
Jesus taught that we will be judged for every word we speak.
James describes the damage that the tongue can inflict by using the illustration of a forest fire, ignited by a tiny spark.
I see the tongue like an unattended campfire in a forest. The forest is beautiful and peaceful. Just like many of us appear from day to day. But let the winds of irritation blow on that campfire and it throws off sparks igniting near by fuels. Have you ever heard the terms, "walking on eggshells” or “fighting words?"
Do you know what I am talking about?
James then says that no one can tame the tongue. This again shows how much we need God’s help in this area.

The Psalmist said it well, "Set a guard O Lord over my lips, a sentry at the door of my mouth."
James also describes the tongue as being poisonous.
Words can inject an evil or an unhealthy substance into the life of another person. James says, "in one moment we can be blessing and praising God, and in the next moment we can be cursing."
We have two natures. Again, showing our need to seek the Lord’s strength and wisdom in this area.
It has been well said, "Nobody ever gossips about other peoples secret virtues."
"Don't pass on a bad report." It just doesn't help anybody.
In Leviticus 19, two verses before love your neighbor as yourself is verse 16 You shall not go about as a tale bearer among your people. Malicious falsehood destroys people.
You see a penitent thief can return money, but a malicious slanderer can never, ever undo damage. Which is why it is often referred to as character assassination. We actually kill people when we pass along that which is not true.
Let's end on a positive note and listen to the apostle Paul as he speaks about the power of words.
Just listen to this carefully. Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen.

“Do Something About It”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 37 9/23/2007

They hear your words but they will not do them. Ezekiel 33:31
But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:22

The prophet Ezekiel ministered in an evil time. God called him to speak to a generation that sort of listened to his messages. The people said he had a pleasant voice and were quick to tell others about his preaching, however, they did nothing about his messages.

Ezekiel was not the only man of God whose sermons fell on unresponsive ears. God warned Isaiah that his message would blink eyes and shut ears and harden hearts.

James warns against the same evil. Unfortunately, we don’t quote the whole verse. We say, “Be doers of the word and not hearers only”, and there we stop. But it reads further, “deceiving yourselves”.

Hearing and not doing, we delude ourselves.

Jesus constantly warned against doing nothing about it.
· Everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does not do them, is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
· If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.
· You are my friends if you do what I command you.
· Why do you call me Lord, Lord and don't do the things I say?
· Consider, to him that knows the good he ought to do and fails to do it, it is sin.

We are not much different than those in Ezekiel's day. We listen to preachers, invite others to hear them, congratulate them with that very doubtful compliment, "I enjoyed your sermon", but we do nothing about it. Let it never be forgotten that, although we may do nothing about the Word we hear, the Word will do something to us. Truth heard and not acted upon is a dangerous thing.

Sadly our response to the Word is like the way James Bond 007 orders his martinis - stirred but not shaken.

We have had our ears tickled and our emotions thrilled, but as with any stimulant the doses have to be increased and after awhile there is little if any effect.

An alarm clock that very nearly blows us out of bed on the first morning may eventually fail to arouse us. Something like that happens to those who hear and take no action on it.

The person who habitually hears the Word of God and does nothing about it is the greatest of fools, for he fools himself.

We have evolved into a generation of spectators. We sit by the thousands at sporting events, we sit by the hundreds at movies or concerts. We sit for hours watching television programs. Then on Sunday once again we sit as spectators before whom the minister is expected to perform. Many have no intention of doing anything about the sermon. Spectators, not participants.

It is very easy to hear the Word and do nothing about it. Preaching can be heard at church, on the radio or TV, even on the internet. Have sermons become so commonplace that we take the truth for granted?

God forbid that we should go out of our churches merely comparing one minister to another; like listeners in Ezekiel's day, complimenting the messenger without conforming to the message. Enjoying it when God meant to prick our consciences. The task of the preacher is "to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable".

Consider that in the book of Ephesians alone, there are over 30 things to put on or put off.Ephesians 4 and 5
Put away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor.
Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands giving to those in need.
Let no corrupt communication come out of your mouth, speak only edifying words.
Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you.
Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

It is too often the case that the person who shouts "amen" through I Corinthians 15, (resurrection chapter), shuts their mouth as tightly as their pocketbook on I Corinthians 16 (collection chapter).

It is not the Word hidden in the head, but in the heart that keeps us from sin.
You can have a head full of Scripture and a heart full of sin!

Understand…..you can backslide with a Bible under your arm
We are certainly not suffering from a lack of sermons.
Maybe we have too many sermons.

There is enough of the Word of God stored in the heads of Christians, that if it were obeyed, we’d set Canada on fire. But hearing it isn’t enough! Something has to be done about the Word.

It is true, gloriously true, that God's Word will not return to Him void. Ezekiel was assured that although the people would not heed his message, they would know that a prophet had been among them.

The preacher may well have a responsibility to preach the Word, but his hearers have a responsibility to heed it.

There is another verse about the Word not profiting Israel long ago, "not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." We may have faith, but is it OBEDIENT faith? By faith Abraham OBEYED.

Are you obedient to the truth you know?
Let me ask you a few pointed questions from the book of James.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Have you done anything about that lately?
You do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Have your prayers been unanswered because of sin?
Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
Have you done anything about your tongue or temper?
Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up.
Have you been proud? We are too often preoccupied with saving face!
Speak not evil one of another, brethren. Confess your faults one to another, pray one for another, so you may be healed.
Are you critical? Is there someone to whom you owe an apology?

These are but a few verses. Consider what would happen if the Church did something about one little book, the book of James! God help us to do something about it, lest we hear God's words and do them not, deceiving ourselves.

Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:17

"Unchurched - Unreachable?"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 35 9/02/2007

Unchurched Ray and Debra are a lot like many other Canadians. Fighting traffic, paying rent or mortgages, desperately trying to scratch out a living in today’s uncertain economy. They are "nice" people but they probably haven’t been to a church for a few years, except to attend weddings and funerals. They are the unchurched. As Christians, we are expected, sometime, somehow, somewhere to share our faith with people like Ray and Debra.

If Jesus lives inside us, we have little choice.

The apostle Paul shows us to be part of God’s plan. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation II Corinthians 5:17-19

God has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

Committed: (def) to give in trust or charge; consign. to entrust, esp. for safekeeping;

It is hard to think of a bigger incentive to share our faith with the unchurched. God has reconciled the world in Christ, But the task of proclaiming that reconciliation goes to us!
Paul gives our spiritual job description: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.… II Corinthians 5:20

We are to yield to God, allowing him to make his appeal to this hurting world through us. He usually does that in the circle of influence He plants us in. It is a humbling assignment!
The skeptic may blow off your doctrine or argue your theology, but he/she cannot honestly ignore the fact that your life has been changed. You walking out your new life in Christ is a powerful undeniable life altering message!

The atheist may stop his ears to the words of a preacher or the pleadings of an evangelist, but he is somehow attracted to the human-interest story of how you found peace within. The good-news according to you, is one of the best ways to reach the lost. Friendship evangelism works long after the hit and run evangelists have gone.

Do you remember when you gave your heart to Christ? You were I am sure filled with enthusiasm and joy, wanting to share it with those close to you.

We are best able to influence those closest to us, mainly because we have more credibility than with complete strangers. Share your life enthusiastically, and consistently. The results are not up to you, but the presentation is! You may not win everyone you share with over to the Lord’s side, and that is ok. Remember, Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One responded, one didn’t. Even Paul, perhaps the greatest missionary in history, didn’t always convince the skeptics. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, We want to hear you again on this subject Acts 17:32

Usually it is a bad personal experience that turns unchurched Ray and Debra off of Christianity. An abusive minister, a harsh legalistic stance, or worse yet, a conflict with someone in the church. Here is where your personal example comes into play.

Most people you share your faith with will want the gospel according to you. You don’t even need to know how to read and write to be an effective ambassador for Christ. It is how you live your Christian life as employees, neighbors and family members - those are your credentials. II Corinthians 3:3

People open up to people they know. Real-life events can bring great opportunities for Christian witness. As Peter wrote, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have I Peter 3:15

The best evangelism is intimate, up-close and one-on-one. Perhaps Jane the receptionist will tearfully confide to you that her husband is leaving her for another woman. Or maybe Mark your neighbor leaning over the fence breaks the news that his father has prostate cancer. These are the real issues of life. They are opportunities to reflect Jesus. WWJHMD

Verbalize your feelings. Make your communication heart-to-heart as well as head-to-head. Tell others you will pray for them. In some situations, it may be appropriate to pray then and there, asking God for wisdom, healing, strength, faith or peace. You may want to share a favorite verse. You may share a personal experience but be careful not to “one-up” them.
As much as possible use the Word. There is healing in God’s Word. Scripture can calm people. Sometimes that’s all that people in crisis need.

· Be discerning. Go only as deep as the person wants you to go. Unchurched people are not really expecting you to be a theologian. Tell them in your own words what God has shown you.

· Be Christ-like. Be the kind of person people can respect and confide in. Be known for going the extra mile at work and elsewhere. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be consistently open, honest and concerned.

· Be bold. Don’t be afraid to tell people: you’ll be praying for them. Offer to pray with them right then and there.

· Be Real. Don’t pretend to know what they are going through or feeling. Above all don’t treat people like some project - become their friend, become involved in their life.

· Follow up. This shows you really are interested. A card or a gift is a concrete way of letting people know you care. Our world is starving for spiritual connection. With God’s help we can be ambassadors of healing.

John 4:6-26 Jesus deals with the Samaritan women at Jacob’s well. His message “whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” The woman said, Sir, give me this water…
John 4:28-30 The woman then leaves her waterpot, runs into the city, inviting people to come, see a man, which told her all things that she ever did: is not this the Christ?... And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.
John 4:39-42 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of your words: for we have heard [him] ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.

"Faith 101"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 34 8/25/2007

What is Faith?
It is by faith that you are saved; justified; cleansed!
Faith is how you please God.
The just shall live by faith! Habakkuk. 2:1-5, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:10-11, Hebrews 10;38

Faith brings the Victory! I John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.
An important point, though, is that faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed.


According to Webster’s Dictionary faith is "an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence."

KJ Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

NIV Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

RSV, NASB Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Literally the Greek of Hebrews 11:1 says, Now faith is the reality of things being hoped for, the proof of things not being seen.


The importance of faith. Ephesians 6:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, by which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. We are in a spiritual conflict.

Matthew 14:28-32 Peter said, Lord, if it is you, call me come to you on the water. Jesus said, Come. And when Peter came out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind blowing, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, and caught him, saying O you of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the ship, the wind ceased.

· Peter did the impossible thing. He walked on the water
· Peter did the conceivable thing. His surroundings got him
· Peter did the natural thing. He got scared
· Peter did the expected thing. He began to sink
· Peter did the right thing. He called on the Lord
· Peter again did the impossible! He walked on the water


John 11:21-44 Martha said Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever you will ask of God, God will give it. Jesus said to her, your brother shall rise again. Martha said, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. LIMITED Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? She said to him, yes, Lord: I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come to the world FUNDEMENTAL Jesus asked where they had laid him? They said, Lord, come and see. The grave was a cave and a stone had been laid across it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. They took away the stone [from the place] where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me...Jesus cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said, Loose him and let him go. UNLIMITED

The hall of faith. Hebrews 11:32-39 And what more can we say? for time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthae; David and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who by faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, sawn in half, tempted, and slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; Of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, mountains, dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

Come to the Hall of faith often, linger long and strengthen your faith. We are to worship by faith, walk by faith, live by faith, work by faith, govern by faith, follow by faith, fight by faith, conquer by faith, close the mouths of lions by faith, walk through the fire by faith and suffer if need be by faith!


By faith God’s people are patient in their sufferings, conquer in battle, made strong out of weakness and were victorious in defeat. They were more than conquerors.

FAITH IS TAKING GOD AT HIS WORD ASKING NO QUESTIONS Faith is knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God.

You cannot be saved without faith.
You cannot live victoriously without faith.
You cannot please God without faith.
You cannot have peace without faith.
You cannot have joy without faith.
You cannot be justified without faith.

Faith that is backed up by prayer and fasting is BIG faith!

Hebrews 12:2 Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…. Faith is the substance (title deed) of things hoped for. Your faith is your title deed to eternal life.

Mark 10:46-52 As Jesus left Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus, he began to cry out, Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me. And many told him to be quiet: but he cried out even louder, son of David, have mercy on me. Jesus stopped and asked for him. They called out to the blind man, saying, Be of good comfort, rise; Jesus is asking for you. And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. Jesus asked, What do you want of me? The blind man said, Lord, that I might receive my sight. Jesus replied, Go your way; your faith has made you whole. And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus.

I love the fact that Bartimaeus didn't allow the people to stop him from receiving what he wanted from Jesus. Even though they shouted at him to be quiet. Don’t let anyone stop you from receiving what you want or need from the Lord. Cast aside any doubt or fear that may be keeping you from your blessing and go get it. Jesus is ready and willing to give to people that have this kind of faith.

I just shake my head when I see how the people who tried to shut him up did an about face. Jesus calls for him. And all of a sudden the people who tried to shut him up, said, “Be of good cheer, rise, He is calling you.”

If we’d be as convinced as Bartimaeus was that Jesus was the answer we too would have great joy! When people seek God in that way they will find Him without exception.

Bartimaeus threw aside his garment, got up and went to Jesus. He didn’t let some kind of beggars coat slow down his movement to Jesus.

The beggars coat is made of self-centeredness. Across the shoulders and down the arms there was a hem of pride sown in. One pocket is lined with envy, the other jealousy. They are filled with self-pity. These coats need to be cast off.

How many today permit the smallest thing to hinder them in prayer and in obeying God! Blessed is the man that will not tolerate one thing hindering him from getting to God and getting answers to prayers that are in harmony with the promises and gospel provision.

Perhaps it is time for you to cast off your beggars garment.

"One Happy Dude"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 33 8/11/2007

I am going to show you something incredible, a marvelous glorious mystery…. God desires to over-answer prayer.

We are not just given power to overcome our enemies... but according to Judges 10:9-33 we are given power to subdue the enemy of our soul!

In this account of the Israelites they had asked for one victory in one battle... yet God gave them courage and the direction to completely overthrow the enemy. They subdued them from that time on!

God has so much more for you then victory in one battle... He wants you to subdue your enemy so you’ll have the total victory!

I’ve searched the Word and discovered that God always over answers the prayers of His children!

Not merely a conqueror through Christ.... but according to
Romans 8:37 .. we are more than conquerors through him

Not merely have joy... but according to I Peter 1:8 we can rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

Not a recipient of mere promises... but according to II Peter 1:4 ... we are given exceeding great and precious promises

Not a recipient of a measure of grace ... but according to
I Timothy 1:14 grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love.

Not serving a limited god .. but according to Ephesians 3:20... He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask

We are not just given a life .... but according to John 10:10 life and that more abundantly.
Get personal for a minute, take a look at your life…

You asked God for a clean heart. He gave you a new one! He gave you a heart that hungers after Him, a heart that thirsts after Jesus! He gave you eyes to see and ears to hear ...

You asked for forgiveness. He not only forgave He wiped out the record! And if that wasn’t enough He put a hatred for sin in you, flooding your soul with hope and confidence in Jesus!

Since I’ve come to JESUS I am One Happy Dude!

David said, Psalms 130:7 Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy and with him is plenteous redemption

Even when we are wayward at times, Isaiah 55:7 .. return to the LORD and He will have mercy, He will abundantly pardon.

Matthew 7:11 says, If you being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Luke 23:42 The thief on the cross said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Not only did Jesus agree to do so He said this day shall you be with Me in paradise. Talk about over answering... I’ll remember you all right, cause I’m taken you with me!”

One of my favorites is in Acts 3:2 A certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, and laid daily at the temple gate called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked alms. He simply wanted a little bit of money!

And Peter, fastening his eyes on him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed to them, expecting to receive some-thing from them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted [him] up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

This beggar would have settled for some money, instead he got what money could not buy!

Acts 10:22 tells us of Cornelius desired to hear words of God. He wanted to hear the gospel.... What he got was more than a message! Acts 10:44-45 While Peter was speaking these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word..... God couldn’t wait to bless His people!

Ephesians 3:20 God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. Not only is God able to answer prayer, He wants to answer according to His infinite riches in glory!

I Corinthians 2:9-10 Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.....

In the Old Testament the Lord had spoken to Ahaz saying ask for a sign from Me, his response may sound holy, “I won’t tempt God!” but, it angered God... He knew Ahaz had lost his faith long before this incident.

Basically Ahaz guy didn’t want his faith tested....

How long before you stand on God’s word?
Why are you so afraid to trust God?
When will you learn that God is the great I AM?
When will you believe that God has all that you’ll ever need?

Perhaps the greatest over answer of prayer is, Behold, a virgin shall conceive a son and shall call his name Immanuel. The people had cried out for a deliverer (some man). Well this was no ordinary man - it was none other than Immanuel Himself

Hebrews 11:6 he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

Pray, believing that God delights to answer you in His own way and time, trust Him for your financial situation, trust Him for those unsaved loved ones, trust Him for that healing!

He delights in over answering: James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, Who gives to all men liberally....

I remind you that if you abide in Jesus and His words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you!

I Timothy 6:17... trust in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy May we ask of the Lord things that are worthy of His wealth and His ability to give!

II Chronicles 16:9a For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of [them] whose heart [is] perfect toward him.

Speak of His willingness to over answer our prayers….When you speak of His generosity toward you, you are telling others what He can do for them.

Jesus said to him, Go home to your friends and tell them how great things the Lord has done for you and how He has had compassion on you… And he departed and began to testify of the great things Jesus had done for him: and all the people did marvel.

"At Your Front Door"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 32 8/05/2007

While in Penticton last week, I drove past a church sign.
Although I had read it before, it struck me different this time. It read: “High Energy Contemporary Service 9:30 - Classic Service 10:45”. Folks I was embarrassed and blushed to think that we’ve become so self centered. Our services are to be about God, not us! It is about what pleases Him not me!

As we said last week, it should all be about reflecting Jesus to a lost and hurting world. Folks, perhaps we have been praying for a revival but for all the wrong reasons. Do you really think that God’s Son would even consider not going to the Synagogue because the praise and worship wasn’t “high energy” or that He would ask where the hymn books were? He went there to praise and glorify His Heavenly Father.

Our self interests, our compromises have distorted what a true revival is. True revival occurs when the walls and gates guarding God's House are restored. Those walls include the doors of every Christian home. Let me explain.

When Nehemiah and 43,000 other Jewish patriots returned to Jerusalem, they found the city lying in total ruin. The walls were torn down and the gates removed, so the inhabitants had no protection from their enemies.

These enemies had been given total dominion by Israel's disobedience to God's Word. Nehemiah wrote, “Because of our sins: our enemies have dominion over our bodies and over our cattle, we are in great distress.” Nehemiah 9:37

Could iniquity in God's house be spreading poison throughout the body of Christ. I believe our compromises has brought down the protective gates leaving us open to Satan's power.

Nehemiah represents God's plan of restoration. He knew there had to be a protective wall of truth around God's people.

Now, Nehemiah didn’t strut into the wall-less city calling for a revival of supernatural manifestations? No Way!

The only manifestations seen after Nehemiah's arrival were men and women with picks and shovels in their hands.

They were doing the hard work of rebuilding the city's walls and restoring its gates. And Nehemiah led it all.

Restoration began the moment Nehemiah took on the Lord's burden over the ruin in His house. What exactly is your burden?

What Nehemiah did next should be an indication as to what we should do. “It came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.” verse 4

This is the beginning of true revival - when Godly people like Nehemiah take on the Lord's burden for His church in a lost world, by fasting, praying and pleading with God to begin the rebuilding of the walls and gates of protection. Then, they need to appoint to every house, gatekeepers and watchmen.

Walls and gates are no good without gatekeepers who know who can or can't be allowed in.

These gatekeepers were not strictly priests. They were laypeople - musicians, porters and people from all walks of life.
And they were instructed: “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun be hot; and while they stand by, let them shut the doors and bar them.” verse 3

God was saying, “My house is going to be a place of light, with no darkness allowed in”.

As gatekeepers, we are to guard the doors of God's house in humility - through fasting, prayer and loving concern.

Nehemiah Said, “Appoint Watches of the Inhabitants of Jerusalem, Every One in His Watch, and Every One to Be Over Against His House.” Nehemiah 7:3

According to Nehemiah, guardians were to be appointed not just to the gates of the city, but to every home as well.

In short, the heads of every household were responsible for everything that came into their home.

God's message here is crystal clear: Fathers and mothers, you are charged to guard your home from every demonic enemy that tries to enter. This means you are responsible for every book, every record, every friend your child brings through the door. You are also responsible for every influence within your home, whether it's TV, videos, Internet or people.

Only through daily submission to God’s will, we have power against Satan as guardians over our homes.
“Submit yourselves to God, resist the devil and he shall flee from you.”

I want to encourage all single parents: God knows your struggle to be both a father and a mother to your children. Yet His charge to you remains the same: You are the appointed guardian over your house.

The Lord promises to provide all grace and strength to you, if you’ll stand up for His word.

One day we're all going to stand before the judgment seat and answer to the Lord for how we raised our children. None of us will be able to offer excuses or blame anyone else.

We must ask ourselves;
Have we brought up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord?

Have we modeled for them a life of love and reverence for God?

Are you a parent who hurts because your grown son or daughter no longer serves the Lord.

Are you heartbroken because your youngster is hooked on drugs or alcohol.

Have you seen your once-tender child grow bitter, hard and lost.

You can make up in prayer today what you might have missed in past years.
You can still bathe your loved one in prayer and call down Holy Ghost conviction on him/her to bring them to the cross.

I must warn you, however - if your kids are backslidden or unsaved, you must not preach at them. Simply pray for them.
You can't nag anyone into the kingdom of heaven.

There is no real power in raising your voice, because all power rests with the Holy Spirit.

Be empowered by your respect for God's word.

When someone walks through your front door, they should sense God's authority in your home right away, without a word being mentioned.

Scripture makes it very clear that if you raise your children on the authority of God's Word, they won't depart from that training in their later years. They may veer away from it for a while, even for years - but ultimately it will bring them back to truth.

The Bible offers a word of hope to all parents who grieve over a backslidden child.

These promises are for hungering, thirsting parents - who drink in God's Word daily, praying and asking the Spirit to pour out on them His power and His presence.

If this describes you, then plead God's promises. Claim them as yours and hold the Lord to them in your intercession.

Then bathe your family in prayer - and watch the enemy flee.

"Celebrate Jesus"

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 31 07/29/2007

John 17:1-9, 18-21 Jesus looked toward heaven and prayed: Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted Him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began… I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified... My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

You can tell a lot about a person by listening to their prayers:
Lord, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers--or even like this tax collector....
Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing...
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom...
God bless mommy and daddy and please don't let him hurt me again...
Dear God, why did you let this happen to me? You know I've been good...
Oh God, let somebody else get caught or blind the eyes of that policeman...
Dear God if you get me out of this mess I'll never miss church again...
It's not fair God, I’ve worked hard, never disobeying your law, then he comes home after blowing his inheritance on prostitutes and you throw a party
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!

You can tell a lot about a person by listening to their prayers.

In the late 1970's an informal prayer group was started at the White House. Arthur Burns, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, attended even though he was Jewish and the group was predominantly Christian. No one, among the leadership knew quite how to treat Burns or how to involve him in prayer. While many of the members took turns closing the meeting with prayer, Burns was never asked. However, one week, a newcomer asked Burns to close the meeting with prayer. The regular members were surprised. But Burns, without missing a beat, reached out and the participants held hands and bowed their heads. Burns prayed: Lord, I pray that you would bring Jews to know Jesus Christ. I pray that you would bring Muslims to know Jesus Christ. Finally, Lord, I pray that you would bring Christians to know Jesus Christ. Amen.

You can tell a lot about a person by listening to their prayers...

Today we read the account of Jesus praying. It is the longest recorded prayer that scriptures attribute to Jesus

It is a beautiful prayer but notice how it ends that the world may believe that you sent me. Jesus is not seeking to bring glory to himself. This is not a prayer of self-justification - this is a prayer that reflects His passion that the whole world will be brought to a saving knowledge of the Father's love.

And that is why we are here today. We are here that the world may believe Jesus is the Christ and offers the only HOPE to a world that is in desperate need.

We are gathered here today filled with hope - eternal hope - because we believe that Jesus is the answer for the world today. Listen to him pray: this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. John 17:3

The promise of eternal life is not simply something that we claim when we die it starts right here, right NOW. Eternal life is a life filled with hope, it is a life marked by love, joy and peace; it is a life that comes from truly knowing God.

To know God means much more than knowing about God.

God must become more than a word or an idea for us. If we want to have eternal life, we must have an intimate relationship with God. But like all relationships this is not simply one decision made a long time ago. Much more is involved. vs 6-9

A disciple is called to remain in the world. Jesus didn't pray that all of the disciples should be taken out of the world. He never prayed they might escape - he prayed they might find victory.

There is always a temptation to hide from the problems of this world but that is not real discipleship. Yes, we need times of quiet prayer, study and reflection but to be a disciple of Christ is to be in the world, engaged with the issues and caring for hurting and showing the world a different way of living. Through such disciples God's glory is revealed.

Here at the Gathering Place we want to:
· proclaim that Jesus is Lord of Lords, not simply one option among many.
· declare the uniqueness of Christ.
· teach the Bible as trustworthy and true.
· get on with the work of evangelism and church planting without apology.
· see lives transformed and not simply excused.
· see families made whole and not merely redesigned.
· be a church where everyone is welcome but no one leaves unchanged.
· see the Gospel proclaimed with power so the whole world can see and believe that Jesus truly
is sent from the Father.
· help you prepare for glory!

Our goal is to live out our faith in as authentic and as effective a way as possible.

Let me identify 3 themes that will mark our life together:

RADICAL INCLUSION: We are a missionary church. We believe that we have been given good news of great joy for all people ... and that means all sorts and conditions of people!
I like the story about Zacchaeus the tax collector. He was an outsider. Remember how he almost fell out of his tree when Jesus announced that he was going to his house for dinner. Everyone was astonished. Jesus was risking his reputation reaching out to this 'sinner'. Zacchaeus was so overwhelmed by the way Jesus treated him he stood up and said, Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything. I will pay back four times the amount. Jesus said, Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save what was lost.

Jesus does not merely welcome sinners, He loves them and He calls them to live transformed lives …. What a gospel!

PROFOUND TRANSFORMATION: GOD'S LOVE CHANGED ME! Transformation is what we are to be about. The Bible calls it sanctification. It is great to come to Christ 'just as I am' but we DARE not stay there! We need to allow the Holy Spirit to work deep within us and transform us to become the men and women that God would have us be. God loves us too much to leave us the way that He finds us.

INSPIRED SERVICE the Gathering Place is a servant church. We take our lead from those servants who filled the jars with water - no easy task - but they did as Jesus instructed and Jesus revealed His Glory and the disciples believed in Him. Through our acts of service God's love is made real.

There is an old fashioned poem that begins: God has no hands but our hands to do His work today. And that is what we must be about. We are His hands!

There has been enough talking, hoping, praying, interceding, planning and definetly enough excuse making…. it is time to get at it!

Prepare for glory! We have Gospel work to do today. Jesus prayed, "that the world may believe" Let's pray that God's glory will be revealed and that the world will believe in Him. AMEN

“It’s The Law!”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 30 07/22/2007

The laws of sowing and reaping: Firstly, the type of seed that we sow determines the type of harvest that we reap.

Galatians 6:7-8 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Most of us during our life time sow mainly non-spiritual seed and therefore we end up reaping largely non-spiritual harvests.

This doesn’t seem so bad at first glance, but friends there are definitely times when we will have spiritual needs. When we suffer trials, illness or old age we require spiritual "things" to satisfy us - and discover that we lack them.Secondly, the quantity of seed sown is also important because If you sow sparingly you shall reap sparingly; and if you sow bountifully you shall reap bountifully II Corinthians 9:6

It is all about sowing the “right” seed, because if you sow the wrong seed, you are going to reap the wrong crops. Thirdly, we cannot choose to sow at any time that we fancy because to everything there is a season and time to every purpose under the heaven - a time to plant Ecclesiastes 6:1, 2

Fourthly, there is always a lag-period between sowing and reaping and we must not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not Galatians 6:9

Are we over-sowing "seeds of materialism" which will result in an over-harvest of material things?

We must be careful of what we sow in our physical bodies - are we sowing seeds of ill heath with cigarettes, alcohol, overeating, lack of exercise?
Are we sowing "seeds of neglect" with our parents so that we will eventually reap "harvests of neglect" from our children?

Or seeds of rudeness" to them, to reap the same from our children?Are we sowing too little spiritual seeds to see us through our times of trials, illnesses and old age?

Are we sowing seeds of prayer to gather a bountiful harvests of answers in due time?

Are we giving to the needy and reaping God's bounty?

Do we realize that at the end of it all, almost all things are received according to the laws of sowing and reaping - the notable exception is our eternal salvation which is God's free gift!Psalm 126:5, 6 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall no doubt come again rejoicing, bringing sheaves with him.
If the past has taught us anything it is that every cause brings its effect, every action has a consequence. The Chinese have a saying: "If a man plants melons he will reap melons; if he sows beans, he will reap beans." And this is true of everyone's life; good begets good, and evil leads to evil. True enough, the sun shines on the saint and the sinner alike, and too often it seems that the wicked prosper. But we can say with certainty that, with the individual as with the nation, the flourishing of the wicked is an illusion, for, without exception, life keeps books on us all. In the end, we are all the sum total of our actions. Character cannot be counterfeited, nor can it put on and cast off as if it were a garment to meet the whim of the moment. Like the markings on wood which are ingrained in the very heart of the tree, character requires time and nurturing for growth and development. Friends, day by day, we write our own destiny… we become what we do."
The implications of this principle (we reap what we sow) are important and certainly worthy of our consideration.


Our attitudes and character are all a result of our actions in the past. Don’t bother trying to lay blame on heredity, environment, parents, society, etc. Such things influence us only to the degree that we let them.

It is time we accept responsibility for our actions, for God will demand it of us one day!

II Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ..
Truly, the present reveals much about our past!


We can change, if we do not like what we are today!

II Corinthians 5:17 if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

But such change comes slowly, not overnight.. We must begin sowing today, if we want to reap tomorrow!

Galatians 5:16-17 Walk in the Spirit, and you won’t fulfill the lust of the flesh. The flesh and the Spirit are contrary to each other. Even today we will make choices which will affect the rest of our lives!

Far too often people don’t consider the crop they will reap when they "sow their wild oats". This leads to much praying for crop failure!

Either we sow to the flesh or we sow to the Spirit. Those who sow to the Spirit reap everlasting life (abundant life, salvation) They will reap the fruit of the Spirit.

You can't do both Galatians 5:16-17 TWO CHOICES... which shall it be?
a. Sow to the Spirit and reap eternal life?
b. Sow to the flesh and reap corruption?

I HOPE YOU SOW TO THE SPIRIT… We are told to do good to all, especially brethren Galatians 6:10

I Timothy 6:17-19 shows us that as we sow to the Spirit (doing good to all) we lay up treasure in heaven.

We shall reap if we don't lose heart and give up. Be patient. Learn from the farmer
...have faith like a farmer!

Vance Havner once said, Much church giving is to ease the conscience. Singing in the choir, teaching a class, giving five dollars, may be only a nice way of 'paying off' the Lord while the heart really is set on the concubines of self and sin. It is one thing to write out a handsome check for the church; it is another to give God oneself and the ability by which one earned the check!

We should never be embarrassed into giving, nor should we be embarrassed by our giving.

True grace-based giving is the evidence of God's grace working in our hearts.

It is giving yourself totally to God and that includes keeping your checkbook handy for those occasions when He needs it.

When we do this, then we will not be an embarrassment to the Lord, nor will we be embarrassed.

“Darning Socks”

Preached by Rev. Ed Brouwer at The Gathering Place,
Pulpit Series Volume 17 Issue 29 07/15/2007

This will definitely show my age - but there is a Beatle’s song that has haunted me for years, 33 years to be exact. Many times even to this day as I walk in amongst a crowd, or sit and people watch - I think of these words…...
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been Lives in a dream Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door Who is it for?
All the lonely people, Where do they all come from? All the lonely people, Where do they all belong?
Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear No one comes near. Look at him working. Darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there What does he care?
All the lonely people Where do they all come from? All the lonely people Where do they all belong?
Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name Nobody came Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave No one was saved
All the lonely people Where do they all come from? All the lonely people Where do they all belong?

Sadly this song does not just describe the unsaved! Many of God’s dear children are walking under a heavy load of condemnation.

Question; Who Has the Authority to Condemn Us?

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Psalms 31:1-6 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me; deliver me quickly: be my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore for Your name's sake lead me, and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid secretly for me: for You are my strength. Into Your hand I commit my spirit: You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Luke 12:4-12 I say to you my friends, do not be afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom you should fear: Fear him, which after he has killed has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

What you are afraid of? What can wake you up in the middle of the night, your heart pounding and your stomach tied in knots?
What are the hot buttons in your soul that can turn a sunny day cloudy or a warm day cold?
We all have switches like that.
What flips your switch?

What threatens to undermine your confidence, to unravel your professional demeanor?
I know you’ve got a few answers to questions like these, we all do.
All of us, all these people gathered here today, every single one of them.
We do a good job, at keeping these things hidden, so I'm not going to ask you to answer out loud.
Just think for a moment, what can tie your guts in a knot?
And while the pit of your stomach thinks about an answer to that question, I'll tell you two things that tie me up - first and foremost it would be relationship conflicts…
I don’t sleep, I lose my appetite, I get tremors and my stomach goes crampy… and in severe cases I get the “runs”. Just being transparent.
The second thing that completely terrifies me, and produces the same results as the first is ...I'm terrified of getting up in front of people.
I say this because admitting that you are afraid does not mean that your fears will necessarily cripple you. They don't.
I get up and talk in front of people, not only in church, but in the fire services as well.
All fears extract a certain cost.
Most of us have no idea what the people around us are paying, day after day after day, to face their fears and get on with life.
This is what Jesus is getting at when he berates the Pharisees and the lawyers in the scene immediately preceding today's scripture reference in Luke
He bitterly criticizes them for making a hard life harder, for adding to life's burdens rather than sharing them. You must know, there are people out there who will try to push your buttons.
Those are the people Jesus cautions us about. Look out for people who think they have the authority to condemn you.
What most of us are afraid of is one another. Human beings are social creatures. Our survival depends upon the people around us. We need community.
We need to know that we are safe here, that we are wanted here, that we belong here. We need to know that we will not be shamed, humiliated, excluded, or ridiculed.
We worry, perhaps secretly, about what other people think of us. We worry about where we stand in the group, and we worry that someone might realize we are worrying.
Fear is lonely stuff. Fear is very, very lonely.

Osoyoos can be a lonely place. A lonely place full of remarkably lovely people.
I wish you could more clearly see what kind and creative and interesting people you are, all of you--how deeply all of you yearn to live as Jesus taught us we should live.
Look around: all these lonely people. Where do you all come from?
Why don't you feel that you belong?
Who are the Pharisees that laid this burden on you? Who is that condemns you?
James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yes be yes; and your no, no; lest you fall into condemnation.

John 8:11 And Jesus said to her, Neither do I condemn you: go, and sin no more.

Be watchful, everyone, Christian or non has a little bit of Pharisee in them.
Do not let people get you to be fearful…
Understand that God is for you. You may not know how kind God is but God has to be at least as kind as the kindest person you know. You may not know how generous God is but He is at least as generous as the most generous person you have ever known. Because that which is created cannot exceed its Creator.

Jesus says. God keeps track of sparrows for heaven's sake! God counts every hair on your head--which is to say God knows how many are going grey and how many have disappeared altogether and how many truly bad hair days you have had in the last month.
Do not be anxious: God is with you, God understands what you can't say clearly on your own, and God will put the right words in your mouth. The Holy Spirit never stammers.
God is with us. The loneliness and the fear that keeps us apart can be overcome by the cosmic reality that is God with us! Let’s be healed of our secret fears and allow freedom to reign!