The Work of the Word 9: The Purpose of Giving Up Power

Click HERE for MP3 of The Purpose of Giving Up Power sermon audio.


In one rush of wind, the fears of the surviving Disciples are swept away and replaced with tongues of fire that burn away all their old selfish agendas. Now they have become Kingdom people, fired up to fulfill the mission which the Master gave. They are EMPOWERED.

Power for Power’s Use is a Bad Example. Instead,

* Live in Like-minded Love ~ Phil.2:1-4

  • 1 Kingdom life = encouragement; comfort; fellowship; tenderness; and compassion
  • 2 fulfilled life = aligned life: agreement, agape, attitude, aim
  • 3 SELF-comfort does no one any good; what is better for the other?
  • 4 look = to scope out, to aim for other’s benefit

* Let Go of Power ~ Phil.2:5-8

  • 5/6 act like Jesus: let go of power
  • 7 servant nature is elevated because of Jesus
  • 8 humility and obedience: the antidote to the addiction of power

* Lift the Lord for Glory ~ Phil.2:9-11

  • 9 God raised Jesus to prominence (Jesus didn’t seek his own glory/comfort)
  • 10/11 all knees bow / all tongues confess: Jesus is Lord and in charge, for God’s glory alone

What I find most interesting is the reversal of it all: worldly views say to put yourself first, to do whatever needs to be done to benefit your self, to “watch out for number one”. That’s why there’s such a glut of “positive confession” in our culture today: the false idea that if you speak what you want into the universe, what you want will come to you from the universe. This isn’t the power of prayer: it is the exact opposite of prayer – the misapplication of a misunderstanding about who **actually** has power, and how it is to be exercised in authority.

Consider: Who has power? JESUS. FOR WHAT REASON? To glorify the Father. How did Jesus access it? Through humility and obedience. Now consider: who has Jesus’ authority? Those to whom He has given it. FOR WHAT REASON? To accomplish His mission. How do we access it? Same way Jesus did – through humility and obedience.

Any attempt to exercise power “in Jesus name” but not for Jesus’ purpose isn’t using God’s power – it’s counterfeit. Don’t trust it.

The Work of the Word 8: The Nature of the Trinity

Click HERE for MP3 of The Nature of the Trinity sermon audio.

Deut.6:4-9; Col.2:8-15

Lutheran Satire, a Youtube channel, attempted to show how St. Patrick might have tried to explain the Trinity to early Irish peasants:
They ask for an analogy, and he gives them a few: water in 3 forms; the sun in the sky; the three-leaf clover; man as husband, father, and employer; and he’s rebuffed by the peasants at every turn: they accuse St. Patrick of confessing heresies of various types at every attempt, until he gets so frustrated, he yells at them:
“fine! The Trinity is a mystery which cannot be comprehended by human reason but is understood only through faith and is best confessed in the words of the Athenisian creed which states that we worship one god in trinity and trinity in unity neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance that we are compelled by the christian truth to confess that each distinct person is God and Lord and that the Deity of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit is one equal in glory co-equal in majesty!”
To which they respond, “well why didn’t you just say that, Patrick; yeah, quit beating around the bush, Patrick!”

Two Main Thoughts About The Trinity

* God Is One ~ Deut.6:4-9

  • 4 Shema= LISTEN: God is UNITY
  • 5 Unified LOVE in response
  • 6/9 Unified LIFE in response; Talk-share it, Tie-wear it as you go, Write-mark your home

* In Christ The Son ~ Col.2:8-15

  • 8 empty/hollow-based on the world (seeing SELF power)
  • 9/10 Father (John 14:9) Spirit (Isa 11:2); everything we need, we have in Christ – so anyone who says we need more (money, power, fame, position) isn’t getting that message from God
  • 11/12 covenant thoughts
  • 13/14 NOT legalism
  • 15 all comes down to the cross

So much of our surrounding culture calls for us to chase after that which doesn’t do us any long-term good. Our souls are made to reflect the character of Christ as we connect with our King in Heaven; only then can we be satisfied. If we look for substitutions for our souls, if we try to fill that God-shaped hole in our lives with anything but God, we’ll starve our souls to death.

Satisfaction, FULLNESS has already been given to us in Christ. Receive (surrender to God); Believe (trust God); and Perceive (See God work in you)

#TheWorkoftheWord, The Nature of the Trinity, Trinity, Unity, Shema, God is One, response, love, life, Christ the Son, fullness in Christ,

The Work of the Word 7: The Nature of Jesus

Click HERE for MP3 of The Nature of Jesus sermon audio.

Isaiah 53:1-6; John 1:1-2,14-15,18

I read last week that the British government declared that octopi were sentient beings. I was a bit confused – who learned to talk to octopuses? Turns out there’s a difference between sentient (feeling) and sapient (thinking – like homo sapiens). Sentient just means that animals have nervous systems that can feel stimuli. How could God, Singular and Sovereign, communicate with us who can in no way comprehend Him on His level… make Himself known and knowable to us?

How Does Jesus Demonstrate His Nature?

* The Sovereign Becomes The Servant ~ Isaiah 53:1-6

  • 1/2 Isaiah’s “our”=people of Israel; they’re the ones who don’t believe the Servant; Servant isn’t remarkable, isn’t attractive: WARNING: be wary of those using attraction to themselves in their “teaching”
  • 4 infirmities=SOUL weakness
  • 5 transgressions/iniquities: healing is for SIN, not sickness
  • 6 individually and corporately, we have left fellowship with God to walk our OWN way – that awful choice makes everyone fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:22-24) and the Servant bears the Sin of ALL (Rom.3:25-26)

* The Servant Becomes The Son ~ John 1:1-2,14-15,18

  • 1/2 Logos/Theos
  • 14 Logos inCARNation, takes on flesh=GLORY
  • 15 John Baptist testimony, to tell us that 1:1-14 isn’t just idea of philosophy – this ACTUALLY happened
  • 18 “only begotten/God one and only” – John makes it clear: God the Sovereign and Singular BECOMES Flesh, and we know Him because of Jesus walk with us

Here’s the simple truth: WE GET STUCK. We are NOT gods in seed form; we are NOT of similar nature to God – we are FALLEN. And our fallen, broken lives have NO hope to get out of the mess we put ourselves in. God doesn’t send people to Hell – people CHOOSE Hell when they’d rather hold on to the illusion that they are powerful and in control when that position and ability belongs ONLY to God Himself. Jesus came to show us that. He was very clear: “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9) – and make no mistake, He was *absolutely* telling and showing us His Deity.

And He did this for YOU, for ME. He KNEW we’d be stuck, and unable to find freedom, bound as slaves to sin. That’s why He was begotten Himself into our flesh – so that flesh could be regenerated, brought back to life though His life, death, and resurrection. Let’s not settle for pretend pseudo power that ignores the most important truth of human existence: Jesus is Emmanuel: God with Us.

The Work of the Word 6: The Nature of God

Click HERE for MP3 of The Nature of God sermon audio.

Galatians 4:8-11

Neil Gaiman is a prolific British author crossing various genres, writing for children and adults. His book American Gods tells the story of what happens to the Old Gods once they end up forgotten on American soil. His characters are the embodiments of thoughts and devotions given in worship or extended attention. This is how many people view devotion – but what is it about El Elyon, God Most High, that is different?

God’s Nature vs. Our Nurture

* Sovereign And Singular ~ Galatians 4:8-9

* Slaves to a System ~ Galatians 4:10-11

Isaiah 1:17-18: “learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

How can we practically determine what is true teaching about the nature of God, and what is false teaching revealing the fallen earthly desires of humanity? Ask yourself – WHO BENEFITS? If you hear of a teacher who hawks their own wares, trying to get you to buy their own books and records and subscribe to their own podcasts and broadcasts… who receives benefit from that? THEY DO. Contrast that with who benefits when the Kingdom of God is being built – what is right and just is elevated; the oppressed find relief; the fatherless and the widow are looked after; the scarlet sins of our souls are washed in the sacrifice of Jesus and made white like snow.

Any comparison that tries to elevate humanity to some god-like state or to imply that we’ve got god-like powers and abilities, that we can speak things into being… be warned. God is God ALONE. He is the First, the Last, the Alpha and Omega, the creator of all and the conqueror of death. Anyone else who claims differently is selling something.

The Work of the Word 5: God’s Image In Us

Click HERE for MP3 of God’s Image In Us sermon audio.

Colossians 3:5-11

We are created in God’s Image (Gen.1:26-27). We are not SHAPED like God (or He like us). We are not God in miniature (we’re not going to grow into gods, we’re not part of the ‘elohim’ class). We have been given a JOB to do – to be His representatives on this planet. We’re not soon-to-be-kings-and-lords; we’re ambassadors and servants.

We Are Being Shaped to Be Like Christ

* Drop The Dead Weight ~ Colossians 3:5-8

  • 5 “earthly nature”=parts on/in earth; (cf.1-2), set mind above, not below; list of examples of bent attitudes; greed=idolatry (seeking to meet your own wants)
  • 6 this does not make God happy!
  • 7 when we were focused on earthly life (stuck in the dirt), that is what we USED to be like
  • 8 but NOW – walk DIFFERENTLY: put off “panta” ALL THIS STUFF

* Live In New Life ~ Colossians 3:9-11

  • 9 old self=worn out; get rid of what no longer works
  • 10 (cf Rom 12:2); our minds are to be different: not just learning an unknown fact, but learning new ways to THINK about the Lord; (cf Gen 1.26), notice “dominion” language; when we surrender dominion of our flesh over to God; he REPLACES our blurred-by-sin image with HIS OWN
  • 11 and notice this doesn’t have culture/racial/religious/economic limitations: Christ Is ALL and IN ALL.

If our minds are NOT being renewed in the image of God – learning more and more of what it means to turn over control of the dead to the new life in Christ, becoming more like Jesus, loving as He did, serving as He did, walking with the Father as He did… we have GOT to ask ourselves: WHY?

What are we holding on to in our old lives that is BETTER than what God has for us in the New Life?

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The Work of the Word 4: God Needs No Faith

Click HERE for MP3 of God Needs No Faith sermon audio.

Hebrews 11:1-6

There is often a heavy emphasis in religion about what worshippers NEED to DO *for* God. I’m sure you’ve heard lots of lists of “Musts” and “Shoulds”. But let’s consider: what’s the difference between what God *requires* of us, and what God NEEDS…?

If We can’t see faith, what CAN we see?

* The Evidence of Faith ~ Hebrews 11:1-4

  • 1 being sure: more than attitude; based in EVIDENCE
  • 2 TRUSTING THE UNSEEN BY COMPARING IT WITH THE SEEN; what evidence did the ancients have?
  • 3 what evidence do WE have that we did not gather ourselves? The existence of EVERYTHING.
    {Acts 17:24-25, John 1:3}
    {Eph. 2:8-9; works RESULT of faith, not faith from works}

* The Conclusion of Faith ~ Hebrews 11:5-6

  • 5 FAITH ENABLES US TO REACH CONCLUSIONS WHEN EVIDENCE FALLS SHORT; the Word says that Enoch “was not” because he was unable to be found. Why not conclude that his body was lost to natural disaster? Because of the evidence of Enoch’s LIFE: He loved God so much that it shaped how those around him understood him
  • 6 God exists independent of everything else {Rom 11:36};
    the faith we have COMES FROM HIM; He has no need of us or our faith {Ps. 50:9-12}

Our faith is ours by POSSESSION, not by GENERATION – we didn’t “work it up” or “build it through exercising it” It is GIVEN. God’s Word says that HE gives strength; HE increases the power of the weak. It’s not through our ability to “wield” or “exercise” or “manifest” – This is GOD at work IN us.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isa. 40:28-31)

The best thing we can do WITH our faith is listen to the Lord’s direction of how it is to be used, how the Lord requires us to use it: NOT for our own benefit – but to do justice; love mercy; walk in humility. WITH GOD.

The Work of the Word 3: Covenant Complete!

Click HERE for MP3 of Covenant Complete! sermon audio.

Deuteronomy 26:16-19; Matthew 5:17-20

Some of the happiest days of our lives are when promises are fulfilled: when the engaged couple marries; when the expectant mother gives birth; when the final payment on the car gets made! Imagine how God feels when He finally got to fulfill His most important promise to all of humanity when Jesus rose!

What Promises Does God Want For You?

* The Covenant To Care ~ Deut.26:16-19

  • 16 context of Dt.26: taking care of those unable to take care of themselves
  • 17 context of Deut: as you enter the Promised Land, remember all this: FOLLOW GOD’S EXAMPLE
  • 18 You are God’s treasure! THAT’s why we follow the Lord – because He loves us more than we love ourselves!
  • 19 God’s promise to Israel: He will make them holy and set apart; WE are grafted into that promise; not to receive praise from humans, but to BE HUMANS WHO PRAISE

* The Covenant Complete! ~ Mat.5:17-20

  • 17 Jesus came to FULFILL the Promises that God made in the OT Law
  • 18 His reminder: God paid attention to what He promised
  • 19 NOTE: Jesus is calling out the religious leaders of His day; they were teaching people THEIR traditions AS IF they were God’s Law
  • 20 Jesus reminds us: it’s not about doing traditional religious stuff: it’s about WALKING WITH GOD IN COMPANIONSHIP.

Earlier in the year, I took us through Deuteronomy 6:4-5 – Love the Lord your God with all your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength. We realized that loving God with our Heart meant being moved emotionally – that our faith WILL make us feel differently. To love God with our our Soul meant that we would be spiritually refreshing: to continually look for our thirst to be satisfied with living water that comes from God. Loving God with our Mind means that we would be mentally challenged, and challenging: we take seriously opportunities to learn and grow, and to help others do the same. And finally, to love God with our Strength means that we are practicing practically: that we are finding real-word, actually implementable ways to help others.

And NONE of this is intended to make you feel, “Great – more stuff I gotta DO”. These are gauges on the dashboard of your LIFE – you can tell if you’re living out these ways of Love that you really DO belong to the Lord, that’s He’s making you more like Jesus. THAT is what walking with God *looks like*.

#WorkoftheWord, Covenant Complete!, Promises, promises kept, covenants, caring, care, completion, examples, walk with God, companionship

Old Rules vs. New Jewels

Promised… and Paid For! Old Focus On Rules (Jer.31-34)
Promised… and Paid For! New Gift of Jewels (2Cor.3:4-11)
Christ in You, the hope of glory. What is IN you these days?

Click HERE for MP3 of Old Rules vs. New Jewels sermon audio.

Jer.31:31-34; 2Cor.3:4-11

The power of a promise doesn’t lie in the felt intent of the promise maker; it’s found in the character of the promise KEEPER. God keeps His promises to us because of WHO HE IS.

Promised… and Paid For!

* Old Focus On Rules ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34

  • 31 God makes COVENANTS
  • 32 We BREAK covenants
  • 33 previous covenant of EXTERNAL law; new covenant of INTERNAL law
  • 34 we KNOW God; He FORGIVES sin in New Covenant

* New Gift of Jewels ~ 2 Corinthians 3:4-11

  • 4 confidence that God IS STILL WORKING WITH US
  • 5/6 rule: Law; Jewel: Spirit
  • 7 rule: glory by obedience
  • 8 Jewel: more glory thru Spirit working IN/THRU us
  • 9 rule: occasional obedience; Jewel: righteousness
  • 10/11 rules have been surpassed by greater glory: GOD ***IN*** US

This is what the palm-wavers missed; they were shouting and praising and giving the best glory they could… but they missed the point. They thought Jesus was going to be a military king, like King David. Instead, Jesus fulfilled the promise ABOUT David – that there would ALWAYS be a descendant of King David on the throne of Israel… and surpassed that glory by being the King of EVERYONE, making it possible to not just draw nearer to God through observation of the Law, but having The Creator of the Universe LIVE IN US. We are not little g gods with the potential to grow into something more. We are like Kinder Eggs: we’re the outer wrapping… but the GOOD stuff, the SURPRISE, is on the INSIDE.

Christ in You, the hope of glory. What is IN you these days?

Old Rules vs. New Jewels, promises, power of a promise, paid, paid in full, new covenant, covenant, Holy Spirit, Spirit, Holy Ghost, forgiveness, confidence, rules vs. jewels

The Work of the Word 1: Creation is God’s Alone

Click HERE for MP3 of Creation is God’s Alone sermon audio.


An old joke:
A scientist told God, “We no longer need you. We have advanced to the point that we can create anything we need with our own ingenuity.” God said, “You want to put that to a test?” The scientist said, “Sure. What do you have in mind?” God said, “Let’s each make a man, just like I did with Adam. I’ll go first.” Then God created man from the dirt. The scientist leaned down to pick up a handful of dirt, so he could replicate the work of God. “Wait a minute!” said God. “Go get your own dirt!”

For the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at some American Ideas that have misunderstood what Scripture actually teaches…

What is God’s Job?

* God’s Work as The Creator ~ Genesis 1:1-5

  • 1 GOD created; He didn’t shape/craft what was already there; GOD IS FIRST
  • 2 without God’s intervention, creation was **empty**
  • 3 “and GOD said”; Ex Nihilo;
  • 4 “God saw it was good”; no one else to see
    He is the one who calls out what will be, what part it will play

So What is OUR Job?

* Our Commitment As The Created ~ I Timothy 6:11-16

  • 11 “all this”=1 Tim.6:3-10, false doctrine designed to get money to the teacher:
    (not this temporary one)
    – beware “decree and declare”
  • 14 PURSUE TO: Contentment In Christ
  • 15/16 We end where we begin: with this reminder:

Do you ever feel as if your spiritual life is stagnant? Does it feel like there’s not much growth, and that you’re always feeling like you need something more? When we get like that, it could be because we’ve substituted old stale false faith for the Living Water of God’s Word. When we’re drinking from the well of living water that will never run dry, our soul’s thirst can be truly satisfied. If we decide that we want something more “exciting” or “enriching”, more focused on feeding our faces than our faith, we’re going to end up spiritually famished.

Don’t settle for any alternative theories that are based in fallen flesh than on the true and tested teaching God’s Word.

Examining Esther 8-10: A Royal Rescue

Click HERE for MP3 of A Royal Rescue sermon audio.

Esther 8 & 9

It is told that Philip of Macedon fell asleep one day while hearing a case. Waking suddenly and not having all the facts of the case straight, Philip passed an unjust sentence on the man who was at Philip’s mercy. Stung by the sentence, the poor man cried out, “I appeal!”
Startled, the king asked, “And to whom do you appeal?”
The man replied, “From the king who was sleeping to the king who is waking.” The king was so moved by the man’s logical appeal that he reversed the judgment he had passed.

How Does The King Encourage Justice?

* Meet the Plot with a Plan ~ Esther 8:1-8

  • 1/2 Esther and Mordecai are rewarded for their actions
  • 3/6 but the plot is still on the books! Esther FORMALLY requests the king to address this injustice
  • 7/8 “in behalf of the Jews”; they can’t expunge Haman’s plot from the king’s history – but they CAN write an alternate plan for the Jews to defend themselves;

* Make Sure Your Plans Are Principled ~ Esther 8:9-17

  • 9/10 Mordecai did just what Haman did, but with the kings full awareness
  • 11/14 difference between Mordecai’s dispatch and Haman’s? Jews were allowed to retaliate IF ATTACKED; this sends fair warning to enemies of the Jews
  • 15/17 and there was much rejoicing (yay); the Jews had obtained recognition as favored of the king

* Mark The Record of Retaliation ~ Esther 9:1, 15-16

  • The Jewish people attacked (BUT DID NOT PLUNDER) those who those who would have killed them, and the day of their retaliation because an historic festival called PURIM (which we just missed a few weeks ago).

I think a valuable lesson to glean from Esther speaks to loving God with all our heart. There is no doubt that in Esther, the people of God are between a rock and a hard place; they’ve been removed from their place of prominence in Israel, and are now living in exile, at the mercy of a surrounding culture that cares nothing for their dedication to God and their way of life. Queen Esther has the courage to stand up because of her love for God’s people and speak truth to power. The Jews go from being on the top of the world to being at the bottom of the barrel… but they do not let go of their identity as Israel – those who wrestle with God.

As a father wrestles and plays with his children to help them to become strong and to learn to face difficulties, after all is said and done, remember this: God loves you enough to wrestle not against you, but WITH you.

Pastor Ed Backell

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