A Series of Short Sermons

A Series of Short Sermons

Agathos Church is a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio.  This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a short sermon by Brad Ettore, a short sermon by Kenton Kauffman, a short sermon by Brenda Stevens, and a short sermon by Louis Stabile.  You can hear the four, 10-minute messages on by clicking here.

Short Sermon 1: Pressing into God at House Church by Brad Ettore (0:00 – 10:45 on the recording)

Our house churches are already wonderful and rich, but they even have the potential to be far more than they are.  If we were to ask ourselves the question “what do I want from the house church time?”  Our answer would likely be the same as what we want form the main church.  What we want, every Sunday, when we are coming to be before the Lord is something beyond what we can produce.  We don’t want it to just be in the natural.  We want to be touched by God, we want to be influenced by God.  I want God to show up in a way that when I leave, I am not the same as I was when I got there!  That I am truly transformed even if it is a tiny thing or a small amount.  Although we love each other, if we are honest with ourselves, we’ll see we are not going to church for a social event.  We’re going because we really want to experience God in a wonderful and powerful way!

The reason we go to church is really two fold.  One is to give God glory.  Regardless of how the week has gone, at least we have one time set aside where we can really focus on giving God glory.  And on Sunday we can do it together!  You can’t do it together during the week, but on Sunday we can come together and worship God and give Him glory with everything that’s in us.  So, the desire to worship Him and give Him glory is one of our foci on a Sunday.

The second reason we go to church is to be touched – to be changed – by God.

Being touched, changed, and influenced by God is a supernatural event.  And for that marvelous work to occur in our Sunday services, there is only one way it can happen – for God to do it!  We can’t make it a supernatural event.  Even the greatest music and greatest sermons in all the world will not in-and-of-themselves produce one ounce of a supernatural event unless God does it.  He has to do it.  We can’t do it.

At times God does things on His own initiative. We have all probably experienced Him doing something wonderful that we had not expected, asked for, or positioned ourselves for.  But, we can also probably all count those experiences on our hands and feet so to speak.  They are few and far between, not an every day normal experience, because that is not typically how God moves.  God says “draw near to me, and I will draw near to you.”  “When you seek me with all that is in you, then will you find me.”  This principle is a constant.  If we reach out to God, He will reach back.    He told the children of Israel, “when you step into the waters they will part.”  But not until then.

Our walk with God is a relationship in which He is saying “do you really want me?  Do you want me now?”  God wants us “now” all the time it is about us answering the question “do you want me?”  It’s an invitation that’s always there before us to come before Him and into His presence!

All that to say that if we really want house church to be a supernatural event, we MUST press in to Him.  It’s natural to not want to be the loudest person in the room during prayer time, so we tend to want someone else to “go for it” so we can kind of just follow behind them a bit more quietly.  The result is that we all pull back and no one is really stepping out.  We need to stop that and press in!  We can simply encourage ourselves “do not care about anybody else in this room right now.”  I just to focus on all of goodness towards me over all of these years and then I begin to speak out of my heart towards Him.  “Father I worship You!”

That’s normal to have to through that process.  We can hope that our brothers and sisters will press in and do the same, but regardless, we can just press in!  One way we can do that is to press in with our heavenly language.  But our known language will work too – whichever way we simply need to go for it and press in!  When we do that, what it communicates to the Father is “we want to give you glory, and we want your manifested presence in this house, now!”

When we press in, sometimes the result is dynamic, sometimes the result may feel a bit flat, and many times it is in between.  But I’m OK with that.  All He is looking for from me is the initiative to draw near to Him – to seek Him with my whole heart.   It is also worth noting that even during “flat times” God can be doing a silent work that becomes quite noticeable a few weeks or months later.

Other times it can be really dynamic!  One time I was singing the old hymn “How Great Thou Art” and the Lord suddenly opened my ears to hear Heaven and I heard a large number of angels singing right with me – they were singing the same song with me!  That was a dynamic experience.  That was incredible.  But most of the time, it’s not that.

If we will press in, within a few months, we will find ourselves thinking “wow, our house church times are really something incredible!”

 

Short Sermon 2: The Presence of God is the Greatest Gift by Kenton Kauffman (14:00 – 24:30 on the recording)

We all go through seasons of life and every season presents new opportunities for growth.  Seasons require wisdom.  New seasons require new tools and we find ourselves looking in our “tool bag” for the right tools for the new season of life.  This is especially true in raising children.  They grow so fast that it seems like new seasons in parenting come upon you so quickly that you almost don’t have time to react or respond to that new season because you just finally got a grasp on the previous one!  You’ve finally developed a tool for the previous season to only have to ditch it for another one!

In thinking about having the right tools for the right seasons, I found myself thinking “I’m going to be prepared for the next season of life . . . I am going to study and study Proverbs, to stockpile wisdom, and have an arsenal of tools about how to approach it.”  As I was thinking about how I acquired wisdom, I started thinking about how Solomon acquired wisdom.  God had told him “ask whatever you wish.”  Solomon responded “you have placed my in leadership over your great people, I need wisdom – I ask for wisdom!”  The Lord was so pleased by his request that He gave Solomon power, wealth, possessions, and influence (the things he didn’t ask for but could have) on top of that.  So, that was Solomon’s one wish from the Lord.

Remember that Solomon grew up in David’s household.  You can almost hear the heart of David speaking through the words of Solomon.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.”  So Solomon grew up with David and David, like Solomon also had one request of God.  David’s is seen in Ps. 27:4,  “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”  That was David’s one thing.  

I was a little concerned about reading Proverbs, because it didn’t end well with Solomon.  That doesn’t discount the Proverbs he wrote because they are the Word of God and they are true.  That said, Solomon somewhere along the way allowed his heart to be turned by his wives and he worshipped other Gods.  By contrast, David fell early but finished great late.  So what was it that David had that Solomon didn’t?

I think it was humility.  David asked for a relationship – to know God – and Solomon asked for a gift.  That gift of wisdom was intended to be reciprocal – a living relationship in which Solomon would be continually seeking for wisdom from the Giver.  But somewhere along the way, it seems that wisdom became a self-sustaining form for Solomon.  That he could stand on top of wisdom and it would carry him through – instead of continually going back to the source of that wisdom.

The presence of God is the source of everything – THE foundation to build on top of!  Think about it.  What good is wisdom if your riddled with anxiety?  Unless you have the courage to actually act on that wisdom, it’s not really good for much.  We can have the greatest piece of wisdom but uselessly stow it in our back pocket . . . BUT the presence of God transforms!

The presence of God is intensely practical, but how do you “get into the presence of God?” Here’s what I do: “Be still and know that I am God.”  Regardless of where I am, I can just close my eyes, take a deep breath, still my whole being, until I can sense His presence near.  I recalibrate my life and push out the things that are knocking at my door and I just pause.  His presence brings peace!  You will release the atmosphere of whatever you carry inside.  If it is anxiety, you will release it.  If it is fear, it will be there.  But before you enter into that potentially stressful work environment, pause and be still until your awareness of His presence is greater than whatever you are going to face. You take that and release it!  Then consider doing that with your family . . . “alright kids we are going to go to so-and-so’s house.  What do we bring?”  “The presence of God!”  Yes!!!

David in humility asked the Lord for Himself – for His presence, whereas Solomon asked for a gift.  And that made all the difference.  The presence of God is the great gift from Heaven.

 

Short Sermon 3: Impacted by Dreams by Brenda Stevens (24:45 – 34:45 on the recording)

One time, I almost got killed in a car accident because of my poor driving habits.  I pulled straight out into oncoming traffic that was going roughly 55 mph, and instead of getting struck broadside, the guy driving the truck hit the front end of my car.  The man jumped out of his truck and exclaimed “I had a dream. I had a dream this morning that a gray car pulled in front of me so I have been watching all day!  So I saw you, saw you weren’t paying attention and you need to thank God that I had a dream this morning!”

So, dreams are from God and God gives dreams to the non-believer and He gives dreams to the believer.  Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh were both non-believers and God gave them dreams.  Dreams are one of the most important means of communication that the Lord has with us.

Joseph, Mary’s husband, is such a wonderful encouragement to us to live our lives from the perspective of the supernatural and the natural being one world.  He was betrothed to Mary and received word that she was pregnant – before they had ever had relations – for all he knew she had cheated on him!  Joseph faced a huge life decision and the Bible says “he decided to put her away quietly.”  While he was thinking about that decision, Joseph had a dream and the angel of the Lord came and said “fear not, take Mary for your wife.”  And Joseph did it!  We tend to think that we would also obey if an angel of the Lord appeared to us in a dream, but the reality is we have probably all had occasions where God has spoken to us in dreams but we didn’t understand it, ignored it, or even tried to put it out of our minds.  This wasn’t the only time Joseph acted in faith based on dreams that he received.  For instance, he had a dream that warned him and he immediately got up, fled in the middle of the night with Mary and Jesus into Egypt.  This saved Jesus’ life and had eternal consequences for us today!

God speaks to us this way as well!  Joel 2:28 tells us that “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”  The Holy Spirit on our flesh is meant to produce in part – dreams!

A dream from the Lord is something that you will remember your whole life.  It has a way of “poking” you throughout the day.  If you have a dream like this, don’t try to dismiss it to get it out of your mind.  It is likely the Holy Spirit is trying to bring it to remembrance.  Stop.  Write it down.  Ponder it.  Ask “Father, what are you trying to say to me?”

You can have a dream for someone else, someone else can have a dream for you.  You can have a dream for what’s happening in the world, in politics, in the economy, or in your own life.  You can have a dream about important life decisions, inventions, or creative ideas.

The meaning of a dream may not be apparent immediately.  Sometimes it is; you wake up and you immediately know.  On other occasions, another person might need to interpret your dream.  However, the person for whom the dream is intended, they know when the interpretation is correct.  Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh listened to many interpretations but the “aha” came to them upon the correct interpretation.  So when someone is helping you to interpret a dream you had, you will have a feeling of “aha; that’s it!” you will feel complete and whole when the interpretation is right.   Sometimes the meaning of a dream will not be revealed for years and years – until it’s proper time.

I’ve had dreams of what was going to happen in the future or the economy – happened exactly as I dreamt it.  I’ve been the witness so that when events began to unfold I could say to them “remember, the dream from God!” so that we knew that God was in this current situation.  Because dreams can be so accurate, sometimes they can almost be a bit “spooky” to people because they bring the unseen world into an undeniable awareness and sometimes people are startled by that.  One dream that is particularly misunderstood is the “warning dream.”  Not all nightmares are demonic – and if we believe that we can miss some very important messages from God!  A “warning dream” may have emotions of foreboding, terror, or dread – that doesn’t mean it is from satan.  You may be running away from a truth the Lord wants you to face or there may be something in your life He wants to uncover.   But, fear not . . . just know that it is either for you to uncover something, pray against something, or to make a change . . . like the guy driving the truck that didn’t kill me!

We want to have dreams and instruction from the Lord!  We receive the ability to receive and interpret dreams!

 

Short Sermon 4: The Prophetic Declaration of a Final Restoration by Louis Stabile (35:00 – 45:55 on the recording)

In Ps. 122 David says “I was glad when they said ‘let us go up to the house of the Lord.'”  That has nothing to do with going “to church” but it has everything to do with longing to be together with your brothers and sisters in the presence of the Lord!  David longed to be the presence of the Lord.  The first thing he did when he brought the ark back to Jerusalem was to set up a tent with an open flap so that the children of Israel, his brothers and sisters, could enter into the presence of the Lord freely!  24/7 worship before the Lord was established – and understood that was key in governing God’s people.  And so it is for us – whether in the house church or here – that we would come to church with a heart that says “I long to be in the presence of the Lord with my brothers and sisters!”  God’s heart delights in His people gathering together with a united heart, will, desire to co-labor to build and rebuild His house.   When we long to worship Him, His heart responds to that and pours out His heart upon us – and His heart is poured out on us, we all the more then want to pour out our own hearts back to Him and that overflows on one-another.  What glorious wisdom the Father has in gathering His people together!

“Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored.”  That is the heart cry of Jeremiah in Lam. 5:21 and that is the heart cry of a people (through a prophet) that realized that they had been separated from the presence of the Lord.  The house of the Lord has been destroyed, their homes have been destroyed, their city has been destroyed.  They have been carried away captive to another land and their heart is crying out – not for everything that they lost, although they lost everything – but their heart was crying out for a restoration of their relationship to God Himself.   “Restore us to You, O Lord, that we may be restored.”  There is something about the restoration of our lives to the Lord Himself that encompasses everything else!

Lamentations can be a difficult book to read and understand until we realize what the Lord is wanting to speak to speak to us through that book.  When I began to study it, I went through verse by verse to list everything that was lost when they went into captivity and then I studied and searched the scriptures out to discover where the restoration was of everything that they had lost.  Lamentations is tremendously allegorical.  It is a type and shadow of what the church itself has gone through over the centuries.  Right at the end of the first century, the church began to go into a decline as arian and gnostic heresies – some of which Paul had even began to address in his letters.   Even though the original group or believers had “turned the earth upside down” the church experienced decline shortly thereafter.  Within a few centuries, the church itself was in quite a captivity.  Israel’s captivity lasted about 70 years in Babylon, but the captivity of the church – if you will – lasted about 1500 years.  Loss of joy, loss of freedom – loss of all of the things listed throughout chapters 1-5 of Lamentations.

If we do not know and appreciate everything that has been loss then we will not know and appreciate and understand all that God is doing in the restoration of our lives and of the church and all things in the earth!  Jeremiah and the prophets of the Old Testament speak to this exact restoration.  In Acts 3:18-21 Peter says “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”  So Peter said that all the prophets of old spoke of an end-time prophetic period which we can call “the restoration of all things.”  The Old Testament prophets prophecyed more to this period of time than to any other period in the history of mankind.  Think about that . . . there is more written from the mouths of the OT prophets about the restoration of the church in the last days than any other period in the history of mankind.  

As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.” (1 Pe. 1:10-12)  God moved upon his prophets and gave them dreams, visions, and words to go out and speak to Israel concerning the condition of their heart, where they were, where they were not, where they were supposed to be, etc.  Oftentimes when God sent them out to speak to His people, it was revealed to the prophets that they were not even speaking to the Israelites!  The word wasn’t even for them, but God was looking down the corridors of time – to the day that we are actually living in – and giving them a word to speak to us about a restoration of our lives individually, and the corporate body as well.

God is restoring the church after the years of captivity she was in.  From Luther, Wesley,and Calvin, to Azuza Street, the later rain movement in the 40s and 50s, to the charismatic movement up until the hour in which we’re living God has been restoring back to us everything that had been lost!   The restoration of the 5-fold ministry (Eph. 4) and the proper functioning thereof is something that God has undertaken to do in this hour – something He is committed to doing in the restoration of the church!  It’s not just the restoration of our lives, and the church, but as Peter makes clear in Acts 3, it is the restoration of ALL THINGS in Christ!

Looking at the prophetic declarations in the Old Testament about the Final Restoration of all things in Christ helps us see what God is doing in this hour!  May we understand all that was lost, how all those things are fulfilled in Christ, and how that applies to our lives today!

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