Why Me Lord?

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

In my last blog post, I wanted to you to realize that fact that we serve a limitless God. There is no problem you can face that Jesus hasn’t faced nor that you can’t overcome through His strength.

Throughout my life, in my most difficult times, I often find myself asking “why me”? You might not be facing the same thing as I am, but if you’re alive and breathing, I can almost guarantee you’re going through something. All of our lives are different—different routines, diets, education levels and, most importantly, different belief systems. With all these variables, it’s easy to focus on why instead of who, but sometimes, there isn’t time to understand why. It’s in these moments of desperation we need real, Christ-centered faith to arise.

I’m reminded of Proverbs 3:6 which says, “in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy path.” In other words, look to Christ and not to the problem. The solution to any situation you may be going through can be found in Jesus.

As I was thinking about this, I came up with three things you should know about Jesus and keep in mind when you need help. It’s not as hard as you think.

1) He’s inviting.

Matthew 11:28:
Jesus said come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I’ll give you rest.

Jesus is active in helping our situations, but first we need to move towards Him. That’s easy, of course, because He has given us an open invitation!

2) He’s forgiving.

Luke 15:1-2:
1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

No matter who we are or where we’ve been, Jesus receives us and eats with us all, so there’s no need to live in condemnation. Too many people are trying to earn something from God or somehow qualify for help. The truth is, it’s easy—He forgives, just ask.

3) He’s seeking us.

Mark 2:17:
And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

God isn’t hiding from you, He’s looking for you! This doesn’t mean He doesn’t know where we are. It means we must place Him in the right priority in our lives. John the Baptist said, “I must decrease, He must increase.” Allow God to be large in Your life and you will be victorious!

– Ps. Ken

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Pastor Ken is the senior pastor of Spirit Life Church in Piqua, Ohio. Hear his messages online at spiritlifechurch.us or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.

Victorious Life Through Jesus

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

From studying the historical life of Jesus, one can easily see that his earth-bound ministry was filled with challenges. He was tempted in every area of His life, but remained sinless. Through His sacrifice we have a High Priest who understands our struggles—His victory created a way for all of us to live a victorious life.

Calling the life we achieve through Jesus victorious doesn’t mean it’s free from challenge, struggle and, at times, great sorrow. However, when we appropriate the manhood of Jesus and His bloodshed at Calvary, we gain the strength to press on and experience the greatness of the Exalted Christ in our lives, which, by the way, is the second part of this sermon series.

Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding in Cana when He was 30 years old. The wedding reception was out of wine and Jesus created more from ordinary water, I’m sure much to the excitement of the party guests. From this event onward the popularity of His ministry grew rapidly as His message spread. This single act began the manifestation of God’s Kingdom in the person of Jesus, but it also unlocked His enemies, who would follow Him all the way to the cross.

Like Jesus, all of us will deal with real life issues that become enemies to our peace and, sometimes, even our faith. These battles take many different forms and sizes. They can be financial problems, emotional distress, or physical sickness and disease. While we can’t always pick our battles, we can determine to fight them, as Jesus did, by and through the power of the Holy Spirit!

When I read about Jesus in scripture, I’m continually amazed by how He overcame every obstacle He crossed, no matter how large. He found a way to rise to the occasion and overcame, regardless of what He was facing. In His first encounter with water, He turns it into wine and changes its very nature. The next time He faces water, He masters it by walking on its surface. Finally, while He and the disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee during a storm, He commands it by telling the waves to lay down.

Each time Jesus faced something it seemed to be more and more intense, but the outcome was the same. So I urge you to be encouraged, no matter what you’re facing. Because Jesus lived and lives, we can lead a victorious life, like Him. Remember, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13, NKJV).

– Ps. Ken

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The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ is the current series at Spirit Life Church. You can listen to the messages in this series and more on Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.

The Historical Jesus: A Context for Christ’s Earthly Teaching

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

The current series at Spirit Life Church is titled, The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ. The crux of the first half of this series is understanding the context in which Jesus carried out the earth-bound portion of His ministry. I believe too many Christians and churches have moved away from the simple, powerful message of the Gospel delivered by Jesus and have moved towards formulas, recipes and self-serving doctrines that lack the power of Christ.

According to John 16:13, one of the Holy Spirit’s assignments is to “guide us into all truth concerning Christ.” Therefore as Christians, we should rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the revelation of Jesus. Beyond the Holy Spirit’s guiding and Christ-shaping in our lives, it is vitally important that we study the message of Jesus, as it was recorded during His ministry here on earth by the Gospel writers. As we study God’s word, there are a couple of things to keep in mind if we want to understand the full meaning and comprehend the entire message behind Jesus’ teachings.

There’s a saying that the past is like a foreign country itself. The greater the amount of time that has passed between then and now, the more foreign the culture, customs and normal behaviors of that time seem. This idea is significant, particularly when studying the word of God, because without a proper context, subtle nuances and the full impact of the message of Jesus can become muddled or lost entirely.

Without some understanding of the Civil War era, the speeches of Abraham Lincoln and his powerful words, which stood in bold defiance of the racism and prejudice of the day, would lose some of their power. Consider Martin Luther King’s message which spoke directly to the social structure of the Civil Rights Movement. If you were to move the words of these great men to a different time and place, and didn’t understand where and when they were spoken, the great wisdom and insight contained in them could change dramatically.

The same rule applies to the words and messages of Jesus. We know the Bible is for all people at all times, but there still remains an important social component to the words spoken by Jesus. I urge you to pray and seek understanding about Jesus, His truth and His power in your life.

– Ps. Ken

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The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ is the current series at Spirit Life Church. You can listen to the messages in this series and more on Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.

Haunted House

The Person of Jesus: Ken VanHoose's blog

Matthew 12:43-45:
43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

In this passage, Jesus is responding to the Pharisees’ request for a sign, made just a few verses earlier. Jesus’ reply is not a discourse on how demons operate but an indictment against Israel’s current spiritual condition. Before Jesus came, God gave the Israelites the law and sent His prophets to turn Israel back towards Him. Now God sends His only begotten son and Jesus is trying to show them that this is the hour of their visitation and they’re in danger of missing it. Their legalism is blinding them from recognizing Jesus as the Messiah.

To understand the full meaning of Jesus’ words and their message for us, we need to build a proper context around them with respect to Jewish culture of the day—the culture in which Jesus’ earthly ministry took place. The Jews believed unclean spirits dwelt in many things and were completely pervasive throughout the natural world.

For instance, the Pharisees thought unclean spirits dwelt in bread crumbs, yet Jesus knew this when His disciples gathered 12 baskets full of fragments, after He had fed 5,000 people (Matthew 14:20).

Jewish culture forbade Jews from drinking after Samaritans but Jesus didn’t hesitate at the opportunity to drink after and minister to the Samaritan woman at Jacobs well (John 4:5-29).

Israel believed evil spirits lived in dry, arid places. Still, despite this belief, Jesus completed one of the most important acts of His earth-bound ministry when he fasted and prayed for 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4).

So it is clear by His repeated disregard for the Pharisees’ beliefs that Jesus does not agree with their theology about spirits. His statement in Matthew 12 is communicating to them that driving away an unclean Spirit and avoiding the physical objects and places believed to harbor these spirits is insufficient—no matter what you do the spirit will return and this time he’ll bring help. Jesus is attempting to show the Pharisees they need more than the law to reconcile themselves to God.

The distinction comes down to practice versus confession. It’s not enough to hate evil and want it gone. The Pharisees confessed but had no Godly practice. They had tradition and liturgy but lacked power. The message of Jesus is that we should love Godliness and fill our house with the things of God, eliminating any room for the uncleanness of sin. Being filled with the presence of Christ is mankind’s only hope now, just as it was then.

John the Baptist said I must decrease, He must increase. This should be our prayer as well. Let Jesus fill the empty places of your life and you will find the true peace that can only come from a right relationship with Him. Live Strong. Love Strong.

– Ps. Ken

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The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ is the current series at Spirit Life Church. You can listen to the messages in this series and more on Spirit Life Church’s website or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.

The Person of Jesus

The Person of Jesus Christ Sermon Series Graphic

For the past few weeks, my sermon series has been The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ. These are not two different people, but two distinct dimensions of the Son of God. As a man indwelt by God, His message is told by eye witness account—men who walked with Him and knew Him. They knew the historic Jesus on a personal level. As awesome a privilege as this level of acquaintance would be, we will never know our Lord in this way. We, like the Apostle Paul on his Damascus journey, have only met the Exalted Christ, the victor of death and Hell.

Why is this distinction important? Without a proper understanding of the man Jesus, His culture and His context, we are bound to change His doctrine to suit an ever changing and evolving world. We need this understanding to maintain a relevant message of the cross to each generation and every culture. The beauty of the Gospel message lies in it’s simplicity and power—Jesus wasn’t gimmicky, He didn’t seek recognition or fame and His message was in no way self-serving. Jesus was a real man, indwelt by God, who ministered to people in an unimaginably awesome way.

My fear is that too many modern day teachers and preachers have moved their messages and beliefs from Christ-centered to self-centered. These teachings promote principles, formulas and the call or “measure” of a man’s giftedness and leave out altogether our responsibility to nurture our relationship with Christ. In our iconic society, it seems as though everyone is seeking stardom instead of the bright and morning star. The message of Jesus is missing from our churches and without it, we will never be able to impact the world as we are called.

Spend time with Jesus every day. Study His word and learn from His example. Abraham Lincoln said, “God must love ordinary people, because he made so many of them.” You don’t have to be a superstar preacher to know Christ and serve others. I thank God for the simplicity of the Gospel message and His saving grace. My prayer is that you do also.

– Ps. Ken

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The Person of Jesus: The historic Jesus, the Exalted Christ is the current series at Spirit Life Church. You can listen to these messages and others at the Spirit Life Church website or by subscribing to the weekly Spirit Life Church podcast.