New Hope Notes
Conquer: Through Closeness
Pastor Aaron Cordeiro
Conquer: Through Closeness
Pastor Aaron Cordeiro
February 9 & 10, 2019
Aloha! It’s great to be back—but I live in Oregon now—so I should say, “Howdy!”
I ‘m the dean of students at New Hope Christian College (NHCC) in Eugene, Oregon; last year we enrolled 50 new freshmen! God is doing an amazing work in Oregon, as well as, in Hawaii. On Oahu, we just completed DCAT (Doing Church As A Team) conference, when all New Hope Oahu churches, worldwide, came together in large numbers! It’s powerful when so many get together—and we're very excited about that!
Today’s message, Conquer: Through Closeness, is the heart behind the numbers. The enemy’s number one tactic/strategy is to destroy families and churches by dividing and conquering relationships! He gets us so busy and burnt out that we get irritable, and walk around with imaginary signs on our foreheads that say, “Leave me alone!” He wants us offended at one another and injects fear or intimidation, so that we throw in the towel! As God's people, how do we guard against that?
There’s a story of young David in the Bible that tells of a time when he was anointed and promised to be the next king of Israel; but it didn't happen for some time! And during the waiting period, King Saul became intimidated and pursued David to kill him! David must have felt frustration, loneliness, sadness, and anger, so he went to his place of comfort and refuge, and wrote:
“But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge…” Psalm 73:28 NASB.
“How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts.” Psalm 65:4 NASB.
Here's the big question: How far have you drifted? We can all conquer the trials that we face (even death itself) through establishing foundations of closeness to God, the Creator! Let me share a story to help us understand the importance of staying close to God versus being far in proximity to Him.
When I was pastor at New Hope Hawaii Kai, one of my friends and I went deep-sea fishing at 4 in the morning from Hawaii Kai launch point. We set out in the dark still waters and sailed for hours until the sun came up. We could see the beautiful island in the distance, but kept going further out to sea. The winds and waves started to pick up, but we kept sailing until the island of Oahu looked tiny—way off in the distance! But we kept sailing through rough waters, until we couldn’t see land! I was getting worried and thought I might die! I realized I wasn't as brave as I thought I was. When we finally got home safely, I thought, “Oh, thank you, Lord, I’m alive!”
A few months later, I set sail with a friend on my double?hull, 12?foot dinghy. Long story short: While coming back in, I ran out of gas in the marina, and a big wave hit us—and we sank! We laughed and weren’t afraid because from the marina, we could see my house and we could have actually walked home! But in that big fishing boat, we were far out at sea; I couldn’t see land and was afraid! Isn't that like life? To be close in the presence of God, the Psalmist says, is good!
The presence of God is like home: There is refuge and we know we will be okay! But the further away from God’s presence we get, everyone (even pastors), get overwhelmed, weary, and want to throw in the towel! What is your place of refuge when you’re overwhelmed? Be sure it has the power to save you.
Psalm 11:3 NASB says,“If the foundations are destroyed,what can the righteous do?” We can get close to God and far from sin—through godly margins!
1. Refresh Through Godly Margin
God knew from the beginning of time, that we needed godly margins (time to get close to God) because we are frail human beings, so He gave us the Sabbath…
Exodus 20:11 NASB says, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
The capacity in our lives is limited, but we plan for everything (except time for God), until our schedules are filled to the brim! And we wonder why we're so weary, overwhelmed, and burnt out; and we start blaming everyone else for our problems! We need to first build godly margins—God is our solid rock and foundation! Our foundation keeps us close to God!
2. Reinstate The Power Of Prayer
Luke 18:1 NASB says, “…He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” (Persistence in prayer.)
Our hearts are attacked when we become overwhelmed by fear, intimidation, pride, jealousy, burnout, etc., and we lose heart! With our physical hearts, if we have a heart attack, we get a bypass, a pacemaker, or change our diets; with our spiritual hearts, we focus on the power of prayer. What is dying in your life? Is it your marriage, children, the dream that God gave you, or the thing that God called you to? Reinstate the power of persistent prayer…
Psalm 139:23-24 NASB says, “23 Search me,O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”
When we come into the presence of God and think deeply about our lives and say, “Lord, search my heart. Is there anything in my life that is building anxiety in my thoughts, or anything in my heart that's hurtful? Lord, is there anything in me that needs to be removed, so that I can be led into your everlasting way? God, all I want really is to be with you! There's a lot of stuff that I'm facing; but, God, I just want to be in your presence.”
When we are persistent to be with God, every fiber in His fatherly being could not help but scoop us up. And we say, “I'm with Daddy!” That's the power of prayer! Things change because when we come into the presence of God, His qualities are transferred into our lives, and we are forever changed!
3. Reduce The Tolerance For Sin In Your Personal Life.
Matthew 16:26 NASB says, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
There's an epidemic today called tolerance when we tolerate sin. Sin is an archer's term in the Bible that means to miss the mark. When we shoot an arrow at a target and miss the mark, it's one sin, and if you're off a little bit more, two sins, three sins, four sins, and the proximity called sin grows.What happens if we miss the mark in our marriage, with our children, or with life, and miss the mark with God?
Galatians 5:19-21 NASB says, “19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Sin is choosing things to be our refuge; it may make us feel better temporarily, but the Bible says that the kingdom of God and the deeds of the flesh just don't mix, so we shouldn’t even allow them in our lives!
Romans 6:23 NASB says, “For the wages of sin is death…”
Problems arise when we become too familiar with sin and the abnormal becomes the normal—and sin and death are perpetuated! Let me illustrate that point with a story of how a certain African tribesmen hunt ducks:
The men would float the pumpkins, one at a time, down the river that runs into a pond, where the ducks flock in great numbers. At first, when the ducks see the pumpkins, they would fly away; but, eventually, they would return, and after a while, they become familiar with the pumpkins and tolerate them. The men would carve masks out of the pumpkins and wear them on their heads and wade in the water where the ducks are. The ducks are now familiar with the pumpkins and don’t fly away. And when the ducks are close enough, the men would grab their legs and pull them down, one by one! They took something that was abnormal and made it look normal; and the ducks had familiarized themselves with something they probably shouldn't have! We do that too when we tolerate sin in our personal life. Sin separates us from the king of Kings and lord of Lords. How can The Lord give us His best, a future and a hope, unless we stay close enough for Him to pour out His blessings on us—not separated from Him!
John 15:5 NIV says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The devil tries to divide, conquer, and separate us from our God and from one another because he knows that when the body of Christ comes together in number, closeness, intimacy and with one purpose to follow God with all of our hearts, and are unified—there's nothing we can't accomplish together!
I Corinthians 15:57 NIV says, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Make a commitment to get your eyes back on Jesus. Always meet at the cross. Conflicts never solve problems!
One of the sayings that the students at NHCC have is to always meet at the Cross. No matter what we are going through, whether it's a tough test, a fight with friend or spouse, just get back to the cross and pour out your heart to Jesus. One student, in particular, a pastor’s son, found himself in a time of frustration. He was angry at life and at God, and felt that people had let him down; he had no future and wasn't even sure about his faith!
He went to the cross at NHCC and lifted up his voice and fist to God; he was so angry that he came to a breaking point! He got on his knees, and wept uncontrollably. It was at the cross that he finally found Jesus and gave his heart to Him. This student is now in our Ignite Leadership Program (ILP) and said his heart is to follow Jesus and be a pastor one day. It’s at the cross where it all happened!
STUDY QUESTIONS (to ponder):