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RADIO PROGRAM for April 21, 1997
This past January 26, on Super Bowl Sunday, all across the nation people sat in church
listening to their pastors praying for their favorite team to win. But for one small Baptist church
in the city of Simi Valley, California, it was to become ASuper Blessing Sunday.@
About 1:00 p.m., the congregation of the Second Missionary Baptist Church of Simi
Valley heard a great commotion. Pastor Willie Mack Gray stood and with a puzzled look on his
face, headed toward the side exit. When he stepped outside, he was greeted by over 1,000
members of the Sonrise Christian Fellowship Foursquare Church and their pastor, Rev. Ken
Craft. In Ken=s hand was a large cardboard check in the sum of $27,770.58, a donation to help
the Baptist Church finish construction of their new sanctuary.
Having had a desire to help someone else for some time, Ken Craft had heard about the
difficulty which the Second Missionary Baptist Church was having. In 1990, that congregation
had begun building a new 200-seat sanctuary. But due to various circumstances, the project had
stalled three years ago. Yet, the people persevered and continued to pray, even though it was
hard not to be discouraged. The gift which Sonrise Christian Fellowship gave will allow them to
complete the project.
Why would a congregation do this? Pastor Ken Craft says, AThe Bible says they will
know we are Christians by our love. That is all we are trying to show.@ Sonrises= executive
pastor, Stan Wilson, remarks, AIt goes beyond the color of your skin and beyond denominational
differences. It=s about helping another church in need.@
Local media were on hand, and this act of racial reconciliation and love has shaken this
Southern California town. Other churches and people are calling who want to make contributions
or show their support. One man volunteered to do all the landscaping for free and another
volunteered to bulldoze the old building. The city fathers have recognized both pastors for this
In the book of James, we are challenged, AIf a brother or sister is destitute of their daily
needs, and one of you says to them, >Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,= but you do not
give them the things which are needed, what does it profit? Faith by itself, if it does not have
works, is dead@ (2:15,16 paraphrased). We salute Pastor Ken Craft and the Sonrise Fellowship
for being a great example of giving another congregation A FRESH START.
APRIL 22, 1997
The Church of Jesus Christ is presently in a season of sweeping revival and restoration.
Many believers are being deeply and permanently impacted by the life-transforming work of the
Holy Spirit. Going back to a former way of living is no longer an option and settling down in
complacency leaves us empty and unfulfilled. We must press onward and discover all that God
has prepared for us.
Romans 5:3-5 says, ANot only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know
that suffering [pressure] produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the
Holy Spirit, whom he has given us@ (NIV).
Renewal is a process and there are four Astages.@
PASSION for the Lord Jesus Christ is the key characteristic. Believers are being called
back to their first love for the Lord. They are being faced with their lukewarmness. They are
being brought to a renewed passion for Jesus and a passion to share His good news with those
who are lost.
A second component is the fresh release of God=s POWER. God is capturing people=s
attention through the demonstration of His Spirit=s power. We are seeing things which cause a
shift in our traditions and theologies. We are allowing the Holy Spirit to do a new work, in
anyway He sees fit. Men and women are being empowered to serve in even greater arenas of
The third stage is PURITY. Not only does God want to win all the world, He wants to
win all of us! In moments of passion and intimacy, we cry out to become more like Jesus and to
overcome areas of struggle, and to be wholehearted in our love for Him. There is a refining
process and the development of character and integrity. Renewal will always result in greater
The fourth stage of renewal is fresh resolves to fulfill God=s PURPOSES for our life.
Each of us is born with a God-given destiny and purpose. We must prayerfully yield, obey and
allow Him to bring it to fruition. It was spoken of King David in the Old Testament that he
fulfilled God=s purposes for his generation. He was a man after God=s own heart, sold out and
committed to seeing God=s future for him completed.
Yielding to the present work of the Holy Spirit in our lives not only gives us A FRESH
START for today, but in realizing God=s unique destiny.
APRIL 23, 1997
I was shocked when I read the statement, AThank God, His grace isn=t fair!@
In a recent article, evangelist Luis Palau talks about one of his nephews who was nearing
death because of AIDS. According to Luis, for several years that nephew had practiced
homosexuality and, in rebellion against God and his parents, the young man flaunted his lifestyle.
Yet, when the doctor had informed the young man that he had AIDS, he repented and asked for
God=s forgiveness. Several months later, he went to be with the Lord at age 25.
That young man, even like the thief on the cross, didn=t deserve to receive God=s grace.
And frankly speaking, none of us do either. As one has said, AGod=s mercy is His not giving us
what we deserve - for if He did, we=d all be hopeless and hell-bound. But God=s grace is His
giving us everything we do not deserve - and because of this, we are hopeful and heaven-bound.@
Thus, it goes against all sense of Afairness@ that God would ever pour out His grace upon us.
Fairness requires that fairness be reserved only for people like John, the beloved apostle,
who obediently cared for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Fairness would never allow salvation to be
experienced by a thief who repents two or three hours before his death. Yet, remember the words
of Jesus, AI tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise@ (Luke 23:43, NIV).
Moments earlier, the thief was among the many who taunted Jesus as He hung on the
Cross. In his gospel, Matthew writes, AIn the same way the robbers who were crucified with him
also heaped insults on him@ (Matthew 27:44). Now he is begging for mercy and the Lord gives
it to him.
Think about the authority in that statement. With the power that upholds the universe,
Jesus assures a dying man - a legally convicted, admitted criminal - of eternal life. The man=s
confidence in his eternal hope was based not on merit, but on the unbreakable and unshakeable
promise of God. It was based on God=s faithfulness, not man=s fickleness. And it is founded on
the finished work of Jesus whose blood and broken body are sufficient to bring forgiveness of
sins and the gift of eternal life.
God=s grace is generosity extraordinaire! It is love without limits. Grace is truly
unmerited favor. And thank God, because it Aisn=t fair,@ you and I can experience A FRESH
START, with God and with those around us.
APRIL 24, 1997
Yesterday, on A FRESH START, we shared about the Aunfair@ grace which God has
bestowed and blessed us. We were taken back to the cross and the thieves that died alongside
our Lord. Luke 23:32-34 records: ATwo other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to
be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with
the criminals - one on his right and the other on his left. Jesus said, >Father, forgive them, for
they do not know what they are doing.= And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.@
In the agony and loneliness of such suffering, with His hands nailed to the crossbeam and
His crossed feet spiked to the upright, Jesus utters this magnificent prayer. His words show the
way to deal with the pain brought on from those who betray or hurt us. He didn=t revile or curse
those who persecuted and deserted Him. He prayed for them. When they hurled insults, Jesus
didn=t retaliate. He didn=t return the evil. Instead of seeking revenge, Jesus asked for their
By the way, this was not the first time Jesus sought forgiveness for others rather than
revenge. The Greek word used in the text means He repeatedly made His request. And one
commentator has asked the question: AIn Jesus= prayer, who are the >them=?@
It could include our Lord=s brothers who didn=t believe Him. It could refer to the
disciples who abandoned Him. Or what about the soldiers who abused Him, and the crowd who
spat on Him, the religious leaders who despised Him or the civil leaders who ignored Him? Is it
possible that the AThem@ also refers to today=s society - those youth who walk into a diner and
kill two young adults? What about the sexual and physical abusers, or those who judge others by
the color of their skin? There are those who steal, pander pornography, take the lives of unborn
children or the Aprofessional Christians@ who always sit in judgment over others.
The Athem@ could be everyone of us, for according to II Corinthians 5:21, God Amade
Him who know no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.@
Jesus took our sin upon Himself and as we place our trust in Him, we receive A FRESH START.
The forgiveness for which He prayed becomes ours.
What famous Alast words@!
APRIL 25, 1997
Before the Exodus, the people of Israel had been slaves of the Egyptians for several
hundred years. They cried for help and when the Lord approached Moses, the future deliverer
responded, ABut they won=t believe me...Who will I say sent me?@ God answered, ATell them,
>I AM THAT I AM.=@ (Exodus 3:14).
In the Gospel of John, we read that same kind of statement made by Jesus.
* Jesus said, AI AM the bread of life.@ People become physically hungry, but they also
have spiritual hunger. Long ago, Augustine of Hippo said, AYou have made us for Yourself, and
the heart of man is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.@ As bread satisfies the hunger, Jesus
satisfies our inner longings.
* Jesus said, AI AM the light of the world.@ We stumble and grope our way through life.
Jesus desires to focus His light into our hearts, bringing guidance and understanding. And He
wants all of us to be reflectors of His light into a darkened world.
* Jesus said, AI AM the door.@ Every house and every building has at least one entrance.
The Kingdom of God also has an entrance, and Jesus is that door. It will be only through our
Lord that we will enter and discover the grace and forgiveness of God.
* Jesus declared, AI AM the true vine.@ When we receive Christ, the Holy Spirit comes
into our lives. He begins to produce character - fruit. He produces joy, peace, patience,
gentleness, goodness and faith and self-control.
* Jesus stated, AI AM the good shepherd.@ In the Middle East, shepherd live with the
sheep. The shepherd gives the sheep food, protection and security. And that is what Jesus does
for us. He said, AI am with you always even unto the end of the world.@
* Jesus said, AI AM the resurrection and the life.@ With Christ, we shall live life to the
fullest until we die, and then we will be raised from the dead to live forever. We have hope and
the promise of an eternal future.
* Jesus said, AI AM the way, the truth and the life.@ The only way you and I can come to
Christ is to be drawn by the Holy Spirit of God. He convicts us of our sin and draws us daily to
The AI AM@-s of our Lord assure us that there is nothing that will happen to us today
that, because HE IS, we will not be able to handle. He will give us A FRESH START.