Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Going Nowhere in Your Christian Life? Frustrated? Stagnant? Running in Place?

Summary:  Do you ever feel like you’re running in place in your walk with the Lord? No forward progress? Just “same-old, same-old”? Your spiritual life feels listless, sluggish, passive? There’s one thing that will jump-start your Christian life, and that’s a more direct and personal connection with Jesus Christ. Come see how that truth is a dominant key in Scripture to advancing in multiple aspects of your Christian faith and walk.

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Luke 5:4-6  When [Jesus] had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.

Vs. 5, ESV  [Simon said] “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.”

Peter and his fellow fishermen had toiled all night, but hadn’t caught a single fish. Then one thing happened and they pulled in a huge catch. What happened? Jesus entered the scene and spoke a word to them: “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Although tired from their own all-night labors, nevertheless they obeyed Jesus, and they hauled in a spectacular harvest of fish.

What is our takeaway? Simply this, that we can “toil all night” for the Lord (or for days and weeks on end!) and still seem to be getting nowhere. Remember, these hard-working men were experienced, professional fishermen. But they got skunked! Then Jesus came into the picture and redirected their focus. The result? A huge catch. We too can expend energy and hours “toiling” to increase in our walk with God, thinking that if we work hard enough at it, surely we’ll grow in the Lord. But if that’s you, what you probably need to do is to refocus your gaze directly on the Person of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to simply listen to Him and His perfect guidance, and to see the fruit in your lives increase dramatically. Go from “we’ve worked hard all night” with no fruit to “because you say so” leading to much fruit in your Christian walk.

John 21:3b-6  So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

In this similar scene that occurred after Jesus’ resurrection, once again the disciples had fished all night and caught nothing. Then Jesus appeared on shore and called out to them, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat.” They obeyed and, as in the earlier event (Luke 5:4-6), they hauled in a “large number of fish.”

Once again, the takeaway — they had labored in their own skills long and hard, but with no fruit. Then Jesus came on the scene, gave them guidance, they obeyed, and the catch of fish was large. It’s the same in our spiritual lives. We thrive in the presence of, communication with, and obedience to Jesus Christ. I am not saying that we are excused from working hard in our Christian walks. Of course God wants us to be diligent in our service to Him. But what the Scriptures are saying is that we will not succeed in our endeavors for the Lord primarily on the strength of our diligent works, but rather on drawing close to Jesus Christ, loving and worshiping Him, seeking Him in the Scriptures and in prayer and worship, and thereby growing in our personal relationship with Him and in our “knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). It is the real, personal presence of Jesus Christ — “Christ in you” (Colossians 1:27) — that imparts life and victory to all else that we do.

Not Getting Your Healing?

Mark 5:24-34  …A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years… [27] When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him… [34]  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

For nearly half a century I have studied divine healing in the Scriptures and in bible-based books on the subject. Praying for the sick and seeing them healed is clearly biblical. But…why then do we see relatively few healed?

I believe the woman with the bleeding disorder understood the key: “[my paraphrase] If I can just get to Jesus, I will be healed!” She did, and power went out from Jesus (30), and she was immediately healed. After nearly five decades of praying for the sick, I’m coming to the increasing realization that healing flows from a consciousness of the presence and power of the omnipotent Lord Jesus Christ. Peter was among the disciples to whom Jesus promised, “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). I am convinced that Peter was acutely conscious that Jesus, although not visible, was truly “with him” when Peter said to the paralytic, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up.” (Acts 9:34) Notice the apostle’s well-chosen words: “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you.”

I encourage those reading this today to rethink your approach to praying for healing. Are you depending on learned formulas? proper wording? multiple repetitions? slogans popular in this or that group, etc.? Peter did none of that. He knew that Jesus Christ the Lord has promised to be with us as we minister on His behalf to men’s and women’s bodies, souls, and spirits. So Peter could simply proclaim with simple but confident faith, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up.” And Aeneas did! Peter quoted no man-taught slogans. His voice didn’t thunder with ear-shattering volume. He didn’t suggest in advance that the healing might be gradual (the “gradual” healings by Jesus in Scripture we can count on one hand…or less). He just straightforwardly told the paralytic that “Jesus heals” you.

In the Book of Acts we see Peter and John minister the Lord’s healing to a beggar who was lame from birth. With no fanfare, Peter simply said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). And the lame man began to walk and jump and praise God (vss. 7-8). Immediately Peter preached to the astounded, gathering crowd, explaining, “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see” (vs. 16). Notice that Peter attributed the healing power entirely to Jesus. He said the same later to the Jewish Sanhedrin when they asked, “By what power or name did you do this?” (4:7) Peter boldly replied with these Christ-honoring words: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed” (4:10).

As you pray for the physical healing of a friend or loved one, it is of course a good thing to quote relevant Bible verses on healing. But remember that Jesus, speaking of the Scriptures, said, “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39, NIV). Our goal through the Word of God and our prayers should be to make the sick person aware of the love, the power, the presence, and the willingness of Jesus the Healer to touch their sick bodies.

James 5:14-15 wonderfully captures this approach to healing — “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up.” The sick person expresses his or her faith by calling the elders for prayer. The elders come and anoint with oil and pray their prayer of faith. Then comes the most reliable and trustworthy part: “The Lord will raise them up.” It is the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ who brings the healing. In response to prayer and faith? Of course. But lest we miss it, who does the healing? “The Lord will raise them up.”

Matthew 17:14-17  When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water… [17] Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

Very simply, as we seek divine healing for ourselves or others, the key is to bring them to Jesus. Where the disciples had failed, Jesus said, “Bring the boy here to me.” Should we mere mortals lay hands on and pray for the sick? Certainly! But our greatest desire in doing so should be to encourage them to receive directly from the wonderful, faithful Healer, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Are You Weary? Weighed Down? Spiritually Dry?

Matthew 11:28-29  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

John 7:37-39  …Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

I have known many Christians who, at times in their lives, have felt “dry” in their walk with the Lord. I too have felt that on occasion. Jesus graciously spoke of the solution: Are you weary? “Come to me.” Burdened and heavy laden? “Come to me.” Dry, thirsty? “Come to me.” As we do this, He has promised to give us rest for our souls and rivers of living water to flow from within us.

What is Christ’s word to the weary, the burdened, the spiritually dry? Come to Jesus! He will encourage you, He will give rest to your weariness, He will satisfy your dryness with rivers of life-giving waters by His Holy Spirit.

Struggling to Receive the Baptism with the Holy Spirit?

Mark 1:7-8  And this was [John the Baptist’s] message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (also in Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, and John 1:33, all referring to Jesus as the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit)

My wife was raised in old Pentecost, when believers “tarried” for the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Happily, she was filled with the Spirit despite that teaching which has held many back. Thankfully, that practice has faded away, as Christians have realized from Scripture that once the Holy Spirit baptism was first given on that Acts 2 Day of Pentecost, all born-again believers may receive immediately. The first 120 disciples (Acts 1:15) received the Spirit baptism (2:1-4), spoke in other tongues (vs. 4), and received a great impartation of God’s power to be Christ’s witnesses (1:8). Since that day in Acts 2, both in the rest of the New Testament and in Christian history to this day, literally hundreds of millions more believers have received that power-imparting baptism with the Spirit. And you may receive it today!

All four Gospels describe Jesus as the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And that is the key to receiving that great infilling by the third Person of the trinity. If you’ve been struggling unsuccessfully to be baptized with the Spirit, remember our earlier Scripture where Jesus said “Come to me” (John 7:37-39). Believers in Him who do that, Jesus said, will receive the Spirit and will experience the flow of God’s rivers of living water from within themselves. [Note: I believe that Jesus’ promise in these verses can apply to both our new birth by the Spirit and our baptism with the Spirit].

You can be prayed for at church (or anywhere), or even receive all alone in your room at home. Simply come to Jesus, look to Him as your Baptizer with the Spirit. Ask Jesus to fill you with His Spirit, expect to receive directly from Him, begin to speak forth in tongues as the Holy Spirit gives you utterance (Acts 2:4, KJV), and experience that blessed power of your personal Pentecost. In sum, come to Jesus, the Baptizer in the Spirit.

Are You Losing Too Many Battles with the Devil?

Mark 9:17-26  A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” …[25] When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

Where the disciples had failed, Jesus quickly brought deliverance to the demon-possessed boy. He still does that today for any who look to Him for deliverance from the devil’s strategies. Note: I do not believe that born-again Christians can be demon-possessed. But the devil still comes against believers in many ways and tries to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) our walk with God. 1 Peter 5:9 commands Christians to “resist him, firm in the faith.” Not just faith in doctrinal truth, but faith in the Person that our faith is about — the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone can bring us to God the Father and into the family of God.

Mark 16:15-18  He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons

The key to victory over demonic attacks of any kind is personal faith in Jesus Christ. He Himself in the Great Commission said to “those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons.” If believers can drive out demons from the possessed, we can certainly run off demons and prevent them from affecting our own lives. How? It is “Christ in us” who enables us to get personal victory over Satan and his demons and their devilish strategies against us and our walk with the Lord.

Not Seeing Consistent Answers to Prayer?

Hebrews 12:1-2, KJV  …let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…

Vs. 2, NIV  fixing our eyes on Jesus

Note these words carefully: “Looking unto Jesus … fixing our eyes on Jesus.” That is what we need to do continually. Our lives in this world are filled with things that compete for our focus on the Lord. The Holy Spirit in Hebrews 12:2 is giving us a key to Christian victory — get our focus off the things of the world and place it intently, deliberately, consciously upon the wonderful Son of God, our Lord and Savior. From that close communion with Him will flow many blessings, including seeing our prayers become more fruitful. Take a look at the verse just below.

2 Corinthians 1:20, Amplified Bible  For as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are [all answered] “Yes.”

Are you praying for healing? God gives many promises of divine healing in Scripture. Praying for financial needs? God has biblical promises you can count on. Praying for healed relationships with family or friends? There are multiple bible promises to take hold of.

But two important keys to having faith for answered prayer are: (1) discern from Scripture that you are praying according to God’s will [1 John 5:14-15]; and (2) be absolutely convinced upon the reliability of God’s Word that “as many as are the promises of God, in Christ they are [all answered] 'Yes'.” The Scriptures assure us that Jesus Himself is God’s Guarantee to us that His promises are true and will work for us. So as you pray, as Hebrews 12:2 says, look to Jesus. Fix your eyes, your heart, your mind, your focus on Him. And you will experience Jesus as the “Yes and Amen” to your heartfelt prayers.

Not Having Any Success Leading Others to Salvation in Jesus?

John 12:21  They came to Philip … “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 4:5  …what we preach is … Jesus Christ as Lord

Every Christian has a God-given desire to see others experience the joy of finding Jesus Christ as their Savior. But the large majority of Christians go year after year not seeing much if any fruit of souls saved. And this despite the fact that the world is full of people like those who came to Philip and said that they would “like to see Jesus.”

The Church today has come up with techniques and programs to lead souls to Christ, but they don’t seem to be having much fruit in 21st-century America. We need to get back to what the great soulwinning apostle Paul did, and that is to “preach…Jesus Christ as Lord.” Not our doctrine, not reams of theology (although no doubt these things properly used are good), but a matchless Person — our magnificent, divine Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In high school over a half-century ago I studied four years of theology (we called it "Religion"), five schooldays a week, and I still wasn’t born again! It was the same in college — 37 semester hours of theology and philosophy, and yet I continued in my unsaved condition. In all those eight years of study, there was not a lot of emphasis on the Lord Jesus. Then in my mid-20’s I began to hear about having personal faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for my salvation. Not the Church, not creeds, but Jesus Himself! I began to hear testimonies from people whose lives had been changed by a personal embracing of Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I started reading the Bible daily, and I began to see Jesus clearly in the holy Word of God. And in February 1969, all alone in my room, I received him in faith and repentance as my Savior and Lord. I was immediately and wonderfully saved, born again into the family of God. How? It was and will always be through a personal relationship with Jesus! He declared (John 14:6) that He, only He, is “the way, the truth, and the life” and that no one can come to God the Father except through Him.

You can immediately supercharge your soulwinning efforts by simply telling people about Jesus — the Lord, the Savior, the Son of God, crucified for our sins, raised from the dead, and calling out from heaven to every living man, woman, and child: “Come to me!” Make that the focus of your evangelizing efforts, and surely you will begin to see souls saved.

John 21:3b-6  So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

One last thought on successful evangelizing. Sometimes, like those early fishermen, we can toil and toil, work and work in our own strength, and get no results. That’s true in natural fishing and also in trying to be what Jesus called “fishers of men.” But be encouraged by the “fishing” verses above. Where the real “catch” of souls occurs is when attentive Christians listen carefully for the voice of Jesus, for His divine leading. Each day ask Him, “Lord, is there somewhere you want me to cast the net? Is there a hungry soul that I’m unaware of, but whom you’ve been drawing so that I might speak to him or her about You?” Follow Jesus' leadings, His gentle promptings, and you will surely see the fruit of souls turning their lives over to Him.

Are You Uncertain About Your Own Salvation?

John 1:29  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

Perhaps there are some readers who are unsure about your own salvation. Are you truly born again? Are you a son or daughter of God, destined for heaven and the Lord’s eternal presence? You can remove all uncertainties in the next few minutes. Obey the Bible’s counsel and “turn to God in repentance [for your sins] and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). Do so, and I assure you by the Word of God that He will receive you and will declare with certainty to your hearts that you are His “sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

You don’t have to labor and struggle to receive God’s salvation. No! To the contrary, salvation is a free gift of God to you (Revelation 22:17). And it all centers upon the magnificent Savior, the crucified and resurrected Son of God, Jesus Christ! Bring your sins to Him in sincere sorrow, ask for His forgiveness, believe in Him and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. He will save you! He will forgive you totally! He will include you in the family of God. And you can look forward to spending an eternity in His indescribably glorious presence.

So as we opened, let us close this message. Do you feel as if you’re getting nowhere in your Christian life? You can turn it around today. Let “Behold, the Lamb of God” be your daily cry. Look to Jesus, fix your eyes and heart and focus upon Him daily. Set aside all mental clutter and simply direct your spiritual gaze upon Him. Talk with Him as you pray. Expect to see Him continually revealed in greater clarity as you read the Bible.

In sum — God has made many hundreds (some say thousands) of wonderful promises to you in His Word, the Bible. Remember as our closing thought that all those promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” to you through Jesus Christ our Lord (2 Corinthians 1:20).

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©2018, James H. Feeney.
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Pentecostal Sermons and
Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.