God is Enough

October 23, 2014

There are times in life when the attractions of the world shine brightly, tempting us to turn our backs on our service to God and follow after our own desires.

I.  Look, Remember and Do:  Numbers 15:39-40

 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, 40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.

The tassel was on their prayer shawl and included a blue thread that was to serve as a reminder to them that they were the people of God.  Gentile Christians do not use a prayer shawl, but it would be good for us to adopt something that would serve as a reminder to us of the presence of God in our lives.  Crosses that we wear, pictures that we display, music that we play, can all remind us of our relationship to God and His love for us.

We should not simply follow our own hearts.  Our hearts are inclined towards wickedness and cannot be trusted to lead us correctly.  God has given us His Word.  The Bible is what we should use to guide us in our actions.

We are to remember that we are called to be the people of God.  We are to do what God has commanded in His Word.  We are to be holy, even as God is holy.  We recognize that we cannot be perfect, but we do not use that as an excuse to remain in our sin, but rather we are thankful for the forgiveness offered to us in Christ and the help given to us by the Holy Spirit.  We fall short, but God is enough for us.  Our salvation is not in our own strength, but rather in the strength of what God has done for us.

II.  I Am Your Portion:  Numbers 18:20

Then the Lord said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.

I recognize that this promise was given to Aaron, but Christians are told that, they too, are “a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9)  We are able to have a very special relationship with God.  If there are times in our lives when we feel that we are being short-changed in the area of material blessings, we should simply spend more time in the presence of God.  He is our portion.  God is enough.

III.  Continue in the Faith:  Acts 14:21-22

And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

We should encourage one another to continue in the faith.  We are not meant to be alone, but we are called to be a part of a community of faith.  We can encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to continue in our service to God.  We will experience many trials and tribulations, but through them all, God is enough for us.

These are the sermon notes from 10/12/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Tithing

October 13, 2014

Occasionally I speak with people who are having financial problems.  I ask them two questions at the beginning.  Do you tithe?  Do you have a budget?  If the answer to either of those questions is no, then I know where to start.

A tithe is one tenth.  So tithing is giving 10% of your income to your local church.  Some people think that tithing is a part of the Mosaic law, and no longer applicable to Christian practice.

I disagree.

I.  Before the Law

Genesis 14:18-20

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

Abraham , who was earlier called Abram, gave a tithe to Melchizedek.  This is the first place in scripture where it is recorded that a servant of God gave a tithe to a religious leader.  Abraham lived 500 years before the law was given.  Tithing predates the Law.

Genesis 28:20-22

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Jacob, who later became known as Israel, also declared his intention to practice tithing.  It was his response of gratitude for the provision of the Lord.  He had left home with the clothes on his back and the staff in his hand.  God provided for him throughout his time away and he returned home twenty years later, a wealthy man.

II.  The Law

Leviticus 27:30-33

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’”

Israel was primarily an agricultural society and so the tithe was described in terms of seed, fruit and flocks.  The principle of giving a tenth of our income is easily enough applied to a cash society.

III.  The Prophets

Malachi 3:8-11

“Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

In these verses are a warning and a promise.  The warning is to those who do not tithe.  They are under a curse.  This curse may be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways, but the most common is continuing financial hardship.  Giving a tithe expresses obedience and trust.  Not giving a tithe expresses disobedience and distrust.

The promise is two-fold.  God will bless the person who faithfully tithes.  This blessing will also be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways.  The second promise is that the devourer will be rebuked.  Now, what exactly “the devourer” is, is not known for sure, but clearly it is bad.  When we give God the tithe, God blesses the remainder so that 90% will go further than 100%.   I personally have tithed since I was first introduced to the practice at age 16 and God has always taken good care of my family and I.  We have never been wealthy, but our needs, and many of our wants have been met throughout the years.

III.  Jesus

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Here Jesus is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting justice, mercy and faith, which are more important than tithing.  Still, he says that tithing should be done.

IV.  The Epistles

I Corinthians 9:4-14

 Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Paul supported himself by working as a tent-maker.  Today many ministers support their families by working a secular job.  That is not the way that it is meant to be.  Ministers should be able to devote themselves full-time to the work of the ministry.  They can only do that if they are supported by the giving of the people they serve.

The principle of tithing predates the law, is established by the law, is confirmed by Jesus, and it’s purpose clarified by Paul.  These verses that I have shared are a representation of the scriptures about giving and I believe that they are adequate to support the continued practice of tithing.

These are the notes from a teaching given to the youth group 10/12/14.

Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

That Your Joy May Be Full

October 9, 2014

Most of us do not want to be miserable, except maybe those few people who seem to enjoy being miserable!  Most of us would rather experience joy in our lives.  If we are walking with God, our joy may be full.

I.  Love:  John 15:9-12

 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

God loves us.  To abide in His love, we should be aware of His love.  His love never changes.  His love never fades.  When we are feeling down, we should meditate on His love for us.

To abide is His love, we should keep His commandments.  This does not mean that He stops loving us if we don’t, it means that we will not have the sense of His love because we are doing what grieves Him.

To abide in His love, we should love one another.  When we offer unconditional love to those around us, we are imitating God, who loves us unconditionally.

If we abide in His love, our joy will be full.

II.  Ask:  John 16:22-24

Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

In this context, Jesus has just been talking about his coming death and resurrection.  They will sorrow at His death, but will rejoice in His resurrection.

As Christians we can ask God for whatever we desire.  We can ask in faith, believing that He is able to deliver.  We need to remember that, even as a loving father sometimes tells his children no, even so, God sometimes tells us no.

I John 5:14-15

 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

James 4:3

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Philippians 4:6

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

We can ask God for anything, knowing that He hears us, He loves us, and He is able to give us those things that are according to His will.

We can ask, and our joy will be full.

III.  Sanctify:  John 17:13-17

But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

We are set apart to be the people of God.  This is a good thing.  God has given us His Word, the Bible, and we should follow it.  The Word of God is truth and if we follow the Word of God our joy will be full.

In this world we will still have tests and trials, but our joy is not based in the things of this world.

These are the sermon notes from 9/28/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

A New Life

September 29, 2014

I enjoy riding motorcycles.  The motorcycle that I now ride is over thirty years old.  If I had a new motorcycle I would only be able to ride one at a time.  If I were going on a trip, I could either ride the old bike or the new bike.  You cannot ride two motorcycles at the same time.

I.  Born Again:  John 3:3-8

 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The concept of being born again comes from this passage of scripture.  Nicodemus was obviously puzzled since it is obvious that a rebirth in the flesh is absurd.  The new birth is not a physical event, but a spiritual event.  We are born in the flesh, we must be born again in the spirit.  This happens when a person responds with repentance and faith to the message of Jesus Christ.  The message of the incarnate Christ who died for our sins and rose again from the dead.

People who have been born again should be guided by the Spirit.  It is a new life in Christ.  The guidance of the Spirit will make a difference in our lives that can be seen, but may not be understood.

II.  God Loved:  John 3:14-19

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

God loves the world.  By this is meant that God loves the people of this world.  All of us.  God loves,  and so He gave.  He gave Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins.  We are called to believe.  In believing we enter into a new relationship with God.  We respond to the gospel message with repentance and faith and He sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts.  It is when the Spirit enters our hearts that we are born again.  Born of the Spirit. It is a new life in Christ.

Some do not believe.  Some will reject the message of the love of God in Jesus.  They will be condemned, not just because they have sinned, but because they have rejected the only remedy for their sin.  If there was another way, then Jesus would not have had to give His life.  If Jesus did not have to give His life, then why would He?  Jesus is the only way of salvation, but some reject that offer of the love of God.  They will not give up their old life of sin for a new life in Christ.

III.  Serve Christ:  John 12:23-26

But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

Jesus gave His life so that we might have new life.  We cannot have a new life in Christ without first letting go of the old life.  We must let go of our old life so that we can take hold of our new life in Christ.  God has a plan for us.  It is a good plan.  We can trust Him.  We should give our lives to Him and let Him make of us what He wants us to be.

We can either live our old life, or the new life that we have in Christ.  We cannot do both.

These are the sermon notes from 9/21/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Call to Holiness

September 25, 2014

While reading in Leviticus in my devotions I was struck once again with the call to holiness.  God is holy.  We are called to be holy, but, what is holiness?

I.  A Holy God:  Leviticus 10:1-3

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying:

‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.’”

So Aaron held his peace.

What had Nadab and Abihu done wrong?  One of the jobs of the priests was to burn incense before the Lord, so why was this a problem?  Simply because God had not commanded it.  Apparently the priests were to do as God commanded, and no more.  The penalty for their sin was instant death.  God emphasized the need for obedience to His commands.  This message is not taught much today.  It is too harsh.  It is too judgmental.  We prefer the message of love, mercy and compassion.  I am concerned that our emphasis on these qualities of God have caused us to neglect the aspects of holiness, judgement and even wrath.  All of which are also qualities of God.

II.  Distinguish and Teach:  Leviticus 10:8-11

Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, 11 and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.”

I remember one time, while I was a part of a denomination that approved of drinking in moderation, while I was serving in the Marine Corps, I returned to the barracks after an evening spent at a bar.  I had kept my drinks to less than one an hour and did not consider myself drunk.  There was another marine that started to talk to me about my faith.  It bothered me to think that I might not be able to adequately represent Christ at that time because of the influence of alcohol.  I did not feel good about myself or my witness, in that situation.  I have since come to the conclusion that I would rather have my senses sharp and my mind clear.  It has been many years since my last drink of alcohol.

Aaron and his sons were to distinguish between the holy and unholy, between the clean and the unclean.  Then they were to teach the people.  As Christians, we are called to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, and then to teach others.  This was, and is, a serious charge.

III.  Holiness:

Leviticus 11:45  For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 19:1-2  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.

Leviticus 20:7-8  Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.

You might say at this point that these verses are all very good but that they are all a part of the Mosaic law from which we have been set free.  So here are some verses from the New Testament.

I Peter 1:15-16   but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Hebrews 12:14   Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:

I certainly hope to see the Lord one day and so will continue the pursuit of holiness.  Now I know that we are forgiven, and that we are saved because of the righteousness of Christ, but I think that we should seriously consider the call to holiness and what it means for our lives.

IV.  Love

Sometimes people have made the call to holiness into a list of dos and don’t.  People who get too caught up in this line of thinking may become self-righteous and judgmental.  I would suggest that the starting point for holiness is a call to love.

Matthew 22:36-40

 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

We are first and foremost to love God and to love people.  Let that be the primary focus of our call to holiness.

I would also add that we should develop a love for the Word of God.  Psalms 119:11

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

We are called to be a holy people.  If we pursue a love for God, a love for people, and a love for the Word of God, we will be on the right track.

These are the sermon notes from 9/14/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

 

Stand Firm in Your Faith

September 15, 2014

Sometimes the world around us can be pretty tempting.  If we are not careful we can easily fall into the way of the world, thinking that what we see with the eyes of the flesh is more important than the world of the spirit.

I.  Within You:  Luke 17:20-21

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; 21 nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”

Many of the Jews at the time of Jesus were looking for a messiah who would restore the autonomy of the kingdom of Israel.  They were tired of being under the rule of the Romans and longed for independence.  In these verses above we are told that the kingdom of God is within us.  It is not a kingdom of this world. Jesus acknowledged to Pilate that He was a king, but that His kingdom was not of this world.  We are told by Paul that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.  That we wrestle not with flesh and blood.  It is a spiritual battle, a battle not based in the material world of the flesh, but in the non-material world of the spirit.

II.  Serve God or Money:  Luke 16:13

 “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Mammon is not a word that is commonly used today.  It basically means money.  You cannot serve God and money.  It is not that money is important, it is that it is not more important than God.  God must be first.  We live in this material world, but the non-material world of the spirit is, and must be, more important to us.  We cannot serve God and the world.  Only one thing can be our top priority, and that must be God.

III.  Giving Offense:  Luke 17:1-4

Then He said to the disciples, “It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”

Take heed to yourselves.  Be careful that the things that we say and the life that we lead does not become a stumbling block to others in their faith.  If someone sins against us, we can rebuke them.  If they repent, we must forgive them.

IV.  Sifted:  Luke 22:31-32

 And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Like Simon, our faith may be sifted, or tried, by events in this life.  If we do fail, it does not have to be permanent.  We can repent and be restored.  We should encourage others who go through trials, and occasionally fail, that momentary failure does not have to be permanent separation.  Of course, the goal is to pass the test, standing firm in our faith.

As we seek to be faithful servants of the kingdom of God, we should steadfastly give God priority in our lives.  We should seek to live lives that will encourage others in their faith and not be a hindrance to them.  We should forgive those who have wronged us even as we trust that God will forgive us.

These are the sermon notes from 9/7/14.  Any advertisement that might appear is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Building A Storm-Proof Life

September 11, 2014

Have you ever encountered a disaster?  Something that you were trying to accomplish that completely fell apart?  God gives us some basic directions about how we can keep our lives from falling apart.

I.  Bear Good Fruit:  Luke 6:43-45

 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

A.  Bear Good Fruit

What is good fruit?  How can we know if our lives are bearing good fruit?  Galatians 5:22-23 tells us about the fruit of the Spirit.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

This is contrasted with the deeds of the flesh found in Galatians 5:19-21.

 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So a rather simple examination of our lives can tell us if the fruit of the Spirit is evident and growing or if we are mired in the deeds of the flesh.  We should seek to weed out the          deeds of the flesh and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit.

B.  From the Heart

The development of the fruit of the Spirit is not something that we seek to force upon the outside.   We should develop a love for God and for people.  This should originate in our relationship with God that originates in our hearts.  This growing relationship with God will do a transformational work within us.  It is change from the inside out, not from the outside in.

II.  A Solid Foundation:  Luke 6:46-49

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47 Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49 But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

Obeying the commandments of God are the key to building a stable, successful life.  Christians will still encounter the storms of life, but their “house” will stand solid if it is built on the rock of Jesus Christ.

If we have heard, but do not obey, the teaching of Christ, then when the storms come, our lives will fall apart.

III.  Take Up Your Cross:  Luke 9:23-26

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

We are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow Him.  If we seek our own goals and pleasures we will ultimately lose.  We should seek to fulfill God’s plan for our life.  In following God’s plan we will ultimately save our life.  Daily we should say “not my will, but thine be done”.  

IV.  Life:  Luke 9:56

For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.

We can trust God with our lives.  He is good to His people.

John 10:10 says:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

May our lives be given over to God, so that He may do a work in our hearts, transforming us into the people of God.  May our lives bear the fruit of righteousness as we live in obedience to His Word and His Spirit.  That is how we can truly live an abundant life in Him, a life that will be storm-proof.

These are the sermon notes from 8/31/14.  Any advertisements that may appear have been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

A Little Help Please

September 4, 2014

Many of us celebrate our independence.  We like to be able to handle our problems by ourselves.   There are times however, when we need a little help from our friends.

I.  Sometimes We Know:  Exodus 17:8-13

Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

In this battle there were many roles to be filled.  Moses had to hold up his staff.  Aaron and Hur supported the hands of Moses.  Joshua was the battle leader.  Some men were selected to go into combat.  Each one was important.  Moses realized very quickly that he could not hold up the rod of God by himself.  It became evident that as his hand lowered Amalek prevailed. So he sat on the rock and Aaron and Hur supported his hands.  The problem was solved with a little help, and the battle was won.

Sometimes we know that we need help.

II.  Sometimes Others Know:  Exodus 18:13-24

And so it was, on the next day, that Moses sat to judge the people; and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. 14 So when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening?”

15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a difficulty, they come to me, and I judge between one and another; and I make known the statutes of God and His laws.”

17 So Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you do is not good. 18 Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. 19 Listen now to my voice; I will give you counsel, and God will be with you: Stand before God for the people, so that you may bring the difficulties to God. 20 And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do. 21 Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Then it will be that every great matter they shall bring to you, but every small matter they themselves shall judge. So it will be easier for you, for they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all this people will also go to their place in peace.”

24 So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

Sometimes we try to do more than we should do on our own.  We may not even be aware that what we are doing is not good for us, or for those whom we are serving.  There are times that we need help, but we do not recognize it.  May God give us wisdom to know when we need help, or may God bring along someone to speak truth into our lives.  May we be willing to listen to the godly council of others so that we may not bear the burden alone.

III.  All Together Now:  I Corinthians 12:12-18

For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.

Together we can accomplish the work of God.  We each have a task to perform and each one is important.  We are not in competition with each other, we are working together to build the kingdom of God.

May we each do our part, and may we accept a little help from our brothers and sisters in Christ.

These are the sermon notes from 8/24/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

God is Able

August 25, 2014

The children of Israel had been permitted to leave Egypt.  Then the reality of what effect the loss of all those laborers would be came into focus, and Pharaoh sent the army to bring them back.

I.  Deliverance:  Exodus 15:20-21

Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them:

“Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!”

When the Egyptian army caught up to Israel, God, whose presence in their midst was seen by a column of smoke went between the Egyptians and the Israelites.  This prevented the Egyptians from pursuing the Israelites.  While  they were delayed by the cloud, God parted the Red Sea so that the Israelites could pass through on dry land.  After they were through the sea, the cloud lifted and the Egyptians could see where the Israelites had gone.  They followed the Israelites,  going into the divided waters.  Once they were in the midst of the sea, they began to have problems with their chariots and realized, too late, that they were in trouble.  God allowed the waters to return to their normal place, and the Egyptians were drowned.

Psalms 28:7 tells us:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.

If God is our shield, then the only things that are able to get through to us from the outside, is what God allows to come through.  Why is is that bad things happen to us if God is our shield?

One reason is the natural consequences of bad choices.  God has given us free will and that means that we do not always do what God would want us to do.  With freedom comes responsibility, and sometimes the bad things that happen to us are our own fault.  Sometimes God will protect us from our stupidity, and sometimes He does not.

Sometimes God allows bad things to happen to us to test our faith.  It is easy to say that we trust God when everything is wonderful, but can we trust Him when our world is falling apart?

Sometimes God is trying to get our attention.  Perhaps we have not been listening to the still small voice, and God uses trials to get us to refocus our attention on Him.

Sometimes bad things happen because how we handle them can be a testimony to the world of the difference that Christ makes in our lives.

God is our shield.  We can trust Him.  God is able to deliver us.

II.  Provision:  Exodus 15:22-25a

 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.[a] 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

 

God is able to provide.  The Israelites were a large body of people traveling through the wilderness.  God regularly provided manna for them to eat, and water for them to drink.  Their needs were met, yet they frequently grumbled.  They did not trust God to provide for them, and they frequently complained about what God did provide.  

Psalms 37:4 says

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

If we are willing to put God first, then He will provide for us.  If we delight ourselves in Him, then our lives will be filled with the goodness of God.  It is important that we keep God first in our lives.

III.  Obedience:  Exodus 15: 25b-26

There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

If we truly believe that God is God, then we should be obedient to Him.  Yet, even the most avid believers are not always obedient.  We all sin.  We fail the test of obedience.  This does not mean that we completely give up and live a sinful life, but it does demonstrate that we need forgiveness.  We need a savior.  We need Jesus.

Once we have entered a relationship with Jesus.  We are forgiven and God begins the process of cleansing us, making us more like Him.  That is a lifelong process.

God is able to save us.

God is able to change us.

God is able to work both in us, and through us.

God is able.

These are the sermon notes from 8/17/14.  Any advertisement that may appear is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

The End of the Age

August 18, 2014

Since I was a youngster, I have heard people talking about the return of Christ.  Certainly it is an important topic.

Mark 13:5-13

Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”

Jesus answers this question in a typically prophetic manner.  By this I mean that there is a mixture of discourse about events that are relatively soon, the destruction of the temple, and events that are further off, the end of the age.

I.  Warning!  Mark 13:5-13

And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.

“But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

A.  Do not be deceived.  The enemy will try to turn us away from the true faith.  The way to avoid deception is to study the Bible.  It is God’s Word to us and is the source of truth. We should read, and re-read, again and again, the Bible.  We should pray and ask God to help us understand.  We should talk with others, study, and make the pursuit of the knowledge of God through the scriptures a priority in our lives.

B.  The gospel must be preached in all the world.  The Assemblies of God has identified what they call unreached people groups.  They are working hard to bring the gospel to all the world.  They are not alone.  God works through many means to spread His gospel.

C.  The Holy Spirit speaks through us.  This is not just pastors and other professional religious leaders.  God can us all of us.  Many of us have had the experience of having a conversation when we can sense the Holy Spirit speaking through us.  It is a wonderful thing to be led by the Spirit in those moments.  When we are led by the Spirit, we are more effective than if we had spent hours in planning.

In verses 14-27 Jesus speaks about a mixture of events that will occur including the destruction of the temple, and during the tribulation, and the final return.  The message today is not focusing on these details which are addressed in many books and messages.

II.  Near and Far:  Mark 13:28-31

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

A.  It is near.  One of the things that I find most fascinating about the predictions of the Lord’s return is that it is worded in such a way that each generation of believers has sensed that the end was near.  I believe that this was intentional.  We are meant to live in an expectancy of the the Lord’s return.

B.  This generation is a Greek word that can mean either generation, or race.  Many scholars believe that a generation is about forty years.  The temple was destroyed in 70 AD and the ministry of Jesus was about 30-33 AD so, a generation before the destruction of the temple is about right.  However, if the reference is not meant to refer to the destruction of the temple but rather the end of the age, the the meaning of race is more appropriate.  The Jewish people managed to survive as a people for almost two thousand years without a homeland.  That is a remarkable feat.

C.  Heaven and earth will pass away.  Some groups teach that this world will be renewed.  I believe that it will be replaced.

D.  Even though this world will pass away and everything will change, the Word of God will not pass away.  It is eternal.

III.  Watch!  Mark 13:32-37

 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”

We are not able to predict the day or the hour.  The important thing is to know that it is coming, and to be ready.

Do not be deceived.  Christ will one day return for his people.

If it were today, are you ready?

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/10/14.  Any advertisement that might appear is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

 


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