The People of God

July 21, 2014

As the people of God, we can expect to be refined and tested.  Our names are written in the Book of Life and we should let our light shine.

I.  Refined and Tested: Zechariah 13:9

 I will bring the one–third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

Silver is refined by heating it until it melts.  The impurities float to the surface and are skimmed off.  As Christians we encounter various challenges in our lives that can cause things to “heat up”.  Areas in our life that need improvement can become exposed during these times.  As we recognize areas that need improvement. the Holy Spirit can help us to change.

We are tested by the challenges of life.  Will we respond in a godly fashion, or in a worldly way?  If we fail, how do we respond to the failure?  If we pass, then we are ready for the next trial, or service.  God is constantly at work, both in us, and through us to accomplish His plan and purpose for our life.

II.  Written in the Book:  Malachi 3: 16-18

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.

17 “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts,
“On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
18 Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him.

We see this book again in the Revelations.  We certainly want our names to be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  There is a definite difference between those who fear the Lord, and those who do not.  Those who fear the Lord will be spared in the day of judgement.  Let us as the people of God, continue to fear Him, to love and respect Him. to meditate on His name, and to speak to one another words of instruction, encouragement, and hope.

III.  Let Your Light Shine:  Matthew 5:13-16

 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

As the people of God, there should be something different about us.  We should not live as people of the world.  There should be a difference in what we do, what we say and in our very attitudes.  May people see the difference that Christ makes in our life and give glory to God.

Is God at work in your life, refining and testing it?

Is your name written in the Book of Life?

Is the light of Christ shining through your life by your actions, words, and attitudes?

Are you a part of the people of God?

If not, simply call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, and He will begin His work in you.

These are the sermon notes from 7/6/14.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

God’s People, Plan & Power

July 3, 2014

As the people of God, we do not fulfill the plan of God in our own power, but in the power of God.

I.  By My Spirit:  Zechariah 4:6

So he answered and said to me:

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.

For those of you familiar with the Pentecostal Evangel this verse is found on the cover.  It is a central verse for the Assemblies of God.  We recognize that the work that we do, is not done in our own strength, but in the strength that comes from the power of God.  We attribute success to God.

II.  Gideon:  Judges 7:2-7, 20-22

And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.’” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained.

But the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.”

Please note that God did not want the people to think that they had achieved success on their own strength.  The Midianite army numbered 135,000 men.  God did not want the Israelites to think that they could take on those kind of odds by themselves.  They could have thought they were extremely tough warriors, able to take on those kind of odds.  Reduced to 30o men, no one will doubt that it was the Lord who fought for them.

Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers—they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing—and they cried, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” 21 And every man stood in his place all around the camp; and the whole army ran and cried out and fled. 22 When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled to Beth Acacia, toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.

Once the number of soldiers had been reduced, God revealed His plan to Gideon.  The men were divided into three groups.  Each man carried a pitcher, a torch and a trumpet,  They surrounded the camp at night; on signal they broke the pitchers, held up the torches, blew on the horns, and shouted.  The camp awoke in confusion and turned on each other.  God had given His plan, to His people, and by His power, it worked.

We too, can be the people of God.  We should seek to maintain a right relationship with Him.  He is more than our God.  He is our heavenly father.  We are His children.

We too, can be a part of the plan of God.  God desires to use us.  He will reveal His plan to us if we will ask Him for direction.  Do we ask Him for direction, or do we simply do things our own way?

If we are the people of God, doing the plan of God, then we can be assured that we will receive the power of God.  God will not tell us to do something that He does not then supply the power to complete it.  God is faithful.  He is our strength.

III.  Prepared:  Proverbs 21:31

The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance is of the Lord.

This has been one of my favorite verses since I was a teenager.  We are to do our part, but God is the one who gives success.  The people with Gideon had to follow through on the plan in order to see the deliverance of the Lord.  We too, are to follow through on the plan that God reveals to us, then we will see victory.  Not because of what we have done, but because of what God does through us.  To Him be the glory.

God’s people, following God’s plan, will surely have the power of God and will be victorious.

These are the sermon notes from 6/29/14.  Any advertisement that accompanies this blog is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any payment from them.

Pour Out Your Spirit

June 23, 2014

A while back I was asked what made our church different from other churches in the area.  I wish that I could take back the answer that I gave on that day.  On that day, I said that our contemporary worship style set us apart.  Although it is true that our worship is different, what truly sets us apart is our belief in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

I.  Pour Out My Spirit  Joel 2:28-32

“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.

Peter quoted this portion of scripture in the message that he gave on the day of Pentecost.  That day was the initial outpouring of the Holy Spirit that included a new phenomena, speaking in tongues.  Speaking in tongues was an important part of the apostolic age.  After the apostolic age it was a long time until there was a renewal of interest, and participation in the practice of speaking in tongues.  The modern pentecostal movement began in the late nineteenth century.  In the second half of the twentieth century it expanded into the mainline denominations with the charismatic renewal movement.  Today there are many people who accept the pentecostal experience as their own.

II.  More Than Tongues:  I Corinthians 12:7-11

But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

The word of wisdom is when we are faced with a situation that human wisdom is not enough to know what to do.  God can give us wisdom to know what needs to be done.  A friend of mine is an engineer.  One day he was dealing with a design problem that he could not decipher.  He believes that the answer came to him, not because of his own wisdom, but as a gift from God.

The word of knowledge is when God reveals something to us that we do not know through human means.  For example; a friend of mine was at a service arguing with God about his call to the ministry.  In his mind, he told God that if God really wanted him to be a pastor he would have the speaker that night tell him.  In the middle of the service, the speaker stopped in his message, pointed at my friend, and told him to stop arguing with God, God had called him into the ministry.  Thirty years later, my friend is still serving in the ministry.  He never again doubted his call.

The gift of faith is different from saving faith.  We all must have  a measure of faith or we would be lost in our sins.  The gift of faith is when we are able to go beyond I believe that God can do something, to God will do something.  Faith helps us to move forward and attempt great things for God.

God gives gifts of healings.  Notice that it is gifts of healings, not the gift of healing.  A person is not able to simply go down a line of people healing everyone in that line.  God heals some, and does not heal others.  Sometimes we are able to discern possible reasons, but other times we must simply recognize that gifts of healings are given as the Spirit wills, not necessarily as we will.  I recommend that if we have a physical need for healing that we first pray, then if the symptoms persist, we should see a doctor, and then we should pray again.  We should repeat this process as often as necessary.

Miracles still occur today.  They can take various forms.  I remember one time when I was traveling with a group called the Christian Life Singers.  We were somewhere in far northern Minnesota.  We had arrived at our destination with our old school bus gas gage on empty.  We conducted the service, had a long prayer time and headed out probably close to midnight.  Our leader told the driver to head for home and stop at the first gas station.  Then everyone but the driver fell asleep.  We woke up in the early morning and asked where he had stopped for gas.  He hadn’t.  He had not come across an open gas station.  He drove for at least five hours with the gage on empty.

Prophecy is when God speaks to us through another person.  It may be a word of encouragement, rebuke or prediction.  It is not studied, or planned out, but is shared in the moment by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The discerning of spirits is when God allows us to recognize something in the spiritual realm that we cannot see in the physical realm.

There are three different gifts of tongues.  The most common is a prayer language where we are able to speak to God in a heavenly language.  The next most common is similar to prophecy in that God inspires us to speak out in a gathering of believers.  It is necessary that someone then give an interpretation of tongues, which is a separate gift,  A third form of tongues is a sign to unbelievers.  This is when a person speaks out in a human language that they do not know, but someone who hears them does understand.

All of these gifts are given to individuals, not for the glory of that individual, but for the profit of all.  God uses this gifts to build His church.  They are given, not as we may desire, but as the Spirit wills.

What sets us apart?  We believe that the gifts of the Spirit are meant to be a part of normal Christian experience.  We desire to see the Spirit of God poured out in our midst, with the gifts functioning on a regular basis, as the Spirit wills.

These are the sermon notes from 6/22/14.  Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Heaven is For Real

June 19, 2014

I recently watched the movie Heaven is For Real.  I had heard a lot of good things about it.  After viewing the movie I have a mixed response.  The movie is good in that it helps people to believe in a life beyond the grave.  It gives credible support to the existence of an afterlife.  That is a good thing.  Unfortunately, one could easily come away from the movie with the belief that everyone goes to heaven.  I am told that the book did a better job of presenting that a life in heaven came as a result of faith in Jesus Christ.  The idea that everyone goes to heaven is a belief called universalism and is a very dangerous belief.  No repentance, no faith is necessary.  A loving God simply welcomes everyone home to heaven.  That is not biblical truth.  There is a line in the movie where the minister states “What if we truly believed that heaven is real?  Wouldn’t we live differently?”  (This quote may not be exact, but it is close.)  I would suggest a different question “What if we truly believe that both heaven and hell are real?  Wouldn’t we live differently?”  The Bible tells us in Revelation 20:15

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

If we truly believe this to be true, would we live any different?  If only heaven is real, that is one thing, but if both heaven and hell are real, how should we live?

 

Any advertisements that accompany this blog are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Classic Pattern

June 16, 2014

Throughout the writings of the prophets there seems to be a fairly classic pattern.  God would bless Israel.  Israel would fall in to sin.  God would send prophets to warn of judgement.  Israel would ignore the prophets.  God would send judgement.  Israel would repent.  Israel would be restored.  The pattern would repeat.

Hosea 7:1-2

“When I would have healed Israel,
Then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered,
And the wickedness of Samaria.
For they have committed fraud;
A thief comes in;
A band of robbers takes spoil outside.
They do not consider in their hearts
That I remember all their wickedness;
Now their own deeds have surrounded them;
They are before My face.

I.  Iniquity Uncovered

If we have consciously given way to sin, choosing to live a life that is displeasing to God, we should know that it is not hidden from God.  God sees what is done in secret.  God sees right through our attempts to rationalize.  God recognizes sin as sin.  We may be able to fool others.  We may even be able to fool ourselves.  We will never fool God.

II.  Punishment

In these verses, the image of a thief is used.  God has a whole host of ways at His disposal.  The judgement of God can take many forms.  One problem that we face, is that we may not even recognize that the setbacks that are occurring in our life are sent from God.  It would be appropriate for us to regularly pray and ask God if we are living right before Him.  Search my heart oh God…

Hosea 6:1-3

Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

III. Repent

When we recognize that we have sinned, there is only one correct response: repentance.  Far too many people try to excuse their sin, or declare that their sin, isn’t really a sin, or that it isn’t that bad.  When God reveals our sin to us we should ask God to forgive us, then go and sin no more.  Now, I recognize that it is not quite that simple.  It can be very difficult to change sinful patterns in our lives.  We do not make these changes in our own strength.  God will help us.  We must take the step of confessing our sin, and asking God to help us to do what is right and pleasing in His sight.

After we have repented, God will bring restoration to our lives.  God can bring healing to broken hearts and broken lives.

IV.  Pursue the Knowledge of the Lord

No matter how long we have been a Christian, there is more to learn about the ways of God.  Let us continue to pursue the knowledge of God.  This is available to us through the Word, and through prayer.  This knowledge of God will help us to face the challenges of this life.  God will give us wisdom and strength for each new day, for each problem that we might face.

As we grow in our knowledge of God, our appreciation for the blessings of God will grow as well.  We will appreciate more the beauty of the world around us.  We will treasure the relationships that we have with the people in our lives.   We will grow in our ability to experience the joy that God has for His people in His presence.  It is a very good thing to grow in the knowledge of God.

These are the sermon notes from 6/15/14.  Any advertisements that appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do  I receive any money from them.

A Very Real Concern

June 12, 2014

It is never right to knowingly do what is wrong.

I am very concerned for the spiritual state of some Christians.  I do not know how many times I have had people express to me something along the lines of ” I know it is wrong, but God will forgive me.”

We have emphasized the love, mercy and grace of God so much that people have forgotten, or seem unconcerned with, the holiness of God, the wrath of God and the judgement of God.

We have forgotten the consequences of sin.

Willfully choosing to do what is wrong in the eyes of God is dangerous.  Sin has consequences in this life, and potentially in the next.  If we are routinely choosing to sin, believing that God will forgive us; instead of hearing the words “Well done, my good and  faithful servant.” (Math 25:20-22) we might hear “depart from me you workers of iniquity”. (Luke 13:26-28)

Is that wrongful act worth the risk?

I am not saying that we have to live in fear and guilt constantly wondering if we are good enough to go to heaven, but I am saying we should have a holy reverence for an awesome God.  That reverence should show itself in a life that is dedicated to doing what is right in the eyes of God.

A Remodeling Job

June 10, 2014

Today is Pentecost Sunday.  You might expect a pentecostal minister to preach about the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but that will not be the case today.  Pentecost Sunday is considered by many people to be the birthday of the Christian church.  It was on that day that the disciples went from being a small group of believers in hiding, to a powerful force that “turned the world upside down”.  Today I will be preaching about God’s ongoing work in the church.

I>  The Church in Smyrna.  Revelation 2:8-11

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,

‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.

11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”’

A.  I know you.  God saw that the church in Smyrna had remained faithful even in the midst of terrible persecution.  God also knows us.  He knows exactly what trials we face and how we are responding to them.  Are we faithful?

B.  I know those who wrong you.  God also knows who the people are who wrong us.  We are to remember to “not repay evil with evil, but to overcome evil with good”  and that “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”.  We must be careful to do what is right in the eyes of God and to leave our oppressors in the hands of God.

C.  Be faithful unto death.  We too, are called to be faithful unto death.  Our lives may not be all that we expected them to be, but we should remain faithful in our service to God.

D.  You will receive the crown of life.  If we are faithful, then we will receive our reward one day.  God sees us, and is faithful to us.  We should be faithful to Him.

II.  The Church in Pergamas:  Revelation 2:12-17

 “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write,

‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: 13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.[a] 16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”’

A.  You have held to the name of Christ in difficult circumstances.  The people of the church in Pergamas had continued the confession of faith in Jesus in the midst of persecution and death.  That is commendable.

B.  You have compromised in doctrine and lifestyle.  Although they continued in a confession of faith, they had given into idolatry and immorality.  They had allowed the culture of their community to corrupt their lives.  Here in America, there is much ungodliness and sin in our culture.  We must guard against giving in to the corrosive influence of contemporary culture.

C.  Repent!  If we have slipped away from godly standards we ought not to try to justify or rationalize our sin.  We should repent!

III.  The Church of the Laodiceans:  Revelation 3:14-22

 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,

‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

A.  They were lukewarm.  The church was half-hearted in their service to God.  We as Christians are called to serve God with our whole heart, not simply with a piece of it.  We should be fully committed to the cause of Christ.

B.  They were deceived.  The church did not even realize that they had fallen so far spiritually.  May God help our eyes to be open to our true spiritual condition.

C.  God will rebuke and chasten those whom He loves.  We can expect that God will take disciplinary action in our lives when we are going against His will for us.  We should continually seek to know His will and to follow in the path that He has for us.

The church is not a building but rather a gathering of believers in Christ.  However the idea of a building can be used to illustrate the point of today’s message.  If their is something displeasing to God in our lives our in our Church we can expect that God will undertake a remodeling project in us.

May we be the people, and the church that He wants us to be.

These are the sermon notes from 6/8/14.  Any advertisement that follows is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them , nor do I receive any money from them.

God Works Through Us

June 3, 2014

We appreciate those who serve,  and who have served our country.  We should also appreciate those who give their lives to the service of Jesus Christ.  Actually, that should be all of us who call themselves Christian.  God desires to work, not just through pastors, missionaries and evangelists, but rather though all who believe.

I.  Stand in the Gap:  Ezekiel 22:30

 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one.

I know that this verse is speaking about people praying for their country, but it reminds me of something else.  Since it is Memorial Day weekend, it seems appropriate to talk a little about our military.  Some refer to it as “the iron ring”.  I remember a sign that was on the door of the 1st Sergeant’s office back when I was serving in the Marine Corp.  It read ” For those who fight for it, freedom has a special flavor the protected never know.”  We should appreciate the sacrifices that have been made, and are being made, by our military and their families.

The verse above is not talking about military service, but rather a different type of service, a service of prayer.  Christians should pray for their country.  We should ask God to forgive us for the sins that are prevalent in our land.  We should pray for God to give wisdom and direction to our political leaders.  We should pray for God to bless our economy, our agriculture, and every other aspect of our country.

We should also pray for our churches, our missionaries, our evangelistic outreaches, and all sorts of other needs of Christians and ministries.  Prayer is very important, and it is something that we can all do.  We should pray, not just for our own needs, but for the needs of others.

II.  Watchman:  Ezekiel 33:6-8

 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’

“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Here again I am reminded by the service of or military, and our law enforcement personnel.  They do provide protection for us.  Without their service, life would not be the same.

Spiritually I am reminded of our need to proclaim both the good news of salvation in Jesus, and a warning about the consequences of the rejection of Jesus Christ.

I recently watched the movie “Heaven is For Real”.  In that movie the minister makes the statement “Wouldn’t we live differently if we truly believed that heaven was for real?”  I would counter with the question “Wouldn’t we live differently if we believed that hell was for real?”  As God’s people we are called to extend both the promise of salvation, and the warning of judgement.

III.  God is Our Shepherd:  Ezekiel 34:15-22

 I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord God. 16 “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment.”

17 ‘And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I shall judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and goats. 18 Is it too little for you to have eaten up the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the residue of your pasture—and to have drunk of the clear waters, that you must foul the residue with your feet? 19 And as for My flock, they eat what you have trampled with your feet, and they drink what you have fouled with your feet.”

20 ‘Therefore thus says the Lord God to them: “Behold, I Myself will judge between the fat and the lean sheep. 21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.

I appreciate that ultimately God is our shepherd.  He will seek the lost, heal the sick, and strengthen the weak.  God is in charge overall, but He works through us.  We are to seek the lost, bring healing to the sick, and strengthen the weak.  God desires to work through us.  We are to be concerned about other people and their spiritual well-being.

God is also going to judge His sheep.  Christians sometimes do not act very Christ-like.  They can be downright mean and judgmental.  We should be careful and diligent to be faithful to our calling to love one another.  I am reminded by the verse that tells us that “by this will all men know that you are my disciples, by your love for one another.”  I hope and pray  that we will be the people God has called us to be.

IV.  Dry Bones Ezekiel 37:1-10

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.

Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

This is such a great story.  It should give us all hope for whatever task God has called us to do.  There are no impossible tasks if God is with us.  There are no lost causes.  With God, all things are possible.  Never give up!  God desires to work through you!!

We can pray.

We can proclaim.

We can care.

We can be victorious.

 

These are the sermon notes from 5/18/14.  Any advertisement that may accompany this blog is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Give God Our All

May 22, 2014

We have several students graduating this spring.  It brings back memories of my own graduation from college back in 1987.  Since I was graduating from a Bible college it was no surprise that instead of a student presenting a speech, we had a student preach a message.  I still remember the title “More Than Just a Little Bit”.  That line came from a popular Christian song by the group Glad.  The basic theme was that we were to give God our all, not just a little bit.  It was a great message and it has stuck with me through the years.

I.  Inconsistent!  Ezekiel 14:1-6

 Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.”’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations.

A.  Idols:  These elders had come for a word from the Lord.  That looked good on the outside.  They were a part of the children of Israel. They were supposed to seek guidance from God, through the prophets.  The problem is that it was not with their whole hearts.  They “set up idols in their hearts”.  God was not pleased.

Do we have idols in our hearts?  Chances are pretty good that none of us actually have physical idols that we worship or consult, but that is not the only type of idol that exists.   Anything that we allow to be more important to us than God is an idol to us.  Anything that we place our trust in, more than we trust in God, is an idol to us.  God wants to be first in our lives.  The most important thing to us, and the thing in which we place the most trust.

B.  Stumble:  “The stumbling block of their iniquity”.  We are called to repent and believe the gospel.  Although we are saved by faith we are still called to turn away from sin. We should be careful in our lives to avoid those things that cause us to stumble.

II.  Repent and Live!  Ezekiel 18:26-32

When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?

30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

A.  The Righteous Man:  These verses are both a warning and a message of hope.  The warning is to those who are serving God in righteousness and truth.  The warning is that we need to continue in righteousness, if we fall into sin we will be judged.  God does not want simply a part of our lives.  He wants us throughout our lives.  We are not to walk with God for a while, we are to walk with God throughout our lives.

B.  The Sinful Man:  There is a message of hope for the sinner.  As long as we live, there is still hope for us to repent and call upon the Lord.  We can still be saved, even if we have lived a lifetime of sin. Even as the thief on the cross was forgiven in his final hours, so we too, can be forgiven.  This should motivate those of us who are believers to continue to pray for those who are lost.  There is still hope.  Never give up hope!

III.  All of Us:

A.  Confession and Faith:  Romans 10:9-10

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

A public confession of faith in Jesus in important.  It is even more important that we actually believe the message in our hearts.  It affects both our inner and our outer person.  What we think, and what we say are important.  God wants all of us, not just the inside, not just the outside, but all of us.

B.  Faith and Action:  James 2:24-26

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

These verses do not imply that we are saved by our works.  We are still saved “by grace, through faith”.  What it does mean is that if we are saved, then our lives will be changed.  That should not come as any surprise.  Do we really think that having the Spirit of Christ in our hearts would not change us?  A living faith will produce works of righteousness.  Our lives should be producing “good fruit”.  God does not want us to have a merely a saving faith, but a transforming faith. This is a faith that changes us from who we were, to who we are becoming in Christ.  This process of becoming will continue throughout our lives as we grow closer to Him.

God does not want a part of our lives.  He wants all of us.

These are the sermon notes from 5/18/14.  Any advertisement that may accompany this blog is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Bad Things Happen

May 15, 2014

Bad things happen, even to good Christian people.  How should we respond?

I.  When Bad Things Happen:  Lamentations 3:37-41

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
39 Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.

We need to recognize that everything that happens has been at least allowed to happen by God.  The devil may attack us, but not without God’s permission.  So should we blame God?  I would suggest that we examine our ways.

    A.  One explanation is that we have sinned and God is allowing us to experience difficulty so that we would recognize and repent of our sin.  The Old Testament gives us example after example of people being punished for their sin by God, even as they were being called to repentance.  The first thing that I would encourage people to do is to examine their lives.  If they are living in unrepentant sin, or if they are resisting the direction of God for their lives, then the answer is simple… repent and do what God is calling you to do.

    B.  Sometimes the bad things that happen in our life are the result of our own wrong choices.  If you feel awful all morning at work and things are going badly for you because you can’t seem to focus, it might be because you stayed up until 3am watching something on Netflix.  Go to bed at a decent hour and you will have a better morning.  Now, not everything is quite so simple, but God will give us wisdom if we ask.  We should ask God why something is happening and if there is something we should do differently.

    C.  This is only a test.  Sometimes bad things happen because God is allowing our faith to be stretched and tested.  Satan hopes that these tests will destroy our faith, God is expecting them to strengthen us as we turn to Him for help.

When bad things happen, we should ask God why they happened and what we should do.  If we have sinned, we should repent.  If we have made a mistake, we should learn from our mistake.  If we are being tested, we should remain firm in our faith.

II.  Call Upon the Lord:  Lamentations 3: 55-57

I called on Your name, O Lord,
From the lowest pit.
56 You have heard my voice:
“Do not hide Your ear
From my sighing, from my cry for help.”
57 You drew near on the day I called on You,
And said, “Do not fear!”

When bad things happen we should call upon the Lord.  If we have sinned, we will be forgiven.  If we have made a mistake, God will give us wisdom and strength to do the right thing in the future.  If we are being tested, God will see us through to the end.

III.  God Will Draw Near

We are not alone in this life.  When we call upon the Lord, He hears us.  He will draw near to us.  We can be aware of His presence in our lives.  His presence gives us strength, hope, peace, and even joy in the midst of the troubles of this life.

We do not need to be afraid.  Ever.  God is with us and “greater is He that is in us, than he who is in the world.”

Bad things happen, but we do not need to be afraid. “Mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  God will see us through the times of darkness and a new day is dawning.

Any advertisement that may follow this article is placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them.


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