Our Strength and Our Shield

July 20, 2015

Some evangelicals are concerned about the future.  As our society becomes more tolerant in some ways, it becomes less tolerant in other ways.  What lies ahead? I.  God is Our Strength:  Isaiah 40:28-31

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

Our strength is limited.  There are times when we feel overwhelmed, worn out, perhaps we are questioning our ability to continue.  It is fairly normal for us to have those kinds of feelings occasionally.  Thankfully we are not expected to do the work of God in our own strength. “Those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”  It is always important for Christians to spend time in the Word and in prayer.  When we are at the limit of our strength it is even more important to spend extra time in the presence of the Lord.  It is God who is the source of our strength for life and ministry. As we spend time in the presence of God through prayer and the Word, our strength will be renewed.  We can overcome obstacles by the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. One of the themes that frequently reoccurs in my messages is that God will give us wisdom and strength.  If we ask God for direction and help, He is faithful to help those who turn to Him.  He will give us the wisdom to know what we should do, and the strength to do it. II.  God is our Shield:  Isaiah 43:1-3

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.

The children of Israel were well aware of how God had brought them through the waters.  The story of the salvation of Noah and his family from the flood was a part of their history.  The deliverance of Israel  from the army of Egypt at the Red Sea was still celebrated regularly.  The entrance into the promised land by passing through the Jordan was a story told over and over.  Their history clearly showed that God could bring them through the waters. For those of us who read these scriptures today, we are reminded of the friends of Daniel who were cast into the fiery furnace.  The king saw, not three men, but four in the furnace and the three men came safely out.  The fourth looked “like the son of God”.  We are not alone in our time of trial, Christ is with us.  Truly God can bring us through the fire, or the flood. We are involved in a spiritual war that is played out on two fronts; the physical and the spiritual.  God is able to protect us on both fronts.  We may never know all the ways that God has brought us through the battles.  Sometimes we can see the hand of God at work, and other times it is unknown to us. Conclusion:  Psalms 28:7

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.

We do not need to worry about the future.  God is our strength and our shield.  We can face whatever comes our way. Psalms 118:6

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?

These are the sermon notes from 7/5/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Good and Evil

July 9, 2015

The Supreme Court has made its’ decision. Gay marriage is now the law of the land. I had prepared this message before that news was made public. I think that the timing of this message was inspired by God.

I. Woe!: Isaiah 5:20-24

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!

Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,

Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!

Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.”

I cannot help but think of this recent ruling by the Supreme Court. God’s Word declares homosexual sex to be an abomination in Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”. In I Corinthians 6:9-10 it is listed as a sin which is capable of keeping us from heaven ” Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”. It is condemned as evil in both Old and New Testaments, yet we now as a society declare it to be good.

What bothers me even more than our government endorsing gay marriage is when Christian leaders give their approval. There is a growing number of denominations and independent churches that are recognizing gay marriage. This requires either a dismissal of scripture or a drastic reinterpretation. Either route usually involves a sense of intellectual superiority. “You literalists just don’t understand how to interpret scripture.” Or so they say.

It has been a long time since I was in the Marine Corps, but I still remember that there were people who were proud of how much alcohol they could drink and still be conscious. Substance abuse in all its forms is unhealthy for our bodies, and a bad testimony for Jesus Christ.

God is concerned about justice. As the people of God, we too, should care about justice. Our society is better than many, but we should continue to press for just laws and just enforcement of those laws. There is still room for improvement.

These scriptures in Isaiah warn about coming judgement for these sins. We in America should be concerned. What is keeping God from judging our society for our sins?

As a country we have rejected the Law of God. We have removed the Bible and prayer from our schools. We have legalized sin. There is reason to be concerned.

II. Pray!! II Chronicles 7:14

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Judgement is held off by the mercy of God and the presence of Christians in our country. The missionary work that goes forth from the United States is phenomenal. Although there is much evil in our land there is also much good. As Christians we are to humble ourselves before God and ask God to forgive the sin in our lives, and in our land. If we will seek the face of God, if we will turn from our sins, then God will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land. It is not necessary for all Americans to be saved. It is important that those who call themselves Christian, behave in a Christ-like fashion. This includes our interaction with those who do not agree with us. God loves everyone. We are to call out to all to return to the God who loves them. Some will listen. Some will not.

These are the sermon notes from 6/28/15. Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress. I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Cease to Do Evil

June 29, 2015

Faith and works have had a turbulent history. Finding the proper relationship is important to our Christian faith.

I. Worship and Evil: Isaiah 1:10-15

“Hear the word of the Lord,
You rulers of Sodom;
Give ear to the law of our God,
You people of Gomorrah:
11
“To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle.
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
Or of lambs or goats.

12
“When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?
13
Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
15
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood. ”

A. Offerings and Sin
Samuel said said to Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice. (I Samuel 15:22) We cannot live sinful lives and then think that we can buy God’s forgiveness by giving a big offering. Certainly it is good to give offerings, but it is more important to be obedient.

B. Worship and Sin
We are supposed to worship God. It is good to gather together with other believers to worship and pray. Many traditional congregations begin their worship with a time of confession of sins and a request for forgiveness. That can be a good thing. The potential problem with this is that some may use it as an excuse to continue in sinful behavior. The thinking may be that I can do what I want throughout the week as long as I go to church on Sunday and ask for forgiveness. That is not how it works. We are not to use the sacrifice of Christ as a means to remain in our sins. It is by the power of God that we are able to escape the clutches of sin. To come together to worship God, and then purposely remain in sin brings no glory to God.

II. Cease to Do Evil: Isaiah 1:16-17

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
17
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

I greatly appreciate the simplicity of the statement “cease to do evil, learn to do good”. Of course, we need to be able to recognize the difference between good and evil. That is something that we should turn to the Bible to identify. Our culture does not lead the way to godliness. As Christians, we should follow the Bible, not to earn our salvation, but to display our salvation. We should “let our light shine, that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

We should seek justice. God is concerned about how we live in society. As Christians we should rebuke the oppressor and speak up for the oppressed. Evangelical Christians were opposed to the Social Gospel movement, which seemed to equate salvation with a good life on earth. The emphasis placed on forgiveness of sins is appropriate, but to ignore injustice is wrong. We should preach the forgiveness of sins first, and work for justice second. They are not equal concerns, but justice should not be ignored.

III. Forgiveness: Isaiah 1:18-20

“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
19
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
20
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword”;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9) Forgiveness is offered to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

However, we are also told, “If you love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15 We are forgiven for our past sins, but we are called, and enabled to turn away from the practice of sin.

Obedience will be rewarded, disobedience will be judged.

May God help us to cease to do evil and learn to do good, not because we are attempting to earn our salvation, but because we want to live out our salvation.

Cast Your Cares

June 15, 2015

We are called to be different from the world.  Our American culture tells us to be proud, independent, even rebellious. God calls us to a different lifestyle.

I Peter 5:5-11

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. 10 But may the God of all grace, who called us[d] to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen

I.  Submissive

This is not a quality that we like to emphasize as Americans,  It goes against our stubborn individualism.  Yet, learning to be submissive to those in authority can generally be a good idea.  As children we should submit to our parents.  As students we should submit to our teachers.  As workers we should submit to our bosses.  This should not mean a blind obedience, but a willing recognition of who is in charge.  As I told my boys when they got their first jobs “As long as it isn’t illegal or immoral, you do what your boss tells you to do.”  With a son now working in construction, I might add “or breaks the safety rules.”.

In the verses above, we are told to submit to one another.  It does not always have to be our way.  We need to be willing to think of others.  It should not be a matter of jostling for superiority, but rather  we should be considerate of each other.

Most of all we should be submissive to God.  Even as Jesus prayed, so we too should pray “not my will, but yours be done.

II.  Humilty

Pride is a dangerous trait for Christians.  Pride is a sin itself, and can lead to all kinds of other sins.  It can create dissatisfaction and strife when we think that we are better than others, or that we deserve more than we are receiving.  We must guard against pride.

This does not mean that we should think that we are worthless.  We are, after all, made in God’s image.  We are the “children of the king”.  We should seek a balance in understanding who we are in Christ.

III.  Cast Your Cares

It is a wonderful thing to be able to bring our concerns to God and leave them in His care.  God loves us and is able to help us in our time of need.  We need to place our trust in Him.  This also applies to our concerns for our children, or grandchildren.  Those situations are sometimes even more concerning, because we have less control.  We can bring our needs, and the needs of others to God in prayer, knowing that He loves us, our families and our friends.  We can indeed cast our cares upon Him, for He does care for us.

IV.  Resist

We need to be watchful for the attacks of the devil.  He will try to destroy us if he can by leading us astray.  It will be a little here, a little there, until one day we find that we have strayed far from the path that God intends for us.  We must be watchful, stand firm, endure suffering if necessary for the time being, knowing that God rewards those who faithfully serve Him.

V. Completion

Our tests and struggles will one day come to an end.  We will be able to say with Paul, that we have ‘finished the race’.  It is God who is working in us, and He finishes what He starts.  (Philippians 1:6)

VI.  To the Glory of God

Our lives are completed, not for our glory, but for the glory of God.  If it were not for the grace of God we would remain in our sins.  All that is accomplished in us or through us is by the grace of God and for the glory of God.

As Christians were are to have a different mind-set than the people in the world.  We are to recognize submissiveness and humility as desirable traits.  We are to place our confidence in God, rather than ourselves or others.  We are to resist the attacks of the Devil and allow God to complete His work in us.  All for the glory of God

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

Words For Life

June 8, 2015

The book of Proverbs is filled with short sayings filled with wisdom for godly living.  In today’s message I have selected seven to share with you.

I.  On Alcohol:  Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a mocker,
Strong drink is a brawler,
And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

We all can think of examples where lives have been destroyed by alcohol: the drunk driver who kills someone, the alcoholic that loses everything important to them,  An individual who makes a mistake while under the influence that has lifelong consequences. No one drinks intending to make life destroying actions.   The best way to avoid these types of problems is to abstain from alcohol.  Perhaps you will have no problem with alcohol, but what about others who seek to follow your example, but who fail to walk the line of moderation?  We are not to set a stumbling block in the path of others.  If we practice abstinence, no one following our example will be led astray by alcohol.

Drinking alcohol is like playing with fire.  Abstinence is the better choice.

II.  Pleasure:  Proverbs 21:17

He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;
He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

This verse reminds me of the warning in II Timothy 3:4 that talks about people who are “lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God”.  God has given us many wonderful gifts, but we need to be careful not to let the gifts take the place of the giver.  God is to be more important to us than material things.  If the things of this world take the place of God in our life, then even if we are rich, we are truly poor.

III.  Overwork:  Proverbs 23:4

Do not overwork to be rich;
Because of your own understanding, cease!

The Bible talks about the importance of hard work.  Here we are warned against overwork.  Some of us have a tendency to be lazy.  Some of us are inclined to overwork.  We should seek to find a healthy balance.  Without the blessing of God, long hours will be in vain.  With the blessing of God, our efforts can bear fruit.  We should be faithful servants, but we do not have to work ourselves to death.

IV.  Repeating Mistakes:  Proverbs 26:11

As a dog returns to his own vomit,
So a fool repeats his folly.

We should learn from our mistakes, not repeat them.  Sadly, I know people who repeat the same mistake over and over again.  I guess that makes them fools.  I don’t like to use such terms for people, but that is what the Bible calls people who repeat their folly.  Let us not be fools.  Let us learn from our mistakes.

V.  The Wounds of a Friend:  Proverbs 27:6

Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Our friends may tell us when we have messed up.  We should receive correction humbly, recognizing that they speak out of love for us, not out of hatred.  It may sting for the moment, but we are made better by godly correction.

VI.  Sudden Destruction:  Proverbs 29:1

He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.

A person will only tolerate so much.  If we are in a relationship with someone and they continue in wrong behavior, there may come a time when we cut them out of our lives.  We see this in human relationships.  Is it true with God?  Is it possible that God will cut us off if we consistently refuse correction?  I certainly would not want to take that chance.  One of the scariest things that I have heard people say is “I know it is wrong, but God will forgive me”.  Premeditated sin, counting on God’s forgiveness, is a very dangerous road to travel.

VII.  Build a Life:  Proverbs 24:3-4

Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.

If we would live our lives according to God’s wisdom, it would be good.  Our lives here on earth can be filled with the riches that God has for us.  Those riches may look different from person to person, but for the faithful servant of God, life can be good, and the best is yet to come.

These are the sermon notes from 6/7/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

Up, Up and Away!

June 1, 2015

In the early comic books Superman would proclaim “Up, up and away!” as he would take off in flight.  We can use that phrase to our advantage.  I will explain how that applies later in this message.

I.  The Lord Keeps Watch:  Proverbs 15:3

The eyes of the Lord are in every place,
Keeping watch on the evil and the good.

God sees everything.  It is one of the attributes of God.  We recognize that God knows what we are doing.  The people who do evil deeds should be aware that God sees them.  Even if it seems that they are getting away with wrongdoing in this life.  Their time of judgement will come.  For those who are doing good.  God sees them as well.  For believers it is important to remember “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. ”  (Galatians 6:9)

II.  The Lord’s Hate List:  Proverbs 6:16-19

These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,
18 A heart that devises wicked plans,
Feet that are swift in running to evil,
19 A false witness who speaks lies,
And one who sows discord among brethren.

Pride is first on the list.  This does not mean that we have to think of ourselves as lower than pond-scum.  There is a balance where we can recognize that we are made in God’s image, that we are children of the king, that we are more than conquerors, because of God.  The key is to recognize the role that God plays in our life.  If we think that we are the cause of our own success, we are mistaken.  We do play a role, but unless God blesses our efforts our efforts will be in vain.

Lying is second on the list.  Our current society thinks lying is not really very wrong.  The “little white lie” is widely accepted as insignificant.  Yet, lying is lying.  We are called to be people who speak the truth.  We do need to learn how to be tactful, and we do not need to share every thought that goes through our head, but what we do say should be the truth as we know it.

“Shedding innocent blood” seems to be a pass for many of us.  We have not committed murder.  Most of us have not committed assault of any kind.  However, what if we think back to our childhoods?  Were any of us bullies?  Did we pick on those who were weak or different?  Perhaps as we grew older we recognized that punching someone could get us fired instead of sent to the principal’s office.  We could go to jail instead of detention.  Did we shift our tactics so that we would conform to societies’ expectations?  We should treat people with love and respect.  We are called to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, yet, is that what we have done?

Devising wicked plans is next.  There is a difference between the person who sins in a moment of weakness and the person who plans in advance to do what they know to be wrong in the sight of God.  Premeditated sin is very wrong.  However, this passage means even more than that.  God is concerned about our hearts.  If we are daydreaming about doing wrong, even if we do not act upon it, we are doing wrong.  We are to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  ( II Corinthians 10:5)

Feet that run to evil reminds me of a fight at the schoolyard.  The children run together to gather around and watch the people who are fighting.  As adults what evil do we run to watch?  What do we watch on television or at the movies?  Do we gather around and celebrate evil?  Or have we learned to focus on that which is good?

A false witness reemphasizes the importance of being truthful in all our dealings.  Are we honest in our tax returns?  Do we fulfill our commitments?   Are we known as people who do what we say we will do?

Finally, there is the one who sows discord.  Do you know how many churches have been destroyed by people who fought and bickered over things that were inconsequential?  We are supposed to be the family of God.  We are supposed to be unified by the Spirit of God.  Unfortunately, many Christians have fought each other rather than fighting the good fight.  We have far too often turned on each other, rather than supported each other.  That is wrong!

III.  Life Winds Upward: Proverbs 15:24

The way of life winds upward for the wise,
That he may turn away from hell below.

For those of us who have chosen to follow Christ we are called to “cease to do evil, and learn to do good”.  (Isaiah 1:16-17)  We are called to draw closer to God.  It is a lifelong process of serving God faithfully, not a onetime event, but a daily walk with God.  “Up, up and away!’ can refer to us drawing closer to God, and leaving the sin of the world behind.

Up, up and away!

These are the sermon notes from 5/31/15. Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Great Peace

May 28, 2015

One of our greatest assets as Christians is the peace of God that brings us through the turmoil of life.

I.  Psalms 119:165

Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

The peace that God has for His people is something that this world cannot given, nor understand, nor take away.  It is not an absence of external turmoil or conflict.  It is an inner peace that allows us to face the storms of life unruffled.

This peace comes from time spent in the Word of God.  The Word of God, together with the Spirit of God, transform the people of God.  We should read it, study it, memorize it, meditate upon it, and above all, be obedient to it.

To stumble is to trip up, to almost fall.  People who are grounded in the Word will live stable Christian lives.

The King James version of the Bible says “And nothing will offend them.” for the second portion of verse 165.  Christians who are solidly grounded in the Word will not be offended by the actions of others.  We will have compassion on them, even when they are doing offensive things.

II.  John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

This verse has been one of my favorites since my teenage years.  It has given me a peace within that comes from a confidence in what God can do in our lives.

We will have tribulation.  We will have problems, tests, and trials.  We can be confident that God will see us through those problems.  We can trust that God will give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.  We are not alone.  God is with us.  It may be that we must look at our situations from an eternal perspective, because sometimes things don’t work out for us in this life.  That doesn’t meant that we are defeated.

We have the Spirit of Christ as our source of strength.  Jesus overcame the world.  Now, we too, are more than conquerors.

III.  II Timothy 3:1-5

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Whenever I read this portion of scripture I am amazed at how many of these traits are in evidence in the world today.  I believe that perilous times have come and we should guard our hearts against the corruption that is in the world.

In all of this, we may be at peace.  As our world descends into chaos, we can know that God is still on the throne.  We should continue to seek to do what is right in the eyes of God.  We should work to solve problems and to make the world in which we now live a better place, but we must realize that our true home is not in this world.

IV.  Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We cannot be at peace and be worried at the same time.  We should not worry.  Anything that we are anxious about we can bring to God and leave in His hands.  He loves us, hears us, and is able to help us.

We can be at peace in Him.

These are the sermon notes from 5/24/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any payment from them. 

His Mercy Endures Forever

May 21, 2015

There are portions of the Old Testament that clearly point to Jesus Christ.  Psalms that refer to Christ are called Messianic Psalms.  Psalms 118 is one example.

I.  Give Thanks for Mercy:  Psalms 118:1-4

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Let Israel now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

Certainly we should give thanks to God for He is good to us in so many ways.  All good gifts come ultimately from God.  He is deserving of our thanks.

His mercy endures forever.  We should understand and appreciate God’s grace and mercy.  Grace is receiving something good that we do not deserve.  Mercy is when we do not receive punishment that we do deserve.  We all have sinned.  The wages of sin is death, but God has given us life in Jesus Christ instead of the death we deserve.  His mercy endures forever, because we have been offered life forever.

II.  Trust in the Lord:  Psalms 118: 5-9

I called on the Lord in distress;
The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.

We will occasionally be in distress.  Life can be hard.  In times of trouble we do not need to be afraid.  God is on our side.  Truly as Christians we should have no fear.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  We can trust God.  He will come through for us.  We should understand that sometimes we must view this from an eternal perspective.  Our greatest reward is not of this world.

III.  Rejoice!  Psalms 118:15-18

The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.

We should expect that our lives will be filled with the joy of the Lord.  As Christians we should be able to rejoice over the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  We should be able to appreciate the good gifts that God has for us in this life.

In these verses we begin to see evidence that this psalm is a messianic psalm.  The “right hand of the Lord” is a reference to Jesus Christ.  Jesus does die for our sins, but he does not remain dead but is raised up to life everlasting.  So we too, have a hope that goes beyond the grave, truly a reason for rejoicing.

IV.  The Gate:  Psalms 118:19-20

Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.

There is only one gate through which we can enter into the presence of the Lord.  It is, of course, Jesus Christ.  John 10:7 “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”  The Hebrew word for gate is the same word as for door.  Either way, it is only through Jesus Christ that we will enter into heaven.  John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

V.  The Cornerstone:  Psalms 118:21-24

I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone upon which we can build our lives.  In Matthew 21:42 Jesus quotes this verse.  “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”  God knew from the very beginning what He was going to do about the problem of sin. God shows us mercy by the atoning death of Jesus.  Matthew 7:24 says “ “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:”  Jesus is the rock of our salvation, the rock upon which we build our lives.

VI.  The Light:  Psalms 118:25-28

Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world that has shown into the darkness.  Those who believe in Him are called to share His light with others.  Some reject the light and remain in darkness, but some receive His light and come into the presence of God.  Now we are called to let His light shine through us.  ” Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. ” Matthew 5:16

Conclusion:  Psalms 118:29

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Time Matters

May 14, 2015

The last time that I remember being bored was the winter of 1982-83 in Beirut, Lebanon.  I was serving in the Marine Corps and was a part of the multinational peacekeeping force.  A part of my duties was to stand twelve hours of guard duty every other day.  Six hours on, six hours off, repeat.  Standing guard for twelve hours on the perimeter of an airport where you normally did not see anyone was conducive to boredom.

That was a long time ago.

Now, I have far more things to do than I have time or energy to do.  Since I have so much to do I find it helpful to make a daily list.  This list is kept on my computer and updated each work day.

The first thing on my list is the Today category.  In this category I list those things that are scheduled for that day, or that really should be done that day.  The minimum goal is to have those things completed each day.

The second category is Daily.  This category lists those things that I would like to do on a daily basis.  These are good, routine things that I try to make a part of each day.  This list includes things like make list, take vitamins, read the paper, do some other reading, pick up around the house, do some weeding, and so forth.  I really want to get these things done each day, but sometimes it doesn’t happen.

The third category is Should Do.  This list contains a list of things that I should do, that are waiting to be done.  Once the first two parts of my list have been completed, if I have any time or energy left, then I turn my attention to this list.  On a good day, I will get numerous things scratched off this list.

The fourth category is Call/Contact.  I place peoples names on this part of the list that I need to call or visit.

The final category is Could Do.  This part of the list is all of those things that I would like to do if I can find the time.  Sadly, if an item is on this part of the list, it is not forgotten, but it may never get done.  It’s only real hope is that someday I may feel the desire to bump it up into the Should Do category.

The nice thing about the list is that it helps me to stay organized.  I can get the things done that I need to get done.  I can have a sense of accomplishment as things are scratched off the list.  If I am having a day that is overwhelming, or that I am just not very with it, I simply go to the next thing on the list, do it, and check it off.  My wife can provide input to help me in prioritizing my day so that important things are not left out.  It works well for me.

Some people do not like lists.  They feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume, or they feel that everything must be done.

I can assure you.  Everything on my list will not be done today…or this week….or possibly ever.

I can live with that.

It is merely a tool by which I organize my time.  So if you want me to do something, I will write it down,  get it on my list, and it will get done…eventually.

Repentance

May 11, 2015

King David is said to be “a man after God’s own heart”, that is; an example for the rest of us.  Yet, King David was an adulterer, and arranged for the death of an innocent man.  Obviously, this behavior is not what we are to imitate.  What we are to learn from is how he responded when he was confronted with his sin.  Psalms 51 was written to express his repentance.

Psalms 51:10-17

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

I.  A Broken and Contrite Heart

The first step is to recognize that we have sinned.  One thing that greatly bothers me is when people think that their life is right, and God’s Word is wrong.  When we measure our life by the light of God’s Word we will see that there is still room for improvement in our lives.  We still fall short of what we could, and should be.

Once we have recognized our sin, we should be sorry for our sin.  A “broken and contrite heart” does not make excuses for sin.

True repentance leads to renouncing sin.  We should turn away from sin.  As much as we can do so, we should avoid sin.  We should “cease to do evil, and learn to do good.”

II.  A Clean Heart

Once we have turned to God in repentance, we are forgiven for our sins.  We do not have to earn our forgiveness.  Forgiveness has been provided for us at the cross.  Jesus has made atonement for us.  “although our sins were as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow”.

III.  A Steadfast Spirit

As Christians we are meant to have life-altering changes take place in our lives.  A steadfast spirit is one that will be able to stand the test of time.  We are not “tossed about”  by events in our lives, but rather we are to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”.

IV.  Joy

There are times when the joy of the Lord has been drained from our lives.  “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”  It is like fuel to a car.  We top off the tank and we can run for quite a while, but the stress and strains of life can cause our tanks to run dry.  When that happens we need to spend sufficient time in the presence of the Lord, for “in the presence of the Lord, there is joy forevermore”.  Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, we can expect it to be present in our lives.  If it is missing, then we must seek the presence of the Lord until it is restored to us.

V. Teach

First, God works in our lives.  Then we are able to teach others about the goodness of the Lord.

VI.  Praise

Praise is a natural and expected response to the forgiveness that God offers to us.  God is good to us in so many ways.  He is worthy of our worship and our praise.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

These are the sermon notes from 5/10/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 


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