I was Glad

November 22, 2017

Other than my time in the military, when I was stationed at a place where church attendance was not an option, I have attended church almost every Sunday.  I am pretty sure that I could count on my fingers the times that I have missed.  I have always considered attending church to be worth my time.

I.  I Was Glad:  Psalms 122:1

I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go into the house of the Lord.”

This verse includes two parts; our attitude and our actions.  We should have a good attitude when we go to church.  When we attend church we will most likely spend time in praise, time in prayer, time with God’s people and time in the Word.  The attitude with which we do each of these things will make a significant difference.  Have a good attitude!  God can use poor music and a stumbling message if our hearts are open.  (Of course, good music and an anointed message is even better!)

It is necessary to actually go.  Some of us have gym memberships that we never use.  We may have good intentions, but it is necessary to follow through.

II.  Exhort One Another!   Hebrews 10:24-25

 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

It is not just about us.

Our attendance at church is good for us, but that is not all there is to it.  We can be an encouragement to each other to “stir up love and good works”.    You may think that your presence goes unnoticed, but each and every person contributes something to the overall experience.  Church is diminished without you.  Like a scarecrow in a field, sometimes just being there is enough.  Of course, for most of us we can contribute more, a friendly smile, a warm greeting, listening to someone’s story, there is much that we can contribute if we are open to being led by, and used by, God.

III.  Give Thanks:  I Thessalonians 5:18

in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

There are two basic categories for the experiences that we will have in life.  They are either good or bad, with all kinds of variations and levels.  It is easy to thank God for the good things, they are, after all, good.  Yet we can thank God for the things that are bad as well.  We are promised in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ”  We don’t always understand, and some things are very painful in the moment, but God can ultimately use all things for good.  Furthermore, we can be thankful that God has promised to be with us always.  We do not face difficult times alone.  God is with us.  We can be very thankful for that assurance. 

It is God’s will that we give thanks.  Sometimes things happen that are not according to the will of God.  Both angels and humans have free will and they can do things contrary to the will of God.  Now, God is able to ultimately orchestrate all things for our good and for His glory.  There is a difference between the will of God and the plan of God.  God is all knowing and can weave things together in a way that we cannot understand with our human faculties, but we can trust Him and give Him thanks.

 

These are the sermon notes from 11/19/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  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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One Thing

November 1, 2017

Our head is in the clouds, but our feet are firmly planted on earth.

I.  My Strength:  Psalms 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?

God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.  He is pure goodness, there is no evil in Him.  He is our source of salvation, there is no other way.  He is our source of strength.  We can do whatever it is that He wants us to do because He will give us the wisdom and strength that we need.

II.  One Thing:  Psalms 27:4

One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.

I have been a Christian all my life.  I remember being picked up from the nursery at church.  I remember when falling asleep in the pew was a good thing because it meant you were quiet.  I remember asking Jesus into my heart at about age seven.  I remember powerful times of worship and prayer during my tweens and teens.  I remember the sense of God calling me into the ministry in my twenties and I remember the years of ministry in the local church.

Through all of it the true desire of my heart is, and has been, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to dwell in His house forever.

III.  Seek:  Psalms 27:8

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Although I have spent a lifetime serving God and recognize that I have only begun to know Him.  I desire to seek His face, but the cares and concerns of the world demand attention.  Still, I try to open my eyes to His presence.  Since God is everywhere, I should be able to see Him anywhere.

Lord, open my eyes that I may see you.

IV.  Teach:  Psalms 27:11

Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.

We may be able to be in the presence of God, but we live here on earth.  We need God to guide our steps, to teach us how to live as His children, to be His people.  God’s ways are not our ways.  May God help us to hear His voice and to be obedient to His Word and His Spirit.

V.  Hope:  Psalms 27:13

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living

Christians should always have hope.  God will help us.  Maybe not in the way that we desire of expect, but God will give us the wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do it.  God will do what needs to be done that we cannot do.

We can trust Him.

VI.  Wait:  Psalms 27:14

Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Just as God’s ways are not our ways.  God’s timing is not our timing.  Be patient.  Wait on the Lord.  Things will work out in His way and in His time.

Throughout the journey of this life, may our eyes be open to the beauty of the Lord.  May we live our lives according to His plan for us.  May His will be done in our lives, and to God alone be the glory!

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/29/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

This Into That

October 25, 2017

When I first began this message it seemed to focus on joy and gladness which seemed an odd message to accompany a presentation about rescuing girls from sex trafficking.  Then I realized that it was about the transformation that takes place when a person comes out of the darkness and into the light.

I.  Weeping into Joy:  Psalms 30:5b

Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

As believers in Christ we are not promised a life without sorrow.  There will be times when weeping is appropriate.  The good news for us is that those times will come to an end.  Some nights are long.  I cannot imagine what these girls have endured.  What I do know is that God has something better for them.  I do not know what your sorrows have been.  I do know that God can bring comfort, peace and joy.

II.  The Path of Life:  Psalms 16:11

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

When these girls are rescued from the brothels they need to be taught a new way of life.  For many of us, when we have left our old lives behind, we need to learn how to live as the children of God.

It is a new life.

The greatest joy that we can experience is the joy of being in the presence of God.  The things of this earth may fade, but the joy that comes from the presence of the Lord never loses it’s luster.

III.  Peace:  Psalms 4:6-8

There are many who say,
“Who will show us any good?”
Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us.
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Some may have given up in despair of this life.  God is able to show us a new way.  If we will live our lives for Him, He will bless us with peace, joy and gladness.  These qualities do not arise from the things of this world, but from the Spirit, hence they are not dependent on external factors but rather on our internal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

IV.  A New Life:  Psalms 5:11-12

But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

For those who chose to place their faith in God, God will watch over them.  The new life that we have will be a life that is watched over by God.  We can have confidence in the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

V.  Mourning into Dancing:  Psalms 30:11-12

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

For those who have come out of the darkness into the light these verses are particularly powerful.  This does not mean that we should seek to fall far so that we can fly high.  It is a powerful testimony of the power of God for a person to walk with God throughout their life. We do not wish for any to fall away from God so that they can experience a greater sense of redemption.  Rather, we are to thank God for His mercy and grace in watching over us and sparing us from the ravages of sin.

Either way it is appropriate for us to sing praise to God and give Him thanks.

He has turned our mourning into dancing.

He has turned hopeless into hopeful.

He has turned death into life.

May He be praised forever and ever.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/22/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

My Redeemer Lives

October 18, 2017

In my devotions this past week I was reading in Job and was impressed with this particular portion of scripture.  It seems as though it could be three messages, but it is only one portion of scripture so I will make it the three points of one message.

Job 19:23-29

“Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
28 If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’—
Since the root of the matter is found in me,
29 Be afraid of the sword for yourselves;
For wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
That you may know there is a judgment.”

I.  The Word (vv23-24)

Each time that I read this passage I am reminded that these words have been inscribed in a book.   They are now, and have been for a long time, recognized as a part of God’s Word.    The words of Isaiah 40:8 come to mind  “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

At North Central University, where I went to school there is a large granite stone with verse 24 engraved on it sitting outside of the chapel.    It is a powerful visual reminder f the truth and permanency of God’s Word.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:18 “ For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

The Word of God is powerful and permanent.

II.  My Redeemer (vv25-27)

It is believed that Job lived in the time of the patriarchs, about 1800 BC.  When we read these verses in Job we know that he is talking about Jesus who would not appear on the earth for a long time.  Not only is Jesus our redeemer, but he is the full expression of God.  John 1:1 and 14 says ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”    Jesus revealed to us the nature of God.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

We recognize that it is only through faith in Jesus, who died for us, that we can be saved.  He is our one and only redeemer. There is other.  There is no other way.   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.

III.  Judgement (vv28-29)

There will come a day of judgement for all on the earth.  That will be a great day of reward and a terrible day of punishment depending on your relationship with God.

Revelations 20:11-15

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

All have sinned.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus will be forgiven.

Romans 6:23

 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Those who have rejected Christ will be cast into the lake of fire.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus will give an account of their lives.

I Corinthians 5:910

Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

What have we done with the new life and the new opportunity that God has given us?

In this short passage in Job we see the comfort of the solid foundation that the Word of God gives us, the hope that we have in our redeemer Jesus Christ and the reality of the coming judgement.  It is a brief but powerful reminder of the hope that is within us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/15/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Anatomy, Attraction, Attitude and Appearance

October 8, 2017

There has been a lot of discussion over the past couple of years about individuals who are transgender and how society should accommodate them, specifically in regards to restrooms and locker rooms.  Although I am a pastor, I am also a philosophy instructor.  This article is not meant to be religious in nature, there will be no scriptural references, nor will I comment on the moral or religious implications, as that would limit it’s application to those who agree with me from a religious viewpoint.  I am attempting to reason with a larger audience, for the sake of social harmony.

I would like to begin with the topic of anatomy.  The vast majority of people are born with either a vagina or a penis. ( I understand that some people are indeed born with both.  This article will address that only briefly in the section on special circumstances. ) On a person’s birth certificate they are marked as either female or male on the basis of their genitalia.  This anatomical feature is a straight forward, external, physical characteristic that anyone can easily identify.

A second issue, that is completely separate from anatomy, is sexual attraction.  Some individuals are attracted to the same sex, others are attracted to the opposite sex.  Some are attracted to both and some to neither.  This is an internal characteristic of individuals that cannot be discerned from external appearance.  It also is something that can change through a person’s lifetime.  It can, at times, be confusing as a person struggles with their sexuality.

A third issue is what I am calling attitude.  By this, I am referring to personality traits.  Earlier in western culture these traits were identified as masculine or feminine traits.  In the 21st century it has been realized that personality traits are not necessarily dictated by either one’s anatomy or one’s sexual attraction.  People who have traits that have historically been identified as masculine or feminine may think that they were born in the wrong body, since their traits do not match up with historical, cultural. preconceptions.  This can be confusing and is based on the false belief that personality traits are associated with anatomy.  They are not.  People with male anatomy do not all have the same personality traits.  People with female anatomy do not have the same personality traits.  Each person is a unique combination.

Appearance is my final category.  Our culture does have certain social patterns of dress and behavior that have historically been associated with males and females.  Sometimes in today’s culture individuals with male anatomy may dress and act so as to appear female and individuals with female anatomy may seek to appear as male.  As long as they are clothed they may very well succeed in this attempt.

For the sake of public harmony people should use the restroom that is designated by their anatomy.  However, we can allow some exceptions.  As already stated some people intentionally seek to appear opposite to their actual anatomy.  Most restrooms have stalls that are private so no one is going to observe the actual anatomy of a person using the facilities.  If a male is dressed convincingly as a female and goes to use the male bathroom they will create far more commotion than if they use the one that is consistent with their appearance.  However if a male is using a female bathroom they should sit as a female would, even if it is not necessary, to keep up the appearance of being female.  Remember, the idea here is to allow people to live in peace with each other, without causing offense, if  possible.

Locker rooms are a different story.  Locker rooms should be designated by anatomy.  Anatomy is easily identified at a single glance.  Individuals with male genitalia and individuals with female genitalia should use separate locker rooms.  For those individuals who like to dress as women. but still have male anatomy, they should use the anatomically correct facilities.  In all of the locker rooms that I have been in there is no privacy.  When you undress and shower your anatomy will show.  You might like to dress as a woman, but if you have a penis you shouldn’t be changing and showering in the women’s locker room and vice a versa.

There are some special situations.  Individuals who once had male genitalia but no longer do, fall into one of two categories.  They either had some form of injury or a surgical procedure.  For those who lost their genitalia due to an injury, they should still be allowed to use the facilities that they used before the injury.  For those who have been surgically altered, they should use the facilities that match their new genitalia.   For those who were born with both, they should use the facilities with which they most closely identify.

I have intentionally not used the term gender in this article because it is a term that has so many meanings that it is now basically without meaning.  I have chosen instead to focus on anatomy, attraction, attitude and appearance.  I believe that these terms are more appropriate.

Our society should be taught not to mistreat people who are different. We should seek to live in peace and harmony, respecting each others individuality as much as possible. This does not mean that we cannot interact, seeking to bring about change in either individuals or society, but it does mean that we should do so in a courteous and respectful manner.

This article is not meant to be the final word, but only a contribution to the ongoing discussion.  It is not suggested as an ideal, but as a compromise.

 

 

 

 

A Big Project

October 4, 2017

Sometimes we have a big project to undertake.  We should research, prepare, plan and recruit workers with the necessary skills.  Nehemiah desired to see the wall rebuilt around Jerusalem.  The Jewish people had been allowed to return to rebuild, but progress had stalled.  Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem to encourage the workers.

I.  A Mind to Work:  Nehemiah 4:6

 So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.

Initially, the project went well.  The people had been motivated to work and they contributed enthusiastically and good progress was made initially.

So often we start a new project with a fast start.  It is new, exciting, even fun, in the beginning.

This is true with the Christian life as well.  People who are new converts  are excited.  They attend church regularly.  They read their Bibles.  They see God at work all around them.

A good start is important.

II.  Failing Strength:  Nehemiah 4:10

Then Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is failing, and there is so much rubbish that we are not able to build the wall.”

After the newness wears off, the test of our wills begins in earnest.  It is hard work to build a wall.  There is a lot of physical labor.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming.

This is true in many other projects as well.  We become tired.  The obstacles seem to be larger and more numerous.  We may be tempted to stop.

In our Christian lives as well, there are times when we grow weary.  We are faced with the tests and trials of life and we can become discouraged.

III.  Frightened by Opposition:  Nehemiah 6:9

For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.”

Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.

There were people around Jerusalem who did not want to see the walls rebuilt.  They threatened Nehemiah and made plans to attack.

Nehemiah responded by asking God for help and by taking appropriate action.

Sometimes people will actively try to stop us from doing the work of God.  We  should take this threats seriously, pray for guidance and strength, and take appropriate action.

The devil would love to destroy our relationship with God. He will try many different tactics to end our relationship with God and to render us ineffective.  We should watch out for his tricks and trust that God will guide and protect us.

IV.  Finished:  Nehemiah 6:15-16

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 And it happened, when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God.

Nehemiah was able to complete the project despite the obstacles.  God helped him.  The success was not due to Nehemiah, but to God who worked through him.

It is a wonderful feeling to accomplish major projects.  We should always give God the glory for enabling us to complete the work He has set before us.

God continues his work in us.  (Philippians 1:6)  As long as we are on this earth, there is work to be done in us and through us.  To God be the glory!

V.  Our Strength:  Nehemiah 8:8-12

 

So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.

10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

11 So the Levites quieted all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them.

As a part of their celebration of the completion of the wall, the Word of God was read to the people.  As they heard the words of the law, they realized just how far they had fallen from where God had called them to live.  They knew that they were not living according to the law and they were sorrowful.

The leaders encouraged them.  The day was meant to be a day of celebration.  They were  not supposed to look at how far they still had to go, but to rejoice in how far they had come.

God loves us.  He is working in us.  We are becoming more like Him.  The process will continue throughout our lives.  We can rejoice that we are saved ‘by grace, through faith’.  (Ephesians 2:8)

It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.  We find that joy primarily by spending time in the presence of God.  (Psalms 16:11) We also develop joy in our lives as a product of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

The life of a Christian should not be filled with anger and sorrow, but rather with the love and joy and peace that comes from God Himself.  That is our source of strength with which we will finish the projects that God gives to us, most importantly the project of a lifetime of serving God.

 

These are the sermon notes from 10/1/17.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

A Root of Evil

September 26, 2017

Caution!  Danger ahead!!  It is good to be warned of dangers that are ahead of us.  Forewarned is forearmed some say.  That is; if we heed the warning.

I.  Useless Wranglings:  I Timothy 6: 3-5

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.

Here at this church we encourage individuals to study the Bible and to discuss it freely.  Sometimes this means that we have disagreements on interpretation.  These disagreements may be invigorating, challenging us to search the scriptures to back up our view.  I love it when, after a service, I see people sitting with their Bibles open, in deep conversation with their neighbor.

When do we cross over from a healthy discussion to ‘useless wranglings’?  Primarily, it comes down to our attitude.  Are we still listening to the points that the other person is making in support of their position?  Are  we considering the possibility that they may be right and we may be wrong?  Or are we simply trying to win an argument?? At the end of the discussion are we stimulated to learn?  Or simply angry??   Or filled with pride at our superiority?   Our attitude makes the difference.

I have often heard it preached that godliness is a means of gain.  Isn’t that the basic assumption of the prosperity gospel that was popular for many years?  Health and wealth for all believers??

We should be careful.  Our true riches do not lie in this world but in the next. Now, it is true that God blesses His people in a wide variety of ways, but we must be careful that we never place the pursuit of blessings over our pursuit of the One Who blesses.

Also, we must recognize that historically, there have been many, many Christians who have been poor in the things of this world, while rich in the things of God.  Which is more important??

II.  Great Gain:  I Timothy 6:6-10

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

We should be in pursuit of godliness.  It should be our desire to be more like Christ.  This involves a dying to the flesh combined with a growth in the spirit.  We cannot do it without God, but God requires our cooperation.

The ability to be content is a terrific trait.  It also goes counter to our culture which pushes us to always want more, bigger, and better, to never be content.  Christians need to be careful not to be caught up with the flow of society which drives us to always work to have more.  “He who dies with the most toys wins” seems to describe the goals of our society.

We should be different.

“The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”.  Money itself is not evil.  It is the love of money that is evil.  It is the attitude that is wrong.  Some people think that this only applies to rich people, but that would be wrong.  Poor people can love money too.

God is to be our first love.  We are to seek Him first, above all else.  Then everything will fall into place. (Matthew 6:33)

III.  But You… I Timothy 6: 11-12

 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

We should pursue, not money, but the traits of godliness.  We will not become perfect in this life, but we should be steadily growing in godliness.

Fight the good fight.  Instead of trying to accumulate things, we should be accumulating souls for the kingdom of God.  We are effective in the work of the kingdom by being fervent in prayer.  Our prayers have an impact that we may not realize.  Everyone can pray and prayer is important!

We can also fight the good fight by our proclamation of the gospel.  We should always be looking for opportunities to share the hope that is within us, the good things that God has done for us, the good news of God’s love for all people.

Finally, we fight the good fight, by letting our light shine in the darkness.  That light, of course, is Christ in us, the hope of glory.  Without Him, we would still be in the dark.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/24/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The Power of Praise

September 13, 2017

I have been playing drums and percussion in worship services for about 40 years.  I really enjoy being a part of the worship experience.

I.  Praise in Celebration:  II Chronicles 5:11-14

This occasion is the dedication of the temple that had been built under the leadership of King Solomon.

 And it came to pass when the priests came out of the Most Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves, without keeping to their divisions), 12 and the Levites who were the singers, all those of Asaph and Heman and Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, stood at the east end of the altar, clothed in white linen, having cymbals, stringed instruments and harps, and with them one hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets— 13 indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying:

“For He is good,
For His mercy endures forever,”

that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

I have  been in some powerful times of praise and worship but I have never seen a cloud fill the room.

In this situation the singers and musicians were as one.  I believe that it was not just musically.  I believe there was a spiritual unity that was brought about by their united purpose of worship.

I believe that when we gather together as the people of God that God is present among us.  I believe that the more united we are in spirit, the more powerful the time of worship may be.  Each time that we come together, we should lay aside the cares and concerns of this world and focus our minds and our hearts in our worship of the King  of Kings.

Who knows, someday we may see a cloud fill the room.

That may or may not happen, but the Spirit of God can move powerfully in our midst, with or without a cloud, if we are worshipping in spirit and in truth.

II.  Praise in Trouble.

Here, many years later,  another king, King Jehoshaphat, finds himself in a time of trouble.

A.  Seek the Lord:  II Chronicles 20:1-4

It happened after this that the people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others with them besides the Ammonites, came to battle against Jehoshaphat. Then some came and told Jehoshaphat, saying, “A great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea, from Syria; and they are in Hazazon Tamar” (which is En Gedi). And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.

When we are facing trouble we should turn to God.  He is able to help.  He is able to guide.  He is able to deliver.  Prayer should be our  first response, not our last.

B.  Trust and Obey:  II Chronicles 20:14-17

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, in the midst of the assembly. 15 And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

They were temporarily safe behind the walls of Jerusalem.  God gave them instructions to leave the safety of the city walls and go out to meet the enemy.  They are told that they will not even have to fight, just see the salvation of the Lord.  They needed to trust and obey.

C.   Praise the Lord:  II Chronicles 20:20-23

So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:

“Praise the Lord,
For His mercy endures forever.”

22 Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

They were obedient to do as God directed.  Since they were not going to have to fight they sent the worship team out first.  They worshiped and praised the Lord and God delivered them from their enemies.

This was not meant to become the new way of fighting wars, but it was what God had directed them to do at this time.  The pattern that we are to follow in times of trouble is to seek the Lord, trust the Lord, obey the Lord and praise the Lord.

Praise is powerful only because God is powerful!

Psalms 150

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!

Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/10/17.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

National Debt

September 12, 2017

I am concerned about our national debt.  We continue to spend more money than we take in.  Every month we create a bigger problem for our nation.  If our government were a family or a business, it would clearly be heading towards bankruptcy.

Can a government go bankrupt?

For a family or business, this problem is pretty straight  forward.  You must reduce your spending, increase your revenue or a combination of both.  I imagine that it is the same for a country.

Our leaders need to be taking this more seriously.  It is not enough to reduce the annual deficit.  We must eliminate the annual deficit and begin paying off our debts.  Cutbacks in spending is the first step.  Of course, people will be unhappy when something that they care about is reduced or dropped, but tough decisions need to be made.  Families do it all the time.  Businesses do it all the time.  Our country and our leadership need to distinguish between those things that we truly need to have in our budget and what things we can do without.   If you do not want to eliminate programs then you must reduce the amount spent on each.    The total expenditures should not exceed the total income.

Revenue could be increased by reducing or eliminating some of the many tax credits that are offered both to businesses and to individuals.  Tax rates also could be raised.  Taxes were higher back in the 90’s, but I seem to remember it as being a fairly prosperous time as a nation.   At the end of the Clinton presidency, we actually had a surplus.  Unfortunately, the first thing that President Bush did was to give that money back to the people and lower tax rates.  The tax rates should have been left alone.  The surplus should have been used to start paying down our debt.

We have a problem and it is getting bigger.  Our politicians need to make the tough decisions.

We can encourage them to act by creating awareness and calling for action.

We can contact our senators and representatives and tell them that this is important to us all.

 

Ornan Who?

September 6, 2017

I want to be like Ornan.  If I were to take a poll, I doubt that there would be one in a thousand who would recognize the name of Ornan the Jebusite.  Nonetheless, he is the hero of our message today.

I need to introduce the context of today’s scripture.  David had commanded that the nation of Israel be counted.  This was something that he was not supposed to do, but he did it anyway.  God was displeased with his action and gave him a choice of punishments.  David choose to ‘fall into the hand of God”.  70,000 people were slain by an angel that God had sent to carry out the judgement.

I.  Ornan:  I Chronicles 21: 15-16, 20

And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. As he was destroying, the Lord looked and relented of the disaster, and said to the angel who was destroying, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

16 Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.

 Now Ornan turned and saw the angel; and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, but Ornan continued threshing wheat.

This angel had already slain 70,000 people.  It was an angel of death and destruction.  I can only imagine how terrifying the sight must have been for those who were present.

David and the elders with him fell on their faces.

Ornan’s sons hid themselves.

Ornan saw the angel and went back to his threshing of wheat.

Apparently Ornan was not afraid.  I suspect that he recognized that God was with him.  Psalms 118:6 says:

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

I want to be like Ornan.  I want to have a walk with God that gives me the confidence to look at the angel of death and go about the business that is at hand.

II.  Soloman:  I Chronicles 22:12-13

 Only may the Lord give you wisdom and understanding, and give you charge concerning Israel, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 13 Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.

We need God to give us wisdom.  Wisdom allows us to know what to do in any given situation.  We do not want to depend solely on human wisdom.  We want the wisdom that comes from God.

Of course, God has already given us much instruction in His Word.  When God gives us direction, it is clearly in our best interest to follow it.  We should live our lives in obedience to God’s Word and His Spirit.

If we are walking with God in obedience we should expect that we can be strong and of good courage.  God is with us.

I want to be like Ornan.

III.  Daniel 11:32-33

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.

Daniel is speaking here about the end times, but really, it can apply to the people of God anytime.

Those who know God shall be strong and do great things.

May we come to know God.  May we know God more.  May we do great things in His service.  May we instruct others who see the difference that God makes in us.

Under the right circumstances the ordinary can be extraordinary.

Ornan was simply  threshing wheat…..in the presence of the angel of destruction.

I have never threshed wheat.  I have never seen the angel of destruction.

I want to know God in such a way that I will be courageous and faithful whatever I may face.

I want to be like Ornan.