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. 

 

 

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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.

Walk Worthy of the Son

August 24, 2017

There is nothing in this life or the next that is more important than our relationship with God.  We can be reconciled with God only through faith in Jesus Christ who died for us.

I.  Walk Worthy:  Colossians 1:9-14

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

I start by emphasizing the importance of prayer.  Our prayers are effective, not just for our own needs, but also for others.  We should pray for our family, friends, our government officials, missionaries and others as they come to our minds.  Prayer is something that almost everyone can do, and everyone who is able to pray, should pray.

The idea of being ‘worthy’ of Christ is a high ideal.  I do not think that we will ever be ‘worthy’ of what Christ did for us.  Jesus died for us because of His love for us, not because we were worthy of that sacrifice.  Still, it is a goal for which we should reach.  We should seek to live lives that are pleasing to God, but we should certainly be thankful for His forgiveness when we fall short.

The idea of being ‘filled with the knowledge of His will’ intrigues me.  May God help us to know what His will is for our lives.  May God help us to do his will in our lives.  May His will be ‘done on earth as it is in heaven.

We do not do this in our own strength.  We can pray for the strength that comes from His Spirit.  We are not ‘only human’.  God is with us.  With God’s help we can do His will in our lives.

In all things we should give thanks.  Why?  Because we believe that “all thing work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28)  The greatest good that God does for us is the salvation that He has offered to us through Jesus Christ.

It is only through the blood of Jesus that we are able to become a part of the kingdom of God.  There is no other way to come to God except through Jesus Christ and the cross.  (John 14:6)

II.  His Son  Colossians 1:15-20

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

To appreciate the depth of the cost of our salvation we need to have a better understanding of the nature of Jesus.

He is the ‘image of the invisible God’.  God, the Father, does not have physical form.  He is a Spirit and no one has ever seen Him.  (John 1:18)  So, to see what God is like, we must look to Jesus.  “He who has seen me, has seen the Father.”  (John 14:9)

He is the firstborn over all creation.  This does not mean that He is the first thing that was created, as some claim.  He became a part of the material world, but He existed before the material world.  Since He is a part of the material world He can be considered the ‘firstborn’ or greatest, or over all the material world.

He participated in the creation of the material realm.  The creation was a combined effort of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In Him all things consist.  That word consist means to hold together.  I remember a science class, long ago, when we were learning about the makeup of atoms and there was some wonder about what kept them together.  In more recent years I have read about a theory that there is a certain particle that they have called the God Particle that holds everything together.  There doesn’t have to be a physical component.  It is God that holds the world together, and more specifically, Jesus.

He is the head of the church.  Christians ultimately have one leader, and it isn’t the pope.  It is Jesus.  We should fix our eyes on Him.

Jesus is a part of the Godhead.  In Him  ‘all the fullness’ dwelt.  He was both God and man.  This is impossible for us, but possible for God.

So, God died for us.  Only through the blood of the cross can we be reconciled to God.

Can we ever truly walk worthy of that sacrifice?

Probably not.

But we can give it our best shot.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/20/17.  All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

See the Good

August 16, 2017

I have many favorite scriptures.  Last week I was reading in Philippians and came across some wonderful verses which have provided the basis for the message today.

I.  Rejoice!  Philippians 4:4-5

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Rejoice in the Lord.  No matter what is going on in our life.  No matter what our circumstances may be.  We can rejoice in the Lord.  God is our greatest source of joy.

Our country is a free country, filled with people of many different ideas.  There is often hateful language and sometimes violence.  This is not helpful to our common goals.  As Christians we should lead the way at demonstrating how to handle disagreements.  We should be able to have rational, civil discussions about those things about which we disagree.

We have not always done so well at that.

We can, and should, do better.

II.  Don’t Worry!  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.

As Christians we should never worry.  Worry demonstrates a lack of trust in God.  God is worthy of our trust.

If there is a situation about which we are concerned, instead of worrying about it, we should pray about it.  We can pray about anything that concerns us.  God is able to help.  He is able to give us wisdom to know what to do and the strength to do what we should.  His grace is sufficient for us.  There is nothing that we cannot handle with the help that God gives us.  This doesn’t mean that things will turn out the way that we want them to, but rather that God will help us deal with the troubles of this life.

III.  Focus!  Philippians 4:8

 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Some people seem to be gifted with the ability to criticize.  They see what is wrong everywhere they look.  That is not the way be be at peace.  True, it is necessary to see what is wrong if we are to fix it, but to just focus on the ugly or the broken is no way to live.  We should look for the good around us.  This good is present in many, many things.  There is some good in all people.  Instead of focusing on what is wrong, focus on the good.

The greatest source of good is God and His Word.  In addition to seeking out the good in the world, we can focus our attention on God and His Word.

See the good!

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/13/17.  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. 

Serve One Another

July 19, 2017

There are some times when a single verse will provide a wonderful outline for a message.  This past week in my devotions I came across such a verse.

Galatians 5:13

 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

I.  Liberty:  John 8:36

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

God has set us free from many things.  First of all, we are free from the bondage of trying to earn our salvation.  We are saved by grace, through faith, not of works… thank you God!  (Ephesians 2:8-10)  We do not have to wonder if we are good enough.  We are forgiven.  We are also set free from sin.  On our own, we could not escape the clutches of sin.  We could not break bad habits.  God breaks the hold that sin has on us and we are free to live as He would want us to live.  We also are set free from guilt.  If we confess our sins, He forgives us.  (I John 1:9)  We do not need to feel guilty.  We are forgiven.  We also do not need to worry.  God is watching out for us.  Nothing can happen to us that God will not give us the grace to handle.  Anything that is a concern to us, we can lift to God in prayer.  (Philippians 4:6)  We do not need to be afraid.  God has not given us a spirit of fear. ( I Timothy 1:7)  God is with us!

II.  Not For The Flesh:  Romans 6:1-4

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Just because we do not need to earn our salvation, it does not mean that we are not to live godly lives.  In Christ we are a new creation. (II Corinthians 5:17)  The old man has died.  We are to live in the newness of life that we have in Jesus Christ.  We are not earning our salvation, but we are living out our salvation.

III.  Serve One Another:  Galatians 6:1-5

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load.

We are to serve one another.  We are not alone in this journey.  Our brothers and sisters in Christ are to come alongside of us and help us in the times of difficulty.  When we are strong, then we will help those who are in need.  Actually, even if we are both weak, we can lean on each other to continue down the path of life.

We are not meant to be alone.

This does not mean that we can blame others for our problems.  Ultimately, we will answer to God for what we have done with our lives.  We cannot point the finger at other people, claiming that this one hurt us and that one did not help us.

We have God.

His grace is enough.

God has set us free, not so that we are free to sin, but that we may serve Him and help one another in our journey through this life.

 

These are the notes from the message preached on 7/16/17.  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. 

Our Aim

July 12, 2017

When I received my black belt in tae kwon do.  The instructor told us that the black belt was not the end of the road.  In the same way, salvation is not the end of our Christian development.  It is only the beginning.

I.  Our Aim:  II Corinthians 5:9-10

 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.

We are not trying to earn our salvation.  We recognize that we cannot be good enough to deserve our salvation.  It is only by the grace and mercy of God that we are saved.  However, we should desire to live a life that is pleasing to God.  The motivation is not our salvation, but rather that we want God to be pleased with what He sees in us.

We will one day appear before the judgment seat of Christ.  For believers in Jesus, this is not about our salvation, but rather the nature of our reward.  Of course, there are no slums in heaven, but idea that there may be distinctions made is taught in several places.

One such portion of scripture is II Timothy 2:19-21

II.  Vessel of Honor:  II Timothy 2:19-21

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.

The Lord knows His people.  Those who have a living faith, have the Spirit of God dwelling in their hearts.  We are forgiven by grace, through faith.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)

If Christ is our Savior, then He is also our Lord.  We are called to “cease to do evil and learn to do good”.  As we develop our relationship with Christ, we should become more and more like Him.  Of course, a part of that is leaving behind sinful practices.  The more progress that has taken place in our lives in this area seems to make us more of a ‘vessel of honor’.

God desires to use us for the work of his kingdom.  He wants to work, not just in us, but also through us.  As we leave behind sinful practices, God can use us for various tasks within His kingdom.

III.  Completion:  Philippians 1:6

 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

God does not give up on us.  He began His work in us even before our salvation and He continues to work on us after salvation.  After salvation, we should grow in our knowledge, godliness and usefulness for the Kingdom of God.

We will not obtain perfection so this work is an ongoing process.

May we be more like Him.

May we be used by Him.

May God alone be glorified.

 

These are the sermon notes from 7/2/17.  All scriptures are from the New King James Version of the Bible.  Any advertisements that may appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Take Heed

June 28, 2017

When I was a young Christian in my teens and twenties, there were a series of prominent Christians who fell into sin and lost their ministries.  I suppose this sort of thing has happened throughout history, but now it gets way more publicity.  This has a very destructive impact on the proclamation of the gospel.

I.  Striving:  I Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

A.  Discipline

We are born again, but we are still walking around in our old bodies.  The flesh leads us in one direction, the spirit leads us in another.  We should discipline ourselves to follow the guidance of the spirit, not the flesh.

B.  Disqualified

Thankfully, we are saved by grace through faith.  (Ephesians 2:8-10)  However, faith without works is a dead faith.  (James 2:17)  Can a dead faith save us?  How deeply can we remained trapped in sin and still be saved?  I don’t think that is the question that we are to try to live out.  Rather, we should ask how much sin can we leave behind while still on this earth?  It is not a matter of earning our salvation, but living out our salvation.

II.  Not Pleased:  I Corinthians 10:1-5

 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

The Hebrews who followed Moses out of Egypt shared many marvelous experiences of God working in their midst.  Yet, God was not pleased with most of them and they died in the wilderness.

The opportunity was there for them to walk with God, but instead they rebelled.

People who are in the church today should be careful that they are not simply going through the motions of a relationship with God.  To say that Jesus is Lord, but then do whatever you want, is and example of faith without works.  Empty words mean nothing.  Our lives should be changed because of the presence of God in our hearts and lives.

III.  Turn Away:  I Corinthians 10:6-10

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

The story of the Hebrews is written for our education.  What can we learn?

The “lusting after evil things” was not just things that were purely evil.  They longed for meat, cucumbers, onions and a variety of other foods.  They were not happy with what God had provided and they wanted something else.  We should learn the secret of being content with the things that God blesses us with and recognize that our true joy comes from God.

Idolatry in the form of worshiping an idol may not present a problem to you, but what about putting something else ahead of God in your life?  Perhaps the pursuit of a career, a spouse, some form of fame or achievement will become more important to us than serving God.

God should be first in our lives.  (Matthew 6:33)

Sexual immorality is widespread in our American culture.  God intended for sex to be an experience shared between husband and wife.  Period.  Anything else is immoral in the sight of God.

Even growing discouraged and complaining can be considered a sin.  We need the help of God, and sometimes the support of friends and family, to remain steadfast, to not grow weary while doing good, knowing that we shall reap in due season, if we do not give up.  (Galatians 6:9)

IV.  God is Faithful:  I Corinthians 10:11-13

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

No matter how long we have been serving God, we should be careful.  Our enemy seeks for the opportunity to destroy us and our witness if possible.  Be on your guard.  Take heed.  God will help us to avoid the snares of the enemy.

Our lives are changed because of Christ.  We are not who we were, but we are not yet all that we will become.  God is completing the work in us that He began.  (Philippians 1:6)

May we be more like Him.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/17/17.  All quotations 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. 

Saints? Who? Us??

June 21, 2017

As I was reading in my devotions this week I came across a phrase that really spoke to my heart.  It was found in I Corinthians 1:2.

 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

The phrase that struck me was “called to be saints”.  When we think of saints we generally think of the heroes of the faith, but that isn’t really what the term means.  The word we read as saints comes from the Greek word hagios which means: sacred, holy or saints.  Sacred or holy both imply two basic things; consecrated to God and pure or undefiled.

What would be the basic characteristics of one who is consecrated to God?

I.  Faith:  Hebrews 11:6

 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

The first quality must be a faith in God.  This faith is not a generic faith that there is a god that exists, but rather a faith that is placed in Jesus.  John 14:6 tells us:

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

I would challenge all of us to examine our own walk with God.  Are we diligently seeking Him, or is our effort better described as half-hearted, or occasionally, or casually?  Now, thankfully, God is loving and will reward even our feeble efforts.  James 4:8 tells us:

 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Thankfully, we can start with faith like a mustard seed and it will grow through time.

II.  Love:  John 13:34-35

 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As the old song says, “they will know we are Christians by our love”.  Yet, some Christians seem to project more of an attitude of animosity, judgmentalism and even hatred.

We are to love God, other Christians and the unsaved.  God loves everyone and so should we.  This is an area that we should regular check our own attitude towards the people in our life.

Our love for others should be seen in our actions, our words and our attitudes.

Is your love showing?

III.  Unity:  I Corinthians 1:10

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

For a thousand years there was basically one church.  Then in the 11th century the first large split occurred in the church between the Orthodox and the Catholic church.  Then in the 16th century the Protestant reformation broke away from the Catholic church and eventually there were thousands of denominations. Sometimes the divisions have been incredibly bitter and filled with animosity.

What happened to the unity of the church of Jesus Christ?

We should be very careful of our passing judgment on other Christians.  Very early in the church there was a very simple creed.

Christ has come. Christ has died.  Christ has risen.  Christ will come again.

Perhaps the time has come for us to recognize the basic unity of the body of Christ.  Sure we may argue over our doctrinal differences, but it should be like a family argument, recognizing that at the end of the day we are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Final judgement belongs to God, not us.  Romans 14:4 says:

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

We are united, not by the details of our doctrine but by the cross of Christ.

I Corinthians 1:18

 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

So, as Christians, called to be saints, we are consecrated to God by our faith, love and the cross of Jesus Christ.

The discussion of what it means to be pure and undefiled will have to wait for another day.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/11/17.  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. 

 

 

Suffering

June 14, 2017

Most of the messages that we hear preached proclaim the good points of the Christian life.  We emphasize love, joy, peace, hope, wisdom, strength,  and overall blessings.

That is not the only part of the Christian message.

I.  Suffering:  Romans 8:16-18

 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

We prefer to emphasize that we are the heirs of the kingdom, together with Christ.  It is an easier sell.

However, with Christ we also going to experience a degree of suffering.  We prefer to think of the glory to come, but the sufferings of this world are a part of the Christian experience.

There are places in the world where Christians are still being killed for their faith.  Recently, in Egypt a group of Christians were on a trip to visit a monastery.  They were attacked by people with machine guns mounted on trucked.  Many were killed, some of them children, and more were injured.  They were targeted specifically because they were Christians.

Here in America, at least for now, it is unlikely that we will suffer that kind of persecution, but that does not mean that we do not experience suffering.  Whenever you deny the flesh to live for Christ there will be opposition.

II.  Hard Pressed:  II Corinthians 4:7-10

 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

I memorized these verses many years ago when I was a part of a gospel group called the Christian Life Singers.  It has spoken to my heart many times over the years.  There have definitely been times when I have felt hard-pressed and perplexed.  Life in the ministry has not been easy.  I have never actually seen the statistics, but I know that the percentage of people who serve in the ministry all the way to retirement is fairly low.

It is not just ministers.  All Christians have an enemy that seeks to destroy them.  God allows us to be tested so that we will grow in our faith.  We should always be aware that we are dependent on God.

III.  Renewed:  II Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

As I have aged I have become more aware of the perishing of the outward man.  I am not as young as I once was, and clearly this physical body is not what it used to be.

That is all right.

The inner man is renewed day by day.

As we continue our journey through this life, we are able to grow in our relationship with Christ.  Our body may be aging and breaking down, but our spirit is aging and growing stronger.

As the things of this life begin to fade in importance, we recognize even more the glory of the life to come.

The light affliction of this life is nothing compared to the glory of the life to come.

IV.  Good Soldier:  II Timothy 2:3

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

Sure, we focus on the good aspects of the Christian life.  That does not mean that we deny the reality of the spiritual struggle in which we are engaged.  I have often told people that my best preparation for ministry did not come from Bible college, but from my time in the Marine Corps.  As a marine we learned to never give up, to accomplish the mission.

At the end of this life I desire to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  (Matthew 25:21)

God is good.  All the time.  However, there will be times of testing, trial and suffering as we go through the journey of this life.  Do not be surprised.  Stand firm in your faith.  Trust God.  He will see you through to the end.

 

These are the sermon notes from 6/4/17.  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.