Like a Shadow

September 28, 2016

Solomon was a wise man, but even he struggled sometimes with what God was doing in this life.

I.  Like a Shadow:  Ecclesiastes 8:10-13

 Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

A.  The Wicked and the Righteous

Throughout scripture there is a basic division between those who serve God and those who do not.  Whether the terms used are the wicked and the righteous, the foolish and the wise, or believer and unbeliever, it is understood that there are only two sides.

We want to be on the right side.

B.  Delayed Sentence

The scripture tells us that the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished.  Sometimes we see that in this life and sometimes we do not.  Sometimes the wicked prosper while the righteous barely seem to get by.  It may not seem fair, as if God is not keeping his promises.

C.  The Day Will Come

We need to remember to keep an eternal perspective.  This life will be over soon enough and eternity is a long time.  If we have not received the fulfillment of promises in this life, we know that the best is yet to come.  For the wicked, the day of judgement will be terrible.  We should not envy their current prosperity, for their future is bleak.

II.  Doesn’t Make Sense:  Ecclesiastes 8:14

 There is a vanity which occurs on earth, that there are just men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people.  In this life, it doesn’t make sense, but we do not see the whole picture.

III.  Enjoy!  Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.

A.  The Wicked

The person who has chosen to reject God might as well enjoy this life.  It is all they will have, their future is bleak.

B.  The Righteous

The person who is serving God can also enjoy this life.  Christ came that we might have the abundant life.  (John 10:10)  That life does not begin at death it begins when we are saved by the grace of God.  As believers we can enjoy what blessings God gives to us in this life, knowing that the best is yet to come.  Yet we do not simply hang on, waiting for heaven, but we enjoy the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today we can experience the goodness of the Lord!

IV.  The Work of God:  Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.

Solomon was a wise man, yet he acknowledged that he could not comprehend the ways of God.  We recognize that God’s ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts.

God knows what He is doing.

We do not.

We can, however, believe and trust Him.  He is worthy of our trust.  In the end, it will all work out for good for those who believe.  (Romans 8:28)

V.  What is His Name?  Proverbs 30:4

Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?

I have always found it interesting that this section of scripture is dropped into the book of Proverbs.  Obviously, it is talking about God, but the revelation of the Son was to come in the fullness of time.

VI.  His Name is Jesus:  Acts 4: 10-12

 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We cannot always understand, but we can always trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of our souls.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/26/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

 

Pure Religion

September 14, 2016

These are verses that I distinctly remember puzzling over as a teenager.  I had nothing to do with widows or orphans, yet I wanted to be what God wanted me to be.

James 1:26-27

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I.  Bridle Your Tongue

James says quite a bit about controlling our tongue.

A.  James 3:8-10

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

We should be careful of what we speak.  However, the secret to controlling our tongue is not in our mouth, but in our heart.

B.  Luke 6:45

 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

The best way to control our tongue is to fill our hearts with the love of God.

Our words can be powerful. We should seek to speak words of life, words of encouragement, words of hope and words of love.

II.  Visit Orphans and Widows

A.  The first century was not like today.  There was no social security to provide for those in need.  Women did not have a place in the workforce.  A woman remained in her father’s home until she was married.  If her husband died, she needed to return to her father’s home or if she had a son that was old enough, he could provide for her.  If there was no one to provide for her, or for her young children, she was in trouble.

These are the people that James is talking about.  People who are in trouble.  People who are in desperate need.

For centuries the Christian church provided charity for those in need.  Today, with government programs, the role of the church has changed, but we should still be concerned for those who are in need and be willing to help when possible.  It is not just widows and orphans but any who are in desperate need.

B.  Balance: II Thessalonians 3:10

 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

There is a difference between being in need and being lazy.  Since resources are limited we need godly wisdom to be able to be good stewards of what God has given us.  We want to help those in need, we do not want to enable people to live unproductive lives.

C.  Retirement

In biblical times when a person could no longer work it was the responsibility of children to provide and care for their aging parents.  People would continue to contribute according to their abilities.

People in retirement today should continue to contribute in ways that they are able.

III.  Unspotted

A.  The Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

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

These verses provide us with a good starting point of what it means to be unspotted.  The idea of this list is not to point the finger at the problems that we see in the lives of other people, but to examine our own lives and ask God to help us turn away from these things.

Some spots take some time to get out.

B.  The Spirit:  Galatians 5:22-23

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

As we spend time in the Word of God, and prayer, God will mold us into the people that he wants us to be.  The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together to build the people of God.  They are spot removers.

C.  Effort:  Galatians 5:24-25

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The flesh is stubborn.  It continues to resurface for as long as we are in these mortal bodies.  We need to exercise our will, and the self control that comes from God and chose to do what is right in the sight of God.

It is an ongoing process.

D.  God is at work in us:  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;

It is not in our own strength, but it does require our cooperation.

May God continue His work both in us, and through us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/28.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

A Light to Our Path

September 1, 2016

God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.  If we will let Him guide us, our lives will be rich and meaningful.

I.  A Light:  Psalms 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

If there is a power outage at night when we are home we suddenly find ourselves in the dark.  Maybe we have candles or a flashlight somewhere nearby. Or of course, maybe you have a flashlight app on your phone.  The point is we want to be able to have enough light to see where we are going.

We should allow the Word of God to be a light to our paths, to direct our steps.  When you walk in the dark, you might bump into something, or trip over something.  You might get hurt.  If you live your life by the instructions in the Bible, you are less likely to be hurt.

Life goes better when you follow the instructions.

II.  Open My Eyes:  Psalms 119:18

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.

The Bible should be read in an attitude of prayer.  We need God to open our eyes to the truths that are presented.  We need God to help us to understand and to apply the principles that are contained in the Word.

Even if we have been reading the Bible for decades, God can reveal wondrous things to us.

III.  Strengthen Me:  Psalms 119:28

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

Life can wear us out.

Spending time in the Word can bring new strength.

IV.  Sow in Tears:  Psalms 126:5-6

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

Here in America we may not fully understand this imagery.  Our food is purchased in stores that, in our lifetime, have never had empty shelves.  We do not grow our own food.  We do not understand the imagery of taking seed that could be eaten today, and planting it in the ground hoping for a harvest in the future.

There is a way that this illustration makes more sense to us.  If we remember the parable of the sower and the seed from the gospels.  In this parable the seed is the Word of God that we share with people and some respond in faith.  We share the Word in tears, maybe not literally, but with a breaking heart, hoping that people will receive the good news of salvation in Christ.   When people do respond to the Word with faith in Jesus, we, together with the angels in heaven, rejoice in the salvation of another person.

V.  Unless the Lord:  Psalms 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.

Whatever our life’s work, we need God to help us.  We use the skills and opportunities that God gives to us to complete the work that God has planned for us.  It is a dual effort.  We must do our part, but we need God to bless our efforts.

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.  We should ask God to direct our steps, open our eyes, give us strength and bless our efforts.

It is a wonderful thing to be living in accordance to the will of God for our lives.

These are the sermon notes from 8/28/16.  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

August 22, 2016

I think that I have always enjoyed singing.  Then, shortly after graduation, I was asked to play percussion on the worship team at church.

I was hooked.

I love to worship using my instruments.   (drums and percussion)  Then a few years back I tried singing while playing.

I love it.  It is also very biblical.

I.  Sing

Psalms 95:1-3

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.

Life is not a musical, but our lives should have more music.  Singing lifts the spirits.  I have seen a little boy who, when he is happy, goes around singing made up songs.  He is happy and he expresses that happiness through song.  Maybe as adults we have become too self conscious, maybe life should be a musical.

Psalms 96:1-4

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.

For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.

We may sing when we are happy, but singing to the Lord is not about us.  The Lord is great and greatly to be praised.  He deserves our worship.  It is about Him, not us.

Psalms 98:1-6

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
The Lord has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.
Sing to the Lord with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the Lord, the King.

We can sing in church.  We can sing in the car.  We can sing at home.  I would encourage you to incorporate more singing into your life.  Play the radio on Christian stations, buy Christian CDs.  God deserves our worship.

There is a secondary effect.  It does lift our spirits.  After the first service this morning, a lady mentioned to me that it actually seems to detox our spirits.  I liked that and told her that I was going to include it in the second service.  Sometimes our spirits need a cleansing detox.  Spend time in worship and praise.  God deserves it, and it will help us as well.

II.  Give Thanks

Psalms 100:1-4

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

God not only deserves our praise, He deserves our thanks.  When we are feeling good and things are going well it is easy to give God thanks and praise.

Psalms 107:21-22

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
22 Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving,
And declare His works with rejoicing.

Some days it is not so easy.  Sometimes we may feel as if our problems are too great to give God thanks.  On those days we should still offer a sacrifice of praise.  Plus, if we would shift our focus just a little, we would see that even on the worst of days, God has blessed us in many ways.  Remember the old song and “Count Your Blessings”.

Psalms 107:31-32

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders.

As we are told in I Thessalonians 5:18, we should give thanks in everything.  After all, we are told in Romans 8:28 that “all things work together for good…”

It is always right and fitting that we give God both praise and thanks.

III.  Pray

Psalms 109:1-4

Do not keep silent,
O God of my praise!
For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful
Have opened against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without a cause.
In return for my love they are my accusers,
But I give myself to prayer.

This is a dramatic shift from the first two points of this message.

Sometimes people are cruel.  They lie, they hurt us in a whole variety of ways.

Our response should be to pray to the God whom we praise.  He is our deliverer.

Matthew 6:43-45

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

It is human nature to hurt those that have hurt us, to reply in kind, with interest.

God has called us to be different.

We are able to be different because of God.  As we spend time in His presence in praise and thanksgiving, we are changed.  We are able to forgive and even to love our enemies, not because it comes naturally, but because we have been changed by the time we have spent in worship of the God who loves us all.

These are the sermon notes from 8/21/16,  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Hope and Comfort

August 17, 2016

Before I begin, I would like to make a few comments about these sermon notes.  Sermon notes are the central points of a message that was preached to a particular group of people at a certain place and time.  The central truths are presented, but much of the sermon material that connects to that particular group is not included.  The sermon notes that I am sharing today are from a funeral message for a wonderful Christian man who died at far too young of an age.  I am removing all of the personal references because there is no need for the family (If any of them read this.) to relive the pain of that day. 

I.  Tragedy:  Job 1:20-22

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

When I hear of a tragic death, or some other occurrence my thoughts go to Job.  Job lost practically everything in a single day.  His possessions were stolen or destroyed and all of his children died in a single event.  His response has become a classic line for people experiencing loss.

We are not Job.

We may not be at this point just yet.

My thoughts then turn to another famous verse.

II.  All Things  Romans 8:28

 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

It is one thing to be able to acknowledge this intellectually, but our hearts may not accept it just yet.

In the later chapters of Job, Job expresses his frustration and his desire to understand.  God basically tells Job that he is not capable of understanding the workings of God, that there are times when he must simply trust and accept.

This also, does not seem to be particularly helpful today.

My thoughts turned to another well known verse.

III.  Those Who Mourn:  Matthew 5:14

Blessed are those who mourn,
    For they shall be comforted.

This makes more sense.  Today we mourn.  We shall be comforted.  That is the promise of scripture.

Americans sometimes have a tendency to rush the mourning process.  There is no need to rush.  It is appropriate for people who have suffered loss to spend a time in mourning.

How long?

As long as it takes.

The point is, that comfort from God is available throughout the process.

IV.  Joy:  Psalms 30:5

For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

Mourning will not last forever.  Joy will be restored.  This is a wonderful promise.

A part of our comfort comes from the knowledge of what lies beyond death.  We return to Job for these words.

V.  My Redeemer Lives:  Job 19:25-27

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!

As far back as Job, there was a hope of a life that goes beyond the grave.  That we shall see God.  For those who believe, this is a wonderful hope.

VI.  Present With The Lord:  II Corinthians 5:4-8

For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

For those who believe in Jesus there is a promise of a life to come.  We leave this life, and go to be with the Lord.

VII.  A Place For You:  John 14:1-6

 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

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

This is a wonderful promise to those who believe in Jesus.  We remember the words that Jesus said to the thief on the cross. “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  (Luke 23:43)

VIII.  The Race is Finished:  II Timothy 4:7-8

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Hopefully, at the end of our lives we will be able to relate to these words.  I am fully confident that the young man that we are here for today has received his reward.  His race was shorter than we would have liked, but that is not for us to determine.  He has gone to his heavenly reward.

IX.  Well Done:  Matthew 25:21

 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

At the end of our lives this is what we want to hear from God.

“Well done, good and faithful servant.”

I have no doubt that this young man has heard these words from the Lord.

What about us?

x.  Salvation:  Romans 10:9-10

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

At a time like this it is good to reflect on our own lives.  Are we a follower of Jesus?  Would we hear the words “Well done”?

If it were our funeral today, would our friends and family be comforted with the knowledge that we are with the Lord?

It only takes a moment to receive God’s forgiveness.

Ask God to forgive your sins, place your faith in Jesus and begin the walk with God that He intends for you to have with Him.

These are sermon notes from a funeral message preached in August of 2016.  Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

Hold Fast

July 11, 2016

We prefer to talk about the abundant life that God has for us.  We enjoy the many blessings that we receive.

How do we respond when things don’t go as we would hope?

What do we do in the face of tragedy?

I.  Job

A.  Do What is Right:  Job 1:1

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

This is a good model for us.  We should fear God and shun evil.  We should seek to be blameless and upright.  We know that we cannot be perfect, but we should seek to live as God wants us to live.

Just because we are serving God doesn’t mean that we are exempt from hardship.  In a single day Job suffered the loss of all his great wealth and the tragic death of all ten of his children.  It just doesn’t get any worse than that.

His response has become a classic line.

B.  Response to Loss:  Job 1:20-22

 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

He mourned the loss and worshiped God.  These words were uttered long ago, but they have been repeated by countless other believers who have suffered loss.  If we turn to God, He is able to bring us comfort in times of tragedy.

Some might say, at least he still had his health.  That was the next to go.  He was stricken with painful boils that made him physically miserable.

    C.  Hold Fast:  Job 2:9-10

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

In times of hardship.  Hold fast to your integrity.  Actually, hold fast to your faith in God which is the true source of integrity.

If we are facing the loss of material things or the deterioration of our health we can still trust that God is with us.  He will help us through the difficult times.  A better day is coming.  If not in this life, then in the life to come.

Hold fast.

II.  Endure Hardship:  II Timothy 2:3

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

I served in the United States Marine Corps.  I have often said that that experience prepared me better for ministry than my years at Bible college.

Why?

A marine is not allowed to quit when the mission becomes difficult.  It doesn’t matter if you are tired, hot, cold, hurt, or whatever.

Accomplish the mission!

Our devotion to God should be even more of a commitment than a marine’s commitment to his/her duty.  After all, a marine is serving an earthly kingdom, while we serve a heavenly kingdom.

There have been many times when I have been tempted to leave the ministry.  There are far easier ways to make a living.  However, it is the desire of my heart to be faithful to my calling, to accomplish the mission that God has given to me.

Never quit!

It is appropriate to ask ourselves some questions when hardship comes our way.

Is this hardship the consequence of a bad decision, or mistake on my part?  If that is the case, then learn from your mistakes.

Is God trying to get my attention?  Have I been following the direction of God?  God sometimes allows things to go badly for us so that we will get back on track.

If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, if we are serving God to the best of our ability, then we can recognize hardships as a test or trial of our faith.  We should hold fast and press on.

III.  Count it all Joy:  James 1:2-4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

God uses the tests and trials of this life to mold us into the people that we are called to be in Christ.  We can rejoice in the knowledge that God is working in us.  The difficulties that we face actually can strengthen our faith and help in our development as Christians.

In addition  to the work that God is doing in us, God can use difficult experiences for His glory.  How we handle bad experiences can sometimes be the very best testimony that we give to unbelievers.

We can also rejoice in the knowledge that even in bad times, God is with us.  We can rejoice in the Lord.  He loves us and will help us.  His grace is sufficient for us.  (II Corinthians 12:9)

So, when we are called upon to suffer hardship;  hold fast to your faith, endure hardship, and count it all joy that God is working both in you and through you.

These are the sermon notes from 7/9/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

 

Transformational Love

July 5, 2016

The message today is an odd mixture of fear and hope.  I suppose that is not so strange, there is an ongoing tension between the law and the gospel.

I.  Deny Him:  Tits 1:16

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

I wonder how many of the people professing Christianity today could have this statement applied to them?

I wonder how serious is this problem?

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

This sounds serious to me.  It is made even more serious because the verses here in Matthew sound like they could be applied to Pentecostal pastors.

I am a Pentecostal pastor.

Now, I do not believe for a moment that we earn our salvation by our works.  Salvation is by grace, through faith.  It is a gift from God.

However, a living faith is transformational.  If we have a living faith our lives will be changed.

What sort of changes should take place?

II.  The Works of the Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

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

Now the idea here is not to look at this list and focus on the things that are not a problem for us.  Rather, we look at the list and see if there are areas that need improvement.  We do not excuse our behavior, we repent and ask God help us to change our behavior.  We cannot change on our own, but we are not on our own.  God will help us.

III.  Good Works:  Titus 2:7-8

in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Here is an excellent goal!  We should try to live our lives in such a way that people will have to lie to say something bad.

How do we do this?

IV.  The Fruit of the Spirit:  Galatians 5:22-23

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

The Spirit of God is transformational.  The Spirit will transform us from who we were, to the people that we are meant to be in Christ.  This is something that we can offer to the unsaved.  Do people really not want to have love in their lives?  Do they have too much peace in their hearts?  Do they not desire joy?  God offers us these things and so much more.

V.  Focus on Love

A.  Motivated by Love:  I John 5:1-3

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

As we grow in our relationship with God, His love transforms us.  We love Him.  We love other people.  We do what is right naturally, because of the love that is in our hearts.

B.  The Source of Love:  I John 4:18-19

 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

We do not have to be afraid.  God loves us.  If we are discouraged or feeling overwhelmed we should stop and focus on the love that God has for us.  The knowledge of that love transforms us.  We love God.  We love other people.  We are strengthened.  We are encouraged.  We are changed.

The love of God is transformational.

These are the sermon notes from 7/3/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Keep the Faith

June 30, 2016

Once again I am turning to the letters of Paul to Timothy for the message today.

I.  A Bad Situation:  II Timothy 3:10-13

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

A.  The Example of Paul

Paul had set an example of a Christian leader that Timothy could look up to.  Each of us should take seriously the call to set an example in our own lives.  Many of us had younger siblings that we were told were watching us.  That was true then and it is true today.  People want to see an example of a godly life.  We should try to set one.

B.  Hardships and Deliverance

Paul experienced terrible persecutions and hardships.  Through them all God delivered him.  We can trust God.  We should also recognize that deliverance can come in the form of bringing us safely through a problem, or by taking us home to heaven.  With faith in Christ we cannot lose.

C.  Worse and Worse

Things get better in this life only temporarily.  Things will get worse.  That is not particularly cheery news.  It is important to remember that through it all God will be with those who trust in Him.  This does not mean that we surrender to the inevitability of evil, but rather that we not be discouraged by setbacks.  We should work together to see “thy will be done”  to the best of our abilities.

II.  All Scripture is Inspired:  II Timothy 3:14-16

 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

God is perfectly capable of ensuring that the book that contains His message to the world says what He meant for it so say.  It is not a mixture of the Words of God and the words of men.  It is the Word of God spoken through men.  God inspired the authors to write what they wrote so that His message comes through.

I recommend something called the grammatical/historical approach to interpretation.  This means that we study the words that were written in their historical context.  We ask ourselves who was the author?  Who was the audience?  What message was given?  How does it apply to today?

It is not a secret code.  It is not merely the words of men.  It is the revelation of God to people throughout the world.

III.  Preach the Word:  II Timothy 4:1-5

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

When we are presenting the gospel or teaching doctrine, use the Word.  Do you think that you can say it better?

Remember Hebrews 4:12

 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Convince people of the truth!

Rebuke those who are in error!  (Although please do this in a loving manner!!  Perhaps we should think ‘correct’ rather than rebuke.)

Exhort those whose strength is failing.   Encouragement can go a long ways.

IV.  Finish the Race:  II Timothy 4:6-8

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

As Christians we are called to serve God throughout our life, to the very end.  The way in which we serve may change, the place may change, but our service to God continues through all stages of life.  There is no retirement.  God has a use for us as long as we are on this earth.  Let us finish the race.  Let us keep the faith.

These are the sermon notes from 6/26/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

Be Diligent

June 23, 2016

The idea of mentoring is not new.  Paul was a mentor to young Timothy back in the first century.  We have in the Bible two examples of what Paul said to his young student.

I.  Beware!  I Timothy 4:1-3

 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

It is now almost two thousand years after Paul wrote these words.  Clearly, these are “latter times”.  Also clear, there are people who are deceived.  Sadly, when people are deceived, they do not know it.  Their conscience is seared and only the Word of God, combined with the Spirit of God can set them free.  We should share with them the truth, and pray that God will open their minds and hearts by His Spirit.

Today, not many people are denying marriage or abstinence from certain foods, but there still is deception and false doctrine.  Many of them are found at the extreme ranges of biblical interpretation.  One extreme is liberalism.  An example is when  a Christian minister in a Christian church performs a marriage for two people of the same sex.  The only way to justify this is to ignore certain scriptures.  (For example: Lev 18:22, 20:13, I Cor 6:9-10, I Tim 1:8-11, and Rom 1:18-32)

The other extreme is a legalism that makes salvation a matter of doing, or not doing certain works, or of holding to certain theological beliefs that are not truly essential to the Christian message.  An example is those who believe that unless you are baptized by immersion in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ you cannot be saved.

Our salvation is by grace, through faith for good works.

Paul gives advice to Timothy that is even more important to us all today.  II Timothy 2:15

 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II.  Be An Example:  I Timothy 4:12

 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

This is good advice to people of all ages.  We should seek to set an example by what we say, what we do, and by our attitudes to others.  People do not just listen to our words, they observe our lives.

III.  Be Content:  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.

The ability to be content is a great thing.  It is not to be confused with complacency.  Being content means that we can be happy in our current state, even as we work to become the person that God means for us to be.

Please note that it is the love of money which is the root of all kinds of evil.  Many people misquote this verse by saying that money is the root.  Money is just a material thing, it is our attitude towards it, and what we do with it that can be evil.

IV.  Be Diligent:  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.

Be diligent to pursue the growth that God wants to bring to our lives.  We do not simply coast through life.  We should seek to be all that God calls and enables us to be.

We should be diligent to fight the good fight.  To share the hope that is within us, the gospel of Jesus Christ whenever possible and to pray that the Word will take root in the lives of people.

Don’t quit!        Beware of deception!        Be an example!        Be content!        Be diligent!

These are the sermon notes from 6/19/16.  The 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. 

 

To Our Fathers

June 20, 2016

I came across this poem that I wrote for Father’s Day back in June of 2000.  I thought that I would share it with you.

 

The job of father is not well defined.

One thing is for sure- it is full time.

Traditional chores of the trash and the yard

of fixing the broken

and of taking charge.

A father’s expected to provide and protect

but nowadays more expectations are met.

A father may help to cook and to clean

and in men’s restrooms changing tables are seen.

A father’s expected to advise and to scold

and then there’s the reason that a child is told

“Just wait, till your father gets home!”.

It’s a mystery at times,

what a dad’s supposed to do.

He may feel inadequate, confused or blue.

So it’s a good thing we’ve a Father above

who can offer us help with His Great Love.

As we turn to God with our fathering skills,

He will help us indeed, as we seek His will.

And so to our fathers on Father’s Day

remember God is our father

and seek to do things His way.

Pastor Curt

June 2000

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