On The Rock

December 1, 2016

I have been reading in Jeremiah.  He is known as the weeping prophet.  God called him at a young age to prophecy to the nation of Israel prior to, during, and after the Babylonian invasion.  He continually warned them of coming judgement, but occasionally offered words of hope if they would listen to the Word of the Lord.

They didn’t listen.

I.  Trust and Obey:  Jeremiah 42:7-17

 And it happened after ten days that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 10 ‘If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,’ says the Lord, ‘for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.’

13 “But if you say, ‘We will not dwell in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God, 14 saying, ‘No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell’— 15 Then hear now the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, 16 then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. 17 So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them.’

A.  The Word

Jeremiah had given them a Word from the Lord.  The right response would have been to trust and obey.  If they had, things would have been different.  As it was they went to Egypt, literally dragging Jeremiah with them, and there they all died.  You would have thought that after all the years of seeing that the words of Jeremiah were indeed the Words of God, that they would have listened to him.

They did not.

Today, we have the Word of God in the Bible.  Do we listen to it?

B.  The Spirit

God guides His people by His Word and His Spirit.  We should study the Word to see what God has said to His people.  We should also pray and ask God to direct us by His Spirit.  It we seek guidance from God, He will indeed guide us.

Will we listen?

II.  The Discipline of the Lord:  Hebrews 12:9-11

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

A.  Disobedience

If we are disobedient to God’s Word, or to the guidance of His Spirit is should not surprise us if things do not go so well for us.

God may be trying to get our attention.

When things are not going well, when bad things happen, it is a good idea to pray and ask God if we are living in disobedience.  If we are, then God will reveal that to us.  Once we know what should change, we can, and should, change with the help of God.

Sometimes we pray and God does not reveal anything to us.  We are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Do not be surprised by the tests and trials of our faith that will come along.  God did not promise that we would never have problems, but that He would be with us, and help us through our problems.

Obedience

In general, we can trust that if we live lives of obedience to God that He will reward us with the abundant life that He has for His people. (John 10:10)

III.  On the Rock Matthew 7:24-27

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

A.  Hears and Does

Those who live lives of obedience to Christ can expect their lives to be stable.  There will still be storms, but we will weather them by the grace of God.

B.  Hears and Does Not

Those who are disobedient can expect problems.  When the storms of life come, their lives will come crashing down around them.

C.  Wisdom

May God grant us wisdom to know the difference between the discipline of the Lord and the storms of life.  To change when we are supposed to change, and to hold fast when we are already doing the right thing.

In conclusion, it is relatively simple.

Seek the Lord.

Hear the Lord.

Obey the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from the message preached 11/27/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

In God We Trust

November 16, 2016

This message was preached 11/6/16, the Sunday before election day.  I had been reading in Jeremiah in my devotions and this seemed appropriate.

I.  Judgement on the Land:  Jeremiah 9:12-16

 Who is the wise man who may understand this? And who is he to whom the mouth of the Lord has spoken, that he may declare it? Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness, so that no one can pass through?

13 And the Lord said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, 14 but they have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their fathers taught them,” 15 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink. 16 I will scatter them also among the Gentiles, whom neither they nor their fathers have known. And I will send a sword after them until I have consumed them.”

A.  Not Obeyed My Voice

The children of Israel had not continued in following the law of God.  As a result, God was sending judgement upon the land.

In our country, there are many who serve God, but there are also many who do not.  It is very important that those who claim to be followers of God, are actually following God.  We should seek to live in obedience to His Word and His Spirit.  We may not be able to be perfect, but we should seek to be the people God means for us to be.

B.  The Dictates of Their Own Hearts

I really have a dislike for the song “I Did It My Way”.  I am afraid that there are far too many people who are living their lives their way instead of God’s way.  In the end it will not work out so well for them.  We should be like Jesus and say “Not my will, but thine be done.”.

Is judgment coming to our country?

Only time will tell, but it is not too late.

II.  Time to Change:  Jeremiah 18:7-8

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

A.  Freedom

I firmly believe that one of the ways in which we are made in the image of God is that we have the freedom to choose how we act.  Each one of us has the freedom to choose how we will respond to God.  Now, I do not expect the entire nation to repent, but I hope and pray that many within our nation will repent.

B.  Responsibility

With freedom comes responsibility.  Since we can choose our actions, we are responsible for our actions.

C.  Consequences

There are consequences for our decisions.  When we do what is right in the eyes of God, we can expect to be blessed.  If we do what is wrong, we should not be surprised if there are unpleasant consequences.

D.  Is There Hope?

Our hope is not found in a political party or candidate.  Our hope is placed in God.  With God, there is always hope.

III.  The Right Choice:  Jeremiah 17:7-8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

A.  Trust in the Lord

I appreciate that it still says “In God We Trust” on our money.  It is a regular reminder to trust in God, not in the things of this world.  God is worthy of our trust.  People may fail us.  God will not.

B.  If My People

As the people of God lead the way in repentance, perhaps others will follow. II Chronicles 7:14 says:

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

C.  Choose This Day:  Joshua 24:15

 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

We cannot decide for everybody, but we can decide for ourselves.  Let us choose to serve the Lord.

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

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

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

If we have chosen to follow the Lord, then our lives should be different from the world around us.  Let us not give way to anger, hatred or despair, but rather may we be examples of the peace, love and hope that God has for us, and for all who call upon His name.

Let the light of Christ shine through your lives.  May the light of Christ bring hope to the world.

This is the message that was preached 11/6/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

A Full Life

November 2, 2016

This past week I was reading the second epistle of John and I was struck by the third verse.

II John v3

 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

I.  Grace

Grace may be defined as receiving good things from God that we do not deserve, that we have not earned.  They are a gift.  I am reminded of Ephesians 2:8 which tells us that “By grace you are saved…”  God has reached out to us.  If we were left to ourselves, we would be lost in our sins.

I am also reminded of II Corinthians 12:9.

 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God’s grace is sufficient for us.  Whatever situation we face, whatever need we might have, God’s grace is sufficient for us.  God will give us what we need to do what He has called us to do.

II.  Mercy

Mercy may be defined as not receiving the punishment that we do deserve.  There are many verses on the mercy of God.  We recognize that we have all sinned and that the wages of sin is death.  However, God is merciful.

Psalms 103:8-14

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father pities his children,
So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
14 For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.

On our part, we too, are to be merciful to others.  To not repay evil for evil.  To forgive those who have wronged us.  Even as we have received mercy, we should grant mercy.

III.  Peace

God offers to us a peace that is not dependent on the absence of external conflict.  The peace of God comes from the knowledge that God loves us, cares about us and is able to help us in our times of need.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid

IV.  Truth

John 8:31-32

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

I am reminded of when Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?”  I am also reminded of 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.

If we are seeking truth, and if we are open to it, we  will eventually find God.  Ultimate Truth is found in God.

V.  Love

I John 4:7-11

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

As believers we can expect to have lives that are filled with the love of God.  Love that comes from God, and love that is expressed through the people of God.  Of course we are also expected to love God and others in return.

So in this one verse we are reminded that as Christians we should have lives that are filled with grace, mercy, peace, truth and love.  That makes for a full life indeed!

These are the notes from the sermon preached 10/30/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The Elect One

October 26, 2016

The second half of Isaiah is filled with messianic verses.  There are many good scriptures to preach on.  I have selected a few.

I.  Come:  Isaiah 55:1-3

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.

A.  Are You Buying That?

These verses are not talking about bread, milk or wine.  They are a reference to the focus of our life.  Are we focused on the things of the world, or the things of God?  In Matthew 6:33 we are told to “Seek first the kingdom of God…” .  If indeed we seek God first, then other things will come into line.

B.  The Abundant Life

Jesus offers those that follow Him abundant life.  (John 10:10)  That life does not begin at our physical death, but rather at our new birth. When we give our hearts to God and seek to walk with Him in this life, we truly have a life that is abundant.

II.  Build Up:  Isaiah 42:1-4

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

A.  My Elect One

These verses are talking about Jesus.  He is the one who will bring true justice to the earth.

B.  Restores Life

As a young person I read these verses and wondered who cared about bruised reeds, or smoldering flax?  Of course, these are symbols for something else.  The bruised reed is that person who has experienced difficulties in their life.  They have been bruised and they need to be restored.  God can bring restoration and life.  The smoldering flax is that person who has drifted away from God.  God calls to them and desires to see the fire of their faith restored.  God wants to bring life to those who seek Him. He does not give up on us.

C.  Justice

There will come a day when justice will reign on this earth.  It will not be under human leadership, but under the leadership of the Lord of Hosts.

III.  Jesus is Lord:  Isaiah 45:20-25

“Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,
You who have escaped from the nations.
They have no knowledge,
Who carry the wood of their carved image,
And pray to a god that cannot save.
21 Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.

22 “Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.
24 He shall say,
‘Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength.
To Him men shall come,
And all shall be ashamed
Who are incensed against Him.
25 In the Lord all the descendants of Israel
Shall be justified, and shall glory.’”

    A.  Escaped From the Nations

God is Lord over all the earth.  We have been gathered from the nations to serve the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

    B.  No Other God

There is no other God.  There is salvation in no other name.

    C.  Every Knee Shall Bow

It is better to serve God now and we can also rejoice later.  For those who reject Christ now, they will still one day bow before Him.  For them, that day will be a day of darkness.

    D.  Righteousness and Strength

We are not clothed in our own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. We do not serve in our own strength, but in the strength that God gives to us.

Isaiah is a part of the Old Testament, but clearly he points to the coming Lord.  We can more fully understand the New Testament because of the prophecies that came hundreds of years earlier.

These are the sermon notes from 10/23/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

Responding to a Threat

October 19, 2016

Have you ever been threatened?  Or perhaps, you feel threatened by what you see on the horizon.  The message today is for you.

I.  Threat:  Isaiah 37:10-11

 “Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, “Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 11 Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered?

A.  Judah was threatened with conquest by the Assyrians.  The Assyrians were a powerful nation that had already conquered many nations.  They had given Judah the option of either surrendering and being deported or resisting and being destroyed.  They had been successful so far, and from the physical evaluation Judah had no chance at all.  The Assyrians did not believe that God would be able to do anything to stop them.

B.  Most of us are not in threat of physical danger.  There are, however, different types of threats.  The response of Hezekiah to this physical threat is a response that will work with any type of threat.

II.  Response:  Isaiah 37:14-20

And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, saying: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 18 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone.”

A.  Pray:  Hezekiah’s  response was to bring it to God.  Our first response also should be to turn to God.  He is not our last resort, but our first choice.  God, here is our problem.  What should we do?

B.  Trust:  Hezekiah trusted in God.  So can we.  If God is for us, who can be against us?  (Romans 8:31)

C.  Listen:  In the case of Hezekiah, God took care of the problem as we shall see shortly.  For us, it is important to ask God to guide us.  If we ask God for guidance He will direct our steps.

D.  Act:  Don’t bother asking for directions if you are not going to follow them.  It would be better not to ask, than to ask and then disobey.  Throughout the history of Israel, individuals had occasionally been been given unusual directions.  Trust and obedience are rewarded.

III.  Deliverance:  Isaiah 37:33-37

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:

‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.
34 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.
35 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”

36 Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.

God is able to deliver us.

Whatever we face, whatever our problem may be, nothing is too big for God.

Sometimes, we do need to remember that God is working from an eternal perspective.  From our point of view, we do not always see things working out for us.  We can trust that God knows what He is doing and that in the end, everything will work out for good.  (Romans 8:28)

These are the sermon notes from 10/16/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

A Hymn of Salvation

October 12, 2016

Music has meaning.  Some music has more of a message than others.  As I was reading through Isaiah I came across a hymn that is filled with meaning.  This is especially true as we look back, with the knowledge of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

I.  Salvation Offered:  Isaiah 12:1-2

 And in that day you will say:

“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’”

    A.  You Were Angry:  We recognize that we have all sinned.  We have broken the commandments of God.  We have not been the people that God wants us to be.  We are not able to meet His standards.

    B.  Salvation and Comfort:  God is willing to forgive us.  The knowledge of salvation offered to us through Jesus Christ makes this proclamation even more comforting.

    C.  Strength:  God is our source of strength.  We do not serve God in our own power, but in the strength that God gives to us.

II.  Response to Salvation:  Isaiah 12:3-4

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.

And in that day you will say:

“Praise the Lord, call upon His name;
Declare His deeds among the peoples,
Make mention that His name is exalted.

    A.  Joy:  God is our source of joy.  As I read verse 3 I am reminded that Jesus offered his disciples living water.  (John 7:38)  When we are growing weary we can go to the well and be refreshed by the living water that God has for us.  The joy of the Lord is our strength.  (Nehemiah 8:10)

    B.  Praise:  It is appropriate to respond to what God has done for us with praise.  God is worthy of our worship and praise.

    C.  Proclamation:  One of the best ways that we can share the message of salvation is by declaring what God has done for us.  God works in our lives in a whole variety of ways and we should share the good news of the hope that God gives us.

III.  Song of Salvation:  Isaiah 12:5-6

Sing to the Lord,
For He has done excellent things;
This is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, O inhabitant of Zion,
For great is the Holy One of Israel in your midst!”

    A.  Sing:  At each of our services we spend time singing songs of praise.  This is a good thing to do.  It doesn’t matter if we feel like singing, or if we are good at it.  God deserves our praise and worship.

    B.  Shout:  Every once in a while it is good to let out a good, hearty shout of praise.  Praise God!  works quite well.  Give it a try sometime.  (We did in service.  It doesn’t come across as well in writing.)

This chapter in Isaiah was meaningful when it was written.  It is even more meaningful as we look back at it with the knowledge of what God did for us through Jesus Christ.    We should give praise to God for our salvation in Jesus Christ.

These are the sermon notes from 10/9/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Serve With Joy

October 5, 2016

The Christian life can be difficult at times.  When times become difficult we need to remember to find joy in the journey.

I.  That Your Joy Might Be Full:  I John 1:4

 And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.

Is it possible to have too much joy?

I don’t think so.

As Christians we need the joy of the Lord, because the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)  Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22) As Christians, we can expect to have the joy of the Lord in our hearts, providing us with strength.  If we find ourselves running low we simply need to spend time in God’s presence, for in the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy.  (Psalms 16:11)

II.  Test the Spirits:  I John 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

A.  The Word:  The first test for what is presented to us is the Word of God.  If the spirit is presenting information that is contrary to the Word of God then it is not of God.  The first and most important test is about Jesus Christ.  He is the Son of God.  God in the flesh.

B.  The Spirit:  The second test is the love test.  If a person has the Spirit of God then love for God and for people will be evident.

I John 4:7-8

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

The Word and the Spirit work together to mold us and to guide us as the people of God.  We should not believe every spirit, but subject them to the test of the Word and the Spirit.

III.  Greater is He:  I John 4:4

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

When we feel overwhelmed it is good to know that we do not face the challenges of this life alone.  God is with us and the Spirit that He gives to us is greater than that which is in the World.  On our own we would be in trouble, but we are not alone.

As we face the challenges of serving God in this changing world it is good to be reminded that our joy can be full, that we should test the spirits, and that greater is He who is in us.

May you be encouraged in your service to the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from 10/2/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

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.