Good Grief!

September 3, 2015

Why do bad things happen?  If God is in control, why does He allow tragedies?  Bad things happen for a variety of reasons.  Some things happen because of simple natural law.  We age, we get sick, we eventually die.  It is the common fate of all humanity.  No one is exempt.  Some bad things happen as a result of human choices.  If we drink and drive, we may just kill someone.  Some bad things happen as a result of demonic activity.  Satan lives to destroy.  Sometimes God allows it.  God is also able to intervene.  Actually, God is sovereign and is able to stop, or deflect all evil.  The question is “Why does He allow bad things to happen?”  Although the question could be “How many times has He intervened and we are unaware?”

I.  The Lord Causes Grief:  Lamentations 3:31-33

For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.

Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that the Lord causes grief.  Does He cause, or allow, bad things to happen.  The Jewish people in the Old Testament accepted everything as if it came from God.  They emphasized the sovereignty of God.  These verses indicate that although the Lord causes grief, it is not something that He enjoys.   He does use grief as a teaching tool.  In the same way that human parents use punishment to teach their children right from wrong, God sometimes uses grief to instruct us.

II.  Punishment for Sin:  Lamentations 3:37-39

Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
39 Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?

Once again we see the  language that God commands what comes to pass.  Certainly,  when the bad things that happen to us are a consequence of our sin, we should recognize we may have got off easy.  We have all sinned.  God has offered forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Sometimes, even though we are forgiven of the eternal consequences of sin, there is a penalty that will be paid here on earth.

III.  Examine Our Ways:  Lamentations 3:40-41

Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.

If bad things are happening to us we should examine our lives.  Are we living in unrepentant sin?  Have we repented of any known sin?  Are we caught up in the sins of others?  Is it merely a test of our faith?  Is it a learning experience?  Is God using it so that we may be a witness to others?

Even if we are unable to discern the cause we can trust that God knows what He is doing.  God is not surprised.  He will give us the wisdom and strength that we need for any challenge.

IV.  We Are Not Consumed:  Lamentations 3: 22-24

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

The difficulties that we face in this life will have an end.  We must simply trust in God to see us through.  His mercies are new every morning.  He is faithful to His people.  We should not lose heart.  Our hope is in God.

V.  The Lord is Good:  Lamentations 3:25

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.

This does not mean  that there will never be anything bad in our life.  Bad things happen for a variety of reasons, but through them all, God is good to His people.  In fact, in times of grief it is even more important to turn to God for help, comfort and strength.  When grief drives us closer to God, it is good grief.

Learning From the Mistakes of Others

August 24, 2015

I am not one of those people who feel that it is necessary to experience everything for myself. I do not have to try everything myself.  I can learn from the mistakes of others.

I.  An Evil Heart:  Jeremiah 7:23-28

 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. 26 Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.

27 “Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you.

28 “So you shall say to them, ‘This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.

A.  Obey My Voice

The nation of Israel had been given the law through Moses.  They were expected to live in obedience to that word, but they had not.  We are to obey the voice of God.  God has given us direction in the Bible.  We are to read, interpret and obey the Word of God in our lives.

B.  Following An Evil Heart

Sometimes I hear people say that they must “follow their heart”.   The problem with that is that our hearts may be inclined to evil.  We should follow God’s Word, not our own feelings.

C.  Backwards or Forwards

Our relationship with God is never stagnant.  We are either drawing closer to God, or we are drifting away from God.  We should be careful to continue to move forward in our relationship with God.  We do that by regularly spending time in prayer, the Word, and attending church.  Also we should seek to live in obedience to His Word and be sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

II.  Rejecting the Word:  Jeremiah 8:7-11

“Even the stork in the heavens
Knows her appointed times;
And the turtledove, the swift, and the swallow
Observe the time of their coming.
But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord.

“How can you say, ‘We are wise,
And the law of the Lord is with us’?
Look, the false pen of the scribe certainly works falsehood.
The wise men are ashamed,
They are dismayed and taken.
Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord;
So what wisdom do they have?
10 Therefore I will give their wives to others,
And their fields to those who will inherit them;
Because from the least even to the greatest
Everyone is given to covetousness;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.

The children of Israel had rejected the Word of God.  They had given in to covetousness.  They dealt falsely and were liars.  I listen to people today who reject the Word of God, saying that it is not for our time.  I observe the inclination in our society to find fulfillment in material things.  I recognize the degree to which our society accepts lying and the prevalence of deceit and I am concerned.    It is one thing if non-believers practice this lifestyle, but it is tragic indeed when people who claim to be followers of Jesus give in to the ways of the world.

III.  Punishment:  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.”

Jeremiah prophesied that God was sending judgement upon the nation of Israel.  That judgement was coming because they had not been obedient to God’s Word.  They had followed their own hearts and forsaken the Law of God.  Therefore they were punished by their land being conquered by foreign armies that deported the survivors to another land.

As I said earlier, I can learn from the mistakes of others.  I can see where disobedience leads and I am not interested in that destination.  I will seek to be obedient to God’s Word, to walk in His ways, to seek to draw closer to God, rather than to drift away.  I desire to see the blessing of God upon my life, rather than suffer judgement.

These are the sermon notes from 8/2/15.  Any advertisement that might appear has been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The Secret to Happiness

August 3, 2015

There are a lot of self-help books on the market.  People are not happy with who they are and they want to change.  They think that their lives would be better if they found the secret to happiness.

I.  The Lord Teaches Us:  Isaiah 48:17-18

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
The Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
Who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you by the way you should go.
18 Oh, that you had heeded My commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

God will teach us how we should live.  God works in our lives by His Word and His Spirit to shape us into the people that we are meant to be.  It is a lifelong process, not a weekend seminar.

This process requires our participation and cooperation.  We need to be reading the Bible.  We need to exercise our will and follow the direction that God gives to us.  If we follow the directions that God gives to us, then we will prosper.

II.  The Lord is the Potter:  Isaiah 64:8

But now, O Lord,
You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.

God is at work in our lives.  He has a plan and a purpose for us.  He has given to us certain skills that we are to develop and opportunities that we should seize.

Sometimes we are unhappy with our lives.  We can make changes, as God leads, but sometimes we must accept who we are created to be.  We need wisdom from God to know what we are to do.

III.  That Your Joy May Be Full:  I John 1:4-7

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

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Joy is meant to be a regular part of our Christian experience.  The joy that God gives to us is not dependent on external circumstances, but on our internal relationship with Christ.  Our joy should be full.

If we are being led by the Spirit of God, we will be walking in the light.  That means that we will be doing what is right in the sight of God.  This too, is a process.  God cleanses us from sin.  We learn more and more what it means to be the children of God. We learn how we are to live, and God enables us to change.

IV.  Greater is He Who is in You:  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.

Sometimes people will say that they cannot help themselves, that they are only human, that they cannot change.

That is not correct.

We are of God and have the Spirit of God within us.  We cannot change on our own, but by the power of the Spirit of God we can do whatever God calls us to do.

The secret to happiness is to cooperate with God as He forms us into the people that we are meant to be.

These are the sermon notes from 7/19/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Our Strength and Our Shield

July 20, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him.

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

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

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

Good and Evil

July 9, 2015

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

I. Woe!: Isaiah 5:20-24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. Pray!! II Chronicles 7:14

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

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

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

Cease to Do Evil

June 29, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III. Forgiveness: Isaiah 1:18-20

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

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

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

Obedience will be rewarded, disobedience will be judged.

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

Cast Your Cares

June 15, 2015

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

I Peter 5:5-11

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

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

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

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

I.  Submissive

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

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

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

II.  Humilty

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

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

III.  Cast Your Cares

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

IV.  Resist

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

V. Completion

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

VI.  To the Glory of God

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

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

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

Words For Life

June 8, 2015

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

I.  On Alcohol:  Proverbs 20:1

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

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

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

II.  Pleasure:  Proverbs 21:17

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

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

III.  Overwork:  Proverbs 23:4

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

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

IV.  Repeating Mistakes:  Proverbs 26:11

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

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

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

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

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

VI.  Sudden Destruction:  Proverbs 29:1

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

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

VII.  Build a Life:  Proverbs 24:3-4

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

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

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

 

 

Up, Up and Away!

June 1, 2015

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

I.  The Lord Keeps Watch:  Proverbs 15:3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III.  Life Winds Upward: Proverbs 15:24

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

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

Up, up and away!

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

Great Peace

May 28, 2015

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

I.  Psalms 119:165

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

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

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

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

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

II.  John 16:33

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

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

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

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

III.  II Timothy 3:1-5

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

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

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

IV.  Philippians 4:6-7

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

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

We can be at peace in Him.

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


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