Archive for July, 2012

Unity in Worship

July 31, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from Sunday, July 22nd, 2012.

The scriptures that are used today are from the dedication of the temple that was built by King Solomon.

I.  Worship is Offered: II Chronicles 5:11-14

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

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

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

When they were as one in praising and thanking the Lord, then the glory of the Lord filled the house.  Who knows what would happen, if the whole congregation were in unity as we worshiped?  I would encourage you all to seek the Lord with all of your hearts during our times of worship and prayer.  Who knows what God might do in our midst?

II.   Solomon Prays:  II Chronicles 6:12ff

A.  Hear and Judge:  vv22-23

22 “If anyone sins against his neighbor, and is forced to take an oath, and comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this temple, 23 then hear from heaven, and act, and judge Your servants, bringing retribution on the wicked by bringing his way on his own head, and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.

We should be aware that God does indeed reward the righteous, and punish the wicked.  We should seek in our lives to cease to do evil, and to learn to do good. Sometimes it may seem as though the wicked prosper, but we should know that the judgement of God will come upon all those who have rejected His ways.

B.  Hear and Forgive:  vv26-27

26 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, 27 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.

When we repent and turn to God, He does indeed hear our prayers and forgive our sins.

    C.  Hear and Act: vv32-33

32 “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; 33 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name.

We can trust that God hears us when we pray, and that He is able to intervene on our behalf.  We can trust Him to help in times of need.  That help may not be in the way that we hope, but help will come.  God’s grace is sufficient for us.

III.  God Responds:  II Chronicles 7: 1-3

When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.[a] And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying:

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

When people worship and pray in unity, God responds.  We cannot predict how God will respond, but we can trust that God hears us and is able and willing to respond to our worship and our prayers.

IV.  Everyone Gives:  II Chronicles 7:4

 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord.

The people worshiped, Solomon prayed, God responded, and the people gave.  It is appropriate for us to give back to God a portion of what He has given us.  All good gifts come from God.  It is good for us to give back to God a portion of  our money, our time and our talents.  Actually, our whole lives and all that we have, should be dedicated to God.

V.  Gladness Filled Their Hearts: II Chronicles: 7:10

On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the good that the Lord had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel.

When we come together to worship, pray and give to God; as God responds and touches our hearts, we can be filled with the joy and gladness that comes from being in the presence of the Lord.  The joy of the Lord is our strength.  It does not come from worldly things, but from the presence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

Know, Serve, Seek, & Trust

July 26, 2012

Here are the notes from the sermon Sunday, July 22nd.

I Chronicles 28:2-10 (NKJ)

Then King David rose to his feet and said, “Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and for the footstool of our God, and had made preparations to build it. But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name, because you have been a man of war and have shed blood.’ However the Lord God of Israel chose me above all the house of my father to be king over Israel forever, for He has chosen Judah to be the ruler. And of the house of Judah, the house of my father, and among the sons of my father, He was pleased with me to make me king over all Israel. And of all my sons (for the Lord has given me many sons) He has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. Now He said to me, ‘It is your son Solomon who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be My son, and I will be his Father. Moreover I will establish his kingdom forever, if he is steadfast to observe My commandments and My judgments, as it is this day.’ Now therefore, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God, be careful to seek out all the commandments of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land, and leave it as an inheritance for your children after you forever.

“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind; for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever. 10 Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be strong, and do it.”

I very much appreciate the words of encouragement and direction that King David gives to his son Solomon.

I.  Know God:  We can get to know God first of all through reading the Bible.  In the Bible, God reveals himself to us.  We can spend a lifetime studying the scriptures and will never come to the end of the knowledge and understanding of God that can be gleaned from the pages of the Word.

We also get to know God by spending time in His presence in prayer.  The Spirit of God will speak to our hearts and give us greater understanding of the character of God.

II.  Serve God:  We are called not just to know God, but to serve God.  It is not just our thoughts and feelings, but our actions count as well.  We are to serve Him will a loyal heart, and a willing mind.  This is not only for clergy, but for all people.  Whatever we do, we can, and ought, to do as unto the Lord.

III.  Seek God:  We are called to continue to seek God.  God is always present, but our spiritual eyes are not always open.  We should seek to be aware of the presence of God at all times.  In light of the knowledge that Solomon drifted away from God in his later years, this admonition should be taken seriously.  We should seek God throughout our lives.

IV.  Trust God:  I Chronicles 28:20: “And David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.”

As we live our lives growing in our knowledge of God, serving God and seeking God; we can also continually trust God.  He has promised to be with us always.  He will not leave us or forsake us.  In times of difficulty, He has not abandoned us.  We do not face the adventures of this life alone.  God is with us always.

A Bit of Everything

July 19, 2012

The message on Sunday Jul 15 was based on I Thessalonians 5:14-24.

Warn those who are unruly.  The Greek word translated unruly also means insubordinate or idle.  People who are not cooperating with godly leadership, whether by causing problems, or by not assisting in the work of the kingdom of God, should be warned that there are consequences for not fully engaging in the mission that God has called us to work.

Comfort the fainthearted.  I think of this, as those who are lacking the courage to strike out on the path that God has shown them.  God sometimes calls us to do things that are outside of our comfort zone.  We are sometimes called to take risks.  We should be bold to do what God has called us to do.

Uphold the weak.  A life of service to Christ can become draining.  We can work so hard for so long, that sometimes we grow weary.  We need to seek the strength that God offers, and use wisdom to guide our schedules.  We should encourage those who appear to be faltering.

Be patient with all.  This can be a challenge.  We are to treat all people with kindness, courtesy and respect, especially those who seem to deserve it the least.

See that no one renders evil for evil.  Paybacks is the way of the world.  We are called to be different.  Mercy and grace are not just things that we receive from God, but are things that we should extend to others.

Pursue what is good for yourself and for all.   Elsewhere in scripture we are told to “overcome evil with good” and that is the idea here as well.  We are not evil-doers, but doers of good.

Rejoice always.  Times can be difficult, but we can always rejoice in a God who loves us, and who will help us in times of need.

Pray without ceasing.  There are two aspects to this.  First we can continue to pray for concerns that have not yet been met.  We can continue to pray for the salvation of the unsaved, healing for the sick, help for those in various afflictions.  We do not pray once and then drop the matter.  Secondly, I believe that we are called to cultivate an attitude of prayer.  Prayer is communication with God.  God is always with us.  We can learn to develop a sense of the presence of God at all times.  I believe that is what it means to “walk in the Spirit”.

In everything give thanks.  It is easy to thank God for the good things.  We can even give thanks in the things that appear bad because we are told that ” all things work together for good”.  We may not be able to see, or understand exactly how this works, but we can trust God that it is true.

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  This does not mean that it is God’s will that terrible things happen.  God has allowed human freedom, and humans sometimes use that freedom to do terrible things.  God is able to use even the most awful things to work for good, but it was not His will that caused them.  It is His will, that we give thanks in all things.

Do not quench the Spirit.  It is important for us to learn to be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit.  God will guide us, and use us in many ways if we are willing to listen, and be obedient to, the voice of the Spirit.

Do not despise prophecies.  Sometimes it may seem as if the same people are giving the same message over and over.  Sometimes a message is given in a way that does not have a very polished delivery.  We should recognize that God uses ordinary people to speak to us in extraordinary ways.

Test all things, hold fast what is good.  When we hear messages, it is appropriate to exam them closely.  We should compare them to the Word and ask God’s Spirit to grant us discernment.  It is like eating chicken.  You eat the meat, and discard the bones.

Abstain from every form of evil.  We are called to “cease to do evil, and learn to do good”.  As we mature in Christ we will be more and more able to distinguish between good and evil.  We should choose the good.4

I close with verses 23&24.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

 

 

A Faithful Life of Service

July 10, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from July 8th,21012.

Introduction:  I have been reading recently in II Kings.  The story of King Josiah stands out to me.  He was the last godly king of Judah prior to its’ conquest by Babylon.  He became king when he was only eight years old.  When he was twenty-six he oversaw the cleansing, and restoration of the temple.  During the process, a copy of the book of the law was found.  Evidently, the children of Israel had strayed so far from the Lord that the revealed word had been set aside, and literally forgotten.  When King Josiah heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes in humble repentance.  He recognized how far Israel had fallen away from their service to God and he set about to make things right.

I.  A Time of Restoration

II Kings 23  Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. The king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.

Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.

First, I am impressed that the people listened to all the words of the Book of the Covenant.  This book may have been Leviticus, or possibly even the entire Pentateuch.  Today’s congregation may lose interest if a scripture readings goes for more the ten verses.

Second, this was no idle reading or commitment.  The king set about a methodical cleansing of the land of all foreign gods, altars and temples.  He was serious about his desire to restore true worship and the process continued throughout his life.

II.  King Josiah Lived a Life of Faithful Service.

II Kings 23  24 Moreover Josiah put away those who consulted mediums and spiritists, the household gods and idols, all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.

Notice that it is said that no king was like him..ever.  Not even King David, who is normally considered the greatest king.  We all know that King David had his  faults.  Apparently King Josiah was completely committed to serving God, faithful throughout his life.

III.  The Unexpected, Tragic End

II Kings 23 28 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? 29 In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him. 30 Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.

Why did God not protect King Josiah in battle?  God had delivered his people many times in previous years, why was this occasion different?

God has a plan.  He knows how the events of this world are going to unfold.  King Josiah served a very important role in restoring worship to the Jewish people.  Prior to his reign the focus was clearly on the temple, and on sacrifice.  After his reign there was a renewed emphasis on the study of the Word of God.  When the children of Israel were exiled to Babylon, they gathered together to study the word, for worship and for prayer.   It was a necessary change in focus for the years that were to come.

King Josiah reigned for thirty-one years.  He died at thirty-nine.  You might consider this an untimely death, or you could think of it as an early retirement.  Remember that for the people of God, our true reward is not in the things of this life, but in the life to come.

Conclusion:  We all have a part that we play in the plan of God.  We are called to faithfully serve, and we can trust that God knows what He is doing.  God does know what he is doing. we simply need to be faithful in our service to Him.  Our reward may come in various things of this life, but even more important is when we stand before the Lord to hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Clearly, the best is yet to come.

 

God Can Provide

July 3, 2012

Here are the sermon notes from July 1st, 2012

I.  Miraculous Provision 1.0

I Kings 17:1-7 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “Asthe Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

Elijah was faithful to say what God had sent him to proclaim.  It was not a popular message.  It was a sentence of judgement upon the land.  There was severe drought, followed by famine.  During this time God provided for Elijah in a very unusual way.  Have you ever thought about what this time was like for Elijah?  All alone, by a brook, ravens bringing him his food, only God as a companion.  It was undoubtably both strange, and precious.

II.  Miraculous Provision 2.0

I Kings 17: 8-16

Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’”

15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.

The brook dried up.  Circumstances changed, but God still provided.  The widow heard what Elijah said to her and acted in faith.  God rewarded that act of faithfulness by providing for Elijah and her family for the duration of the famine.  God blessed and used what she had to offer. 

III.  Miraculous Provision 3.0

II KIngs 4: 1-7

4 A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.”

So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.”

Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.”

So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.”

And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”

Now Elijah’s disciple,  Elisha, is the prophet.  Again there is a widow who is in need of help.  She calls out to Elisha, believing that he can speak for God.  Elijah gives her direction and she is obedient to do as the prophet tell her.  God again uses what she has, and her family is provided for in their time of need. 

God is always able to provide.  It might not be what we expect, or in the way that we expect, but God is able.  God is faithful.  He expects us to both have faith and to faithfully live out our lives in obedience to Him.    He is our shepherd, we shall not want…