Archive for July, 2013

The Journey of Our Lives

July 30, 2013

Last week was even busier than the normal busy week.  These are the sermon notes from 7/21/13.

I.  God Fights For Us:  Deuteronomy 3:22

You must not fear them, for the Lord your God Himself fights for you.’

This verse brings me both comfort and peace with the knowledge that God is actively involved in the lives of His people.  As Christians, we are the new Israel and can claim many of the promises that God made to the children of Israel. I believe that if we are doing what God wants us to do, then He will “fight” for us.

II.  Promise of Blessing:  Deuteronomy 6:3-9

Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you—‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Israel is promised the blessings of God.  This promise is a conditional promise.  Israel is commanded to love God and keep his commandments, and then they will receive the blessings of God.  This holds true to the believer today as well.  If we read the Word of God, and follow it, then our lives will be blessed.  This does not mean that we will not encounter various tests and trials of our faith, but rather that our lives will be marked overall with the blessings of God.

III.  The Testing of the Wilderness:  Deuteronomy 8:2-3

And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

We are humbled by the tests and trials that come our way.  We recognize that we need the wisdom and strength that comes from God.  We need His help.

God tests us to see if we truly love Him and trust Him.

God sees our heart, if He is truly first in our lives.

The life that God has for us is not found in the things of this world, but rather by the presence of God in our lives.  God is present in our lives in many ways, but certainly is revealed to us most accurately in His Word.  His Word brings life.

IV.  The Testing of Prosperity:  Deuteronomy 6:10-12

“So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, 11 houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— 12 then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

Sometimes our lives are tested; not by trials, but by success.  When we are facing difficulties it is easy to recognize our need for God.  When everything is going well, we sometimes forget the importance of God in our lives.

V.  A Heart for God:  Deuteronomy 5:29

Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

That is our goal.  That we would have a heart for God, not just for a period of our lives, but throughout the journey of our lives.

 

 

 

 

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Speaking in Tongues

July 18, 2013

We are approaching the beginning of our centennial year as a fellowship.  The Assemblies of God was begun by a group of men and women who had experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, receiving the gift of speaking in tongues.  To this day, our churches are distinguished from other evangelicals by our emphasis on the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in contemporary society.

I.  Baptized in the Holy Spirit:  Acts 1:4,5 & 8

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The primary purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is to give us power to boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Yes, there are other effects, such as a heightened awareness of God’s presence, a greater fervency in worship, and an opening of understanding of God’s Word, but the primary purpose is the proclamation of the gospel.

II.  Speaking in Tongues: Acts 2:1-4

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

In the Assemblies of God we recognize speaking in tongues as the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.  There are three types of speaking in tongues.

1. A sign to unbelievers:  I Corinthians 14:22

Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

This form of tongues is when an individual speaks in a human language that is unknown to them, but that is known by the person’s hearing the message.  It is a powerful sign to unbelievers.  Sadly, it is not a very common occurrence, although I have heard contemporary testimonies of it occurring.

2.  A word to believers:  I Corinthians 14:26-28

How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.

This form of tongues happens much more frequently.  Someone will give a message in tongues by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and then someone will give an interpretation of that message.  These are two separate gifts of the Spirit: a message in tongues and an interpretation of tongues.  These gifts are meant for the edification of God’s people as they are gathered together.

3.  The individual believer:  I Corinthians 14: 2, 4

For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

This is the most common form of speaking in tongues.  It is the individual praying without the barrier of human language.  We are able to pour out our hearts to God, and it is a powerful experience for the individual.  I strongly encourage people who have received this gift to use it regularly in their private devotions.  It is also acceptable during certain portions of corporate worship to use our tongues to praise or to pray, speaking out loud, but quietly, to the Lord.

III.  Offered to All:  Acts 2: 38-39

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

Obviously, we are among those who are “afar off”.  Yet, I believe that, although not all Christians speak in tongues, that all Christians could speak in tongues.  It is a gift that is offered to all.

IV.  To the Gentiles:  Acts 10:44-48

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.

Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

In this second recording of the gift of tongues being manifested on a new group of believers: there are no tongues of flame, no rushing mighty wind, but the gift of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues is again manifested.  The way that people receive this gift may vary, but the evidence of speaking in tongues is a common thread.

V.  Ask God, Trust God  Luke 11:11-13

If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

I firmly believe that if we ask God for this gift, that we will not receive a substitute.  God gives good gifts to His children and certainly the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues is a good gift.  This can take place at a service or in the privacy of our own homes.  Seek and you will find, ask and it shall be given to you.

End Well

July 11, 2013

Here are the notes from the message 7/7/13.

Introduction

This past 4th, we attended the local fireworks display.  They did an outstanding job, finishing with an awesome grand finale.  Then there was one final firework that was launched just a little late.  It was not a large burst, but rather a small pop.  It was weak ending to a spectacular show.

I.  Moses:  Numbers 27:12-23

Now the Lord said to Moses: “Go up into this Mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel. 13 And when you have seen it, you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered. 14 For in the Wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against My command to hallow Me at the waters before their eyes.” (These are the waters of Meribah, at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.)

15 Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: 16 “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17 who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.”

18 And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; 19 set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. 20 And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21 He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation.”

22 So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. 23 And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.

Moses had served for forty years as the leader of the people of Israel.  He had been, not perfect, but faithful, through many difficult times.  As his period of leadership was drawing to a close, he appointed a leader to carry on in his stead.  He ended well.

II.  Solomon: I Kings 11:1-4

But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites— from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David.

Solomon had started so very well.  He had been a magnificent king, widely known for his wisdom, contributing to the text of sacred scripture, serving God for many years.  How very sad that when he was old, that his heart turned towards other gods.  He is a great illustration of what can happen if we do not carefully guard our hearts.

III.  Keep Your Heart:  Proverbs 4:23

Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.

As a person with a family history of heart disease, I read these verses in two different ways.  First, I do watch my diet, and exercise regularly so that I can continue to enjoy good health, and the productivity that may come with it.  Secondly, and more importantly, I am reminded that I must keep my heart right before God.  I certainly do not want to follow in Solomon’s footsteps, serving God for years, and then falling away at the end.  I want to finish well, and to finish well, I must keep my heart right before God.

IV.  Warning!  Numbers 33:50-52 & 55-56

Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying, 51 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you have crossed the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, destroy all their engraved stones, destroy all their molded images, and demolish all their high places;

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. 56 Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.’”

The children of Israel were directed to cleanse the land from those things that would lead them astray, to serve other gods.  Now, obviously, we are not to kill off all non-believers, and most of us are not tempted by engraved stones, or molded images.  We are however, tempted in a whole host of other ways to pursue things other than God.  Perhaps we are tempted to pursue money, power or fame.  Perhaps we become far too comfortable and entangled in the things of this world.  For each of us, the dangers may be different, but the point is the same.  Keep God first in your life and in your priorities.  This is not a challenge for a part of our life, but for all of our life.  Don’t let a passion for God be simply a phase, or portion of your life, may it be your life.  May you finish well.

 

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God is Enough

July 6, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 6/30/13.

I.  Don’t Complain:  Numbers 11:1-6

Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the Lord, the fire was quenched. So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the Lord had burned among them.

Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”

How quickly the people had forgotten what God had already done for them.  They had been slaves in Egypt.  God had brought them out of Egypt, working miraculously in a number of ways.  They were now free.  God had provided manna for them, in addition to the flocks and herds that provided meat and dairy products for them.  I can understand how they would grow weary of the same food day after day, but they were not appreciative for what God had done for them.  When they complained, they were telling God that His provision was not good enough.   They wanted more.

We too, need to be careful.  God has provided for us in many ways.  He has brought us out of spiritual darkness, and into His light.  Yet, sometimes we too, look around at what we have, and are not satisfied with the provision of the Lord.

Furthermore, the children of Israel had continually before them the pillar of smoke by day, and the column of fire by night:  the physical symbols of God’s presence and favor.  Yet this too, was not enough and they complained.

We may not have the physical symbols of God’s presence, but we have His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us… but for many, that is not good enough.

II.  Be Content:  Philippians 4:10-13

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

We love to claim verse thirteen.  We want the strength to be able to do all things.  Yet, we must first learn the importance of verse eleven.  We must be able to be content in Christ, whatever our external circumstances may be at the moment.

III.  Trust in God:  Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

We can indeed trust that God will guide us in our decisions.  If we have turned to Him for guidance, even if we have not heard an audible voice, we can trust that God will direct our steps.  Faith and trust go hand in hand in the life of the believer.

IV.  Delight in God:  Psalms 37:3-5

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.

As Christians our greatest joy should come from being in the presence of God.  No one, and nothing of this world can take God away from us.  We can, however, easily be distracted and caught up in the affairs of the world.  We need to keep God first in our lives, and then everything else will come into line.

God is enough for us.