Archive for October, 2013

Words of Life

October 31, 2013

They are a little late, but here are the notes from the message 10/20/13.

I.  Right Speech: Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

I have appreciated this verse for many years.  Knowing the right thing to say is not always easy.  It is a wonderful thing when we can sense that we have been inspired by the Holy Spirit in what we say.  Speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the best way to be able to answer people.  Often, we must answer people from what is in our own heart.  We should aim to be able to say things that have Holy Spirit approval, even if it is not Holy Spirit inspired.

II.  Life and Death:  Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

As children we were told that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”  Today, we recognize the power that our words have to bring either life or death to those around us.  The question is: ” Are our words bringing life or death?”

III.  Words of Death:  Colossians 3:8-10

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,

A.  Words spoken in anger, wrath, or malice can bring great harm.  Once spoken, things cannot be un-spoken.  If we think about it even a little, most of us can think of things that we have said in anger that we have later regretted.  We should strive to always speak in such a way that we will not have to regret our words.

B.  Blasphemy is a word not often used today.  However, there are many people who regularly use the Lord’s name in vain.  Curses using the Lord’s name clearly falls under the category of death.

C.  Filthy language, I understand as both profanity and course jesting.  I have met Christians who do not think that there is anything wrong with profanity as long as they are not using the Lord’s name.  These verses identify “filthy language” as unacceptable Christian speech.

D.  Lies are frequently spoken by people today.  Many people accept the idea of a “little white lie”.   There is no such thing.  Christians are to speak the truth, or not speak at all.  We do not have to share every thought that goes through our minds.  Some things do not need to be spoken.

E.  Gossip, backbiting or strife are also to be avoided.  These kinds of words tear down, rather than build up.  They are words of death.

IV.  Words of Life: Proverbs 25:11-12

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.
12 Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold
Is a wise rebuker to an obedient ear.

The right words, at the right time, in the right way, are a beautiful thing.

A.  Praising God is an excellent use of our voice.

B.  Prayers are always appropriate.

C.  Testifying of what God has done in our life is a great way of sharing the good news.

D.  Words of encouragement are appreciated and helpful.

E.  Words of instruction are good, but they must be given at the right way and at the right time.

Conclusion:  Our words are a very big part of our testimony of what God is doing in our lives.  I do not mean simply those words that we say when we are intentionally telling someone about Christ.  I am talking about how the light of Christ shines through our lives at all times, in whatever we say.  Obviously, for some of us, this is an area that could use a lot of improvement. May God help us to be filled with His Spirit, so that His light will shine through our lives.  May we not speak words of death, but words of life.

 

The Road to Destruction

October 14, 2013

Here  are the sermon notes from 10/13/13.

Introduction:  Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba.  You might recall that Bathsheba was the woman with whom David had committed adultery.  She had become pregnant and David had her husband killed in battle so that he could marry her in an attempt to cover up the sinful act.  That baby did not live, but she had another child, Solomon, whom David appointed to be his successor.

Solomon, at the beginning of his reign asked God for wisdom to be able to rule the people.  God blessed him with wisdom, wealth, and a long life.

Solomon also built the first temple dedicated to God.  It was a magnificent temple.  It is as the dedication ceremony that we join in the story.

I.  The Glory of the Lord:  I Kings 8:10-13

And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord.

12 Then Solomon spoke:

“The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud.
13 I have surely built You an exalted house,
And a place for You to dwell in forever.”

This was probably the highlight of Solomon’s  religious life.  Can you even imagine the experience of the cloud filling the house of the Lord?  After this,  Solomon offers a prayer of dedication that is absolutely beautiful.  What a day that must have been!

I am sorry to say, that from this point.  Solomon’s religious fervor begins to go downhill.

II.  Wrong Emphasis:  I Kings 6:38 & 7:1

And in the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, which is the eighth month, the house was finished in all its details and according to all its plans. So he was seven years in building it.

It took seven years to build the temple.  That is a long time.  It was a magnificent building.

 But Solomon took thirteen years to build his own house; so he finished all his house.

The word “but” is a small word with a large meaning.  It took thirteen years to build his own house.  Even for a king, that is extravagant  I believe that it shows a wrong emphasis on the part of Solomon.

We are told in Matthew 6:33:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God should always be our top priority.  For Solomon, early in his life, he begins to go off track.

We are told in Colossians 3:2:

Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

I suspect that Solomon had his mind set too much on the things of this earth.

We are told in James 4:3-5

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

God is meant to be our top priority.  It is easy to get caught up in the affairs of this world.  We should regularly examine our own hearts and lives to see if we are keeping the right emphasis in our lives.

How can we tell if we have the right emphasis?

First, are we taking the time for our daily devotions?  By that I mean, are we spending time each day in the Word of God, and in prayer?  Life can get busy and things can get squeezed out of our schedule.  We should be taking the time to be in the Word and in prayer.

Second, and these are not necessarily in any specific order, we should be taking the time for corporate worship.  Are we going to church?  We are not meant to serve God in isolation, but as part of a community of believers.

Third, are we honoring God with our finances?  Does the portion that we give to God in tithes and offerings come off the top, or does God get what is left over after we have satisfied our own needs and desires?

Fourth,  are we willing to serve God?  Do our lives reflect that service.  Are we honoring God in our jobs?  Do we use any of our free time to serve God, or others?  Or are we simply building our own lives?  Do we pray about how we use the resources that God has given us of time, talent, and money?

III.  The Road to Destruction: 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 knew what the Word said about marriage.  He knew, but he ignored it.  If we get to a point in our lives that we are saying “I know the Bible says, but…”  then we are in serious trouble.  That is the road that leads to destruction.  We should never be in a place where we are consciously choosing sin, relying on God’s grace.  We are to rely on God’s grace to enable us to make the right choices, not the wrong ones.

Solomon slowly drifted away.

Let us guard our hearts and our lives, zealously following after the Lord our God.

 

 

 

The Work of God in Us

October 7, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 10/6/13.

Introduction:  The Work Begins:  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;

I remember very clearly Friday night,  July 2, 1976.   I had gone forward for prayer after the youth service at Camp Zion.  I was in the small, downstairs prayer room with a young man named Dave.  He shared this verse with me, shortly before praying with me for the baptism in the Holy Spirit.    It was a special night, a night to remember.  God’s work in me had begun years earlier, but from that point on, I knew that God would continue His work in me.

God’s work continues, not just in me, but in all believers.  As long as we are on this earth.  God continues to polish away the rough edges in our lives.  Sometimes that work is dramatic and quick, and sometimes it is barely noticeable, but it never stops.  By His word and by His Spirit He continues to work in us.

I.  The Work Defined:  Philippians 1:9-11

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

We are to continue to grow in our love for God and for one another.  Our love for God can be hindered, by our love for the things of the world.  We need to be careful to keep God first in our lives.  Our love for one another can be challenged by the fact that some people are not easy to love.  May God help us not to stagnate, but to grow in our ability to love.

We are challenged to grow in knowledge.  Jesus Himself, when being tempted, answered with “It is written…”  .  We too, should be able to respond to those who would question our faith, or those who would tempt us with sound biblical responses.

Not everything is clearly addressed in scripture.  The ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil, is another trait that should continue to grow in our lives.  On this note, we should recognize that younger Christians will not have developed this ability as fully as more mature Christians, so we should not be surprised if they come to different conclusions in their Christian walk.  At the same time, age does not always bring wisdom, so we cannot simply follow the advice of those who are older, we must each search the scriptures and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We should learn to approve those things that are excellent.  We can enjoy the good things that God brings into our lives.  We should celebrate the victories that God gives to us, even if they seem small.  There will always be a mixture of good and bad, let us focus on the good.

We should be sincere.  Do not put on an act.  The church is made up of imperfect people.  We can accept that as truth.  It is not an excuse to remain in our sins, it is an acknowledgement that there is room for growth.

We should seek to live our lives in such a way that we do not cause others to stumble.  We should think of the impact our words and actions will have on those around us.

Our lives should be filled with the fruits of righteousness.  We should be different from non believers.  Christ should make a difference in our lives.

All should be done for the glory of God.  If it were not for God we would still be in our sins.  Because of God we have the ability to change.

II.  The Work Fulfilled:  Philippians 1:19-21

 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

We should live for Christ.  The fulfillment of our life is not to become great ourselves, but to magnify Christ.

III.  The Work United:  Philippians 1:27

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

Our conduct, both as individuals, and as a church should be worthy of the gospel of Christ.  That is a challenge, since we can never truly be worthy.  We should seek to live our lives in such a way as to glorify Christ.  That is true for us individually, and as a church.  We should seek to be united in our work.  This too, is a challenge because we do have differences.  May we be united by the Spirit that works both in us, and through us.

IV.  The Work Shining Bright:  Philippians 2:12-15

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

Working out our salvation does not mean working for our salvation.  It means living out our salvation.  If we are in a relationship with Christ, our lives should be changed.

One way that we can be different from much of the world is to avoid complaining and disputing.  May God help us to be blameless and harmless, living as the children of God.

May the light of Christ which has shown into our hearts, now shine through our lives.

May the work of God continue, both in us, and through us.

May God be glorified.

Amen.

Pray, Plan, Proceed

October 3, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from 9/29/13.

Introduction:  This message comes from the life of King David.  He was considered a great man of God, but he still had his share of problems.  One of the biggest problems that he faced was a rebellion against his leadership led by his own son, Absalom.

Absalom had spent years currying the favor of the nation.  When the time was right, he gathered his supporters together in an attempt to take over the kingdom.  David did not want to fight this battle at Jerusalem so he and his men planned to leave the city to Absalom.  That is where we pick up the story.

I.  Prayer: II Samuel 15:31-37

  Then someone told David, saying, “Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.” And David said, “O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!”

32 Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God—there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, “If you go on with me, then you will become a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city, and say to Absalom, ‘I will be your servant, O king; as I was your father’s servant previously, so I will now also be your servant,’ then you may defeat the counsel of Ahithophel for me. 35 And do you not have Zadok and Abiathar the priests with you there? Therefore it will be that whatever you hear from the king’s house, you shall tell to Zadok and Abiathar the priests. 36 Indeed they have there with them their two sons, Ahimaaz, Zadok’s son, and Jonathan, Abiathar’s son; and by them you shall send me everything you hear.”

37 So Hushai, David’s friend, went into the city. And Absalom came into Jerusalem.

Ahithophel was a wise counselor.  When David heard that Ahithophel was with Absalom his first response was to pray that God would turn his counsel into foolishness.  After prayer, David came up with a desperate plan.  His friend and counselor, Hushai, would remain behind, pretend to defect, and act as a spy for David.

II.  Confrontation:  II Samuel 16:15-19

Meanwhile Absalom and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem; and Ahithophel was with him. 16 And so it was, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, came to Absalom, that Hushai said to Absalom, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”

17 So Absalom said to Hushai, “Is this your loyalty to your friend? Why did you not go with your friend?”

18 And Hushai said to Absalom, “No, but whom the Lord and this people and all the men of Israel choose, his I will be, and with him I will remain. 19 Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve in the presence of his son? As I have served in your father’s presence, so will I be in your presence.”

When Absalom came into the city, Hushai went to see him.  This was a very dangerous part of the plan because Absalom did not have to believe the story.  Hushai could have been arrested, or killed on the spot.  However, God blessed the plan, and it succeeded.  Absalom believed the story.

III.  Counsel:  II Samuel 17:5-14

Then Absalom said, “Now call Hushai the Archite also, and let us hear what he says too.” And when Hushai came to Absalom, Absalom spoke to him, saying, “Ahithophel has spoken in this manner. Shall we do as he says? If not, speak up.”

So Hushai said to Absalom: “The advice that Ahithophel has given is not good at this time. For,” said Hushai, “you know your father and his men, that they are mighty men, and they are enraged in their minds, like a bear robbed of her cubs in the field; and your father is a man of war, and will not camp with the people. Surely by now he is hidden in some pit, or in some other place. And it will be, when some of them are overthrown at the first, that whoever hears it will say, ‘There is a slaughter among the people who follow Absalom.’ 10 And even he who is valiant, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt completely. For all Israel knows that your father is a mighty man, and those who are with him are valiant men. 11 Therefore I advise that all Israel be fully gathered to you, from Dan to Beersheba, like the sand that is by the sea for multitude, and that you go to battle in person. 12 So we will come upon him in some place where he may be found, and we will fall on him as the dew falls on the ground. And of him and all the men who are with him there shall not be left so much as one. 13 Moreover, if he has withdrawn into a city, then all Israel shall bring ropes to that city; and we will pull it into the river, until there is not one small stone found there.”

14 So Absalom and all the men of Israel said, “The advice of Hushai the Archite is better than the advice of Ahithophel.” For the Lord had purposed to defeat the good advice of Ahithophel, to the intent that the Lord might bring disaster on Absalom.

Ahithophel had advised Absalom to send men immediately in pursuit of the king.  He believed that the men were probably tired, and disorganized, that they would flee if attacked, and the king could be killed.  It was sound advice.

Hushai also recognized the wisdom of the advice, but he presented a different course of action.  He played on Absalom’s respect for his father and his mighty men.  Absalom had grown up hearing of the exploits of these men and Hushai played on that knowledge to present a different plan.  This plan sounded good, but it would allow David and his men an opportunity to get away and get organized.

Absalom followed the advice of Hushai and it led to his demise.

When we are faced with a problem.  The first response should be to pray.  God can then give us a plan that we should proceed to follow.  If God is with us, who can be against us?  If God directs our steps, we surely shall succeed.