Archive for May, 2014

Give God Our All

May 22, 2014

We have several students graduating this spring.  It brings back memories of my own graduation from college back in 1987.  Since I was graduating from a Bible college it was no surprise that instead of a student presenting a speech, we had a student preach a message.  I still remember the title “More Than Just a Little Bit”.  That line came from a popular Christian song by the group Glad.  The basic theme was that we were to give God our all, not just a little bit.  It was a great message and it has stuck with me through the years.

I.  Inconsistent!  Ezekiel 14:1-6

 Then some elders of Israel came to me and sat down before me. And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols, in order to lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel who are estranged from Me through all their idols.”’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations.

A.  Idols:  These elders had come for a word from the Lord.  That looked good on the outside.  They were a part of the children of Israel. They were supposed to seek guidance from God, through the prophets.  The problem is that it was not with their whole hearts.  They “set up idols in their hearts”.  God was not pleased.

Do we have idols in our hearts?  Chances are pretty good that none of us actually have physical idols that we worship or consult, but that is not the only type of idol that exists.   Anything that we allow to be more important to us than God is an idol to us.  Anything that we place our trust in, more than we trust in God, is an idol to us.  God wants to be first in our lives.  The most important thing to us, and the thing in which we place the most trust.

B.  Stumble:  “The stumbling block of their iniquity”.  We are called to repent and believe the gospel.  Although we are saved by faith we are still called to turn away from sin. We should be careful in our lives to avoid those things that cause us to stumble.

II.  Repent and Live!  Ezekiel 18:26-32

When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies. 27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. 28 Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair?

30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

A.  The Righteous Man:  These verses are both a warning and a message of hope.  The warning is to those who are serving God in righteousness and truth.  The warning is that we need to continue in righteousness, if we fall into sin we will be judged.  God does not want simply a part of our lives.  He wants us throughout our lives.  We are not to walk with God for a while, we are to walk with God throughout our lives.

B.  The Sinful Man:  There is a message of hope for the sinner.  As long as we live, there is still hope for us to repent and call upon the Lord.  We can still be saved, even if we have lived a lifetime of sin. Even as the thief on the cross was forgiven in his final hours, so we too, can be forgiven.  This should motivate those of us who are believers to continue to pray for those who are lost.  There is still hope.  Never give up hope!

III.  All of Us:

A.  Confession and Faith:  Romans 10:9-10

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

A public confession of faith in Jesus in important.  It is even more important that we actually believe the message in our hearts.  It affects both our inner and our outer person.  What we think, and what we say are important.  God wants all of us, not just the inside, not just the outside, but all of us.

B.  Faith and Action:  James 2:24-26

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

These verses do not imply that we are saved by our works.  We are still saved “by grace, through faith”.  What it does mean is that if we are saved, then our lives will be changed.  That should not come as any surprise.  Do we really think that having the Spirit of Christ in our hearts would not change us?  A living faith will produce works of righteousness.  Our lives should be producing “good fruit”.  God does not want us to have a merely a saving faith, but a transforming faith. This is a faith that changes us from who we were, to who we are becoming in Christ.  This process of becoming will continue throughout our lives as we grow closer to Him.

God does not want a part of our lives.  He wants all of us.

These are the sermon notes from 5/18/14.  Any advertisement that may accompany this blog is placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

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Bad Things Happen

May 15, 2014

Bad things happen, even to good Christian people.  How should we respond?

I.  When Bad Things Happen:  Lamentations 3:37-41

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?

40 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.

We need to recognize that everything that happens has been at least allowed to happen by God.  The devil may attack us, but not without God’s permission.  So should we blame God?  I would suggest that we examine our ways.

    A.  One explanation is that we have sinned and God is allowing us to experience difficulty so that we would recognize and repent of our sin.  The Old Testament gives us example after example of people being punished for their sin by God, even as they were being called to repentance.  The first thing that I would encourage people to do is to examine their lives.  If they are living in unrepentant sin, or if they are resisting the direction of God for their lives, then the answer is simple… repent and do what God is calling you to do.

    B.  Sometimes the bad things that happen in our life are the result of our own wrong choices.  If you feel awful all morning at work and things are going badly for you because you can’t seem to focus, it might be because you stayed up until 3am watching something on Netflix.  Go to bed at a decent hour and you will have a better morning.  Now, not everything is quite so simple, but God will give us wisdom if we ask.  We should ask God why something is happening and if there is something we should do differently.

    C.  This is only a test.  Sometimes bad things happen because God is allowing our faith to be stretched and tested.  Satan hopes that these tests will destroy our faith, God is expecting them to strengthen us as we turn to Him for help.

When bad things happen, we should ask God why they happened and what we should do.  If we have sinned, we should repent.  If we have made a mistake, we should learn from our mistake.  If we are being tested, we should remain firm in our faith.

II.  Call Upon the Lord:  Lamentations 3: 55-57

I called on Your name, O Lord,
From the lowest pit.
56 You have heard my voice:
“Do not hide Your ear
From my sighing, from my cry for help.”
57 You drew near on the day I called on You,
And said, “Do not fear!”

When bad things happen we should call upon the Lord.  If we have sinned, we will be forgiven.  If we have made a mistake, God will give us wisdom and strength to do the right thing in the future.  If we are being tested, God will see us through to the end.

III.  God Will Draw Near

We are not alone in this life.  When we call upon the Lord, He hears us.  He will draw near to us.  We can be aware of His presence in our lives.  His presence gives us strength, hope, peace, and even joy in the midst of the troubles of this life.

We do not need to be afraid.  Ever.  God is with us and “greater is He that is in us, than he who is in the world.”

Bad things happen, but we do not need to be afraid. “Mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”  God will see us through the times of darkness and a new day is dawning.

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The Potter and the Clay

May 1, 2014

Sometimes we are unhappy with our selves, or our circumstances.  Sometimes that is something that we can change, and sometimes it is something that we should accept.

I.  The Potter and the Clay:  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.

It is good to remember that God is in charge.  Our lives are in His hands.  Whatever we attempt to do requires His blessing for it to succeed.  I do not believe that we are mere puppets manipulated by a master puppeteer, I do believe that we are able to choose our actions, but the result of those actions can be affected by God.  It is appropriate to evaluate circumstances, and work for change,  but we should recognize that unless God is in those efforts, they will not succeed.  There is a tension between being at peace with who we are, while also working at who we are becoming; between accepting was is; while working for what could be.

He is the potter, we are the clay.

II.  Glory in the Lord:  Jeremiah 9:23-24

Thus says the Lord:

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

There are times when we are tempted to glory in the things of this world: our wisdom, our strength, our riches.  These things are gifts from God, even if we have worked for them, and can be taken away from us.  Rather, we should glory in our knowledge of God.  The fact that we are able to be in His presence, that His Spirit dwells within us; these are the things in which we should glory.

As we grow in our knowledge of the Lord.  our lives should reflect his traits.  Lovingkindness, judgement, or justice, and righteousness should be present, and growing, in our lives.

We can rejoice, or glory in the Lord, and the work that He is doing in our lives, and in our midst.

III.  Our Heart

    A.  An Evil Heart:  Jeremiah 16:12

 And you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, each one follows the dictates of his own evil heart, so that no one listens to Me.

Some people think that they can simply let their hearts direct their choices.  The problem with that, is that our hearts can be inclined towards evil.  We need the guidance of the Spirit of God, and the Word of God, to be able to discern right from wrong, good from evil.

    B.  A New Heart:  Jeremiah 31:31-33

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

These words were written about Israel, but it is widely recognized that through Christ, Christians are the new Israel, the new people of God. (That does not mean that God does not still have special plans for the descendents of Abraham.)  As Christians we are a part of a new covenant with God.  This covenant is not based on the external performance of the works of the law, but rather upon an internal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  This relationship results in a new creation, a new heart, and God works from the inside out to mold us into the people that we are meant to be.

We do not obey God, so that we may know God.

We know God, so we may obey God.

He is the potter, we are the clay.

These are the sermon notes from 4/27/14.  Any advertisement that appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.