Archive for March, 2015

Stable in the Storm

March 30, 2015

Job was a man who had been blessed by God.  He had a large family and he was materially wealthy.  He was a faithful servant of God.  One day, God allowed him to be tested to the breaking point.  In a single day his children died, and all of his material goods were lost.  His response is classic.

I.  Job’s Response to Loss:  Job 1:20-22

Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

This response to loss has become the ideal by which believer’s measure their own response to loss.  We do not always measure up.  Fear, anger, depression, sorrow, are all a part of how we may respond in ways that fall short.

Job handled the initial loss so well, that God allowed him to be tested even further.  His health was the next area to be attacked.  Even his wife encouraged him to abandon his faith.  Job held firm.

II.  Job’s Response to Illness:  Job 2:9-10

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

The ability to accept both good and adversity is an ability we should all desire.  The ability to remain stable in the storms of life is a wonderful testimony of a mature faith.

III.  Stable in the Storm

A.  Seek God

Psalms 37:4

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

If our delight is in the Lord, God will be our source of strength and stability.  If our greatest desire is to know God, God will reveal Himself to us.  Our joy, our delight, should be foremost in our relationship with God.  No one can take that from us.

Romans 8: 38-39

 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

B.  Serve God

Colossians 3:23

 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

We serve God in all areas of our life.  It is not just in going to church, giving, praying and so forth.  We can serve God by how we live, how we work, how we play; in all areas of our life.

Romans 12:1

 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

We give our whole lives to God, not just a portion of them.

C.  All Good Gifts: James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

As we seek God, and serve God, He will bless us with a variety of gifts.  Sometimes those gifts can become a threat to our relationship with God.    It is important that we always seek the Giver, not the gifts.

God is to be, and remain, our true source of stability in the storms of life.

These are the sermon notes from 3/22/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

A Powerful Verse

March 26, 2015

There are many wonderful scripture verses that Christians have memorized over the years.  These verses can be very helpful in times of discouragement.  One of those verses is II Timothy 1:7.  Here I am quoting both 6 &  7.

 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

I.  The Gift of God:  Romans 12:6-8

 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Each of us has received a gift from God that He expects us to use for the building of His kingdom.  These gifts are not the same.  Each of us needs to do our part.  At all stages of our life God has a purpose for us.  We are supposed to be involved in the work of the kingdom.

II.  No Fear

Romans 8:31

 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

If God is with us, what would make us afraid?  The problem is that we cannot see God with our physical eyes.  We need to believe that He is with us.  We need to have faith.  We should do what God calls us to do and not be afraid.

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.”

We can be at peace knowing that even in the midst of tribulation, or trial, that God will see us through the days of darkness.  Jesus has overcome the world and He is with us.

III.  Power:  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.

We do not operate in our own power, but by the power of the Spirit that dwells within us.  We have more power than we realize.  It is not our power, but the power of God to do what He has called us to do.

IV.  Love:  I John 4:7

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

God loves us.  We love God.  God loves all people.  We should love all people.  Our actions should be motivated by our love for God and for people.  God has not given us the power of hate, but the power of love.

V.  Sound Mind/Disclipline

We are able to think clearly.  God is able to give us insight into problems.  Some translations use the word discipline instead of sound mind.  That is also good.  God is able to give us the discipline that we need to carry through on what should be done.

This one verse is a wonderfully reassuring verse that we should all use to encourage ourselves, or others as needed.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

These are the sermon notes from 3/8/15.  Any advertisements that might appear have been placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

A Pattern for Worship

March 23, 2015

King Hezekiah led the nation of Israel in a time of repentance and renewal of their service to God.

II Chronicles 30:13-23

 Now many people, a very great assembly, gathered at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month. 14 They arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and they took away all the incense altars and cast them into the Brook Kidron. 15 Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings to the house of the Lord. 16 They stood in their place according to their custom, according to the Law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood received from the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not sanctified themselves; therefore the Levites had charge of the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was not clean, to sanctify them to the Lord. 18 For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone 19 who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.” 20 And the Lord listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.

21 So the children of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing to the Lord, accompanied by loud instruments. 22 And Hezekiah gave encouragement to all the Levites who taught the good knowledge of the Lord; and they ate throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers.

23 Then the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast another seven days, and they kept it another seven days with gladness.

I.  Repentance

We are either drawing closer to God, or moving away from God.  The first step in repentance is to change our direction of spiritual travel.  We must turn back to God.  In turning back to God, we naturally turn away from that which is ungodly.  Repentance is a continuing process of cleansing from sin as we grow in our ability to recognize what is godly and what is ungodly.  The first thing that must be changed is our recognition that there is no other God.  We must turn to God with our whole heart.  Repentance continues as we renew our commitment to follow the Lord with all of our hearts.

II.  Sought The Lord

God is most concerned with our hearts.  If we have turned to Him in repentance and faith He will be pleased with us.  The letter of the law has it’s place, but God is far more concerned with the attitude of our hearts, than with the outward compliance to the letter of the law.

III.  Praised The Lord

They praised the Lord with loud instruments.  If you think that our music is too loud, you should know that we are following a biblical precedent:)  What is most important is not the volume, the style, the instruments, or the skill of the musicians.  What is most important is that we are responding to the Lord with praise.  God is worthy of our praise.  Do not focus on what you like or do not like about worship, focus on the God who is worthy of your worship.

IV.  Taught The Knowledge Of The Lord

At this gathering of the people of God, they were taught the Word.  It is important to continue to grow in our knowledge of the things of God.  We will never know all that there is to know.  At our church, we have Sunday morning worship, Sunday School for all ages, and Wednesday night Bible studies.  Each of these events are an opportunity to continue to grow in our knowledge of the Lord and His Word.  I would encourage you to participate in as many of these events as possible.

V.  Repeat: With Gladness

This celebration went on for seven days.  It was going so well that they continued for another seven days.  The event was marked with great gladness.  As Christians, our worship should be times of joy and gladness.  We have reason to celebrate!  God loves us!  God will help us!  We have victory in Jesus!  There is much to celebrate!!

The pattern of repentance, seeking God, praising the Lord, and being taught, with gladness, is a pattern that can be repeated over and over.  It is a good pattern for each and every time that the people of God gather together to worship.

These are the sermon notes from the message preached on 3/1/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

Life After Death

March 12, 2015

We mourn the death and celebrate the life of a loved one who passes away.

Psalms 116:15

Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

God understands the emotions that we go through when a loved one dies.  In both life, and death, God is with us.  He brings comfort and strength to us in times of loss.

John 11:35

 Jesus wept.

Even though Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead he shared in the sadness of Mary and Martha.  Truly in our time of loss, God is with us.

I Thessalonians 4:13

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

Yes, we mourn the death of our loved ones because we will miss them in this life.  However, we do not mourn as others mourn because we have a hope that goes beyond the grave.

John 14:1-6

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”

Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

We believe that after we die, we will go to be with Jesus in heaven.  For Christians, death is the end of this life and the beginning of the next.

John 11:25

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

The key to entering the next life without fear is to believe in Jesus.  He is our Lord and Savior.

I Corinthians 15:50-57

 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So, yes,  we mourn the death of our loved ones.  We mourn because they have passed from this life and we will miss them.  We do take comfort however, in the belief that there is a life beyond the grave, that all those who trust in the Lord Jesus will one day be reunited with those who have gone before to the place that God has prepared for them.

These are the sermon notes from a funeral that I preached a while back. All personal details have been removed.  I thought that the scriptural message of hope and comfort, that was the heart of the message was worth sharing.

Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

How to Survive an Encounter With Police

March 5, 2015

The headlines of our local paper yesterday chided the Ferguson police for racial bias.

A homeless man was shot in Los Angeles.  The public is outraged.

Perhaps we should look at the other side of the issue.  How should we behave in an encounter with police?

Michael Brown assaulted the police officer.  The bruises and scrapes are clear in the photos.

The police claim that the homeless man was grabbing for the gun of one of the officers.  After the incident, an officer’s gun(one who did not shoot) was half-cocked, with a bullet partially ejected.  It is cited as evidence of the struggle for the gun.

In addition to questioning police action, we should focus on our action.  We should not punch police officers.  We should not try to take their guns.  In all of the articles that I saw after the Ferguson incident, I only saw one comment made about how the public should act in an encounter with police.  It was an African-American police chief who said that the advice that he gave his own children was simple.

Cooperate with the police and move slowly. 

In the last year three men who have died at the hands of police have made national news.  The focus has always been on the action of the police.  The fact is; the police have a dangerous job.  In our area, a while back, a deputy sheriff was shot in the face and killed while serving an arrest warrant.  In the months since these three men have died at the hands of police, I wonder how many law enforcement officers have died?  Their deaths do not often make the national news.  Their job is to protect and to serve, but they must also protect themselves.  We do not often see the footage of police officers being killed in the line of duty, but I am certain that they are used in training police officers.  They want to be able to go home at the end of their shift and they want to be able to live with themselves.  I am certain that the vast majority of officers are not looking for an excuse to kill someone.

Cooperate with the police and move slowly.

It could save your life.

 

The Search for Wisdom

March 3, 2015

Wisdom is an important tool for life.  True wisdom comes from God.

I.  Wisdom:  II Chronicles 1:7-12

 On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, “Ask! What shall I give you?”

And Solomon said to God: “You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. 10 Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?”

11 Then God said to Solomon: “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— 12 wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.”

King Solomon was the wisest king to serve Israel.  He obtained his wisdom from God.

James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

We too, can ask God for wisdom.

Proverbs 2:1-8

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
He guards the paths of justice,
And preserves the way of His saints.

Sometimes the wisdom that we need comes easily as the Holy Spirit reveals to us what we need to know.  At other times, we are encouraged to pursue wisdom.  It can be a process of growing in knowledge and understanding.  It may take effort on our part to read, research, and think through material that may be conflicting, or difficult to understand.  It is necessary to continue to pray that God will guide us in out search for wisdom and understanding.  We cannot do it on our own, but our own effort is sometimes required.

Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

True wisdom comes from God and is rooted in the knowledge of God.  The most important thing that we should do is to continue to seek to grow in our relationship with God.

II.  Seek the Lord:  II Chronicles 15:12

Then they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul;

As we seek God, we will grow in wisdom.  Seeking God should be our top priority.

Matthew 6:31-33

 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Our lives will be in proper order if we make seeking God our first goal.  We should seek the Lord with all of our heart.

III.  Be Strong:  II Chronicles 15: 7

 But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!”

Be strong!  Do not give up!!  The Christian life is not always easy, but it is always worthwhile.  Our work, our service to God, will be rewarded.

Galatians 6:9

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

We must continue in our service to God.  We may not see the results that we want, when we want them, but we will one day reap the fruit of our labors.

True wisdom comes from God. As we seek God with all of our hearts we will grow in wisdom and understanding.  We should continue in our service to God.  Our work will bear fruit and we will be rewarded for our faithful service.

These are the sermon notes from 2/22/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.