Archive for May, 2015

Great Peace

May 28, 2015

One of our greatest assets as Christians is the peace of God that brings us through the turmoil of life.

I.  Psalms 119:165

Great peace have those who love Your law,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

The peace that God has for His people is something that this world cannot given, nor understand, nor take away.  It is not an absence of external turmoil or conflict.  It is an inner peace that allows us to face the storms of life unruffled.

This peace comes from time spent in the Word of God.  The Word of God, together with the Spirit of God, transform the people of God.  We should read it, study it, memorize it, meditate upon it, and above all, be obedient to it.

To stumble is to trip up, to almost fall.  People who are grounded in the Word will live stable Christian lives.

The King James version of the Bible says “And nothing will offend them.” for the second portion of verse 165.  Christians who are solidly grounded in the Word will not be offended by the actions of others.  We will have compassion on them, even when they are doing offensive things.

II.  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.”

This verse has been one of my favorites since my teenage years.  It has given me a peace within that comes from a confidence in what God can do in our lives.

We will have tribulation.  We will have problems, tests, and trials.  We can be confident that God will see us through those problems.  We can trust that God will give us the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength to do it.  We are not alone.  God is with us.  It may be that we must look at our situations from an eternal perspective, because sometimes things don’t work out for us in this life.  That doesn’t meant that we are defeated.

We have the Spirit of Christ as our source of strength.  Jesus overcame the world.  Now, we too, are more than conquerors.

III.  II Timothy 3:1-5

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Whenever I read this portion of scripture I am amazed at how many of these traits are in evidence in the world today.  I believe that perilous times have come and we should guard our hearts against the corruption that is in the world.

In all of this, we may be at peace.  As our world descends into chaos, we can know that God is still on the throne.  We should continue to seek to do what is right in the eyes of God.  We should work to solve problems and to make the world in which we now live a better place, but we must realize that our true home is not in this world.

IV.  Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We cannot be at peace and be worried at the same time.  We should not worry.  Anything that we are anxious about we can bring to God and leave in His hands.  He loves us, hears us, and is able to help us.

We can be at peace in Him.

These are the sermon notes from 5/24/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any payment from them. 

Advertisements

His Mercy Endures Forever

May 21, 2015

There are portions of the Old Testament that clearly point to Jesus Christ.  Psalms that refer to Christ are called Messianic Psalms.  Psalms 118 is one example.

I.  Give Thanks for Mercy:  Psalms 118:1-4

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Let Israel now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord now say,
“His mercy endures forever.”

Certainly we should give thanks to God for He is good to us in so many ways.  All good gifts come ultimately from God.  He is deserving of our thanks.

His mercy endures forever.  We should understand and appreciate God’s grace and mercy.  Grace is receiving something good that we do not deserve.  Mercy is when we do not receive punishment that we do deserve.  We all have sinned.  The wages of sin is death, but God has given us life in Jesus Christ instead of the death we deserve.  His mercy endures forever, because we have been offered life forever.

II.  Trust in the Lord:  Psalms 118: 5-9

I called on the Lord in distress;
The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
The Lord is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
The Lord is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the Lord
Than to put confidence in princes.

We will occasionally be in distress.  Life can be hard.  In times of trouble we do not need to be afraid.  God is on our side.  Truly as Christians we should have no fear.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  We can trust God.  He will come through for us.  We should understand that sometimes we must view this from an eternal perspective.  Our greatest reward is not of this world.

III.  Rejoice!  Psalms 118:15-18

The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted;
The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.

We should expect that our lives will be filled with the joy of the Lord.  As Christians we should be able to rejoice over the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  We should be able to appreciate the good gifts that God has for us in this life.

In these verses we begin to see evidence that this psalm is a messianic psalm.  The “right hand of the Lord” is a reference to Jesus Christ.  Jesus does die for our sins, but he does not remain dead but is raised up to life everlasting.  So we too, have a hope that goes beyond the grave, truly a reason for rejoicing.

IV.  The Gate:  Psalms 118:19-20

Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them,
And I will praise the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.

There is only one gate through which we can enter into the presence of the Lord.  It is, of course, Jesus Christ.  John 10:7 “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”  The Hebrew word for gate is the same word as for door.  Either way, it is only through Jesus Christ that we will enter into heaven.  John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

V.  The Cornerstone:  Psalms 118:21-24

I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.

Jesus Christ is the cornerstone upon which we can build our lives.  In Matthew 21:42 Jesus quotes this verse.  “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”  God knew from the very beginning what He was going to do about the problem of sin. God shows us mercy by the atoning death of Jesus.  Matthew 7:24 says “ “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:”  Jesus is the rock of our salvation, the rock upon which we build our lives.

VI.  The Light:  Psalms 118:25-28

Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.
27 God is the Lord,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.

Jesus Christ is the light of the world that has shown into the darkness.  Those who believe in Him are called to share His light with others.  Some reject the light and remain in darkness, but some receive His light and come into the presence of God.  Now we are called to let His light shine through us.  ” Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. ” Matthew 5:16

Conclusion:  Psalms 118:29

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Time Matters

May 14, 2015

The last time that I remember being bored was the winter of 1982-83 in Beirut, Lebanon.  I was serving in the Marine Corps and was a part of the multinational peacekeeping force.  A part of my duties was to stand twelve hours of guard duty every other day.  Six hours on, six hours off, repeat.  Standing guard for twelve hours on the perimeter of an airport where you normally did not see anyone was conducive to boredom.

That was a long time ago.

Now, I have far more things to do than I have time or energy to do.  Since I have so much to do I find it helpful to make a daily list.  This list is kept on my computer and updated each work day.

The first thing on my list is the Today category.  In this category I list those things that are scheduled for that day, or that really should be done that day.  The minimum goal is to have those things completed each day.

The second category is Daily.  This category lists those things that I would like to do on a daily basis.  These are good, routine things that I try to make a part of each day.  This list includes things like make list, take vitamins, read the paper, do some other reading, pick up around the house, do some weeding, and so forth.  I really want to get these things done each day, but sometimes it doesn’t happen.

The third category is Should Do.  This list contains a list of things that I should do, that are waiting to be done.  Once the first two parts of my list have been completed, if I have any time or energy left, then I turn my attention to this list.  On a good day, I will get numerous things scratched off this list.

The fourth category is Call/Contact.  I place peoples names on this part of the list that I need to call or visit.

The final category is Could Do.  This part of the list is all of those things that I would like to do if I can find the time.  Sadly, if an item is on this part of the list, it is not forgotten, but it may never get done.  It’s only real hope is that someday I may feel the desire to bump it up into the Should Do category.

The nice thing about the list is that it helps me to stay organized.  I can get the things done that I need to get done.  I can have a sense of accomplishment as things are scratched off the list.  If I am having a day that is overwhelming, or that I am just not very with it, I simply go to the next thing on the list, do it, and check it off.  My wife can provide input to help me in prioritizing my day so that important things are not left out.  It works well for me.

Some people do not like lists.  They feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume, or they feel that everything must be done.

I can assure you.  Everything on my list will not be done today…or this week….or possibly ever.

I can live with that.

It is merely a tool by which I organize my time.  So if you want me to do something, I will write it down,  get it on my list, and it will get done…eventually.

Repentance

May 11, 2015

King David is said to be “a man after God’s own heart”, that is; an example for the rest of us.  Yet, King David was an adulterer, and arranged for the death of an innocent man.  Obviously, this behavior is not what we are to imitate.  What we are to learn from is how he responded when he was confronted with his sin.  Psalms 51 was written to express his repentance.

Psalms 51:10-17

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

I.  A Broken and Contrite Heart

The first step is to recognize that we have sinned.  One thing that greatly bothers me is when people think that their life is right, and God’s Word is wrong.  When we measure our life by the light of God’s Word we will see that there is still room for improvement in our lives.  We still fall short of what we could, and should be.

Once we have recognized our sin, we should be sorry for our sin.  A “broken and contrite heart” does not make excuses for sin.

True repentance leads to renouncing sin.  We should turn away from sin.  As much as we can do so, we should avoid sin.  We should “cease to do evil, and learn to do good.”

II.  A Clean Heart

Once we have turned to God in repentance, we are forgiven for our sins.  We do not have to earn our forgiveness.  Forgiveness has been provided for us at the cross.  Jesus has made atonement for us.  “although our sins were as scarlet, they shall be made as white as snow”.

III.  A Steadfast Spirit

As Christians we are meant to have life-altering changes take place in our lives.  A steadfast spirit is one that will be able to stand the test of time.  We are not “tossed about”  by events in our lives, but rather we are to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord”.

IV.  Joy

There are times when the joy of the Lord has been drained from our lives.  “The joy of the Lord is our strength.”  It is like fuel to a car.  We top off the tank and we can run for quite a while, but the stress and strains of life can cause our tanks to run dry.  When that happens we need to spend sufficient time in the presence of the Lord, for “in the presence of the Lord, there is joy forevermore”.  Joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit, we can expect it to be present in our lives.  If it is missing, then we must seek the presence of the Lord until it is restored to us.

V. Teach

First, God works in our lives.  Then we are able to teach others about the goodness of the Lord.

VI.  Praise

Praise is a natural and expected response to the forgiveness that God offers to us.  God is good to us in so many ways.  He is worthy of our worship and our praise.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

These are the sermon notes from 5/10/15.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The Acceptable, the Good and the Perfect

May 7, 2015

I am a percussionist.  I have played percussion instruments in performance groups and in worship teams for over thirty-five years.   As a percussionist, I have a fairly large collection of instruments.  I have a vibraphone, marimba, orchestra bells, timpani, congas, bongos, tempo blocks, cowbells, tambourines, a guiro, afuche, claves, various types of shakers, and more.

I played drums and percussion in school.  There was music.  I played what was written.  When I was first asked to play in church, I asked if there was music.  The director laughed, told me no, and that he would teach me to improvise.

Now I hardly ever use written music.

One of the challenges that  a percussionist faces is determining what instrument is going to be the best choice for a particular song, or part of a song.  Personally, I pray that I will be inspired by God’s Spirit to best be in tune with the worship that is taking place.  Paul speaks of singing in the Spirit, my goal is to play in the Spirit.

Last night during the worship service, as I was selecting which instrument to play, it occurred to me that it was a good illustration of our life choices.  In the same way that I have many instruments from which I can choose to play, I also have many ways in which I can spend my time.  In fact, I have far more things that I could do, than I could possibly have time or energy to do.

I could play many instruments and sound decent, but there is only one instrument that would be best.  It is the same in life, the challenge is to select the best thing to do with our time at any given moment.

I am still working on that.

Romans 12: 1-2

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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

In playing my instruments, I want to be the best that I can be.  In life, my desire is to be in the perfect will of God, not just the good, or the merely acceptable, but the perfect.  I am glad that God accepts me in my imperfection, but I want to be the best that I can be in my service to God, not just as a musician, but in all areas of my life.

I hope that is true for you as well.

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

Look to Jesus

May 4, 2015

We are not likely to memorize the entire Bible.  One portion of scripture that I would recommend memorizing is Hebrews 12:1-2.

 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I. Witnesses

In chapter 11 the author of Hebrews listed many people of faith who had gone before us.  These people are witnesses of the faithfulness of God and the power that faith in God brings to our lives.

We are also called to account for our own lives.  We are now called to demonstrate the power of God in our own lives.  People are watching.  What do they see?  Do they see the difference that Christ makes in our lives?

II.  Lay Aside

God has a plan for each one of us, a purpose that we are to fulfill.  Are we doing the work of the kingdom?  Or have we allowed the things of the world to crowd out the call of God on our lives?  May God grant us wisdom to find the balance in our lives.   We are not meant to work ourselves to death, nor are we to sit idly by while others do the work.

We are called to be holy, to recognize sin in our lives and to turn away from it.  To “cease to do evil, and learn to do good’.  (Isaiah 1:16-17)  Sin slows us down and can keep us from fulfilling God’s plan for our lives.

III..  Run With Endurance

Our service to God is not simply a moment.  It is a lifetime of commitment to Christ.  Our service to God will look different as we go through different stages in our life, but there is always something for us to do for the kingdom of God.  It is not a fifty yard dash, but rather an ultra-distance event.

IV.  Look to Jesus

Jesus did what God sent Him to earth to do.  Jesus knew what the cross meant.  He asked God to “let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). He also prayed “not my will but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  Jesus is an example to us.  We too, should not shirk whatever duty God has called us to perform. We too, should do the will of God for our lives.

Jesus is our source of strength.  We look to Him for an example and also for strength to fulfill the call of God on our lives.

V.  Our Reward

God has promised to reward those who have trusted in Jesus and served Him faithfully.  At times our life here on earth may be difficult, but the reward of God will be eternal.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

These are the sermon notes from April 19.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.