Archive for July, 2016

Hold Fast

July 11, 2016

We prefer to talk about the abundant life that God has for us.  We enjoy the many blessings that we receive.

How do we respond when things don’t go as we would hope?

What do we do in the face of tragedy?

I.  Job

A.  Do What is Right:  Job 1:1

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.

This is a good model for us.  We should fear God and shun evil.  We should seek to be blameless and upright.  We know that we cannot be perfect, but we should seek to live as God wants us to live.

Just because we are serving God doesn’t mean that we are exempt from hardship.  In a single day Job suffered the loss of all his great wealth and the tragic death of all ten of his children.  It just doesn’t get any worse than that.

His response has become a classic line.

B.  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.

He mourned the loss and worshiped God.  These words were uttered long ago, but they have been repeated by countless other believers who have suffered loss.  If we turn to God, He is able to bring us comfort in times of tragedy.

Some might say, at least he still had his health.  That was the next to go.  He was stricken with painful boils that made him physically miserable.

    C.  Hold Fast:  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.

In times of hardship.  Hold fast to your integrity.  Actually, hold fast to your faith in God which is the true source of integrity.

If we are facing the loss of material things or the deterioration of our health we can still trust that God is with us.  He will help us through the difficult times.  A better day is coming.  If not in this life, then in the life to come.

Hold fast.

II.  Endure Hardship:  II Timothy 2:3

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

I served in the United States Marine Corps.  I have often said that that experience prepared me better for ministry than my years at Bible college.

Why?

A marine is not allowed to quit when the mission becomes difficult.  It doesn’t matter if you are tired, hot, cold, hurt, or whatever.

Accomplish the mission!

Our devotion to God should be even more of a commitment than a marine’s commitment to his/her duty.  After all, a marine is serving an earthly kingdom, while we serve a heavenly kingdom.

There have been many times when I have been tempted to leave the ministry.  There are far easier ways to make a living.  However, it is the desire of my heart to be faithful to my calling, to accomplish the mission that God has given to me.

Never quit!

It is appropriate to ask ourselves some questions when hardship comes our way.

Is this hardship the consequence of a bad decision, or mistake on my part?  If that is the case, then learn from your mistakes.

Is God trying to get my attention?  Have I been following the direction of God?  God sometimes allows things to go badly for us so that we will get back on track.

If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, if we are serving God to the best of our ability, then we can recognize hardships as a test or trial of our faith.  We should hold fast and press on.

III.  Count it all Joy:  James 1:2-4

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

God uses the tests and trials of this life to mold us into the people that we are called to be in Christ.  We can rejoice in the knowledge that God is working in us.  The difficulties that we face actually can strengthen our faith and help in our development as Christians.

In addition  to the work that God is doing in us, God can use difficult experiences for His glory.  How we handle bad experiences can sometimes be the very best testimony that we give to unbelievers.

We can also rejoice in the knowledge that even in bad times, God is with us.  We can rejoice in the Lord.  He loves us and will help us.  His grace is sufficient for us.  (II Corinthians 12:9)

So, when we are called upon to suffer hardship;  hold fast to your faith, endure hardship, and count it all joy that God is working both in you and through you.

These are the sermon notes from 7/9/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All scripture quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

 

Transformational Love

July 5, 2016

The message today is an odd mixture of fear and hope.  I suppose that is not so strange, there is an ongoing tension between the law and the gospel.

I.  Deny Him:  Tits 1:16

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

I wonder how many of the people professing Christianity today could have this statement applied to them?

I wonder how serious is this problem?

Matthew 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

This sounds serious to me.  It is made even more serious because the verses here in Matthew sound like they could be applied to Pentecostal pastors.

I am a Pentecostal pastor.

Now, I do not believe for a moment that we earn our salvation by our works.  Salvation is by grace, through faith.  It is a gift from God.

However, a living faith is transformational.  If we have a living faith our lives will be changed.

What sort of changes should take place?

II.  The Works of the Flesh:  Galatians 5:19-21

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Now the idea here is not to look at this list and focus on the things that are not a problem for us.  Rather, we look at the list and see if there are areas that need improvement.  We do not excuse our behavior, we repent and ask God help us to change our behavior.  We cannot change on our own, but we are not on our own.  God will help us.

III.  Good Works:  Titus 2:7-8

in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Here is an excellent goal!  We should try to live our lives in such a way that people will have to lie to say something bad.

How do we do this?

IV.  The Fruit of the Spirit:  Galatians 5:22-23

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

The Spirit of God is transformational.  The Spirit will transform us from who we were, to the people that we are meant to be in Christ.  This is something that we can offer to the unsaved.  Do people really not want to have love in their lives?  Do they have too much peace in their hearts?  Do they not desire joy?  God offers us these things and so much more.

V.  Focus on Love

A.  Motivated by Love:  I John 5:1-3

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

As we grow in our relationship with God, His love transforms us.  We love Him.  We love other people.  We do what is right naturally, because of the love that is in our hearts.

B.  The Source of Love:  I John 4:18-19

 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

We do not have to be afraid.  God loves us.  If we are discouraged or feeling overwhelmed we should stop and focus on the love that God has for us.  The knowledge of that love transforms us.  We love God.  We love other people.  We are strengthened.  We are encouraged.  We are changed.

The love of God is transformational.

These are the sermon notes from 7/3/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.