Archive for September, 2016

Like a Shadow

September 28, 2016

Solomon was a wise man, but even he struggled sometimes with what God was doing in this life.

I.  Like a Shadow:  Ecclesiastes 8:10-13

 Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

A.  The Wicked and the Righteous

Throughout scripture there is a basic division between those who serve God and those who do not.  Whether the terms used are the wicked and the righteous, the foolish and the wise, or believer and unbeliever, it is understood that there are only two sides.

We want to be on the right side.

B.  Delayed Sentence

The scripture tells us that the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished.  Sometimes we see that in this life and sometimes we do not.  Sometimes the wicked prosper while the righteous barely seem to get by.  It may not seem fair, as if God is not keeping his promises.

C.  The Day Will Come

We need to remember to keep an eternal perspective.  This life will be over soon enough and eternity is a long time.  If we have not received the fulfillment of promises in this life, we know that the best is yet to come.  For the wicked, the day of judgement will be terrible.  We should not envy their current prosperity, for their future is bleak.

II.  Doesn’t Make Sense:  Ecclesiastes 8:14

 There is a vanity which occurs on earth, that there are just men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people.  In this life, it doesn’t make sense, but we do not see the whole picture.

III.  Enjoy!  Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.

A.  The Wicked

The person who has chosen to reject God might as well enjoy this life.  It is all they will have, their future is bleak.

B.  The Righteous

The person who is serving God can also enjoy this life.  Christ came that we might have the abundant life.  (John 10:10)  That life does not begin at death it begins when we are saved by the grace of God.  As believers we can enjoy what blessings God gives to us in this life, knowing that the best is yet to come.  Yet we do not simply hang on, waiting for heaven, but we enjoy the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today we can experience the goodness of the Lord!

IV.  The Work of God:  Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.

Solomon was a wise man, yet he acknowledged that he could not comprehend the ways of God.  We recognize that God’s ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts.

God knows what He is doing.

We do not.

We can, however, believe and trust Him.  He is worthy of our trust.  In the end, it will all work out for good for those who believe.  (Romans 8:28)

V.  What is His Name?  Proverbs 30:4

Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?

I have always found it interesting that this section of scripture is dropped into the book of Proverbs.  Obviously, it is talking about God, but the revelation of the Son was to come in the fullness of time.

VI.  His Name is Jesus:  Acts 4: 10-12

 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We cannot always understand, but we can always trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of our souls.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/26/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

 

Pure Religion

September 14, 2016

These are verses that I distinctly remember puzzling over as a teenager.  I had nothing to do with widows or orphans, yet I wanted to be what God wanted me to be.

James 1:26-27

If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. 27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I.  Bridle Your Tongue

James says quite a bit about controlling our tongue.

A.  James 3:8-10

But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

We should be careful of what we speak.  However, the secret to controlling our tongue is not in our mouth, but in our heart.

B.  Luke 6:45

 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

The best way to control our tongue is to fill our hearts with the love of God.

Our words can be powerful. We should seek to speak words of life, words of encouragement, words of hope and words of love.

II.  Visit Orphans and Widows

A.  The first century was not like today.  There was no social security to provide for those in need.  Women did not have a place in the workforce.  A woman remained in her father’s home until she was married.  If her husband died, she needed to return to her father’s home or if she had a son that was old enough, he could provide for her.  If there was no one to provide for her, or for her young children, she was in trouble.

These are the people that James is talking about.  People who are in trouble.  People who are in desperate need.

For centuries the Christian church provided charity for those in need.  Today, with government programs, the role of the church has changed, but we should still be concerned for those who are in need and be willing to help when possible.  It is not just widows and orphans but any who are in desperate need.

B.  Balance: II Thessalonians 3:10

 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

There is a difference between being in need and being lazy.  Since resources are limited we need godly wisdom to be able to be good stewards of what God has given us.  We want to help those in need, we do not want to enable people to live unproductive lives.

C.  Retirement

In biblical times when a person could no longer work it was the responsibility of children to provide and care for their aging parents.  People would continue to contribute according to their abilities.

People in retirement today should continue to contribute in ways that they are able.

III.  Unspotted

A.  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.

These verses provide us with a good starting point of what it means to be unspotted.  The idea of this list is not to point the finger at the problems that we see in the lives of other people, but to examine our own lives and ask God to help us turn away from these things.

Some spots take some time to get out.

B.  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.

As we spend time in the Word of God, and prayer, God will mold us into the people that he wants us to be.  The Word of God and the Spirit of God work together to build the people of God.  They are spot removers.

C.  Effort:  Galatians 5:24-25

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

The flesh is stubborn.  It continues to resurface for as long as we are in these mortal bodies.  We need to exercise our will, and the self control that comes from God and chose to do what is right in the sight of God.

It is an ongoing process.

D.  God is at work in us:  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;

It is not in our own strength, but it does require our cooperation.

May God continue His work both in us, and through us.

 

These are the sermon notes from 8/28.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.  All quotes are from the New King James Version of the Bible. 

A Light to Our Path

September 1, 2016

God has a plan and a purpose for our lives.  If we will let Him guide us, our lives will be rich and meaningful.

I.  A Light:  Psalms 119:105

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

If there is a power outage at night when we are home we suddenly find ourselves in the dark.  Maybe we have candles or a flashlight somewhere nearby. Or of course, maybe you have a flashlight app on your phone.  The point is we want to be able to have enough light to see where we are going.

We should allow the Word of God to be a light to our paths, to direct our steps.  When you walk in the dark, you might bump into something, or trip over something.  You might get hurt.  If you live your life by the instructions in the Bible, you are less likely to be hurt.

Life goes better when you follow the instructions.

II.  Open My Eyes:  Psalms 119:18

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.

The Bible should be read in an attitude of prayer.  We need God to open our eyes to the truths that are presented.  We need God to help us to understand and to apply the principles that are contained in the Word.

Even if we have been reading the Bible for decades, God can reveal wondrous things to us.

III.  Strengthen Me:  Psalms 119:28

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

Life can wear us out.

Spending time in the Word can bring new strength.

IV.  Sow in Tears:  Psalms 126:5-6

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

Here in America we may not fully understand this imagery.  Our food is purchased in stores that, in our lifetime, have never had empty shelves.  We do not grow our own food.  We do not understand the imagery of taking seed that could be eaten today, and planting it in the ground hoping for a harvest in the future.

There is a way that this illustration makes more sense to us.  If we remember the parable of the sower and the seed from the gospels.  In this parable the seed is the Word of God that we share with people and some respond in faith.  We share the Word in tears, maybe not literally, but with a breaking heart, hoping that people will receive the good news of salvation in Christ.   When people do respond to the Word with faith in Jesus, we, together with the angels in heaven, rejoice in the salvation of another person.

V.  Unless the Lord:  Psalms 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.

Whatever our life’s work, we need God to help us.  We use the skills and opportunities that God gives to us to complete the work that God has planned for us.  It is a dual effort.  We must do our part, but we need God to bless our efforts.

God has a plan and a purpose for each one of us.  We should ask God to direct our steps, open our eyes, give us strength and bless our efforts.

It is a wonderful thing to be living in accordance to the will of God for our lives.

These are the sermon notes from 8/28/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.