Archive for December, 2016

The Gift of God

December 28, 2016

Many gifts were exchanged during the Christmas season.  Some were appreciated, some were not.

God has offered to us the greatest gift conceivable.

I.  Their Inheritance:  Ezekiel 44:28

 “It shall be, in regard to their inheritance, that I am their inheritance. You shall give them no possession in Israel, for I am their possession.

Every time that I read this portion of scripture I am impressed with the idea that God Himself, is their possession.  Now, obviously, no one actually possesses God, but the priests under the Law of Moses had a unique relationship with God.

Since Jesus died on the cross and the veil in the temple was torn, those who believe in Jesus are offered a very special relationship with God.  This relationship is more precious than anything this world has to offer and it is God’s gift to us.

II.  With All Our Heart:  Jeremiah 29:13

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

I wonder sometimes whether we appreciate the gift that God has offered to us.  Do we seek God with all our heart?  With most of our heart?  Or maybe just a little bit?  I am concerned that for far too many, our relationship with God is mere fire insurance.  We don’t want to go to hell, so we proclaim a faith in God, but our hearts are really set on enjoying all the pleasures that the world has to offer.

That is not how it is supposed to be.

God is meant to be our first love,  the most important thing in our lives.

III.  Draw Near:  James 4:8

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

On a daily basis we should seek to draw near to God.  As we spend time in the presence of God, we will be made aware of the changes that we should make in our life.  We will want to stop doing those things that are displeasing to God.  We will want more and more to be the people that He has called us to be in thought, word and deed.

IV.  Fullness of Joy:  Psalms 16:11

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

If we make God the top priority in out life, God will guide us by His Word and His Spirit.  He will show us the path of life.  The life that God has for us is indeed an abundant life.  (John 10:10)  The greatest joy that we can find this side of eternity is to be found in the presence of the Lord.  That opportunity has been made possible because of Jesus Christ.

So as we celebrate the Christmas season, let us always remember, be thankful for, and appreciate the gift that God has given us in Jesus Christ.

 

These are the sermon notes from 12/17/16.  Any advertisements that appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

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A Shepherd’s Heart

December 14, 2016

When I was a young man reading the book of Ezekiel, I read in chapter 34 about the bad shepherds and I thought that those verses would make a wonderful text if I was ever given the opportunity to speak at the college where I went to school.

I have been in ministry over 25 years and I think that I must accept that I probably won’t be invited to speak at the college.

This past week I again was reading in Ezekiel 34 and this time I had a new thought.

I.  Our Calling  Ezekiel 34:1-6

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.

As I read these verses this past week, I again thought how I would like to use them to preach to young ministers in training, but then I was realized that I did not have to use this to preach to ministers.  Rather I can point out something else.

A.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd:  John 10:11

 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

Jesus is the prime example of the good shepherd.  Remember Psalms 23 “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…”

B.  Christ in our Hearts:  Ephesians 3:17

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

So, if Christ is the Good Shepherd, and Christ dwells in our hearts, then we have a shepherd’s heart.

So these verses need not apply only to clergy, but to us all.

II.  Our Mission

A.  Heal the Sick

We can pray for those who are physically sick.  God is the ultimate source of healing whether it is manifested supernaturally, or through the successful treatment of modern medicine.  Healing is a gift from God.  We should pray for those who are dealing with various physical illnesses.

There is also the spiritually sick.  There are many who have a faith in God, but that faith needs to grow and develop.  We can help others to grow in their faith by encouraging them to search the scriptures, by praying with them and by living an example before them.

B.  Bind Up the Broken

There are many who have been mistreated by life, or by people in the church.  God can use us to bring healing and restoration to those whose lives have been broken.

C.  Brought Back

Some have left church.  Some still believe, others have had their faith all but destroyed.  God can use us to bring people back into fellowship with Him and with the Body of Christ.  We are not meant to live in isolation.  We are meant to be a part of a community of believers.  We are meant to be a part of the family of God.  God does not mean for his family to be dysfunctional.  We must seek to be the people that God has called us to be.

We need God’s help and we need each other.

D.  Seek the Lost

We all have the responsibility to look for the opportunities that God brings our way to share the gospel.  God is looking for His lost sheep and He wants us to help.

So, Ezekiel 34:1-6 doesn’t just have to apply to clergy.  We all are to have a shepherd’s heart and seek to heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring back those who have wandered off, and to seek the lost.

These are the sermon notes from 12/11/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

The Real Christmas Message

December 7, 2016

There are a lot of Christmas movies on television these days.  The vast majority of them are completely missing the mark because they make no mention of Jesus Christ.  He is the real message of Christmas.

I.  God Loves You:  John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

This is the basic message that we share with the world.  God loves you.  At Christmas we see the love of God demonstrated through sending His son Jesus to be born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem.  We know that Jesus did not come to earth to reign as king, but to be the lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the world.  He did not come to judge the world, but to provide a means of saving the world.

Through Jesus, God offers to us the gift of eternal life.  That is the greatest gift of all!

II.  Turn and Live:  Ezekiel 18:31-32

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.  Turn

We are called to turn back to God.  We have made wrong choices, wrong decisions and are going the wrong way.  We are called to turn back to God, which is the true meaning of repentance.  Like the prodigal son, we have lost our way, but when we come to our senses and return to our heavenly father, we will find Him waiting for us.

B.  Live

God offers to us a new heart and and new spirit.  God desires that we would turn to Him and live.  I get very upset with people who think that God hates people and that He takes delight in sending them to hell.  God loves us and offers us a new life.  That is our message.  It is not “Turn or burn!” but rather “Turn and Live!”

III.  Born Again:  John 3:1-6

 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

We are born of water, which is a reference to the physical birth.  We also have the offer of a new birth, being born of the Spirit.  These verses are where the concept of being born again originated, although they go along nicely with Ezekiel 18:31-32.

We also read in II Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This is again the message that we share with the world.  II Corinthians 5:20-21

 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

With our limited understanding we will never be able to fully appreciate what God did for us through Jesus Christ, but we can believe in His name, and say “Thank you, Jesus!”

IV.  In Our Hearts:  Ephesians 3:14-19

 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

It is from these verses that we can know that Christ can dwell in our hearts through faith.  That is the way that we are born again, when the Spirit of Christ comes into our hearts through our faith in Him.  This faith is a gift from God, by His mercy and His grace.

This gift is offered to us all, but all do not accept it.

Even after Christ dwells in our hearts there is yet more to come.  We grow in our understanding of the love of Christ and are filled with the fullness of God.  This is an ongoing process which God continues to work in us throughout our lives here on earth.

As we grow in our knowledge of the love of God, our lives will become increasingly more what God would desire.  We will be more and more molded into the image of His Son.

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;

God loves us.

He is at work in us.

He wants to work through us.

That is the real message of Christmas.

These are the sermon notes from 12/4/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

 

On The Rock

December 1, 2016

I have been reading in Jeremiah.  He is known as the weeping prophet.  God called him at a young age to prophecy to the nation of Israel prior to, during, and after the Babylonian invasion.  He continually warned them of coming judgement, but occasionally offered words of hope if they would listen to the Word of the Lord.

They didn’t listen.

I.  Trust and Obey:  Jeremiah 42:7-17

 And it happened after ten days that the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. Then he called Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces which were with him, and all the people from the least even to the greatest, and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition before Him: 10 ‘If you will still remain in this land, then I will build you and not pull you down, and I will plant you and not pluck you up. For I relent concerning the disaster that I have brought upon you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; do not be afraid of him,’ says the Lord, ‘for I am with you, to save you and deliver you from his hand. 12 And I will show you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and cause you to return to your own land.’

13 “But if you say, ‘We will not dwell in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God, 14 saying, ‘No, but we will go to the land of Egypt where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor be hungry for bread, and there we will dwell’— 15 Then hear now the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah! Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘If you wholly set your faces to enter Egypt, and go to dwell there, 16 then it shall be that the sword which you feared shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt; the famine of which you were afraid shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you shall die. 17 So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to dwell there. They shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. And none of them shall remain or escape from the disaster that I will bring upon them.’

A.  The Word

Jeremiah had given them a Word from the Lord.  The right response would have been to trust and obey.  If they had, things would have been different.  As it was they went to Egypt, literally dragging Jeremiah with them, and there they all died.  You would have thought that after all the years of seeing that the words of Jeremiah were indeed the Words of God, that they would have listened to him.

They did not.

Today, we have the Word of God in the Bible.  Do we listen to it?

B.  The Spirit

God guides His people by His Word and His Spirit.  We should study the Word to see what God has said to His people.  We should also pray and ask God to direct us by His Spirit.  It we seek guidance from God, He will indeed guide us.

Will we listen?

II.  The Discipline of the Lord:  Hebrews 12:9-11

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

A.  Disobedience

If we are disobedient to God’s Word, or to the guidance of His Spirit is should not surprise us if things do not go so well for us.

God may be trying to get our attention.

When things are not going well, when bad things happen, it is a good idea to pray and ask God if we are living in disobedience.  If we are, then God will reveal that to us.  Once we know what should change, we can, and should, change with the help of God.

Sometimes we pray and God does not reveal anything to us.  We are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Do not be surprised by the tests and trials of our faith that will come along.  God did not promise that we would never have problems, but that He would be with us, and help us through our problems.

Obedience

In general, we can trust that if we live lives of obedience to God that He will reward us with the abundant life that He has for His people. (John 10:10)

III.  On the Rock Matthew 7:24-27

“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: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

A.  Hears and Does

Those who live lives of obedience to Christ can expect their lives to be stable.  There will still be storms, but we will weather them by the grace of God.

B.  Hears and Does Not

Those who are disobedient can expect problems.  When the storms of life come, their lives will come crashing down around them.

C.  Wisdom

May God grant us wisdom to know the difference between the discipline of the Lord and the storms of life.  To change when we are supposed to change, and to hold fast when we are already doing the right thing.

In conclusion, it is relatively simple.

Seek the Lord.

Hear the Lord.

Obey the Lord.

These are the sermon notes from the message preached 11/27/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I do not have any control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.