Archive for January, 2017

Live By Faith

January 18, 2017

If we are willing to let God guide our lives, the results will be pretty amazing.

I.  What Will He Say?  Habakkuk 2:1

I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.

Sometimes we need to stop moving.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to be very busy.  I always have stuff that should be done.  I have a list.  It’s long.  One of the most important things on that list is to pray.  In prayer, we are not to just bring a list of requests before God, we should take time to be still in His presence.  I remember, long ago, I was a tanker in the Marine Corps serving in Beirut.  I had guard duty every other day, six hours on, six hours off, two shifts, so twelve hours of guard duty every other day.  We were not located in an area with traffic and the threat level at the time was minimal, so there was lots of time to stand, pray and listen.  Sometimes I miss having those large chunks of time for prayer.

It is good to take time to “see what He will say to me”.  God may speak to us if we take the time to listen.  Are we giving him time?  Or in our times of prayer are we the only ones speaking?

If God corrects us, how will we respond?  Will we make excuses?  Will we blame someone else?  Or will we take responsibility for our past mistakes and put forth our best effort to do better?

If God gives us direction, will we follow?  Or do we think that we know what is best?

II.  Live By Faith:  Habakkuk 2:4

Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

The proud will not accept correction or direction .  They do not think that they should listen to God because they believe that they know what they are doing and are already good enough.

The just do not place their confidence in their own abilities but in the mercy and grace of God.  “The just shall live by his faith.” inspired Paul and later Martin Luther to recognize that our relationship with God is indeed based on faith, not our good works.

Our faith in God will incline us to listen to God and to accept both His correction and direction.  If we are willing to accept the correction of God,  to follow the direction of God and to live the lives that He has for us, we will be amazed at the results.

 

III.  God is the Source:  Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

Here in America today, there are some who face hunger, but actually starvation is pretty rare.  In Habakkuk’s day, the possibility of starvation was very real.  If you have a pile of gold, but there is nothing to eat, the gold will not sustain you.

Even if it all goes badly, I will rejoice in the Lord.   I love this thought.  Our joy is not based on the things of this world but rather in our relationship with the God of our salvation.

God also is our source of strength.  He will enable us to do what we have to do.  We do not operate in our own strength, but in the strength that God gives to us.

Listen to God

Walk in faith.

Let God be your source of joy and strength.

God has an amazing life for you!

These are the sermon notes from 1/15/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

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From The Inside Out

January 11, 2017

Certainly there are times when life is complex.  I know that my life is complex.  Maybe that is why I really do appreciate simplicity.  I realize that as a philosophy instructor this may seem contradictory, as most philosophy is anything but simple.  Theology can be the same way.  We can make the teachings of God very complex, or we can make them simple.  I like simple.

I.  Seek Good: Amos 5:14-15

Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.
15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Amos was prophesying to the people of Israel.  They had stopped following the law and were living sinful lives.  Judgement was coming for their evil ways.  They could avoid that judgement by simply doing what was good in the sight of God.

We need to recognize that we are to hate evil, not the people who do evil.  Evil acts bring harm to all it involves.  God loves people and calls them to turn away from evil and do what is good.

This is not done in our own strength or wisdom.  God has given us His Word to help us to identify what is good and what is evil.  He has also given us His Spirit which will help both is knowing what is good, and in doing what is good.

God is just.  He is concerned with justice of all kinds.  We as His people should also seek for, and work for, justice in our midst.

II.  Do Good:  Amos 5:21-24

“I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.
22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.
23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.
24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream

God cannot be bought.  We cannot simply go through the motions of commitment, we need to be fully committed to Him.  The people in the time of Amos were going through the motions.  They gathered together, they offered sacrifices, they sang worship songs, and they lived in sin.

God was not impressed.

As I was praying about these verses I believe that God spoke to me that in v.24 justice was our dealings with other people and righteousness was our walk before God.  That made me think of the simplicity of loving God and loving people, and of doing to others what we would want others to do to us.

III.  Be Good: James 2:14-17

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We recognize that we are not saved by our works.  “By grace, through faith!”  (Ephesians 2:8)  We also recognize that Christ dwells in our hearts through faith.  (Ephesians 3:17)  If our faith is a living faith, then it will produce the fruit of righteousness and justice.  If Christ is truly in our hearts, our lives will be changed.  This change is not worked from the outside to the inside, but from the inside to the outside.  We don’t change our works so that our heart will change, our hearts are changed and so our acts change.

We don’t do this on our own.  God changes our hearts and our works will change.

We don’t simply do good things, an outside conformity to the law.  We be good people, the people of God.  Not because of us, but because of Christ, who dwells in us.

These are the sermon notes from 1/8/17.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.   

 

Pursue the Knowledge of the Lord

January 4, 2017

This message was preached on the very first day of the new year.  It applies to all of us regardless of our level of Christian knowledge and maturity.

I.  Lack of Knowledge:  Hosea 4:6

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

As we face a new year we are uncertain of what the future holds.  It may be a great year, it may be a difficult year.  As individuals, we certainly want to avoid destruction if at all possible.  We should pursue knowledge.  If we can know what is good, if we can know what is right, then we can have a brighter future.

Some have forgotten or rejected the laws of God.  They have chosen to go their own way.  God allows us to choose. He encourages us to choose wisely.  To choose God’s way is the way to wisely choose.

II.  Pursue the Knowledge of the Lord:  Hosea 6:3

Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

There are two ways to pursue the knowledge of the Lord.  The first way is to search the scriptures.  We should read them, study them, hear them preached, discuss them, pray about them, apply them to our lives and live in obedience to them.  We will never get to the point where we know all that there is to know.  There is always more.  Press on!  Pursue the knowledge of the Lord in the Word of God!!

The second way to know the Lord is through prayer.  We have the ability to enter the very presence of God because of Jesus Christ.  He has given us the presence of His Spirit in our lives and hearts.  We should daily take time to take our eyes off of the things of this world and to focus our attention upon Him.  Let us press on!  Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord in the Spirit of Christ!!

III.  Seek the Lord:  Hosea 10:12

Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

Once we know what is right in the sight of the Lord, we are responsible to do what is right.  With knowledge comes responsibility.  We do not do this in our own strength, but by the power of the Spirit of God which enables us to be the people He has called us to be.  To God be the Glory!

We are to forgive, even as we have been forgiven.  We are not to “repay evil for evil” but to “overcome evil with good”.

We need to ask God to help us to recognize those parts of our life that we have not surrendered to Him already.  We need to ask God to soften our hearts so that His Word and His Spirit might continue the work in us.  May our lives not be fallow, but fruitful for His Holy Name.

 

These are the sermon notes from 1/1/17.  Any advertisements are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.